October 26, 2010

I will not leave you as orphans.....

Today, at 2:30 PM on October 26, 2010 - two girls walked out of an orphanage in Ukraine and left their years of living as orphans.  They left a life of being unloved, a life of dispair, and feelings of sadness to a life of hope, unconditional love, and a home which brings the joy of having a family.

My girls were packed and ready to go when we got to the orphanage.  Their friends anxiously but with sadness watched them as they hugged one another, snapped last minute photos, and said their good-byes.  Even though we will return tomorrow with sweets and juices for a "Going Away" party, today was their last day as orphans.  It was a memorable day and bittersweet, I'm sure.  I can't imagine leaving a life where I depended on the relationships and shared such a strong commonality with those around me.  I have left friends before and it was hard, but I can't imagine leaving what I considered for the last 5 years, my family.  I know my girls were excited to leave but you could also sense their sadness.  I pray for those that we left behind.  A few of those I will continue to pray for are:

Alina - she is Stephanie Tatiana's best friend.  She was not there today but she left a gift for me.  I can completely understand why she chose to stay away today.  Her best friend is leaving and she is having to continue her life without the person she considers as her sister. Alina is a precious soul and one I could spend my lifetime advocating for and I will do so!  She does have three siblings and I met one of them, Kolya.  He is a sweet boy and LOVES candy!   Stephanie wants someone to host Alina at Christmas (she has a person in mind - Tasha (hint, hint) but we would love anyone to host her if she can't do that this year).

Aloyna (aka Helen) - this sweet, precious child does have a family interested in adopting her and they are from New Braunfels.  Please pray for the family as they begin the dossier preparations and a journey that will take them to the other side of the world.  We love this child!

Pasha - what a precious boy!  He is the most well-behaved 15 year old I have ever met!  He absolutely adored us for some reason and Madeline spent a lot of time flirting with him.  We are praying with a family now that is interested in hosting him.  We pray for God's will to be done in his life.

Olya - another friend of Stephanie's.  Absolutely precious young girl (14 years old) and has an older sister that is not adoptable.  Olya really desires to come for Christmas and to find a forever family.  I wish I could have spent more time with her - she is adorable.

Slavik and Vova - two sweet brothers.  Slavik meets us at the car everyday!  He must have Becca radar or something because he is the first one out the door if he's not already outside waiting for us.  We are praying with a couple of families that might be interested in hosting them.  Their mother visits them on a regular basis so we need to do an official check on the availability for adoption.

Yura and Vitaly - another precious sibling group!  Yura is 10 and Vitaly is 13.  They are on our website for potential hosting and they are cutie pies!  So, so, sweet!  Yura has the cutest dimples EVER!

Vika, Maya and Kolya - I could spend a whole post on this group of kiddos.  They have been to Texas several times and its just not in God's plan for them to be adopted by their host family.  The family loves them dearly but just does not feel the call to adopt right now.  Vika - 15, Maya - 12, and Kolya - 7 are a precious sibling group.  Kolya is hard and would require a very strong father figure to guide and direct him.  The girls are amazing.  Vika speaks fluent English and has been a huge help to us these three weeks. 

Andriy - he is 12 and I finally got the opportunity to meet him last night.  He desires so much for a family and really wants to come to America for Christmas.  I have a photo of him that I will post at a later date.

I could go on and on about children!  I plan on featuring a child per week on my blog with photos.  If anyone is interested in hosting children, please visit our website (http://www.charis4orphans.org/) and under "Hosting" the password is ukraine. 

I pray that one day, I will be reading the blogs of families that have rescued the children above and they will be orphans no more.

Thanks for all your prayers!  We love each and every one of you!  You have no idea what your love, support and prayers have done for us in the journey!

The Hills

October 24, 2010

The tale of two mothers.....

On October 22, 2010, I had the honor of meeting the woman that chose to give my daughter life.  Molly's biological mother, Viktoria, agreed to meet us for dinner.  I thought about it all day and what to expect but nothing could prepare me for this meeting.  I trusted God that He had it totally under control and of course, He did - every bit! 

Unfortunately, I had been sick most of the day.  Mom had a stomach bug that she graciously passed on to me.  However, she knew how much it hurt, so she was very willing to forego her trip to the mall to take care of me.  I was very grateful for her nursing care! I was very worried that I would be too sick to meet Viktoria but I was praying that God would make me well enough to go that evening. 

