Sunday, January 27, 2013

Foreverly

Just so Isabel doesn't feel left out, here is her birthday video to Alina:

video

And another short video made by Isabel especially for Albina:

video

PS  Albina does NOT like Justin Bieber.  
But we all agreed that we really like Isabel.  :-)


Yesterday during our visit, I had this conversation with Alina:

Alina: We go to America in March?
Me: Yes.
Alina: OH!  *sigh* That's foreverly!


I think "foreverly" is my new favorite non-word.
And yes, getting to March does seem like it will take

Friday, January 25, 2013

Happy Birthday Alina!

Today is Alina's 11th birthday.

Yesterday she told us she wanted a HUGE cake so she could eat a lot and get really fat.  She told me she was very hungry.  She also wanted to have enough cake to share with all the kids in her group.  Finally, she told us she wanted a BIG present.

So today James and I grabbed our bag of tricks and came up with this celebration:

1.  We played Happy Birthday videos from all our kids back home (Except for Isabel... we're still waiting for her to email us her video.  tsk tsk Isabel!)  ;-).

video

video

video


2.  We gave her 2 small gifts.  She got to make her own bracelets and a craft butterfly that I (thankfully) picked up at the dollar store before coming to Ukraine.

Alina modeling the bracelets she made.
Alina making her butterfly.

3.  We purchased 2 cakes (one for the family and one for her group) as well as soda so we could celebrate by eating lots of cake (per her request).

The beautiful cake.
Mom and Alina getting ready to cut the cake.
Albina and Maks getting ready to eat cake.

4.  We sang "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" to Alina.




5.  We gave her a birthday card.

A birthday card for Alina.

6.  I took pictures of the beautiful birthday girl.

Alina with dad, Albina and Maks.

Alina with dad, Albina and Maks.
Alina all dressed up for her birthday.

7.  Then Alina insisted on taking pictures of me and then dad and me.





8.  We asked Alina if she wanted her main gift now or when we leave to go to America (we had planned to wait, but decided to give her a choice).  She said she wanted to wait.  So we played games and chewed gum (one of the favorite daily activities) until it was time to say goodbye until later this afternoon.  




During this afternoon's visit we primarily played games (just like usual).  Then Maks found dad's phone and somehow got his music playing, so we had a dance party.  It was a fun afternoon!  (Please don't ask me why I chose to record most of this sideways.)



One of the sweetest moments today happened when two of the ladies that work at the orphanage came in to wish Alina a Happy Birthday.  They gave her a chocolate bar and a mug that has pictures of our family on it as well as a picture of the orphanage.  I got choked up when I saw this sweet present.  I failed to get a picture of it, but I'll try to remember to take a picture later.

And finally... in other news:

This morning we got an exciting phone call and learned that we have a court date to meet with the judge and finaliaze things with our adoption of these kids.  Our court will be held on February 8.  While this is 2 days later than our "best case" scenario, the good news is that it doesn't actually change our timeline (If our court was scheduled on February 6, our 10 day waiting period would end on a weekend which wouldn't do us any good since paperwork can't be picked up over the weekend.  That means our waiting period would actually become 13 days.  Moving our court date to Friday keeps our waiting period at exactly 10 days and becomes the same day as if our court were on the Wednesday.)

Progress is being made.
We are enjoying spending time with our kids.
And James and I are even enjoying spending lots of time with one another.
Amazing!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Laundry In The Living Room

Tonight while I was hanging up wet laundry in the living room, James said,

"If we ever move here for a couple of years you will do so well.  The worst is behind us, you are already adjusted to life in Ukraine."

I am feeling more comfortable in our apartment, with the grocery shopping, doing laundry without a dryer and finding my way around town.  However, those aren't the only things to adjust to if you want to become a part of a new community.  Regardless, we are enjoying our time here in Ukraine.

