Monday, June 28, 2010

Questions Answered

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post ""Are You Rich?"":
First off, I'd like to thank you for letting us follow your experiences. You and John are beautiful and so full of love! God bless you a hundred fold.My questions are about Nastya and Pasha. I'd like to know how long they have lived in orphanages. And do you know why they were orphaned? I'm also curious as to why their names will be "Americanized" verses letting them keep them as is. Someone else asked if the two are biological brother and sister; which I was wondering also.. along with how you came about selecting to adopt them.Many continued blessings to you and yours.

Nastya and Pasha have lived in the orphanage for seven years--- longer than any of our other adopted children. Yes, we were told the reason for their “social orphan” status (meaning that at least one of their parents is still alive). As to why their names are being “Americanized”—well we do that on the birth certificate but we are still not sure what we will call them. We usually encourage the “Americanized” version for school when the name stands out more than usual. Like our son Dennis whose name in Ukraine was pronounced Denise— we felt that making his name more masculine was in his best interest just like encouraging Nastya to go by her full name Anastasia. They will have enough challenges with school that we didn’t want to give them one more. But if at home they still want to go by Pasha and Nastya—we will do whatever makes them feel most comfortable.

Yes, Nastya and Pasha are biological siblings and we picked them because they were the first available children in our desired age range. No other child that was available was passed over before choosing Nastya and Pasha. For us—choosing is just too hard.

Laura has left a new comment on your post "One More Day Before Court": Hi! Great to read what you're doing...and cooking! Most of my questions were asked above but I have a different one:Are you at all concerned with going to Court and standing in front of the judge? Our first (and only, unfortunately...) time was nerve wracking but I'm wondering if you and John feel quite comfortable with the process now that you are "seasoned" court goers. I mean -- I don't think the judge could ask you any questions you haven't already answered! ;)Have a wonderful, relaxing day before THE BIG DAY!!Blessings,Laura

Strange as it may sound—we really do not have any concerns with court. We have been through it enough times to know the drill. Besides each time our facilitator has told us what to expect ahead of time. Like if the judge is known to be a tough one, or if the hearings are unusually long—we have known ahead of time. This time around we are told we have a judge that is quick and easy. We’ll see.

Qadoshyah has left a new comment on your post "One More Day Before Court": What actually happens to the kids once they age out of the internat? And what age is that? Are they just on the streets? I've heard that some kids age out at 16, but then I've seen you say there are some 17 year olds there. Maybe every internat is different?These kids all look so normal and easy going and could live such a normal life, it's so sad they are in an orphanage.

I think that what happens to the kids when they age out is different depending on the region they are in and how the director feels about the kids. I gather this because I have heard different stories for different Internats. But speaking of this particular Internat that Nastya and Pasha are in—the kids get to remain in the Internat until they finish school. We met a few kids were already 17 and still living in the Internat. Often times they can continue living there until 20 or so if they are going to school. After that, they receive some sort of financial help to further their education and monies to obtain a place to live. While this all sounds fine and dandy—remember the kids are still doing all of this without a family to encourage and support them. Though a child is not eligible for adoption after they turn sixteen, they can still be adopted until they turn eighteen if they have a younger sibling that they are being adopted with. One thing that I have seen over and over with the children—that has changed my mind about them—is that even though they are fifteen, they are years behind emotionally. Here I thought there was little time left to shape their hearts and minds when in reality it is never too late to reach these kids.

newmom2 has left a new comment on your post "One More Day Before Court": Keep up the blogging, I have one, what age was Rachel when she left the orphanage? My heart aches for the children left behind... esp. Luba and Luda...Just wanted to say that I am enjoying your journey with you... and sending you prayers for a safe and quick journey home. (love the note from Annalyn)

Rachel was 10 when she left the orphanage. Thank you for your prayers.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "One More Day Before Court": I have several questions!! They are not so much about A & P but more about where they live. I look at their sleeping arrangement, and that they wear the same clothes over and over again and I cant help but wonder if they have a problem with lice or mites?? The orphanage doesn't look dirty by any means...but sometimes those bugs just appear out of thin air!!

We’ve not seen any lice or mite issues but Rachel has told us of such incidences.

