About Us

Hattiesburg, MS, United States
We are a really average family that just can't get over that we have been adopted by an extraordinary God! We are excited and expectant as the journey to enlarge our family unfolds before us.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Great friends and a great day

We spent today with Joel and Mary Ellen Ragains, and it was great! We ate at the TGI Friday's (yep that's right, just like home...except), did some shopping, rode the metro (subway) to their side of the river, and had a great dinner prepared by Mary Ellen complete with chocolate chip cookies and brownies for dessert. I'm sure we won't eat like this for a whlle. Thanks ME and J for your wonderful hospitality. Got to get packing, 'cause tomorrow we are off to the Odessa Region via bus. We leave Kyiv at noon and should arrive by 5:30. Then off to the city (I'll get the name up as soon as I can spell it!!!). Monday should bring a trip to the insepector's office and the orphanage, and we think the first visit with N. We covet your prayers. He must willingly consent to this adoption as much as we do. We are praying that past disappointments will not muddy the waters.



Friday, January 30, 2009

Got our referral

Today has been pretty uneventful. We got up this morning and did laundry. Erick had a great time figuring out the little Italian washing machine. What a hoot!. I think we might have a great idea for a birthday present ;). Anyway, we had a very American lunch at McDonalds, and then headed off to the SDA to receive our official referral. It's colder today and snowing a little bit. The 30 min. walk to the SDA seemed like it was uphill all the way (and part of the way back!). It ain't like south Mississippi! At this rate I may actually get some exercise! Curses!

We found out a little more today about N. He has been in the orphanage for about 3-4 years. He is in the orphanage as a result of the termination of his birth mother's rights by a court. We don't have any details, but I can imagine that there are things in his past that may be tragic. Obviously, we are concerned, but not deterred. We also found out that he may have been visited at least one other time by a prospective adoptive couple other than the Canadians I referred to last post. It's hard to say what that means. It could be there is more to his health or emotional situation than meets the eye, or it could mean nothing. We are really not anxious about anything we have discovered, and feel God's peace as we go. Thanks for your prayers!!!!

Thursday, January 29, 2009


The view from our flat in Kyiv.

Hanging out in our flat.

Chillin' at CDG in Paris between flights.

"Are you sure the mailing me to Ukraine is the best way to get there?" :)

Great news!!!!!

Wow! what a day!!!!! Before I get into details, I just want to have a little worship service right here on this blog. We serve an awesome God, and I am standing in amazement of His lovingkindness. God has gone before us and made the way smooth. It's is an amazing feeling to be caught up in something that you are completely aware is beyond your control but in His hand. Honesty begs that I tell you that I was a weepy mess for a little while yesterday dealing with the enormity of the choice we were about to be faced with and our complete lack of a sense of direction. All in all, it was a good opportunity to be brought face to face with the reality of God's grace. Our God showed himself today.

We got up late this morning as a result of a night out with Joel and Mary Ellen Ragains. The big hurdle for the morning was no water in our flat. Not a big deal, just a little reminder of how different this is from home. Just past noon, we met Yana, our facilitator, and had a little lunch. Then we were off to the SDA for our appointment. It was about a 20 minute walk from our flat. On the way, we passed St Sophia church in the Kyiv Rus (the oldest part of Kyiv and the original center of ancient Russia.). That where God gave us a little moment of reassurrance in His reach. As we were crossing the street in from of St. Sophia, I looked ahead and caught a glimpse of a familiar face. I called his name and sure enough it was "Edward" (what we call him in English), a young professor from Kyiv Theoloigcal Seminary and the first translator Tony and I had here in 2007. What are the chances? In a city of 4.5 million people, I see one of less than a dozen people I know!!! And, he is a brother in Christ! And, we have a few moments of fellowship in the middle of the city!! What are the chances? It's a cinch when you put God in the middle of our circumstance. I really think seeing Edward was God's tangible gift of a reminder of His presence and his faithfulness. Wow!

