Thursday, June 27, 2013

An Awesome Day

We had a great day meeting with our new children.  Or rather, we didn't spend much time with the children.  We spent a lot of time with the entourage.

When we adopted Elena and Juliana - they had no supporters.  There was no fanfare or excitement.  They had nobody who was interested in their lives.   We adopted naked children.  They were not even allowed to take a diaper with them.  We had to provide everything.

This time is different.  Katerina has many surrogate mother/sister figures at the orphanage.  Andrew has a network of people in many countries who have been fighting for him.  He also has godparents who have been helping supply him with food and supplies.

We first went to Katerina's orphanage.  Many of the older girls had gone shopping at the bazaar.  They bought many clothes and outfits for her.  They gave us a bag of clothes she had at the orphanage.  Her favorite teacher bought her a dress also.  Katerina's grandmother also came and gave us a lace doily she had made, as well as more clothes for Katerina.  The girls had even bought an outfit for Andrew, and hair accessories for Juliana and Elena. 

Mmmmmmm........   apple!
Katerina, Kelly, and Katerina's grandmother

At Andrew's orphanage, his godmothers (and one of their sisters) came to visit Andrew.  They brought an outfit for Andrew, including a traditional Ukrainian shirt to match his eyes.  They brought a book of traditional folk stories in Ukrainian and English.  They brought some bubbles and a toy and told us to take his walker when we left.  

The climate is so completely different.  These children have had people loving them and caring for them.  It makes such a tremendous difference in the lives of these little ones to have had the care and sponsorship that these children have had. We are blown away by the generosity that all these people have shown to our children (and to us).

Nurse feeding Andrew
Helena (one of his godmothers) holding Andrew
Andrew looking cute

Oksana (sister of godmother) playing with Andrew and bubbles

 Stuffed animals are everywhere in Ukraine.  The buses and taxis each have one as a talisman / good luck charm.  Given the state of some of the vehicles, the plushie talisman is the only thing keeping the thing together.  The orphanages have many plushies in the play room.  Some even have the neon plushies the size of a grown man that usually inhabit carnivals.    Anyway - the plushies range from "Ohh.... so adorable"

to slightly creepy....

to more creepy knockoffs of trademarked characters.....

to the run-away-fast creepy thing below.  Would you let this thing babysit your child?   Thought not.   The flash actually makes it a LOT cuter/less creepy.  Seriously - this thing weirds us out every time we visit the playroom.  

The icing on the cake is some of the pavilions at the orphanage. They get the toys down occasionally so that the children can play with them.  When not being used - the toys are hung from the roof in a macabre display.  We like to imagine the town drunk staggering into the pavilion at night only to wake up and see all the beady eyes staring down at him. 

We will  end with cute.  Andrew fell asleep in the swing today with a hedgehog plushie.  


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The calm before the chase

We sat and watched the cars again today.  Andrew made the "tbbtbthhht" noise when he saw a car.  One time I was not paying attention and he said "tbbttbbtt" - yep, there was a car that he had spotted.

He especially liked the yellow city buses.  He started saying "buh" when he saw a bus (or also a delivery van), but not saying it with small cars. 

Tomorrow we start the paper chase - racing all over town doing paperwork.  Hopefully "Gotcha" day will be soon.
Here Andrew is practicing the dance move "The Sprinkler". Sadly, we are not making this dance move up.

Many of the trees at the orphanage look like they have eyes. "Hooom,  Hoooom". 

Here he is raising his arm for Daddy to kiss it.  Daddy has no problems with it. 

He turned his hat sideways all by himself.

Visting Andrew

It is good to have fluffy hair.  Father and son agree.

Andrew likes to watch cars.  He is interested in seeing all the different types of cars drive past the orphanage.  "Thhhhhbbbbttt" he says, imitating a car engine.

 We  couldn't visit Katerina today (Monday) because it was a holiday.  We did visit Andrew.  Andrew is starting to copy us on words.  Today, he said "Mama" "Dada" and "no".   We don't think he knows what they mean (except no), but he is copying the sounds when we talk to him.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Visiting Andrew

Here our pictures from visiting Andrew. Sadly, we can not visit Katerina on the weekends.

One of Andrew's supporters sent him a toy.  We thought it would be fun for him - it has a drum, and sliders, and a cymbal.  The first time he saw it, he was terrified.  And the second....  and the third....  and the fourth... Little by little we have introduced the toy to him.  He is no longer scared of it.  He now enjoys playing with the toy.  Life would be very difficult in America if he is scared of toys.

He loves playing on the tablet.  His accuracy is improving.  He especially likes watching Taylor Swift.

