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.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Made it to Kyiv

We woke up this morning to snow and had to rush up a little to get ready. Kostya came a little early to get us since we had to drive north to the airport. The roads were a little icy once we got away from the coast, but we made it fine. The plane was a turboprop, and to tell you the truth, the whole experience reminded me a lot of flying out of Pine Belt International Airport and Jiffy Lube :). The olny difference is that Sevastopol only has one flight a day, and we have two!

Sveta and Igor met us at the airport with another driver. The plan was to split us up. Denise and Nastia went to the clinic to get her medical exam, and I came to the apartment to meet the rental manager to get the keys and check-in. Denise just called and they are on their way after about two hours with the exam complete one shot lunch and a thirty minute wait to make sure there was no adverse reaction later. That should be perfect timing for us to call Joel and make our plans to head off to the Ragains apartment for the evening. All in all it has been a great day! We are settling in for a casual weekend. Thanks for praying!



Thursday, January 27, 2011

One step closer to home

Today has been a pretty quiet day. Nastia got going at the crack of 2 PM :). I think she watched 4 movies (scary movies at that) from the bed today. It was good for her to have a crash day. We took some time to pack and get ready to go. It has taken a little time to get squared away. At 2 we headed out to our favorite place (NOT), McDonald’s for a bite to eat with her friend Nastia. Sure enough, as soon as we got there and ordered, we got the call that the passport was ready. I had to run back to the apartment and get her birth certificate so we could get another certified copy for the embassy while the girls ate, and then we parted ways. Denise and I headed off to get the passport, and the two friends headed off to walk for a while and enjoy a little time together as a last goodbye.

We now have the passport in hand. Woooo Hoooo! We fly out at 8:15 from the small airport here in Sevastopol and arrive in Kyiv at 10:15. From there it is off to a medical exam and then dinner with our friends Joel and Mary Ellen Ragains. We are so pumped. One because we are getting on the road toward home and two because we will be spending the evening with our kids’ Ukraine Nana and Papaw! We love them so much, and anytime we get a little bit of time with them it is so special!!!!! Joel and Mary Ellen were in the States for some of the time we have been here, but other than that, we have talked virtually every night. What an encouragement and a blessing! They have such a warm home, and we are so blessed to be their guests.

Sunday is also going to be a big day. We will be attending the 5th birthday of Open Hearts Church where Sergey Bochko is the pastor. Many of you know Sergey and his wife Natalie who came and translated for Promise 139 this year. They lead Open Hearts Church and have become dear friends to us. Several of the Open Hearts members were our translators this year in Tetiev when we assisted the planting of another church there as well, so we will have many friends to share with there. It will be a great celebration, and we are thankful that God has allowed us to be here for it!

Monday and Tuesday will be our embassy visits, and Lord willing, we will be flying into Gulfport on Wednesday afternoon at 5 PM. We plan to stop at the first Cracker Barrel we see on the way home :). So we hope to hit Hattiesburg around 7:30 or so! There are probably people nowhere that want to be in Hattiesburg more than we do right now!!!!

We love you all! Thank you for your prayer and your encouragement and support.



Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Great First Day...and a Half

Things are going well! We picked Nastia yesterday at 11ish. The “ish” was because it snowed. Snow in Sevastopol is a little like snow in Hattiesburg just with bigger hills. Our facilitator’s husband Kostya was late picking us up because he had to put chains on his tires to get out of their area to get us and then take them off. When we got to the orphanage, we needed them again. The hill going up the orphanage was a solid sheet of ice. We got about 2/3 of the way up and had to stop and walk the rest of the way. Funny. No matter. We got there. The Inspector didn’t show up, so we waited for a long time. Finally, we finished the rest of the paperwork. They called the Inspector, and she was waiting for us to send her a car! “I beg your pardon! I never promised you a rose garden!” We didn’t offer, and she didn’t ask. The Italian couple was coming later, so they would bring her and she could sign our papers then! Awesome, that meant we were ready. We all went into the Director’s office. That was a neat moment. The Director has become a friend. She has been our guest in Hattiesburg, and we love hosting these kids. She made a real ceremony out of signing the papers. She had some special words for Nastia and for us. It was sweet, and we really appreciated it. We all cried a little, and then with a flourish she stamped the final paper, and all was done.  We celebrated with a pizza lunch and a chillaxed afternoon.

