Friday, April 25, 2014

It Makes A Difference!

About a year ago we decided to go gluten free.  It really made a difference in how I feel, headaches for Garrett and I, and disappearing belly fat.  It's been a good change.  The biggest problem became finding a good gluten free flour to make breads and other baked goods. 

First there is the expense issue.  You buy this tiny little bag of flour for $7 or $8 and you need at least 2 of them to make 4 loaves of bread.  And our house goes through about 8 loaves a week.  And some of those flours don't taste very good and in fact some taste down right nasty. 

A few months ago we found a great deal on a 5 pound bag of Namaste flour at our local Costco. did it taste.  The price was right at around $13.  Tom made bread and it was delicious.  OK!  We had a winner! 

Imagine our disappointment when a few weeks later the Namaste was gone and in it's place was another brand.  It was slightly less money at about $12 for 5 pounds.  So we bought a couple of bags.  Tom made bread and it didn't act the same or taste nearly as good.  Bummer.

So we hunted the regular grocery stores and went back to buying little bags but still didn't have the success or tastiness of the Namaste brand.  On our next trip to Costco I mentioned to the cashier our disappointment and they suggested we write out a comment card.  I was skeptical.  Did anyone really read them?  Would it make any difference?  After all I'm just one customer.

Three weeks later we were back at Costco, just this past week.  You would have thought we won a million dollars.  There in the baking isle were those pretty maroon bags of flour by Namaste!  They listened.  We were elated!!!!

So Tom suggested I write an email to Namaste thanking them.  I did that yesterday.  I also wrote another comment card to Costco thanking them.  Today I got an email from a wonderful lady at Namaste who thanked me for suggesting it to Costco.  She said they had been in negotiations with them for weeks and couldn't come to terms.  Now the shipments are rolling out to Costco's all over!  Now I can't know for sure my little comment card did it but it sure feels nice to think it did.

Thanks Namaste and thanks Costco!  We have a happy gluten free home here!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Mind Your Manners

Yesterday I took Vlad to the shoe store to buy him a new pair of tennis shoes for his birthday.  I was standing in line when a woman just cut right in front of me and went to the counter.  She started yelling at the clerk for something that was obviously not his fault.  On a previous purchase she was charged an extra $3 for something. He told her right off that they would take it off her charge but she just kept going on and on and on.  She just wanted to rant.  When she had her $3 and stormed off he just looked deflated.  She never even looked at me, the person she had cut off. 

We walked up and I smiled and said to him, don't let anyone rent space in your head.  He said, "I've been dealing with people like her all day long, I just don't get it".  I said, "people are in their own heads and thinking selfishly.  When you've been to a Ukraine orphanage and see how they live you don't care about stupid stuff like this anymore". 

I went on to talk to him about how great he handled the situation and that to be able to let things like that go was a great ability.  He had stayed calm throughout the tirade.  I complimented him on his behavior. 

When we left he thanked me and told me that I was the best customer he had had in weeks.  How sad.  How sad that simply being polite makes me the best customer in weeks.  I am sad that people are so into themselves that they don't see the damage they are causing to others.

As we walked out of the store I talked to Vlad about what we experienced.  I asked him what he thought of the woman's behavior.  He said she was mean.  I told him that mature people don't act like that.  Good people don't act like that.  He said, "I know, mom".  I said, "Vlad, I don't ever want you to act like that".  He said, "I won't, mom".

I'm sure the woman had some things going on in her life.  But is that an excuse?  I hear people give excuses for their behavior all of the time.  As if because they are going through something that gives them a right to ignore manners.  To put their garbage out on others.  To be mean and rude is OK because they are having a bad day.   

Character and integrity are things that don't seem to have value anymore.  To have a sales clerk deal with customers like that day in and day out is just wrong.  What is happening to us that we don't care about how we treat others? 

It's become a bad habit.  We grow into it one bad moment at a time and then it becomes a part of us and even who we are.  We are the person who rides roughshod over others and we don't even realize that we're doing it. 

Mind your manners.  My grandmother used to say that continually.  As a society we need to mind our manners.  We need to consciously think about how we interact with others.  That sales clerk is someone's son, someone's grandson, someone's friend, boyfriend or husband.  He belongs to someone.  If he were your son would you want someone to treat him like you are treating him?

