Adopting Grace

The journey to bring our little girl home

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We’ve made friends with another family who is currently at Grace’s orphanage adopting their daughter and the wife (Jenn) has been gracious enough to be keeping an eye out for Grace during visits with her daughter. Of all the families we’ve watched go through there, no one had caught a glimpse of Grace. It made me wonder if they ever let the physically handicapped kids go outside or if Grace had gotten sick or transferred or whatever. But yesterday we got word from Jenn that she’d seen Grace! She wasn’t sure it was her at first, but then she noticed all that curly hair and realized it had to be. She was being taken for a walk outside in a stroller/wheelchair and talking up a storm…Jenn was pretty sure she was trying to talk to her, but of course none of us know Russian so we have no idea what she was saying. It was such a relief to finally know that someone has seen her in person and that she’s ok. And by this time next week we should be on a train to see her for ourselves! God is good!

5 more days


In 5 more days we will get on our plane and start the next part of this crazy journey. People keep asking us if we’re ready to go and I don’t think we’ll ever really be ready….I’m leaving for 3 weeks, Philip is leaving for 6-8 and we’re leaving 3 of our kids on a different continent and going to meet a daughter we didn’t even know we had a few months ago. I don’t think we’ll be ready, but we’ll just keep going forward and God will get us through it.

We are continuing to get things as organized as possible on this end for the friends who will be caring for our children and for me when I return alone. We’ve tracked down travel sized things to keep our luggage as light as possible and plenty of movies for us and Grace to watch during all the travel. I thought we had our clothing all figured out until I read on another blog today that the weather is changing quickly in Ukraine right now. It went from 90s last week to 60s today…and we have mainly summer clothes picked out for all 3 of us. So one of my tasks for this week is to try to figure out what to pack for a child whose size I don’t know and for everything from summer to winter weather. Guess we’ll be busy,huh?

I hope this doesn’t sound too ‘complainy.’ Yesterday I was very excited about going and today I’m a little more stressed knowing that everything has to come together very quickly and we’ll soon be leaving our kids here. Although I know they’ll miss us, I feel like the older 2 will be fine and stay very busy. But I can’t believe I’m about to leave my baby for this long and I tear up every time I think about it. I suppose this would be a good time to head back to Philippians 4 and remember all the blessings we have ahead of us….like time alone with Philip and finally getting to meet Grace!



We are booking our tickets right now!!! Looks like we’ll be flying out the 27th, hitting Frankfurt on the way there and getting to Kiev very early on the 29th. Little Grace and I spent the morning out getting a mattress, sheets and a few clothes for Big Grace while Philip, Josiah and Kasia continued to get the little girls’ room put together. Everything is finally finding it’s spot and the kids are pretty excited. We decided to share Big Grace’s real name with the kids today because Little Grace just can’t seem to understand that we’re talking about someone else and really has no idea what’s going on. Every time we pray that Big Grace is having a good day or eating something yummy she chimes in with, ‘Oh, Yeah!’, thinking we’re talking about her. Hopefully this will clue her in a little and help the transition some. :)

We also recieved word from our in-country facilitation team that the apartment that’s been offered to us is within walking distance of Grace’s orphanage! It’s great to have that confirmed and I’m so glad we won’t have to rely on a taxi every time we go to see her. We are very excited to meet the missionary family that is housing us and had fun picking up a few ‘American goodies’ for them this morning that aren’t available over there. It totally blows my mind that in 2 weeks we’ll be on our way. We’re so excited to finally be this far and yet hating the thought of leaving our other children for so long. This will be quite an adventure!

-you keep a copy of the Secretary of State number and fax in your car at all times.

-you have nightmares of your 2 year old using your dossier or grant applications as a coloring book.

-you haven’t had time to clean your house in months.

-you combine feeding the kids breakfast, cleaning the kitchen and regular household chores with learning another Russian word.

-you dislike another country’s government as much as you do your own.

-you daydream about what it will finally be like to have this little person in your house, playing along side your other kids.

-you now consider explaining your complete financial status to total strangers a normal thing to do.

