Jul 31, 2013

Why being an adoptive family rocks

Sometimes being an adoptive family is hard.  Really, really hard.  There are so many challenges and people don't usually understand them.  It can be lonely and draining.

However being an adoptive family also rocks.

You get to meet amazing people.  People who 'get it'.  There is nothing like talking and sharing with someone who has the shared experience of adoption. Who has no judgement about the hard parts because they have been there.  Who understands what older child adoption is like.  People you would never have met if not for adoption.  Being an adoptive family has perks and sometimes it just rocks.

Three Eastern European countries represented + two families = Tons of fun.
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Jul 26, 2013

What happens when a family loves you?

What happens when you get to spend your summer doing normal kid stuff?  When you are provided fun experiences (like zip-lining and boating!) that you've never even dreamed about?  When someone cares enough to show you how to behave?  When you can get hugs and kisses anytime you want?  When you can have a 3rd helping at dinner?  When you have a clean bed to sleep in?  When your bike is waiting for you anytime you need to burn some energy?  When you are protected and cherished?  

What happens when a family loves you?

I'll let this smile answer that question.
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""For the mountains may depart,
and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,"
says the LORD who has compassion on you."
Isaiah 54:10

Jul 14, 2013

Why we are praying for an adoptive family for our host child

Everyone knows that orphans exist.  They are out there in the far corners of the world.  Distant  from our day to day lives. Most people don't give the orphan population a second thought.  It just isn't something we encounter here in North America. 

However sometimes you find yourself face-to-face with a child. A child who just so happens to have the title 'orphan'. And even if the whole orphan population doesn't become real to you, a small part of it is suddenly  very, very real.
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The fact is that the above boy is an orphan.  [all though I'v got to say, when you look at him you don't see 'orphan'.  He is seriously just a sweet, funny and typical 10 year old boy!]  Legally free for adoption and growing up in an orphanage in Ukraine.  He is safely in our care for the summer.  Enjoy the love and safety and all the little things a family brings. But we can't keep him here.  He has to go back to his orphanage at the end of the summer.

His orphanage has about 100 children between the ages of 7 and 16.  Compared to other orphanages in his region it is a very poor orphanage.  Earlier in the year when someone visited the orphanage the director begged for shoes for the children.

If children are not adopted from this (and others like it) orphanage they age out between the ages of 16 and 18.  They can no longer live at the orphanage and must find a way to make a life for themselves on their own. Children are not made to grow up in orphanages, their brains literally are not made for it.  I don't know what would be scarier than having to face life without the love and support of a family. What scares me are the statistics for the children who never are chosen for adoption.

Without intervention, upon leaving the orphanage... 
-60% of girls will end up in prostitution 
-70% of boys will be on the streets or in jail 
-15% will commit suicide within the first two years on their own. 
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This is the life we have to send this boy back to.  This funny, clever, adorable, impressionable, stubborn boy. He has to go back.

However there is hope for him, He is free for adoption.  An adoptive family for Ruslan is something we are praying for.  He has so much potential.  He is ready for a family. We are praying for a family to say yes to him, to bring him into their home permanently. As hard as an international adoption may sound, I believe with my whole heart that Ruslan is more than worth it.  So we are praying and believing for a family.

“My friends, adoption is redemption. It’s costly, exhausting, expensive, and outrageous. Buying back lives costs so much. When God set out to redeem us, it killed Him.” 
– Derek Loux

If you know anyone looking into adoption, if you have ever thought about adoption, please pray if maybe God is leading you to be Ruslan's forever family.  He deserves it.

Requirements to adopt from Ukraine
-Married couples only.
-No family size restrictions.
-Adoptive parents must be at least 15 years older than the child.
-No severe past health history, especially when it comes to mental health.
-One or two trips in Ukraine to finish the adoption process (can be up to 6 weeks in country to finish court and the final paperwork.).  This may sound overwhelming but it actually is very do able and there are many options on how to break up the trips.  If you want to talk more about the in country process just ask!

Jul 11, 2013

We are hosting a love bug

After the couple of rough days earlier this week, Ruslan has settled in beautifully.  As he gets comfortable with us more and more of his personality is shining through and we are amazed.  

This boys if funny.  He is dramatic. He is amazing at soccer and has some crazy moves on the field. His has the biggest pouty lips.  He will sit and play with toys and uses his imagination. He loves music and has discovered our piano is the best toy ever. He is easily redirected.  The majority of the time he listens beautifully but even if it takes him a while to obey he'll get there eventually.  At night he crawls right into bed to go to sleep.   He has a typical little boy stubborn streak and teases the girls like any other boy would. He is clever.  He has so much potential.  

And he is a love bug. He's better than a teddy bear.

Enough said
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Jul 9, 2013

He left my hands shaking

Sometimes I get blind sided and second guess why we even try to live beyond ourselves.  Wouldn't it be so much easier if we just ignored the need in this world?  I'm human, sadly.  I get tired.  Not physically but emotionally and mentally.  I just want to forget it all and live a normal life sometimes.  Those times are few and far between, and I know they are just passing emotions.  However yesterday was one of those days.  One of those days where I had to keep reminding myself why we do this.

