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.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Program

Today was a special day. It was the day of the program at the orphanage that I wrote about yesterday. We went later today to be there especially for the occasion. We thought we were going to be late because traffic was really heavy getting across town today. We really had to hoof it up the hill from the bus stop to the orphanage. One thing I can tell is that all the walking we are doing is paying off. Even after the charge up the hill, I was felling pretty good! I am looking on the bright side. Loosing weight and getting in better shape are pretty good side effects of this extended stay, but I’d be ready to head home tomorrow if the judge offered!

Anyway, back to the program. We walked in right on time. N and several of the older kids we down by the entrance we used to come in already in costume. I saw her when we walked in the door but Denise was right up on her before she recognized her. She was all made up in her gypsy/babushka costume. It was hilarious. She was adorable. You can tell she loves it, but she has a little bit a of shy streak too. It’s cute. Anyway, we said hello and made our way upstairs to the little theater room. We saw most of the kids we know from visits to Hattiesburg and a few we have met since we have been here. There were lots of “hellos” and hugs, and we snapped a ton of pictures. We’ll be sharing a bunch of those later. I know many of you will be dying to see them. We got away without the cable to download our pictures to the computer so we are looking for a card reader, and if we find one, we’ll send them back. During the program, I also shot a few video segments that I hope turned out so that we can share. The highlight of the program for me was seeing N sing with a quartet of girls including her best friend. She sings beautifully, and you can tell that she really enjoys it. We watched the video of that song back, and we laughed that the video isn’t very good because I kept having to wipe my eyes while I was shooting it. It was wonderful.

We finished the afternoon by having a long Skype conversation with the Drakes. It was hilarious at one point to see Vadik one one side of the computer and 4 girls on our side chatting away. He was the man! We were cracking up!!

On a more serious note, the last couple of days has brought cold weather. The temperature tonight will dip into the lower 20s and the wind chill will be in the teens. Even before we left N’s room tonight it was cold. She was wearing a cost in her room. My heart just breaks for those kids. I can’t get that off my mind tonight! As I sit here just a few miles away in a warm and comfortable apartment, I see the faces in my mind of so many kids that I love who are cold tonight, and I feel helpless.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

At least we have certainty

Today, we finally hear from the judge and received our court date, January 12. Not what we were hoping for but not as bad as we had feared. That will likely put us back in Hattiesburg at the end of January. The time that we lost with the confusion over K’s situation and the holidays are partly to blame I am sure, but in the end it probably does not make more than a few days difference one way or the other.

We are really enjoying out time with N. Today, we spent time watching her and some of the other kids rehearse for a Christmas program. It was great to see N along with a number of the kids from the past 2 summers of our hosting program singing, dancing, and acting. They are adorable and so talented. We have been invited to attend that performance on the 6th of January as well as an New Year’s program tomorrow. We will be taking lots of video and pictures that we can’t wait to share when we get back to Hattiesburg! I know there are many of you that will be anxious to see these performances.

We also got to Skype with Erick, Nicholas, Nana, and Papaw this afternoon. N seemed to enjoy the few minutes of interacting with her new little brothers. We have noticed that she is good with the little ones at the orphanage, and we hope that carries over to home! The boys are very excited about their new big sis, and she seems to be taking the prospect of little brothers in stride. She is really sweet with an esay going disposition. Lot’s of smiles and not too much seems to ruffle her feathers. I really picked at her a little tonight. The second Mississippi State shirt has made it’s appearance, but I haven’t seen the Bama shirt yet. If you’re keeping score, that’s momma 2 and daddy 0! We have got to fix that! We’ll see if my teasing did any good!

We will let you know how the program goes!



Monday, December 27, 2010

Great Day!

Today was a really great day! When we found N this morning she was wearing her new Mississippi State hoodie from mama and the necklace we gave her with the daughter inscription. I can’t complain about the hoodie since all the Bama gear we brought is short sleeve, but I have noticed her wearing a houndstooth scarf, so I will be counting on equal time when we get her stateside! Anyway, we got a wireless modem on Saturday, and today was our first day to take it to the orphanage. Boy did that make a big difference. We could “talk” with N and her friends using Google Translate without a lot of difficulty. We found out that N and her best friend were making plans to go to the city center to feed the pigeons. We asked if they would like to meet us at McDonalds for Ice Cream. They wrote a note to the Director and asked permission. She said yes, and we made a date. We hung out in N’s room with several of her friends for a long time just laughing and talking on the computer. It was hilarious hanging out with a bunch of silly girls. I think we are getting a taste of what life will be like. We left at lunch time and came back to the city center for lunch and a little rest. While we were at the apartment, we set up a little surprise. The girls have really been wanting to talk to the Drake boys, so we Skyped with Barbara and set up a call. Then, we rode the bus back to the orphanage at 4 and met them and all rode back to the city center to McDonalds. We grabbed some food and called the Drakes. Watching that video call was a hoot! The kids had a great time. We laughed at N trying to hide outside the camera range eating her hamburger (especially when a pickle fell out of her mouth). Teenage girls are more the same than different no matter where they are from. I think it really began to sink in to us tonight about how different our lives are about to become. Most of our lives have been spent ministering to teenagers, but we are now about to have one! Oh my!!!!!! Let the fun begin!!!! N really seems to be a sweet girl. I know there will be challenges. Everyone is on his/her best behavior right now, and we have yet to start parenting. Pray for us that we bond well during this time and that we use this time wisely. We want to make the most of our time with her.