Make today a day to consciously think about how you are with others.  And maybe even go one step further and do the unexpected and give them a compliment or word of encouragement.  Not only will you probably be the one bright spot in their day, but you'll walk away with a happy heart, knowing you made a difference. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

How a Heart Grows!

I had a call from a good friend of mine today while driving.  We had a conversation about adding more children to your life and how you can possibly love another child as much as you love the one or ones you already have.  Probably every parent who is bringing a second child into their family has had the same thought.  When I was pregnant with child #2 I wondered how I could love him as much as I loved child #1.  It seemed impossible because that love was so huge.  But the second that baby is handed to you your heart just expands and you fall in love all over again.  Then as you add more children you just know that your heart will keep expanding.

When my boys were young I got re-married and my husband had two children.  I wondered, "could I love them"?  I hadn't given birth and didn't even meet them until they were 4 and 5.  Today they are 25 and 26 and I call them my love children.  I love them because I love them, not because I gave birth to them.  My heart expanded to make room for them.  To me, they were mine to be loved, cared for and protected no differently than the ones I gave birth to.  Amazing thing this parent love. 

Then we added two more and the heart grew bigger.

Then we met Vlad.  OK this was different altogether.  This boy was not only 15 years old but from a different country, culture and spoke another language.  How was this going to work?  One day we sat down with him and asked him if he wanted to be a part of our family, our son.  He said yes.  Truly in that instant he became our son and I fell in love with him just like my others.  Putting him on a plane to go back to Ukraine that August day was one of the hardest things I've ever done.  He was my son and I was sending him across the world into who knows who kind of life, without being able to watch over him.  How did this happen, this love thing?

So the next 6 months became fraught with mother's anxiety, working at mach speed to finish paperwork to get him home where he belonged.  Seeing him again in that orphanage I was overflowing with happiness.  My son safe with me again!

Now we have three teens over there.  Two of them we haven't met and yet they are mine.  Yuri and I talk every few days and there are a lot of "I love you's" going back and forth.  The two girls, well, even though we've never met they are my daughters and I love them.  I can't explain it.  I'm just so grateful to Yahweh that this kind of love exists.  The kind of love that when you hear your daughters voice over the telephone for the first time your heart just about bursts with happiness.  You listen carefully to every sound of it, wanting to remember how she sounds, what the tone is and hoping to glean everything you can from it.  Trying to figure out if she's happy, excited, scared or what?  Your mother ears are on full force.  (You mothers know what I'm talking about). 

So hearts just grow.  I can't explain it.  It's a miracle.  And we are so blessed to be able to experience this miracle. 


Monday, April 14, 2014

Good-bye Ex-Friend

I was reminded today why I don't much like "churchy-preachy" Christians.  I know that sounds harsh but today brought back bad memories of "holier than thou" and why we don't go to church anymore.

I had the gall to post a picture of a gift that I received from my job.  I do my job because not only do I love what I do (helping people get healthy) but it pays the bills and allows Tom and I to stay at home and raise our family and go off across the world to bring home teenage orphans.  Most would think that is pretty cool.  Not this person.

He seemed to think that going after building a big business was anti-Christ.  Hmmm...I said to him the more money I earn, the more I can help orphans, which after reading the Bible through a few times was a pretty clear directive from Yahweh (God).  He stuck to his guns that it was better to spend time in prayer than actually "doing" anything.  Then he said that he would pray for me and that he loves me.  Ugh!

Now this after a day of calling USCIS to check on our paperwork status, working with our mortgage company to refinance our house to have the money to adopt, working on this monstrosity of a yard sale and of course, working my Arbonne business.  Lots of irons in the fire.

So some guy who thinks prayer is more important than doing for the orphans has the nerve to call me out because I'm happy that I earned some bling for doing a good job.

Now others have gotten the same kind of messages and I've told them to just let it go and keep your eyes focused where they need to be.  Why am I not taking my own advice?

Because I'm pretty fed up with the ones who aren't doing anything telling us going through this process what we should be doing instead.  Would you rather I don't work?  How would my family be supported?  Would you rather I make just enough money to pay my bills and buy groceries?  Then who is going to take care of the orphans of the world?

