Monday, January 28, 2013


It has been a almost year since we returned from Ukraine. There have been a lot of joyful moments for us and for the kids. Roman is happy at school, has lots of friends, and loves sports. He is playing on the school soccer team and is learning baseball. Natalia is happy, does well in school and has made new friends. She loves to ride her bike, dance, and is now in girls softball.  I would say from all accounts, the kids are adjusting well.

 As Don said, it has been a year of adjustments for all of us. In the orphanage,  the kids did not have as many options as they have here. They think they should be able to eat candy, drink soda, and watch TV whenever they want. They fight us on the little things and that can be frustrating at times, but basically, they are very good children. The hard part as parents is to stay firm and keep them unspoiled. Christmas was crazy fun for them getting all those presents. It's a lot easier to give in and say yes, but that is not what's best for them to grow up and be happy, healthy, successful adults. Would we do it again?...see Don's blog below....

It has been one year since the kids have come to our home. If you are thinking of adopting, there are rewards for sure, but there is also the frustration of trying to reshape the hearts and minds of children brought up in an environment that we will never really comprehend. Rocky and I struggle with little battles much of the day when they are not in school. We have to be careful not to let it all turn into one big battle.

Sometimes I even wonder if we did the right thing by bringing these to into our home. Life was so much easier before.

Fact is, we would do it all over again.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The First 6 Weeks


March 18, 2012

It’s been over a month since Roman and Natalia have arrived in America. Don and I have had a major change in our lives. It seems non-stop. Each moment of the day is filled for me… spending time with the kids, or with doing things that I have to do. We sit together at the table (most days) to study English or review math problems. Our laundry loads seem to have tripled, grocery shopping is now occurring every few days (they are eating us out of house and home), and the taxi schedule is very busy….soccer, church, ice-skating, doctor’s visits, etc. We have no clothes from last season, so we went and shopped  ‘til we dropped today. What a joy to shop with my new daughter. I love how we look at things together and find nice things for her to wear. Natalia has a great fashion sense and it is fun finding things for her that she likes.

Natalia loves to play with Milla across the street, and with our neighbor, Alina.  She is a kind friend and is thoughtful with the other children. She is always willing to share the things she has with others. There are 3 boys in the neighborhood around Roman’s age, so he has friends to play sports with. He is naturally good at any sport that he tries.

This week we enjoyed seeing our friend Michael Cefalo act in the play, Peter Pan. We also visited Uncle Don and Aunt Judy at the Friday night  fish dinner at their church. Natalia started 5th grade and rode a school bus for the first time. Here is a picture of Natalia going off to start school and a video of her enjoying Kait's dance class.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The First Week Home


 The first week at home with these guys was delightful…I .can’t think of any other word to describe it.

They are such a joy to be around…  happy just to have the little things…a shower with shampoo they like, .fresh eggs in the morning, cheese, bananas, grapes… all things they did not have access to at the orphanage.  Most of all, the hugs don’t stop coming. It is great. They seem to be so happy to know that they are secure. They now have a mother and father who love and care for them (we have lots of years of hugs to make up for.)

I am so surprised at how busy I am. I don’t remember being this busy with Michael and John. Maybe it’s because there are so many things to do at first. We are going non-stop with doctor’s appointments, English and math lessons, shopping for basic things like pajamas, boots, etc, etc.

I feel so bad that I have not been able to answer all the emails from friends asking how things are going.  I am trying to put all of the work that has piled up on my desk for the last few months out of my mind. What could be more important that making sure these kids get off to the right start in their new home? I’m trying to establish some routines (neatness) and good habits. The best time to do that is the first month they are home. I keep telling myself that I will catch up in the office later. I hope that is the case.

Fun with David at Aunt Judy and Uncle Don's House

This week we had homeschool every day. We also went to the doctor's for immunizations, visited the Y and the kids swam in the indoor pool, visited Aunt Judy and Uncle Don's house for a Valentine's party, had dinner with John and Kait, Roman played soccer with a boy's team and loved it, Natalia played with Mila across the street. They also saw their friend, Philipe, and played soccer outdoors. The kids had a great time this week and so did I.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

They are Home


It is finally over, or maybe just beginning. The kids arrived with Rocky on Thursday night and they now live in America. I have to include a great photo of the welcoming committee.

