All About Vladik: Seven Months Free

I wish every single person who ever met Vladik at Romaniv could see him now.  You would not know this child.

Jed is back in Ukraine right now and has been sending me tons of pics of my babies there.  When I see those pictures and then stop and think about Vladik living there I almost can’t even imagine it.  The boy I know now is so much different than the boy I knew there.  He’s a new creation.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Vladik is a miracle.  How could a child raised there be this joyful, this full of life, this loving, this generous?  Only God could do something like that.

General Transition: He’s a rockstar. Vladik is growing in his development in leaps and bounds.  His language is growing as well, both Ukrainian and English.  He’ll often ask us what certain words are in English, and if we tell him once he usually remembers.  So, now Vladik speaks a mixture of Russian, Ukrainian, English, and “Vladik speak”.  Everyone in our family understands about 99% of what he says, but it’s another story with the rest of the world.  Slowly and surely he is becoming more understandable.  He desires to communicate and his social skills have vastly improved, so we are not worried.

Vladik came to us with many institutional behaviors.  He didn’t know how to behave in most any environment and had a lot of nervous twitches- like sticking his tongue in and out really quickly, licking his hands, and putting his elbows up to his ears, almost like he was blocking his ears.  He would also make tons of inappropriately loud sounds at inappropriate times.  Like if there was quiet he just had to fill it!  If we were in a store or the library and it was quiet you could guarantee Vladik would start filling up the space “BEEP BEEEEEEP!  BEEP BEEEEEEP!”  Oy. We’ve come a long way baby. Now if he beeps we just remind him that he’s not a car and he instantly stops.  🙂 He is sensitive to environments and if all is quiet he is usually good about being quiet.  The only real nervous behavior he still holds on to is the elbows up at the ears, but that one is more and more rare.  He usually only does that if he knows he’s done something wrong, or if someone else is in trouble.  It’s wonderful to take a moment to think back at how far he’s come. Praise God!

Family: We’ve hit a point where it feels like he’s just always been here.  I no longer have that feeling like I’m the babysitter of a child who just always stays (that is a normal feeling in adoption, FYI). He is our son and it feels natural.  I couldn’t have said that even one month ago.  He still loves his Seth and I think when he had his surgery it bonded him more to the other kids as well.  They were all so concerned for him and that empathy really helped with relationship building.  He really is just one of the gang.  I’m so thankful for that.

School: Vladik started school a few weeks ago and is doing amazingly well!  In January he started seeing a tutor for a half hour a day while the school district found a classroom placement for him.  Then in the last week of March, he became a freshman at South Salem High.  Ha!  He’s in a self-contained classroom and we are so blessed by teachers and assistants who love him and treasure him.  Vladik LOVES school.  We started him going half a day at first, but now he is going full day.  Most of the fun, more active learning happens in the afternoon, so we knew he would really enjoy that.  Like every day his class gathers recycling from all the classrooms and they sort and shred it.  Vladik is kinda obsessed with the shredder. 🙂 Today he goes on his first field trip to a recycling center!  He could hardly sleep last night he was so excited to ride the school bus. I am so happy for him that he has this opportunity.  Sweet boy deserves every bit of joy and life that we can offer him.

Medical: Vladik had sleep apnea, so we had his tonsils and adenoids taken out on March 30th.  He also had the back of his throat expanded to make his airway larger.  He did great and has fully recovered.  We had a few scary hours in the recovery room after learning that his body is extremely sensitive to narcotics, but we learned our lesson on that one!  I’m excited to repeat the sleep study, but I can already tell you that the surgery made a big difference.  You know how when you have a newborn and they’re sleeping so still and silently that you have to go super close to make sure they’re still breathing?  Yeah, I had to do that the other night with Vladik.  🙂 I’m used to being able to hear Vladik sleeping from every other room in the house, but that’s not the case now!  He sleeps absolutely SILENTLY.  I’m so so so happy for him!!!!!!  His body used to have to work so stinkin’ hard just to get air.  He had to sleep with his head back and his back arched just to keep his airway open.  The ENT told us that Vladik probably had many very dangerous nights as a small child because his airways were so small.  Thank you God for protecting our baby!  Now I pray that he will start to gain weight since he won’t be working so hard just to sleep.
The next surgery for Vladik is on his right hand.  A plastic surgeon will be giving him a thumb sometime in May.  WOOHOO!  That is the surgery Vladik is so excited about.  We were hoping to do surgery on his feet first, but we won’t be able to.  The foot surgeon will be out of the country for the months of May and June and we will simply run out of time.  We need to be back in Ukraine as a family in August, so we have to let the feet go for now.  Most likely Vladik and I will return for that surgery sometime at the beginning of next year.  So now we just eagerly await insurance approval so we can schedule hand surgery!

Otherwise, I guess I can just say that Vladik is our joy and we love him more every day.  A couple months ago we started teaching him how to hug.  Vladik is very protective of his body and would barely receive a hug.  He would kind of back his shoulder into you and that was as good as it got.  He would often come and kiss my shoulder, but he was too embarrassed or nervous to hug.  We taught him that you give friends high fives, but with family, you need to wrap your arms around them and that is a hug. Now if I say “I need love” (in Ukrainian) he will wrap his arms around me and hug me tight.  And yesterday, for the first time, he initiated.  I was in the kitchen and he came in and said “LOVE!!!” And gave me the hugest hug! Melt.my.heart.

He’s just awesome and we are so thankful that we get to have him in our lives.  Precious, precious boy.

Read More


I am in awe. My heart is so full it’s about to burst.

Another one of our boys will soon have a family!!!


Last March we introduced you to 7 of our boys who were available for adoption in this post, and this post.  I held my breath and hit the publish button, wondering what God planned to do about it.  For many months it seemed that nothing was going to happen.  And then all of a sudden…BAM! The families started rollin’ on in!  We now have FOUR families in process to adopt our boys!

Like I said, I.CAN’T.BELIEVE.IT.

God loves our boys so much!

First Vladik was set free,

then a wonderfully brave family found Alex, 

then a family saw Jonathan and knew he was theirs, IMG_2512

then Ben’s family fell in love,  

and now Isaiah’s family has found him!

I can’t even tell you how much this builds our faith.  We love these boys like they are our own, and we know that adoption will save their lives.  Literally.

The gates of the institution are about to be busted wide open!

As long as everything moves smoothly, the families should be adopting one after the other in a pretty small window of time.  This is so good!  It’s great for the local government to learn that there are people who love these boys and see their value.  It is also great for us as we work toward opening our group homes and deinstitutionalizing the other boys.  People’s eyes will be opened and we pray that God does His miraculous work in the hearts of government officials in the town. It’s just unbelievable.

Please pray for the four families who are in process.  All of them are private at this point, but as soon as I am able to introduce you to them you can bet I will.  If you would like to give them a note of encouragement just send it to me and I’ll pass it along.

