Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Adoption grant offered for 2 teens in Ukraine

We adopted our 16 year old daughter, Vicka, from Ukraine a little over 2 months ago. Daily, she has fretted over the future of her best friend. She graduated from the orphanage this year at age 15. She has a 16 year old brother, who graduated at the same time. They both had birthdays yesterday, July 6th. Thus, they have exactly one year before they “age out” and can never be adopted. A grant has been offered that would fully pay the facilitator’s fees for the adoption of these 2 children. The facilitator’s fee is the biggest expense of an adoption from Ukraine. A family approved to adopt Vika and Dima would only have to pay for transportation, food and lodging in Ukraine, as well as the fees associated with completing their dossier here in the States. In addition, we would personally help anyone walk through the process of preparing their dossier.

We know these children and would love to tell anyone more about them. We have lots of pictures from numerous visits to their orphanage. We would also be happy to answer any questions about the adoption process itself. Please commit to pray that this brother and sister would find their forever family. They are precious children who have little hope of a future in the poor area in which they live. They both have expressed the desire for a family. Please forward this link to your friends and acquaintances. You never know but that this might be read by someone whom God has already prepared as Mom and Dad to these 2children.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Inching Closer

As I call it a night on this side of the Atlantic, Gabe, Roman and Vicka are boarding the plane from Lugansk to Kyiv. It was a tearful good-bye but all is well. They will spend the weekend in Kyiv and hopefully have the Visa on Monday.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Life is hard. Raising children is hard. Raising an adopted child is double hard. I am questioning my abilities lately. I often feel like a colossal failure. I spoke with 3 other adoptive Moms this week. They did not use those same words but from what they told me about their struggles, they were not feeling quite so competent either. Its not enough just to love these children. They need more. So much more. And so I have spent quite a few weeks wallowing in my self-pity as I have come to realize that I don't have it in me to raise these children. I am out of ideas, out of patience, out of resources.

God has watched me wallow in this place. He's even called out to me to get up once or twice (an hour). But I've just laid there. Defeated.

But then tonight God whispered a sweet but powerful word into my ear. Chosen. I have often tried to encourage my children with this word. "I chose you," I have told them. Out of all the children in this world, I chose you as my own. Blank stare. I've had one even tell me I made a mistake. They do not appreciate this idea at all. Its just a word.

But tonight God did not remind me of my choice. He reminded me of his. "I chose you," He told me. Out of all the people in this world, I chose you to parent Vitalik. To parent Roman. To parent Vicka. Will I laugh at God and tell him he made a mistake? Will I buckle underneath the weight that my God has gently laid upon my shoulders?

Can you believe I even buckled in front of one of them? My dear sweet little Roman heard my complaining and said to me "Mom, God will help you do whatever he has called you to do." Grace? Did you say something about grace, Roman? Yes. I may be out of ideas but I am not out of grace. I may be out of patience but I am not out of grace. I may be out of resources but I am not out of grace. In fact, there was new grace this morning. And like manna, there will be just enough new grace tomorrow morning. And every morning thereafter.

God chose me as the parent of these children, not because he saw something wonderful in me. In fact, he knew I couldn't handle it. He gave me the burden, knowing it was too much for me to bear. God chose me so that His power could be made perfect in my weakness. Chosen. Its not just a word. It is a gift. It is an opportunity. It is a difficult and narrow road. Why would I have ever expected anything less?

And now may God grant me the strength to embrace his choice; to get up out of the miry clay of doubt and unbelief; and accept His generous outpouring of grace that supplies all my needs according to his riches in glory.

Verdict's In

Court went well today. The decree making Vicka our daughter will become final on April 20th. Still holding our collective breath until we have cleared the final hurdle. Gabe said they all had a good day together. He will leave Lugansk in the morning and be home tomorrow night.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

So far so good

Gabe and Sasha made it to Lugansk. Its early Thursday morning there. They will go get Vicka soon and spend some time together before the final court hearing at 2:00. By the time I wake up, we should have a verdict.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

We Finally Received our Interpol Clearance

It took our clearance 49 days to get to the SDA but at least it finally came. I'm glad we came on home and did not try to wait it out! Vicka was starting to get anxious and is now thrilled that we will be returning soon.

