Monday, February 23, 2009


As promised, we wanted to do a final follow-up and chapter in our adoption story.

The last week was a wild one. On Monday, the 2nd, we traveled with Sherri and Justin to the birth city of Kyle and Katrina (conveniently, they were both born in the same city) to get new birth certificates. That turned out to be an almost all-day process as the roads were difficult because of 5 inches of snow falling the previous night. Dejectedly, we came back to Artemovsk Monday evening to spend another night.

On Tuesday, we swung by the orphanage, picked up Katrina, said our good-byes, headed to Donets'k to get passports, and then made a very long 11-hour drive to Kiev. Katrina was a real trooper, but threw up once and had a couple of massive blowout diapers. All told, we drove for about 16 hours that day, arriving in Kiev at 1am Wednesday morning.

Wednesday, we did the necessary medical stuff and got Katrina's visa at the embassy.

Thursday, we flew home. We left Kiev at 12:30pm, stopped over in Kennedy in New York, and were home in Denver about 10:30pm. Because of the time change, the travels that day were about 19 hours. Katrina was the only child on the plane who never cried or threw a fit.

Now, life begins anew, after a fashion, for Katrina and all of us. She already sleeps 12 hours per night, takes a nap in the afternoon, and eats like a horse. Alexis (our first daughter) and Katrina are getting used to sharing the role of "Princess" in the home. Our boys Darian and Trevor are huge a help with the girls.

Medically, Katrina is just fine. All tests have come back negative; she's just small and needs a lot of Stephen's good cooking. When not pressed, she can repeat about 8 to 10 words in English. But she understands so much more. We'll definitely have her ready for kindergarten in 18 months.

We just want to say thanks to everyone who supported us throughout our adoption travels. We started the whole thing 4 years ago. We got Alexis in summer of 2007 and Katrina just last month. God bless all of you who care about the children of the world and believe what we do... Every child deserves a childhood.

Katrina asleep in the van on the long journey to Kiev.

Katrina's first meal outside the orphanage at McDonald's no less!

Getting ready for the plane ride to the U.S.

Alexis and Katrina enjoying a snack.

We made it home in time for Pam's birthday.

Alexis and Katrina as sisters.

Peace, love, and happiness to you!!!!

Friday, February 6, 2009


We're home!!!

We got through everything on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and arrived home safely last night (Thursday) about 10pm.

We'll post detail on the final chapter of our adoption in the next day or so.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Yesterday, we went on a great tour of the salt mine in Soledar, a town about 20 kilometers from Artemovsk. In its 100 years of existence, only 2% of the salt has been mined from the area. So, there's no chance of it running out for the next several thousand years.

One particular cavern is so large that, in it, symphonies and soccer games have been held. That cavern is about 300 meters (1,000 feet) below the surface.

We were very fortunate that Vika joined us on the tour and was able to translate what the tour guide said.

Superbowl Sunday... GO Cardinals!!

Darian, happy 9-and-a-half birthday from wintery Ukraine. We got about 5 inches of snow last night and it's blowing cold today.

Trevor, one more month and it'll be your turn to celebrate.

Alexis, you turn three on February 19 and we'll definitely be home for the party!!

With our hard hats on, we prepared to enter the mine via an elevator that would drop us 300 meters into the ground.

Pam next to one of the many statues carved from the salt.

The ceiling of the salt mine. Absolutely beautiful!!

Stephen next to the another salt-carved character.
Stephen on the underground soccer field.

Friday, January 30, 2009


We're enjoying our last full weekend in Artemovsk, and all of Ukraine for that matter.

The champagne factory tour didn't work out yesterday. When we got there, we found out that we needed to have reservations. No matter how much money we offered, the wouldn't let us in, even for a little while. So, when you come here, call at least 4 or 5 days in advance for the tour.

But we are going to the salt mine today. Yesterday, Stephen went with Vika and our cab driver to Soledar (the city in which the salt mine is located) and prepaid our entries for today. We'll definitely post photos of that tour tomorrow. Supposedly, the salt mine is so large that a soccer game was once played inside.

