Adopting Grace

The journey to bring our little girl home

Browsing Posts published by Philip

Look Ma, No Hands…


So, Leeza learned a new trick this week.  Apparently the exercises are helping a little with her abs… And the AFOs are doing their thing with her feet.  Last Tuesday or so the cracked herself up at the dishwasher with Kasia by accidentally balancing for a few seconds.  She quickly decided that she liked that and tried periodically to repeat the feet.  Well, today is Saturday and she has become quite the pro.  Don’t believe me, check out the video below.  I will apologize for the darkness of the video.  Hopefully the next one will be better.  Regardless, Leeza is pretty sure she is going to get this walking thing down, and she is determined enough that I believe her.  Here is to getting one little step closer!

Here We Go


We had Leeza’s MRI session today and found our her hydrocephalus that ‘didn’t require surgery’ (according to doc’s from her country) DOES require surgery and fairly quickly. The fluid in her brain has caused the cavities in her brain to become incredibly large, which in turn has misshapen her skull (which we knew) and not left much room for her brain to grow. Had this been corrected early on the needed shunt would not have been too big of a deal, but because it’s gone on this long she will require a special shunt that can be adjusted as the pressure in her brain changes. A regular shunt would allow the pressure to change quickly which would cause brain damage. So, we go with the programmable shunt and a week-long hospital stay later this month. All this has to be done before we can schedule the back surgery, which will be sometime early next year.

All of this includes risks, but oddly enough I don’t think either of us is really conerned about it right now (and Leeza has no idea what we’re saying so she’s fine with it all!). Without the surgeries she faces certain brain damage and a shortened life. And it’s all totally out of our control. But God knew she would need this. He put us within 45 minutes of the only pediatric neurosurgeon in the state and one of the best in the country. He covered 100% of her adoption expenses (through His church) so that we aren’t totally scared of the medical bills we know are coming. He scheuduled this first surgery during the time that Philip’s whole company gives them a week off each year and when family might be more able to come help. And he brought her home in time for so much damage to be prevented. In fact, with this shunt we have a very good likelihood of seeing substantial improvements in cognitive abilities. While it’s certainly not what we had planned for our Christmas break, it is what God had planned. So, here we go!

Quick timeline of what’s coming soon:

1. Orthopedic evaluation next Friday

2. Court date to readopt Leeza in the US, Dec. 23rd

3. Shunt surgery,  Dec. 27th

4. Back surgery 3-6 months after shunt

Splish Splash I went to Bed


Leeza enjoying a bath and washing her hair.

Yep, those were of several highlights today.  Last night went much better with Leeza only awake for an hour around 2am.  She did wake up at 5:30 which made my shower a little interesting but we survived.  Afterward, Leeza had a bath and loved it.  She obviously knew what to do so it wasn’t a first, but getting to stay in the water and play was an obvious treat.  I made her get out after about an hour and a half and she was okay with that.

The morning was spent entertaining a four year-old that didn’t have clothes warm enough to go walking outside.  It was a challenge but we had a good time.  I made Leeza lay down for about 20 minutes for nap before we hit up the Embassy one more time.  She screamed for 18 minutes of it and then settled down.  At the Embassy we received Leeza’s visa and all the needed document then headed back to the apartment.

For dinner, we walked down to T.G.I Fridays to have dinner with three other RR families.  We had a good time talking and Leeza ate and played in the chair next to me for almost a full two hours without fuss, complaint, or accident.  She really was amazing and actually like the chicken fingers.  Oddly enough, ketchup and french fries are still no-gos.

We walked back home around 8pm. and had Leeza undressed, change, and pajama’d by 8:20pm.  I told her it was time to go to bed and she started that little pout / whimper again.  I picked her up, tickled her, and told her it was going to be okay.  We went into the bedroom and sat on the bed to sing through a stanza of  “Jesus Loves Me.”  Upon asking if she wanted to sing more she simply said no and patted the bed.  I sat her down and she crawled under the covers and waited for me to get to the other side.  We gave each other a kiss and she was sound asleep by 8:30pm.

So, she is asleep and I need to be.  Our ride to the airport arrives in 5.5 hours.  God has been gracious so far and I am praying He continues tomorrow.  Assuming all flights are on time we will be one big family again by 7pm CDT on Thursday the 14th of October.