Gabe will travel back to Ukraine next week to finish up the court proceedings. The final hearing is set for Thursday, April 8th. The decree should be final April 18th. One of us will go back at that time to bring her home. God is good.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

First round of court is completed

Court today was a success. The whole day was so different from last summer when tears were shed on the way to court, during court, and after court. The sun came out today and so did the smiles. Vicka was very composed and calmly answered all the questions asked of her. When she was finished, she sat down with a smile and sigh of relief.

Because of the missing document, court must be reconvened before the final decree can be entered. But at least we have overcome the first hurdle.

We had the same judge, same jurors, same inspector three times in a row so we asked them all to be in the photo this time!

Friday, February 19, 2010

No clearances this week

We have been told that no clearances came in this week. That means we will only be having a prelminary hearing on Wednesday. But at least we can come home for a while. We miss the rest of the children and it is a blessing that only one of us will have to return to complete court.

Vicka and I have been working on a 1500 piece jigsaw puzzle and we are planning several outings for the weekend. We are very blessed to have Linda with us now.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Not much new going on here. We just sort of hang out till about 1:00 everyday when we head to Bela. Today we played UNO with Vicka and her friend. I called my friend Linda Tur in Kyiv and asked her to come out and be a translator for us. Vicka is so shy about communicating that I thought it would be good to have Linda around. She will arrive in the morning.

Still no Interpol clearance and still no Vitalik. But to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or Him be the glory......forever and ever.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

We have a court date

No, the Interpol Clearance did not come but even if it is not here by Wednesday, February 24th, we will have court that day. Worse case scenario is that the clearance will still be missing, the hearing will be considered preliminary and we will be able to go home with only one of us required to return to finish up the process after the clearance does come in.

We took Vicka with us to meet with the judge today. Yes, it was an informal meeting but she tackled it with courage and strength. She led the way into the building and up the stairs. She answered the judges questions with smiles instead of tears. I was a proud mama.

Monday, February 15, 2010

No Interpol Clearance today

The SDA said it has not received any new clearances since Thursday. Apparently, there is no schedule for when they are delivered to the SDA. We needed ours by tomorrow in order to be able to have court this week. Due to our family situation, we will need to come home if the clearance does not come in tomorrow. We will ask to schedule court a few weeks later, to give the clearance time to come in and for us to make new arrangements for our other children.

We had to do some paperwork today and did not get to visit with Vicka but we plan to go visit with her after school tomorrow. A friend called and asked if we were interested in helping with the recording of an English-learning CD so we will be doing that tomorrow morning. Sounds like fun.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A nice weekend

We have had a nice weekend with Vicka. Saturday we went to the orphanage for the Valentine's Day party with Shane and Marilyn and the kids. We've been eating at the same restaurants we ate at last summer, mostly because we know how to order there. Sergey, our driver, has been acting as our translator when needed. He was also the one who drove us on that 4-hour round trip to Starribilsk last summer. He has an emotional stake in this adoption as well! Vicka is happy and at ease. We visited with Maxim some this weekend. His grandmother is always such a sweet hostess.

Still no interpol clearance. Hoping it will come by Wednesday.


Friday, February 12, 2010

First Day in Lugansk

We got our referral yesterday. We arrived in Lugansk at 11:00 pm. We met with the inspector this morning and were at Bela by 10:00. All is well.

We had dinner with Shane and Marilyn and celebrated Vicka's 16th birthday which was the 6th.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

SDA Appointment

The SDA appointment went well. We were asked how to explain how we knew Vicka and then we were read her file yet again. It was a good testimony to the girls in the SDA office to hear we were back after what happened last summer.

After the appointment, Gabe and I browsed the souvenirs. I was dying to have one of these Soviet style hats so Gabe obliged.

Then we had lunch with Sasha at Soho steakhouse and discussed what to do about Vitalik. We will pick up our referral tomorrow and take the 9:30 pm flight to Lugansk. We will be doing paperwork on Friday then decide at that point whether to wiat on the Interpol clearance here or at home.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

SDA Appointment tomorrow

I made it to Kyiv with no trouble. Gabe and I enjoyed dinner at the Italian restaurant next to Fridays then walked around enjoying the snow. Its cold, but not unbearably.