Things are continuing to move forward.  Most of the things that are currently taking place with our adoption are happening behind the scenes while we simply spend time playing with our kids.  Occasionally we are asked to run to the notary and sign papers or we are called and asked basic questions so others can fill out paperwork for us.  It seems that we are making good progress.  We haven't experienced any major hurdles or obstacles so far (keeping fingers crossed!).

Yesterday we walked around town for about 3 hours.  We enjoyed seeing where different landmarks were and took note of some shops and restaurants that may be worth checking out a little more carefully in the future.  We walked to the orphanage so we could see how difficult it was to get there on foot.  We thought about taking a camera, but it was a very foggy day, so we didn't think pictures would turn out too great.  We'll take another walking trip soon and share pictures of this amazing city.

James and I are eating a lot of pasta, bread and Vereniki (potato filled pasta that is delicious). It's all very good food, but heavy and filling. As a special treat, we were told to check out a local chocolate shop that is just around the corner from our apartment.  While it may sound wonderful that our apartment is so conveniently located to this shop, it is actually very dangerous!  The chocolates are absolutely beautiful and SO delicious!  (http://www.chocolate­.lviv.ua/en).

Maks is opening up to us more and more (Especially with James... he is a typical 5 year old boy that loves to play cars, airplane, and wrestle with James. He giggles and giggles and giggles when they play together. It's so cute!). Alina loves to read to me out of English books. Even though she doesn't know what it all means, she is very good at sounding out and reading English words. Albina loves to play games and put together puzzles with James and I.  Each day we take new books, puzzles, games and/or activities to do with the kids.  We also take snacks for them.  Maks LOVES sugar and will eat it constantly if it's available.  As a result, we started leaving candy out of my bag and started purchasing fruit at the local market.  He seems to love fruit just as much as the candy, so that's good (Unfortunately, it looks as though we'll have a substantial dental bill once we arrive home.  Plus we'll need to do quite a bit of teaching on how to brush teeth properly so we can avoid additional cavities once his adult teeth come in.  He truly looks as though he has cavities in every single little baby tooth.  Ouch!)

Alina trying on dad's glasses.
Maks trying on dad's glasses.

Today the girls chose their new middle names. We needed to have everything chosen for paperwork that was being filled out today.  We had Albina choose first. We gave her the options of 'Michelle' (after me) and 'Josephine' (after my grandmother). She immediately told us she wanted her middle name to be 'Michelle' after me. Next we asked Alina what she wanted her middle name to be. When she learned that 'Michelle' had been taken by Albina, she was disappointed.  Fortunately she didn't make a huge deal out of it. Her two choices were 'Josephine' and 'Rose'. She chose Rose. I had hoped that one of them would chose the name 'Josephine' since that's such a special name to me, but we really wanted them to have a say in their middle names.  Since they are older, we realize that changing ones name at this stage of life is a pretty big deal. I knew that meant I had to be okay with whatever the outcome was. And I am.  I think both the names sound beautiful.

Since Maks is only 5, we didn't give him a choice. At the beginning of this process, we decided we wanted his middle name to be 'Stewart' (I've always wanted a son with my maiden name as his middle name). However, a number of weeks ago I started thinking that we should have his middle name be 'Douglas' after my brother who passed away in 2006.  Once I thought about that name, it sounded just right and I realized it was meant to be.  I hope someday Maks realizes what a special middle name he has been given.

Announcing...


Albina Michelle Truax
Alina Rose Truax
Maksym Douglas Truax


We are really missing Toria, Emma, Isabel and Micah. However, we knew this separation was a necessary part of the process. We are being patient and enjoying the opportunity to learn more about the Ukrainian culture. However, we are really looking forward to the time when we will be able to join our Ukrainian family to our United States family and be all together!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The first of many "FINALLY"'s

Today.
It finally came.

Last night we got on a train in Kyiv around 8pm, slept in the train, and arrived in the region where the orphanage is located.  We immediately got into a car and drove for 2 more hours to the orphanage.  