Andrew continues to improve in sitting up.  He has also getting much better at holding on to us with one arm.  He is making more and more "babble" talking sounds the longer we have been with him.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Successful Court

No more aliases.  No more "Bowen" or "Rini".
We are now the proud parents of Andrew Justice and Katerina Rose.
After a two hour court grilling, we have come out OK on the other side.  All of our requests were granted.
1) That we would be allowed to adopt Katerina and Andrew
2) That we would be named as their parents
3) That their names would be changed (slight Anglicizations and middle names).
4) That the 10-day waiting period would be waived.
We will not know this side of eternity how many people were praying for us.  We know that there was a network of hundreds(even thousands, if her English is right) of people praying for us in Ukraine and Russia, plus our friends and family back home. 
Everything went smoothly.  Thank you for your prayers and support.

When Andrew was born, his father gave his mother an ultimatum - "Choose him or me!" he said, and she left her baby.  He was named Andrew (by the hospital staff? (we aren't sure) after the recent commemoration of St. Andrew.  When he heard this, Andrew's father rushed back to the hospital.  "My name is also Andrew" he said.  "I will not have that (his son) sharing my name!  Call him "Arthur" instead!"    Before this day, Andrew was one of very few Ukrainians to have a middle name - Andrew Arthur.  Today - Andrew is like most Americans in that he has a first and a middle name.  This time, however, he has a name from parents who love him.

The funny moment was when the judge, at about the 90 minute mark, after having read the letters of recommendation from the orphanage and the Institution, indicated the 1.5" stack of apostilled and translated documents on his desk.  "There are a lot of documents here......    is everyone OK with skipping reading all of them aloud?" (They documents have all been read by the proper parties in advance).   He went around the room, everyone stood up, said their name and title, and "yes".  Otherwise we would have been there for another three hours.   And yes, we do know some families that have had the entire stack read in court - all the way down to the medical report (new parents' height, weight, eye color.......)

We can pick up the court decree on Wednesday because Monday is a government holiday.  We hope to get a lot of the paperwork done next Wednesday.  We don't know when Gotcha Day will be yet.    
Well, here are some pictures.  We can now post pictures of Katerina Rose.  She will probably end up as Katy or Katy-Rose.

Not to be left out in photos with his new name, here is Andrew Justice.

We also saw a hedgehog at Andrew's orphanage.  


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The best presents are those.....

 ...  that you make yourself.    "Bowen" marked his territory with Kelly today.

Here's a flower!

"Bowen" is back in the orphanage.   Yay!

We let him play in the sandbox.  He had great fun scooping the sand out.

We met with his two godmothers.  It is very encouraging to meet with them.  There is an entire network of people who have been helping buy clothes and food for him.  They have been praying for him and helping him when he has been sick.  It has made such a difference in his life.   He can't fight for himself yet.  He can not advocate for himself.  There is a world of difference between him and our daughters when we brought them home; no one advocated for them.  We are very grateful for all the work that people have put into this child long before we were involved in the adoption process.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bowen and the Tablet

In the hospital, "Bowen" is dressed in fewer layers.  The tablet we have will work if there are not many clothes between it and your skin.  This means we can either let him play on the tablet, or we can get an arm loose and let him use it directly.  He is unable to play with the tablet at the orphanage due to the amount of clothes he normally wears.

He has enjoyed the touch-to-make-a-firework app as well as the piano and drum kit programs.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Symphony ala "Bowen"

I finally got to visit "Bowen" again. He is still in the hospital, still running a fever, but otherwise he seemed to be fine. I also got to meet one of his godmothers. It was a long visit, which was great because it has been eight days since I have seen him. He found a window that rattled nicely when he banged on it. I am trying to give him lots of textures and noises to explore.

 Please note, all anime fans, that this kid is a natural chibi.  You may start squealing now.

I really like this picture - he is looking towards the outside, towards freedom.

If he were any cuter the camera would malfunction.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Court Date

Last Saturday I went to visit "Bowen" and was told he was in the hospital with a fever and a sore throat, but they expected him back on Monday.

Monday I was told he would be back by Tuesday.
Tuesday I was told he would be back by Wednesday.
Wednesday I was told he would be back by Thursday.

Today (Thursday) I was told he would be back by Friday.  "He is getting better".  We'll see.

 Nobody is allowed to visit him.  This is the difficulty of  "in between" parenting - we haven't had court yet, but we've gotten attached to him and think of him like he is "ours" - but we have no parental rights (because we aren't parents).

We'll hope I can visit him tomorrow.