When we got to our meeting place (McDonald's by the train station), we were the first to arrive.  Denis went outside to see if he could find them and Craig and I were alone.  We both were nervous and excited at the same time.  We had no idea what to expect and we never thought we would be at this place.  We remember about 7 years ago when we made the decision to adopt internationally so that we would never have to come in contact with a birthmother.  Boy, have our thoughts and feelings changed about that whole concept.  Here we were, waiting for the birthmother that we never thought we'd ever get to meet. 

She walked inside and since I have seen photos of her, I recognized her immediately.  She definitely looked younger in person than in pictures. She carried her precious 1 year old daughter, Irina, in her arms.  Her new husband, Viktor and oldest daughter, Tanya, were behind her.  Viktoria was beautiful in her own way - I don't know if its her outside beauty or the fact that I recognize her as Molly's "first" mommy.  We left McDonald's and walked across the street to a Ukrainian restaurant.  On the way over, Viktoria said that the rest of the children (Dima, Nastiya, and Yana) were home and wanted so badly to come meet me.  They were upset that they didn't get to come but it was late and too much to bring so many children into town.  They live in a very small, poor village about 30 minutes by bus.  Tanya said on our way over to the restaurant that she felt like she was in a dream.  She said that she never thought this day would ever come in her life - to meet the woman that adopted her sister.  A little background on Tanya...
When Denis found Viktoria in 2004, Tanya was the one that answered the door.  When Denis said why he was there and it was in the interest of a child of Viktoria's that was adopted, Tanya started crying.  We later found out that Tanya had been told that Molly died at birth.  We aren't sure why they chose to lie to her but it has hurt her tremendously and you can see it in her eyes.  She is still very hurt and saddened but I was so happy that she came that night.

I brought a photo album of Molly's pictures throughout the past 6 years to Viktoria.  She thumbed through them and then gave us her phone so that we could scroll photos of her children.  There was one photo of Yana, Molly's sister, that jumped out at us - she look IDENTICAL to Molly.  We had to glance a second time to make sure Molly had not made a secret visit to Ukraine.  It was amazing to see the resemblance in Molly and all of her siblings.  If Viktoria were blonde and smaller, Molly would look much like her.  They have the same cheek bones and lips.  It was pretty cool to look into the face of the woman who gave birth to my child. 

Zhenya (Tanya's boyfriend) and Viktor (Viktoria's husband) got up to get something to eat.  At that time, we thought it was best to talk to Viktoria.  We told her how thankful we were to her and that she chose the most selfless act of any mother - to place her child up for adoption.  We told her that we knew it had to have been the most difficult decision she would ever make but that we were happy with the gift that she chose to give us.  We told her that Molly is very aware of her family in Ukraine and that she will always be told of her life here and that I hoped one day she would come meet her.  She began to cry as did Tanya, and then of course, me.  We cried over a child that two mothers love and hold deeply in their hearts.  Viktoria and I share a bond that can never been broken.  We both love Molly Luba with all of heart and we both desire the best for her life.  Viktoria knew 7 1/2 years ago that she could not provide for the child she was carrying in her womb and she knew she would have to make a very hard decision but in that decision, she knew her child would receive life.  She thanked us for providing for Molly and was so happy to hear how she had grown up the last 6 years.  I can't imagine the thoughts or emotions running through her body and mind.  I am not even going to begin to try to understand the heartache she must face on a daily basis of not having a child, she bore, beneath her wings.  But, I do understand the ache for a child and the feeling when an empty lap is filled with the child you desperately long and pray for.  And, I am grateful for Viktoria and the life that she has given me!

We left the meeting with lots of hugs and promises to keep in touch.  We are so blessed to have Denis in Dnepropetrovsk and his willingness to go see her on a regular basis.  We will most definitely continue to keep in touch and one day, when Molly is ready and she so chooses, we will bring her back to meet her "life mommy!" 

We are now back in Zhytomyr.  We spent a lovely evening with Alla's mother and of course, she fed us a wonderful meal!  We saw the girls and tomorrow we will go again and spend our last day at the orphanage.  On Tuesday, we will pick up the court decree and the girls will leave with us - FOREVER!  Its hard to believe that they only have 2 more nights in the orphanage.  Craig will also travel to the border of Hungary and Ukraine to get Tanya's new birth certificate.  He is not so happy as its a very long train ride but it has to be done.  Hopefully, we will get all the documents needed by Thursday and head to Kiev that evening.  If all goes well, maybe we will be home by next Tuesday.  Praying for a smooth week!

Blessings to all of you!
The Hills

October 19, 2010

WOW - What a day!