Today began with breakfast at McDonald’s. Seriously, I think my car is going to pull to the left when it goes by McDonald’s for a year when we get home. Then we went grocery shopping for a party for the girls that were in Nastia’s group at the Orphanage. We bought candy, cookies, ice cream, mandarin oranges, grape juice, and a fancy tort (cake). (The tort was very elaborate looking but alas, as was the case with many I have had here it was more look than taste in the end) The afternoon was filled with a souvenir shopping trip. We picked up a few gifts for people back home and a few things Nastia wanted to have to remember Ukraine and some Russian movies (including the scary Japanese film overdubbed in Russian that has people using sign language in it that we are watching right now—what a trip).

We appreciate your prayers as we await her passport. We expect it tomorrow, and we need it tomorrow. We have reservations on an 8:15 flight Friday morning to Kyiv. We really want to be on that flight. Our embassy appointment is Monday, and we have to make that appointment if we are to make our scheduled flight home Wednesday. Thank you for your prayers. We have felt them and have been sustained by them. We praise the Lord for His goodness and provision! We love you all and can’t wait to see you!



Monday, January 24, 2011

Still missing the most important part

Today was loaded with activity, but we still didn’t get the most important thing, Nastia! We are pretty disappointed. It turns out that we had to have her birth certificate to get her released from the orphanage. Thanks to the lady at the birth certificate office working on her day off, we got it at 2 o’ clock, but the social worker at the orphanage was gone for the day. So, we will have to wait until tomorrow. All in all, today was insanely productive by anything we have to compare it to in our past adoptions.

We started off at the crack of 10 (nothing seems to get rolling too early around here). The first stop was at the notary. She didn’t come in until 11. When she came in at 11, she announced that she wouldn’t complete our documents without Nastia’s birth certificate although the document she was doing for us had nothing to do with a birth certificate! So, we left and went to another notary. Success! Forty-five minutes later we had our document and we were off. Then we ran by the orphanage for a quick stop to pick up papers and then to the birth certificate office where we waited for 2 hours. Once our 2 pm appointment rolled around, we were in and out in 2 minutes. We jumped back in the car and stopped at 2 more notary offices along the way to try to get official copies of the birth certificates. No good...out to lunch at both places at 2:15 in the afternoon. Then, we made a stop by to get started on a police clearance for her passport. That took 10 minutes. We ran in to get the passport process started while Galya’s husband got the birth certificate copies made (multi-tasking!). (Is anyone getting confused or exhausted reading this? I know I am while I am typing it!!!!). Once that was done, we jumped back in the car and ran back downtown to get Nastia a new tax id number and called her to get on a bus and come meet us at the passport office. We stopped by and paid for the tax id and passport and met her to fill out the passport application and have her passport picture taken. Once that was done, we took her back to the orphanage (the not fun moment of the day) and drove home without her one last time.

We should get her passport Thursday morning. We have checked flights, and the bad news is there is nothing to Kyiv until Friday morning. The good news is there is a flight from here that is the same price as the flight from Simferopol. Yeah! That means an hour and a half less driving and a little later that we can sleep. We have already heard from the US embassy and we have an appointment for a week from today. Our flights are still booked for Feb 2, and that looks good right now unless something crazy happens. We will see, but God has moved every obstacle. The birth certificate thing was big and He moved in a very big way with the lady in the office. Praise the Lord!!!!

Thank you for praying. We are exhausted. Love you all!!!



Sunday, January 23, 2011

Last quiet day & that's great!

Denise and I are spending what we hope is our last quiet Sunday in Sevastopol preparing to leave. We are not sure when we will get to leave, so today is a good day to get things ready. Nastia will be with us for good by tomorrow evening, so we are spending the day washing clothes so we can be packed and out of the way. We have a washer/dryer combo in this apartment (a real luxury here) but it takes forever to do a load and the load are small). We are trying to get everything clean, so we get a fresh start for the run from here until whenever we get home. Who knows what we will have for here until the end.