-you regularly wonder what on earth you’ve gotten yourself into.

-you pray more than you’ve ever prayed before…about pretty much everything.

-you have the opportunity to see God doing some pretty amazing things and share it with countless others.

No word yet from Ukraine. Thursdays seem to be the day new dossiers for kids in our category (age and special needs) are submitted so we’re praying this is our week, but know it could still take longer.

More Of The Same

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Philip and I just returned home from some pre-adoption training today in Des Moines that Bethany Christian Services allowed us to sit in on. While we didn’t hear anything new it was pretty helpful…mainly because we didn’t hear anything new. We’re starting to get to the point in our research and prep work where we’re familiar with what’s in all the books and educational resources so we feel like we’re going into this as prepared as we can. The final speakers were a couple who adopted a sibling group a year ago and we thought it was pretty funny that most of the really challenging stories they shared were the same things we deal with on a daily basis. While their kids had come from pretty rough backgrounds, after the first 6 months their problem areas sound very similar to any family with a bunch of small children. We did get a few more pointers on some ways to help with building a bond with Grace when she gets here, some of which are going to be hard to carry out, but seemed to be tried and true methods from quite a few adoptive families. We were encouraged to make sure that absolutely everything she needs on a daily basis is performed by only Philip and myself for at least the first few months. All food, gifts, help getting dressed or cleaned or help around the house should be coming only from us so she can understand what our roles are in her life and so she is forced to depend on us and start to trust us. Because these kids have been cared for by so many different people who never stick around they will accept just about anyone, which is great except that it allows them to not form a strong bond it any one person. We realize this is going to be tricky because so many people are going to want to meet her and interact with her and because we will be tired and want the help, but it sounds like it’s in everyone’s best interest to do this for a while.

Also, the documents that had to be redone in the dossier are finished and in the hands of one of our stateside facilitators who happens to be going to Kiev this weekend. This saved us mailing time and about $100, which is what it’s cost every time we’ve had to ship something over there. As far as we know we just get to wait until we hear something back from our Ukraine facilitators, which means this is the first time since this whole journey started that we don’t have anything really pressing to do this week! Philip and I are trying to figure out how to tackle the list of projects that haven’t been done the last few months and are looking forward to the breather!

Another Hoop

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We were warned the dossier was like a moving target and we’re learning how true that is! Even though ours is over there now we learned this week that we need to redo one paper (which has actually been redone twice so far this week because Philip’s name was misspelled) and get another amendment on our home study because there was a difference between some numbers on it and another paper in the dossier. Thankfully the people we need to help us have been working quickly and we’ll get these new documents over there as soon as we can. Our stateside team has been very hard to reach this week because it’s made up of volunteers and they occasionally have to have lives…totally understandable, but very hard to be patient with when it’s your papers that are waiting! We’re hoping to know early next week whether or not our dossier can be submitted while we’re mailing the new docs or not. If not, it could set us back another week or two. I know this kind of craziness is normal and we’ve been told by another family who went through this process that it can happen right up until the adoption is final, but somehow I thought if we were careful enough it wouldn’t happen to us. So much for that, huh?

On a more positive note, another adopting family let us know about a blog of a family who is currently in Grace’s orphanage! We got to see our first pictures of where she lives and hear a little about the place. We know it’s in a poorer part of the city, but seems to be a very well kept facility with a caring director. What I can see in the pictures is nicer than many of the other places we’ve been seeing so we’re hopeful that Grace really is being well cared for. It doesn’t sound like she’s in the same group (called a ‘groupa’ over there) as this little boy so we won’t get any new pictures of her, but we’re hoping that when we get there they’ll at least have a baby picture or two that we can take with us.

So, please be praying for our papers! They are hopefully being translated right now and, we’re praying, can be submitted soon. The government just reopened yesterday and we know there will be a little back log of dossiers so we’re not sure when to expect to hear something.