I haven't seen Vitalik since arriving, but then again, neither has Gabe seen much of him. This has been the difficult part of this trip. The pull of the past on our son has been more than he could bear. Pray for him.

Monday, February 8, 2010

2nd Mission Finally Accomplished

The affidavit requesting the Interpol Clearance could only be filed on Monday. So it has been filed. Gabe said all the facilitators were there at the SDA waiting on clearances that had been promised this week for the families that are already there. The clearances were not yet available. It has been 2 weeks since they implemented this requirement so chances are we will not get our clearance within 2 weeks. Unless things improve, looks like we might be coming home to wait on the clearances and then going back for court.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

First Mission Accomplished

Gabe and Vitalik made it to Kyiv. They flew through Atlanta and Paris. They say it is cold and snowing. They are staying across from the Mandarin Plaza as usual but in a different apartment. Gabe filed the I600 at the Embassy first thing. It had to be filed before Monday so we are good to go! Sasha will file the request for Interpol Clearance tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Journey has Begun

Gabe and Vitalik left today at noon. They will arrive in Kyiv tomorrow morning around 11:00. On Friday Sasha will file the affidavit requesting the Interpol clearance and Gabe will file the I600 at the Embassy. I will be leaving on Monday evening, arriving on Tuesday, to join them. Our SDA appointment is Wednesday morning. And I only have a million things to do before then! Prayers for Gabe and Vitalik this week will be GREATLY appreciated!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Even the best laid plan can go awry

Each time we have been to the Lugansk region to adopt we have had court in about 2 weeks. And so we planned to spend about 2 weeks there again, then come home for the waiting period after court. Well, so much for planning! The SDA sent out a notice some months ago that dossiers submitted after February 1, 2010, would need to include a letter authorizing an Interpol clearance. But they suddenly began applying the requirement this week. At least we will get a head start on ours. Some families are in Ukraine in limbo, waiting on the clearance before they can have court. The clearance can take up to 40 days!

So we will still have our appointment at the SDA on February 10th. They will have had our Interpol request for about a week by then and so we get a small head start. Still, we cannot spend 40 days in Ukraine waiting on court. We have no idea how things will pan out. But God does. He is as sovereign over governments as he is over a child's heart. And so as always, we make plans to the best of our ability and trust God with the outcome.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Our SDA appointment is in 19 days!!!

Gabe leaves in 12 days for Ukraine. He will be taking Vitalik with him. Hopefully, they will be able to visit the orphanage there as well as see some of the graduates. Gabe will get the I600 filed at the Embassy before Vicka's 16th birthday and I will follow 5 days later. Its all happening so fast this time! My life feels sort of like "we now interrupt our regular programming to bring you another adoption!"

Two summers ago when we were in Ukraine adopting Vitalik and Roman, our oldest son, Colton, was in California working on a movie. We were so proud tonight to see his name in the credits of To Save a Life which opened in theaters around the country today. If you haven't yet heard about this powerful movie, please go to and check it out.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Be His hands and feet in Haiti

Please continue to check the Hands and Feet website for updates on Haiti. Also, you can become a fan of The Hands and Feet Project as well as a fan of Mark Stuart on Facebook and receive daily updates. Hands and Feet is the primary organization bringing relief to Jacmel, a town of 50,000 people! They are coordinating relief flights of supplies from the States via Miami and Santo Domingo. They are receiving much needed water, vital supplies of medical and shelter supplies, as well as diapers and formula.

If you would like a different way to donate, consider sponsoring a child from the Adullam House in thier rock-n-read-thon on January 29th. The Adullam House is a home in Wetumpka, Alabama that cares for children whose mothers are incarcerated. The children asked if they could raise money for Haiti and will be donating the money to HAF. The children will be in front of Sam's Club in Montgomery on January 29th rocking and reading for 8 hours. They are working on getting sponsors and will be accepting donations on-site as well. Contact them through if you would like to make a pledge.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

UPDATE on Jacmel, Haiti

The mayor of Jacmel has given permission for Hands and Feet to land small aircraft and bring in boats with supplies. The first boat comes in today! Praise the Lord! Any money donated will be used to purchase supplies. Where possible, they will be bought from the Dominican Republic and Haitians will be hired to distribute them. Jacmel is on the south coast of the country and inaccessible by road at this time. If you have a large boat or small plane (1400 meter runway) email Please pass this on.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


In Haiti. Gabe and Alexandra were there. In Haiti. They left Tuesday, late morning. That afternoon, there was an earthquake. In Haiti. The Montana, the hotel where they stayed Monday night crumbled in the earthquake. 200 people were killed. As the earth quaked in Haiti, Gabe and Alexandra were landing in Birmingham.

