Another child for The News

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That’s right you read correctly. We have added another child to our clan. His name is Diego and he is 4 yrs old. He lives in Guatemala with his mom and a sibling. We won’t be legally adopting him, however we will be sponsoring him through Compassion International. We learned about Compassion International at the Casting Crowns Concert we attended last night. They really have a heart for sponsoring and adopting children. There was also an adoption agency at the concert.
Our kids are so excited to add a little brother to our family. They are especially happy that we get to help Diego and be involved in his life while he gets to stay with his momma. We ask that you please pray for Diego and his family and that our contributions help keep them in the word of the Lord and that they are blessed with lots of food to nourish their bodies.

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Where has the time gone?!?!

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I know it’s been a long time since our last post but a lot has happened since then. Let’s start off with….Can you Believe that Julie Grace has been home almost 8 months?!?! It blows my mind when I think about it but when I hear her speak or see how comfortable she is I realize she has been home for a while. :)

Andy recently came down on orders from the Army for us to move back to TX. We were really worried how our girl would adjust seeing as how she just moved here from another country. We did a lot of explaining and she was excited because we would be closer to family and she would finally get to meet them all. The kids and I hit the road Sept. 2 and started our journey down to TX from NY however I had a lesson in store for Miss Julie. A week before we left she was upset because she thought she would never get to see her friends again. I explained to her that we would make an effort to keep in touch and visit. I also reminded her that she never thought she would see her friend Marni again but she got to see her on several occasions. One of Julie’s friends from Ukraine was adopted a year before her and lives about 5 hours from NY so I made it a point to stop so Julie could see her again after a year and a half. It was a very nice surprise and we all had a blast! I loved seeing Julie and Avonlea playing and speaking in Russian with each other. Julie speaks a lot of English but we keep the Russian as fresh as we can at home. The next leg of our trip led us down to TN so we could catch up with two of the boys friends. It was a rough drive but the kids did amazing! The next day we headed to Memphis to visit family and spend a few days to rest. Julie enjoyed getting to meet family and she loves all of them. I think it’s safe to say they love her just as much. Our last 2 days would be to and through Tx. Our first day in TX we were able to have dinner with a very sweet friend who is like a second mom to me. It was so great to see her and for the kids to meet their grandma Lali. Later that evening the kids got to swim and hang out in the hot tub. I’m sure that was the highlight of their day. ;) The next day I had made plans with another family, who adopted another one of Julie’s friends, to meet for lunch. This was a surprise for both of the girls. Julie was very excited to get to surprise her friend Anna at school in the same way she surprised Avonlea. After all the fun with our new friends we headed the rest of the way to my mom’s house. We definitely had a long, tiring road trip but what a blessing it was to be able to show our daughter that she will never have to leave her friends with the fear of never getting see them again.

We are now settled in our amazing new home and the kids have already started school. We are so happy with the school the kids are going to and with all of the eagerness the school has for trying to help Julie. All three of our kiddos are very happy at their school and with their new teachers. I knew I missed being home in TX but I didn’t realize how much until we got here. It’s amazing what God will do in your life if you just stop trying to run your own life and start living your life for Him.

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3 Months Home

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Well it’s been a while since we have posted but life with 3 children has been keeping us very busy. It’s hard to believe that Julie has been home with us for 3 months already. Our boys are doing amazingly adjusting to having a sister. I’m very proud of how much they have opened their hearts to their sister. It’s really fun to watch all 3 of our kiddos interact.
Julie has been in school for 2 months and is excelling in English and math. She is now able to speak in complete sentences which she is very excited about. Things are going very well however we do have our very challenging moments. She is an amazing little girl but there are days that we have to deal with the after affects of her being in an orphanage. She and I have both had some very trying and emotional times recently but we stick together and are stronger and closer because of them. I’m so grateful The Lord has brought Julie Grace into our lives and he continues to guide us throughout journey. God is good all the time, all the time God is Good!

An afternoon of emotional exhaustion.