My last question, might be rather personal, but with soooo many hormonal girls and boys living together with pretty much no supervision...what happens if a girl becomes pregnant? How do they control those "desires" so to speak.Thanks!!Sarah

My husband John asked our facilitator the same question--- it happens. If one of the girls get pregnant we were told that they have to go to the hospital—they can’t stay at the Internat. I asked how often two orphans fall in love and get married after they age out of the system. That happens to and often times they can go on to live productive yet simple lives. One of our daughter’s half sister is living proof of that. At the time we adopted Anna, her half sister did not want to be adopted because she wanted to stay with her boyfriend. Now almost five years later she is married to that same boyfriend and they have a son.

Chris has left a new comment on your post "One More Day Before Court": This looks like such a wonderful experience for you to have shared with Caleb and Rachel. Since you asked, I have one question that seems a bit silly, but I was wondering how clothes are handled with these older children. I know for younger ones like our son, the caregivers dress the children, but for these older children, do they have a community closet or do they have their own clothes? You commented on what Luda and Anastasia were wearing, and I noticed some other girls dressed more conservatively so I was just wondering how they ended up with the clothes they wear.By the way, the dinner you've cooked looks delicious as do the fresh cucumbers and tomatoes!

The whole clothes thing has me wondering too. If I had to guess I would say that the older kids get to pick what they wear—but that they have to wear them for many days at a time. Calling it a community closet sounds about right. Nastya surprised us the second time we saw her—she was wearing what looked like Underoos. She was all leg—and no one seemed to think anything of it except us. Another time she had on a short skirt and was wearing eye shadow. In reality our hands are tied until court— then we will be able to suggest and provide something a little more modest. Thankfully, her intentions in wearing something so short seemed really to stay cool and nothing more.

James has left a new comment on your post ""Are You Rich?"": So did John superglue the crown in, or did he really lose it?We are praying for you guys! Thanks for all the updates. I pray we can do the same very soon.God bless

Big sigh~~ John swallowed his tooth. Thanks for the prayers.

Holly has left a new comment on your post "One More Day Before Court": I would love to know about how this adoption experience has been...I know you did an independent adoption and didn't ask for specific kiddos through RR like you have before...maybe when you get back you can share more.My heart is broken for the HIV angels over there and I would love to GO for 2! :)

Actually we used the help of God’s Waiting Children. They are fantastic! This adoption experience has been amazing—but then again they all have been! Anytime you want to know something just ask.

Becky has left a new comment on your post "One More Day Before Court": I have questions about the language barrier with A & P, the other kids at the Internat and other kids you have adopted in the past. How exactly do you communicate? How much of their language do John and you know and how much English do the kids know? How does this affect the adjustment period once home? How does this affect schooling?

Our knowledge of the Russian/Ukrainian language is not great—but John can read it and with the help of sign language we always manage to get by. We have picked up the basics and with the help of our facilitator we have been able to communicate the big stuff. The kids are eager to learn English—and they are like sponges. We anticipate that the first few weeks home will be a bit frustrating—but Nastya and Pasha will have each other. We will have a few weeks with Nastya and Pasha before school starts and I think that time will help them learn enough language to get by in school. We will work with the school in helping them acclimate to their new surroundings. Since both of them attended school here in Ukraine, the school atmosphere will not be foreign to them.

Also, as a family who has adopted children of all ages, is there an age (or placement amongst other kids in the family) where the adjustment is easier/harder? I imagine it is all very individualized and there are so many uncertainties, and I don't even know if my question makes any sense, I just know that when you have posted about disruptions on your other blog it seems as though it is something that is often brought up.

If you ask most professionals I think they would say that the younger the child the better the chance of things working out. However, I have seen situations where a 2 year old was disrupted, a 14 year old disrupted after being adopted as a newborn, and a 15 year old disrupted after being home only a few months. If you ask me, I think that children have a harder time adjusting if they come into a home where they are overwhelmed with material things and privileges that sets the bar higher than the parents intend to keep it at. When children are first adopted they have so many new things to get used to that having the same small boundaries as the orphanage is the one thing they find comfort in. Of course, I am not a professional, but you asked my opinion and I gave it to you.

Was answering "Are you rich?" hard? I mean, because even financially, I am guessing almost everyone in the US would seem rich to the kids at the Internat (or maybe that is a false assumption).

Yes it was—because compared to the rest of the world we are incredibly rich but I did not want Nastya thinking she was coming into a family that would give her whatever she wanted nor did I want her to go bragging to her friends.

How'd you choose A & P and does it break your heart that you can't take all the kids home?

I already answered how we chose A and P in a previous question—and of course it breaks my heart for all the children left behind. No child should be without a family.Also, another age question.