Before we could actually go into the orphanage we needed to get permission from the local government.  That requires additional paperwork and time for processing.  So, while we were waiting, we went to the apartment and got settled.

Finally the time came to head to the orphanage.  However, when we arrived at the orphanage, there were other issues that the orphanage was dealing with.  We were required to do more waiting, waiting, waiting.

After what seemed like forever... the door opened and Alina and Maks walked into the room. Ahhh… hugs and kisses all around.  Even Maks (although we’d never met him before) was so excited to see us.  At one point he was sitting next to me and suddenly turned, wrapped his arms around me and gave me a huge hug.  So sweet!

A few minutes later, Albina came into the room.  Again, hugs and kisses all around.

We talked for a bit, and then played a game of UNO before James and I were called out to meet with the orphanage director, psychologist, social worker and medical doctor.  This meeting was VERY interesting.  They all had their files and went through and disclosed all information about the children that they had. 

Here are some of the things we learned:

  • The children arrived at the orphanage 4 years ago.
  • Albina is a very hard worker and loves to be challenged.  She is very tidy and loves housework.  I was told a few times that she will be a very big help to me.
  • Alina frequently tells the director how much she loves her family and asks when they are coming for her.  She has been very anxious to have us arrive!
  • The orphanage personnel believe that Albina is meant to be a scientist, but say that she can be whatever she wants.  They told us she is very clever and a very good student.
  • The orphanage personnel believe that Alina is meant to be an actor.  She loves drama and dancing and loves to be the center of attention.
  • Maks' speech is somewhat delayed, as is typical of orphans that don't learn to speak in a family setting (they simply don't have as much one on one interaction).  This should be remedied once he's in a family setting.
  • The orphanage LOVES these children.  They were very positive about them and loved talking about them.  
  • At the end or our meeting, the director told us that we would definitely look back and be very grateful to the orphanage for these children because they are such good children.  :-)
After our meeting, we had more time with the children while our facilitator ran some errands and worked on more paperwork for our adoption.  Albina wasn't able to spend a lot of time with us because she has a final mathematics exam tomorrow that she needed to study for.  However, we were able to spend quite a bit of time with Alina and Maks.

Toward the end of our visit, Alina wanted to take pictures and videos with my camera:

James and Maks in orphanage
James, Shelly & Maks in orphanage
video

After leaving the orphanage, we went and got groceries and had dinner.  Now we are relaxing and about to sleep in preparation for another long day tomorrow (more meetings, paperwork, and finally visiting with the children again).   

Today was a long day.
Today was an exhausting day.
Today was a great day!
WE SAW OUR KIDS!!!

Monday, January 14, 2013

We're In Ukraine!

We've been in Kyiv for 2 full days.

Our travels were fairly uneventful, which is just the way we like them!  When we arrived in Kyiv, we were met by our driver and taken to meet up with our facilitator here in Ukraine.  He helped us purchase a cell-phone and some groceries.  Then they took us to our apartment:

Entrance into apartment in Kyiv
Kitchen in apartment in Kyiv
Bedroom in apartment in Kyiv

Upon arrival, we immediately went to sleep even though it was only 6:00 pm.  The next day we woke extremely early, but felt well rested.

We were able to attend church in Kyiv and meet some new people.  It was a lovely experience.

After church, we went back to our apartment and were able to meet up with part of another family that is here finishing up their adoption.  The father and daughter are staying in Kyiv until the daughter is able to get her Visa.  It was so lovely to see and visit with them.  We were also able to meet some of their friends from Ukraine.  Now we have someone to call when we come back to Kyiv after the adoption is finalized.  It will be lovely to have someone local that we can call on for help or simply suggestions on what to see or experience or where to go during that particular waiting period.