To God be the glory for the great things HE has done!!!

PS: Now only two adoptable boys are left!  I’ll spend the next two Fatherless Fridays on Aaron and Stephan.  My faith is big right now, what about yours?



Read More

Fatherless Friday: Isaiahu

A friend told me that I had neglected to blog about the big news!  BEN HAS A FAMILY!  An adoptive family has stepped up and is working as fast as they can to get to him.  Praise God.  Adoption will save his life.  We are so thankful!   The family is private for now, but when they are ready I’ll make sure to introduce you to them.  To keep best up to date on our boys make sure to follow us on Facebook.  I update there several times a week.  🙂

Introducing…Fatherless Friday!  I’d like to take Fridays to share about children we love who are still waiting for adoptive families.

First up is our precious Isaiahu.

Pure sunshine.

Jam-packed with potential.

Beautiful baby boy.

This is the thing: I am confident that if you could all just meet Isaiahu in person, look in his eyes and hold him in your arms, he would be snatched up in an instant.  Everyone who meets him falls in love with him.  His diagnosis sounds scary, but he is so wonderful!  He is absolutely a delight.

I mean, think about it.  This little boy lays in his bed in one single room day after day after day.  He only leaves that room when the weather is nice and his nanny takes him for a walk, or if one of our team members carries him out for a stroll down the hall.  He most likely hasn’t left his small building since the early days of fall, before winter set in- except to visit the hospital.  His world is so so tiny.  Yet he still smiles.  He still makes small gains.  He is awesome.

Wide Awake International and Bible Orphan Ministry have teamed together to hire two special nannies that alternate days, caring for Isaiahu and Ben from 7am-7pm.  Those nannies keep those baby boys alive.  Literally.  They care for their needs, hold them, feed them, bathe them, all in that little room.  They keep them safe from other boys who have not been taught to be safe.  Those nannies are such a blessing to our little ones.

Three times a week our teams come to spend time with the boys, and then three other days a week Wide Awake Int interns work with specific boys, providing therapeutic interactions that help to move the boys forward in development. His potential is ENORMOUS!  This is the first time he has had consistent therapeutic interactions and he is blossoming.

But it’s still not enough.

Isaiahu will never really thrive in his current environment.  A mental institution is no place for a 7-year-old boy- especially one as helpless as Isaiahu.

He is learning to hold his head up and to sit with support.  He smiles and laughs when his name is called.  He prefers his nannies over others and seems to have an obvious attachment to them.  He is ticklish and loves to be praised when he’s working hard.  The doctors say he is losing his sight, but it’s obvious he can still see.  Oh, how I pray for a mommy and daddy to come for him before it is too late and his world fades to black.

Someone see this precious treasure and say YES.  He may be dependent on you all his days, true. That is no small thing.  It is a very big reality.  Another big reality is that he will bring his family so much joy.  He is a ray of sunshine in a very dark place where he does not belong.  Think about what blessing will come from serving a sweet one like this.  Think about the rejoicing and cheering and smiles that will come from seeing him hit new milestones.  Think about the beauty of watching him truly live with a mommy and daddy who treasure him and fully see his value.

Sweet little Ben has a family coming for him, and now it’s his roommate’s turn.

You can read more about Isaiahu in these posts: The Day We MetFighting for my Babies, Guest post for Isaiahu.

If you can’t adopt but would like to help, you can donate to Isaiahu’s adoption grant here.  This will help relieve some of the costs of his adoption when his family finds him.

Read More

The Sky’s the Limit

Since the beginning of December we’ve been taking steps toward putting Vladik in school for the rest of this school year, while we’re in the US.  It’s been a decision I didn’t expect us to make, but for many reasons it just seems right.  We aren’t set on him being in a special Ed classroom all day every day, we just feel that it makes sense to take advantage of the opportunities he has here in the US to be taught by professionals- before we head back to Ukraine and it’s all up to me. [GULP] On Monday we spent about 2 hours with a school psychologist and a speech pathologist and they evaluated Vladik.  They had never seen a situation like ours before: 15 years old, no educational history AT ALL, smart, but behind in everything because he’d simply never had a chance.  ZERO life experiences until 5 months ago.  Born at age 15. 🙂

Vladik blew them away.  His zest for life, his joy, his eagerness to learn- he is truly a miracle.

There may have been some tears in the room as we talked about how far Vladik has come-  from the cowering boy in the Isolation Hall to the brave boy shooting matchbox cars across the meeting room table.

Those two ladies got it.  They really and truly “got” it.  They saw the treasure in Vladik.  They saw the untapped potential that has waited years and years and years to be discovered.  They looked past his outward appearance and his awkward speech and institutional behaviors and truly saw the person.  Those two women saw the value in my son and I will be forever grateful to them for that.  At the end of the meeting they declared “We need to get this boy in a classroom! He’s waited long enough.”

And boy did they live up to their word, because today Vladik started school.

It will take a while to figure out which school and which classroom is the best fit for our boy, but they didn’t want him to have to wait, so they arranged for Vladik to start with tutoring in the meantime.  I think that was a fantastic idea.  Tutoring is the perfect transition for Vladik.

We started today and are just doing 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week.  Vladik’s attention span is like minuscule, so 30 minutes is about his max.  Plus, this is his first activity away from Mama and Papa, so it’s a great way for him to learn that we will always come back for him and it’s a really safe place for him to learn some independence.  The teacher speaks no Ukrainian 🙂 so, Vladik will be learning some English along the way!

Oh my, I made the rookie mistake of telling Vladik last night that he would start school today.  Silly me.  I should have known that in order to avoid approximately 372 questions about when we will go to school, I should have just waited and told him in the car on the way there. [live and learn]   But I just couldn’t wait to tell him!  He was jumping and laughing and clapping with glee.  He said “Addy has a school, Ezra has a school, Hava and Seth have a school, and Vladik has a school!!”  When I came to pick him up today at the end of his lesson he said “Mama!  This is my school!”  He was so proud.

I love that boy.  I picture him wandering the halls of Romaniv and my heart breaks in two.  He had so much more in him than we ever realized.  He had an imagination and a smart brain and a sense of humor and a great capacity to love, all just sitting and waiting for a chance.  Born at age 15, now my sweet baby can fly.  The sky is the limit for our boy.

March 2015 and February 2016

I dream of that same future for the rest of our friends who sit and wait at Romaniv.  I wonder what they will be on that day when their chance at freedom finally comes.  I wonder who will be funny and who will be super smart and who will have a knack for growing flowers and who will be great with the animals.  I do know that they will all exceed our expectations because the sky will be their limit.  And I pray that day comes soon.