What are the age requirements for adopting an older child?

As to adopting an older child I think there has to be at least fifteen years between the child and youngest adoptive parent. So if you want to adopt a fifteen year old, you would have to be at least thirty years old. Someone please chime in if I am wrong.Thank you for blogging about your experiences there and about your life in general.

Martha has left a new comment on your post "One More Day Before Court": I have enjoyed being along for the journey of your last three adoptions. Each one is so special and unique, it is no wonder you keep going back again and again.I am curious if the children will be allowed to continue speaking their native tongue when you return home or will this be discouraged and why?

We would love for Nastya and Pasha to continue speaking in their native tongue—but I just don’t think that will happen. None of our other children kept their native tongue and so I don’t know why we would expect anything different with them. But… we were looked down upon by the orphanage director because Rachel couldn’t speak or understand her native language anymore. Oh well—our children are now Americans and if their native language suffers at the expense of learning English—I can live with that.

Matt Penman has left a new comment on your post "One More Day Before Court": When you posted your need for prayer, we stopped school and gathered in prayer for your family. We continued on with school and I checked your blog an hour later and read that God answered our prayers. Thank you for allowing us to share in your journey. You blessed us so much with our journey, it was nice to participate a little with yours. Sarah is learning how much we went through on our journey to bring her home, although she is acting out now, I believe your blog is helping her to cope with her past. We love you guys and can't wait to read your blog each day. Love,Jennifer

Jennifer, thank you for your prayers. I am so happy to hear that Sarah is reading our blog too. Maybe we can pick her up a little souvenir.

Matt Penman has left a new comment on your post "Camp": Christine,It is so amazing that you are at the same camp that we met Sarah. We might have walked by your kids without even knowing it. Your trip has brought back so many memories for all of us. Sarah is trying to process all of it, and with God's help, she will overcome! :) Love,Jennifer

How awesome is that! I will try to get a few more pictures to share.

Allison has left a new comment on your post "One More Day Before Court": Hi Christine!!So I"m loving seeing what you and Jenn Dove are cooking up. Can you write down and email me (or post) your "recipes" for these? I am going to need some help branching out from the typical things we eat here while we are in EE. I'm not one that can just "whip something up from a few ingredients". :)Thanks so much! I can't wait to hear all about court!

I can’t speak for Jennifer, but I don’t have any set recipes. For the four of us, I melt about four tablespoons of butter in a skillet and throw in six or seven small, chopped potatoes and one cut up carrot. When they are almost done cooking, I add some chopped up ham, green onions, and salt and pepper. I vary the amount of ingredients depending on what I have on hand at the time. My secret to tasty tomatoes and cucumbers is squirting fresh lemon over them and sprinkling them with salt. To make toast, I melt butter in a skillet and lay pieces of bread inside. As they soak up the butter, they turn a nice golden brown in the skillet. Another thing I make is rice. Brown it in some butter first and just remember to use twice as much water as rice when you cook it and you should be fine.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "One More Day Before Court": I love reading about your inspiring story.I don't want to offend or upset you but I am just wondering if long term your visits with all the other children in the orphanage helps or hurts them. I feel such empathy for the other children who are not being adopted and I wonder if its too sad for them when they see such loving parents and other children being adopted when they stay left at the orphanage. I will be praying that every thing goes well in court and for a safe journey back to America.

I have thought the same thing. On one hand I can’t imagine how love and attention could hurt any child but then on the other hand I imagine our affection stirring up jealousy that it isn’t them being adopted. It kind of feels like a lose lose situation-- but that is where I rely on our Heavenly Father. By spending time with them I know I am doing what I was called to do—God will just have to do the rest.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "One More Day Before Court": So, what exactly is in that yummy-looking dish -- ham and green onions -- what else? Another question -- are you going to go to Rachel's orphanage?Best always.JEBAtlanta, GA

I posted the ingredients for the potato dish in a previous answer. As far as visiting Rachel’s orphanage—I just don’t think she is ready. She hasn’t really asked- but she would probably go if given the chance—but my Mommy extincts say it just isn’t the time—yet.

The McEacherns has left a new comment on your post "One More Day Before Court": Those tomatoes and cucumbers look SO good! One of my favorite Ukrainian staple dishes!I think I asked before, but how (and when) did Rachel come to join your family? Obviously, she's originally from Ukraine, but that's all I know. And you mentioned that her bio family came to say good-bye before your trip, so I'm a little confused!