I'm at a loss.  What do you want from me?  From us?  From all of us?

I work for a company that has their goal to be the #1 company in giving back.  We have people funding whole orphanages, building schools, paying for medical mission trips and so on.  Our company has a foundation that helps at risk teenagers.  We have people with heart who are willing to do the hard stuff and help.

Now I'm not saying that prayer isn't important.  Believe me when I say that most days I may not walk around on my knees but in my head there is almost a constant conversation between Him and me.  He gets me through.  He not only listens but He tells me in a hundred ways that He is right there with me.

Just a few days ago Tom and I were talking about beds/bedrooms and sleeping arrangements for three new teens.  We realized that we just needed one twin mattress and we would be all set.  I said, when it gets a little closer I'll put it out there and someone probably has one they don't need anymore.  We woke up the next morning to an email from a friend asking if we could use a new twin mattress they had but don't need anymore.

Yeah, He listens.  And yes, He talks back.

I will also take all the prayers I can get from others.  And if all you can do is pray, then pray your heart out for us and these orphans. 

Just don't think it's OK to sit back and preach at those who are actually doing something, telling us that it takes a lot more than that to get into heaven.  I say to you that I don't think you have the slightest idea of what it takes to get into the Kingdom.  And maybe you should re-read the parable of the talents.  He who has been given and does nothing with it gets it taken away.  And at the very least if you can't say something supportive then you shouldn't say anything at all.

James tells us that faith without works is dead.  He then goes on to tell us what those works are.  I seem to remember the word orphan in there somewhere.  

I'll do whatever I need to do to take care of one more orphan, then one more, then one more and I'll do it for the rest of my life.  Not only is that going to take prayer, but a mountain of other stuff as well.  My goal is to make millions of dollars.  YES I said MILLIONS.  Because I know what money like that is going to do for these teen orphans.  If He gave me the talent then He expects me to use it for Him and His will. 

The last thing someone like me needs is someone like you in my world.  Tearing down in the name of Him.  I believe He would be disgusted.   I know I am.

So good-bye my self-righteous ex-friend.  I hope you enjoy your world.  You don't belong in mine. 

I know this has been a bit sarcastic.  Not my normal stuff.  But today it's simply my opinion.

Friday, April 11, 2014

And Then There Were Ten!

A funny thing happens on the way to your future.  A future you have all planned out nice and neat.  I'm going to have a husband and two children and have a nicely packaged life. 

I'm sure Yahweh is sitting up on His throne laughing His head off.  (I know He must have a sense of humor to have me as one of His)!

Just wait, He says.  Just wait to see what I have in store for you.

So I have a husband and my two children.  That's enough for me I say.  My heart is full and so are my hands.  Then I change husbands.  (Yes that happens sometimes).  And the new one comes with two children of his own.  Pretty nice ones, too.  They are cute little 4 and 6 year olds and of course I fall in love with them just like my two.  Now we are four!

A few years go by and Tom and I talk and think how it would be if we added another so we did.  Then we thought about how by the time that little guy was in school the other four would be grown and gone and since we didn't want him to be an "only" so we added another one to make six. 

Whew!  How did that happen?  But now we were really done.  I mean, really done!

Many of you know the story how a Ukraine orphan came to us out of the blue one summer day opening our eyes to the way of Ukraine teen orphans.  Vlad changed our lives in so many ways.  We brought him home as our son in March 2013.  So there were seven.

Again we were done.  We decided to host more children in summer of 2013 and found forever families for them.  Then decided to host two more in winter and found a family for one of them.  He found the perfect family for him which was fantastic.  The other one wound his way into our hearts.  So we talked and decided to bring Yuri home.  It was hard jumping into the adoption world again with it's mounds of paperwork and the crazy money needed.  We had just retired Tom from the corporate job that was literally killing him so we didn't have that income.  We jumped into fundraising and I ramped up working Arbonne to raise the money.

Then a few weeks later we heard about Kristina.  Kristina, the younger sister of Vlad's friend from his orphanage who was murdered just six weeks after being put out of the orphanage, devastating all of us.  We never knew she had a little sister.  When we found out we knew that she needed us so we said yes to her as well.