While with our friends, we were able to go walk around downtown.  Yesterday was "Old New Year", so there were decorations and lots of excitment in the town center.  It was fun to observe some of the activities that were taking place:

Downtown Kyiv, Ukraine
Downtown Kyiv, Ukraine
Downtown Kyiv, Ukraine: Huge Christmas tree that lights up beautifully!
It was a completely amazing day!

Today we were supposed to have an appointment with the facilitator, but it ended up needing to be moved until tomorrow.  As a result, James and I got to go exploring on our own.  We went to the nearby shopping center and checked things out:

The nearby shopping center.
The nearby shopping center.
The nearby shopping center.
We primarily did window shopping.  It was fun to look at some of the shops that they had.  There are some really cute things like this:

I saw this coat and thought it was so darling.  I just needed a picture.


The only things we purchased were two books in Russian for the kids to read to us.  We brought some English books with us to read, but thought they would like to read something to us as well:


After our excursion, we went back to the apartment and made, ate and cleaned up dinner:

Vareniki (potato filled dumplings) with sour cream and sauteed onions.  Yum!
James washing the dishes in our cute little kitchen.
Last night we were able to get Albina's phone number.  After dinner tonight, we gave her a call.  She recognized James' voice immediately.  They spoke for a while and then she asked if I was around.  I was able to speak with her as well.  This was the highlight of the day!  Her English is improving!  Here are some of highlights of our conversation:

  • Albina wants to come to America very much.  She would like to return to Lagoon (a local amusement park that we went to this summer) and YOGURTLAND.  (This is a girl after my own heart!)
  • She asked when she would be going to school.  I said, "You can start school as soon as you want."  To which she replied, "I no want..." and then laughed.  
  • She told me that Maksym is very excited and anxious to go to America!  I told her that Micah is really excited to meet him.  She said, "Oh... because he's a boy, right?"  (And of course that's the reason!  If you were Micah, wouldn't you be anxious to get a brother after being the only boy for so long?)  
  • I told her Kyiv was amazing and she said that the city where she is is even better.  I said, "Is it because you are there?"  She said, "Yes!  Of course!" and laughed.
I can hardly wait to see these kids again!!!  I am simply giddy with anticipation.

Tomorrow we have our SDA appointment.  This is when we request permission to gain access to our kids and the orphanage.  We will fill out the paperwork and receive the final permission on Wednesday.  Then we will be on a train to the orphanage!

Only 2 more full days until we see our kids!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Kindness Begins With Me

We have received so much kindness throughout this process.  And it just keeps coming.

clothing, money, notes, hugs, gifts, time, shoes, hard work, prayers, phone calls, etc.

And now there are people that will be watching and helping with our children and our dog while we are in Ukraine.  There are people taking care of our mail and our home.  There are individuals that are on call for any emergencies that may creep up.  It's absolutely amazing!  We are so blessed to have such wonderful people in our lives!


I received a darling note and boondoggle key chain from a neighbor girl the other day.  She wants me to take it to Ukraine and give it to Alina.  It truly made me so happy that Alina has someone who is excited to be her friend and anxious to welcome her into our neighborhood.

Dear Alina, Hi!  I am so excited to be your neighbor!  I am also so excited to get to know you and become friends!  Do you know what a boondoggle is?  It is a key chain, and that is what I made for you.  I hope you like it.  I hope that you like Utah, and that you get here safely!  See you soon!

A number of youth in our neighborhood got together and created a short video for me to take to Ukraine to show Albina.  They want to let her know that they are excited to see her again and/or meet her (if they weren't able to meet her this summer).

Like any parent, I worry about my kids.
I worry about Albina, Alina and Maks feeling welcome.
I want them to make friends and feel loved and accepted.
I pray that they will be able to quickly adjust to their new life!
As a result, these kind gestures have helped to ease some of my worry.

I love kindness.  
It really makes such a huge difference!



