Friday, November 30, 2012


TGIF, right?

Oh yes, indeed!!

I knew it was going to be a rough week, but I had no idea what was in store for us. I would love to share with you how excited I am to be leaving to meet Maxim, and about all my preparations, but I've been in survival mode for a week and I'm not prepared at all.

Last weekend was the long Thanksgiving weekend. Theo had a difficult weekend, with many troubling and heartbreaking obsessions and behaviors getting in the way of his joy. He cannot get into a developmental pediatrician until February, and we are really hurting for him.

Zhen developed a frightening cough over the weekend. By Monday afternoon I was concerned enough to make a doctor appt. I brought Theo along, just in case the doctor had something new for Theo's behavior problems.

Long story short, we had to have Zhen tested for pertussis and Theo got a new prescription to try, Focalin. I bought a new humidifier for Zhen's strangling cough, took it home, set it up, it didn't work, saw that it was broken, took it back to the store and bought one twice as expensive that works very well. So frustrating to have to make several trips.

After the kids were in bed, Theo continued to cry and rock in his bed. I got him out of bed and rocked him while he drank a bottle of milk. Then he started to thrash and bite and hit and scream. After consulting with some other knowledgeable moms, I gave him some melatonin on top of his regular night time medicine. He rocked himself (stinker) on the couch for awhile, bouncing his head forcefully off the cushions, and passed out about 11pm.

The next morning Theo woke up bright and happy. I gave him his Focalin, his breakfast and put him on the school bus. About two hours later I got a message from his teacher, Theo was out of control. The teacher and paras had tried all of their sensory tricks to calm him but nothing was working. I called the doctor to see what we could do. She said it sounded like a reaction to the Focalin and that I should give him some Benadryl to counteract it.

Poor Theo, in trying to help him with his behaviors and obsessions, I pushed him over the edge. I grabbed a bottle and a dropper and headed over to the school. Oh, and all this is going on while I'm waiting for a delivery of a new dining room table that was gifted to us! I had to leave several children home with the delivery men building the table (they were SO slow!) not cool.

I finally caught a break on Thursday. I had some time to work with my home schoolers so they are not behind when I leave. In the afternoon I got a phone call from the school nurse. Zhen had been exposed to the chicken pox at school. The health department was giving me 24 hours to get him vaccinated or he would be excluded from school for 21 days. Did I mention that I'm leaving on Monday?

Through the miracle of social networking, I was able to locate several people who can read the handwritten Russian cursive notes that constitute Zhen's medical history...within one hour I found that he had chicken pox in February 2008. Praise God!!

I don't have my travel cash yet. I don't have enough clothes. I'm certainly not packed. I did manage to get some donations into a duffel bag...eight pair of shoes for the men at Buri Ooglie, the men's mental asylum in Maxim's region. I will buy some more items for them when I get there, socks and undergarments and such.

Challenges keep cropping up. And I'm weary and I may be down but I'm not out. We are about $700 from having a fully funded adoption. I'm traveling in just a few days. We have so much for which to be thankful!

This could be the last time I sit down to write before I leave. I'll be posting as many updates and photos here as possible, so please don't give up on me!

If you have time today, check out our final fundraising auction that closes today. We have some very high quality art items and aprons up for bidding until tonight at You need a cute apron for holiday baking, don't you?

TGIF!! Have a great weekend!

Friday, November 23, 2012

I was all set...

I was all set to write this morning about how Thankful I am, even though I didn't get an appointment date yesterday. I expected to hear something yesterday. I was checking my phone all night long, hoping for that golden email.

I checked email all throughout the day, periodically. Nothing. I was resigned to the fact that I would not hear anything until next Monday.

Still, thankful.

This morning I received an odd email...straight from the government office. It was an appointment letter!! I was resigned to the fact that I wouldn't hear a word until Monday, but I was pleasantly surprised. 

Now I have NINE days to make my final plans, including childcare. If you've been praying for us thus far, please don't stop!! A lot of pieces need to fall into place over the next few weeks.

Maxim, here I come, sweet baby boy!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

A hundred little gifts

 Here is the first photo I ever saw of our Maxim. I'm not sure if it was just a photo op, or if he was really allowed to play on a toy four-wheeler. It didn't matter to me. I fell in love with that funny looking, cross eyed little kid. Something about him grabbed my heart and made me pay attention.

I thought he was lost after being transferred to a mental institution. We didn't know what sort of facility it was at the time.

Now, after a hundred or more little gifts from people all over the country, we are very close to making him our son forever.

I have a heartwarming story to tell you. Our preschool director contacted me not long ago and told me that the school would like to have a "crazy socks" day and collect loose change for our adoption. What a fun idea! Not many families can count on this sort of community support. 

The "crazy sock" day came and went. A few days ago, the director stopped by the house to drop off a card with the proceeds of the event. She said it wasn't much but we agreed that every little bit helps. She didn't stay long. I opened the card when she left, expecting to find $20 or $30 inside.

There was $200 in that little envelope.

 God willing, a hundred little gifts will bring Maxim home. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Last night...

Last night it happened...finally.
I very dreamed very clearly about meeting Maxim.      

I often find that I work out problems in my dreams. As a youngster, I distinctly remember visualizing myself swimming the butterfly stroke in a dream...that's how I got the timing right in my head and learned to swim the stroke properly! I confess that some of my dreams are just housecleaning for my overactive imagination. Total weirdness. However, I do believe that we can receive messages via our dreams. 