Jed is working hard in Ukraine, deciding on the best property to purchase and meeting with government officials.  This God dream of ours is going to happen.  It’s really going to happen.  Doors are flying open in front of us.  People are going to see the beauty of our boys and they’re going to see their value, just like the school psychologist and speech pathologist recognized the beauty of our Vladik.  The joy of Vladik experiencing his first day of school is just a glimpse of the freedom that is to come.  We.Can’t.Wait.  When God puts a dream in motion the sky’s the limit!



Read More

All About Vladik: Four Months Free

I think it’s about time for an update on Vladik, don’t you?  I know many of you love him very much, and have prayed for him for many years.  It is our joy to share his journey with you.  Some things I won’t share, just to protect Vladik’s privacy, but there is a lot I will share, because Vladik’s story is a great story of redemption and we just can’t keep it to ourselves!

General Transition: Vladik is doing unbelievably well.  He is a walking miracle in every way.  He sucks the marrow out of life more than anyone I’ve ever known.  He is also still the happiest person I’ve ever known.  He almost NEVER stops smiling!  And if he does stop smiling, or if he starts to cry, you know you better pay attention.  His cry is the most pitiful thing!  Maybe it’s because it’s so rare to see him unhappy, but when he starts to cry we can’t even handle it.  So so sad!!  He generally only cries when he is in pain (shots, blood draws, IV’s…) or when he is overwhelmed.  Like yesterday, at the end of a loooooong day of doctor’s appointments, we were sitting, waiting for the nurse to come back in the room and he just leaned into me and started crying.  It was so unexpected, and so sad!  He just really wanted to go home.

Vladik loves home.  He always wants to know which direction is home and when are we going home.  He calls our house “The Red Tomato” in Ukrainian, because it’s red. 🙂  He’s always gotta check in about where The Red Tomato is, and if that’s where we’re going next.  I love that he loves home, and I also know he always checks in about it because he’s still not quite sure that he will always be with us.  That’s okay buddy, keep on checking in as long as you need to. You’re stuck with us!

We still speak only Ukrainian to Vladik and have not really taught him any English yet.  But, we just decided this week to begin speaking to Vladik in English and Ukrainian.  We don’t want him to be on the fringes of our family in any way, and not having English excludes him from many conversations unless one of us translates.  It’s time.  This should be fun!  Ha!

Family: Seth and Vladik are still best buds.  Vladik calls Seth “Seppa” and Seth calls Vladik “Vladchik”.  They play together, fight together, laugh together and cry together (well, Seth does the crying…haha).  They are always hugging each other.  It is the cutest thing.  Seth is the leader, for sure, and can kind of take advantage of it, but Vladik is learning to stand his ground a bit better too.  He actually knows how to push Seth’s buttons, so yeah, typical brother stuff going on there. 🙂  Havalah is doing great with Vladik.  They don’t play together much, since Vladik doesn’t share a common love for Barbies, but Hava is always coming up to Vladik and giving him little loves.  She really loves him.

Ez and Addy have had a bit of a harder transition, which was to be expected.  It’s difficult to know how to navigate having a new brother that is physically your same size, but developmentally like a toddler. There are some habits that a toddler might display that are cute,  but when done by a toddler in a 10 year old body…not so cute, more just annoying…and LOUD.  Ha!  We have all had to remember often that Vladik has never been parented at all.  He has never had a family to teach him what is appropriate.  He has never had good social modeling.  He has never had any healthy relationship modeling.  He likes attention and will try to get it however he can- negative or positive- he’ll take what he can get, much to Addy and Ezra’s chagrin.  BUT, I will say that they have many sweet moments and over the past few weeks the positive moments have far outweighed the annoying, make-him-be-quiet-and-stop-touching-me-moments.  Yay!  Vladik is learning better how to relate to his siblings, and his siblings are growing in their love for him.  When you love someone you can accept a lot of behaviors that would have made you crazy before.  We talk a lot about choosing love, even when you don’t necessarily feel it at the time. Also, Vladik’s sense of humor is coming out more and more and he is making us laugh more all the time!  That helps those sibling relationships for sure.

Slowly but surely, he is becoming just one of the bunch.  They have all come so far!

Vladik does great with mommy and daddy. He loves us both and seems to be attaching appropriately. He doesn’t play us against each other like he used to when he was stressed.  He listens and obeys eagerly, 90% of the time.  Usually the other 10% of the time he needs only a firm voice and a reminder that it’s important to listen and obey.  We have done a couple “time-outs” and that has been super effective.  It’s really only “Okay, you didn’t listen so now you have to sit in this chair for 3 minutes.”  But, it is enough to get him to stop and pay attention.  He generally desires to obey.  When he is stressed we have to be a bit more firm with him to draw those boundaries in nice and tight, and he responds really well.

Medical: Oh my, have we been busy in this department!  Vladik came to us as a big mystery puzzle and we are slowly fitting all the pieces together.  Vladik is miraculously healthy.  Praise God!  Let’s start with the head and move down.

Head: We just had an appointment this week with the craniofacial surgeon and the neurosurgeon to discuss the results of Vladik’s head CT.  Boy was I surprised to hear their thoughts!  They both agreed that Vladik does not need any skull surgery.  What????  I was all prepared to hear a plan and instead heard, “He’s dismissed from our service!”

I guess I’m not yet sure if we should be relieved or if we should seek a second opinion.  I have an email to an expert on Apert Syndrome and am waiting to hear his thoughts.  Right now we are choosing to trust the doctors and be thankful. 🙂  This is their rationale: the CT showed that all of his cranial sutures are already closed.  Because he is 15, his head is done growing and his brain is done growing.  His dilated eye exam showed there is no pressure on his optic nerves, and he does not show any signs or symptoms of intracranial pressure.  Because of this, there is no need to expand his skull.  They said that if he doesn’t have intracranial pressure now, there is no reason for him to develop it later because his head is done growing.  It all makes great sense.  I guess we just really want to make sure we get this one right, which is why we are considering a second opinion.  Prayer for wisdom about that would be appreciated!

We are unsure how much of Vladik’s delay in development is because of restricted brain growth in his earlier years.  If he had been born here he would have had skull expansion surgery as an infant.  The doctor said that unfortunately, because he was not treated, that damage is already done and now it is too late for treatment.  So, we are glad we don’t have to deal with skull surgery, but we also mourn a bit for what might have been if we had gotten to him earlier.

Eyes:  Vladik’s eyes have many of the typical traits of Apert Syndrome.  They are placed in a different position on his head and even the eyeballs are rotated out a bit.  He has good vision and does not need glasses…yay!  But he does not use his eyes together and they are often crossed.  He will have eye surgery this spring to adjust the muscle position a bit and help him to use his eyes together.

