Friday, January 31, 2014

Killing Time--Part 2

Just trying to keep everyone posted...

We got bored so I decided to see if Eddik was up for a photo shoot.  I really wanted to have pictures of him around the house before we return to America.  I think it's neat that I can take pictures all the way over here in Ukraine and order prints for Tim to pick up in the US.  Anyway I took a bunch of pictures of him dressed in a collared shirt we bought for him.  He absolutely loves that shirt.  I almost didn't bring it, but now I'm glad I did. Anyway, he was posing & doing "runway music" with his voice and strutting like a male model.  It was soooo funny to see him coming out of his shell and being goofy.  I was laughing at him and he kept in his "role" as a model all serious like a tease!  I seriously love this boy!

We just returned from a loooong walk to the Pizza Chiliantano Restaurant (No idea how to spell that restaurant). It was about 1 mile one-way from where we are staying.  Did I mention the temperature is around 0 today??  My nose, feet and hands are still frozen! There were two Revolution protest displays up that way.  In the area we walked it was just peaceful demonstrations from what I could see.

Eddik is being so good, however playing with him all day long tires my old lady self out. Goodness little boys have a lot of energy (with the exception of our very mellow son, Andrew). I genuinely love this time we are having together. The one-on-one time is so much fun.  He is really, really funny.

At Pizza Chiliantano he chose the chicken & cheese "pancake" and kept saying "This is really good" in Russian over & over while putting two thumbs up.  We bought a few souvenirs at the stand outside the restaurant.  I really wanted a plate clock to put on my plate wall in our kitchen nook.  I asked him which of the 3 plates he liked best and he chose the one with blue flowers.  That makes it special.  I can't wait to get home & hang it up.  I like a little memory of Ukraine for the boys.

I discovered the apartment has a washing machine (actually a friend pointed it out in a picture) and some laundry soap so I did a load of laundry and have it drying on a rack in the living room.  He absolutely LOVES clothing.  He likes to change his clothing a lot which I think is funny because our other two boys would wear the same thing every day if we let them.  Today he has changed his clothing 3 times. 

Oh my goodness I'm SOOO cold!!!  And I can't believe today is only Day ONE of our wait to come home because this boy is seriously stir crazy (Hence the photo of him on top of furniture looking for a Nerf bullet).   Tomorrow we hope to go ice skating.  If I don't lose my fingers and toes to frost bite, it'll be nothing short of a small wonder!

More pictures kids and hubby and friends keep asking for pictures, so as long as the Internet cooperates I will post some...

Killing Time

Eddik and I are killing time for the next few days while we wait for his passport to come.  I figured I’d catch everyone up to date on what is happening.

I left NC on Tuesday, barely missing the snow storm that paralyzed much of the southern east coast.  My first flight was cancelled in anticipation for the weather (it was cancelled before any snow was in sight), but thankfully I was able to catch an earlier flight.  I left at 9:30am to wait the next 8 hours in the Charlotte airport.  I was nervous it would also be cancelled and then I’d have to figure out a way to get back home.  Thankfully Lufthansa rarely cancels flights due to weather.  I had many people praying it would take off and God answered our prayer!  We took off about an hour late as they de-iced the airplane and plowed the runway.  Tears ran down my face as it took off.   Since most of the people making connecting flights missed the  Charlotte/Munich flight, the flight was empty and I was able to lay across two seats the whole way to catch up on my sleep for the 8-hour flight.

When I finally landed in Kiev my 51.5 pound suitcase was the first to come out.  I made it through passport control easily.  When I walked through the sliding glass doors my  translator, Luba, and driver, Roma were waiting for me with wonderful news.  Luba had been able to pick up the court decree and Matthew’s new birth certificate without me being there.  So we were far ahead of schedule.  I was able to come back to the apartment and head straight to bed instead of running around with paperwork.   