Today was a very exciting day even though the skies were quite gray and the weather was dreary. We were up early and dressed and headed to Molly's orphanage. We took the bus (like old times) and went the exact track. I took video of our journey, even our walk through the woods that we did every day for over 5 weeks. It was very cold and very different than 6 years ago in the heat of the summer. We were bundled up with heavy coats, scarves, hats and gloves. When we approached the building, I had a wave of emotion. I can't believe that this is the place that my child called "home" for 17 months of her life! The outside of the building and the smell as we stepped foot into it, was the same. However, the walls had been painted and new couches had been placed in the LONG hallway. It looked very different inside and much better than 6 years ago. We went upstairs to meet with Svetlana, the orphanage director. It was great to hug her neck and show her pictures of Molly from the last 6 years. None of Molly's caregivers were there because of changes at the orphanage. There are only 60 children there and most of them are not adoptable. There were 180 children when Molly was there in 2004. Apparently, Svetlana had a dream of opening up a rehabilitation center for children with special needs. And, her dream has come true! Its the only rehab center in the whole country of Ukraine! The equipment was purchased by a family in Germany that adopted from that orphanage many, many years ago. Their son is now 18. Its state of the art rehab equipment and its all kids' size! Its ADORABLE - pictures below. Svetlana then showed us an "aromatherapy" room for the children and a place for them to lay down and relax! It was soooo cool and I was tempted to stay and let my family go on the rest of the tour alone. It smelled heavenly! She also has a wing where mothers with children with special needs can come there and receive therapy at no charge. This helps with those mothers that abandon their children because they are born with abnormalities. The mothers can stay with their children as they receive the necessary treatment/rehab. These mothers learn to cope with their special needs and provide for them rather than leaving them on doorsteps of baby houses. Its a GREAT program!

We then went into the special needs part of the orphanage and we met Sasha! He melted our heart immediately and he loved Craig! He has Down's but is very high functioning. He is extremely smart and he's only 2 1/2. Madeline loved him too. I was so happy to hear that two American families had adopted out of that room this past summer.

We got to see Luba, the orphanage attorney. She was so special to us and was at our court hearing in 2004. She is a lovely person and it was great to see her face and hug her neck. It was actually great to be back and they loved that we brought Molly to visit them! So many families promise to bring the children back and never come. We left photos and chocolate!

The orphanage is in need of roof repairs. It will take about $2000 to repair so we are praying that maybe our marathon (www.marathonforadoption.com) will help accomplish that goal in the future.

We pick up our girls one week from today! We are excited to see them this weekend and pray that they are doing okay without us. We have enjoyed our time in Dnepropetrovsk and look forward to meeting Molly's biological mother this week. Molly will not be going with us but Craig and I plan on meeting with her. We will get the opportunity to ask about her family, medical history, and get to know her personally.

Thanks for all your prayers! We are so thankful for ALL of you!


The Hills (all 6 of us)!!!

October 17, 2010

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride....

You know...I have done some really ridiculous things in my life and I'm sure the same goes for my husband and my mom.  But, our decision to drive from Zhytomyr to Dnepropetrovsk on Friday night takes the icing on the cake!

We met a taxi cab driver, Vitaly, during the beginning of our adoption journey.  He drove a white VW car/van/SUV thingy and we noticed he had a German flag hanging in the window.  Since we had just come from Germany, we thought it would be cool to strike up a conversation with this guy.  He didn't speak much English but he LOVED to talk.  He would just continue to talk as much as possible, even though we didn't have a clue as to what he was saying.  I could understand some words and piece it together, but for the most part - he just loved to hear himself talk.  He did tell us that his family was from Germany and how he wanted to either live there or America.  He asked if we would take him.  A few days later, he came to pick us up and his girlfriend, Leana, was with him.  She speaks perfect English and was such a big help in translating for us.  I asked her about his family in Germany and she rolled her eyes and said, "His family is Ukrainian and live in Ukraine, his ancient ancestors are from Germany - HE IS NOT FROM THERE!"  It was funny because clearly she had had this conversation once or twice before with other people.  Anyway, we grew to really like Vitaly and we would call Leana to have her call Vitaly to pick us up and take us places.  They were such a great help! 