When the social worker came to do our home study we told her to write it for three.  Why?  I have no idea.  We had no intention of three.  We had chosen two and that was enough for us.  I sent in the paperwork to U.S. Immigration and put down the number three as well.  Again, I have no idea why.  Mainly to match what was on the home study.

Going along, fundraising, working on our Ukraine dossier and having it almost ready to send over I got a message on Facebook.  Would I know of a family who is already in process with paperwork that might want to adopt a girl who would be 16 in July?  If someone isn't already in process there wasn't time before she ages out of the system.  I put it out to some people and no one was ready.

Tom and I talked, again.  OK, let's see if this is right for us.  We contacted a hosting agency that was familiar with her to see if we could get anymore details.  They told us she was already chosen for hosting.  We asked if they were going to adopt and was told the family wasn't sure but they would step aside if someone was willing to adopt her.  Someone from the agency talked to the girl and she said no, she wanted to be hosted first.

What she didn't know is that if she is hosted that would end the possibility of adoption because she was aging out.

Tom and I went on some errands earlier today and talked about it.  I was sad but there was nothing we could do.  He said it's too bad there isn't someone who can talk to her to tell her the truth and give her better information to make her choice.  I said, I know, me, too.

When we got back home I had a message waiting for me on FB.   The woman who told me about her in the first place had some news.  Her adopted daughter is the girls best friend and they were talking via the internet and when the girl was told about our family she changed her mind completely.  She said, yes, yes, yes I want to be adopted by them. 

So now we are announcing that we are also bringing Anya home to us.  And that makes ten. 

Looking at that number brings a smile to my face.  I look up and wonder at the mysteries of how a person can go from where I was to where I am today.  A person who, growing up, didn't even babysit because she didn't like kids all that much.  And now I have ten!  Crazy number!

And my husband is the same.....never thinking for a moment he would be a father to ten children.

So I'm thinking this out.  Next year we will have six teenagers in our home.  Three girls and three boys.  Two in 8th grade, one in 9th, two in 10th and one in 11th.  Should be pretty busy around here!

So that's it.....for now. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I Miss My Children

Imagine having one of your children spending the night with a friend.  Maybe it's a nice night off for you.  Maybe you worry, what are they doing?  Are they safe?  Are they eating right? 

Imagine having one of your children off at camp for a week or a few weeks.  Those questions now multiply.   You talk with them but don't get much information (they're teenagers after all) and you think about them off and on all day hoping that they are OK.

Imagine as a friend of mine right now is experiencing her son is on another continent for a great experience through his school.  I have no doubt she is happy for him but at the same time would rather have him safe and sound with her.  The long flight there and back without her, what is he doing, what if he gets sick, is he eating well, on and on.

Now imagine an adoptive parent like me.  Two teenagers in Ukraine.  Not only do I have all those questions but I have ones like will Russia invade Ukraine?  Will we be able to get there and bring them home before that happens?  What if they get sick and there is no one to take care of them?  Are they eating? (probably not - at least not much).  And a hundred other questions just like that.

The only thing I can do is work to raise the money to get there and finish up the paperwork.  My facilitator is traveling to one of the orphanages today and will let me know next week how Kristina is doing.  I just wish I could hug her and tell her that we're getting there as fast as we can. I haven't heard from Yuri in over a week.  My normally chatty son is very quiet.  I'm hoping it's because they have nice weather and he is outside playing.  I think all kinds of thoughts I don't want to think like maybe the internet has been shut down and things are happening.  They aren't far from the Russian border.  Then I tell myself to just trust Yahweh that everything is fine.

Some might say that well they aren't really your children, at least not yet.  To that I say you must never have adopted yourself.  The second you make the decision to adopt them they have a place in your heart as if you've given birth to them.  I can't explain it.  I really can't. 

Before adoption I had no idea it would be like this.  I've given birth to four children.  I'm a love (step) parent to two more.  I love those two like I gave birth to them.  I've fought for them, hugged them close when bad things happened and think about them and their future no different than the ones I gave birth to.  Then we adopted Vlad and who knew there was a boy growing up halfway around the world that was in my heart before I even knew him.  That I love him so very, very much.  I wish I could have been there for him when he was little.  To give him the cuddles and love he so desperately needed.  But I'm there now.  And he is in my heart like the other six.  And now there is two more, waiting for us in Ukraine.  One we haven't met yet but she is in my heart just as solidly as the others. 