___________________________________________________________________

We leave for Ukraine in less than 2 days!  We still have $13,680.92 left to raise.  Thanks to a generous donor that took care of our initial fees so we don't have to worry about them once we arrive home!  However, we still need funds to cover our Ukraine expenses.  We've been so richly blessed throughout this journey!  Can you spare just a little to help us get Albina, Alina and Maks home?  Any donation amount will help get us closer to our goals. 
Thank you SO much!!!



Tuesday, January 8, 2013

71 Hours!

71 HOURS.  AND COUNTING DOWN!

That's right.  In only 71 hours James and I will be on our way to Kyiv, Ukraine.  
We'll be there for 6-8 weeks and then bring our kids HOME!  

It's bound to be quite the experience (to say the least)!

For those of you interested in the process, here is a basic overview of what we expect to experience on our trip.

January 12
Arrive in Kyiv.  We are arriving early because our flights a day earlier were much cheaper AND we need to give ourselves extra time just in case there are any issues with weather and flights... better safe than miss our appointment in Kyiv!

January 15
Our appointment with the State Department.  This is when we receive permission to get access to the orphanage and begin the process leading up to our main court date.

January 17
Once we've gotten paperwork gathered and approved, we head to the orphanage where we get to meet with our kids (YAY!) and begin preparing and compiling the next set of paperwork.  

January 21
Submit paperwork requesting a court date to the SDA and begin waiting for them to contact us with our court date.

*During each waiting period, we have daily scheduled visits with our kids.  We've been warned that these visits will begin to feel like "Groundhog Day" (you are allowed in one room and have no outside play because of bitter cold weather).  In an effort to make these visits more enjoyable, we've tried to gather lots of puzzles, games, coloring books and other activities... here's hoping we have enough things gathered and that they truly do help make our visits more enjoyable!

February 6
Our potential Court Day.  This is the court that takes place with a judge and jury.  We are put on trial to determine if we should be allowed to adopt these children.  It sounds quite intimidating, but I've been told that's the way it's intended to feel, so we'll just try to relax.

*After the court there is a mandatory waiting period before you can take your kids from the orphanage.  More visits, puzzles, coloring, etc...

February 19
Waiting period is over.  Begin picking up additional documents, get birth certificates and apply for passports.

February 27
Pick up passports and travel with kids to Kyiv.

February 28
Kids get medical exams.  Apply for VISA's at the US Embassy.

March 1
Pick up VISA's

March 2
Leave Kyiv and head HOME!

 It seems like a fairly short trip when I map it out that way, right? 

But... when I consider that I won't be home until March, that sounds like a really LONG time! 

I will really miss Toria, Emma, Isabel and Micah!
And my bed.  :-)

But I can't wait to see my other kids.
And I'm really looking forward to bringing them home and having our family all together under one roof!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Perfect Son

We all know that with the New Year comes the opportunity to reflect on what we've accomplished in the past year and set some new goals for the upcoming year.


On New Years Day we were pleased that Micah sat down and wrote his own goals for the year (with no prodding from us!)

Here are his goals.  I especially like #15.  :-)

NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS
  1. Be nicer to Guster the dog.
  2. Make more friends.
  3. Control temper / be nicer.
  4. Be more reverent in church.
  5. Exercise more.
  6. Get over stage fright.
  7. Get over fear of dark.
  8. Get over fear of masked murderer.
  9. Don't brag when I win.
  10. Have fun even if I lose.
  11. Write more letters.
  12. Don't pick scabs.
  13. Record my songs.
  14. Play more sports.
  15. Get three Ukrainian orphan's to the U.S.A.
  16. Learn gymnastics.
  17. Eat a better diet.
  18. Be a better artist.
  19. Be a better dancer.
  20. Be a better speller.
  21. Do more school.
  22. Be better at school.
  23. Write a play/book/movie.
  24. Go to bed earlier.
  25. Wake up earlier.
When you add all the life altering changes we were already planning to make, to the changes I'm about to see in Micah...  Well, it looks like it's going to be quite a year!!!