Then, we get to the SDA. Shortly, we are ushered into an office where we met with a psychologist. She was young and very nice. I also think she spoke better English than she let on since she laughed at a couple of my jokes. The office was dark because the power was out (more on that later). After some preliminary discussions including one more check to rule out a biological sibling for Erick (none found), she came back into the room with a stack of files. She began with a boy named "N." He was born in Sept 2001 and he is in the Odessa region. He is reported to have some mild developmental delays nad is quite shy. I have to admit, my heart lept when I heard his name and saw his picture. To make a long story short, we were presented a number of files, but "N" was it. As we conferred for a moment after we heard the files presented, Denise and I had the same reaction. We just knew. I can't explain it, but I know it. The details we have been given tell us that a Canadian couple began to pursue "N" for adoption but had a family emergency that required them to end their pursuit of him. Wow! Please pray that he will be receptive of us. I know that it will likely be hard for him to trust us because of his past experience. I want him to know that he has a family that will not quit on him. BTW, Erick (our little electircian) told them they needed to get the lights fixed, and flipped the light switch. About 30 second after he did it, the power came on. All the ladies in the SDA office got a big laugh over that, and said he needed to visit more often if he could get results like that!

We are supposed to pick up our referral paperwork tomorrow afternoon and then we will travel by bus to Odessa on Sunday (and on to the town where "N" is). Thanks for praying!!!!! Please keep on...



Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A little clarity for the next step...

We just finished meeting with one of the folks that are helping us. Truthfully, I have a little more anxiety at this point. Nothing has changed except we have a little more insight into what tomorrow holds. We have an appointment at 2 P.M. tomorrow (that's 6 A.M. Hattiesburg time). We will meet with a psychologist and a social worker from the SDA. If we understood correctly, they will have approximately 12 files of children under 8 for us to look over and choose from. I have got to say, we are thinking, "Wow, what's that going to look like?" We expect that some will have ominous profiles indicating everything from major medical issues to abadonment by parents for no apparent reason. We will be able to consult with a physician by phone to discuss medical issues, but ultimately, we will have one hour to make a decision. We have been told that the likeihood is that in order to get a child under 8, we should expect a sibling group. That's not outside of what we came expecting. This is it. It all comes down to one hour tomorrow, and I am feeling a mixture of anxiety and confidence as we wait. Anxious because I am weak. Confident because God is not!!!! I have to admit that even typing this moves me to tears. The human part of me wants to have everthing laid out for a storybook ending. The believing part of me wants to act like the Father! I don't know how to choose!!! Reason says we should pick the youngest and the healthiest. Experience tells me that I am glad God didn't use the same criteria for me. In the end, I just pray that God will move us to know how to choose. I have never felt more weak and frail. I am glad I have a big Dad! If you are an early riser, we would ask you to pray for us at 6 tomorrow morning. Jesus gave us the example of prayer and the stories like that of the persistent widow for a reason. Persistence and petition are part of God's design. I still really don't understand it all. I just believe it. I figure a bunch of people dialling up the Father at the same time is a good thing!

As far as we can see now, the best case scenerio is that we would receive a referral tomorrow. If it is for multiple children, the best would be that they are located in the same town and the same orphanage. The ultimate gift would be that they are located in a region that is easy to work in for adoptions. So, I guess under the principle of "you ask not cause you have not," we are asking God for that list. But, ultimately we just want to find who God sent us here for!

The mullet is alive and well

There are very few things that transcend national boundaries, but I am happy (o.k., really more like shocked) to report that the mullet is one of them. If you thought the mullet was a hair fashion reserved rasslin' and tractor pulls, you just need to come to Ukraine. Yesterday, we spotted two world class mullets on the plane. I thought this had to be an anomaly. I mean this far away from our beloved South. Who would have ever thought? The thing is, both of these mullets were classic. Not quite Billy Ray Cyrus quality but really good. That started me looking. Today, the temperature is mild, so very few men are wearing hats in Kyiv, and the mullets are out in force. In all the trips to Ukraine in the past I have never noticed it. My friend Oleg has tried to convince me that Ukraine is alot like the South. I have to say I am beginning to believe him. I'll know for sure if we go to a concert and some guy on the 5th row yells, "play Freebird!" By the way, how do you say freebird in Ukrainian?