This is real, isn’t it?


If Leeza could speak English I am sure she would have asked the above questions several times by now.  In case you are curious, Leeza woke up scared and crying every 15 minutes last night until she finally fell into a deep sleep at 2am.  That would be great except that we had to get up at 4:30am to drive to the airport.  She did amazingly well at being woken up and eating breakfast.  She also enjoyed talking to Forest in Russian.  he had stopped by to pick up keys and help  me get everything down stairs.  (Thank you again Forrest and sorry for leaving to to clean up.)

The Trip to the airport went great and we played in the seats until it was time to board.  She enjoyed the plane as well,  at least up until it took off.  That seemed to unnerve her a little, but only for a short time.  As soon as we could take off her seat-belt she was in my lap, looking out of the window, and enjoying to fresh airplane h’orderves.   She was a little frustrated with the landing because she had to set down with her belt on.  Of course that was a trick because she had figured out how to take it off by herself during the flight.  Go figure.

The drive to the Embassy took a little while.  That combined with taxi cab driving and a very very very very hot car (direct sun, coats, and the driver had the heat on)  we had the joy of seeing those afore mentioned h’orderves show back up again.  Well, I fortunately had a change of clothes in the backpack and got to do some wash this evening.  Oh well, we will learn from that one and try not to repeat it.  Oddly enough, the driver and Niko both said that it happens a lot.

So, we met the Parker’s (another RR family) and had our first Embassy appointment and went and had Leeza’s medical check up.  After that we were taken to our apartment.  We went for a walk, which Leeza enjoyed, and found some more diapers, dinner, breakfast for tomorrow, and a snack or two.  Leeza still won’t eat much.  I am guessing when she really gets hungry she will.  So far, juice and bananas seem to be holding her over, although she did eat some of the chicken we had for lunch.

So, what you are all curious about…. Was tonight any better.  Well, yes and no.  We played, laughed, and explored the apartment for a while.  She started getting quiet about 5:30pm and I could see that looming question mark behind her eyes.  She proceeded to put the cap on her water bottle, grab her coat and scoot over to the door saying, “Let’s go.”  (in Russian of course)  I walked over her and asked where?  She answered quickly with a very confident, “Groupa.”  She was done and ready to go back to her friends and care takers.  A soft ‘neyt’ (no) with a kiss and hug did little to evade the avalanche of emotion and tears.  Fortunately they didn’t last long and we played honk the nose with some good belly laughs.

By 6:15pm she was crashing, but determined that she wasn’t sleeping here.  She only had 2 hours of good sleep last night and no nap today.  So, I decided it was just time.  I picked her up, changed her into her pajamas and laid her in bed.  As expected, she screamed and tried several time to crawl out of bed.  It took about 10 minutes for her to decide that the Papa laying beside her was all the comfort available.  She slowly inched her way over to my chest and was sound asleep in 5 minutes.  That was at about 6:30pm and it is now 8:15pm; not a sound from her yet.

So, the Embassy documents are complete and I believe all is in order.  We have or second appointment, or exit interview as they call it at 2pm tomorrow.  (6am for you timezone challenged. :-) )  I am expecting all to go well and we will head home the following morning.  It is surreal to think that I have been here for almost two months.  It doesn’t even seem possible.  Then again, I have a  four year-old daughter that I can not understand or speak to who feels like she has always been there and is as much a part of me as any of my children.  Six months ago that was a far fetched an idea as living in Ukraine for two months.

God truly has a way of stirring things up.  Doesn’t He.  I was thinking about this whole process today.  Intellectually I explain with the best of them what it meant for God to give you the desires of your heart.  You know what I am talking about, the whole, he doesn’t give you what you want, but rather he gives you THE want.  I have never experienced that so vividly than through this process.  We were ready every step of the way for God to say, “this is far enough.”  Yet with each step we took the understanding that were that to happen, we would be loosing a child, a daughter, not just the chance to adopt.  I is amazing how those want, those desires have crept into my heart almost without being notices.  Oh, and how good, loving, and faithful is God to grant those desires.  Simple AWESOME!