Kristina's orphanage

So I think about them.  And do my best not to worry about them and their situation.  I pray to Yahweh that He protects them and takes care of them.  I pray that we have the funds to travel soon.  And that the documents are all accepted and approved.  And that Russia stays out of Ukraine.

So yes, I miss my children.  I can't wait to hug them and hold them and in Kristina's case, meet her.  I can't wait to wrap my arms around her and help her feel safe.  And show her that she has a mom and a dad who love her. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

If God Wanted You to Adopt You Would Already Have the Money

I'm sure the person that posted this comment to me didn't mean it to hurt.  I'm sure that somewhere in their heart they believe what they said.  Because they used "God" I'm assuming they are Christian.  Maybe I'm wrong.  I'm of the belief that if one person says something, then that means that 100 are thinking it.  I'm sure there are both Christians and non-Christians on my Facebook that think it.  So let's get it out in the open and talk about it.

1. Not everyone who has been blessed with lots of expendable money wants to adopt.

That's a reality of life.  There are millions of people with expendable money and the last thing on their minds is adopting a child or teenager.  Maybe they have other causes that are dear to them.  Maybe they already have a large family they are supporting.  Maybe they just want "the good life".  I'm in no way judging here.  My belief is that if you earned the money then you should have the say-so in how you spend it.  I'm happy for anyone in this position and someday I'm planning to be there, too.  If you want a getaway in Aruba more power to you.  Maybe you'll invite me to hang out there and relax a bit - I could definitely use that!  HA!

2.  Not everyone with a heart for bringing a child or teenager into their home and family has money.

That's another reality of life.  In fact, as part of adoption community I would say that MOST people who are adopting have to work for it.  Actually now that we're on our second adoption journey I realize that it's part of the process of adopting. 

I don't know if the person who wrote the above has ever been part of a fundraising effort.  Believe me when I tell you it is NOT FUN!  Essentially you have to beg from your friends, families and strangers.  Now that might be easy for some people but the people I know who are in this process HATE IT!  And that includes me.  I absolutely detest asking anyone for anything and money is at the top of that list.  I have been an independent person since about the age of 5 and now in my mid-50's this is not the time to start asking for help.

However, when you are faced with a teenager who, without your help, will end up on the street, most likely dead within a few months, all of a sudden what you want is not important.  What you like or don't like doesn't matter anymore.  You grit your teeth and make the call.  You write out the words of a Facebook post and close your eyes and silently pray and hit enter.  You write out your story and mail it out, stopping your hand just as the letters are being dropped into the post office box and think, "Am I really doing this?  Asking my friends and family for money?"  Then you let go and the letters fall into the collection box.  You hang your head, tears in your eyes, and silently pray one word - "please".

Please let all of this make a difference. The taking of a prideful person and making them humble.  It hurts.  It's hard.  But if it makes a difference to one orphan then it's worth it all.

You watch the calendar speed by and know you have no where near enough money to make it happen.  You don't talk to God daily.  You talk to Him every 10 minutes.  You just say the words over and over again - I trust You, I trust You, I trust You.

To the person who wrote me saying if God wanted you to adopt you would already have the money and to everyone who is thinking it I say this.  You're wrong.  It's about Him and His Glory.  It's about Him coming in at the last minute and showing His Power.  He couldn't do that if we already had it all taken care of. 

What God wants is for someone to step up and say, I will.  And then believe that He will provide.  He calls people who are willing to put their own needs and wants aside to do things they would never do because those are the people who will take in an orphan teenager with crazy kinds of issues and say, I will be their parent.  Through thick and thin.  I will be the one they can finally trust.  I will be the one that gives them boundaries and rules.  I will be the one who cries with them over everything they have lost.  I will be the one who struggles with them trying to learn math and English.  I will be the one who takes them to the dentist for the first time in their lives and then explains to them why they have to have braces to save their teeth.  I will be the one who spends hours with their teachers to give them a chance to catch up from never being in a decent school.  

I will.  I will do the hard stuff that no one else wants to do.  I will grit my teeth and ask because He promises that when we ask, He will provide.  And how does He provide?  Through people like my friends and family who have donated.  Those people are His people who also said, I will.

