Sunday, February 23, 2014


Sometimes I’ve wondered what it would be like to be present when Jesus restored the eyesight of the blind man in Bethsaida (Mark 8:22-25). The shock and the joy he must’ve felt as he saw what he’d been hearing around him all his life was probably overwhelming to say the least.  I think Friday I got a tiny picture of what the reaction may have been like for that blind man when I saw our son Matthew react to seeing clearly for the first time.

We knew Matthew had horrible vision because he squinted ALL the time.  He needed to be 12 inches from the television screen to play the Wii.  We didn’t know how bad his sight was until we took him to the eye doctor this past Friday.  The doctor said he hated to throw out the word “blind,” but Matthew could not see ANYTHING outside of 6 inches from his face.

My dear Ukrainian friend, Anya, volunteered to come to his appointment and translate for Matthew and the doctor.  What an absolute blessing Anya has been for our family.  She has helped translate for all 3 of our boys now.  

Matthew was quite adamant about NOT having to wear glasses mainly for appearance purposes.  He wanted contact lenses.  Skeptically the doctor agreed to allow Matthew to wear contact lenses because of how bad his vision is and also how clean and responsible Matthew is for his age.  We still had to purchase glasses for Matthew to wear in the evenings per doctor’s orders.

The doctor reclined Matthew’s examination chair all the way back and put one contact in Matthew’s right eye first.  Matthew said in Ukrainian, “I already see 100 times better!”  When the doctor put the left contact in his eye, Matthew sat straight up, wide-eyed and looked all around the darkened room exclaiming, “WOW!!!” He looked around again and gasped in happy awe, “WOW!!!”  I’m pretty sure Anya and I both had tears in our eyes!  His reaction to seeing for the first time was priceless!  “WOW!” he kept saying over and over as he looked around.

After we left the doctor’s office the first thing Matthew said was, “I like Anya.  She is very good and very beautiful.”  (I can understand simple Ukrainian).  The second thing he said was, “Thank you for my lenses, Mama.  Thank you!  Wow!! I like these lenses!”  The whole 30-minute ride home he was enthusiastically pointing out motorcycles, Hummers, Mustangs, police cars and all sorts of things.  “Mama! Look! Hummer!”  “Mama! Look!  Helicopter!” 

Tim barely walked through the doors at 6pm before Matthew stampeded him, “I can see, Papa! I have lenses!”  Anyone he saw he told them he was wearing contact lenses.  He was so excited.

In the Bible healing the blind was a miracle only Jesus performed.  Likewise, spiritual blindness is only cured through the blood of Jesus Christ.  I am praying for Matthew and all our family members who may have spiritual blindness.  I pray their eyes would be opened and that they will see the love of Christ and believe in faith!

I saw a few parallels between physical blindness and spiritual blindness that I wanted to share.  The first parallel is it takes faith to see physically. The blind man at Bethsaida had to trust Jesus who put spit on his eyes and made him see.  Matthew had to trust me as his mom that I was leading him to a doctor who could help him.  He had to trust Anya to translate and the doctor who was touching his eye and putting contact lenses into his eyes.  Spiritual blindness requires faith in Christ, the Great Physician.  Second, Matthew was FILLED with joy and thankfulness for his new sight.  Those of us who have spiritual sight should live a life characterized by joy and thankfulness.  We should want to tell everyone we know about our sight and the Great Physician who gave it to us.  Third, Matthew has increased devotion to me as his mom.  Since Friday he has been more loving, respectful and affectionate.  Every day we should desire to show our love and devotion for Christ more.  It’s a testimony of the change in our lives from blindness to sight!  Finally, with eyesight Matthew has increased discernment.  No longer will he walk in darkness.  He won’t walk in front of moving cars, or miss someone sitting quietly in a room.  He will be able to see out the windows and doors and determine if it is a friend or a stranger on the other side of the door.  He can see his school work from further away which helps him learn easier.  Similarly as Christians we should have increased discernment.  We should see the world from a biblical world view.  As we grow and study God’s Word we should be able to discern between behavior that is dangerous and behavior that is edifying.  

I am so thankful for the calling in our lives to adopt Matthew.  He is such a joy and so full of enthusiastic life.  I’m thankful for all that I have learned from him already.  I am thankful for a husband who loves the Lord and is tender to God’s leading.  I’m thankful for the amazing father that Tim is to our kids and godly male example he is to our boys.  I’m thankful for Anya, for her friendship, and for her using her God-given abilities to translate to help our boys.  Most of all I am thankful for my salvation in Christ and my spiritual sight!  I’m thankful I don’t have to aimlessly stumble around this world without the Light in my life.