Well, after court, we were trying to decide when to go to Dnepropetrovsk.  One guy offered to take us but was going to charge us an unbelievable amount of money.  We thought about the train but there was no way to find out about train tickets without traveling to Kiev first and we didn't want to take that chance.  So, we called our buddy, Vitaly.  He offered to take us for less than what we could take a train.  We took him up on it and loaded the car at 6:10 PM. He told us it would only take us about 6 hours.  When we got in the car - the first thing we noticed - there were no seatbelts.  I am sure its okay, we were most likely going to be traveling on an interstate type highway and I would hold my baby as tight as possible.  We headed out on the highway to Kiev and once we got there, he kept stopping and asking for directions.  We began to get a little worried that he didn't know exactly where to go from there.  We contemplated catching the train from Kiev and letting Vitaly go on his way back to Zhytomyr.  But, we kept on going, stopping every hour to ask for directions or to read the map.  We were trucking along and the interstate then turned into two lanes and stayed that way the rest of the trip. These weren't normal two lane roads - they reminded me much of Mexico or Belize roads.  Lots of pot holes! 

Now, Vitaly told us that he had been a tank driver in the Army.  We were impressed but I think he wanted to show us those tank driving skills on our road trip.  It was a mixture of NASCAR, Bumper Cars at the Fair, Frogger from Atari, and tank driving all wrapped up into one.  Madeline would occassionally say "I riding a horse!"  We passed people on the road and I'm sure we were going close to 90 miles an hour.  We were dodging cars like bullets.  It was like we were part of a high speed chase!  I was scared to look.  I could read the serial numbers on the license plates of cars and 18-wheelers!  As we got closer to Cherkassy, we noticed the sign to Dnepropetrovsk and we were FAR, FAR AWAY!  What to do now?  We were literally in the middle of nowhere and there was no sense in turning back.  We asked Vitaly over and over (about every 30 minutes) if he was "oostala?"  (which is tired).  He assured us he was not though none of us (except the girls) were about to fall asleep in fear that Vitaly might follow suit.  So, here we are, bouncing along the incredibly difficult roads in NOWHERE UKRAINE!  Vitaly LOVES techno music and so we were subjected to a night full of it.  He continued to talk to Craig (who was riding shotgun) and he would laugh out loud knowing that Craig had no idea what he was saying.  He said "Vitaly skazhi blah, blah, blah and Craig skazhi 'ne penemayo' - ha, ha, ha!"  And, then he would laugh (translated "Vitaly says blah, blah, blah and Craig says I don't understand you."  It was hilarious!  So, our 6 hour ride turned into 9 hours!!!!  We were so extremely tired.  Vitaly was supposed to be back in Zhytomyr by noon and it was 3:30 AM!  We made him come upstairs and sleep on a mattress on the floor.  There was no way we were going to let him drive back to Zhytomyr with no sleep.  He slept for 4 hours and made it back safely (late, but safe).  We called Leana throughout the day apologizing that we had kept him in Dnepro to sleep. 

The ride was one of a lifetime - much like adoption!  It was such a reminder that God is in control.  There we were - no seatbelts, no directions, a language barrier, not knowing where we were going, and extremely exhausted - and God's mercy poured down on us and got us safely to our destination!  Adoption is not for the faint-hearted.  It should have a disclaimer, much like the rollercoasters and thrill rides at the amusement parks.  But, trust God and He will carry you every step of the way!  He doesn't called the equipped - He equips the called.

We have made a friend in Vitaly and Leana - we hope that our lives are a reflection to them of who Christ is through us!  We hope and pray that God would pour His mercies on them as well. 

No more Mr. Toad's Wild Ride for us - we are taking the Express Train back to Kiev on Saturday!  However, we are hoping and praying that Vitaly will be so gracious to pick us up and take us to Zhytomyr. 

Vitaly and his car

Our new friend!
The Hills 

October 15, 2010


Stephanie Tatiana and Amy Elizabeth (Lizzie) Hill, the proud daughters of Craig and Becca Hill and sisters of Molly and Madeline Hill!!!!!  I will post more about these precious name choices later.

Today, the 15th day of October, 2010, the Government of Ukraine announced us the adoptive parents of these precious Ukrainian children.  Our hearts are overwhelmed with joy and thanksgiving!  Court was amazing and it went so smooth - thanks for your prayers! The judge was quite comical and was very professional and light-hearted with the girls.  He explained to Stephanie (Tanya) that she must be a good girl and that when her parents (us) get old, she must take care of us.  He expressed the importance of her responsibility of being a good child.  Then he proceeded to talk to Lizzie and asked her if she was going to be good and if not, we would be forced to send her back.  He said it jokingly.  He also said that there were no good children in America and that it was Lizzie's responsibility to show Americans what "good" children act like!  It was too cute. 

Court lasted less than an hour and we went to our favorite restaurant to celebrate!  The girls finished lunch with a HUGE bowl of ice cream sundaes!!! 