A New Beginning…


So, today was simply nuts.  As much as I would love to give every little detail, I have a plane to catch in the morning and have to be up is a little under four hours.  So I will leave you with a summery; done in my best play-by-play fashion.  We will start with something you have all been waiting for though :-)

The day start with Violetta picking me up at 9am.  We go get Leeza to take her passport phone.  Her eyes are the size of silver dollars as we drive through town and she doesn’t say a word the entire time.  Head over to the other side of town to get some documents once the photo is taken just to drive back to pick up the photo, about 30 minutes later.  Then Leeza gets drop back off at the orphanage for story time while we keep running.

We first head to the passport agency just to find out there is a mistake in our request document.  Oh, and the back were we have to pay decided not to open today.  We drive around two town for a little while to find another branch and then head to the Notary for a new request document but can’t get one because Kim isn’t here to sign as well.  Back to the passport agency for the original in hopes the Notary can modify it.  Back to the Notary were good news awaits.  Back to the passport agency with corrected document.

We are told the passport will be ready at 2:30.  Violetta gets a call saying she needs to scan in our new documents and send them to Kiev for translation.  Oddly enough, someone else has always done this and she has no idea where to get documents scanned. (think about it for a minute, baring you having a scanner in you home, do you?)  Well, I just happened to notice the Ferdon’s had a scanner so I give them a call.  Violetta looks a little shocked when I tell her I can get it done, but I do.  (Thanks Forrest!!)

So, documents are scanned, we have gifts for the orphanage workers, so off to get the passport and head to the bank (which just opened from break) to transfer the donation funds to the orphanage.  Everything goes smoothly at the first branch (yep, we have to go to two) and every thing goes smoothly at the second… Until they realize the power has been off for street construction all day and they have no idea when it will be back on.  They did all the paperwork, but none of their cashier equipment works to actually give me the money.  So, they ask we we can come back at 5:30 to check if the power is back on.  I said I would if I had to while saying a quick prayer.  The power turns on before I can finish my answer and we get the cash and head back to the orphanage.

We get back at about 4:30pm and say thank you to all the staff and let them say their good-byes.  We then stop by the play room to say bye to all our new friends.  Once this is done we head down to the car to go back to the apartment.

Leeza really enjoys the car ride and seeing new people at the apartment (Valerie and her daughter were just heading to the train station).  We Skype Kim and the other kids and enjoy chatting.  Then Leeza enjoys seeing her videos on the blog.   At about 6:20pm we head down stairs to meet the Ferdon’s who were taking us out to celebrate.   Walking outside I see the wide eyes of wonderment turn to panic and fear.  I am wondering if she has ever been outside at night?  She calms down with a few whimpers and all is well again when we get in the Van.

We have a great time at dinner and loved the company.  Leeza was the star of the evening and did very well, even if she didn’t eat anything.  Once back at the apartment I see the same fear and confusion when I get her ready for bed.  I can tell this is completely foreign to her but can’t do much to relieve her anxiety.   Once Leeza was ready for bed and actually saw her bed I think she realized she wan’t going back.  I have three small kids, and have seen tears of anger, tears of joy, tears of frustration, tears of hurt, and even tears of regret;  Nothing comes close to seeing genuine tears of fear.

Leeza has proven to be a very soft hearted and happy little girl.  Much like a little puppy that sees the joy in almost everything.  It was hard to hold and hug knowing that right then, I was not what she wanted, but rather what she was fearful of.  After a few minutes, she calmed down and let me lay her down.  I pulled up the blanket and sat beside her.  After 45 minutes of the occasional cry and echoing whimper, the readjustment of the arm or leg, Leeza fell asleep.

I am now praying that Jesus will meet her in her dreams and provide the comfort of normalcy that was so coldly missing from her night-time routine.  Hopefully when she wakes up she will have a renewed strength to see the day as an adventure and know that I will be right beside her.  Here’s to hoping the airplane, tomorrow, is as fascinating as the car was.

God vs. Government


Okay, so this is going to be quick update.  I just wanted everyone to be praying.  We went to get Leeza’s new social security number so we could apply for her passport.  This is usually not a hard thing to do and the last time our facilitator did it they were there for a total of 15 minutes.  Well, ours took most of the day and ended with the office worker saying thank you and he would have her new number in a week!  That’s right, one WEEK!