Rachel joined our family through an independent adoption when her first American family decided that they were not the right family for her. We adopted her when she was eleven. They kept her two biological brothers who we keep in contact with. The arrangement has turned out to be a wonderful one given the circumstances.

Are A&P picking up any English yet?

Too early to tell--- but I am sure that as soon as they no longer have a translator the desire to learn English will increase tenfold!

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "One More Day Before Court": Dear mom and dad,i think that that is very sweet and i can not tell you guys how much we mis you all and we ca not wait for you to come back!!LoveAnnalyn Reed

Hi Annalyn—thanks for all of your sweet comments! We miss you too!

Jamey & Catherine has left a new comment on your post "One More Day Before Court": Hi Christine,I have a few questions too...1.You and John seems to know a lot of Russian, do you both speak quite fluently or just from things you've picked up and learned along the way?

Hardly. See previous answers.

2.When you get back home will you put A & P into school right away in September or keep them home for a little to adjust?

The plan is to put them both in school mid-August. Pasha in third grade and Nastya in fourth—but plans could change if we see that they are further ahead.

So many more questions I would love to sit with you for a day and just chat but I know you have a pile of others to answer too. Someone once asked me about Oksanas Orphanage and Kazakhstan and could I describe life there in 15 words or less ( You don't have to use complete sentences) if you had 15 words to say how would you discribe the internat, Ukraine, the kids etc. what would you say? :)

Fun question—let me think for a moment. The outgoing, cheery, lovable children make the dreary, dark, boring, hopeless Internat a place I love!


Mommy to the Monsters has left a new comment on your post "One More Day Before Court": It's such a blessing to read your blog...Seeing the faces of the kids just breaks my heart. Just out of curiosity what are the requirements to adopt from the Ukraine? Do they allow singles?

They used to allow singles but not anymore. As for the requirements, I don’t think there are many.

Jennie has left a new comment on your post "One More Day Before Court": Above posters have asked the questions I was wondering about other then what happened with your hubby's crown? Did it fall out for good did he go to a dentist and if so was it any diferent then one you would go to in the United States?

See above for answer.

Michelle has left a new comment on your post "One More Day Before Court": i'd like to know:- A & P ages (which is older?)
Nastya is almost 12 and Pasha is almost 10.
- what you'll call them at home!
We will suggest transitioning them to their “Americanized” names but won’t push it.
- how you came to know of them
See above answers.
- if they're bio siblings, and if not, how you decided to adopt them together
They are siblings.
-if you'll be visiting the orphanage Alex & Dennis came from this trip
No, we will not be visiting this trip.
- if you're all staying until everyone's home, or if some are leaving after court
Still up in the air.
- do you think this is it for kids? going for 15? :-P
That is like asking if I can predict the future—which I can’t.
- what do your kids at home think of these new kids being older? i think i remember reading awhile back (maybe when you decided to adopt Alex?) that some of the older kids didn't want you to adopt kids who weren't young, so i was wondering how they're all doing with A & P being older.
I think Nastya and Pasha will fit right in! I think the kids are at the age where they will interact with their new siblings just fine.
also, would you be comfortable making a list of ALL your family (new kids & parents included!) with birthdays next to names? or if you don't want it online, would you be willing to email it if i gave you my email address? for the LONGEST time i've wanted to send birthday cards & gifts for your family, but i don't want to skip anyone so i've never done it for fear of missing someone's birthday & leaving them out. :-)- michelle
You are so sweet to think of all of us. Please email us—but be sure to include your birthday too!

Carey and Norman has left a new comment on your post "One More Day Before Court": These vegetables look amazing! Yummy!!I'd love to hear more about the adoption process in the Ukraine. How would families consider a particular child who is waiting. What timeframe they should expect to travel if they began the process now. What kind of costs? Who would you recommend to use as a facilitator? Thanks for sharing!

The adoption process for Ukraine is quite easy. The dossier is simple. The more open you are to age, gender, and special needs, the quicker the process is. After you do your homestudy, apply for Immigration, and gather your dossier documents, you then submit them to the SDA. A few weeks later they either ask you to update a few documents or invite you for an appointment—usually a month after that but sometimes you will only get one weeks notice. The time in country can vary depending on how good your facilitator is, what region you go to, and whether or not any issues come up with the children’s paperwork. Most families should expect to not have their 10 day waiting period waived—although it does happen once in a while. In total the process takes around five weeks.