We could never have done this without the love and support of our family and friends!  Having  my mom here has been such a blessing!  Our team of attorneys, facilitators, and drivers have been AMAZING!  Oksana was such a professional representative in all of our meetings and especially court!  She quadruple checks every document and is so personal with everyone she meets.  We are so blessed and honored to know her!  Natalia is our Kiev contact and is amazing at the SDA!  She has such an amazing presence and carries herself with such professionalism and poise.  We are BLESSED BEYOND MEASURE!

We are headed to Dnepropetrovsk this evening to visit Molly's orphanage, as well as sweet and dear friends we have met along the way in our adoptions.  We are excited for the next chapter in our book.
We will head back to this region at the end of next week at which time we will get new birth certificates and passports for our new Hill girls.  Craig will travel to the Carpathians Mountains on the 26th to get Stephanie's new passport and will return the 28th.  We will head to Kiev to complete the adoption process and hopefully be home by November 2nd or 3rd! 

We love each and every one of you!!!  Thanks again for your prayers and your encouragement.  We can't wait to be HOME WITH OUR FOUR GIRLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Hills
Craig, Becca, Stephanie, Lizzie, Molly and Madeline

October 14, 2010

My Last Night as a Mother of TWO!

It is kind of a strange feeling that I have tonight - my life, as I have known it, is about to change.  I was playing cards with Molly tonight and my little family of four (and Mom) were all gathered in our little room, when it occurred to me - this is my last night as a mom of two!  I looked at Craig and said "Hey, we are married, we have two kids and we are about to have four!"  We say things like that from time to time because there are days when we feel like we are still in our 20s!  Of course, there are days when I feel much older than my actual age. 

So, tomorrow is the big day - COURT!  Our girls will be picked up by our facilitator and brought to the court building.  It is there that they will go before the judge and give their consent and desire to be adopted by us.  They have told us for the last 10 months that they want us to adopt them but of course, anything can happen.  So, we covet your prayers for tomorrow (even though it might be pretty early for some of you).  We ask for favor with the judge, the prosecutors, the SDA, orphanage attorney, inspector and most importantly, our girls.  We ask for a smooth court hearing with no bumps along the way.  We ask for God's will to be done over our will - whatever that may look like!

As I sit here with Madeline laying beside me, I am overwhelmed with emotion.  I would never, in a million years, have envisioned my life with four beautiful daughters. I would have never thought that I would be so blessed to be part of God's Sovereign plan of adoption.  How could I be so blessed that God would, first of all, choose to adopt me and then allow me to be a vessel to adopt the fatherless?  Its amazing that God would choose me in the first place!  But, I am so thankful and humbled that He has worked through me to bring these precious four girls into my home by way of my heart!

I must sleep because its a busy day tomorrow!  Thanks for your prayers and your support - its amazing to see so many people united by this adoption! 

Love to you all,
From the soon-to-be MOMMY OF FOUR!!!!

October 12, 2010

A Future and A Hope...

Its hard to believe that we have been in Zhytomyr for one week.  At times, it feels like we've been here weeks and at other times, seems like yesterday we were in Germany.  We had a great weekend at the orphanage and yesterday was a blast.

The children are so happy and so well taken care of but through all of that, there is a request (sometimes unspoken) of each and every one of them - to find a family.  There are about 8 kids that hang out with us on a regular basis.  It has been a lot of fun getting to know each and every one of them.  Their personalities are so different but one thing is the same - they are children.  However, they are children without moms and dad, some without hope, some with real pain, some with a future while others have none.  But, one thing is true about all of them and that is - there is One who holds their future.  Its hard to grasp the depth of the orphan situation in Ukraine and how one could ever go about finding the answer.  So, I find comfort in knowing two things God has said in His word -   'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.' Jeremiah 29:11 and
Acts 17:26
"and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation"

God does know and He cares for these children more than I could ever comprehend. However, it doesn't excuse me from my responsibility to "care for the orphans and widows of this world." James 1:27.  Its obviously a command that He gives to us and its so much a part of His plan that he called it "pure and undefiled religion is this..."  That's pretty serious business.

So, being here has shed new light on our ministry.  We have looked into the faces of these children, most that will be left behind and we have heard their stories, their hurts, their pains, their desires.  And, we listen, we pray and we trust in a Sovereign God that holds us each in His hand.  That is what gives me the desire to go back every day (well, that, and getting to see my sweet girls!) 

