Tuesday, May 5, 2015


Ukrainian countryside mirrors their country's flag

In the past month, I have traveled to Ukraine 3 times. That is more than 30,000 miles in 30 days.
It is second nature at this point.
I know the airports, I know the routines. I know which way to go through customs and what line to stand in to get my passport stamped. I know that I have to take off my shoes at this security check area but do not need to remove my laptop.

I stop by the Costa Coffee shop when I'm in Moscow and order my latte and wait 3 hours for my flight to Kiev. I wash my face and brush my teeth at the same sink in the downstairs bathroom next to my gate during my layover.

This trip I travel alone.
I travel light, with one carry-on with all my stuff and a large checked bag containing donations for the sweet children at the orphanage. I pack them soccer shoes and jerseys I found on clearance. Deflated soccer balls and under garments are in there too. Hosting-mommy's ship me items for their loved ones. Homemade cookies "that taste like home" and converse black high top shoes. Small tokens of affections. Reminders that people love them.

I arrived in Ukraine last night, flying Aeroflot, my new favorite airline. Sergey picks me up late, like 1 minute late, and I hear him apologize 10 times on the 40 minute drive into downtown. Almost every 4 minutes, in broken English "I sorry, you fast, I sorry Keem." I assure him, I was fine, and its ok.
He brings me to Karen's and carries my luggage up the 5 flights of stairs.
Karen and I stay up until midnight talking like old friends. I catch her up on the adoption and the men trying to break into my room. She invites me to the production of the play she is producing with the kids she works with.
I am picked up at 7am the next morning and we make the two and half hour trip to the region.
We try to pick up the court deed, but it is not ready, so we go to the orphanage to get documents. This is a surprise visit as the director wasn't aware we were coming. 
We walk in, Roma in front of me.  I see adults quickly shuffling down the long hallway into the directors office. She has called a staff meeting for the 34 staff members. Cleaners with dusters in hand and a cook with a white chef hat on her head sweep by us.  
Roma and I sit on the couch outside her office. There are no kids. This is very strange since the last few times I have come Alex and the older boys were not in class. But today, Alex is no where to be seen.
I see two beautiful faces in the hallway. I walk toward them and them toward me. I give one girl a hug from me and then one more from her host mama who asked me to. Then I get a rib crushing hug from the other. So happy to see some friendly faces. They come and sit on the couch with us. "Where is everyone?" I ask. I get a shrug and "school".

The staff meeting is done and Roma rushes in and I follow suit, saying a quick bye to the girls on the couch.
The director looks as though she has been crying. The tone is very solemn as Roma and her talk. She begins to break down and tears stream down her face.
We are in there for 30 minutes as she talks and cries to Roma. Roma turns to me, "Do you have the donation?" I reach into my purse and pull out 1500 crisp American dollars. She gives us the documents we need. I give her a hug and I turn to look at Roma, but he has left. I chase him out the door...
"Roma, I didn't get to see my kids? Roma!" I call to him.
He says we have to go, and is basically sprinting to the car.
Confused and sad, I follow him. I open the car handle and sit in the back seat, "What is going on? Where are Yana and Alex?"
He says "you are sitting down..."
I wrote to Alex 3 times during the 6 days I was in the states.  I never got a response back. I could see he read the messages and that he was online but he never answered me.
This is not typical behavior for Alex.  He always responds. Always. And usually immediately.  
When I come to visit, he follows me from room to room. That boy opens the doors for me and carries my bags. He his my shadow when I am there.
This week, an employee from the orphanage, a caretaker told him he can't go to America.
This women told him that she will teach him a lesson and he will not have a family.
She told him that I will not love him anymore and that I will not take him back with me because of what he has done.
She said that no mother could love him.
She told him this because he had "bad behavior" at school.
Nothing more than what has happened in my second grade classroom this year.

Roma told me everything. He told me about the incident that involved Alex and provoked the employee to say these things to him.

Don't get me wrong, it was an impulsive decision and a bad choice.
 So I messaged him, "you ...? what were you thinking?"
I prayed, what do I do? what do I say?
...Grace is what came to me. Cover him with grace, blankets and blankets of grace.

I start to understand...
He didn't message me because he didn't want to tell me what happened.
He didn't message me because he didn't want me to know he messed up.
He didn't message me because he didn't want to lie to me.
This week he took in all that abusive, completely false information that was fed to him.
I am not going to love him. I am not bringing him to America. 
He internalized it and he believed it was true.
He believed I wasn't going to love him anymore.  If I knew what he did, or when I found out I would change my mind. 


Love is not based on works.
The Unconditional love of a family is not based on what you do.
They were treated by performance in the orphanage, not by who they were but by what they did.
That's not love.
Am I disappointed? Yes.
Am I surprised? For sure.
Am I sad that he hid it from me? Totally.
Do I still love him...ABSOLUTELY.

I mess up. We all mess up. We fall so short, but we are all loved always.
"With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love"
Ephesians 4:2

Today we got the court decree and went to where Yana was born and changed her birth certificate. Tomorrow (in an hour) I will be waking up at 3 am to drive the 7 hours to where Alex was born to change his birth certificate and tax number.


  1. I have been following your blog from the beginning and I feel absolutely sick for poor Alex. He has so much to learn about the unconditional love of a mother. My thoughts and prayers are with you that you can repair this rift with Alex.

    1. I was so sad, we talked and he knows that I will always love him no matter what, but that I was disappointed in his choice. So happy and amazed he is out of there for good. Thank you for your prayers, God has surely answered them. Lots of love!

  2. I have been following your blog since you hosted Alex and Yana, all the way from Finland. I am shocked to read these words here today. How could anyone be that cruel to a kid, no matter what the behavior? I hope his heart will know the truth when you get to hold him, hopefully soon. <3

    1. It was very vindictive, but God conquers all and he was meant to be with us in our family. I think they control the kids through fear, it is so sad. Thank you for following, I am praying for healing for him and Yana, it will come. Lots of love!