Our facilitator was so shocked I even saw it on her face without knowing a thing they were saying.  This worker is not the one they usually work with and the team is going to try and track their usual contact down tomorrow and find a better solution.  Apparently he was out today.  Needless to say, I would love for you all to be praying that we can get her number tomorrow, not a week from now.  I am sure God can issue a new social in less than a week. :-)

On a happier note, I leave you with a very silly girl trying to read the French newspaper.  Isn’t she cute. :-)

Officially a Stinker


So, Kim and I occasionally and lovingly address our children as stinkers.  Why, because they are, sometimes.  That and it is really really cute to hear a 18month old say “I am a stinker.”  Well, today Leeza officially became Stinker #… well 2 I guess.  She is now our second oldest.  What’s that you say, officially??  Yes sireee!!!  I even have a birth certificate to prove it.  So, here is our latest stinker, Elizabeth Faith Dean; affectionately known as Leeza.

On a slightly different note, I went with our facilitator to Leeza’s hometown today to get the above mentioned birth certificate.  It was an interesting trip with a few surprises.  Sit tight and I will do a quick summary…

First, we drove for an hour and a half to her home town.  It went something like this:

Well, we did make a few stops.  One to the rest room (no, they don’t have rest areas) and one for, well, dinner I think.  Here is a road side corner where our driver picked up a duck and some potatoes.  Our facilitator was happy to hear they had rabbits so, she got one.  Pop them in the trunk and we were off again.

After buying some potatoes, a duck and a rabbit we were on our way again.

So, with dinner in the trunk we made it to town at about 12 noon.  We were told that they had a break and would like us to come in for tea.  Apparently the woman our facilitators had been working with was the one who took Leeza out of her unhealthy environment and to the baby house when she was 14 months old.  She was thrilled to know that she was being adopted and was eager to talk with me.  We went and parked the car but by the time we walked around the building she was coming out to meet us.  Apparently the worker at the office that actually issues the new birth certificates was leaving after lunch.  So she took us straight over there and filled out all the paperwork.  They told us to come back in about 45 minutes and it would be ready.

So during that 45 minutes we drove back to the first building for tea.  On the way the worked took us by the house she had taken Leeza from and told me a little bit about that night.  Once back at the office we had a lunch (tea) of green tea, Ritz type crackers, and two aerated chocolate bars we had brought.  The women in the office had lots of questions and loved seeing Leeza’s photo album as well as recent pictures of her.  Below is a picture with the women in the office. The shortest one, on my left was the one that took care of Leeza that winter night.

The woman on my left took Leeza to the baby house when she was only 14 months old. Almost three years later she still remembers her and that night.

We then got a call saying the birth certificate was done and we could pick it back up.  So, we did.  Then a quick hour and a half back home.  All in all it was a very good trip.  Our facilitator said she had never had an appointment for a birth certificate like this one.  No one has ever cared as much or been as interested in the child before.  I am glad they were or we could have very easily been going again tomorrow when the other office worker was back.  Thank you for your prayers!!!

On that note, our pastor’s wife put up the following verse on Facebook today:

Proverbs 5:21 – “For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He watches all his paths.”

How true this has been for our little Leeza.  He has been working in her life and on her behalf for many many years.  She has had so many angels working around her is some very dark places.  It is just amazing to see little glimpses of what He is doing and know we have a part in it.  Well, we are really just a small part of his plan and be couldn’t be more honored, humbled, and blessed to be a part of it.  We love you Leeza, welcome to the family!!

The video below is of Leeza’s first home.  You have all seen videos of the orphanage which she currently calls home.  Now she has a permanent home and we all look forward to that homecoming next week.  Lord willing, we will be all together again by Friday.

Outside You Say…


Leeza wanted to eat her snack on the window sill. Seemed like a good idea to me.