Loving life and living in the abundance of God's grace,


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

We're in Kyiv

Today was a real marathon, but we got here!!! Erick was a real trooper throughout the entire trip. He is really a good traveler. We got to our flat about an hour and a half ago, and it is a great place to live for a couple of days. The biggest bonus was the lift. No carrying bags up 4 flights of stairs. Woo hoo! At this point in the game it doesn't take much to get me excited. We have a nice bakery/coffee shop downstairs in this building, and they even speak English. What more could we ask?!?! Tomorrow will be spent getting power of attorney forms notarized and getting with our facilitator and manager from our adoption people to go over details and get ready for Thursday.

I talked to Joel Ragains this evening and we are planning to get together in the next couple of days with him and Mary Ellen. That's always a blast, and we are thankful for God giving us a little lagniappe in what is already shaping up to be an incredible journey.

Thanks for your love and prayers!!!! We have felt them a ton in the last 24+ hours! Praise be to God for everything thus far. We are truly living in abundance!!!

We'll try to post some pictures tomorrow and put a little more detailed post, but for now it's bedtime for Bonzo!!!! (I'll let you guess who Bonzo is in our crew).

Monday, January 26, 2009

On to Paris...

We're back on track. On the plane and headed to Paris. Looks like we'll be 5-6 hours late to Kyiv. We'll update in a while! Good night everybody :)

I am hating Delta right now!!!!!

Unbelievable! We were about 35 minutes late leaaving Jackson. We ran like mad and got to the gate before the plane left but were denied boarding because the keystone cops (Delta agents) didn't radio down to the plane and tell them not to close the boarding door. Urrrgh! I guess I am really upset because the gate agent was rude and untruthful. To make matters worse, she cancelled our Paris to Kyiv flight! Thank goodness we stopped to check or we'd be in for more drama in Paris. It's my hangup! All things considered, four hours late is better than five...later....


And We're Off...

So far, so good! The morning has gone uneventfully. We were up at 6 with no problems. Erick is quiet but seems to be doing well. He's just taking it all in! Thanks so much to Chad Lynn for a ride to the airport and a great load of fun along the way. We are blown away with all the texts, email, and facebook messages. God has richly blessed us with awesome friends and family! More later.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Packing complete (for now)

Well, it looks like last night we finished packing. I am sure we are destined to unpack and repack them about 100 times before Monday morning, but it still feels like progress. I am happy to report that we are only taking 3 large bags, a bag with stuff for our friends Joel and Mary Ellen and carry-ons. Reading the posts of our friends the Halls and the load they carried up and down countless stairs in Ukraine, we were motivated to streamline. Thanks, Randy! Once again you have been an example and an inspiration ! :)

Today, we are off to our last kindergarten Upward Basketball game. It has been a blast coaching Erick and the rest of our team. We're going to miss you guys. Play hard and play as a team, and remember, loving God with your whole heart is more important than anything in life!!!!

That's probably enough for now. Blessings...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Comings and Goings

Just got great news. Our friends the Jordans are coming home from Ukraine tomorrow night. We are excited to see all five of them! They have been in Ukraine since January 13 completing the adoption of two teenagers.Whoo Hoo! Welcome home Jordan family!!!!!

We are ready to go!!!! I'd say we are about 3/4 packed and ready. The theme for these next few days is getting loose ends tied up. We are really getting anxious for Monday. We fly out from Jackson at 12:30 P.M. and will arrive in Kyiv around 4:30 A.M. Tuesday CST. We'll try to update the bold at least daily beginning Monday, January 26th. Thanks for your concern!!!!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

So...Today is a good day!!!!!

In the spirit of taking one day at a time, today is a really good day. Late yesterday afternoon, Denise got the call we have been hoping for. An officer from the USCIS called to touch base with us about the questions we had regarding our petition. She was very nice and EXTREMELY helpful!!!! I am happy to report that the "fingerprint thing" is solved!!!!! Yeah God!!!!! (Thanks for praying!!!!) There are still some procedural hoops to jump through with the State of Mississippi (pray that MDHS gets a child abuse clearance on my Mom in a hurry), but it looks like everything could be settled before we head over, and that if not, it can all be taken care of when we are in process in Ukraine.

