Friday, April 30, 2010

"Nevers" Become "Firsts"

As I sit here reflecting on the day, I am thinking about how Zoya is experiencing so many firsts that quite possibly could have been "nevers."  Many children in Zoya's orphanage, and orphanages across the world, will experience "nevers," while Zoya experiences her "firsts."  A number of people have said to just forget the other get Zoya out and never look simply enjoy what we have with focus on the positive.  Of course we are so grateful that Zoya is home with us and that God has used us to save her life and allow us to help replace her "nevers" with "firsts," but the memories of the children left behind won't fade. Yes it's only been a week that we've been home, but I have a feeling the memories and visions of what we saw and the many children without homes and families will be just as fresh in my mind 5, 10, 15, 50 years from now.  I sometimes want the memories to fade because it would take a burden off my shoulders.  Mostly though, I feel like I should have this heavy weight on my shoulders...this feeling about all the children left behind, well, this feeling is nothing compared to what the children who are left behind feel.  As Zoya experiences so many firsts, I can't help but remember the children who will NEVER experience any of these joyous moments. 

We took Zoya to Presque Isle today.  Her first trip to "the beach" with trees, sunshine, sand, and a beautiful lake.  As we were strolling along I thought, every single child in this world deserves a day at the beach.  Every single child in this world, regardless of ability, or "worldy" worth, deserves to feel the sand in between their toes.  Every single child in this world, no matter their "baggage" deserves to hear the birds chirping and listen to the waves crashing.  Every single child in this world deserves to hear and feel the words, "I love you."  Every single child in this world, at least, deserves to have a home and a loving family to call their own.  No child should have to yearn for/wish for/hope for love.  Every child in this world deserves love.  It breaks my heart to know that so many children, 147 MILLION, to be exact, are waiting, just waiting, to experience the love they deserve.  And it breaks my heart even more to know that so very many of those children will NEVER get that chance.  It is as simple as that.  They will die never knowing love.

I know adoption is not for everybody.  But if you are feeling the call toward adoption, stop with the excuses.  Trust.  Take a leap of faith.  It is not all glorious and storybook-ish, no, I won't pretend it is.  But at the end of the day if you can put aside your worries and excuses, you can change one child's "nevers" to his "firsts."  I prayed that God would give me His eyes, and He has given me His eyes for the orphan crisis.  I'm trying to give you my eyes.  I'm sort of like the middle man, but if this blog pushes even one person to take the leap and bring home an orphan, then it is all worth it.  But I won't stop at just one orphan. I won't put it all behind me.  I won't forget the other children.  I won't ever be the same. 

For Zoya though, her "nevers" are finally becoming "firsts."  Because of us? Because we are wonderful people for giving this child life? NO! Because God loves Zoya so much.  Because He moved mountains in our path and cast them into the sea.  Because He showed us what life for Zoya would be like without us.  Because we took a risk and listened to the call, we stopped with all the excuses, we put our faith in God, we said Yes God.  That's ALL we did.  He did the rest.  And you might just be surprised with how much of a gift this child will be to you.  So not only are Zoya's nevers becoming firsts, but our nevers (had we not listened to the call) are becoming our firsts. 

With that said, we are in awe of all of Zoya's firsts.  It is amazing to see the world which we've lived in so long, in a new way, through her eyes.  Zoya has shown us a little bit of heaven here on Earth.  Her innocence, her joy, her happiness, with all she has been through, are teaching us so much.  Watching her hear the birds and turn and point at them, listening to her laugh when she sees us dancing like fools, seeing her big eyes looking at the world in amazement and wonder, remind us we've really been missing a lot.  We are laughing at ourselves more, taking unimportant parts of life a little less serious, taking time to express our love for others, prioritizing, and being thankful for all that we have in this life. We are so lucky to have Zoya.  We are so blessed.  We are so unworthy of this gift, but God loves us and He loves Zoya and he created our family, knowing what each of us could bring to one another, long before we could have ever imagined.  We are so grateful.

Here are some pictures from our trip to Presque Isle today.