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Today Julie had surgery to have her tonsils and adenoids removed. She is so well know that one of the nurses and another patient’s mom knew who she was. She is famous and known by thousands. I can’t wait until she can comprehend the magnitude of how many people’s lives she has touched. It’s funny to me when I’m asked her name and when I say Julie Grace I get the response, “The Julie Grace?”. Haha yes she is The Julie Grace! ;)

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Getting into the groove…

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So our girl has been home a month and adjusting extremely well. We have had our trying moments but they a few and far between and don’t last long at all. I tell you what she is a very resilient girl. She has learned so much English and prefers to speak it over Russian at home. When she is around strangers she suddenly doesn’t remember English. ;) She started school last week and gets to ride the bus. At first she wasn’t very thrilled with the idea but now she looks forward to it. She is taken out of class to meet with her ESL teacher. Both of her teachers are very impressed with her progress. She also loves going to church. One thing we gave learned is that she definitely doesn’t like being the center of attention and quit honestly I don’t blame her. She doesn’t understand why people are so fascinated with her because in her young innocent eyes she is just a regular girl. She really loves playing with her brothers and our friends kids but she gets uncomfortable around other kids unless they are babies. I’ve also noticed she is partial to boys because at the orphanage she was surrounded around the boys who protected her. She loves babies! Today was finally a super nice day so all three of my babies were so excited to get to play outside. At first Julie was apprehensive because of all the kids outside playing. I told her it was ok and that I would be with her the whole time. At some points several of the neighborhood kids would be in our driveway and she would get overwhelmed and go inside for a moment but then she would come back out because she wanted to ride her scooter. Tonight after her shower we sat to cuddle and so she could tell me about her day. I asked how she liked riding her scooter and playing outside and she said lived it and wanted to do it again tomorrow. I told her as long as it was warm enough then we would. She then went on to say that she didn’t like all of the kids being in our driveway or the kids that would just look at her. She asked why they couldn’t just play in their own driveways. She’s just not ready for all of the chaos of all of the neighborhood kids. Again, I can’t say I blame her.

Julie’s First Day of School

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Updat to prior post

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If you watched the video at the end of the last post you will see it was very emotional. Our church service started after the girls reunited so Julie and I went ahead and attended church. She saw me crying along with Pastor Jarod and asked me what what wrong. I told her that I was just so happy to have her home and as my daughter. I then had her look around the room and told her to multiply all those people by hundreds, heck I would go as far to say thousands. I said all of those people love and care about YOU! :) They all wanted you home just as much a mama & Papa did. I told her that you all prayed and asked God to help us be her family. Of course this conversation is taking place via google translate. She said, “ok”. I can’t wait for the day that she truly understands the magnitude of how much she is cared for and loved and by how many people. When I see all of the countries that have followed our story I’m still in shock. Julie Grace New is known and loved all over the world! Thank you God for all of your angels and your children who helped bring our daughter home!

“How will I ever live without you?”- M.O. Boiko

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First I want to thank everyone for being so patient with us and with our procrastination of righting an updated post. We made it home safely February 7th. We couldn’t be happier to be home and to start our new life as a family of 5. (That is still taking time for me to get use to say. ;)) My mom finally flew back home to Texas so that has left the 5 of us to get to know each other a little better. The Lord also helped by dumping tons of snow on us so we all have been snowed in together since last thursday. It was a great opportunity for us to start getting into a routine that works for us now. I have cherished every minute being home with all 3 of my kiddos. We’ve gone sledding and made snow ice cream. Julie loved it all.

Ok so most everyone knows the story of how we came to know about our daughter. Our pastor adopted Julie’s best friend, Marni. Below is a picture taken almost a year and a half ago on the day that Marni left the orphanage to be with her forever family. Julie (Masha) had been crying and asked Marni, “How will I ever live without you?”

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On that day the girls believed they would probably never get to see each other ever again. Once Andy and I committed to bringing our daughter home we longed for the day that we could reunite these best friends. It’s was our motivation to keep going when things got rough. One night after having dinner with the Jones family I had a chance to get to talk to Marni and she told me how badly she wanted Masha to come to America and have a family. Just before we were leaving their house we all prayed and each member of the Jones family said a piece of the prayer. Marni’s prayer still sticks strong in my mind and heart. The tears flowed as I heard this sweet little girl pray that we would be able to bring her friend home so she could have a better life with a family. Once we met Julie we couldn’t wait to let her know that we attended the same church as Marni and that we knew her personally. The look on her face was priceless. Once our adoption was final Julie would ask everyday when she would get to see Marni again. lol ahhh the impatience of a little girl. I don’t want to go into too much detail about the girl’s reunion because that is a special moment for them but I do know that it was a moment that everyone who has followed our story has been waiting for so here is a picture from that wonderful day.

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A year and a half later and these two amazing little girls are together again. I’m so forever grateful that Julie won’t ever have to know how she will live without Marni because they will always know where the other is. It was definitely a blessing to see the girls play and run around together like I can only imagine they did when they were in Snizhne. GOD IS GREAT!!!!

CHECK OUT THE VIDEO BELOW!