Teeth: Vladik’s teeth are actually not in horrible shape!  Sure they are funky, and he could really use some braces, but health-wise, they are not bad at all!  He had two old fillings with decay underneath that we have had replaced and he got two crowns.  He did amazing.  We won’t be able to tackle orthodontics until we get to Ukraine. It’s too long of a process for us to undertake here in the US.  Because of that, we can’t really do any mid-face surgeries, as those must be coupled with orthodontics.  Midface surgery, in Vladik’s case, is not a medical necessity.  It would be more cosmetic, I guess, and honestly for a child with Apert Syndrome, Vladik’s midface is actually not in a bad position!  It doesn’t seem to affect his airways at all.  Because of that, we have opted out of those surgeries.  It just isn’t possible, with our living situation, to couple anything with orthodontics.

Ear, nose, throat:  We have yet to see the ENT doctor (grrrr), but we have been pushed up in the priority list as of yesterday.  Vladik had a sleep study and it showed he has obstructive sleep apnea.  He snores and gags and chokes and coughs all night long.  The craniofacial team is recommending a modified tonsillectomy (can’t do a full one because of his cleft palate).  Hopefully taking part of the tonsils would help his apnea enough for him not to need CPAP.  All the other surgeons agree that if a tonsillectomy is going to happen, then that needs to happen before any other surgeries.  Simply because airway management during anesthesia will be much easier if his airway is more clear. So, we are looking forward to that appointment. The ENT will also order hearing testing, as recommended by the cranio docs.  Vladik’s speech is still pretty hard to understand and they want to rule out hearing loss.

Hands: Can you believe the physical issue that has caused the most angst so far has been fingernails????  OMG.  Vladik’s fingernails are so difficult to manage!! They are fused, like his fingers, and just a pain.  We have been dealing with an ingrown fingernail since November that eventually led us to the ER because everyone is afraid to touch him. We FINALLY saw a hand surgeon yesterday (as a follow-up for the nail) and he was awesome!  He would like to give Vladik a thumb!!  He is suggesting starting with a thumb and seeing how well Vladik can learn to use it before trying for anything more.  Because of his age, it looks like from the x-rays that it would be very difficult to separate the other fingers, plus, we then run the risk of him not gaining great use of them because of his age and the lateness of a surgery like this.  We agree.  Having thumbs will absolutely change his life.  We told him last night that the doctor wants to give him a thumb and he was flipping out!!  He was pounding the table and shrieking and laughing.  Ha!  It will be amazing. The doctor suggested just doing one hand at a time, so as to not incapacitate him, but honestly, he needs both hands to do everything anyway, so we are going to ask for both thumbs to happen at once.  We’ll see!

We already have been waiting for months for an appointment with the hand surgeon at Shriners and our appointment is finally coming up at the end of the month.  We’ll go and see what that surgeon has to say and then make our decision. It’s so exciting to hear that Vladik could have thumbs.  That is what we hoped for.  SO SO EXCITING!!!

Feet:  We saw a foot surgeon at Shriners in November and he saw right away that Vladik would greatly benefit from surgery on his feet. Vladik’s feet are so funky.  They are almost impossible to fit for shoes and they always look so painful.  They are very misshapen and there are sores on the bottom of his feet where all the pressure lies.  The doctor wants to basically reconstruct his feet- lengthening some bones and shortening some others. This will help him so much as he grows and (hopefully) gains some weight.  The downside is that the surgery will land him in a wheelchair for 8 weeks.  OUCH. Trying not to think about that one too hard.  Wheelchairs are very traumatizing for Vladik.  I can’t imagine how he will react to not being able to walk.  I’ll let you know when that surgery comes up so you can be praying!

Vladik talks often about his old life.  He is faithful to tell us daily he doesn’t want to go back to his old house.  Just in case we should forget!  🙂  He talks about sad things that happen there and whenever he talks about it he uses the word “thunder” in Ukrainian. He talks about how there was a lot of thunder there and covers his ears.  These days it’s hard for us to even imagine Vladik there.  I feel like the Vladik I knew at Romaniv was a scared shadow of the Vladik I know now.  He was always scared, always in fight or flight mode, pinging from one thing to another.  He even stands differently now.  Before, he was hunched over like a cowering little boy.  Now he walks straight and tall.

He has a wonderful sense of humor and loves to make us laugh.  He is loving and kind.  He teases his sisters and is obsessed with microwaves.  He loves all things Lightening McQueen, and calls any kind of case with a handle a “businessman”.  He likes cheese and apple juice and Reeces Peanut Butter Cups.  If he doesn’t have borscht every few days he’ll let me know it’s time. He likes to do laundry and even cleans out the vent and adds a dryer sheet before starting the dryer!  He is such a special, quirky little character.  To know him is to love him.

The more we meet with doctors and tell his story, the more I am in awe of God’s protection over Vladik’s life.  That he survived living where he lived, without any surgical interventions, is unbelievable. He is so smart. He is so independent.  Everyone who meets him falls in love almost instantly.  I’m actually crying as I type this.  How did we get to be the ones to win this lottery?  I can’t even wait to see how he continues to grow and change as he gains confidence in the fact that he is loved and he will never ever go back to his old life.

Thank you Jesus for our sweet boy!

Read More

Fighting for The Little Ones

I remember the day we met.

Jed and I heard the news that there were a couple of new arrivals at the orphanage and we rushed there to meet them.  The faces we saw that day changed us forever.

photo 1 (6)

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset


photo 3 (6)


Sweet Ben and Isaiah, six-year old boys in baby bodies, lying in their cribs, unaware of all the concern swirling around them.

The nannies were afraid.  Isaiah wouldn’t eat from a spoon and they had no bottles available for them.  After all, we’re talking about an institution for men and boys, not for fragile babies.

They tried to take their time to feed the little ones properly, but time is just not something the nannies have much of to spare.  Twenty other boys/men with severe needs were yelling and moaning from behind the shut doors of our little baby hideaway, so even though they cared, the nannies simply had to move on, shutting and locking the door behind them for the safety of the wee ones.

Our family left for a week to go work at a camp, and when we rushed back at the end of the month to see our babies, we were devastated.  They were withering away right before our eyes.  Of course they were.  Babies, children, teenagers, adults, no one is meant to be locked behind a door, in a crib 24 hours a day.  Our hearts sunk.  Something had to be done.

As fast as we could we hired a special nanny to take care of just those two babies.  She would give them her full attention 12 hours a day: feeding them, changing them, holding them, loving them.  She would save them.  Then another partner, Bible Orphan Ministry, hired a second nanny to care for them so that every day of the week, for 12 hours they would not be alone.  They would be treasured.

And boy oh boy are they treasured!  Those two nannies love, love, love Ben and Isaiah.  Last spring when Ben was on the verge of life and death they cried and rocked him and cried some more, knowing they could not save him.  And then praise God, he sent the team from Humedica to literally save Ben’s life with a specially prescribed diet.  He is not thriving, but he is not dying.  I know it is not enough, but until he is adopted it is the very best we can do for him.  So we still pray for God to send a family to his rescue.