We still have no word on court. Not that we expect to before next week. Please keep praying. While the Judge holds the power to set the date, God holds ruling authorities in His hand. We assume that everything with our papers is moving along. We expect that our paperwork should be back from the SDA later this week so that we could have court next week.



Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

First off, let me say Merry Christmas to everyone back home. We had a great day today. As some of you know, Ukraine celebrates on the Orthodox calendar, so Christmas here isn’t until January 6-7. In that respect, today was just another day for everyone else around here. We had quite a day in the midst of normal for everyone else. We went to the orphanage early to see N. We took her some Christmas gifts (3 shirts and a watch—2 of the shirts were Mississippi State and 1 was Alabama. Not sure how that happened, but we’ll correct that in due time!) We still couldn’t communicate much. Galya ended up not being able to go with us. We mostly looked at pictures from summer before last. A couple of her friends hung out with us. It was a good thing. The extra girls kept things lively and kept it from being too boring. When we left, we decided that we really needed to get the wireless modem so we could use Google Translate to communicate a little better. We caught the bus thinking that it would loop back by the store where we could get it...we were wrong! It went the other way. We went to the other end of town. We thought the buses went in a loop. The bus driver put us off at the end of the line!!!! Ha!!!! At that point, we just cut our losses and caught a taxi back to our apartment and started over. With a little cellphone translation help from our buddy Sergei once we got on the right bus and got to the store, we got the Internet modem and we are in business. So now I think we are in a better shape to communicate. We are also looking forward to getting on Skype with the Drakes. If the Mills and the Jordans are reading this, look us up on Skype or get our info from Barbara, we’d love to get her on with your kids too! We can arrange a time via facebook.

Technology is amazing. Later in the afternoon, we were able to be with the boys and Nana and Papaw while the boys opened their Christmas presents. They moved their computer into the living room and pointed the camera at the Christmas tree and we sat in front of ours while we were connected by Skype. The connection was a little slow and dropped a few times, but it was sure better than missing it altogether! We could tell that Erick in particular was a little pouty this morning and so were his momma and daddy to be honest. Today was a tough thing to miss. Pray for the boys. We miss them terribly. It is great being able to see them and talk to them every day on the computer, and we are thankful for that, but we miss them so much it hurts. It is balanced some by looking at N and realizing how much of her life we have missed, but we don’t want to be away from any of them.

We plan to go to church tomorrow and then to take the day to rest. We will not see N. Then Monday we will resume a regular schedule. She is out of school, so we will go earlier in the day to see her. On Thursday, they will have a New Year’s program that we have been invited to attend as their guests. We hope that we will get to see her sing. We’ll let you know. Also, Please keep praying that we hear something about our court date. Everything hinges on the Judge’s decision as to when she will schedule our court date.

That’s all for now!

Again, Merry Christmas,


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Making Progress

Today was a good day on the adoption process front. We didn’t hear much in the morning. I tried to write some this morning on a curriculum project that Tony and I have in the works. I got a little bit accomplished while we were waiting to go for our interview late this afternoon with the Inspector’s boss. At about 1:30, we decided to walk down to McDonald’s. (Btw, we have decided that we may be like Jim Bob and Crystal and eat there every day! I am admitting it. It’s such a drag to shop here and we don’t really trust the meats the in little groceries in downtown. The Potato House is good too, but we figure McDonald’s for one meal plus fruit and vegetables will probably balance out. With all the walking, we’re going to be in great shape by the time we get home!) Anyway, just as we sat down to eat my phone rang and said we needed to get to the Inspector’s ASAP. They were ready for us. So we choked down our lunch and dashed back to the apartment.

We got to the Inspector’s office and waited for Galya to go over our paperwork to edit out any mistakes. Then, we went into an interview with the Department Director. We have been through two of these interviews before. Ordinarily, we wouldn’t have been concerned. This is the interview where they ask about why you want to adopt. Why you want to adopt from Ukraine. Do you know about the child’s history and medical condition and can you afford another child and so on. Our concern was the unknown from all the drama of the past week. Well, I am happy to report that there was nothing to be concerned about. The interview was routine. It took about five minutes. There is an Italian couple here adopting now too and their interview was much longer! I guess he figured if we had done this here twice before how much could there be left for him to ask!!! Anyway, our paperwork is done here and off to the SDA for processing. It should be submitted there Monday and picked up Wednesday. That would mean that it would be back here Thursday evening or Friday morning. From that point, we are just waiting on the Judge to set a court date. As we understand it, the Judge will not consider our petition for a court date until January 4 but could act on it almost immediately as the court docket is empty until January 13. Since there is this Italian couple also trying to get a hearing now, we are hoping and praying that the judge will go ahead and get us out of the way while she has time in her schedule.

