Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year Zoya!

In Zoya's country, the new year has just begun (5:01pm our time). Hopefully Zoya is sleeping peacefully in her crib as her country celebrates the new year. Little does she know, she has a lot to celebrate herself! 2010 will bring a whole new life to Zoya. A life her little mind cannot even imagine because, sadly, life in an orphanage is all she has known in her 18 months of life. 2010 is sue to be Zoya's best year yet!
We are also looking forward to 2010 as it will bring many changes to our lives. We are so excited to bring Zoya home and celebrate so many firsts with her. My goal this year is to be the best momma ever to Zoya. I will kiss her and hug her and tell her I love her every day. I will remember what she came from and be patient and understanding of her needs. I will do anything under the sun to give her everything she needs to become all that God intended for her to become.

Zoya, I wish more than anything that you could feel our love for you now, right this very moment, as you are sleeping. I wish you could feel our arms around you, holding you and telling you everything is going to be just fine. I wish I could pick you up and kiss your little cheeks and hear you giggle. This year, those wishes will come true!

Monday, December 28, 2009

My Redeemer Lives

Due to the lovely Erie weather, we will not be making the trip to Harrisburg today :(  I am so bummed.  I mean really....hardly any snow all winter, then the day I need to drive 5 hours we get slammed?! Oh well.  We have no other choice than to put our trust in the Lord and know that His plan is the best plan.  Our new plan is to drive to Punxsy tomorrow night to visit with Shawn's family (since the weather prevented us from seeing them on Christmas day) and then drive the 3 hours from Punxsy to Harrisburg bright and early Wednesday morning, then drive home to Erie either Wednesday night or Thursday depending on the weather.  Keep our travels in your prayers please!

I am posting a video that I saw quite a while ago.  Today a friend texted me and said she saw this video and thought of me.  God must have known I needed to see this today.  This video is amazing.  Team Hoyt is the story of a father, Dick Hoyt, who pushes his son, Rick Hoyt, in a wheelchair in marathons and triathlons across the country. You will have to scroll to the bottom to pause the music player.Each day I try my hardest to put my full faith in my heavenly Father.  I am realizing He can only get me to the finish line if I trust that He will....not just trust a little and have some doubts...NO....trusting 100%, completely, totally, wholy, entirely, with every ounce of my being.  Is that possible? I think it is.  That means letting go when things don't go exactly as I planned and trusting fully that God has the best plan.  This means resting easy, just as the son in this video does as he lies in the raft while his father pulls him in a raft across a lake he could not otherwise swim through.  The man in the wheelchair is me during this process in many ways.  I feel like I am completely helpless at times and my only hope is my Redeemer. He WILL pull us across the finish line because this is a marathon HE started.  When we cannot walk this walk on our own, he WILL carry us.  We are ready for a breakthrough.  We know God will provide in every area of need during this adoption.  He WILL take care of us financially, emotionally, and physically.....if we just let him. 

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Zoya!

Thank you for all of the prayers and support over the past couple of weeks!  After what seemed like forever waiting....we received our I-171 H (form from U.S. government approving us to adopt) in the mail TODAY.  What an awesome Christmas gift!  This is THE FINAL DOCUMENT that we needed!  On Monday my wonderful friend Jen is going to make the 5 hour drive to Harrisburg with me to get all of the documents apostilled (fancy word for stamped and certified)! After that, we will be able to send our completed dossier packet (all of our adoption documents the country requires) to Zoya's country where it will be translated.  We are hoping it will be ready to be submitted on February 1st when Zoya's country re-opens to accepting dossiers.  It's possible, if all works out, that we could get a travel date toward the end of February!  Merry Christmas Zoya....we are coming for you!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Today was by far the hardest day for me since we committed to adopt Zoya.  Waiting makes my heart ache.  Waiting is hard.  Waiting reminds me that I really have no control over this entire process.  A few things have happened lately that make me wonder what the heck God is thinking and why He can't let me in on His plan and His timing.  I realize that His plan is the best plan, but when I can't see what His plan IS, then I start to doubt it.  Faith is about trusting in the unknown and unseen.  My faith is shaken today.  I feel angry.  It would be a lot easier if I would just give in and not try to have control over the process of adopting Zoya.  But it's scary.  It's uncharted territory for me, to completely surrender all control, and most days I do my best.  But, today, I haven't done so well giving up the control. 