Our friends are still in Haiti. The Hands and Feet Project, where they care for orphaned and abandoned children and where Gabe and Alexandra stayed, was protected. I believe that God has them there for such a time as this.

Mark on Wednesday:
Last night was crazy...slept on the dirt in the center of the village...away from the buildings. Tonight we may venture back indoors, but that is yet to be decided. We go in and out to get necessities. The Haitian people are numb and sad to say very used to death, but this has created what seems to be a hypnotic state. I've never been in a situation were you feel SO helpless, fearful, and small. The tremors are coming again as i type this.

Mark on Thursday:

We went to Jacmel today for supplies. pockets of the city look like bombs went off. i saw a family that had been trapped & killed on their porch...there's no machinery to get them out. saw another man who was ONE step away from escaping his tumbling house, but was pinned & killed against the front porch post & remains there hanging by one arm. it's disturbing. i think we're in shock

Aegis on Thursday:

We saw dead bodies and buildings fallen down everywhere. just got back and was upstairs checking emails & had another tremor. also met a women whose roof had fallen on her while she was in bed. broke her back. she's got kids & is pregnant & is lying on a mat on the ground. this is heartbreaking

From CNN:

The staff at the Hands and Feet Mission in Jacmel, Haiti, is worried. Not about looters; they are worried about the aftershocks. They just won't stop. The children of the orphanage, who range in age from 2 months to 9 years old, panic every time one comes. The situation is overwhelming for them. At times they are normal kids, laughing and playing marbles, and then their emotions swing violently, and they run into the yard, screaming and crying.

From the Hands and Feet Project facebook page Thursday night:

The mayor of Jacmel visited the orphanage today and told them of several children who are in the town just sitting on the streets, crying. Their parents were killed, and the mayor is hoping that they can take them in at Hands and Feet. We need to prepare for these new children to join the Hands and Feet family.

I thank God that Gabe and Alexandra were able to get to know the precious children at Hands and Feet earlier this week. I thank God they got out of Port Au Prince safely. I thank God for the Hands and Feet Project and the wonderful people who run it and support it. I thank God for protecting them in the midst of this disaster. Please pray for them and the rest of the country. If you are able and would like to make a donation to the Hands and Feet Project, please visit their website at May God be glorified in Haiti.

Friday, January 8, 2010


God is so incredibly good. What could have turned out a disaster is now a mere inconvenience. Our appointment with the SDA is Wednesday, February 10th. We purchased tickets in December. We were scheduled to fly out on Monday, February 8th. Once in Ukraine, we would be going to the Embassy to begin the visa application process as it has to be filed before a child’s 16th birthday. We thought we were safe since Vicka’s birthday wasn’t until February 16th.

So over in Ukraine, God is watching out for me. Vicka gets sent to some sort of educational competition. Some sponsors of the orphanage reward her with 400 griven (about 50 dollars). She buys a phone. We have been corresponding all along so she sends me her phone number. On Saturday we are just chatting away, with Roman translating, when she tells me that we will be leaving America on her birthday! What?! Her birthday is not the 8th! Oh, yes, it is.

So after a whirlwind morning of emails to the Embassy, phone calls to my facilitator, and being on hold with Delta, we have changed our travel arrangements. Gabe will now be leaving on Wednesday, February 3rd, so that he can arrive and be at the Embassy by Friday the 5th. I will still leave on the 8th and join him there in Kyiv. I am so thankful that God did not allow us to show up at the Embassy on the 10th, only be told we were too late. Can you imagine?

God is so in control of every detail of our lives. I know that, if left to my own devises, my life would be one wreck after another. I can look around my home every day and see visible evidence of God’s grace and mercy to me. I repent of my whining and complaining; of my frustrations; of my lack of faith in God. He is faithful. And He will bring it to pass.