We had a little confusion about seeing N today. We were supposed to see her after our meeting, but she was late coming back after a holiday outing. We waited at the orphanage for 2 hours and only got to see her for a couple of minutes. We hope to get to see her more tomorrow. We did get to sit in on a presentation that one of the local businesses did giving a bunch of toys and sports equipment to the orphanage as a Christmas gift. We got to see two of the older boys from this past summer and the one boy left from last summer and the two remaining girls from this past summer. There were hugs and smiles all around. I did think it was pretty funny at one point. I caught a look at the Italian couple who saw us hugging and greeting so many of the kids, they look a little puzzled. We’re going to have to figure out how to point and grunt our way through explaining it to them! They probably won’t care. They have their hands full with a 5-year-old little ball of energy from the boys group that will keep them on their toes for sure.

We know that things are winding down and gearing up back home as everyone gets ready to celebrate Christmas. We love and miss you all so much. Half a world away, it brings an interesting perspective on the Season and the Reason. Don’t forget as you treasure the gifts and the foods or the family and the friends that the greatest gift of all is the news God sent forth His only Son into the world that we might have the opportunity to be adopted into the family of the Most High!



Wednesday, December 22, 2010


So, finally after all the drama, we actually got a day to spend with N. It was beginning to seem like we were never actually going to see her! It was awesome! We rolled out early to take her to see the Psychiatrist. (It’s not a big deal. That is a fairly new procedure that they have added for all adoptions.) When we got to the orphanage, we had a little trouble finding her, but when we found her, she came bounding down the stairs with a big grin on her face and greeted us both with big hugs. This greeting was much different than the one a few days ago. We could tell that the tension over K and the “stuff” surrounding her decision had created a great discomfort for her. All of that is clearly gone now. Back to the visit to the Psychiatrist. I don’t think she even sat down in the chair. The interview couldn’t have lasted more than 2 minutes. We were kidding her on the way over about what Lee and Barbara told us about the boys’ interviews, and that if she stayed more than a few minutes we would assume she was crazier than Vitaly. Everyone thought that was funny! Apparently Vitally is still crazier!!!! We can talk that over the next time we Skype :)

After that, we got a cab back to the orphanage. We went by the director’s office for a minute for Galya to get some paperwork together and to set up a schedule for visits. After the next couple of days, we will be able to visit earlier in the day since N will be out of school for the holidays. We are going to give riding the bus a shot. That should be fun.

For most of the rest of the time, we hung out in Irena’s room with N looking at pictures on our computer and working on English on Rosetta Stone. She really didn’t like Rosetta Stone. I don’t think the microphone worked too well on the computer and it was frustrating. I think we are going to need to look into a better plan for a way to communicate as well. Our facilitator will not be with us at the orphanage, and it’s going to be much tougher with a teenager than with a 7-year-old to keep from being bored, so we will need to work on that fast. Barbara, if you read this and can message me Irena’s contact info, I would appreciate it. We think that it might be a good idea to talk to her about translating for us some.

On the legal front, we didn’t get to see the Inspector’s boss today, so it looks like we will get to see him tomorrow at 4 and our paperwork will go to Kyiv on Friday. We are still uncertain about a court date, but coming home looks out because we don’t think they will actually schedule a court date before Jan. 4. That means we might only know a day or two before the actual court date. We couldn’t take the chance of being gone and missing our opportunity. Today, an Italian couple showed up at the orphanage to adopt and we hear that there is a Ukrainian couple seeking to foster a child that will likely both be done on the same day as our hearing. Apparently, they are in no hurry and would be content with mid-January. We hope not. Please continue to pray! I must admit that I am really frustrated!!!

The last thing for tonight was as funny little story. We needed a taxi to leave the orphanage today. Galya gave the phone number and instructions to N. At the time, she called and arranged for our taxi and took us down to meet it. It didn’t come. She called again. It still didn’t come. She called again. We walked to look for it. She called again...assertively. I wish you could have seen her. She was so confident and took care of things so well! She was large and in charge. Finally, she walked us down to the corner, flagged down the driver, put us in the taxi, hugged, us goodbye, and sent us safely home. It was so sweet! She has spent so much of her life taking care of herself. We are really looking forward to talking care of her! Thank you God for the opportunity to care for her and thank you for caring for us...



Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Another day...another twist!