Thursday, January 30th, was the BIG DAY.  We were supposed to meet at 8:30am, which turned into 9:30am due to traffic (we operate on a give or take 20 minute schedule here in Ukraine and sometimes give or take turns into one hour..LOL).  We headed to the bank since Matthew had some money in a savings account that we needed to draw out.   I’m not sure where the money came from, but I think it was his step dad who was paying a type of “child support” so Eddik would have money when he aged out of the orphanage.   In order to draw out the money without Tim there, I had to see a notary to get a copy of the apostile power-of-attorney document to leave with the bank.   

Finally, we were ready to head to the orphanage to sign his discharge paperwork.  His director was pretty emotional.  She told me that she would have loved to adopt him herself, but she was too old.  She said he is a special boy that she loves him very much.  He is well-liked by everyone in the orphanage, both children and teachers/caregivers.  She had a stack of pictures that accumulated over the years he was in the orphanage.  Last time when we were in Ukraine for court I’d asked her if I could have some pictures, but I didn’t think I’d get 20 or so photos.  I was pretty excited. 

The director set up a table for lunch for my driver, translator, Eddik, herself and me.  It was delicious fried pastry with shredded pork and onion inside of it, a mayonnaise/egg/potato salad and fresh red grape juice.  It tasted so good!  Eddik has a hearty appetite.  He ate 3 or 4 helpings of food.  The director said there is no food he does not like.  He will eat anything.  That is going to be wonderful especially since our other 4 kids are picky eaters.  I had the translator ask Eddik what he would like to eat when we are in the apartment.  Eddik said, “Have Mama buy whatever she likes, and I will eat whatever she likes.”  I thought that was sweet.

We took some photos with the director and Eddik said good bye to all of his friends.  They were all sad to see him leave, but Eddik was super happy and excited.  He could not wait to get in the taxi to leave.  I felt bad for the director who we left standing there teary-eyed.  She gave me her address and we gave her ours so we can keep in touch.  I really loved the director.  She truly felt like family to me after all the time we spent together since November.  It meant so much when she told me she was glad that we were his new family and she loved us all.  It was like she gave us her special blessing to be his parents. 

We left the orphanage by 1pm and headed to the medical center to see if we could fit Eddik in for his physical.  We weren’t sure if they would see him before we had his passport.   Thankfully the doctor agreed to see him.  Eddik is completely healthy and the doctor cleared him to leave for America.  It was cute because when we finished Eddik held out his hand and shook the doctor’s hand and said what would be equivalent in English to “Thank you, Sir.”  The doctor looked over at me and chuckled while saying, “He’s a GREAT kid, strong and healthy.” It was such a relief to get the medical clearance.  I know a lot of people who were held up with the TB results of the medical clearance.  Thankfully he didn’t even have the TB test because they are out of the supplies.  Our translator said the country is concerned right now with the Revolution and are not paying attention to “small things” like the TB testing supplies.  That works for us!!

We came back to the apartment, changed our clothes and walked to an Italian restaurant for dinner.  It sure is COLD out there.  The driver told me it was -23 degrees today.  It sure felt it.  Our faces were beat red by the time we got to the restaurant and back to the apartment.  We got changed into pajamas and both of us were ready for bed by 8pm.  He got right into bed and fell right to sleep.  He slept all the way until 7am today.  This boy had a lot of excitement for one day and was tired out!

Today we fixed breakfast together--hard boiled eggs and oatmeal with tea and juice.  He cleaned the entire kitchen including the dishes without being told.  Since then we have been playing with his suitcase full of toys I brought from the US.  We purchased gifts for him for Christmas such as a Nerf gun, Legos, remote control car and matchbox cars.  I also brought Katie’s old Nintendo DSi and he enjoys that as well.  It is 1:35 this afternoon and he is getting antsy and stir crazy.  I am hoping I can keep him busy until at least 4 and then we will head out to eat dinner before it gets too dark. 

