Tuesday, April 19, 2011


A year ago today we walked out Zoya's first "home" with her in our arms. Today has been somewhat emotional for me looking back on that day. Who am I kidding? This entire month has been emotional for me as I've relived each emotion and feeling from a year ago. You can read about our Gotcha Day
HERE and HERE (parts 1 and 2). If you haven't read the gotcha day story, you will probably want to or else this post won't make a whole lot of sense.

A year ago today Zoya's life drastically changed. As I'm learning that Zoya is a cautious child who seeks out safety and comfort all the time, I can't help but wonder how in the world she did so well with us taking her from the only home she had ever known. After coming home from our overnight trip, I realized even more how much Zoya appreciates home (as she asked for home and Mya several times over the two days). She is like her mama and prefers to be home where she feels comfortable and safe.  (Although she did pretty great on the trip...more to come later).  In my gotcha day post I wrote about how I had a feeling that Zoya just knew what was happening. Looking back I totally see that God gave Zoya a peace that surpassed all understanding, just as we had prayed. There is no other way to explain it.  Sure there were hard moments (like the super long flights and layovers where I just about cried right along with her), but for the most part Zoya was happy and excited to leave with us. I remember our facilitator telling us that she had never seen a child so bonded to her mother as soon as Zoya was to me. She was stuck like glue and not much has changed :) (well except for those times she wants to assert her independence and would rather not hold my hand...tear...)  She knew I would keep her safe and sought me for that safety and comfort from the beginning. Could it be because not one other human ever showed her a fraction of that love and attention? I fear that is part of it. She knew I was her mama, and Shawn her daddy from day 1.

Although my gotcha-day post was very happy and mostly positive, I must admit I have some half-cooked emotions that are less than happy about that day. Yes I was thrilled to finally be starting our life together with our sweet girl, yes I was thrilled to take her away from that place, yes I was more than thrilled to be returning home with her.....but a somewhat somber emotion is also mixed in there. When I look back on that day and see myself, it's almost like seeing a kid waiting for her friends to show up at her birthday party, but nobody ever came. Typing that makes me want to cry. I still cannot believe nobody even cared to say goodbye to her. Yes I can believe it because it happened, but I don't want to believe that not one person there cared enough to come and tell her goodbye. They all knew when she was leaving. I still remember the caretaker bringing Zoya out pretty much carrying her by her armpits, positioning Zoya so that she was faced away from her and about a foot away from her own body. As if she were not even a child. Zoya was only wearing a diaper....all that she owned. We worked so very hard compiling paperwork and jumping through hoops and busting through red tape...trying to prove we were worthy to be parents to a child these people couldn't have cared less about. Am I supposed to tell her that one day if she asks about her first home? Am I supposed to tell her nobody even came to say goodbye to her after almost 2 years of knowing her? I could not tell her those things even if somebody had a gun to my head. I think about the pain it causes me and I could never be responsible for making her feel a fraction of the sadness I feel about it. Maybe I will tell her what I tell myself....and that is...maybe the caretakers did really love her so much that they couldn't bear to say goodbye. Sounds like a crock right? Maybe so, but a piece of my heart is still holding onto that "maybe."

But of course, that is not all I remember, that is just a part of what this day reminds me of. This day is such a happy day because it is the day Zoya physically joined our family. I remember the excitement and butterflies in my stomach like it was yesterday. I remember the calm and peace that came over all three of us as we dressed Zoya to leave the orphanage forever. Never have I been so convicted of anything in my life as I was of becoming Zoya's mama. That day I knew with all my heart that we were made to be Zoya's parents. I was a dancer on stage ready to dance the best performance of my life.  I felt no reservations, no fears...only excitement and peace. I don't remember much about the day before we took Zoya out of the orphanage, but I can see ourselves in slow motion from the moment we walked into the orphanage all the way through the moment we walked out the orphanage gate with our precious daughter. Each second is drawn out and there is not one thing I have forgotten about those 20 minutes it took to walk in and walk out and all the emotions that transpired in between. Maybe in time the memories will fade, but today it is as clear as if it happened yesterday. A year later I'm still processing the magnitude of Zoya's story and how the heck we were worthy enough to be a part of it.

April 19, 2010

Today, April 19, 2011 (A year later)

Happy Gotcha Day Zoya girl!!! I love you more than you'll ever know.


  1. I love both pictures. I remember reading your gotcha post a year ago. In some ways it seems like she has been a part of your lives forever and in reality it only being a year just blows my mind.

    So glad you guys had a great getaway together. :)

  2. I'm so sorry you still have to deal with the emotions of what little zoya had to deal with. It's hard to think that they did not say goodbye but remember that you were the plan! Zoya was waiting for you. As sad as it sounds the caretakers have a job and maybe being detached from the raw emotion of the situation is the only way for them to get through each day. We can't change the past but we sure can change the future. Zoya is blessed to have you as her mother and you are blessed to have her as your daughter :) win win situation

  3. I have tears in my eyes reading your post. You are so lucky to have Zoya, and she is so lucky to have you! She will never, ever be "less than" ever again.

  4. littlelola- I'd like to think maybe it's just a job and being detached from the raw emotion of the situation is the reason nobody said goodbye, but being there you realize that people in that country really do not care about the orphans. They just don't. They think we're nuts for wanting to make one of them our child. Our facilitator even told us he thought we were making a mistake by adopting a child with special needs. They just don't get it. So sad. There is one caretaker who I felt cared about Zoya a little bit and understood our hearts, but that is so rare. The entire orphan crisis just breaks my heart daily.

  5. I had goosebumps and tears in my eyes as I read this. Sharing your story hopefully will help more families have gotcha days! Of course Zoya is blessed to have you guys as parents but really you are the ones that are blessed. God choose you guys and I believe Zoya was at peace when she saw you guys knowing you would be her forever family! I can't believe it's been a year, I remember reading about your day and thinking that will be me someday. Where does the time go? I bet you are thinking that more than I am, watching Zoya grow into a little girl.

  6. Ive been following you guys for ages now, check in most days to have a read, big love and hugs to you all, from kim in new zealand.

  7. Cute winter coats Sarah! Who cares how cold it was...you got a good pic! hehe. anyway where are the pics of miss independance wearing her handmade dress? i can't wait to see her in it!
    And who cares if Ukraine thinks you're nuts we all are! you have her now and she will always be loved now.

  8. Happy Gotcha Day! Looking forward to the 1 year anniversary of Finally HOME Day! Liz

  9. Its hard to imagine that a child isnt cherished...but from what I've seen...she's getting caught up :)

    Brooke Annessa

  10. I have been consumed by all of the little faces on Reeces Rainbow! I just have so much respect for the families that have saved the lives of the innocent children. I am so glad I came across your blog. Your video is the sweetest thing! Zoya is amazing and I am so happy that you have each other :) You Rock... and so does Zoya

  11. Happy Gotcha Day, Zoya! Sarah's will be coming soon:)

  12. Just look at the difference of the 2 pictures in a year...The smile on Zoya today, the brightness in her eyes. I don't think she'll ever worry about her first home, cause she has you and Shawn and that is all she is going to remember years from now. She's one happy little girl and I know she completes her hearts.

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  14. Hi Sarah! I just now noticed that you asked for the link to my blog on the zerkle blog where you shared your adoption story...sorry! Here it is:
    Happy Gotcha Day!!! Our's is coming up in less than 2 months for our son...I understand the emotions you speak of. Your daughter is beautiful...God was so good and merciful to bring your family together : ) Please stay in touch! -Sandi