Today brought another twist in the process. We got going this morning at 10 (which seems like the starting time around here. The workday for the government offices seems to be 10-4 with a lunch break. Sweet hours if you can get them! Anyway, we began at the notary getting petitions done to take to the Inspector and the Judge. Then off to the Inspector’s office. That’s where the fun began. When we got there, the Inspector informed us that no matter what letters we had from the girls, she was not going to order the separation of them because the law didn’t allow it (why she didn’t tell us that days ago, I have no idea). She said that only a health condition or being in different orphanages was a legal cause. Over the next three hours, we made many calls to Kyiv to the SDA, our facilitator in Kyiv, another facilitator in a case where they are separating kids under the same circumstances, the Inspector in that case, and others. Still, she was unmoved. She insisted that this was the law and it was in the best interests of the girls. After 3 hours, it looked bad, and I must admit, I lost it! Denise and I both ended up in a pretty emotional shouting match with the Inspector. I finally asked her if she was going to be the one to go to the orphanage and tell N the it was in her best interests not to be adopted! Was she going to be the grandparent to her children? Was she going to plan her wedding? She just kept saying “it’s not me, it’s the law.”I told her that was not true because we knew of this other case. Finally was were asked to wait outside. After a while, they came out and said that they had discovered a new update to the law dated November 15th of this year that allowed other exceptions for separation! Because the law is vague and everyone here is wanting to cover themselves, they said that they would take our petition to a counsel on Thursday. At that time they would give us the necessary paperwork to send to the SDA but really they are not approving out petition, just passing the buck to the judge because they say the law is too new and vague to know what it means.

So, we left with that over. We decided against going to see N today. Until we have the petition, we thought it best not to go. So, we headed off to the open air market for some fruit and a very late lunch. Just before ordering lunch, Galya called. It seems that something else turned up. There has been a medical exception that has been discovered. We are choosing not to share it, but as of right now, we think everything changed at about 2:30 this afternoon, and the Inspector has no more basis to deny our petition to adopt N. We have been wrong before...today, but now we think we are right. We still have to meet with the Inspector's boss for an interview and that may take another day or two or schedule. We are frustrated beyond belief at the pace of things here! In our previous two adoptions in Ukraine, we have never seen a region operate this slowly!!!!

So, there are several big prayer requests that we are making tonight (today for you in the US):

  1. That the Inspector will follow through with the adoption petition
  2. That N will have no problems in the Psychologist visit tomorrow (routine visit for a report to be part of the adoption file)
  3. That was can get a quick appt w/ the Inspector’s boss & get his report
  4. That we can get our papers off to the SDA quickly
  5. That the Ukrainian Gov’t halts the proposed adoption moratorium

Yes, the adoption moratorium goes before the Ukrainian Rada again this week! We are watching our email to see what the US embassy is saying. Pray that it goes away! We had hoped to be done before it came to a vote but at this rate, we don’t know.

Thanks for praying. It is noteworthy that every day we seem to be having major breakthroughs around 2 or 2:30 in the afternoon here. We have wondered if that has anything to do with the numbers of people that are going before the Father on our behalf in the mornings as they rise to meet the day back home. We know you are praying!!!!

We love you,


Monday, December 20, 2010

Not a Fairly Tale

We often tell people that adoption of older kids is not a fairy tale. Today is an example of why. It’s messy.

We got going this morning after a rather crazy night last night. Our evening was cut short due to a city-wide power outage. It’s Ukraine! It happens! The good news is that our Alias marathon ended early. The bad news is that we were awakened at 1 in the morning by a horrible beeping sound that we finally discovered was coming from the apartment next door.

When we finally got going this morning, Galya called and said that K had not returned to the orphanage all weekend, and there was no word. We went to the orphanage and then to the inspector’s office only to find out the final conclusion that without her providing a letter either accepting or declining our offer of adoption, we could do nothing about N’s adoption. The Inspector indicated that if she was not found we would have to leave or go and get another referral for other children. She seemed puzzled that we would not want to do that. It was really discouraging. We decided to head to lunch at around 2:30 and regroup. Just as we ordered lunch, the orphanage called and said K was back. We cancelled our order and headed back.

When we arrived, we were ushered into a room where K was waiting for us with a caregiver and the psychologist. We all sat down. She never really even looked at us. She said something to our facilitator that seemed to indicate that she was going to accept our offer to be adopted. Then she began to write her letter. She paused and asked Galya how to word something and then it was done...she had refused our offer of adoption. Just that quickly, it was over. She cried. We cried. We hugged and talked to her her about the place that she would have in our lives regardless of her decision. She will always be the sister of our adopted daughter, but we wanted to bring her home to Hattiesburg too. We’ve learned more over the last few days. More than can be shared here, and more than we could have known before we arrived.

Our next big complication is in scheduling the court hearing. Galya went to see the Judge after we got K’s letter. She saw the Judge after court, and the judge blew her off about giving us a court date. She said she would not even consider our petition until Jan. 4. That would mean that we might not get a hearing until the week of Jan. 10. Galya spent most of dinner tonight trying to convince us to consider flying home for a couple of weeks until we have court. We are going to see what the next few days bring. Please pray with us for wisdom and discernment. We want to do what is best for everyone here and at home.

N comes back tomorrow. We are anxious to see her. We understand that she has been calling the orphanage often. She has been worried that the adoption will not take place. It will be good to reassure her.