Yesterday was eventful. Galya got our court decree, but the law says that if it matures on a weekend, it cannot go into force until the first business day after. So, we started the birth certificate and passport petition with the notary (more like a lawyer in America) the morning. Hopefully, we will get those things going in the afternoon Monday. There is still a lot of uncertainty about the passport. We hope to hear more about the process Monday. Please pray that there will be no hurdles with that or picking up the birth certificate Monday. Nastia has one medical test to get at the hospital Monday morning and then we think we can pick her up.

We hope to see the other precious kids at Orphanage #2 one more time as well. It’s going to kill us to say goodbye! Some of them who we have known from visiting Hattiesburg because we know them so well. Others, because we have started to get to know them and see into their lives and personalities while we have been here. They are happy for Nastia, but you don’t have to look hard to see the sadness when we are hanging out with them either. Especially a couple of the older girls. They just have a look of resignation in their eyes sometimes that I catch in a moment when they are looking at Nastia and Denise. It’s like they are sure they will never have a life like that. My question is, “why not?” I’m sure some of them aren’t adoptable, but I’m sure some are. Just thinking out loud. If hanging out with these kids in Hattiesburg changes you, hanging out with these kids in Sevastopol infects you. If not Sevastopol, then somewhere. There are 147 million orphans out there right? Lots of them with the same kind of resignation. Maybe God is calling you to adopt one of the ones who has given up! He did!

Before I get too heavy, when we adopted Nicholas I did a top 10 list of things that I was not going to do for a LONG time (if ever) on our blog. In anticipation of our impending trip homeward I have been working on an updated top 10 list. I am not ready to release the list, but be assured that this list worth the wait!!!!

Have a great Lord’s day. We are looking forward to the service with the Temple family via Livestream and can’t wait to be there in person soon if the Lord wills!




Friday, January 21, 2011

Just when we think we have it figured out...

I am done trying to figure out the process. Planning is futile. We have made all our plans around getting our court decree on Monday. About 15 minutes ago,  I got a call from Galya. She has reviewed the court decree and made the necessary changes. When she returned it to the court, she found out that the Judge’s secretary plans on working tomorrow! What? Huh? Come again? That’s right folks...so she can pick up our court decree at noon. We will go get Nastia’s birth certificate tomorrow afternoon, and begin working on her passport Monday morning! That changes things considerably...maybe. If we are able to get the passport earlier, and get to Kyiv to have an interview at the embassy before Friday. We are really not sure. We still have to make flight arrangements to Kyiv and get an appointment at the embassy and get seats on a flight home. In the end, it may not make any difference in the day we come home, but there is a window of opportunity for us to be able to get home earlier. We’d appreciate your prayers!!!! Right now, it’s quiet in our apartment, but busy in my head. Soon, we are about to experience life in a blender for a few days. It is going to be crazy.

Also, we found out today that the orphanage is under a flu quarantine. Not sure if that means school is out or not. In the past, we know they have closed schools here when the flu is going around. We will have to visit with Nastia outside today. Please pray for her and the other kids. A flu bug running through the orphanage can be tough particularly with the limited medicines they have access to. We are thankful that we were able to drop off a load of donated medical supplies just a few days ago, and much of that will be things that should be helpful with flu symptoms.

We will keep you updated about our progress, but we would love to see the Pine Belt a few days ahead of schedule!!!!



Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I have not posted in a few days because there is not much noteworthy to report. We are hanging in there. We are getting to the end of our 10-day wait. Things are progressing well. Nothing unexpected in the process. We are really enjoying Nastia. We are seeing a little more of her personality all the time. She has relaxed a lot since court. Many more smiles, and we are even getting some “I love you”’s in English! Now that will melt a Momma and Daddy’s heart!. We can tell that she is getting anxious to get on with things too, but for different reasons. I asked her a couple of nights ago how things were with her friends, and the look on her face needed no translation. It’s tough! On the one hand she want to spend as much time as she can with the girls she has been living with for the past couple of years, and I know they are happy for her, but there is also some tension. She is also going to miss her sister. We hope to see her in the next several days....

We pick up our court decree Monday, and then the fun starts! Please pray with us that we can complete the birth certificate and passport process next week. That way we will be on schedule to be coming come on Feb 2!



Wednesday, January 12, 2011

We have a daughter!