God didn't call us to adopt because we had the money.  He called us to adopt because He knew we would say, I will, and that He would be able to show His Glory on the "HOW".  If we had the money, what would we need Him for?

God is showing us His Love by providing, by making this happen.  I get a ring-side seat in watching Him at work.  When a person I barely know sends a check for $500 because she felt she needed to that is Him at work.  When another person sends $1200 and they are barely getting by themselves, that is Him at work.  I get to watch all of that.  What a privilege.  

I don't know why God asked us to adopt these teenagers.  I only know that He did and He promised that when we obey Him that we have access to all of His promises. 

Hosea 14:3 In you the orphan finds mercy. 

Every person who helped us bring Vlad home and every person who is helping us bring Yuri and Kristina home has a part in that verse.  You have helped the orphan.  Us needing the money has allowed so many other people to take part in this journey with us.  We are all saying, I will.

Tom and I are working hard at our business.  God is blessing us immensely in this process.  Our goal is that someday when all of this personal adoption is behind us that He will continually bless us so that we can help others on this journey.  In the meantime, we need your help to make this adoption happen.  Be a part of this amazing journey to give two teenage orphans a family and a future.  A future with real school, dentists, health, and a future of college and marriage and children of their own.  Join with us to help make this happen. 

Thank you.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Adopting Again - Why?

Over the past few days I've gotten a lot of questions about our upcoming adoption.  Questions like why are you doing it again?  I wrote out this letter a while ago to address such questions. The short answer is because it's the right thing to do.  It was put on our hearts to help these orphans and we can.  Maybe we don't have all of the money to actually adopt them but that can be raised.  What we do have are hearts that are open to raising teenagers.  It's not easy.  There is nothing easy about this entire process.  However it is right.  And rewarding.  And we feel like we are making a difference to at least a few of the world's orphans. 

Our story began in late summer of 2012 when we were asked to finish the summer hosting a teenager from Ukraine.  He had come to the U.S. on an orphan hosting program and the family he stayed with had a family emergency.  We figured that as parents with 2 teens still at home we could show him a good time. We had 6 children total but 4 were grown and out of the house.

So Vlad came to our home and our eyes were opened to the plight of Ukraine teenage orphans.  We found out that they are released, “graduated”, from the orphanage once they turn 16.  They have 2 options at that point.  One is to just go out and attempt life on their own.  The average Ukraine family exists on $450 a month.  Orphans who are barely 16 and have no education or skills are at the bottom of the food chain and most can’t find even menial work.  They get absolutely no help from any organization or the government.  Most will end up in a life of crime, living off the streets or in human trafficking.

The other option is to go to trade school.  They can choose from 5 different trades.  Let’s say they choose culinary.  They are put in dorms – no, not like our college dorms here but rat infested nasty places where no human should ever have to live.  They are given 100 Grivna per month – about $13 U.S. – and with that they have to purchase their food, clothing and any food they need for cooking school.  Most can’t afford it so instead of actually cooking they spend 8 hours a day reading cookbooks and then the rest of their time fending off predators.  Again, most will end up in a life of crime just to eat. 

Predators wait for the teens to be released from the orphanages with promises of food, shelter and jobs.  Little do they know they are now entering the world of human trafficking?  80% of Ukraine teen orphans don’t live past their 20th birthday. 

Once we learned this we couldn’t let it happen to this boy who was staying with us.  Without even knowing what it would take we jumped into the international adoption process.  What a nightmare.  But 7 months and $30,000 later we brought our new son home on March 2, 2013.  He turned 16 the next month.  Whew – just in time.

I (Kathe) came home from two trips to Ukraine and spending time every day in an orphanage that smelled like sewer, was freezing cold but where the children were all smiles.  They don’t realize what’s waiting for them as they approach 16.  They have little food and are constantly told that they don’t matter.  No one teaches them anything because the adults know that most of them won’t survive anyway so what’s the point.  When our son came home he didn’t even know how to read or do basic math.  He had no expectations of what he could do or become.  He had been told for years that he was stupid when in reality he is very bright. 