Respect for our daughter and our family…

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We know that everyone is just as excited as we are for Julie Grace to be home in America. We also know that there are a lot of you who are excited to finally get to meet this sweet little girl you have been hearing and reading about for over the past year. Although our adoption process will come to an end all of the adjustments and ups & downs will just begin. We will be keeping our circle very small for several months to help all 5 of us adjust to our “New” lives together. We ask that you all please respect our privacy and space during this time. I will continue to post updates and info so you all will still get to see a little into our lives. Our home will not be open to anyone who has not been invited. I’m sorry if this comes across as harsh but our home will be our daughter’s safe haven. We will not have her on display for everyone to come and see the new girl. She is a very shy girl when she is around people she doesn’t know and that includes children. Please if you could read the passage below we would truly appreciate it.

God bless,

The New Family

TOP DO’S:

1) Encourage and ask questions. Give space to the new family while still expressing your care through cards, emails, phone calls, care packages, etc. Ask what their needs are and how you can help. Ask about established boundaries. By asking questions up front, this takes pressure off of the family and they are less likely to feel as if they are pushing you away.

2) Redirect the child to the parents. This can be as simple as saying, “go give your mom a hug” or “I bet your daddy would like that, go show him” or “let’s ask mom if that is okay.” The child needs to see you getting approval from the parents. It is the parent’s job to train and other’s to reinforce. Also, look to the parents for guidance on interacting with the child.

3) Care for the biological or previously adopted children. The other children in the home are transitioning too and need encouragement and support. Continue to make them feel important as they are often overshadowed in adoption.

4) Read and educate yourself about adoption! Educate yourself on the differences in attachment parenting and then communicate what you have learned to others. Become an advocate for the family.

TOP DON’TS:

1) Don’t meet needs or wants of the child. Initially, it is probably best that you don’t try to meet needs or provide care for the child at all (feeding, diapering, etc). This is how a child understands who their caretaker is and who they belong to. To begin with, the adoptive parents need to be the ONLY ones seen as the authority figure, provider, encourager, comforter, etc.

2) Don’t shower the child with gifts. If you want to give gifts, ask what would be appropriate and when it would be appropriate. Also you may need to let the parents give the gift and get credit for it.

3) Don’t lavish attention/affection on the new child. Don’t try to hold, hug, kiss or make eye contact with the new child, especially if he/she keeps reaching for you. Don’t encourage the child to come to you and leave their parent’s side. Try not to bombard the child with attention as many of these children are easily overwhelmed.

4) Don’t compare to biological children. Attachment parenting is, in many ways, opposite of traditional parenting. Trust and respect what these parents are trying to do.

5) Don’t make assumptions about the child’s feelings. Don’t assume the child is “relieved,” “grateful,” “excited,” or “appreciative” they’ve been adopted. Adoption is often a life-altering difficult transition for these children.

A list of firsts….

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Ok so I’m typing this later than I had wanted but all of the traveling and waking up at 4am for the past few days really caught up to me. On Tues. we traveled to Mariupol to take care of Julie’s birth certificate and social and other business. Unfortunately not everything could be done for reasons that I will not get into. Mind you we had to travel 4 hours to get to Mariupol so we had planed on getting everything done in one trip but it didn’t seem like that was in The Lord’s plan. After getting back late we made our final drive to the orphanage to pick up our Julie Grace. Gotcha Day had finally come!!! We met with the orphanage director one final time. She expressed to us how she was so grateful we came for Masha because she thought she would never find a family. Julie was one of her favorite children at the orphanage. We loaded up in the van with our daughter and her duffel bag full of clothes and trinkets we had sent to her and a new coat the director had bought for Julie. Normally when we would leave the orphanage I would look back and up at the windows just to see if anyone would peek out but no one ever did. On this trip when I looked back and up at the windows my heart shattered into a million pieces. A lot of the kids were looking out of the windows. I could only imagine what was going through the minds of those poor babies. I was excited to be bringing my daughter out of there but sad for all the kids left behind. I can only pray and advocate for those sweet kiddos. Well our first night went very well. Julie wanted mama to help her with her shower then we all ate dinner and went to bed because we had another 4am wake up to drive to Mariupol to try and finish what we couldn’t the day prior.

