Monday, April 19, 2010


We just arrived in Kiev it's a little after midnight.  We are staying in a really nice apartment in Kiev on the 15th floor! It is a breathtaking view of the city!  We have super fast FREE internet and I have missed it!  I can upload pictures so fast!! Wahoo!  Zoya slept on the train from 7:30 until we woke her up at 10:45pm when we got to Kiev.  Once we got into the apartment she came ALIVE! She was boucing all over the bed like a maniac and cracking up! I think she likes us :) Below is what I wrote on the train about our Gotcha Day!

I don’t really think there are adequate words to describe our Gotcha Day, but I will try. We had been dreaming of this day since we first saw her picture. We tried to dream up what it would be like. It wasn’t anything I could ever imagine. Some parts were better, and one part was not quite what I thought it would be. We got to Zoya’s orphanage at about 2:50…we just couldn’t wait for 3:00. On the walk to the orphanage I had huge butterflies in my stomach. I was thinking, I can’t believe this is it, I can’t believe after all these hurdles, we will walk in, get her, and walk out of the gates and nobody will try to stop us. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop as it has so many times in this process. We walked up the stairs to Zoya’s groupa for the last time. It felt so surreal. I had this urge to run in and get her fast and run out before anyone could stop us and tell us we had to do some more paperwork, or the judge changed his mind, or something was wrong with a document. The walk up the stairs seemed so long. I can see it all in slow motion.

When we walked in, there was only one caregiver there and it was nap time. We had never heard the orphanage so quiet. She woke Zoya up and brought her out to us in nothing but a diaper. They have to keep their clothes for the other orphans, so we knew to bring our own, but to see Zoya brought out with everything that belonged to her (which was nothing but the diaper on her bum) hit me pretty hard. We got out her beautiful pink and white dress, matching jacket, tshirt, tights, jeans, hat, and coat to start getting her ready. She was so smiley. She kept waving goodbye to the room and goodbye when anyone walked in or out. We put on her tights and her tshirt and then her dress. I had this feeling she just knew what was going on. I felt like she had been waiting for this for so long, and so had we. We took some pictures and I oooohed and aaahhhed at how beautiful she looked in her pretty dress and her big bow. To put our own clothes on her made us feel more like she was ours. To start making decisions, big and……small in this case, about our daughter, felt good. We asked the caregiver if we could take a picture of her with Zoya and she said no. We did convince her to take a picture of the three of us. That is our third picture of the three of us together. We have over 1,300 pictures of her and only 3 of us all together. Anyways, we stood there thinking, okay, we just walk out? We had brought chocolates and champagne at the suggestion of our facilitator so we were anticipating some more people to show up for Zoya’s big day but that did not happen. We set the chocolates and champagne on the desk, put her coat and hat on and just kinda looked at each other like okay, we just go? This is the part that was not anything like I thought it would be. No big party. Nobody hugging Zoya goodbye. Nobody wishing her luck with her new family. Nobody wanting a picture with her. Nobody caring as much as I thought they would. Why would it be any different? She was an orphan to them, a sick child, a broken kid, an unworthy member of society, an “invalid,” she had nothing to offer them. Why would it be any different?

I held Zoya as we walked out the door, never looking back. We walked down the stairs and got to the outside door. Shawn walked out first but I paused for a moment before crossing the threshold. The threshold we had crossed so many times…but this time it meant a new life for Zoya, a new life for us, rebirth, a chance to start fresh in this world. I took a deep breath and crossed over with tears in my eyes. Shawn and I just kept looking at each other…but looking at each other in a new way…not just as husband and wife, but this time as new parents…parents who knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that they’d do anything for this little angel....parents who realized all the stress in the past and the stress to come was and will be worth it. We continued walking toward the gates. We had walked by the gates so many times on our daily walks with Zoya. We had joked about just running outta there with her and never coming back but Shawn would always say, “we wouldn’t get very far,” which was true. This time as the ugly green gates got closer, we knew we’d be busting through them and never going back. As we got closer both of us got a little choked up. As soon as we crossed over, I got very teary eyed and was immediately filled with so many emotions. A big sigh of relief that we had finally lived out this part of the journey and were holding our angel in our arms and nobody could take her away, a kind of love I’ve never felt, sadness that Zoya spent so much time there, guilt for all the other orphans we were leaving behind, happiness that she never had to go back, determination to be the best Moma Zoya could ever have, and thankfulness that we followed our hearts and God’s will to come all this way to have our hearts forever entwined with Zoya’s heart. The gates represented the crossing over into a new life for Zoya, and for us. On the new side of the gate, Zoya gets another chance…possibly what very likely could have been her only chance to live. Simply live. That in and of itself is worth it all. But not only does she get a chance to live, she gets a chance to be loved and valued without anyone wanting anything in return from her, who doesn’t deserve that? God loves her so much he convinced us to travel almost 5,000 miles to rescue her on his behalf. The new side of the gate also represented a new life for Shawn and I. A chance to start over and make a difference. An opportunity to be changed forever for the better by this beautiful little soul. I few tears rolled from under my sunglasses down my cheeks.