As for my resolutions... so far I only have one.

1.  Keep breathing.

Hope your year is looking great so far!

___________________________________________________________________

We leave for Ukraine in 6 days!  We still have $19,392.92 left to raise.  I can hardly believe how much success we've experienced in such a short period of time!  However, we still have a ways to go and a short period of time to get there!  Do you have a dollar you can spare?  Or maybe $5?  Any donation amount will help get us closer to our goals.  And don't forget what a difference you will make in the lives of Albina, Alina and Maks by donating to our cause!  
Thank you so much!!!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Uncertainty

Yesterday my sister posted this on her blog.

I love her!  She has been such an awesome support throughout this process.

I realize that everyone is probably sick and tired of hearing that we need more money.  
But...
We need more money.

As far as her uncertainty about when we need money, I'll explain here:

Most of the funds are needed as soon as we leave for Ukraine (1 WEEK from today).  The remaining portion (about $5500) has been due from the very beginning (we were to have paid it as soon as we decided to move ahead with the adoption).  Fortunately the agency has been very kind to work with us throughout our fundraising and they've allowed us to wait and pay off that portion until the end.

Donate your $1 today and make a difference in the lives of Albina, Alina & Maks.

My sister already did!  :-)

Here is Albina (on right) with a friend at their New Years celebration.  Isn't she beautiful?  I can't wait to see her again!!!



Thursday, January 3, 2013

Lists

Sometimes I feel like this:

 Like lately.

I have lists on my nightstand (for when I wake in the middle of the night in a panic.)

I have packing lists for me.

I have packing lists for each of the kids.

I have lists of things to do before I leave.

I have lists of things to clean.  

I have lists of food to eat (so our fridge can be cleaned out).

I have lists of things to make lists of.

I have been feeling fairly calm. 
Until yesterday.

I didn't realize anything had changed.
Until my daughter walked into the kitchen and started bouncing a rubber ball over and over again on the tile floor.
And I snapped.

James looked at me, smiled and said, "Are you okay?  Starting to get a little stressed?"
I said, "I didn't think so... but apparently I'm feeling a little stressed."

Thankfully he knew to give me a hug instead of making me feel guilty for a bad mom moment.

I feel like there is so much to prepare.
Still so much fundraising to do.
Limited time to spend with Toria, Emma, Isabel and Micah before being away from them for a LONG time.
So... I suppose there may be a little stress building up inside of me.

We leave for Ukraine in 1 WEEK from tomorrow.
That is not very long.
I am so anxious that I can hardly stand it.
I am so excited to see our kids again.
And so scared and nervous about all the unknowns.

1 WEEK.
Still $19,384.92 left to raise.
So, I'm begging you to look for spare change.
See if you have anything more you can offer us.
This is my last effort to beg and plead for help.

So many of you have been so generous.
We are so grateful.
And so amazed that we've been able to raise so much money in such a short time.
Yet, as grateful as we are, we still aren't quite there.
And our trip is just around the corner.

Albina, Alina and Maks are waiting for us.
They are anxious for us to come to Ukraine to adopt them.
Is there any way you can spare a few more dollars to help them?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

In Ukraine, they celebrate the holidays differently than we do in the States.  As a result, our family has engaged in many discussions about how to merge Ukrainian holidays with our traditional family holidays.

One evening our discussion became so emotionally charged that one of my daughters had a complete meltdown over when Santa should really come and visit our home.  We've obviously created some pretty strong family traditions when it comes to Christmas.  It might be difficult to let go of some of our past traditions, but we realize that under the circumstances, we have to be sensitive to the holidays and traditions that Albina, Alina and Maks feel strongly about.

Since New Years is one of the bigger holidays in the part of Ukraine where Albina, Alina and Maks live, we realize that we need to incorporate it more into our family holidays (up to this point it's basically been a "throw away" holiday).  Over the next while we'll figure out the details a little better, but for this year we incorporated one new tradition for New Years (thanks to my cousin who directed me to this website).