Before I get into the details of the day, let’s get the most important thing out of the way first. It’s official. Denise and I are proud it announce that Anastasia Reagan Morton (or “Nastia” as many of you know her and she prefers to be called) is officially part of our family! I can’t tell you how good it feels to finally be able to type that (or how much I am crying while I am doing it). We have 10 days to wait until we can take custody of her. During that time, we will be visiting with her daily, and getting ready for the sprint to the finish!

Today was the day we have been waiting for, and ultimately, everything turned out well. It has been an exhausting month with more twists and turns than I care to remember, and I am not sure why I thought today would be any different. We headed out this morning about 9:00 and picked Nastia up on the way to the courthouse. There were 3 hearings set for today. Ours, an Italian couple that is adopting a 5-year-old little boys from the same orphanage, and a Ukrainian couple. The Italian couple is really sweet, and we have really enjoyed our encounters with them. We were up first. We didn’t expect much from the hearing, but as we have come to expect, the only thing you know for certain in international adoption is that you don’t know anything for certain. I don’t want to get into a lot of the details of the hearing, but it was a rough experience especially for Nastia. What we expected to be a short process was not, and the judge’s questioning was tough. We are still not sure why. Ultimately, it did not seem to be relevant to the case if we understood what was actually happening. Much can be lost in translation. Here is what we know for sure. We love her, and we chose her! She is ours, and that is all that matters!

After court, we went and had pictures made for her passport. Then we came back to our apartment for a little family time. That was sweet. It was the first time all day it was just us. After a little time to decompress, we were able to “talk” through the translator on the computer about our day. It was good. Then we went an grabbed lunch at McDonald’s. (After we get home, I don’t even want to drive by McDonald’s) Then we went shopping for some clothes for the trip home. We went to the open air market to shop. For those of you who have never been to one of these, it’s a little like a flea market on steroids. It was hilarious. The stores are kind of like little mini-storage rooms. Nastia found a pair of pants she liked at one, so she went to try them on in the back. That was even more hilarious. They pulled a little curtain around in the back of the booth and made a dressing room! Remember this is outside. I am just glad we were in Crimea and not farther north. I’m even going to be thankful for the mall when we get home :). I’m going to be more thankful to send mama and daughter to do the clothes shopping! They had a blast together.

It’s been a great day! We are so anxious to get home and have our three kids under the same roof. We are loving our time with Nastia but we miss the boys terribly! We can’t get home soon enough. Thank you for your prayers.



Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Court Tomorrow

I know we have not updated the blog very much as of late, but we didn’t really think that most of you would really get too much of a charge out of reading that we have done virtually the same thing every day for as long as we can remember. Things are going well with N. We are getting to know her a little better each day. It’s hard with the language barrier, but we are making progress. Most days, we are spending quiet time with her in her room. It has been good. We know those days will be precious and few once we get home, so we are trying to take advantage of them.

Tomorrow, we have our court hearing at 10 a.m. (2 a.m. Hattiesburg time), our plans are to go to lunch and go shopping afterward. We will try to pick up clothes and a few other things that she will need for the trip home. We are praying that the hearing goes smoothly tomorrow, and we value your prayers for us as well. This has been a long and exhausting ordeal in dealing with the legal process ,and we are praying that there and no new developments tomorrow.

We are thankful for the grace that God has extended to us, and the beautiful girl that will be waiting for us at the courthouse tomorrow. Will let you know just as soon as we can tomorrow!



Friday, January 7, 2011

Merry Christmas Again...

It’s Orthodox Christmas today in Ukraine. We got to see N today after missing her yesterday. We had been invited to a Christmas program at the orphanage that was scheduled for yesterday at 3. It was rescheduled for today at 2, but we missed the memo. Oh well! It was no big deal. She was feeling pretty bad today. She has a cold. The weather is very cold. I just checked the temperature and it’s 24 here tonight with a wind chill of 17. It couldn’t have been above 50 degrees in her room this evening when we were at the orphanage. We just hate leaving her there, especially when she is sick. We just want to wrap her up, get her warm, and take care of her. It stinks! I know we don’t have much more time to wait, but the time seems to be passing so slowly! We appreciate your prayers for her.