I got a message last night. As I stood in an office, I turned to look at a door, slightly ajar. Maxim appeared and I flung open the door and snatched him up into my arms. He wrapped his arms and legs tightly around me. He started pecking my cheek with kisses. Then a woman stuck her hand in my coat pocket and grabbed a croissant! Ha! It was a dream!!

The message I'm claiming is that I will, indeed, meet and hold this boy called Maxim, and that we will love each other. I needed something to hold onto as I wait for a travel date. Nothing is certain, even at this point.

As we wait, we are striving to raise the last $5000 that we need. I'm so humbled by the gracious and generous donations that we have received so far! The fact that we only need $5k more is really a miracle.

We have several fundraising plates spinning right now! Here is a rundown:

First and foremost, Maxim has been chosen as the Ten for Orphans sponsored orphan for the month of November! Ten for Orphans is a great organization and we are so honored. They seek to bring together a large number of people who are willing to make a small monthly donation, $10 or more, to help bring orphaned children into families of their own. I encourage you to join with TFO this month to help Maxim, and also to commit to a small monthly gift to help the children and families they feature in the future.

We are conducting Round Two - Art 'n' Aprons auction and giveaway at

The giveaway item for this round is a beautifully framed Nancy Noel print called "Gentle Heart."  You can see a close-up of the image HERE

Earn entries to this giveaway by chipping in to our adoption fund. Instructions and other ways to enter are spelled out HERE.

There are also art prints and cute handcrafted aprons to bid on, silent auction style at

Check out this DARLING 50's style apron! Can you see yourself making magic in the kitchen wearing this little beauty?

Also, don't forget to get your Ukraine adoption t-shirts. The online order form can be found HERE.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Orphan Sunday

Did you know that today is Orphan Sunday? No? If not, you are not the only one.

Until we adopted Zhen and Theo, I had never, ever heard of Orphan Sunday. I wasn't aware of the mandate for the church to care for the fatherless. It just wasn't on my radar. I had a depraved indifference. I know I was not the only one.

I was so radically changed by our adoption trip to Ukraine. I was really hoping to inspire some families from my church to adopt as well. I'll never forget the first Sunday we took Zhen to church! He was so overstimulated and freaked out by the crowd of people in the foyer that he started to slap me and claw my face. Arrggh.

Great. Who would want to deal with a child like that? Some beautiful adoption testimony, right?

Today I read this from my friend and fellow adoptive mom, Amy:

Today, Orphan Sunday, I am thankful that my Vera is an orphan no more. After church today she bit me, hit me, pulled my hair, screamed and fought as I wrestled her to the van. I chuckled inside as I thought about saying to each person that we passed, "Don't you want to adopt a child too?" :) The scene did not exactly exude warm fuzzies about adoption. Rather, the scene shouted ORPHAN CRISIS! May I suggest, the orphan crisis is not just the millions and millions and MILLIONS of orphaned children around the world. It's not just the number. The orphan crisis lives inside each of them. They carry their trauma, neglect, abuse, etc. with them. Their trauma will not be healed overnight (or 16 months). It runs deep, friends. Whenever Vera begins to feel love from Jon or I, she does whatever she has to do to fight it. She doesn't understand unconditional love. She doesn't know how to respond to it. She has asked us why we don't leave her when she screams and hurts us. This is the orphan crisis. It's in my home and the homes of some of my dearest, most courageous friends. Would any of you tell my precious Vera that she doesn't deserve a family because of her negative behaviors? I didn't think so. So, what is stopping you?

PLEASE consider what you can do for an orphan. Foster. Adopt. Pray. Donate. Advocate. Spread awareness and be willing to step out of your comfort zone. We solve the orphan problem one child at a time.

Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.

What can YOU do? What WILL you do?

She's so right. If we all catch the vision, and do a little bit, we can make a dent in this crisis. 

I hope that you will catch the vision.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

November Announcement

When we began this new adoption journey in July, I was certain that we could have traveled to meet Maxim by October. The pieces fell effortlessly into place at first. Then came October.

We have met one hurdle after another. One emergency followed by the next. The stress of fixing paperwork in a rush on Fridays, hunting down notaries on Sundays, driving to the state capitol in the wee hours of Monday mornings, racing to ship paperwork in time, and trying to continue to care for nine children at the same time is crushing. 

But I continue to have peace in my heart. I cannot tell you if this is the peace that surpasses understanding, or if my poor heart is just numb. It's possible that I have built a wall to protect my heart. Adoption from Eastern Europe is never a sure thing. But I keep taking the next step, in faith that this is what I am called to do. December is looking more realistic.

I recently received a few new photos of little Max. He's a happy child, but he doesn't look well. I'm feeling some cracks in my wall. The closer I get, the harder it is to keep my composure. This boy needs out now. Yesterday. Two years ago. He needs someone to pour love and life into him.

Will you just look at those scrawny legs? And those fingers and wrist. Too thin. Not cool. I have a new sense of urgency...

          ...which is why I'm happy to announce that Maxim is the child of the month of November for an organization called Ten for Orphans!!

Ten For Orphans is an organization which seeks to unite people everywhere with the common goal of raising funds that will help facilitate orphans with special needs having a family of their own by removing one of the biggest roadblocks to the process–that of money. What if thousands of people were making a small $10 donation monthly? Think of the impact!

I urge to you to go to I challenge you to donate $10 (or more!) for Maxim and then commit $10 every month to the children that this organization serves. Be a part of a modern day miracle.