Our internet went down in the apartment and I had Edik call the owner of the apartment and he came out to fix it.  I am so glad to be back up and running now.  It’s nice because the owner lives in this building so he is close by if we need anything.  We also have a concierge who lets us in and out of the building.  She asks Eddik where we are going and how long we will be gone.  I feel pretty safe in spite of all that is happening with the Revolution.  After dark it gets pretty loud with popping sounding like firecrackers, people shouting into the megaphones and the crowd chanting.  It’s far enough away from us that it’s not bothering us too much.  We are safe.

We are staying inside most of the time because of unpredictable danger of the Revolution and also because it is so bitterly cold!  Eddik woke up this morning with a cough and stuffy nose, so I don’t want him getting any sicker before we leave for the US.  I suspect we will be here at least another week waiting for the passport. 

Anyway, thank you so much for the prayer. Please pray we get his new Ukrainian social security number on Monday so we can apply for the passport.  If all goes well with that new number and with the passport application, we could travel home next weekend.  We are so anxious to get home, but for now, we are enjoying each other and bonding wonderfully.  He is such a great boy and so full of joy and enthusiasm.  He is going to do great in our family.  We are truly blessed to have him!  God has been good to us!

Tim and the kids have asked that I post pictures, so I’m going to try.  I’m not sure it will work because of the slow internet.....

Thursday, January 30, 2014

God and Numbers

Nowadays nearly anything can be debated.  Boys aren’t always boys and girls aren’t always girls.  We are living in a society that says children should decide for themselves if they are male or female.  Good is not always good and evil is not always considered evil.  White is not always white, nor is black even black.  New boundaries can be defined for anything.  Amendments can be made.  To some people God isn’t god, but you can choose any god you wish.  Anyone can explain away and justify just about anything.  What I love most about numbers is they are indisputable.  No one can debate numbers.  Numbers are constant.  1+1 always equals 2.  3 X 10 is always 30.  I love that predictability and I love that absolute!  

As much as I enjoy numbers, clearly God loves them as well.  After all He created the concept of numbers.  God knows the number of hairs on each head.  He measures the waters in the hollow of His hands.  He weighs the mountains on scales (see Is. 40:12).  Numbers are definitely important to God.  In the Bible any time you see numbers, pay attention because God purposely uses numbers to communicate significant things.  I’ve been studying the significance of numbers in the Bible since our pastor (back in Biloxi, MS) preached a message when we were living there in 1999.  Over the years I have jotted down notes about numbers in my Bible.  Here is a condensed list of numbers and what the numbers represent in the Bible.  

1—Unity, One God.  Duet. 6:4
2—Confirmation; double portion; dividing between.  Ex. 3:18, Ex. 16:5, Job 42:10
3—Deity; Divine Perfection. Rev. 4:8, John 2:13
4—Earth; God’s creative works (It is no mistake there are 4 directions North, South, East & West and 4 seasons)
5—Fullness (David’s 5 stones)
6—The number of man
7—Spiritual perfection; spiritual completeness
8—New beginnings; salvation Jn 20:1-10
10—Completeness; ordinal perfection
11—Disorder; lack of perfection; lack of fulfillment. Duet. 1:2, Acts 1:15-26
12—God’s government number (12 tribes, 12 sons of Jacob, etc)
13—Rebellion; hostility; corruption. Josh 6:2-5, Gen. 17:23
14—Double measure of spiritual perfection
30—Marks the right moment in God’s Divine Plan (Joseph was 30 in Egypt, Gen. 4:6; David was 30 when he began to reign Israel, 2 Sam. 5:4, Aaron and Moses’ deaths were mourned 30 days, Numbers 20:29, 34:8; Jesus was 30 when he began His ministry, Man was eligible for military duty at age 30, Levites began their service at age 30, Numbers 4:3, 23, 30, 35 and 39.  Also note that 3 X 10=30 which means a higher degree of perfection in the divine order.

Two years ago was the worst day of my life.  Our healthy, joyful, blond, wonderful son unexpectedly died.  Today goes down in the books as one of the best because I drove away from the orphanage forever with our newest son, Matthew “Eddik.”  