My mom is leaving for Orlando tomorrow or Thursday. This is a bitter sweet time. I am glad she is getting to spend some time with my uncle, but it leaves a void. Pray for her as she is separated from us and for Erick as he adjusts to yet another change in the routine.

We had a really significant blessing this weekend. We hosted our friends Mary Ellen and Joel Ragains in our home. They are IMB missionaries in Ukraine. I have taught with them at Kyiv Theological Seminary a couple of times. It was sweet fellowship with them, and Erick loved them. He is now referring to them as his "Ukraine Grandparents." A week ago, he was hating the idea of flying to Ukraine (again the anxiety and routine thing--see a theme?), and now he can't wait to go see Mr. Joel and Mrs. Mary Ellen and check out their Ukrainian plumbing and their ceiling leaks. It look like his obsession with plumbing and electricity will be our constant on the trip!!!!!

T-minus 13 days and counting until we depart...I had better go and pack something...


Friday, January 9, 2009

We keep reminding ourselves...the only thing you know for sure is nothing is for sure

Well, the last 24 hours have been quite a shock. Yesterday, we received a letter from the USCIS that the update to our petition to consider our newly adopted child(ren) immediate relatives (in non-government speak that means that we can bring them into the country as U.S. citizens) has hit a couple of snags. First, there were a couple of things that were not done in the update to our homestudy that will need to be addressed to complete our file. This will probably take some work and might even still be in process while we are in process in Ukraine, but as long as it get done before we have to start home...no problem. Pray that it is no problem, please (I wish you could hear the little hint of "freak out" in my voice)!

Problem #2 is a little trickier. To extend our petition, we had to update our fingerprints. This meant that my mom had to get her fingerprints updated as well. The problem is that her 80+ year old fingerprints make her a perfect candidate to become a cat burgler (too bad she's not in the shape for second story work--can you say second career). Anyway, I am feeling like Jack Bauer can't contact anyone at the USCIS who can give us an answer. We were told today that the THREE times we have already had her fingerprints taken are enough and that it is a fairly simple process to get a clearance. I am begging you to pray with us that we get the right information to the right person in the next few days so that this can be resolved before we leave (and certainly before we have to attempt to come home)!!!!

We really expected that there would be bumps in the road, but we really didn't expect one on this side of the pond at this point in the process. I am confident that God is not surprised by this. I just wish he'd write us a script on the wall!!!!!!

On another note, I am so excited about Sunday. Joel and Mary Ellen Ragains will be our guests at Temple East and West. They are the IMB missionaries who lead the church planting program at Kiev Theological Seminary in Ukraine and two of my personal heroes. Joel will be preaching in the A.M. service at both services. If you are a Temple-ite, I hope you'll be there and be ready. I think Sunday may be a day when God ruins us a little (in a great way).



Sunday, January 4, 2009

Progress Update

Well, we have let the holidays go by without trying to freak out over the details of out adoption trip. News flash to us...THE HOLIDAYS ARE OVER!!!!! The preparation frenzy has begun in earnest. We started packing last night.

Today at church, I had several people ask about why I hadn't posted anything since Christmas eve. I think denial is the proper answer, but the pretending is over. Time is moving on and three weeks from tonight, we'll be making the final preparations to fly. Here is our projected timeline. Everything will have to line up perfectly for us to keep this timeline. It is possible that we could complete the process sooner, but it is not likely.

Steps in Our Adoption Process (with Projected Date for completion)

The S.D.A is the abbreviated name for the National Adoption Center in Kiev, Ukraine. All adoptions in Ukraine are processed by the S.D.A. All Adopting families must have their documents submitted to the S.D.A. and approved to receive an appointment to adopt in Ukraine.

The goal of our appointment at the S.D.A. is to receive the Referral Document that will allow us to begin our process in Poltava. This official document will be taken to the Regional Inspector in Poltava Region.

The Inspector must give us permission to proceed to the Poltava Orphanage. There is no way to schedule this in advance so we hope that the Inspector will be available on the Monday after our Friday appointment in Kiev.

A meeting with the Director of the orphanage and the lawyer is the next step. The files on the children are located in the care of the orphanage and there is work to do to prepare these documents for the adoption process. The orphanage has up to 10 days to complete this process.