Now the nannies cry again, hearts broken.  The doctor has told them that our sweet Isaiah is losing his sight.  No no no.  How can this be?  There is no answer as to why, no timeline for how fast.  We do see that he is tracking less and less, and we cry.

Isaiah is light and joy and pure sweetness.  He knows his name and when you enter his room and call out to him his whole body responds with joy. He laughs and is ticklish and loves to be held.  He is a boy, but he is a baby.  If I could, I would take him home in a minute, so confident am I that he will bring unspeakable joy to a family.

He has cerebral palsy and has never had any kind of therapy, unless you count visiting physical therapists who have come to lend their expertise.  (THANK YOU!!) He has the beginning of contractures in one leg and the nannies worry.  And now it seems he is losing his sight.  We are heartbroken.

Can you imagine laying in bed 12 hours a day, unable to get up, and then falling into darkness?  I know all the sounds he hears and I know he must be so frightened.  Ben too.  They are completely helpless, completely reliant on others to feed them, clothe them, protect them.  How will he keep that beautiful smile if the whole world turns black?  I can’t even fathom.  My mommy heart is devastated and it takes everything in me not to jump on a plane today and go to him.

I’ll be honest.  Isaiah’s only hope is adoption.  Ben’s only hope is adoption.  The special nannies, the special food, all of it is a temporary solution.  It is the best we can do under the circumstances, but it is not nearly enough.  We know this.  Their quality of life is poor.  Okay, they aren’t dying at this moment, but they aren’t living either.  We absolutely love these boys like we love the 5 children under our roof.  And I say that this life they have right now is not good enough.  Our Havalah is 6.  Would I be satisfied with her having attention and love 12 hours a day and then being bound to a crib surrounded by moans and screams and cries the other 12, the door locked for her protection?  Would I be okay if I learned she was going blind?  Would I be content to let her fall into darkness?

No.  I would fight for her.

I would scream for her.  

I would cry out and fight and petition until I found someone to help her.  Someone to rescue her.

And so I do for the little ones across the sea.

I can’t be with them.  I can’t hold them.  I can’t rescue them.

But I can fight for them.  I can petition for them until I find someone to rescue them.
Please, please share my babies.  Isaiah is falling into darkness.  He needs a family now.  Please see him.

Ben is a 6 year old in a 12 pound body.  He needs a family now.  Please see him. 

If you have considered adoption, please do not wait.  Sometimes it is a matter of life and death.  This is one of those times.

Havalah and Isaiah

Havalah and Ben

Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Psalm 82:3

Yes, adoption is a huge decision and a hard road.  But right now I’m looking across the table at my Vladik and can tell you with all confidence that it is worth it.  Would our lives be easier if we didn’t have Vladik?  Of course!!!  But I know where he would be right now if he wasn’t at my kitchen table.  My heart can’t even handle that truth.  In the light of that, the “ease” of my life seems pretty insignificant.  These babies are worth our discomfort.  Just as Jesus came to us, we are to go near the broken on his behalf.

Please pray and ask God how you should respond to Isaiah and Ben.  Please don’t just move on.  They are worth fighting for.

If you have any questions about either boy or the adoption process itself, please don’t hestitate to ask. You can leave a comment here or email me at kjohnson@wideawakeinternational.org.  

Read More

The Most Important Post, Revisited

November is a good month. We have two family birthdays, it’s Thanksgiving, the holiday season begins, the weather is cozy, and it’s National Adoption Month! Did you know? Have you heard? There is a whole month designated for sharing about the plight of orphans and the blessing of adoption. Yep, that sounds just about perfect to me.

I wrote this post last November.  I wanted to share it again (revamped a bit) in honor of National Adoption Month.  It’s crazy because when I wrote this a year ago I had no idea we would adopt Vladik.  Now this post means more than ever to me.  There are many different great responses to the orphan issue, and your response will likely be different than mine. But for the sake of our Boys, every response is important.

The work we do, and Mission to Ukraine has done for many years at Romaniv is important and necessary. It is life-altering for our Boys. Boys who were once strangers who flinched at touch and cowered from any human interaction are now dear loved ones who come scooting and crawling and hobbling as soon as they hear our voices. One boy who used to avoid eye contact at all cost now seeks out our gaze and will sit forehead to forehead with Jed as the guitar is played- just looking into Jed’s eyes. No words, just a look. It is enough for us to see that God is doing miracles.

And yet.

No work we do could ever be more beneficial than a family.

No treatment could ever be as effective as the love of a family.

No weighted vest could be more comforting than a mother’s arms.

No helmet could offer better protection than a father’s embrace. 

This work we do is a stopgap. It is the next best thing possible in this situation. But it is not a family, and it is not nearly enough. There is no future for our Boys here. Even when our dreams come true and we build group homes where they can be loved and cared for, it still won’t hold a candle to a life spent as part of a loving family. There are nannies at Romaniv that do care for the Boys deeply, but they face an impossible task. How can 2 nannies care for more than 20 boys with severe disabilities and do an even satisfactory job?

Most of the boys and men at Romaniv are not legally free to be adopted. Either their parents still maintain their parental rights, or the boys are over the age of 18 which prevents them from being adopted. To those boys and men, we commit to doing whatever we possibly can to love them, care for them, and give them a future worth living until the day they are made whole in heaven.

Some of our Boys, though, ARE available for international adoption.  After some hesitation and prayerful consideration, we shared them with you.  There are many layers to this. We feel protective of our Boys and the work that is being done; we want to avoid any exploitation; we have a relationship to maintain with the orphanage directors that requires vigilant care. Nothing about this is simple, so we have been treading lightly with steps full of prayer. And yet, our boys are just not thriving, and they never ever will in an institution.  They need families.  ALL our boys need families, but Alex, Micah, Stephan, Aaron, Ben, and Isaiah actually have the opportunity for family- a life-saving opportunity.

So I’m asking that you see our Boys. I’m asking that you stop and see them for the treasures they are. See their immense value. See their precious beauty. Consider their lives as weighty as your own and ask the Lord how you should respond to this knowledge that some of them are waiting for families. If you follow Jesus you are called to care for the orphan in some way. Even if you don’t believe in Jesus I bet you can agree that this is a justice issue that can not be ignored.

                                                                 “Learn to do right; seek justice.

                                                                            Defend the oppressed.

                                                                 Take up the cause of the fatherless;

                                                             plead the case of the widow.” Isaiah 1:17

Maybe you are supposed to pray. A million times thank you! Prayer is important and essential. Any of the progress that’s been made has only come through the power of the Holy Spirit. Our Boys need prayer!

Maybe you are supposed to give financially to help improve the quality of life for our Boys. Yes! Thank you so very much! None of this would even be happening if we didn’t have faithful financial supporters on the team.