Because this is the truth.

“‎"Do you know that nothing you do in this life will ever matter, unless it is about loving God and loving the people he has made?”  ― Francis Chan

Yesterday Ruslan had a bad day.  It climaxed while we were out after lunch.  When something is scared they usually act out with 'flight or fight'.  Ruslan is a fighter.  It went down hill fast from there.  I ended up making a quick get-away with him to head back home.  For the sake of peace sometimes you have to sweat the small things, and that boy ate half a pack of gum on the 20 minute ride back home.  I'm just thankful he calmed down and didn't try to dive out the door.

He was so happy to be back home.  The next little bit was good.  We went inside and played in the living room.  We checked out the CD player and he learned how to properly use the buttons.  We made our way outside and he wanted to sit in the car.  Every little boy needs to sit and pretend in a car once in their life.  He is so curious and sometimes you need to let a child explore. 
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However soon after that things went down hill.  The rest of the afternoon left my hands shaking.  I won't go into details.  There is just no point in sharing all the details.  I'm not new to watching kids.  I'm not new in how children from hard places act.  I'm not new in keeping difficult children safe and entertained.  But something about this boy got to me.  Partly I'm sure because at the exact moment I think I might snap he gives me one of his charming smiles.

That night we had several different talks with him through Russian speaking friends.  We went over some more rules and hopefully cleared up some things. 

Today was round two.

We brought him to VBS at our church.  We had explained to him through a translator what was going to happen.  But after yesterday we all were shaking with nerves.  Not sure how it would turn out.  Right as VBS was about to start he dashed out of the building ignoring our calls and my stomach sank.  I followed him out to the car and we quickly worked out a deal.  We would bring in several small toys for him to hold.  He quickly hugged me  "Spaseeba" he exclaimed smiling up at me.  Crisis averted. We walked back inside and joined our group.

I was so proud of him.  He did so well up until the last hour of programs.  Despite not understanding a word that was going on he did so very well.  We still had our issues, and we have a few problems we need to work out.  He is exhausting to watch because you are constantly defusing situations and trying to be over enthusiastic to keep him entertained.  But he did it and I could not be prouder!  
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If Ruslan hasn't listened today he would have needed to go home early.  And if that had happened he would have missed out on a super special event this evening.  Our family went to the movies!  Something that almost never happens.  A 3D movie at that.  Ruslan loved it and I'm so glad he was able to be apart of it.  After the movie we stopped at the beach to eat a picnic supper and play on the playground.

Despite almost punching me in the face earlier, Ruslan ended his day with giving me the biggest hug ever.

I'll call that a success.  Thankful for better days, grace and a little boy that is learning.
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Jul 6, 2013

How do you say it in Russian?

Sometimes it's easy to communicate with a child without using words. Other times it's harder. Like when a child is riding their bike and doesn't see the car coming. 

Lesson of the day?  Learn more Russian.
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Children amaze me sometimes.  It doesn't matter where they grow up, they all have similar wants and desires.  To play and explore while someone watches and claps for them at the sidelines.  "Khorosho Ruslan!"

The day hasn't been without it's challenges. Boundaries are being found and sometimes children are downright stubborn.  Dealing with those situations are normally challenging, but when you have no language to work with it makes it extra difficult.  However when you take a moment to step back non of it matters.  Not when a little boy is going to bed in a warm clean bed with a full stomach.  Exhausted after a full day of parks and bike riding.  In a home full of people who care for him and have his best interests at heart.  It's the little things.
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Jul 5, 2013

He has dimples

Today was the day.  We have been counting down for so very long. Exactly one week after I landed in this exact airport we were back.  This time to pick up our sweet boy (Hello= Summer hosting from Ukraine).

We didn't know anything about him before today.  And I have to admit nerves were starting to creep in on the drive there.  "Please Lord don't give us more than we can handle.  I don't know what we will do if this child turns out to be harsh spirited.  We just can't handle much more right now.  Oh, and it would rock if he wasn't afraid of the camera... amen"

We waited and waited.  And finally they came.  We had nothing to worry about.
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The seven children who made their way to Western Canada this summer.
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He has the biggest dimpled smile.  And the smile hasn't left his face since we met him.  

He was his shy but smiling self for over an hour.  He seemed to be so shy and wouldn't say a word. We literally didn't even hear what his voice sounded like until we stopped half way home.  We had a bit of time to kill in a parking lot waiting for someone to show up. And his true colors started to fly.  

This child is dramatic.  Thinks he's big stuff, you should see him strut his stuff!  Very energetic.  Loving.  Not camera shy. Happy...just so darn happy.  

God placed the perfect child in our family this summer.
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He fell asleep on the rest of the ride home.  However he woke up just as we pulled into our drive way.  That big dimpled smile plastered right back on his face.  I have never seen a child so at peace. He has settled in and has been such a joy.  The little girls are smitten with him.  Scratch that, we are all smitten with him. What more can I say?

He loves his pj's.  He loved his new stuffed dog and wouldn't stop hugging it.  All he had on him when he arrived was a back pack with a couple of shirts. He is just so content with the few things we have provided for him that he climbed right into bed and went to sleep.

It's going to be a good summer.
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