Since Brandon’s death, Job has been a book of the Bible that has been on my mind.  What is interesting to note is the number TWO in Job chapter 42 where it states, “the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.”  In the midst of incredible pain and grief for my firstborn son, Brandon, somehow I feel today like Matthew is God’s double blessing on our family—We now have two boys, though one is in heaven.  Just like in the Bible where “twice as much” signified a confirmation and a double portion to what was lost to Job, likewise this has happened in our family.  I am SO thankful God has given us two sons, Brandon and Matthew.

Now, look at the number 30.  Brandon died on January 30th.  I do not believe it was a mistake that God ordained that Matthew was adopted on January 30th. January is month #1 and #1 is the number of God. We began our adoption on 1/14/13 and through a series of ups and downs and great valleys we are still not completed with our adoption. Usually adoption from Ukraine is done in 5-7 months.  People have been saying all these months “God’s timing is best” and I’ve all but rolled my eyes at them.  It’s easy for someone who is not experiencing the emotional highs and lows of International adoption to say “God’s timing is best.”  But I actually got hit in the head with conviction when I read Psalm 18:31 where it reads, “As for God, His way is perfect.”   In the Bible the number 30 marks the right moment in God’s Divine Plan.  We truly are blessed to know 1/30 is God's divine plan. 

I also think it is interesting that Matthew’s birthday is 6/10.  6 is the number of man and 10 is ordinal perfection.  We now have 5 children in our “quiver” and 5 is the number of fullness.  We have 7 members in our family (completeness).  Need I go on?  Numbers are just awesome.  God speaking in His word is double-awesome.   God speaking through numbers in His word is just awesome-perfection to me!

While the pain is always there regarding losing Brandon, sometimes so bad it takes my breath away,  I can’t help but be joyful today.   God has proved faithful to us these last 2 years in bringing joy out of mourning and in turning mourning into dancing.  He who began a good work in our lives will continue until the day He returns or He calls us all home.   I sit beside Matthew who is laughing and playing his Nintendo game while snuggling as close as he can to me as I type this blog.  He does not sit here now because of chance or by coincidence.  He sits here because a very detailed-about-numbers, Sovereign God orchestrated today to work out exactly has it did.  While it’s true that most things can be debated, changed or revoked, I know 2 things that can never, ever change—God and numbers. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Voice Mails Galore!

Last week when we landed in the US I was so eager to switch my iPhone back off Airplane Mode.  Yay for civilization!!  I looked and saw I had 24 voice mails.  I thought I'd share the first 10 with you.  They definitely made me smile.  My kids are so crazy and they make me feel so loved!  Haley is our youngest and she usually doesn't say a whole lot.  She has a hard time talking in complete sentences because she either a) gets interrupted by her oldest sister, Katie or b) forgets what she will say before she finishes her sentence or c) keeps it all to herself.  So I was surprised the majority of the emails were Haley talking my ear off because it's not her normal self. :)

#1 Haley’s voice. Dear Mom, this message is from all of us.  Katie, Kylie, and Haley.  We all just want to say that we love you and miss you and we really wish that you were here.   And do you know when you are going to come back?  And that is the end.  Good Bye. We Love you. 1/12/14 6:45pm

#2 Haley’s voice. Dear Mom, this is from Katie, Kylie, and Haley.  Thank you for being such a good mother and please try to be safe over there and write Kylie, um, and tell her to show us the email message from you and Dad and then Kylie will write you back something like “I love and miss you” and, um,  I am going to be happy to see you.  And I know you have to go back to Ukraine again, ugh, and this is just me in my room and this is Haley, by the way, and I just hope that you try to enjoy your time there and we are all going to pray that you are not going to get a cold or get sick or anything and right now I will pray: “Dear Heavenly Father, Please help Mom or Dad to not get sick and please help us to adopt Edward  and Amen.”  Good bye, Mom.  I love you.  1/12/14 6:47pm