Maybe you are supposed to adopt. Please don’t dismiss this response. I am confident that some of you who read this are called to respond through adoption. Children were made for families! Children were not made for institutions. One hour spent at the institution will prove that point. I must warn you though that any romanticism concerning the adoption of one of our Boys ends with the fuzzy feelings you may be feeling as you read this post. It will not be romantic. It will be a hard road and much faith will be required. But- it will be a road worth walking. I am confident of that. Orphans are very important to our God and He has gone to great lengths to prove His love for these particular Boys. He will not allow the world to forget them now, and He’s not about to forget them when they step out of Romaniv’s gates.

I have spent hours with these boys. I have held them in my arms. I have kissed their cheeks. I have held their hands so they won’t harm themselves. Now I call one of them my son and he is asleep, warm and safe in the next room.  They are real people. They were created with purpose and God has good plans for them. When I look at Vladik now and think of the life he lived there and was destined to live for the rest of his days had he not been adopted I can’t help but cry.  Friends, he is precious.  He is a joy in our lives.  He is smart and funny and loving and worthy of this life he’s been given.  All the love and attention and cuddles we can heap on him- he deserves them all.  Hopes and dreams of retirement and empty-nester days fall flat when weighed against the life of a child.

There you have it. Now you know, and I now humbly ask you to respond. I ask you to stop and pray and ask the Lord what He would have you to do. Say yes and don’t look back.  Please pray that adoptive families would step out with boldness and faith. Any serious inquiries can be emailed to kjohnson@wideawakeinternational.org and I would be happy to talk with you more.

Please share this post and give our Boys a voice this month. Thank you!
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.” Proverbs 31:8


Alex, Micah, Stephan, Aaron, Isaiah, and Ben all wait for families of their own.  A friend of ours is doing a wonderful fundraiser/giveaway to help raise adoption grants for them so that when their families do step up the expense will be defrayed a bit.  If you feel that your response is to give financially, then please, please visit this website and drop some dollars in their accounts.  Thank you!  







Read More

All About Vladik

Our Vladik (aka Vladchik, Vlad, Sonichko, Lyubime…and on and on) has been home with us for 12 days now and it sorta feels like it’s been forever.  He is just the perfect fit for us and we are the perfect fit for him.  It’s like it was always meant to be.

After 15 years in institutions, and the last 11 at Romaniv- in one hallway, he is doing AMAZING.  It’s actually pretty miraculous. We aren’t sure all what Vladik does and doesn’t understand, but one thing is for sure: He was READY for a family.  From the day he left Romaniv with Jed in his new clothes and shoes he has never called us “Jed and Kim” again, only “Papa and Mama”.  He knows.  It’s a miracle.

Here’s the lowdown, for all the Vladik-lovers out there.  🙂

Siblings. Vladik is SO SO SOOOOOOOO happy to have siblings!!!!  He absolutely loves them all, being especially partial to the boys.  He likes to take them to school and walk them to their classrooms.  He gets super excited when it’s time to go pick up Hava and Seth (half-day kinders).  Like, even if he is on the swing (his most favorite thing), he’ll gladly pause if it means going to pick up the kids.  When he sees them standing in line with their class he runs over and gives them big hugs.  Vladik and Seth are great friends!  Finally Seth has someone who’s interested in cars and balls and all things BOY!  When Vladik and Seth are both home they are playing together constantly, joined at the hip.  They are truly God’s gift to each other.


Sleep.  Bringing home a newly adopted child is a lot like bringing home a newborn from the hospital.  Everything changes, the new “baby” requires a lot of mommy and daddy’s attention, you spend a lot of time figuring out eating and pooping habits (not so fun with a 15 year old..hehe..but then, is dealing with another person’s poop ever fun??).  But, I gotta say, after 8 straight years of constant newborns (foster and bio), I can fullyappreciate  Vladik’s amazing sleep habits.  He is a GREAT sleeper!!!

For now, Vladik sleeps in his own bed in the room with Jed and me.  It just makes good sense to have him close to us at night, for his own sense of security and our peace of mind, until we feel the time is right to move him in with the other kiddos.  He goes to sleep easily and he sleeps all night.  The only issue, and it’s a big one, is sleep apnea.  Sleep apnea is a common problem with kiddos with Apert Syndrome, and we have big concerns about it for our Vladik.  He snores loud all night long.  He can’t really breathe through his nose, so that’s an issue too.  He sleeps with his back arched and his head thrown back, which is a common position for kids who are struggling to get air.  He stops breathing and hacks and coughs all night long.  Making it possible for him to sleep safely is our number one medical priority for Vladik.

We have a great routine of a nightly shower and then massage before bed.  The other night he said “Papa, I’m going to sleep with mama tonight.  You sleep alone over there.”  hahahahahaha!  What a sweetie.

Language.  Vladik’s language is exploding!  He literally does not stop talking.  We aren’t speaking English to Vladik at all, we’re just sticking to Ukrainian.  If we were going to be living in the US we would start teaching him English, but there’s really no point since we are going back to Ukraine.  He is surrounded by English, since our family speaks that to each other all the time at home, so I’m sure he’ll pick it up.  But really, it is in everyone’s best interest to keep Vladik speaking Ukrainian.  We are improving our skills and he isn’t losing his.  Win win.  🙂  Vladik’s speech is super hard to understand, due to all the structural issues with his face, but we are understanding him better all the time.  I don’t know if that’s because his speech is improving or because we are just used to “Vladik speech”.  Either way, he is able to make his needs and wants understood, and we are able to communicate just fine.

Food.  This is the hardest thing at this point.  Vladik is used to eating the same 4-5 foods every.single.day.  There is not much texture in the Romaniv food because many of the boys have swallowing problems and very few teeth with which to chew.  Feeding time at Romaniv is CRAZY town.  But, I digress.  🙂 Anyway, Vladik has a hard time with new textures and new flavors.  So, the struggle is to find foods he’ll eat without me having to cook two different meals all the time. (Ain’t nobody got time for that!)  If I have a pot of mashed potatoes and a pot of soup in the fridge to fall back on, then all is well. But heaven forbid we should run out of mashed potatoes! 😉  We’re just trying to slowly intro new foods and at least make him try them before flat-out rejecting them.  It’s hard to know which struggles are sensory and which are structural.  Baby steps, baby steps.

Medical. Last week we started Vladik’s medical journey and it’s gonna be a long one, folks.  We had an appointment with our primary pediatrician and she basically referred us to every specialist known to man: neurosurgery, genetics, ear-nose-throat, Shriners for hands and feet, craniofacial, dentistry, ophthalmology, radiology (for scoliosis x-rays), occupational therapy,  and speech pathology/feeding. The referrals have been made, so now we just wait for everyone to call us to schedule appointments.  Let’s get this party started!