We are thankful for your prayers and love!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Gone Again

Seriously. At this point, you are beginning to need a scorecard to keep up or at least I am. We heard from Galya, our facilitator, this morning, and K is gone again. Since it’s the weekend, details are a little sketchier. Here is what we know now. Apparently she has a boyfriend in Orphanage #1. Great, one more time in my life that I wish that a teenager had kissed dating goodbye! (Sorry, but at this point if we don’t start finding humor in some of this, we’ll go crazy). Anyway, they think she has run off with her boyfriend. The good news is that she hasn’t said no to us. Everyone here thinks that is an encouraging thing. The Psychologist at the orphanage also thinks that if we try coming around while she is there, that we may spook her, and cause her to run harder. That’s her pattern. She doesn’t face stress and problems. She runs. Oh how we just what to grab her up and hold her and tell her it will be alright! She’s 15-years-old, and what seems like it is bigger than the world is really so small. How many of us would love to forget who we were dating or what we were doing or wearing at 15?!?!?! The old youth minister in me is freaking out!!!!!

So, we are going to get ready and go explore Sevastopol. If we can’t see K and N won’t be back until mid-week, then we might as well start figuring this place out. So far, without our facilitator we have discovered a little “producti” (mini-mart) near our flat where we bought a few things, a bank to exchange money, and McDonald’s (c’mon we’re Americans). Outside of that, we really haven’t seen much. So, it’s time to get out sightseeing on! Tomorrow we are going to church with Galya and her husband Kostya. Not sure what kind of church it is other then it isn’t Orthodox! Their small group has been praying for us, and we are looking forward to meeting them. It will be good to meet some fellow believers here and fellowship!

We’ll update if we know anything else.



Friday, December 17, 2010

Marking time

The morning brought a little more news. K is back at the orphanage. We are not sure when she came back. She has talked with people there and says she needs more time to decide. We understand that she is very upset, crying a lot and generally miserable. We are just really heartbroken. We assumed this would be difficult for her, but not like this. Right now, they will not let us have any contact with her. They are afraid that it may be misconstrued as us trying to “unduly influence” her decision. I am really frustrated with that part. It seems that kids in the orphanage and even family members may be telling her all kinds of things right now to scare her about America nad to scare her away from joining our family yet we are being prevented from the chance to even see her. I see that they are trying to protect her and us, but it just makes me want to scream. Sometimes the process just seems so crazy!

The policies here say that a family has 5 days to decide whether or not to adopt a child. We are being told that Monday is really a key day for her decision. I’m not sure if that is absolute or not. Please continue praying. Pray that we can spend some time with her. We don’t intend to pressure her. We only want to get to know her and for her to get to know us. We think that will be enough. Right now we are tired and emotionally spent and this is really too early in the process to feel this way. We’ve been through this before and we know what lies ahead. Our tanks need to be more full and the last couple of days have been tough. We are mostly cooped up in the apartment sitting and waiting on news. The last time I remember anything like this it was after we evacuated for Katrina. I guess God gives you one trial to prepare you for another. It’s funny though, the sense of concern and brokenness in all of this is for K. Right now, she is in agony, and we just want to make it better. It’s why we came here! Please pray with us that she can see that!



Thursday, December 16, 2010

Adoption Roller Coaster

When I was a kid, I loved roller coasters. Now that I am older...not so much. Well today was a not so much day. We were expecting that we were going to head to the orphanage at 2:30 this afternoon to see K and hear their decision. Instead, as I posted this morning (or at least as I think I posted this morning—it’s been a little crazy), we were awakened at 8:30 this morning to the news that N had signed a letter agreeing to be adopted before heading off to a singing competition in the west this morning. We got ready and waited. The plan was to go to the orphanage and see K. The word was she was still thinking it over but open. Our driver had car trouble, and we didn’t get there until after noon. By the time we got there, she had run away. We waited for over 3 hours while they tried to find her to no avail. Apparently, a friend who she runs away with convinced her that being adopted is a bad idea (the people at the orphanage think because of jealousy) and convinced her to run away. Right now this leaves us in a holding pattern.

We cannot process any paperwork to move forward until we get her letter declaring her intention and that cannot be done until she is found. We are willing to wait on her for as long as we can. She needs to know we are not going to quit on her. We can’t schedule a court hearing or anything else until this set is done but that all pales in comparison to a 15-year-old girl who hurts so much. We will see what tomorrow brings. Please continue to pray with us. We are gripped by our powerlessness and God’s sovereignty! We are so appreciative of all the encouraging skypes, emails, fb messages, and tweets. Our friends and family in the Body of Christ are such a gift. We thank God for each of you!



Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Morning Update

We just received an update from Galya. N left a letter this morning that said that she does want to be adopted by us. That's a big relief, but K is refusing to be adopted. We are heading to the orphanage in a little while to talk to her in person one more time. We will let you know what happens. I am convinced this is not a battle of flesh and blood but of principalities and powers being fought in the heavenly places and the stakes are much higher than where she will spend her physical days. It is a gospel issue. Whether or not she will be raised to hear about and know the one true King. Please pray!