After coming home and having nightmares every night about the faces in the orphanage we knew this was a new path in our lives.  Summer 2013 we hosted 3 more boys and found them families.  We found families for several more teens that others had hosted.  We put braces on Vlad and started him at Novi High School.  What an achievement for him!!  His first real school and it was 10th grade.  He was on the football team, a dream of his when he thought about coming to America, and going to his first homecoming dance. 

Vlad at the orphanage with his friends.  One of these boys is in the process of being adopted.  The other two have been "graduated" and are on the streets.

Vlad dressed and ready for his first homecoming dance.
He also played JV football - a dream for him.

In October we got word that one of his best friends from the orphanage, Anya, had been “graduated” at the end of August and went to trade school.  She was found dead, murdered by strangulation and stabbing.  Typical.  It tore out Vlad’s heart, and ours.  He felt guilty that he wasn’t there to save her even though, in reality, there was nothing he could have done.  We felt terrible because she had been hosted during the summer by another family but was not adopted and no family found for her.

Over winter break we hosted two more teens.  We found a family for one of them and the other, Yuri, stole our hearts.  We just knew we had to adopt him.  But the prospect seemed overwhelming.  How would we come up with another $30K?  We were still recuperating from the last adoption that wiped out our savings.  We still had 3 teens at home, all in braces, sports and with other expenses.  The mountain of paperwork that would need to be done – again.  The trips back and forth to Ukraine – again.  We took a deep breath and said yes, just trusting that through raising funds we could do it.

Then we got an email from our Ukraine facilitator.  Could we possibly take one more?  Anya’s sister, Kristina, was 13 and in dire need of a family.  After the loss of her sister she was despondent thinking that she would end up with the same fate.  Our facilitator said it was urgent because the orphanage she is in would be closed to adoptions starting in the fall due to the decision of the orphanage director.  Ugh!  That means it has to be a family who is already in process like we were and ready to move really, really fast, like we were.
Yuri helping to chop wood for winter during hosting

Kristina during hosting
The problem is that now the cost is upwards of $45,000.  Two different children, two orphanages, one in the north and one in the south of Ukraine.  A lot more travel, more expenses.  And the time is so short that no mistakes can be made in the process.

We can earn the money ourselves by working but not in the time frame needed.  We are working double to do it but it’s just not going to be fast enough for these teens. 

So we’re doing what we never do – ask.  We have to.  For these teens. 

We are asking everyone to help us fund this adoption.  We can’t do it alone.  We can raise them, teach them and feed them but we can’t do this.  Not this fast.  We need to be able to travel by summer or it’s too late for Kristina. 

We are asking for donations to our adoption fund that we have set up in Paypal. and then our account is  Please be sure to mark as gift so no fees are assessed. 

Or you can send a check to us at:  Tom & Kathe Ray, 24870 Portsmouth Avenue, Novi, MI 48374.  Please put in the memo – adoption fund.

I can’t tell you what this means.  There are no words to explain how these kids live and what happens to them.  It has changed our lives. 

Hosea 14:3 In you the orphan finds mercy.  

With our sincerest thanks,
Tom & Kathe Ray

P.S.  I’m sure many of you have seen the news on what is happening in Ukraine.  We are still a “GO”.  We have been in contact with our facilitator and adoptions are still progressing.  Kristina is in SE Ukraine near the problem spot but so far Mariupol seems quiet.  Our facilitator visited there last week and gave Kristina a letter and pictures from us.  She cried when she heard that our family wants her.  She just broke down in happiness that she has a family after all of the trauma of her life. 

He did alert me that the director of that orphanage is “going off the wagon” whatever that means.  She is becoming increasingly against adoptions and he said please come as soon as you can.  I don’t know how much longer we will be able to adopt from there.  This is the same orphanage our son Vlad is from. 

So please pass our information out to anyone you know that has a heart for these teen orphans.  We need the help of a village on this one!  It’s a tall order to come up with this much money this quickly and be ready to travel.  Our documents are almost all in order and the immigration paperwork has been sent to USCIS.  That means we are 8 – 12 weeks from travel so we have to bring in the money now. 

Thank you for any support you can give to us. 

Ways to help:

  Online to and go to our account and donate.  Account
       Please mark as GIFT
       OR: Send check to:  Kathe Ray, 24870 Portsmouth Avenue, Novi, MI 48374

Thank you!