Instead of visiting both children this week (see above) I have just been visiting "Rini".  She is sitting with me a lot longer lights up when I come in the room.  Today her class (and her) were shuffled off to lunch and she was mad that she hadn't given me a bye-bye kiss (she had worked in a couple kisses before, including the just-ate-a-lollipop-sticky-kiss).

We are tight lipped about her based on the advice we've been given.


On a brighter note, we did get a court date of June 21st!  Only another week to go......

well, more than that.... but a week until our next milestone.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Playing Ball

When we first met "Bowen" we tried to get him to play with toys; we tried to get him to play ball with us.  He flopped (didn't sit yet) and cried because he could not move objects - the frustration was very evident. 

We have been using the prosthetics with him most days, but not every time.  Today was one of the "off" days.  It has been amazing to watch his development.  He now knows that he can move objects with his prosthetics.  More importantly, he has realized that he can also move objects with the limbs he has - this is a huge and awesome development.  He has been a busy boy exploring things and feeling their texture (as well as he can dressed in multiple layers) and listening to the sounds they make when struck.

Today I played ball with him - no prosthetics.  He is able to catch the ball between his legs like a pincher; then squeeze his legs together more to pop the ball loose in my direction.  He can also pin the ball with his left arm (the longer of the two), then swat the ball with one/both arms to send it flying.  He understands the concept of the game as well, and we had fun today passing the ball back and forth.

He also had great fun playing with his truck and the train car - again, no prosthetics.  He would push the truck around and go "thbbbbbbbbb" with his tongue.  Yes, it is a lot more work for him to push the truck with his tiny arms than it is for him to use his prosthetic.....   but it is a lot more important that he realize that he can do these things by himself.


Kelly had some family emergencies come up and is flying back to the USA for a week.  We don't have our court date yet but have been told it will not be sooner than the 17th.  The good news is that she will get to squeeze our babies.  This will be good for the babies as well as her.  The bad news is this is the farthest apart we have been since we were married....  and she is still in the country (her flight leaves tomorrow).


We are in the process of adopting another child as well.  We have been cautioned against sharing photos or information even more than normal.  We would have the same court date - it should not delay us.  She is a girl, age 6, Down Syndrome.  Her alias at the moment will be "Rini".  She is very smart.  She is picking up English and sign language very fast.  Personality-wise, she is very similar to Elena. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Cute look

Still no news.  Rain again.  Weather report says about 70% chance of precipitation every day for the next week also.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


We were able to take "Bowen" outside a little yesterday.  We have had very little dry weather this week.  We have friends in the eastern part of the country - it has been hot for them.  We are ready to make a trade - it has been rainy and cold almost every day here. Today, for example, we had 20 minutes of sunshine, follow by three rounds of thunderstorms the rest of the afternoon.  Most of our play dates with "Bowen" involve sitting in the enclosed veranda playing with toys; there is not much new on this front.  We don't yet have information on our court date yet - so our daily routine of visiting orphanages stays pretty much the same from day to day.   In the adoption world, these are called "Groundhog Days" (after the movie) because it is the same thing every single day.  

We wish we had something more exciting for our followers. 

Here is a photo of some of the flowers in bloom on the orphanage grounds (peony).

Here is a clip from today.  He loves being in the swing.  It puts him right to sleep, so we didn't get a lot done with him today.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Bowen using both prosthetics

When we first made the prosthetic for "Bowen", we made a second one at the same time.  This one was a little longer, and has the cup of the spoon facing outward.  The idea was to try two different designs and so start thinking about the next model.  We tried them both with "Bowen" and he was not strong enough to use both of them at the same time.  His right arm was significantly weaker than his left. 

Hence, for the last week of visits, we have been putting the prosthetic on the right arm to build some muscle tone.  We tried him again with both prosthetics today.  He had gotten strong enough that he could use two at once.  He used both to play with toys.  He also was able to lean over very far using one prosthetic to support himself.

Catching up

It has been a couple days since our last update.  We only now got Internet again.   We are staying with a wonderful family in this city.  They have heard about our adoption of "Bowen" and want to help.  They wanted us to be happy here so they even ordered Internet so we could talk to our girls and Kelly take her online classes.  They have made sure we are not hungry.  We are deeply touched by the lavish attention they have given us.


Many of the pictures of "Bowen" will seem to be the same.  There are not many toys in the room that he likes.  Most of the toys are plushes, which he doesn't like.  He doesn't like two of the cars; one is missing wheels and the other scares him.  We have been given a toy by one of the supporters in this country and we will see how he does with it.  Like most orphanages, they have "the outfit" a child wears while visiting with parents - same child, same toys, same clothing, same pose....

He is very happy when he sees us.  He talks to us more.  He sits up very well and has a lot of fun drawing and using his prosthetic.