God always has a way of putting things into perspective for me when I start to feel bad for myself.  A great man named Derek Loux dedicated himself and his life to orphans.  He fathered the fatherless and hoped for a revolution in which orphans would be placed into loving families like never before.  He and his wife recently adopted three little boys with special needs from Eastern Europe, among other children they have adopted.  This morning, Derek was killed in an automobile accident, leaving behind his wife and children.  The family is in great need of prayer at this time.  You can visit the family blog at:  This terribly sad situation reminds me of two things: 1. the issues we are facing are not nearly as trying or difficult as what other people are going through at this very moment, and 2. God's plan is so big and grand that we may not yet be able to comprehend why things happen as they do.  Derek wrote an amazing post about Redemption as he was in the process of adopting the his three boys from Eastern Europe.  It is posted below.

"We are in the middle of adopting three special needs boys from an orphanage here. Two of the boys have Down Syndrome. Roman is high functioning, energetic and happy. Dimitri has serious mental retardation, failure to thrive, and though he is five years old, he is the size of a 1 year old. He has sores on his face, a distinct smell of death on him, and yells out if we try to do anything with him other than hold him. Because he has less ability to respond and learn, he naturally gets less attention and care from the orphanage workers in this world of limited resources. The harsh reality of the "survival of the fittest" principle is a life and death struggle that this little boy is losing fast. Our third boy Sasha, is a brilliant six year old who has Spina Bifida (the condition our son Josiah died from in 1996). He is like a learning sponge that can't get enough! He is happy and alert and thirsty for knowledge and experience. So with two of our boys, we get an immediate return on any investment we make. With Dimitri, there's not much immediate gratification. In fact, it's unknown when and if there will be a return at all. This is the kind of situation that makes the carnal, fallen, human reasoning think, "Why try? What's the point? What will this produce? What good will this do? Why not select a boy who has more potential? This looks like a lost cause.

Two days ago we drove for hours into the countryside to the village where Dimitri was born. We met with officials there and signed papers and answered their questions. We also went and saw Dimitri's house. The day had been long, we were still recovering from jet lag, I was beginning to really miss my six daughters at home and all the familiar things our fragile human hearts entangle themselves with in feeble attempts to feel secure. Sitting in the dark on our very long drive back to Novograd that night, the Holy Spirit began to whisper to my heart, and new understanding about redemption began to take shape.

I was thinking, "Man, adopting this little boy has been so much work. This is exhausting, expensive, uncomfortable … and it doesn't feel very rewarding right now." What am I doing in some little Soviet car in the dark, in the middle of rural Ukraine in frozen December, as the driver dodges cats and potholes? What if Dimitri doesn't improve at all? What if we get "nothing" out of this? … Ahhh, there it was; that dark, fallen, unreedemed, selfish human love, rooted in the tree of the knowledge of "good and evil". The love the Greeks called "erao" love. The love where we treat someone as precious and treasured for what we can get out of it. This is unlike "agapeo" love, the God kind of love that treats someone as treasured and precious for their good, not for my good. It's when I love a person in order to meet their needs, having no expectation of them meeting any of my needs. At a whole new level, God is working His kind of love into my weak heart, and He's using little Dimitri to do it.

On the drive home that night, the Lord whispered in my ear, "This is Redemption. Derek, do you know how far I travelled to get you and bring you back? I had to be separated from my Son, in order to get you, just like you are separated from your children in order to get these boys. Do you know how expensive it was for Me to purchase you? It cost me everything. Do you know how broken, sick, damaged, twisted, dirty, smelly, and hopeless you were? And at the end of it all, you had nothing to give me or add to me. I did it for you. I emptied myself and became nothing so that you could have it all. This is redemption.