Speaking of girls, we didn't spend too much time with Leeza today.  She came down and was quickly whisked away to get a shower.  Tanya came down with her friends and sat quietly on the couch.  She didn't say much today and I continued to ask her if everything was okay.  She assured me it was but there was just something in her spirit.  I don't know what she's thinking or feeling at this moment but I'm sure she is scared, confused a bit, sad to leave her friends, and excited all at the same time.  Mix that with being a teenage girl and I'm not sure what her emotions are doing at this point.  So, please pray for our sweet Tanya and whatever she may be going through right now.  She has been all smiles up until today.

Court has been set for Friday at 11AM.  Our facilitator called today to let us know that our Interpol clearances (international background checks) have not been received yet.  Without these clearances, we can't have court on Friday.  So, please PRAY that these are received by Thursday!!!!  Lord willing and those come in, we will have court on Friday and then head to Dnepropetrovsk on Saturday to see friends and visit Molly's orphanage.  We are excited to travel down there and look forward to seeing so many people.  Molly's biological mom has expressed an interest in meeting us (without Molly) so we are praying through that right now to see what we should do.  I would like to sit face-to-face with this sweet woman and express my sincere gratitude for giving my daughter life.  She could have chosen to terminate her pregnancy but she chose life.  She chose to take her to a hospital 3 days after her birth because she knew she would be fed.  She chose to give her the name "Luba" which is "Love" because she loved her so much and wanted what was best for her.  She chose life and I want to personally thank her!

Well, I need to get to bed.  Its been a long week and we have a long road ahead of us.  We did find a fabulous mall and even broke down and ate at McDonald's (against our better judgment!)  Hopefully, we will get to take the girls out this week to ice skate with their friends.  I am praying the head teacher will allow it :-)  Now, if I could just muster up the courage to ask her in her native language!!!

Please pray for the Nyman family - they are currently adopting from Ukraine.  They have run into big issues with their region.  If you want to follow their journey - its http://www.sashanyman.blogspot.com/
And, singing praises that our friends, the Bollingers are on their way home tomorrow with their newly adopted daughters from Ukraine!  http://www.morelovetogive.com/

Hopefully, we will be right behind them!!!

Blessings to you all!

October 8, 2010

Life in Ukraine...

We spent a fabulous day today at the mall and then off to see the girls.  I couldn't believe the mall!  It had a great ice skating rink, a good food court, and wonderful shops.  I was able to get a very nice winter coat for about $40.  I got the little girls warmer clothes and plan on returning with the bigger girls to pick up some much needed items (coats and shoes). 

Molly and I ice skated for a bit while Daddy and Madeline treated themselves to ice cream.  We were anxious to get to the orphanage but the older girls were in school and we had to wait. There is a lot of waiting around but we know in the end, it will be worth it :-)

Oksana called this morning to tell us the documents were ready in the next town and that she would take a taxi (about 60 miles one way) to pick it up.  She then dropped it off at the regional inspector's office so that she could write up her conclusion of the document.  We were waiting on a separation paper from another region.  I am not a huge advocate of separation but we have a very unusual circumstance.  The oldest sister of our girls is almost 18 and has a child.  There is no way to find her or let alone adopt her at this point.  She has fled to Western Ukraine with her mother and she has always been listed as a "runaway" with the State Department of Adoption.  So, we received that document today and were waiting on the inspector to write her report.  Oksana tried to see the judge today but guess what - they decided to take a "short day."  So, we shall wait until Monday to submit some documents to the judge and then Oksana will travel to Kiev to submit to the SDA.  Once the SDA reviews the documents, they will write up a "conclusion" of their opinion of this adoption and then court will be set.  We are hoping for next Wednesday or Thursday.

Seeing the girls was absolutely great today!  The weather was perfect and we sat outside for a couple of hours.  I was able to see and visit with children who I had previously met on hosting trips.  It was great to catch up!  I was also able to meet children I have only seen in photos.  Each of those photos have children with stories.  It broke my heart and there were many times I had to fight back tears.  Mom had to walk off on two different occasions in fear of breaking down.  We hosted a little 6 year old, Oksana, in 2007.  We applied to adopt her and found out she had five older brothers and was not even registered.  A few days later, we found out about Madeline and proceeded with the adoption of a newborn.  I have continued to keep up with Oksana and two of her brothers through a young girl that works at the orphanage on the weekends.  Its my understanding that she is being adopted by an Italian couple. I pray that it the case.  It was so hard to see her the first day not knowing if she knew we tried to adopt her and it just wasn't possible.  We got to play with her a lot today.  She and Molly had a blast with Leeza - the three of them played well together.  If its in God's will, I'd give anything to come back and get she and her older brothers, Viktor and Vanya.  I pray that they are being adopted and not left behind.

