Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Last night we managed to meet up with another couple who is adopting and have dinner with them.  Here is their blog:

It was nice to talk with another family that is going through this adoption process.  To top it off, they are from TN also so we got to say "ya'll" and such.  It is refreshing to talk to people in our own tongue.  The scary thing is that we haven't been gone that long - and already our ears miss the sound of conversation in "unaccented" (leastaways, to us) English. They gave us a few tips and pointers that will be useful in county.


Today was our SDA appointment.  This puts us officially in the system for these children. There have been cases where a family travels all this way only to find out that someone else has adopted the child first.  Until you are physically present here, that is a possibility.

Our driver today was Eugene.  I would be very scared to drive in this city, so I am glad we have drivers who know the way around and also how to deal with the traffic.  There are at least two or three different types of traffic lights.  They drive on the same sides of the road as we do.  There is but one hard rule:  Thou shalt not strike pedestrians.  Pedestrians have right-of-way in crosswalks, and pedestrians often walk out into traffic without the crosswalk.  Aside of that - sometimes there are lanes.  Sometimes opposing streams of traffic share a street without lanes.  Sometimes you drive up on the sidewalk and steer around the pedestrians.  Sometimes you drive up on the sidewalk to park.  Sometimes you stop at red lights.  Sometimes you give it a slight-tap-on-pedal.  Sometimes you drive crazy fast a couple inches away from parked cars.  Sometimes you park legally.  Other times you bribe the police officer who is overseeing parking.  However - the mix of cars and pedestrians flows very well and I have not seen many damaged cars.

The one rule about pedestrians - I have never felt endangered crossing the street in this city.  I have been in New York City and even at home in Chattanooga - crossings are always done at one's own peril - there is no assumption that the cars will stop, even when crossing at a marked intersection and when I have the "walk" sign.  Here it is different.

We met Serge at the SDA office.  He is very charming.  We were not at the SDA very long.  Kelly was nervous, I was not.  They got the folders for the children we were considering and asked us a little bit about ourselves and why we wanted to adopt.  We were told about the children - both come from single mothers, both have no other siblings.    We were told they have Down's Syndrome, which we already knew.  Both may or may not need heart surgery.  If things go smoothly we will travel to their region tomorrow evening and get there Friday.

Eugene gave us a tour of the old parts of the city.  There is such a sense of history here - this is where history that we study about happened.  This is where WWI and WWII happened.  This is where riots and revolutions and massacres and genocides and other colorful history happened.  It is so much more real and interesting to see it in person, to meet the people who live here, to have people who are related to people from the old stories.   There are buildings here that are 1000 years old - compared to that sense of scale, America's two-hundred years as a nation or finding a building that predates the War between the States or even a settlement from the 1600s all pale in comparison.  

We saw several old cathedrals.  They were very beautiful.  The cathedrals were awesome.  We even went in one - I was amazed at the artistry and history of such buildings.  I truly felt like a backwater hick next to the intricacy of it all.  In our protestant tradition, there is no such focus on artwork.  Here it part of the history.  Eugene indicated two paintings.  Those depicted thus were martyred a thousand years ago for their faith, when Christianity was first coming into this region.  The painting served to give a name and a face to an historical trivia - it is not just a fact that these men were killed - but here is what they looked like.   These are churches from the Byzantine era.  There are people memorialized here who have direct connections to Constantine.  And on and on and on - history not just cold facts and dates and names, but history I can touch and walk on and walk through.   It is places and names and events made real.

History is taught with all the interesting bits filtered out.  It is like learning music with balls of cotton stuffed into the ears, so as the student is not distracted by outside sounds.  You can study the properties of sounds and frequencies and mathematical models of resonance.  One can learn rhythm, meter, and timing.  You can learn about the great composers and their life trivia.  You can learn the notes on the scale.  You can even read reviews of great music pieces.  All of this without ever hearing the first note or knowing what music *is*.  Music is never taught this way - you hear the music and then learn how to play.  

After today, the cotton is out of my ears.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Lunch at the Fat Tummy

We took a long walk through the city today.  It does give one a dose of perspective to be in a land full of people speaking a different language.  Even the written language is unfamiliar.  While we can sound it out, it is like we are five years old and learning to read again.  The culture is not completely alien (it is still "The West") - there are plenty of pop icons and companies and so forth that we recognize.  For instance, we saw Papa John's pizza, TGI Friday, and of course, McDonald's.  There are more street vendors and stalls than I am used to, but even these have a lot of American culture for sale - Cosmopolitan and Newsweek and Winston cigarettes et al.

We didn't come all this way for a McDonald's.  We actually found a restaurant Niko recommended and ate there.  It is about 20 blocks away from our apartment.

Niko said it means "Fat Tummy" or "Full Belly" or something like that.  It is a cafeteria, not substantially different from Piccadilly's or something.  The food was good - I had sliced beets and a grated carrot/parsnip salad.  I also had a chicken /mushroom dish that was similar to an omelet.  Kelly had cabbage rolls stuffed with meat and what tasted like a savory cheesecake (no sugar).

It was a good adventure to walk there and back again.