Uncle Don and Aunt Judy
They let him out of the home just for the night
He's not really in any kind of home. That was a joke. How many people would go to the lengths that he and his wife did? Not many. There was another couple that joined in later. They had planned on decorating the house but we beat them home.
We beat them home.
Welcome Home from Brad and Debbie

Welcome Home
Thursday Feb 9th (Home)

Going Home for Good!!

February 9, 2012


 All of our paperwork was done yesterday and I am headed home early today. We had to wake up this morning at 3 am to catch our flight. Our driver, Jania,  is unemployed and now works nights trying to earn some extra money for his family. As he wisked us out of the city of Kyiv, in the dark wee hours of the morning, we were pulled over by the police. Jania said that this is a common practice here at this time of night. Anyone who is driving around at 3 in the morning, is likely to be up to no good. I felt bad for the police who were standing around in sub zero temperatures performing this patrol.

 During our trip to the airport we also saw many girls dressed up in coats and high heeled boots trying to hitch a ride. I felt awful that they were also out late at night, in below zero weather, trying to earn some money. The kids and I pray for these people of Ukraine every night and hope that they will have a better life in the future. It seems to me that the corruption there has stifled the economy and is hampering progress.

I’m now flying on a Lufthansa jumbo jet at 36,000 feet…on my way home with my new daughter and son. Before coming back to Ukraine to pick them up, I have to admit that I had a few thoughts about going through the process of raising two children again. Having kids is great, but being a parent…well, you definitely have to make some sacrifices. However, after spending the last two weeks with these children while here in Ukraine, I have to say that I am really happy they are with me and I am getting more out of this experience than they are.

It is heartwarming to see the love and compassion they have inside… coming out, day by day.  As they feel loved by parents and become more self-confident, the positive qualities they possess have really shined here in Ukraine.  There were many instances where they showed kindness and an appreciation for others around them.  I was surprised when they began to console the friends they were leaving behind at the orphanage …children who currently have no families. It was touching. Roman and Natasha wrote great thank you letters to the people who worked in Ukraine to make their adoption possible. And during our visit to the Embassy, there was a family from Texas that had two toddlers with Downs (they are adopting them, God bless them, I don’t know how they can do it). The toddlers were cranky and fussy while they had to wait for over an hour on their paperwork. Natalia went over to the children and kept them entertained. By coincidence, this family was on the flight with us to Munich. Roman offered to carry their bags and Natalia entertained the babies again during the waiting periods. It was very nice to see that at 12 and14 years of age, they were thinking of others. I feel so blessed that God has given me the opportunity to improve their lives and to give me two more children to love. I have to tell you that every step of this long process has been worth it and it has made me a better person. I know they will be a wonderful addition to the already great kids we have. I encourage anyone thinking of going through this journey to take the first step.

While we were at the Embassy, we were invited to a very rare meeting with the American Ambassador, John Taft. I’ve never met an Ambassador before, so it was fun. He spoke with us and a few other families and it was nice for the kids to meet him.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The way God works:


My wife and our new children arrive tomorrow night in Pittsburgh. I am sitting here in my hotel room in Calgary (yes I have a job), and pondering all that has happened to this point. Honestly, if you would have told me even eight months ago that my wife and I would be adopting two kids from Ukraine, my response would be "I don't think so".

I am almost 55 years old. I have eight grand-kids. I can pretty much do what I want, go where I want, be what I want and not have to look over my shoulder. Why in the world would I get myself into something like this?

It came to Rocky and I as an idea. Then we became curious. Then we looked into it. Then we became educated about the plight of these children. Then we inquired about hosting. Then we hosted. Then we fell in love with two perfect little strangers. Now we are parents all over again. We couldn't be happier.

Saying goodbye to the director of the orphanage

It is amazing how God works isn't it?