My friends, adoption is redemption. It's costly, exhausting, expensive, and outrageous. Buying back lives costs so much. When God set out to redeem us, it killed Him. And when He redeems us, we can't even really appreciate or comprehend it, just like Dimitri will never comprehend or fully appreciate what is about to happen to him … but … he will live in the fruit of it. As his Daddy, I will never expect him to understand all of this or even to thank me. I just want to watch him live in the benefits of my love and experience the joys of being an heir in my family. This is how our heavenly "Papa" feels towards us.

Today, settle your busy heart down and rest in the benefits of redemption. Enjoy the fruits of His goodness, and stop trying to "pay Him back". You'll never get close you goofy little kid."

What amazing words.  It's not's not supposed to be.  Zoya too, will probably never understand or comprehend our undying love for her and what we've gone through to bring her home.  She shouldn't understand it.  Thats what makes it beautiful. Thank you Derek for setting an amazing example for others to follow and being an example of God's great love for all of us.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Which Would You Choose?

Which would you choose to receive?


Most of you would probably choose to receive the rose.  Afterall, its a sign of beauty and love.  Roses are viewed as one of nature's perfect creations.  Roses are popular.  They smell good.  They come in all sorts of beautiful, vibrant colors.  Everyone is happy to receive a rose. 

Most of us wouldn't choose the four-leaf clover when given a choice between it and the rose.  Most people overlook the uniqueness of the four-leaf clover.  The leaves represent faith, hope, love, and luck.  According to tradition, four leaf clovers bring good luck to their finders, especially if found accidentally. One in every 10,000 clovers is a four-leaf clover; they are very rare, yet we wouldn't choose to receive one because it's not as beautiful on the outside as a rose. 

Zoya is our four-leaf clover.  We have chosen to pass up the common rose because we stumbled upon a four-leaf clover and realized its worth, beauty, and uniqueness.  We have come to appreciate how lucky we are to have found such a rare four-leaf clover on this journey of life.  We have happily given up the idea of a rose's outside picture of beauty in order to receive something far greater.  Our four-leaf clover may not look like this world's idea of beauty.  She has slanted eyes, chubby fingers, a flatened nasal bridge, and a heart defect.  She will not bloom as quickly as all the roses in the world. Because she isn't a rose, many people will pass her and her uniqe gifts by and never even know it.  They will not seek her out, but when they stumble upon her, they will realize just how beautiful she is. 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Our First Choice

Along this journey, many people have had a hard time understanding why we would want to adopt a child with special needs.  Many people assumed or speculated that we must not be able to have biological children.  A lot of people, upon hearing our adoption news, would say something along the lines of "thats so wonderful, I didn't realize you couldn't have your own kids," or "how exciting" and then they would ask friends of our if we were unable to have our own children. Others have gone on to ask if we will ever have biological children.  In many people's eyes we are doing things backwards.  In God's eyes we are follwing his plan.  Somewhere along the way, I found a good answer to give to those wondering, "can't you have 'your own' children?"  I reply "adoption is our first choice."  When people realize adoption is our first choice, that almost opens it up for them to feel that they are all of a sudden allowed to judge.  They react differently than when they assumed we couldn't have biological children.  They say things they never would have said if we were adopting as a second choice.  It's almost like it if were our second choice, then it would be okay, but since it is our first choice, people have a very hard time understanding why we would choose to do this since we have the ability to have our "own" children.  Well Zoya is our "own" child.  She may not have been made from our genetic makeup, but she has been born in our hearts.  I don't see any difference other than that obvious fact.  This may not be the "old fashioned way" of having a family, but it's God's plan for our family and we will honor His plan.  He is the only audience we care to please.

Our FIRST choice is Zoya.  We already love her to the moon and back. 

Monday, December 7, 2009


Six years ago, God brought someone very special into our lives. Someone tiny in size, but big in spirit and life. That someone is Seth. I was introduced to Seth at a school open house I held for parents before school started one year. That year was my first year teaching life skills. Seth was starting kindergarten in my class. I remember when I met Seth he was like a tornado spinning through the room, into everying, excited, happy, and full of energy. His mom looked at me and said with a laugh, "Well, let me know if I owe you a new pair of tennis shoes from chasing him." I kind of laughed and thought, "What am I in for?" Little did I know, at that time, exactly what I was in for, and just how much Seth would change my life!