The next day we woke up early packed everything and loaded up in the van and headed to Mariupol. We said “Gud Bye Snizhne”. The morning started off horribly windy and the snow was coming dow very heavily. We all said our prayers because we were all secretly afraid of the drive. Half way to Mariupol our driver stopped and said that if we continued on we would be stuck and not be able to drive back to Donetsk. That was not an option because we needed to apply for Julie’s passport. We decided that the safest thing for everyone was to just turn around and not worry about our business in Maruipol. God would provide the way He had throughout this journey. We spent the morning applying for her passport and getting her picture taken. Since we were done several hours before our flight to Kyiv we decided to spend some time at Donetsk City (the mall). This is where all of Julie’s first began! She had never been shopping before much less at a mall. We took an escalator up to the 3 floor to find a bathroom and the look on her face was priceless…lol Not to mention her high stepping to get off. After a few times she got the hang of it. We took her to get a few things and she was set on getting something Hello Kitty. I had her try on some shirts and she kept saying…”mama…Hello Kitty?” I said yes but clothes first. Papa took her into a toy store and gave her 500 grivnas (around $58). Then he showed her this ginormous Hello Kitty stuffed animal. Yep…she was set on getting it. lol Next was her first time eating at a restaurant. We took her to our favorite restaurant called Pasta Project. She ordered 4 cheese pizza…not your normal cheese pizza. One slice was blue cheese and it was amazing. After lunch was done we headed to the airport and got on the plane. Julie was so excited because she had never flown before. I guess she was exhausted from all the fun and excitement because she was asleep before we ever took off. She did wake up during the flight though and did amazing. On our drive through Kyiv she was amazed by all of the lights. Our girl experienced so much in just one day than she ever had her entire life. We arrived at our apartment which is not down town so we are away from all of the protesting. We got a good nights rest last night. Today we were able to take care of the business we couldn’t do in Mariupol. I told you the Lord always provides a way as long as you trust in Him!

I have to say I have no clue what happened to that quiet shy girl we first met in Snizhne! Our girl’s personality must have changed with her name because Julie is a very rambunctious and vocal little thing. She loves her cartoons and music. She also likes watching and listening to them both at the same time. She is very open with us and it feels like she has been with us her whole life. Our facilitator also mentioned how most kids show some sign of being a little nervous but Julie was very comfortable with us. Today was a sign of that for sure. She was being a kid and running around and acting goofy and when I asked her to calm down she would say no and continue. I pulled out google translate and asked her to please sit. She said no so I pulled out the stern Russian and said “Da”. Yeah the honeymoon was over. She did not like that! She pouted her way to the kitchen. I asked her if she still loved me and of course I got a no. I gave her space and after about 10 minutes she was over it. It was bath time so I got a bubble bath ready for her which she LOVED! During this time I asked her if she was still upset with me and she said no. While I was typing something in google translate she said, “mama, I love you!” My heart melted. I explained to her that she needed to listen and obey her mama & papa and she said ok. After she was out and dressed she gave me a hug and kissed my cheek and said she loved me again. I’m so glad to have this time to bond with our Julie Grace!

Praying for the people of Ukraine!

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I’ve been putting off posting and giving my opinion on the situation going on here in Ukraine. I know it’s best at this point in our adoption to be mindful and prayerful. However, I need to express the need for prayers for the people of Ukraine and for the families who are currently here adopting. Right now we are about 12hrs from the capital so we aren’t seeing anything or changes but it is flooding the media. Next week we will be traveling with our daughter to Kiev and have to visit the embassy in top of other things we need to get done before we can go home. We are not afraid or worried and neither are our facilitators. We trust in the Lord and His shield of protection over us. We do ask that everyone take a moment to say a prayer for all those affected. God bless!

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Visiting the orphanage today I realized that we are going to be separating Julie (Masha) from her friends and what she has known for at least five years.  Thinking about what she is leaving behind and comparing what my two boys at home have right now, its no question that she is getting a loving family and her own room with clothes she doesn’t have to share.  I just hope that my two boys at home understand and can learn what Julie has gone through and has to show for 10 years of her life.  I just came to the realization that we are going to picking her up next week  to start her passport and tax ID paperwork with literally the clothes on her back and some pictures that we took. Its hard to comprehend that she is a 10 year little girl and has no personal belongings, clothes, or toys.  Actually the clothes she will most likely be picked up in are the ones we brought for her on our first trip.

We got to watch her today play with a friend of hers who she will be leaving behind in the orphanage. She is a little older but you can tell that they are pretty close. It makes me sad that this friend (Alona? who is 13) watches all these kids get adopted as gets to see how happy the kids are when they leave. My guess is that being adopted is bittersweet. Knowing that you are getting a family that has worked so hard to come to Ukraine to meet and adopt you, but also leaving all of what you know and all of your friends behind. It has to be hard for the kids being adopted too. Kind of like survivors guilt in a sense. Leaving the orphanage without knowing what really happened to you friends that were left behind. If it wasn’t for the amount of money it takes to adopt, there are a few kids I would take home in a heartbeat.

If you guys know anyone that is thinking about adopting, let me know. I know some great kids that want a family.

Julie and Alona

Julie and Alona