Monday, June 24, 2013

International Adoption: Why don't you adopt an American?

This is seriously such a rude question but I will answer you anyway.  I really don't know that much about you and don't know your background or heritage but I can pretty much guarantee than unless you are an American Indian you came from someplace else somewhere along the way.  

I also don't know if you have a background in faith.  So I'm just putting this out there that I am a woman of faith in the Elohim of the Bible.  Yahweh is His name.  My husband is a man of the same faith.  We have read the Bible through and through.  It says over and over again to take care of the orphans.  Nowhere does it specifically say where those orphans live.  It just says orphans.  And I'm pretty sure he means all of them, no matter where they live.  

Let me take a moment and educate you on the plight of the orphans in Ukraine.  I can speak to that because I've been to Ukraine, been in an orphanage there and have an ex-Ukraine orphan living with me now as my son.  

In Ukraine children from orphanages are looked at as the lowest of the low citizens.  At best they will work a minimum wage job their entire life.  Even though it is certainly not their fault that they have a non-existent father and a drunk drugged out mother the society there looks at them like pariahs.  My son started cooking at age 4 because it was the only way he could eat.  His mother dropped him off at a shelter when he was 7 because she had another baby and couldn't take care of them both.  (Two different fathers, neither married her - all of them on drugs and alcohol).

She lost her parental rights 6 months later and he was transferred to the orphanage.

Let me tell you about that.  It's not a place you would want your worst enemy to live.  Smells of sewer, older than dirt, a place you know existed during the worst times of the soviet union and you wonder what has gone on in those walls.  Beautiful children running around but then look closely and see how hungry they are and how thin.  But the smiles - oh the smiles.  How can anyone in this situation smile?  It still astounds me.

A 12 foot high iron fence and gate.  In a word - prison.  For children who have done NOTHING wrong except be born to a person who could care less about them.

So that is the good part.  YUP!  

So they turn 16.  Now 16 in a Ukraine orphanage is like 10 here in the U.S.  They have little to no education or skills in anything.  No one cares about them.  They have no material possessions.  They don't own anything.  Even the clothes they wear are shared between the other children their size.  

So they turn 16, but think of any 10 year old that you know and know that this orphan is not as educated or has the common sense needed to survive in the world as your 10 year old.  So it is now August 31st.  The BIG DAY has arrived.  Graduation from the orphanage.  It sounds so good, right?

Wrong.  The children have no idea what is coming except they don't have to live in prison anymore.  But they have no idea what life is like on the outside.  They are woefully unprepared for it.  They leave with the clothes on their backs (more than likely the worst of the lot) and maybe a small bag of anything personal that they've collected over the years.  That's it.  No money.  Nothing.

Where do they go.  Your guess is as good as mine.  I do know the following facts:

Ukraine has a huge human trafficking problem
80% of these children do not live past their 24th birthday and half of them won't make it to age 20.

So you fill in the blanks.  I'm sure that people wait for this day with excitement, waiting to tell these children that they have a place for them to live and a job.  I don't have to go any further - you should get it by now.

So now let's take this journey to America.

How is it different here:

The children can stay in foster care until 18 or graduated from high school.
Children get to actually go to school and be educated
Children after turning 18 have programs to plug into to further their education.  In many states they get free college and money to live on while they are in college or trade school.  
They have a support system in place to transition the children to adult hood and living on their own.

Not to say they have it great, but they are not in the distress the Ukraine teen is in.  

If that doesn't answer your question, well, I can't help you.  I love America as much as you do.  In fact I'm so proud to be an American because we Americans typically step up and do the right thing all around the world.  We are the world's helpers.  We go where we are needed at a personal cost that is very  high.

So instead of opening your mouth and saying stupid things, maybe instead ask how you can help.  There are plenty of adoptive families out there trying to raise funds to adopt one of these distressed orphans.  You may not want to adopt one yourself but you can certainly help someone else do it.

And in the meantime, stop with the stupid comments.  They just show your ignorance.

This is simply my opinion - a little rant today! 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Vlad Update: Preparing to Bring Vlad Home

The past few days I've been immersing myself in teaching materials.  As most of you know I already home school our two still at home; one in 8th grade and one in 6th.  Vlad will be in 9th according to his age, but definitely not his educational level.  He knows very little English and his math is very sketchy.  When I was in Ukraine I downloaded a few math tests to see where he is and he is all over the map.  From 4th grade through 8th grade he knew a few things in each grade but there are huge gaps.  So I've picked up some math workbooks starting in grade 4 to go through with him.  With my daughter Emma's help we found an online downloadable math definition sheet in English/Russian.  13 pages of terms in both languages.  Yay!

So I plan to go through those books with him and teach him the things that he missed.  I want him to have a solid math foundation.  I've also picked up some beginning English language workbooks.  I know that he will pick it up fast because he is very smart and once he is immersed into the family he will pick a lot of it up just by constantly hearing it.

Right now I'm working on re-working our daily schedule because Vlad will need more one-on-one time to explain what we are doing with the language barrier.  