Social/Attachment.  Our Vladik is one smart cookie.  He understands that we are his family and he belongs with us.  He is appropriately shy with new people and there is no danger of him wanting to walk off with some random person.  He’s a naturally cautious kiddo, so he’s also not really a “wanderer”. During the adoption process, we prayed that God would prepare Vladik’s heart for a family and He has totally answered that prayer.  The boys at Romaniv have absolutely ZERO concept of what a family is.  They had never seen family modeled to them.  They have no books about families.  They are completely isolated from society and most have never experienced family life.  So Vladik’s entry into our family is something we were super curious about.  But he gets it.  He really does.  We have been building this bond for a couple of years now, so that has made everything a whole heck of a lot easier.  He already knew us and we were already the “good guys” in his life.  He accepts affection and is starting to be the one to initiate affection more every day.

As far as Vladik being 15 years old, coming from a really horrible environment, and being in the home with our little kids, we are not worried. He is definitely the youngest, developmentally, and does not at all take on a dominating role.  That’s just not his personality. We are taking appropriate precautions though, and we know we need to be wise. We have seen where he came from. 🙁   For instance, for now, Vladik sleeps in our room. We always have the kids in earshot or in our line of sight when they are playing. We are trying to teach our other kids a bit more modesty (they’re not very good about that here at home) 🙂 and explaining to them why it’s important that we be modest in front of Vladik: “To teach him how he should behave in a family…” But all in all, we have no big concerns. He is appropriate and very much still a little boy. We knew that about him before we ever decided to bring him into our family.

Emotional/Spiritual. Vladik is absolutely amazing. He is a miracle. How in the world did he keep his joy throughout all he endured? He is ALWAYS happy. He is the light of our family’s lives. He is thoughtful and obedient (most of the time) and pure sunshine. He brings us immense joy.

The only time he has really acted out was at the doctor’s office. He was very nervous and stressed. He wouldn’t listen and was acting so crazy- as in, I’ve never ever seen him like that before. Then he started talking. He spoke of Romaniv and people there, things they did. To each other. To him. Our hearts were broken. To the average person, it’s hard to imagine, by looking at our boy, how immensely he has suffered. I can almost forget it myself. And then he talks. Then we remember that one month of freedom doesn’t erase 11 years in hell on earth. His journey to complete healing will be a long one, but he is already well on his way.

Many people have asked us if Vladik misses Romaniv or his friends there. It’s a good question, especially when so many people love our Boys there so deeply and associate that love with “Romaniv” as a whole. But I have to tell you, that to ask that question is to not understand what Romaniv truly is. I don’t say that to look down my nose at you, or to shame the askers, I’m just saying that if you spent 10 minutes just observing Romaniv life, not playing there, but just observing, you would never even wonder about that question. Life at Romaniv consists of fences, walls, benches, neglect, abuse, survival of the fittest, and horrors most of us would never imagine even exist in this present time. NO person, let alone a child, should have to stay even one night there.

You all know how deeply committed we are to Romaniv. You know that we have hope for change and we are committed to change there. You know we love the boys, and we also love the staff and administration. We do! God has called us there- to give our lives to these boys, these nannies, these directors. And because of that deep love and commitment, I feel I can speak honestly and frankly about the reality. I hope you understand.

This morning Vladik was looking at the pictures on our fridge of some of the boys and he saw the Isolation Hall, his home for 11 years, in the picture.  He pointed to the window that he used to spend hours staring out of and said “My bedroom.” I said, “Yes, you used to sleep there, but not now!” He just looked at the picture and said “I don’t like that room. I don’t want that room. Foo! (Ukrainian for ‘yuck!’) It’s bad! I don’t want that picture.” Then with a glance at me for permission, he took the picture off the fridge and handed it to me. “All done!” He said. Then I asked him to show me his bedroom. We ran into our room and flopped down on the comfy bed, all giggles and cuddles.

That’s right. All done, sweet boy. You’ve got your whole life in front of you. 🙂

Did you know several other boys at Romaniv are available for adoption? They can have the same future as Vladik if only a few brave families will step up and say yes. Could you be one of the rescuers? You can read about the boys here and here. Please, read about them with an open heart and see what God might say. Thank you! 

Read More

Together At Last

Our family of seven is together at last.  Vladik and Jed arrived from Ukraine on Thursday night.  The wait is over!!  After months of loving our Vladik and leaving him behind a gate, he is out and ours forever.  We are so full of joy.


So it’s been 4 days home together and I’m just in awe that he’s really here.

Vladik sitting at our kitchen table.  Vladik shooting hoops in the driveway with Seth.  Vladik shopping with us at Winco. Vladik on the carousel. Vladik at church.  Vladik NOT at Romaniv.

He loves to play, watch cars, and take showers.  After 15 years of constant filth and neglect, he just beams when he knows he is clean.


It’s like a dream.

He’s doing awesome.  Of course, there are adjustments to be made and there have been a few tears, as we all process yet ANOTHER transition, but in general he just fits us like a glove.  This is a love that has grown and developed over two years, so there is a lot that is natural about it.

I’ll talk more about the details of his adjustment later in the week, I just wanted to let you know that he is home and we are blessed.  I can say with complete honesty that we are eternally grateful and humbled that God gave Vladik to us.  He is a precious soul that has been hidden away for far too long, and we are the ones who get to watch him come to life.  It’s the best thing ever.

Every day, multiple times a day, Vladik asks each member of our family if we love him.  “Mama, do you love me?  Papa, do you love me?  Addy, do you love me?  Ezra, do you love me?  Hava, do you love me?  Seth, do you love me?”  When we answer that yes, we love him forever, he laughs and claps his hands with joy.  That love, that belonging, all of our Boys deserve that.  My heart breaks that even though Vladik is out, they remain.

A wise adoptive mama friend said this, and it is also my heart’s cry:

“I have become convinced that to be indifferent, to do nothing, to ignore, to refuse to act, to stand back and allow broken and wounded populations to continue to suffer…this is the great sin of our lifetime. We are a generation of emotionally paralyzed people, and thus our behaviors become paralyzed. We spend so much time waiting for a sign, a signal, a calling…that we forget to DO. This simply must change. We as humans, as fellow travelers in this life, in this moment, must work, and work HARD to change what is unjust. The moment is now. Stalling has only ever cost us liberties, time, and lives. The procrastination just isn’t worth the price.

GO and DO.

Change the world.

Change a life, and in so doing change YOUR life.

Pay attention to the brokenness. 

Give generously. 

Love big and refuse to look back.

Even when it is hard, you will never regret it”


Read More

A Love Story, Part 3 

This is Part 3 in our adoption story.  You can read Part One here and Part Two here!