Medical Counseling


We had an appointment with a spina bifida specialist in Iowa City this morning to talk about what we can expect to face with Grace’s care and what we should tackle first. She was wonderful to talk us through the condition in a more technical way than is easy to find online and to give us ideas of how to start care for Grace when she comes home. Since we could only show her a picture and give her the limited info we have, we obviously didn’t get specifics, but she could tell us that because of her head shape and age that Grace probably has hydrocephaly and a shunt. Basically this means that her spinal fluid is not able to regulate itself like it does in the rest of us and this can cause problems by putting pressure on parts of the brain. One very common outcome of this is that SB kids typically have some form of learning problem, frequently in processing details and working with abstract ideas. However, in her experience they are typically very smart kids who do really well in reading and memory work. She also mentioned that one of the first things we should do when Grace comes home is to get her kidneys checked out because SB sometimes results in urine being pushed back up into the kidneys and this can cause damage. She went over quite a few conditions that could be present because Grace probably hasn’t received treatment for different aspects of the disability…it’s good to know they are a possibility and yet it’s scary to hear all the ‘maybes.’ I found myself several times during the appointment just trying to remember to breath and trust that God will get us through whatever we’re facing.

Although she is a medical doctor, she also has experience with adoption as well and talked us through a few issues we need to keep researching. Like we’ve heard from so many, she told us the relational issues are likely to be harder to face than the medical ones. I had it in my head that I should probably be expecting ‘Big Grace’ to be emotionally/developmentally more on scale with ‘little Grace’ than Josiah, even though she’ll be closer to his age. Dr. McBrien said we should probably lower that expectation to more like 12/18 months old because of how long she’s been in an institution. She also encouraged us to continue looking for pre-adoption counseling so we could be more prepared for the ‘artificial twinning’ of Josiah and Big Grace. They will be very close in age, but will be drastically different in a lot of ways which could cause stress. While all of this was a bit overwhelming to have to absorb so quickly, it is incredibly helpful to be able to think through it now and adjust our expectations and find the resources we know we’ll need soon. Thankfully, we are in an area that offers a lot of excellent medical and educational resources and the social worker that met with us today informed us of some financial help that will offset some of the treatments/home modifications/health costs that we are facing.

On another note, our newspaper interview ran this week and it was wonderfully written. They also did a great job of helping us publicize the dinner/auction. Just a reminder to all you locals that if you’re planning to come we’re requesting an RSVP by July 1st so we can plan accordingly for food. You can email me at or call at 319-447-7938. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun and we have some wonderful items that have been donated to the auction. It makes me want to bid on some, but that might be a little counter productive! :)



Image By: Al- Fassam

I’ve realized since this adoption started that we now see the world slightly differently. Everything is the same, and yet it’s all a little a different, sort of like we’re looking at the world through a new lens. I think it started with the money. When we agreed that we were going to pursue Grace the sticker shock was huge. Amusingly enough ours is considered a ‘cheap’ adoption, but it’s still a large amount of money for us and I began to notice that when someone would talk about buying a new car the first thing that would go through my mind was, ‘That amount of money would save a child.’ When I’d hear people talking about vacations and hobbies it would happen again. Please don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with cars, vacations or hobbies (I happen to enjoy all 3)…and yet it made me start to wonder where they fit in and how God saw it. continue reading…

A Weekend of Encouragement


Image By: Kevin_P

Well, what can we say? This has been an encouraging weekend. Technically this update will also include some news we received on Monday, but it still counts.

We have not made any significant strides in the big picture, but God has been making Himself known in the details. To be honest, this is usually where He hangs out, and where we most often forget to look for Him. Allow me to share a few of the happening over the last few days and see if you agree.

The first event was a unsolicited email. I have included just of the text below. It is from gentleman that went to the same college as Kim and me. Oddly enough, we believe it was near the same time as well although we didn’t know each other. Here is what he had to say: continue reading…



Image By: iotdfi

We’ve been warned that adoption is a process of hurrying up so you can wait and that’s already begun. The director of RR is back in town, but buried in emails and trying to catch up as fast as she can. While we understand that she’s doing the best she can we are impatient because we’re excited to get things moving and find out more about ‘Grace.’ I keep checking my email every couple of hours to see if she’s written, but so far I haven’t heard anything other than that she received all of our paperwork and check. continue reading…