This picture was taken on the car ride down.  Zoya is saying, "Feed the Poor" haha not really but she looks like it! She loves toys that are not really toys...such as a cool whip bowl!

I love this picture because she is always holding on to my hair like it's a rope! So sweet :)

And I thought the next two pictures were pretty cool.  I love light and dark in pictures...and we have a ton from Ukraine that will have to be a post all their own.  Light has followed us through this journey and it continues to do so.  You might chalk it up to bad photography, but I think it's more than that! 

Look at how the light radiates from the ground UPWARD in both of these pictures.

This one you can actually see the light surrounding Zoya's body.  I think the clouds look like an angel wing too!


  1. Looks like an awesome family day! You're right, they ALL deserve it. I watch Artiom doing his 'firsts' too and its impossible not to think about the ones left behind. It breaks my heart.
    Thank God Zoya has a family, and thank God you have Zoya!!

  2. Well said, Sarah.

    Praying for those left behind.


    (we're so thankful for the lovely day that your family had)

  3. Ah, never let me down...another beautiful posting and photos just as wonderful. You do have the light all around you, and it shines from within. Angels are watching over you and Zoya. Love, Liz

  4. love it all that you said and the sweet pictures wow she looks so happy! I looked back at the pictures from the first time you guys ever saw her and you can just see how much she has changed she doesn't even look like the same girl the blank look went to a smile of love.

  5. great pics! cant wait to see her sunday!

  6. Oh Sarah, there are so many things in this post that I want to comment on...I can't get to them all here, but we have seen and experienced each and every feeling and emotion you mention in this post. We saw life through a "different" lens when Bridget was born, and again--even more so--when Alina arrived in our lives (our eyes were opened to the life of an orphan with special needs and many other things while in Ukraine).

    The deep commitment, the recognition of LIGHT in our lives, the re-prioritizing, feeling so has all happened here, too.

    I have much more to say in response...maybe an email or a blog post...

    but I wanted to let you know that our girls & our stories are forever linked...not just because of where they were or the fact that we were in Ukraine at the same time.

    There was a mistake on Alina's paperwork. On one of the documents, her new name was listed as Zoya Caroline...

  7. Wonderful pictures of Zoya's first trip to the beach. She has already been there more times than we have this year! Thats how you can tell she wasn't born in Erie :-)

    Thanks for keeping us up to date in your adventures, good luck with her medical issues, see you at sailing.

    Sue and Kevin M.

  8. Zoya,

    How did you like the sand? It is quite an experience isn't it?

    Nice wheels girl.

    Look at her nuzzled into Daddy's arms at the beach. That says it all doesn't it. She found love and knows that she is loved..... it shows!

    The scrapbook of Zoya's life with you is going to be full of wonderful moments.

    So happy for all of you.

  9. HI Sarah, I also wanted to tell you that in addition to Zoya liking to play with things that aren't toys, she might like to play in a kitchen cupboard that you could empty out and she could hide in. My kids loved to go in and shut the door and hide there. I even used some duct tape on the inside so they could shut it from there. Sue M.

  10. Hi - we are a RR family, heading over to Ukraine in less than 2 weeks & I just began to read your blog over the past few days. What a beautiful little girl Zoya is!! Congratulations!

    I was excited by your post today, because there's a Presque Isle where I used to live in MI - but it looks like you're in PA? Anyway, I am really enjoying reading about your trip & Zoya.

  11. Looks like such a great day! I am so glad you get firsts! what was her reaction to the sand? Have a beautiful week.

    Be blessed

  12. I am so glad that your blog has gone public again :) When I saw the picture of you and Zoya on RR I was dying to read your blog and see more pictures, but it was private then. THANK YOU for bringing it back and for sharing your beautiful daughter!! Your family will be blessed beyond your wildest imagination by adding Miss Zoya to your family. Thanks for this post too.... I really needed to hear that!

  13. OMG Sarah!!! If I could get my husband to read and comprehend this post......

  14. What a wonderful post! I check in to RR's website and pray for the children listed there. I am so thankful God chose you to save Zoya. I'm still praying that one day God will move my husband's heart to save one of the children left behind.