What a priceless memory forever etched in my mind of Matthew’s reaction when he saw clearly for the first time!  WOW!

Getting ready to see for the first time
Learning how to put in and take out contact lenses
Outside enjoying his new sight!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

No No No Seven

We have always gotten a kick out of our Ukrainian boys little misspeaking’s they have when they first come to America.  Brandon used to say people were “Tootie” and he meant “tooting” or farting. For Punch Bug Volzwagon Beetles, Brandon would call them "Sponge buggies."   Matthew makes us laugh when he runs around the house from person to person saying, “Ya No no no seven!  Mama, ya no no no seven.  Papa, ya no no no seven.”  What he is asking for is to have someone turn on his Wii game “Double 0-7” (007-James Bond game).  

Our first few days have been going well.  He’s had home school for 3 days now.  The first day I just assessed what he did and did not know.  He could not do even basic math like 1+9=10 or 9-1=8.  So I’ve been teaching that along with his vowels for now.  We ended up ordering him ACE paces because it seems he can do it without being able to read English yet.  Matthew is going to do 1st grade for English, Spelling and Reading, and I have him at 3rd grade for Math.  That is what is so great about these paces is that he can work at whatever level he is at and then move as fast or slow as he needs to.  He’s a fast learner, so I think he will catch up quickly to his grade level.


The first day Matthew was home, we skipped church and spent a family day together.  We moved from soccer, to bike riding, to baseball, to the trampoline jumping to “No no no seven.”  We were all exhausted by the end of the day because Matthew has as much energy as 10 sons and we are not used to it!!!  Brandon had a lot of energy, but not even close to what Matthew has. 

Matthew and the girlies are getting along so well.  It is like they’ve known each other their whole lives.  Adoption is such a gift to everyone involved!  

When asked about his favorite thing about our house is so far, without hesitation, Matthew said his favorite thing is his “No no no seven” game (007 Wii game!) I think it’s funny because 007 was both Brandon and is Andrew’s favorite game as well. 

Enjoying some soccer

Haley showing Matthew our backyard turtle

Kids flying all over the place

Matthew trying out Haley's bow and arrow

Adding some air to the tires

Matthew rides really fast on that bike!

Katie and Matthew
Tuesday's snow ball fight

Matthew's got quite the arm on him!

Matthew coming after the camera lady (aka ME!)

Red cheeks!


Haley Bee with red cheeks!

Matthew playing "No No No Seven"

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Our Adoption Timeline

So our timeline went like this:
January 14th 2013: Dropped Artem off at the airport after Winter Hosting
January 15th 2013: Decided officially we wanted to pursue adoption of Artem & began paperwork
April 2013:  Submitted Dossier

August 6th: Received 1st SDA

(We declined the 1st SDA appointment waiting for Artem to become available)

October 14th: 2nd SDA appointment.  Found out Artem was already adopted.  We were handed the giant book full of available boys where we both found Matthew's file.  We weren't sure what to do because we were caught off guard thinking we'd adopt Artem whom we'd hosted 3 weeks the previous winter.  The director of Matthew's orphanage would not give any information out over the phone about Matthew.  Tim and I were still shocked and didn't like feeling like we had been "baited and switched" in this adoption.  Boys that are 11 years old sit waiting for families for years.  They NEVER come available one day and get adopted the next.  The whole situation with Artem getting adopted so quick was fishy to say the least and there was definitely a lot of deception involved.  We felt we needed to come home, pray, talk to the kids about their feelings about adopting "blind." 
 October 15th: Came home.
October 16th-November: God worked separately in both Tim and my hearts, speaking HIS will to us regarding this new boy we'd never met.  He gave us a peace about not having Artem, and He softened our hearts and grew our love for this new boy.

November 13th: Terrified, not entirely supported by on-lookers, yet in faith we obeyed HIS call for our lives and flew back to Ukraine to see about Matthew.  Applied for our 3rd and final SDA appointment.
November 21st:  3rd SDA appointment
 November 22nd: Picked up referral for Matthew

November 22nd: Met Matthew for the first time

November 25th: Said yes to Matthew.

November 27th: Matthew said yes, Director and case worker started paperwork for court

November 28th: Flew home
 December 14th: Preliminary Court

January 14th: Court

January 29th: Carinda flew back to Kiev after 10-day wait  (Our facilitator picked up court decree and new birth certificate before arriving at the airport).

January 30th: GOTCHA DAY!!!Went to the bank to draw out Matthew's money, picked up Matthew and had some paperwork done.