Love you all,



Today was not really what we expected. We have been planning today for a long time, and I must be honest that I had it pictured a hundred different ways in my mind. It didn’t turn out like any of the ways that we had pictured.

Everything was going pretty much as planned. Typical day with a visit to the Inspector and then to the Children’s Home for the meeting with the Inspector, Director of Social Services, the Children’s Home Director, the Children’s Home Psychologist, and the Doctor. While we were waiting outside the Children’s Home for that meeting, the Director sent one of the workers out to invite us inside to wait in the library. Nice! After a time, the Director brought Irena, the caregiver who came to Mississippi last summer by the Library! We had a big reunion! It was great!!!! Irena took us to see her group and we saw one of the girls from the summer and two of the girls who were supposed to come but were prevented by travel problems. They showed us their school work and we laughed with them for a little while. It was good. Then it came time for our meeting.

Just before our meeting began, N popped in. It was a little weird. She seemed happy to see us but something seemed wrong. It was hard to place. The Director asked her to leave (that much we got) and something was said about K and then our meeting began. From there, everything settled in as expected. We got information about the girls. We learned how they got to the orphanage, about their health, and etc. Then, it was time to sit down with them and ask them. The Director suggested that we go with Galya, our facilitator, to the Library with the girls to be with them and talk to them. So, we did. It was awkward at best. N greeted us more warmly, but K greeted us like a shy girl who was scared. We tried to make a little small talk. No good. So, we went ahead and asked them...and they said they would think about it and tell us later. N was the spokeswoman. K just welled up with tears. Wow! Not what I was expecting.... Not yes. Not no. Wait.

So, we all went back to the Director’s office, and the meeting broke up with the promise to meet again at 2:30 tomorrow afternoon. The girls hadn’t eaten lunch, so the Director said that they would eat lunch and meet us back at the Library and we could visit until 4. They stayed gone a long time. I am sure much more than lunch was going on to be sure. When they finally came back from lunch, we were able to talk for an hour or so before we decided it was best to let them have time to be alone to visit and decide.

The time we spent with them seemed to go well. We explained why we had taken so long to come and why we not been able to give them any advance warning that we intended to come and adopt them, but there was one strange piece to the puzzle that we cannot figure out. N seemed to think that we had intended to adopt someone else before coming for her. We tried to reassure her that was never the case. They were always our first choice. I don’t really know what she means. I don’t know if she know that we were in Irena’s group today and thought we were looking at another child and does not understand the process. I really just don’t know. What I do feel is that this is a spiritual battle at the deepest level. The enemy does not want these girls to come to Hattiesburg under the influence of the gospel. We were talking about it with our facilitator before we went to the orphanage. Please pray with us that this barrier would be torn down.

K is a shy young woman with a load of hurts and it shows. N is leaving tomorrow morning for a singing competition in western Ukraine. She will be gone until December 22 and will have to write a letter before she leaves in the morning to make her decision whether or not to be adopted. We will get to spend the next several days with K alone. Please pray that a bond of trust begins to be built with her.

So, we are praying and trying to adjust to our new surroundings...trusting God that His plan is working out in His time and in His way. They don’t all have to be Kodak moments....do they?



Tuesday, December 14, 2010

We're in Sevastopol

It's 12:30 PM local time and we just made it to Sevastopol after a long day. Today involved an afternoon trip to the SDA to pick up our referral, a quick goodbye to Sergey and Natalie, a 1 hour flight to Simferopol, and a 1.5 hour drive to Sevastopol. Tomorrow we will get going at 9 with a visit to the Inspector's office to register and get permission to visit the orphanage. Then we will make an official visit to meet with the Director. After that, we presume that we will get to see N and K when they get out of school, and get to talk to them for the first time. We'll keep you posted!

P.S. Our apartment is swank!!! Looks like we are a long way from the orphanage but we'll see...



SDA Visit

Yesterday we visited the SDA. It went as planned. We saw the files for N & K and learned that they have been in the orphanage for 2 years. It was a short meeting. We will return at 4 today to pick up out paperwork and dash back by Sergey and Natalie's to get out luggage and then head for the airport. Tonight we fly to Simferopol and then drive to Sevastopol to our new home for the next month or so.

We heard yesterday that adoption court for this month is tomorrow. So, we are going to ask you to pray with us that the judge will make an exception and hear our case when our papers return from Kyiv in about 8-10 days. It would be miracle to us but nothing to God!

Seeing N & K's pictures in their files yesterday was tough. So much sadness and pain. We pray that God breaks through it and praticularly with K that he gives her a heart inclined to say yes to joining our family!

Also, the US embassy has posted more information on the updated changes to the Ukrainian adoption laws. Not sure what they mean. Please continue to pray for us that we would not be hindered.

We are well and will write more when we getti Sevastopol.