I felt a special connection to Seth from the moment I met him. I had the opportunity to be his teacher for 4 years! I got to know his family and they became like family to Shawn and I. Seth is special in so many ways. He holds the secret that most of us spend our entire lifetimes looking for. He knows how to live each day in the moment. He shows his love and affection without ever holding back, making sure others know how much he loves them. He loves everyone and never holds a grudge. He is full of joy and happiness, even when he's having a bad day. He has the ability to make others forget all about their stresses with his bright smile. He trusts that everything he needs will be provided for him from one day to the next. He never worries. He accepts everyone and never judges others. In so many ways, Seth is an inspiration to me, and to many people he meets. If only we all could live life as happy and as full as he does. There is no question that Seth's understanding of life surpases that of the wisest people. He gets it. He loves life every day and isn't afraid to show it.  Oh yah, Seth has Down Syndrome.

I always knew God put Seth in our lives for a reason, but hadn't fully realized his impact on our lives until recently. When we started looking into adopting a child with Down Syndrome our eyes were opened to how children in other countries, and even our own, are rejected in one way or another. In the U.S. many are aborted before they are ever given a chance. In other countries, many of them are locked away in mental institutions, never being able to use their gifts to light the world. When I learned that, all I could think of was Seth and how that could have been him in another time or place. What a shame it would have been had Seth never been given the opportunity to teach the world what life is truly about. And in a way, Seth has helped to save Zoya from the fate that would have been hers. He has inspired us to open our hearts to a child who might have otherwise been forgotten, left to die, and never given a chance to leave her footprints on this world. So at 11 years old, Seth has done more for this world than many of us can say we've done in our own lives. He has taught people unconditional acceptance and love, he has inspired many, and he has helped to move our hearts to save Zoya. Looking back, I can see God's footprints all over our adoption journey. Seth is one of those footprints!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Lasts and Firsts

Each day that passes, I think, that is the LAST September 15th, or November 25th, or December 1st, that Zoya will ever spend alone without her family. Every day I picture that specific day next year and wonder what we will be doing with our baby girl. On Thanksgiving as we sat down to eat all I could think about was Zoya and how this will be her LAST Thanksgiving alone in an orphanage and how next year will be her FIRST Thanksgiving with her family who loves her so much. We even talked about how next Thanksgiving Zoya will be sitting at the table with us. Next Thanksgiving we will sit down to eat and remember our days without Zoya and her days without us. We will be so thankful that we have each other because she needs us and we need her. This year as we were eating I imagined Zoya sitting to my right smiling and throwing mashed potatoes. I wanted her there so bad that it hurt my heart in a way I've never felt before. I wanted her there so bad that when I closed my eyes for a moment, I could see and feel her there with us. I imagined looking at Shawn and smiling at each other as we realized this amazing dream has come true. I imagine reminiscing about how we were so scared to step out on faith and take this journey, but also knowing it was the most amazing leap of faith we've ever taken. Imagining what life will be like from one year from each day, when we are together with our Zoya, makes the pain of not having her here sting a tiny bit less.

As we decorated for Christmas all I could think of was Zoya. This will be the LAST Christmas she will have to wake up alone without hugs and kisses. Next Christmas will be her FIRST Christmas seeing Christmas trees with lights and decorations. It will be her FIRST Christmas knowing the love of a family. It will be her FIRST Christmas feeling like she is part of our family.

As each day passes, we have more and more reason to celebrate because every day that passes is one less day Zoya will be stuck in a lonely crib longing for her family.

This year will be the LAST for so many sad things in Zoya's life. Next year will be the FIRST for so many happy things. As each day goes by, the waiting gets harder and our hearts ache more with a desire to have Zoya home, but the realization that Zoya is one day closer to being home with us fills our hearts to the point of overflow.