:)De has left a new comment on your post ""Are You Rich?"": After your post about French Toast the other day, I just had to make some for dinner and it was so good and the kids and I talked all about your adventure and your new children! We are so happy for you all and thank you for letting us all be a part. How is Rachel doing? I think of her often in the country of her birth and wonder how she is reacting. Continue with you beautiful trip and we are praying the 6 of you home safe and soon.peace

Rachel is doing fine—thanks for asking. I think this trip has been a good thing for her and for us. Thanks for your prayers.

Hevel has left a new comment on your post "One More Day Before Court": What region are you in? Is it an actual Russian speaking area or a Ukrainian speaking one? What language does Rachel use to write to her new friends? Is she interested in bringing her language skills back up?

Hevel, we have chosen not to share the city or region we are in until after we are home. Rachel will have our facilitator translate her English written letters. At this time, I do not think she is going to try and relearn her native language but she has fun remembering certain words.

Gin has left a new comment on your post "One More Day Before Court": Oh! Lots of questions! Is Rachel's russian coming back? What language does she use with her new friends? Also, any ideas on the care package initiative? How long till you can bring Nastya and Pasha home? Any fears on bringing to older kids home? And do you think you'll keep in touch with Luba and Luda? Sorry for so many questions, but this is all really new to me and I hope to find myself adopting at some point in the future, so I'm very curious!

Rachel remembers words here and there but not enough to carry on a conversation. She pretty much uses sign language to communicate like we do and it serves her well. We are praying to bring Nastya and Pasha home as soon as we can but you can never tell in Ukraine. We are not concerned bringing either of them home—but we anticipate some drama. I hope to keep in touch with the kids we met at the Internat through snail mail. When we get home I plan on printing the pictures we took of the kids and sending them. I think they would like that.

Kelly has left a new comment on your post "Camp": I have a sneaking suspicion that sometime soon the Reeds might just be adding a certain 15 year old into their family...just a suspicion. Glad you are having such a wonderful trip. Is there a possibility your wait may be waived tomorrow? I hope so!!

Kelly, I smiled when I read your comment but alas there are two girls—Luba and Luda. And lest not forget the ones that really touched John’s heart too. I think the need never ends—and I think that there will always be those that we feel we left behind. This is something that I don’t have an answer to at this time—but I know that my heart is tugged in a million directions concerning the children left behind. All I can say is that now our main goal is to get Nastya and Pasha home so that everyone can adjust and enjoy being a family. If our wait is waived tomorrow and we get home sooner than we planned—Hallelujah! We can pray!


Mountain Girl said...

One question no one has asked - Christine, how are you doing being away from your little boys; how are they doing being away from you? I'm sure Julia and Adam and the rest of your family are great with them, but it seems you had some concerns about this before you left. I hope you will get to go home very soon and reunite your family!

Expat Mom said...

Thanks for being so open, Christine! I love following your adoption adventures and learning about the Ukraine. There's just so much love in your family, I can't imagine your new kids not fitting in.

I find it interesting that Rachel has forgotten her native language. My kids are bilingual, but I imagine if we were to move back to Canada, we wouldn't speak much Spanish and they might lose it as well . . . something to consider if we move!

Hope your wait is waived!

Doorless said...

Thank you for being so open and sharing this walk. I am thrilled for all of you and will pray you are able to begin travel home after court tomorrow.
I have been matched with a little 11 year old with CP in CA. It has been a year and 1 1/2 since we were matched and have been in ICPC in CA for over 9 weeks. I do wish things would move as smoothly as they have for you and your family.
I will be praying about your court tomorrow and all the kids in the internat.

The McEacherns said...

Thanks for willingly answering so many questions, Christine. I think it really helps people who are considering Ukrainian adoption!

Denise: Always In His Grace said...

How did your husband manage to swallow a whole tooth?

Anonymous said...

Fantastic post, Christine. Thanks so much for answering all those questions. Just wondering -- is John keeping a look out for that tooth? Hope he gets it back! LOL
JEB, Atlanta, GA

Carey and Norman said...

Thanks for all the answers. That must have been time consuming. I enjoyed reading all your responses and appreciate your honesty when answering.

Becky said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer questions, especially so honestly and candidly.

Praying all goes well in court!

Lisa said...

How long after you go to court will it take to get everyone home?

Qadoshyah said...

Thanks for the answers! I had also had the question about all those young, teenage, hormone-flying kids being together and if pregnancies happened.