Tanya's best friend is Alina.  She is absolutely precious!  She speaks a little English and has been hosted to France.  She has such a sweet spirit and her relationship with Tanya is so genuine.  She has a younger sister and two younger brothers.  All are so cute and sweet!  There are so many!  So many faces, so many stories, so many hurts - its all hard to comprehend!  But, I do know that God knows the very number of hairs on each of these children's heads!  He cares more about them than I could ever imagine and I trust in His sovereignty!  I pray that the Church would step up to the plate and take control of what has been entrusted to them by God.  I pray that people would step out of their comfort zones into a world unknown to them but known to God and play a huge part in the life of a child that has no home.

We are excited to get to the orphanage tomorrow.  What a great way to spend my birthday!  I am hoping that they will allow us to take the girls ice skating and for pizza to celebrate!!!

Thanks for all your prayers! 
Much Love,
Becca and the rest of the gang...

October 6, 2010

Tuesday and Wednesday in Ukraine...

We stayed in most of the day on Tuesday until Natalia’s husband picked us up to go buy a stroller. I was hesitant to bring one or even buy one until we carried Madeline through the streets of Ukraine. The backpack was great but she is just too heavy to carry on my back. In an effort to save my back and my sanity, we bought a stroller. She loves it! Next, we went to the SDA to pick up our referral letter. There were four other families there and one we actually met the day before at a café. It was interesting to see where everyone was from in the States and actually most of them had hosted the child or children they were there to adopt. It was really cool to see fellow Americans!

Last night, our driver took us to the region. It was a long two hour drive with a two year old. She acted as if someone had given her a bottle of straight caffeine. Once we got into the city, we stopped at the grocery and then on to our apartment. It’s a very modern apartment but it does not have internet access nor a television. So, its very quiet (with the exception of Molly and Madeline). They girls have had to get quite inventive in their playtime. The décor is so South Beach in here and its quite cozy. We have three beds, which makes it nice. We purchased a wireless interest USB stick so I think we are doing okay on internet. Its pretty slow which makes “waiting” your turn for the computer quite maddening!


We drove to the orphanage today for the first time. The inspector was walking as we pulled into the drive. Once inside, we were able to meet the director, as well as the orphanage attorney. Everyone was extremely nice! Then, in walked Leeza! She was shy at first but then warmed up to you immediately. I started crying my eyes out when I saw her, I have missed her more than I could have imagined. I don’t think she has grown much except for her hair! Then our sweet Tanya came in. Oh, how I could have just grabbed her but she is much more reserved. I hugged and hugged her and she did the same – it was nice to have her in my arms again! They were very excited to see us.

Once we talked to a few people and answering a few questions, they had the girls sign a consent that they did indeed want to be adopted by us. It was exciting to say the least! I can’t believe we are here and we are in the process again! It seems surreal

The girls were so excited to show us their friends. They took us all over the orphanage introducing us to many many children. It was exciting but so heartbreaking. I realized when I saw the hurt in the children’s eyes, that I have a calling and its to these children. I saw a girl that was hosted several times and has not yet been adopted by she and her two siblings. She began crying uncontrollably on my shoulder. I wanted to console her and I tried to the best of my ability. But, there is nothing I can do except advocate for her to find a family. It was heartbreaking!

In 2007, we hosted Oksana. She was nickname “Sluggo” because she was a bull in a china shop. She walked into the director’s office to see her and I came unglued! I couldn’t control my tears and my heart broke for her. What could she be thinking? Did she think I had forgotten her? We tried to adopt her but at that time, she wasn’t adoptable. It broke my heart more than you can imagine when I saw her today. Everytime I think of it, I get tears in my eyes. I am praying that she finds a family for she and her two brothers.

We left about 3 this afternoon to go to the notary for paperwork. Tomorrow, Oksana will travel to another region to obtain separation paperwork from an older sister that is almost 18. She has fled to Western Ukraine with her mother. There is no way to find out where she has fled to and to even ask if she wants to be adopted. I hope and pray that one day we could find her.

The next few days will be just a lot of waiting around. We should know in the best few days about our court date. I am hoping it will be around the 12th or 13th of October. Please pray its sooner versus later.

Thanks for all your prayers! They are greatly felt and appreciated!

Love to you all!

Craig, Becca, Molly, Madeline, Tanya and Leeza (and Gammy)

October 4, 2010

A "Hill" Deal...