Landing Safe

We took the flight from Atlanta to DC.  I had forgotten how loud jet travel is.  Once in DC, we took a 777 to Munich.  It was my first time in 777.  This time I wore earplugs.  We only got three hours sleep Saturday night (too busy packing and repacking).  My intention was to sleep on the plane.  While I was able to doze a little, the noise and vibration and movement prevented me from getting any actual rest.  It is hard to get any productive anything done on a plane; the good news is that while nauseous I was not airsick. From Munich we took Lufthansa to our city.  Lufthansa was the most courteous airline that we used so far.

It was good to see our baggage in the terminal.  It royally stinks when your luggage goes on a different trip than you do.

Customs was unexpectedly easy.  We were waved past the security check and past customs without so much as a how-do-you-do.  We even asked the customs lady if we needed to go through customs and she just waved us past also.

Our driver Niko met us at the airport.  He was very nice.  As he drove us through the city, he showed us good places to eat and the layout of major streets.

Our apartment is very nice.  While the building is old (typical of many in post-communist Eastern Europe), our apartment has been renovated and is very nice.  It has a microwave, stove, gas range, TV, etc.  It is spacious enough and has a very nice layout and decor.  The bathroom is nice also.  The best feature is the entire floor is heated tile.  It really makes it nice getting out of the tub and not have cold feet.

There is a supermarket on the first floor of the apartment building.  They bake all the bread fresh on-site.  This means that we can get fresh ciabatta for about $0.50 and baguettes for about a quarter.  This is good!

Niko showed us around the supermarket and showed us how to buy things.  Produce is weighed and priced in the produce section.  We got a little butter, some magnificent pistachio ice cream and some ham and cheese and water and plums for a "trial shopping run".  I made little grilled sandwiches on the gas stove in the apartment.  The kitchenette only had one pan (good for soup) and no proper utensils but I made it work it well enough.

It was good to be able to wash again.  The grime of two days of air travel and airports and wearing the same clothes - to be free of it is a good thing.  We are very tired!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

23 hours

We had our last fundraiser yesterday evening.  One of Kelly's relatives spearheaded the whole event, writing letters, catering, renting the Discovery Center in Murfreesboro.  It was a great fundraiser - many people were present who had adopted and many parents had special-needs children. 

The fundraiser had framed pictures of Aurora and Leigha at the front table.  There was a cake with "Two little blessings" engraved in the frosting. 
As always, it has been incredibly humbling to have people give us money.  I know how much work goes into a dollar.  I know some people make barely even minimum wage.  I understand the bills need paying.  When someone supports us in this - they are giving up their own dreams and desires and saying "we believe in you".  It has not gotten any easier with each fundraiser.  I know some people who are strapped already and they still gave substantially.   Great hearts should not be denied.  People we don't even know are supporting us.

Why should we be the benefit of such grace? That is the meaning and understanding on the word grace - that it is undeserved.

The last week 12 days have been a whirlwind of activity.  We have been hectic beyond belief in getting all the things done that need doing.  It has been amazing, though - our friends and family have been so supportive.  We have had groups of people organize to handle things while we are away.  People have volunteered to do many smaller and greater things for us.   Both Kelly and I were on the verge of tears last night - overwhelmed with being the recipient of such thoughtfulness and generousity.

In less than 24 hours we will be airborne with our old life behind us.  The abstract ideas of adopting a child will become very concrete very quickly.  We can't wait to meet them.

Monday, March 14, 2011

WE got our travel dates!!!

We leave March 27!!!!!!!   So much to do in such little time!!!  I did not expect to leave so soon! 

Thursday, March 10, 2011


As you all know our dossier was submitted on February 24, 2011. It was on that day that we found out Marlena had passed away and John Mark is no longer available at this time for adoption. Our hearts were deeply grieved and saddened at the lost of these 2 precious babies. We will always remember them. We will continue to pray for John Mark and his birth parents. He is still living in an orphanage and will continue to until either he turns 4 and goes to an institution (the WORST possible case), by God's grace his parents could find a way to care for him in their home, or they allow him to be adopted. Please continue to pray for him and his birth parents.

Our dossier was still submitted, so we are still prepared to proceed with adoption. We now proudly introduce...Aurora

and Leigha.
We are so excited to be bringing home these 2 BEAUTIFUL girls.

Friday, March 4, 2011


This will not be as exciting as you may have hoped but this is what I know.

Ezra and I have petitioned for 2 other children. We will not reveal them until it is official. But this is what I can tell you...This week has been unbelievably difficult for me. We thought we would have heard something on Monday as to these 2 children's availability, however we didn't and haven't. I spent all week everyday refresh my email application on my phone every 3.4 seconds. When we still hadn't heard on Thursday, I spent much of the day in tears and questioning. Though we still haven't heard I can at least chill out a little over the weekend because I did get an answer as to why we haven't heard. There has been a holiday there in Eastern Europe, so lots has not been accomplished. The information has been requested by our team, but they are waiting to hear from the government agency that does this. We should know something next week. Once new documents have been turned in we should hear a couple weeks after that when we would travel and travel could be anywhere from 1-4 weeks from when we find out.

How can you pray for us:
1. The children we are seeking and the one we lost(John Mark, as Marlena is with Jesus, and is in GOOD hands )
2. For me to chill out
3. Rest of fund raising
4. Preparations for our children (rooms, 'gear', medical, etc.)

We thank all of you for your outpouring of love and support!