February 3rd: Received new i.d. number. Went to passport office to apply for passport.  Had his physical done at the medical center.  Had 1st Embassy appointment.

February 6th: Received passport 4:30 pm.
 February 7th: Went to pick up Medical results at the medical center.  Had 2nd Embassy appointment.  Picked up Visa at 3pm.
 February 8th.  Flew home!!!  30 hours of travel!!!
Super excited the passport came!!
Killing time waiting for the Visa to be printed at the Embassy
This is a cafeteria-style Ukraine restaurant and Matthew really enjoyed all the food there.  I enjoyed it as well.
The Embassy, thanking the Lord for no protestors standing outside
In Frankfort waiting for our connecting flight.  Matthew was watching the planes land and fly out
After 27 hours of travel, he FINALLY passed out.  He didn't pass out until the Coke-A-Cola fumes that the stewardess fed him wore off. LOL
Finally HOME!!!
Matthew is about an inch and a half taller than Andrew and 5 pounds heavier.  He's 8 months younger than Andrew.

Our Final Days in Kiev

For the last leg of our trip, I spent a total of 10 days in country. From Thursday, January 30th until Friday, February 7th, we were basically just waiting around. 

To pass our time, we walked around Kiev.  We walked to the Mini Markets.  I sent Matthew down the 8 floors to take out the trash.  He swept the apartment.  We cooked dinner together.  We cleaned up the kitchen.  We walked to a restaurant.  I checked my email.  I looked at Facebook.  I watched the clock for 8pm to roll around so I could head to bed.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.

Of all the adoptions, this was the most fun because we actually were able to meet other couples while in Kiev and have dinner or chat in the lines at the Embassy, or passport office.  It really made things go by faster and seem less stressful.  All of us were in this adoption journey together.  We cheered each other on as we one-by-one received our court dates, then had Gotcha Day, then received passports, finished our medical appointments and our 2 Embassy appointments and FINALLY boarded our planes to come HOME!! 

I am SO thankful to be home.  I am SO thankful God put a hedge of protection around Matthew and I during the Revolution protests in downtown Kiev.  I'm SO thankful He provided the resources we needed, the people we needed, the patience and endurance we needed, good health and our friends who cheered us on and prayed for us faithfully.  Finally, we are SO thankful for our ACTIVE-as-TEN-BOYS, bouncing 11-year-old baby boy!!!

I woke up to "swish, swish, swish" one morning--he was sweeping the apartment

Breakfast of champions!!  Black tea with cream and sugar with these delicious butter cookes.

Trying cereal for the first time & he liked it--at 3 bowls--he's is Daddy's son!!

View from our living room on the 8th floor

View from our balcony

View from the bedroom

Watching cartoons

Grilled cheese and scrambled eggs

Matthew's Lego creation

Ingredients for potato soup.  In America we take for granted the limitless availability of fresh produce during winter months.  It was hard to find these ingredients.  Also trying to cut onions,  potatoes and peel carrots with a VERY dull knife was quite the experience.

Matthew cutting the potatoes into cubes

Stirring the soup

It was delicious!

Best pizza in all of Kiev!


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Barricades--Tuesday's Update

Today's update....We are thankful to God for giving us 2 productive days...Monday we were able to pick up his tax ID number and complete his application for his passport and today we had his 1st Embassy appointment for the Visa! We are hopefully in the final stages of our journey and we are BOTH SO THANKFUL and SO READY TO BE HOME!! 

Eddik was EXTRA antsy today, so since the weather was "up" to 2 degrees, I decided I could maybe stand the cold long enough to go for a walk with him.  He's been DYING to go see the "barricades" as he calls them.  Every day he asks if we can go take pictures of the barricades.  He can hear the noise and commotion from the barricades and we can smell the burning tires and so forth, but he wanted to SEE it.  So since it was daylight and lots of people around, I felt safe enough to take him out for a walk.  He was really excited, but whatever they shouted from behind the barricades frightened him and he was ready to come back to the apartment.  

I thought it was important for him to see it anyway because this is his homeland.  He needs to know what is happening and I pray he never forgets that nations, families, schools, and any organization can rise and fall with the leadership.  Pray for Ukraine.  It is a dark and oppressed country, and it is saddening because it is a beautiful country with beautiful people created in His image!  The last time we were here it was sunny and summer, and the streets of Kiev were emaculate--no trash anywhere. This is a country that takes pride in itself so to see this burning mess and graffiti on beautiful buildings is SO sad to witness firsthand.