Rick Morton

Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Great first day

We have had a great first day in Ukraine. We got a pretty good nights rest. We are so glad to be staying with Sergey and Natalie. There is a huge difference enjoying the hospitality of friends! This afternoon we went to a baptism service with Open Hearts Church, the church Sergey founded and pastors. What a huge blessing. SIx sisters in Christ made their public confession and were baptized. It was great! The service was very similar to our New Life service at Temple including video testimonies from each of the candidates. The main difference was that Sergey preached a much longer sermon then Tony! Tony will be glad to hear that and I'm sure will use this as ammunition in our next planning session! They also shared a fellowship meal afterwards. That's an idea we should consider.

We have spent a quiet evening back at the Bochko apartment. Tomorrow our plans call for church and the afternooon/evening with Joel and Mary Ellen. We can't wait. We just Skyped with the boys and Nana and Papaw. Everyone seems to be doing well. So far so good. Thanks for praying. Keep it up! We feel the prayers of all our friends!




Friday, December 10, 2010

We made it!

We have arrived in Ukraine safe and sound.  It is cold!! I am so glad to have the first travel portion of the trip over.  They have opened up a new terminal at the Ukraine airport, and we just flew through it with a little help.  

Sergey and Natasha are wonderful hosts.  They provided a great meal and wonderful fellowhip. It is good to be staying with friends instead of some generic flat in the city.  We are looking forward to tomorrow with them. They are having a baptisim at their church, and I can't wait to participate in the worship service with them.  

I miss my boys so could some of you love on them a little extra for us.  

I know this is short, but I am sitting next to a comfortable bed that seems to be calling my name louder every second.  

The schedule so far for the adoption is that we go to the SDA Monday to get the referral for the girls, then return Tuesday for the official letter to take to the orphanage.  Then we will be off to Sevestapol Tues evening.  We should meet with the girls Wed so we would appreciate your prayers that all goes smoothly with that.

Thanks for your prayers, we have been feeling them. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Twas the night before....

Well obviously it's not the night before Christmas, but it is in the Morton house. Tomorrow is the big day. Denise & I are off at 4:25 tomorrow afternoon from Gulfport headed to Ukraine for our next adoption. Before then, we will be celebrating Christmas tomorrow morning with the boys. Santa is going to make an early trip by the house tonight, and tomorrow, we will take time to remember the most important birthday ever when Jesus came that we might be adopted into God's family before we head for the airport!

Today it really hit how much we are going to miss the boys, and I can really tell it is hitting them, especially Erick. Please pray for us. It is going to be agonizing to be separated for so long! In the grand scheme of all the years, I guess that a few weeks is not that big a thing, but when I look at our little boys, I just hurt thinking about missing so much time with them! Then, I think of how much of the girl's lives we have missed. We just have to start where we are and work with what God has blessed us to have. I am thankful.

The first several days of the process will be fairly uneventful on the adoption front. If travel goes as planned, we will spend the weekend in Kyiv getting adjusted to the time and hanging out with friends. We will be staying with Sergey and Natalie Bochko who translated for us this summer with Promise 139 and have been good friends for years. Sergey pastors Open Hearts church in Kyiv, and a number of his church members worked with us on our mission trip to Tetiev this past summer. I really developed a great bond with a number of the church folks there, so it will be great to be with his church family. They will be baptizing 8 people on Saturday at noon. Hopefully jet lag won't be killing us too much, and we can enjoy that time with our friends.

We will also get some quality time with some of our dearest friends in the world, Joel and Mary Ellen Ragains. I am so looking forward to hanging out with them! They have had such an impact on us, and we love them dearly. anytime we can be with them the fellowship is sweet and the laughter is plentiful. I cannot wait!!!

We are anxiously anticipating our trip, but not before we have a little more fun here....



Saturday, December 4, 2010

Random Thoughts for Saturday....

Today started at O' Dark Thirty. Typically, a Saturday that begins at that hour cannot be anything good. Today is an exception. Right now, I am sitting in a training event with about 40 other guys getting ready for the Momentum Men's Conference that will be held in Hattiesburg at Temple in February 11-12. This is going to be a great conference with Crawford Loritts and Rick Burgess. Last year, we had around 1,100 guys take part in this event and most of them began to be discipled in small groups as a result. I am pumped about this event. Tickets will go on sale soon at Temple. Be on the lookout!

Last night, I received some sad news. Shan Bagwell, a friend and seminary student from Austin, Texas, went home to be with Jesus earlier this week. Shan's parents Billy and Betty are members here at Temple, and I would appreciate you joining me in praying for me as they grieve. I got to know Shan this summer while he was home visiting his parents. He was a great guy. I enjoyed the visits that I had with him. He had lived in Santa Fe, and Santa Fe is one of Denise and my favorite cities. We hit it off, and talked about restaurants and other great things, but mostly what we talked about was Jesus. Shan had taken a long road to get where he was, and he understood Grace! He loved God in this life, and now he is with Jesus. I grieve with Billy and Betty, but I rejoice with Shan for he is well with Jesus, and I will see him again one day!