After camp Jed and I both began to see Vladik differently.  Our hearts toward him were changing, but it wasn’t something we talked about with each other.  We both just knew in our hearts we had a special love for him. Honestly, every person who serves at Romaniv has their “favorite”.  Ha!  You know, that one boy that you just connect with in a special way.  My “favorite” changes from week to week.  😉

Separately, Jed and I both began to think more and more about Vladik.  Our love for him grew and grew. Separately, we started to wonder if God had something more for us and Vladik together.  We didn’t know even what that would mean.  We didn’t know how old Vladik was (it’s impossible to guess the ages of the boys at Romaniv), if he was even available for adoption (only 9 boys out of 86 at Romaniv can be adopted), or what God had in mind. Then, over time we both, separately (great communication skills, eh?), began to feel like God was maybe asking us to consider adoption.  Holy smokes.  Scary thought.  It’s one thing to love Vladik at Romaniv and camp.  It’s a whole other thing to love him in our home, as our son, for the rest of his life.

In October Jed and I began to talk about Vladik together.  We both shared with the other our musings about adoption and laughed about how crazy it sounded to bring pursue adopting one of our boys while continuing to live in Ukraine.  Was it even possible?  I mean, all of our boys have so many needs, could we raise Vladik here and continue to be effective in the work God has called us to?  Was Vladik even adoptable?  What about our other kiddos?  Were there any safety concerns for them?  Would a family need to live in America to be able to adequately care for Vladik’s medical needs?  How could we afford an international adoption while living on raised support?  Would it be possible to do an American adoption from Ukraine while living in Ukraine? So much to pray about and consider. We decided to keep those thoughts to ourselves for the time being and just wait on the Lord.  We knew that if He wanted Vladik to join our family He would speak to us.

The very next morning, after we had first talked about our love for Vladik we got an email from a dear friend in Switzerland. She told us that she had had a dream about us and felt like she was supposed to share, even if it sounded strange to us. She dreamed that she was coming to visit us in Ukraine and we were so excited because we were adopting two boys from Romaniv!  In the end we ended up adopting one boy, but then before we could get back to adopt the other one he passed away. 🙁

Of course we didn’t know what the whole dream meant, but wow.  What an encouragement from the Lord that he would speak to us through our friend about adoption when we had told NO ONE our hearts! Shortly after that we found out from the assistant director of the institution that Vladik was one of the few boys available for adoption!  Oh my.

Then came November, a really dark time for us.  We began to learn more about what makes Romaniv the way it is.  Jed always says “Romaniv didn’t get the way it is from everybody doing their best job.”  Ain’t that the truth.  The plain and simple truth is that the enemy has kept that place in darkness for far too long, and he doesn’t plan to give it up easily.  This work we do is absolutely our dream come true.  We couldn’t imagine doing anything else, yet this work comes with plenty of pain and heartache. All is not lollipops and roses.  We try to be very positive about what we share on social media about the Boys and our work.  It’s not like we’re dishonest or anything, it’s just very important to us that we always maintain the boys’ dignity, and to remember hope when we share.  Our boys have had everything stolen from them.  We will not go in and steal their dignity as well.  Honestly, though, the more and more time we spend at Romaniv, the more and more layers of ugliness we uncover.  That’s just bound to happen.  In that regard, November was just plain rough on our spirits. It was not pretty. We couldn’t manage to think of much except putting one foot in front of the other.  The weight of injustice became almost too much to bear.  Adoption dreams were on the backburner.

Then two of our boys whom we love VERY much were sent to a hospital several hours away and were lost to us.  The Director said they would be gone for at least a year, and “maybe forever”.  It felt like a death.  We just arrived one day and they were gone.  Oh, the tears.  We were devastated because we knew those boys would not understand what was happening.  Would they be scared?  Would they be treated well?  Then we remembered our friend’s dream.  One of the boys that was sent away, Valera, was Vladik’s only real “peer” in the Isolation Hall.  He was the one other boy who would try to play a little, and the two of them were attached at the hip.  One of our big issues with adopting Vladik was knowing we could never take him away and leave Valera behind, but Valera was too old to be adopted. When we first started talking about adopting we had discussed trying to get guardianship of Valera and were really thinking we could find a way to take him home too, and then he was gone.  Just like the dream.  So, so sad.  Maybe this adoption idea was too much for our hearts to take on.

Sweet Valera

December came and we prepared to make a couple Christmas videos for Wide Awake, to introduce people to two of our boys.  Jed decided to feature Boris in his video because they have a really special connection.  I couldn’t decide who to feature in mine!  After lots of indecision, I decided to feature Vladik in my video because my deepest connection was with him, and I hoped maybe his family would discover him by watching the video.  Jed and I had basically stopped talking about adopting him ourselves, so if he couldn’t be ours I made it my mission to find him a family of his own.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzJGaFq6SKI]

Thousands of people saw the videos of Boris and Vladik.  🙂  Only a few days passed and a family wrote an email inquiring about adopting him!  My heart leaped and sank at the same time when I read their email.  Is that even possible?  It sure felt like it.  We wanted a family for him so badly, but oh man, I had so hoped it would be us.  Whenever our kids would watch the video of Vladik (which they were slightly obsessed with) Havalah would say “But Mommy, we don’t really want him to be adopted right?  Because then we would never get to see him anymore!”  She said it every.single.time.  Anyway, I got over myself 😉 and was truly excited to get that inquiry about Vladik, but then we found out that the interested parents were too young to adopt Vladik.  They were only 12 years older than him, and by Ukrainian law adoptive parents have to be at least 15 years older than the child they are adopting.  Back to the drawing board, loving our boy more than ever after seeing how many people responded to his preciousness in the video.

Then one morning in January Jed woke up early and felt like God spoke to him super clearly, “So, when are you gonna finally move forward with adopting Vladik?”  Uuuuuuh now, I guess????  Ha!  Jed came and told me he felt like we were supposed to go for it, and that was that.  I mean, we loved him, he needed a family, it was really a no-brainer.  All of our reasons for saying no seemed absolutely fearful and selfish and lame.  Our baby was right in front of our faces and he needed his mommy and daddy.  We sought wisdom from our parents, our pastor, and a few friends, and they were all completely supportive and completely not surprised.  🙂  In mid-January we began working on documents, and on August 31st Vladik became our son.

It might have taken 15 years, but Vladik is finally found.  We pray and believe that God will use Vladik to be a voice for those who are yet to be rescued. We pray and believe that God will use our family, and our adoption story to show Ukrainian people the value of our Boys.  It’s awesome, God has spoken to us, and to many others that Vladik is going to bring our family so much joy.  We know that of course there are bound to be some rough moments ahead, but we just keep getting the word “JOY”.  As Jed and I drove away from court after the judge declared Vladik was our son we had tears streaming down our faces: “How is it that God saved Vladik for us?  How did we get to be the lucky ones?”

He is so valuable.  He is so beautiful.  He is our baby and we are the happiest, most blessed family in the world.


Read More