Okay, for the last few days it has been not only cold, but rainy as well.  So, Leeza and I have been in the large play room for our play dates.  We have had the joy of sharing the room with a family from Canada, a family from France, a family from Chili, and a family from somewhere else.  (Hey Kimmie, you missed your opportunity to use your Spanish.)  Unfortunately, most of the other kids were younger and did not share our sense of joy.  While playing inside, Leeza added several new words to her vocabulary.  Most were in sentence structure and I expect she was telling me all sorts of good things.  Only God knows.  However, one word keep coming back over and over and over and over and over  (I think I got enough in there) again.  Of course, I had no idea what it was and it was obviously posed as a question.  Wouldn’t you know it, this morning after Church I was standing by Yuri (sp?) and I heard a very very very similar sounding word come out of his mouth.  So, I interrupted and asked what he had just said.  Ah, I have your interest now don’t I.  What did he say???  Well, he had said, “I can show you when we get outside.”  Yep, the work she had been repeating was, “outside.”

So, armed with my new knowledge and prepared for her question, I eagerly went to visit Leeza.  As you have guessed, the first thing she asked was, “Outside?”  So we did.  It was 47 degrees F and a little windy but we went outside and had a great time.  She didn’t seem to care that her coat was too small and she seemed to enjoy her mittens  (granted they were more of a toy than a hand warmer).   Just for grins we said hello to the family back home as well.  There isn’t much to do while she is eating snack and I can’t hardly use the camera once she is done.  So, I know you have heard this before, but I am pretty sure Kimmie, JoJo and Grace never get tired of it.

Found this one the way to the market. Pretty sure I could do something like this at home. :-)

So, that was about it for my Sunday.  After I left the orphanage I went into town to do some shopping for the week.  It seems that fall is clean up time and someone had fun re-sculpting the bushes in front of the park.  Here is one I am sure Josiah will be especially fond of.

Tomorrow starts crazy week.  I need to get some phone calls made and take a leap of faith and book some airline tickets.  Leeza becomes a Dean on Tuesday and our facilitator thinks we can get her paperwork done on Wednesday and Thursday so we can head to Kiev on Friday.  That seems rather optimistic, but then again, I have been accused of that as well. :-)  Here is to the start of the end before the beginning.  (you followed that right?)

One For the Boys…


Okay today was a pretty good day.  I went to the orphanage in the morning to miss the rain in the afternoon and also to watch the “part” with Leeza.  Apparently the orphanage, or the director, was having a birthday and staff and kids had a full program put together.  If I can, I will put of some video from that later.

Today’s post is for all the boys out there.  Specifically Josiah.  He loves trains and wanted to see what train Kim and I had ridden on.  So, I stopped by the station on the way home and took what footage was available.  I hope you enjoy them JoJo!!


Help My Shoes are Dirty


Leeza was showing off her very dirty cloths.

Okay okay, I am not exactly sure that is what Leeza said, but it sounded like it might look like, “Помощь мои ботинки грязна.”  Which is in fact the title of this post.  So why were her shoes dirty?  Because it rain for the first half of the day.  It was still fairly nice out when I thought it would be fun to play outside regardless of the occasional puddle.  Leeza didn’t seem to mind except stopping twice to ask to go back to the pavilion where the backpack was.  Once we got there she preceded to ask to be put down, pull the wet-wipes out of the backpack and ask me to clean the dirt off her shoes.  Yeah, the bottom of her shoes.  So, I introduced her to wiping her shoes on the grass (note: it helps to have grass).  She seemed satisfied with this and off we went again.  Needless to say, her shoes weren’t the only thing that got dirty and I had the joy of doing a “quick” load of wash when I got home.  Hopefully things will dry quickly.

There is a Canadian couple adopting a little girl and boy that comes at the same time I do.  The little boy is in Leeza’s groupa so we run into each other quite a lot.  Although their first language is French, the do well enough with English for us to have normal conversation.  Tomorrow we are meeting another Canadian mom (in her 10 day wait as well) for dinner.  I am looking forward to having some dinner conversation and sharing stories.

So, this is our Marshrutkas Stop as seen from our kitchen window. Just thought you would like to know. After all, I have to fill my time with something. :-)

On another quick note, Kim go home safe and the household is getting back to normal.  Well, except for the fact that Dad is MIA.  It sounds like Mom and the kids are very happy to all be home again.  I am looking forward to joining them soon.