We also learned that one of the boys, K, who was with us in our hosting program is in the hospital with a bad cough. We don’t know anything more, and it’s not unusual for kids to be hospitalized from the orphanage to keep from spreading an illness throughout the orphanage. Please pray for him. We’ll try to find out more as soon as we can.

We miss everyone at home!



Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Finding out the little things

Today was cold. We had snow on the ground for the second day. We may have a white Orthodox Christmas yet. We got to the orphanage this afternoon, and N met us at the door. She was all smiles. We took her a blanket. It has been so cold. We thought it might help a little. We asked about the circus. She said that she doesn’t like clowns. Funny. Denise doesn’t either. We all cracked up. I told her that we have been joking every since we have been here about this little Smart car that has been parked near our apartment. I have been looking for the clowns to come out of it every time we walk by. I pulled up a picture of it and showed her. She thought that was funny. I told her that was the kind of car I would get her when she started driving because there was no room for boys. That got a smile. Then I told her that the boys had to get past me first, and that got a big blush!

Tomorrow is another program at the orphanage, and Friday is Orthodox Christmas. Things will probably slow down around here for another couple of days. Right now we are just praying and waiting for Wednesday and court.

For now, we are getting to know our daughter, and finding out the little things....



Monday, January 3, 2011

A little more certainty

We made it through the holiday weekend, and the beginning of a new week brought a little more information about our process. As we have said before, we have our court date next Wednesday, January 12th. Since court is on a Wednesday we will not be able to pick up our court decree until Monday the 24th. So effectively our 10 day wait will be turned into a 12 day wait because of the weekend. Ordinarily, we would pick up the court decree on Monday and apply for N’s tax number and birth certificate, but the office that handles birth certificates isn’t open on Monday, so that will have to wait until Tuesday the 25th. We will then begin working on passports which will probably take 3 days. That will most likely put us in Kyiv on Thursday evening and wait for it...the US embassy doesn’t book any visa appointments for adoptive families on the last Friday of the month! I am beginning to believe that we are on one huge episode of Punk’d. I keep waiting for Aston Kutcher to come running out from some building and tell us that we can go to court and get the over with. I mean seriously! C’mon! It’s like a prank that just keeps getting worse. You just have to laugh at some point! What that all means is that we will probably have our appointment at the embassy on January 31 and be headed home on February 2. That could still vary by a day or two, but barring some unforeseen complication, that should be really close.

N was doing well today. Much more chipper! She had rested up from the New Year’s festivities. She spent a good deal of time working on English today on the computer. She is scoring well on the Rosetta Stone exercises. I think we motivated her by telling her that she had to pass a written test before she could get her learner’s permit even after her birthday in April. She is scoring in the high 90s on every exercise!!! We won’t see her tomorrow because they have an all day outing to the circus. Thursday they have another program for Christmas, so we’ll put up all the details. We expect to spend a quite day tomorrow arounf the apartment. I will try to get some writing done and Dense will probably spend the day immersed in more BBC DVDs (thanks Kimberly!).

We appreciate your prayers and love the many emails, facebook messages, and skype calls we have received. The boredom and isolation is the worst! Thanks for keeping in touch.



Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Denise and I celebrated by sleeping in late this morning. The weather was dreary in Sevastopol today, and the city was really dead. Nobody was stirring.  We had a hard time catching a bus to get to the orphanage because not many were running. Almost nothing was open, and very few people were out on the streets. Our old standby McDonald’s was open for business. They are beginning to recognize us when we walk in the door. They speak to us in English from the start now. Pretty funny!

N was a slppy head today, so we didn’t stay too long. She wasn’t very “talkative” via our computer translator. She and the girls in her group made a big New Year’s feast and had a “discotteka” to celebrate New Year’s last night if we got the story straight. You could tell that she didn’t get nearly as much sleep as we did. We told her we celebrated by sleeping because we are old. She thought that was funny.

I am getting geared up to watch Alabama play in the Capital One Bowl against Michigan State. Some things don’t change no matter how far away from home you are! As I have told many other people who have been through this process, we are in the part of the process that feels like the movie Groundhog Day. Every day feels like a repeat of the last. Nothing too much new or interesting. Thanks for keeping up with is and praying for us!