Besides that I am working on all of the paperwork to turn into the U.S. Embassy in Kiev.  They need a bunch of forms, tax returns, etc. to show that we are capable of supporting another person in our household.  I cannot wait until I'm done with all of this paperwork.  I had no idea when we started this process how much paper I would accumulate.

I leave to go back on the 9th of February.   Before then I need to have my house organized and all of this paperwork done and ready to take with me. 

For those of you following this sage, just keep praying for our protection, energy and strength. 

Thank you!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Vlad Update: Trip to Ukraine #1

For those of you who are following our adoption saga......

I just returned from Ukraine. Let me say once again I would rather give birth 10 times than adopt. This process is so long and so hard.  I had not idea what people go through who adopt internationally.

I was in Ukraine for 7 days. 7 very long days. Monday left Detroit and arrived in Kiev on Tuesday. Checked into the hotel. Wednesday met at the SDA for a 30 minute appointment. Done for the day. Wait, wait, wait. Thursday (my birthday) waited all day for an appointment at 4 p.m. 5 minute appointment to pick up approval to go to the orphanage.

Waited until 7:30 to go to the airport to fly to Donetsk. From there a driver named Ivan drove us the 2 hours to Mariupol. Finally checked into my hotel room at 1 a.m.  Very old beautiful hotel called the Grand Hotel.

Up at 6 a.m. on Friday. Off to the inspectors office. A lot of talking back and forth between the facilitator and the inspector. I am pretty much there to hand over money. LOL

9 a.m. we are finally at the orphanage/prison. Yes prison. I am sick that anyone, especially children, need to live there. Vlad walked in and in one second all of the stress and money and waiting became unimportant. THIS is why we were doing all of it. The smile in his eyes said it all. She came. She really came.  I think until that moment he doubted that it would ever really happen. 

We spent about an hour there. Vlad had to write out a letter saying that he wanted to be adopted by us and choose his new name. We left, went to court, where I didn't even go in but sat in the taxi. Went to the notary then back to court, then back to the orphanage.

I got to spend a good hour with Vlad with an interpreter so we were able to talk about a lot of things. Home schooling, sports, how he was, etc. He really wanted to go to public school but for the friends he would make. Once I explained to him about the other opportunities and how he was going to have to work hard with me on his English and other subjects he was good (ha da sha in Russian) with being home schooled.

Ate an early dinner, then bed early.

The next day we couldn't go to the orphanage until 1 p.m. so again, just a lot of waiting. That is my job over there, wait and hand out gobs of money. Seems every time I turned around someone needed to be paid for something. Dima (our facilitator) would just say, OK 450 Grivna and I would say, OK here it is. :)  By the end of the week I felt like an ATM. 

On Saturday I was able to spend 3 hours with Vlad. That was precious. We talked a lot and were able to walk outside (still inside the orphanage fence, but at least outside). There is a woman (warden) at the door with a key ring to keep people and children in (and out). Like I said, prison.

Sunday the driver picked me up at 4 a.m. to drive to Donetsk. Dense fog and icy roads made for a harrowing drive. After an uneventful flight to Kiev, I sat in the airport until 8 p.m. (11 1/2 hour) for my flight to Paris. BTW there are zero restaurants in the Kiev airport. To say that I was a bit hungry is an understatement.  I was happy that I had a tiny bag of nuts left over from my first flight. 

The flight to Paris was just under 3 hours and only a light snack, but it tasted really good. Then a 14 hour layover in Paris due to a huge snowstorm. Again, no restaurants open as it is night time. Spent the night in a chair. Take my word for it, no fun. Again, an understatement.

At 7 a.m. the next morning they let us into the gate area where there was a nice little cafe. Yogurt and croissant and OJ never tasted so good. And I had a nice little French pasty to make up for all of my troubles. A yummy little raspberry tart. Yummmmmm..... Well, I am a pastry chef you know.  LOL

A 9 1/2 hour flight from Paris to Cincinnati where I sat next to a HUGE French man who didn't speak English and spent most of the flight spilling over into my seat.  And they say Americans are rude.  HA!

Finally home after the flight from Cinci to Detroit at 5:30 p.m. on Monday.

Today I finally feel back to normal.

For anyone who would feel so inclined I need prayers for the following:

Yesterday I submitted paperwork to an organization that donates money for older children being adopted internationally. They donate up to $5000. This adoption is going to cost us about $22,000, money that we did not have and were not planning to spend on an adoption. Please pray that we find favor with them.

I have booked my final trip and will leave on February 9th. I will be gone for about 3 weeks this time. Please pray that my family does OK. I have to drive up to the UP to pick up my father who is going to stay here and basically make sure my children don't die while I'm gone. Tom is working 75 hours a week to earn extra to make this happen and they can't be left alone that long. I'm trying to figure out ahead of time all of their activities and food so that he doesn't have to do anything, then when I'm back home I have to drive him back up there. Please pray protection over them while I'm gone (Feb 9 to about Mar 2).

Please pray for safe travels for me and most importantly that everything goes smoothly. No hang ups.

Thanks so much! I know that satan does not want this to happen and he is making it as difficult as he can but I serve a GREAT and POWERFUL God, Yahweh. This is His will and His will be done. I just pray for His strength to get through this final stretch. It's going to take Him because I cannot do it alone.