If any of you know us well, you know that we can't do anything "easy."  We manage to find drama and if not, drama finds us :)

The SDA appointment went very well this morning.  We met Natalia in front of St. Michael's church this morning to head to the SDA.  It is freezing here this morning and we were frozen by the time she met us.  We took a brisk but cold walk to the building and were ushered in by our psychologist, Deanna.  She was precious!  We took Molly and Madeline in the meeting and they were both a hit.  They asked all about their adoptions and even asked why Madeline's birthmom gave her up for adoption.  Madeline proceeded to make "flirty" eyes with everyone and we got a lot of giggles from the women in the office.  Then, she opened my backpack and put on the darkest lipstick she could find.  It was hilarious. 

They showed us the files of the girls and they were quite old.  Both of the girls had really short hair and looked fairly young.  We found out that the girls' mom was deprived of her parental rights in 2006 and we also found out that Tanya was born in the Carpathian Mountains.  So, here comes the "not so easy" part of the story.  After we go to court, wait our 10 days and pick up the court decree - we get to travel to the far Western part of Ukraine!  Its an overnight train ride or a 10-12 hour car ride.  Natalia is going to call the birth certificate office in that region to see if only one parent can travel and I'll stay with the girls.  Never a dull moment!  So, we pick up our referral letter tomorrow between 4-5pm and then head to the region to see the girls!  We can't wait and are so excited!  If we can't see them tomorrow, we will see them on Wednesday for sure.

Its freezing here and we have limited clothes.  So, we are going to try to head to the mall and purchase larger coats, long johns, and sweaters!  The girls are soooo cold!

Thanks for all your prayers - we definitely feel them and they are working!  Pray for our sleep - we can't seem to sleep in this apartment and it makes our nights very long.

Blessings to you all!

October 3, 2010

In Ukraine

We finally made it!  We left Austin on Wednesday, arrived Frankfurt, Germany on Thursday and spent two amazing days with friends.  Craig had the opportunity to serve in Siberia and South Africa with Andre Bay.  He, his wife (Masha) and three children are now serving and living in Germany.  They live about 45 minutes from Frankfurt and about 20 minutes from Braunfels.  We had a fabulous time and got to see the sister town to New Braunfels.  We toured the Solms Castle and learned a lot about our own hometown.  Germany is absolutely beautiful and we can't wait to go back one day.

We arrived in Kiev on Saturday and went through Customs like a breeze!  We were standing in the "Non-Visa" line behind atleast 20 people.  We knew it was going to be quite a long time and lots of fun for a 2 year old!  Well, Madeline took a fall and started crying.  I was trying everything to make her stop when a Customs agent motioned for us to come to the front of the line.  I thought we were in trouble or something but I followed her direction.  So, the five of us went to the front of the line and they let us go through Customs.  After looking at our passports intently, we were motioned through the line.  Next, we picked up all our luggage (which is a huge blessing) and headed to the other Custom's line.  Again, we were motioned through and they never checked our bags!  What another blessing!  We were out of the airport by 1:45!  Our precious driver "Leo" picked us up in a nice Volkswagon van and took us to the grocery store, and then to our nice apartment.  We are very close to the center and within walking distance to everything!

Our first evening, we opted for TGIFriday's for dinner.  We enjoyed people watching on the streets of Kiev and eating an American-tasting hamburger!  We turned in early (8 pm) and went fast to sleep.  Most of us (Craig and Madeline) slept 14 hours.  Molly and I were up from 11-1 due to jetlag.  I gave Molly a Benadryl and gave  myself two Melatonin and we were finally off to sleep!  We all slept in really late until our doorbell rang.  People were coming in and making sure we were comfortable and others came in to set up our internet.  We finally were able to meet Natalia and to give us last minute instructions before our appointment in the morning.

We will meeting at the SDA (State Department of Adoption) at 9am (1am Texas time) in the morning.  We we receive our official referral of the girls.  We hope to pick up our letter for the girls tomorrow but it could be Tuesday morning.  Nonetheless, we will leave for their region on Tuesday.  We may or may not get to see the girls that day but at the least, we will see them on Wednesday for sure.  We are so excited and can't wait for the process to officially begin!!!

Thanks for all of your prayers!  We do feel them and appreciate them.  Continue to pray for a smooth process, favor with the SDA, judge, prosecutor, inspector, orphanage director/workers, etc.  We know that God is in control and that He has a plan for our lives, as well as the lives of these girls.  We know He holds the future.  We are here out of obedience to Him and trust Him in this process.

Blessings to you all!