The Morton house is a beehive of activity. We are in an endless state of packing or at least it seems that way! Things are falling into place. We are pulling last minute details together. I am thankful for God's grace! I am experiencing a calm that I cannot explain, and all I can call it is "the peace of God that passes all understanding!" Wow! It's cool! There are a few things that  I would ask you to pray with us about:

  1. That God would continue to prepare the hearts of the girls. In little more than a week, we will show up on the doorstep of their children's home, and they don't know we are coming, and we will ask them to join their family. One of them knows us, and the other doesn't. We are continually asking God to go before us and to prepare them. We are asking for a supernatural readiness. We want them desperately, and we believe that our desire is God placed, so we trust, and we pray.
  2. For the timing of our appointments. We have an appointment at the SDA on Monday, December 13 at noon. We are flying out on Thursday to give us a little leeway for travel disruptions. We have a flight scheduled to Simferopol on Tuesday night, December 14. For us to be able to keep that appointment, we will have to have our travel/visit  permission documentation prepared by the SDA by the close of business Tuesday afternoon. That would be the norm, but as we have come to understand about international adoption, the only thing you know for sure is that you really don't know anything for sure! Please pray for these appointments and processes specifically.
  3. Once we ask the girls, assuming everything is in order, we will have a series of paperwork/appointments that will have to be accomplished quickly to be able to send paperwork back to Kyiv to make a formal petition to adopt to the SDA. Again, pray for quick resolution!
  4. Court. This is the biggie. Our big prayer is that we can get a court date before the end of the year. Best case scenario would be that we could get on the court docket for around December 23. Not trying to sound like a broken record....please pray for the earliest possible court date.

Thanks so much for your prayers!



Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Orphanologybook.com is officially launched today!

Today is a really exciting day. www.orphanologybook.com officially went live this morning. Many of you have known that the website was out there, but it has been a work in progress over the past couple of months as content has been coming together. Today, all of the pieces are together, and the site is officially 100% a go!!!! Praise the Lord!!!! From today, that means that we are about 4 months away from the book's release. Today is a great day of anticipation and a great day of thanksgiving.

God is up to something in His Church for His Glory on behalf of the fatherless, and I am so excited to be swept up on the crest of the wave. As Tony and I have continued to talk to people about God's heart for the fatherless and the theological and practical implications of ministering to the orphan, we continue to see that God is up to something. This is not something that men and women are manufacturing. God is moving, and we are merely being swept up in the current of God's active grace! For a long time, the Church has seemed to lose the image of God as Adopter, but we are beginning to see Him that way afresh. To His Glory, we are learning to love him more, to respond to Him differently, and to mirror Him in a way that has been lost to many evangelical believers for generations. If our objective is to truly Know Him and make Him known, then orphan ministry has to be part of our missional strategy, period! O.K., enough preaching, but I am excited. I am ready for the book to be out as a catalyst for action and to encourage others to explore ways to live out theology by coming after, loving and caring for the orphan in the same way that God pursued, loved, and adopted us!

I am also anticipating some big news regarding Orphanology that we can't quite share yet....but hopefully soon! Give us a few days....It's big and exciting.....trust me ;-)

As for being thankful, I am thankful for a lot today as well.

I am thankful for a great co-author like Tony. It is such a privilege to get to do a project like this with such a close friend. Our lives and families have been so intertwined over the years, and I am thankful that God has given us the years to minister together for the sake of the Gospel. We are having a ball, and there really isn't anyone I would rather do this with! Thanks bro...I love you and your family!

Jonathan Howe at New Hope Publishes has become a great friend through this process, and he is an amazing gift. The website is his baby, and he has worked hard to produce most of what you see. Much props, my friend! You are the stuff!

Tanner Cade, the Video Director here at Temple, did a great job in helping us put together the video on the website. Thanks @tcade! Ummm, uhhhh, mmmm, that was very professional of you!

Tony and I have joked as endorsements have come in for the book that they are a little intimidating because they may actually be better than the book! Really, we are humbled by our friends and the affirming and gracious things they have said about the book. In particular, the book's foreword which has been written by our good friend David Platt has been posted on the website. I just saw it for the first time last night. When I read it, I cried like a baby! Wow! It sums up the heart of our message, and what we hope to inspire our readers to be equipped to live out.

I am thankful for my family. Every day they teach me the real life lessons of Orphanology. Lots of days, we are a mess. I told someone the other day, that life for us seems like it is being lived in a blender. But, through it all we are learning about the grace and the sufficiency of God that has been made known and available to us in Christ Jesus our Lord. In 8 days, Denise and I get on a plane to head to Ukraine. If the Lord wills, we will be expanding our family by two teenage girls. I can't even imagine what that will be like. This is what I do know....

 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. - Jeremiah 29:11-13

***Shameless Plug Alert***

In case you are interested, the book can be pre-ordered now at Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com and it will ship as soon as they are in stock or it will be available from the Oasis or LifeWay Christian Stores in early March. Sorry for the plug, but between the Meridas and the Mortons, we have 9 junior college tuitions to pay for (and many of you have seen both my boys run...just sayin')!