Once these documents are assembled and prepared, they must be sent to the National Adoption Center in Kiev for "official approval." We do not have to go to Kiev. Our facilitator takes the documents.

The National Adoption Center can take up to five days to process the documents and produce a document that gives "official permission to adopt". This document is required to set a Court Date in Poltava.

In the Court Session, the judge hears our petition to adopt. The local prosecutor represents the rights of the children and family. In order for a child to be registered and available for adoption, the parents rights must be terminated. A successful experience in court requires that the judge decides what everyone knows.....these children have no family or parents. The goal of the court session is that the judge decrees that we are the parents of the children (at the end of a required 10 day waiting period.)

At the end of the 10 day waiting period, we pick up the official court decree. Great News. We are parents. Other News. We can't get our children out of Ukraine and into the U.S.A. until we get passports and Visas.

The children's original birth certificates are required to complete the remainder of the process. This requires that we travel to the town or village where they were born.

Even though the children have traveled to the U.S. before, new Ukrainian Passports are required that will allow for a permanent Visa required to enter the U.S.

The U.S. Embassy grants visas stamped in the children's new passports that will allow them to leave Ukraine. All of the paperwork done in the U.S. has reserved the opportunity for the children to receive these visas which allow them to leave Ukraine and travel to the U.S. and enter the United States. As soon as the children pass through customs in the United States, they become United States Citizens, immediately.

  • Fly to Ukraine 1/26
  • Arrive in Ukraine 1/27
  • S.D.A. Appointment 1/29
  • Receive Official Referral from the S.D.A. to adopt child(ren) 1/30
  • First Visit to Inspector's Office 2/02
  • Get Permission from the Inspector to go to Orphanage 2/02
  • Go to Orphanage and begin official adoption process 2/02
  • Official Documents Collected and put together 2/03
  • Official Visit to Inspector of Region 2/05
  • Documents taken to Kiev to be "officially approved" by S.D.A. 2/05
  • Documents "Officially Approved" by S.D.A. 2/10
  • Court Date 2/12
  • Ten Day Waiting Period Begins 2/12
  • Pick up official Court Decree 2/23
  • Go to orphanage and move child(ren) out 2/23
  • Birth Certificates from original place of birth for child(ren) 2/24
  • Tax Papers 2/25
  • Begin Process of Scanning Documents for Passports. 2/25
  • Get Passports 3/2
  • Medical Center Appointments for Child(ren) 3/3
  • U.S. Embassy for Request Visas to Enter United States 3/4
  • Pick up Passports with Visas at U.S. Embassy 3/5
  • Flights Home 3/8
  • Clear Customs in U.S. new child(ren) are U.S. Citizens. 3/8
  • Arrive at Jackson around 8 P.M. 3/8

So...that's what we are expecting right now, but the only thing you know for sure in international adoption is that nothing is for sure.

There have been several other questions that lots of folks have asked, so I thought it might be helpful to try and answer them here:

Q - How many kids are you adopting?
A - Tell us and we'll both know. Seriously, we have been approved by the US immigration service to bring up to 3 kids home. Right now, our plan is to bring 1 child home. We are open to 2 if they are biological siblings. We'll consider three, but God would really have to write that on the wall!!!

Q - Do you know the age or gender of your child?
A - No. We have requested a child under 8 years old. We have no preference for a boy or a girl. Pre-identification of children in Ukraine is illegal. At our appointment with the SDA (national adoption center) on January 29th, a government psychologist will match us with a child. We will then travel to meet the child and pursue the adoption.

Q - What can we do to help you at home while you are gone?
A - I can barely count the people who have inquired about how they can help us while we are gone or to help us get ready to get home. For sure, we will need some help as we get ready to come home, but right now, we just don't have a clue. Once we travel on January 26th, we will update this blog daily. We would love to count on you to check here periodically and pray for us as we move along. For more tangible help, we'll post needs here and communicate them with the TBC staff. Chad Lynn has offered to serve as a "go-to-guy" in helping us on the homefront as we prepare for our return home.

We are so thankful for the way our church family have come alongside us, and we really appreciate all of the support, love, and offers of help that we have received. We can't wait to get home with the new addition(s) and to them with you and you with them!!!