#3 Kylie’s voice.  Dear Mom, I just wanted to say that I really, really miss you and I hope that you have a safe trip.  I am emailing you right now, just so you want to know and could you tell Dad that I want him to email me a lot and please email me a lot of pictures while you are there especially of Matthew and I miss you and I love you, Bye. 1/12/14 6:52pm

#4 Haley’s voice.  This is for you, Mom and Dad.  We are going to really pray that you do not get sick because every single time you go over there you get sick, so let’s pray.  “Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for this day.  Please help Mom or Dad or anyone to get sick and amen.”  1/12/14 6:57pm

#5 Haley’s voice.  Dear Mom, this is from me and only me, Haley.  I miss you.  I love you.  I wish you were here.  You make my life happy and so does Dad.  And you are, you are, um, very squishy like a squishy piece of Jello (she was dead serious) and you are very special to me and please you show this to Dad and I just want to say that I miss you and I love you and I want you to tell Dad what I said to you and…. 1/12/14 7:53pm

#6 Haley’s voice.  Dear Mom, I’m sorry that I hanged up on you.  I didn’t mean to.  It is 7:55 and I miss you and I love you so much.  Please can you show Dad this?  I wish you were here.  You are very squishy.  Whenever I’m scared you always let me sleep with you.  You snuggle me.  You take care of me.  And I just love you for all of those things.  I love you because you love me.  And I love you because God wants me to love people as I love myself.  And I just hope you remember this verse that I am going to say, it’s Matthew 5:3 through 11, I think or maybe 12.  I’m going to say as, um, long as I know it.  It is “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are they who, um, are mourning, for they shall be comforted.  Um, blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.  Um, blessed are they who, um, who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled” and that’s all I know. I just hope that you get this message cuz it’s just from me, Haley.  No one else but me, Haley.  Cause everyone else is busy.  Katie is doing crafts is doing crafts like always and Kylie is just playing around on the Wii and it’s still the same first day that you left for Ukraine.   1/12/14 7:55pm

#7 Haley’s voice.  Oops. (click) 1/13/14 2:13pm

#8 Haley voice.  Dear Mom, this is from me.   We know that you’re sleeping right now in Ukraine, but we just hope that you hear this.  Well, you know yesterday I sended you a lot of messages?  It’s just that right now I miss you really much and I wanted to send you another one and I am glad that I get to talk to you.  Mom, and can you please show this to Dad so he wouldn’t feel all left out and I don’t even know his phone number and I can’t really do this with him and can you please just try not to be sick and stay away from all the sick people cause I don’t want you to get sick because you’re in Ukraine and you always are sick in Ukraine and you won’t be able to do anything besides lay in bed.  Today I did a really good job, I mean I already finished my home schooling right now we just wanted to tell you that we love you and miss you and we would really like to know what happens in Ukraine and um so good bye.  We love you.  Good bye. 1/13/14

#9 Haley’s voice.  Mom, I have a quiz and I don’t know where the book thingy is.  Do I need to take it or should I just skip it?  Um, I don’t know where it is so after you’re done whenever you’re done can you call me?  And bye I love you. 1/14/14

#10 Haley’s voice.  Mom, when did you say you were coming home again?  I have a really bad memory and I can’t really remember what day you said you were coming home.  I think this is the 2nd or 3rd day you were, um, gone and I just want you to know that I love you and miss you and can you show this to Dad so he doesn’t feel left out?  Bye.  I love you. This is Haley.  1/14/14


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Court: Because I Don't Already Have Enough Grey Hairs

I started getting a few grey hairs when I was 18 thanks to genetics.   When I got married at 20, I was up to about 12 grey hairs (yes, I counted) and my mother-in-law used to help me tweeze them (plus a few surrounding hairs when she missed the grey ones).  You know the old wives’ tale that says, when you pull out 1 grey hair, 10 more will grow in its place?  Well, it’s not a wives’ tale because it happened to me.  So add in 3 kids, a master’s degree, 3 international adoptions, etc etc and now I have to “touch up” my grey roots every month.  It’s a good thing I had my roots touched up the day before we left for Ukraine because court today would have made me totally grey!