We walked to our apartment with her and the first thing we did was let her crawl and roll all around the floor. She was loving it! She had never been allowed on the floor at the orphanage so this was so cool for her. We changed her clothes and packed our last things away. We took a ride through the city and got on the train where we are now. Zoya is sleeping soundly next to me and Shawn across from me. My heart is full and all I can think is I can’t believe we are worthy of this gift.

It is so good to be with Zoya outside of the orphanage! Thanks for all of your prayers and support that have gotten us this far! We are so lucky to have such great family and friends! Now if the skies will just all be reopened we will be good to go!


  1. I am overjoyed!!!! I'm so happy for all of you. You all are glowing!

  2. Sarah,

    You could write a book your writing is beautiful and has made me excited to check your blog every day. Your Gotcha Day had me crying at my computer. Thank you for sharing your journey. Safe travels.

    Kim and Mathew


  4. Such a beautiful experience. That pictures say it all! I can't wait to watch her grow up and learn so many new things. God is good and I KNOW He will bring you home safely. I feel so blessed to have been able to pray for you and share in this amazing experience in a little way.

  5. Blessings and safe journey home!! We can't wait to finally meet the beautiful Zoya. Love you -- Bren and Kathy

  6. We love you guys! Amazing post, amazing pictures. Prayers for safe travel (and peaceful travel with Zoya)...Can't wait for you to get home!!!

  7. Today I woke up depressed and upset. My friend said something about hope and I said what's that? Then I read this post and I tell you what Sarah I have hope again, a little but still I have it. When you said about how much God cared about Zoya to have you travel 5000 miles to get her that just was so amazing to me.
    God is still the God who called me to this journey so delays can not stop Him thank you for helping me move forward and continue.

    Be blessed. Congrats again!!!!

  8. My eyes are filled with tears of joy for all three of you. Your description of walking thru those doors and then seeing the picture is breath taking. You're right it must be an incredible feeling to walk thru them knowing that each one of your lives is forever changed for the better no matter what comes you will face it is a united family.

    I watched the news tonight the Brits are sending in their navy to help people get to Spain to fly out of there. I can't imagine the waiting. I pray that you will be able to get home soon with your sweet little girl.

  9. Dear Sarah, Shawn and Angel Zoya, Your gotcha day has been so emotional for your readers, so bitter sweet for all, the pic of you coming out the door was so telling, but when Shawn is raising her up, WOW! You two never cease to amaze me. Your journals have made this all so real for us. Just imagining Zoya enjoying her new found freedom on the floor and jumping on the bed, how wonderful for this little girl to have you two for her parents. We are ALL so very proud. Stay safe in your travels, many prayers continue to be with you. Love to all, Debbie N

  10. Wow! What a day! I can't think of anyone more deserving of this little angel Zoya than the two of you...Can't wait to meet my new little neighbor. Hugs to all, Liz

  11. I don't think I have ever cried so many happy tears in my life until now. Everytime I read your new posts I am filled with overwhelming happiness for ALL of you. God has blessed you all, he truly is an awesome God. Praying for safe travels :o) Kris

  12. Beautifully written Sarah. We are SOOOOO thrilled for you,Shawn and Zoya! Congratulations on your daughter! Party of 3 Now!

  13. so happy for all of you!!!
    good luck today at the embassy!!

  14. We are here, too! And you are in the apartment we had when we first got to Kiev. Tip: Keep the lid to the toilet shut ;)!! Isn't the view awesome? What are your plans for today? We go to the Embassy at 2 to pick up Alina's visa. We are scheduled to fly out tomorrow. Anxiously waiting for news about whether or not that will happen.

    BTW, our Gotcha Day was very similar. I could have written almost exactly what you did...isn't this a crazy ride?

    CONGRATS to all of look so happy! I hope we can meet up!

  15. Sarah, you are a gifted author!!!It is so moving! Yes, our GOD cares!!!
    Thank you for sharing from this "historical" day. The pictures speak by themeselves!! What a JOY!!!
    ZOYA is finally YOURS and FREE! Free to sleep, when ever she feels to do so, (no catching anymore :) ) free to explore so many new things...!

  16. Love reading your story. I wish someone could convey to beautiful Zoya that she is about the luckiest Ukrainian in the world to have such wonderful parents. Wait until she gets to Erie, she won't know what "hit" her. Good luck today and the rest of the week.

    Sue and Kevin M.

  17. Thank you for sharing this happy day with us! Your pictures are beautiful! :)


  18. So happy for you all, congratulations!!!!!