A few days before New Years Eve I asked for each member of our family to write down 5 favorite memories from 2012.  Then, on the night before New Years Eve, James and I took all the decorations off the Christmas tree and added a few of our own:


We kept it simple.  I printed off the memories and put one memory in each balloon.  Then at midnight on New Years Eve we popped open our balloons and read our memories out loud.  Guster got a little crazy with all the popping (he popped a few balloons with his teeth)... but otherwise it was an awesome way to end the year.

Here are a few of our favorite memories from 2012:


This summer we met Albina and Alina for the first time.  Seeing them at the airport gave us all an amazing feeling... like we'd known them before.  When we arrived home from the airport we gathered to kneel for family prayer.  Suddenly, Alina stood up and did the Cha-Cha.

In July our family celebrated the life of James C Watkins.  We drove to Kansas and enjoyed time with family members.  Shelly, Toria, Emma & Isabel sang at "Papa's" memorial service.  Then we headed to the cemetery where we witnessed a touching graveside service.  The military was in attendance and presented the family with a United States flag.  Papa was a great patriot that served our country faithfully.  Before Papa's graveside service, Micah put sunglasses on Sheba (the dog).  Throughout the entire service the dog walked back and forth in the background wearing sunglasses.  It was such a funny sight.  Every time the service got extra emotional, the dog would walk by and instead of holding back our sobs, we would have to hold in our giggles.

This year Micah got a Spy Kit for Christmas.  He spent all day on Christmas reading all about how to be a spy. 

This summer we looked at homes so that we could move closer to Salt Lake School for the Performing Arts.  However, in the middle of our home search, we learned of 3 Ukrainian children that needed a family.  Instead of moving and getting a new home, we decided to add 3 new children to our family!

This spring we worked really, really hard and got our yard looking amazing!  Why?  So our friends could hold their wedding reception in our home and yard.  It ended up being a beautiful event!  However, after the wedding, we were so tired of doing yardwork that the yard wasn't kept up throughout the remaining months of summer.  Oh well!

This year Toria worked hard and was accepted into Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts.  This was a HUGE honor!  However, in the end, she decided to attend college at Utah Valley University.  She received a theater scholarship and is studying Theater Performance.

On October 25, Albina sent a message to the family that wished Emma a Happy Birthday.  She then sent a picture and song to Emma on her actual birthday (October 26).  It was the best part of Emma's birthday: knowing that she had not been forgotten by her sister, Albina.

 2012 has proven to be a VERY eventful year for our family.  Last year at this time, we certainly didn't anticipate such adventure ahead!  But as amazing as 2012 has been, I truly believe that 2013 will be our best and most exciting year ever!

I can't wait to pop open the memory balloons next New Years Eve!

HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM OUR FAMILY TO YOURS!  
THANK YOU FOR BEING A PART OF OUR AMAZING YEAR!!!





Adoption Banned!


"Russian President Vladimir Putin just signed a cruel and spiteful law that will bar Americans from adopting Russian children. The new law will wreck the lives of the 46 children whose American adoptions were already under way, hundreds of other American families who had launched the adoption process, and the lives of countless children to come who will now live out their childhoods in Russian orphanages. Americans adopt nearly a thousand Russian children every year."  (Read more here.)

Chances are, you've heard about this story in the news.

I've had many people ask how this new law affects us.

Here is the answer:

NOT AT ALL.

Ukraine isn't affected by this law that's been recently instigated by it's neighboring country of Russia at all.  We will still be flying to Ukraine next week and will move forward with our adoption as planned.
 
___________________________________________________________________

We leave for Ukraine in 10 days!  We still have $19,484.92 left to raise.  I can hardly believe how much success we've experienced in such a short period of time!  However, we still have a ways to go and a short period of time to get there!  Your generosity and help in getting Albina, Alina & Maks home is hugely appreciated!