All was going well, court was supposed to start at 2pm, and it actually started at 2:20.  I’ve covered the fact on this blog before that time is very different in Ukraine.  When something begins at 2pm, it actually means “give or take 20 minutes.”  So court started on time today.  We stood when the judge walked into the court room.  We then stated our names and birthdates and all the wonderful things we know by heart since we’ve been to court 3 times now.  The judge spoke, the inspector spoke, the prosecutor spoke, the orphanage lawyer spoke, but just when I thought court was just beginning the judge said from what I could understand, “Okay, that’s all.  Good bye” in Russian/Ukrainian and walks out of the court room along with the two jurors.  My heart sank.  The judge hadn’t even asked us what we were asking of the court, or any questions about us.  I had my whole speech ready about why I wanted to adopt from Ukraine and why we have so many kids and I didn’t get to say any of that.  “That’s all.”  What does that mean?  Does that mean the judge disapproved the adoption?  No Edik?

Our translator was clearly nervous, her face red, hands trembling, papers scrambling as she said a few words quickly to me something about “today only being preliminary court” and she ran out of the court room after the judge.  So. NOT. COOL.  

She came back 10 minutes later with a paper for us to sign that said our “actual” as in our “real” and not preliminary court hearing was going to be held on January 20, 2014.  God, please NO!!  That’s another 6 days away!!!!!  We already had preliminary court on December 16, 2013!!  How many preliminary courts do we need?  

She was gone another 20 minutes.  Finally she came back in the room and asked for our airline ticket stubs.  Thank goodness I had printed them out from the email I got from Golden Rule Travel.  Our translator was able to plead with the judge that we needed court this afternoon because we had already purchased tickets to leave tomorrow morning.  

Praise God, He moved in the heart of the judge and she agreed to hear our case.  We were asked four or 5 thousand questions and court took forever!  The judge finished with our questions and she turned to Edik and asked him to stand and “say a few words” about himself.  Edik stood and said his name, birthdate, and address of the orphanage.  He boldly said that he loves our family and wants to come with us to live in America.  He said he liked us from the very first day he met us.  He said we are very nice people and we will make great parents.  And he said will do his best to obey what we ask of him.  I was so impressed by how confident and brave he was to stand up in the court room and say all of that.  I was certainly more intimidated that he was and I’ve been through this 3 times!

Anyway, the jurors and judge left the room again for 10 minutes (give or take 20 minutes).  When they came back in the judge read the decision that our adoption is approved.  Matthew Edward Kerr is our son after the 10-day (give or take 20 days) wait!!!    The judge said YES, but not without giving me a few more grey hairs to color next month when I have my root “touch up.”  

Monday, January 13, 2014

We Arrived in Ukraine!

We arrived safely in Ukraine and were greeted with a fresh layer of snow.  Poor Tim had just traveled home from business in Germany and so he somehow caught a cold.  We took our 22-hour trek back to Ukraine and went straight to see Edik. 

It was so neat because we picked up right from where we left off with Edik.  It was like we were never away from him for a month and a half.  He came straight to us and gave us hugs.  He held out his hand and introduced himself to our taxi driver.  It was so polite!

The other family that is adopting from this orphanage told us that they are good about letting the children keep gifts we give the kids.  So we brought him some new clothing and some smaller gifts for a late Christmas.  He really liked his new clothing. 

We didn't stay long because we were exhausted from our travels.  We came back to the apartment, Tim fetched us take-out dinner at an Italian restaurant called Oliva and we fell fast asleep!

Pray for us Tuesday at 7am EST.  We will be having our court hearing then.  Upon a favorable decision by the judge, we will travel back home on Wednesday and I will return whenever the court documents are complete (usually 10 days later).