Not much else to report. Consistent with our "project plan," we've got a pile of dirty clothes building up in the corner of the hotel room. (Those clothes will not make the return trip.) Tomorrow (Sunday) will be our packing day in preparation for a long travel day Monday that will include getting new birth certificates and passports for the childrens and traveling on to Kiev.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Another day has passed and that puts us one day closer to being home.

Yesterday (Thursday) was an interesting and informative day. We were able to connect with Vika, a nice young lady here in Artemovsk who speaks English very well. (She gives private English lessons to children.) Vika helped us arrange for the champagne factory tour, which we will take this afternoon.

Most importantly, she joined us at the orphanage for 20 minutes of Q&A regarding the lifestyles and habits of the children. Pam and Sherry (recall that Sherry and Justin from south of San Antonio are here adopting Kyle), with Vika translating, quizzed the orphanage workers regarding sleep habits, meals, food allergies... just about everything you can think of. The highlights for Katrina: she goes to bed at 8pm and awakens at 6am; she naps daily from 1 to 3pm; snack times are 10am and 4pm; bathroom times are structured and frequent; she eats everything except potato chips and sweets.

For bathroom times, all the children in her room have their own pot (not potty). They take the pot down from a small shelf, set it on the floor, and then sit on the pot and do their business. (We have not yet witnessed the disposal of the contents of the pots afterward and frankly don't care to.) They can go to the bathroom any time they need to but there are certain times of the day when all children go grab their pot and have a seat (so to speak). We've arrived several times at the orphanage to find all children sitting on their pots in the bathroom.

Regarding eating everything, we were quite surprised to find that the orphanage said "no sweets." We've seen the children on numerous ocassions being fed candy and sweet breads by the orphanage workers. Who knows. Katrina definitely has a healthy appetite, as she is the largest child in her room.

And a sad little story... We arrived yesterday morning at the orphanage and swept Katrina into our arms for a couple of hours of quality time. Then the workers started telling us something that we couldn't decipher. After several minutes of talking very loudly (what all people seem to do when wanting to communicate in a language that is foreign to the other person), we finally called an interpreter who communicated to us that the children were having medical physicals today and we would not be able to spend time with them until the evening. So, we said good-bye to Katrina, and oh how she cried. We had only been there a few minutes and we were already leaving. Of course, it broke our hearts; at the same time, it warmed us inside to know that she wanted so much to be with us.

Katrina sends her love. (First photo: Katrina loves to brush people's hair. Fortunately, Pam has long hair and Stephen has often been referred to as a "long-haired, hippy redneck.")

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


It's about 7am here on Thursday. Tomorrow at 5pm the court decree becomes official and we have a new daughter. That also gives us some more tax deductions, but Stephen is 100% sure that our new president will see to it that we pay more taxes, not less, no matter how many children we have. Oh well, nothing can dampen our spirits, not even more taxes.

We've made arrangements for a tour of the champagne factory tomorrow and will hopefully get to see the salt mine on Saturday. Sunday will be a day of travel preparation, and then Monday the fun begins.

No big news really. We continue to enjoy our time with Katrina. She understands quite a bit of Russian, although she doesn't speak much. Stephen has been working with her on her English and she has attempted to articulate such words as blue, star, and banana. Not to worry... she'll be an English-speaking little chatter box by the time kindergarten starts in 18 months.

Speaking of language, Stephen entertained the grocery store clerks yesterday. Here, they always ask you first how many bags you want and what size. (You get charged for grocery bags.) So, Stephen learned to say "Two big ones" in Russian. Yesterday, they threw him a curve and asked first, "How would you like to pay?" And Stephen responded in his broken Russian and with a very proud grin, "With two big ones." The clerk was a little embarrassed at his response and several of the clerks couldn't help but laugh. She then explained that she wanted to know if he was paying with a card or cash. Well, that embarrassed Stephen when he realized the inappropriateness of his response. He got so flustered that he didn't what to say when he was finally asked how many bags he wanted and what size. What can you say, he's a computer nerd and a professor.

Katrina sends her love. Maeve, congratulations. Gary, thanks for all the emails. LA staff, we truly appreciate all your comments. Nana and Popeye, hang in there and thanks for watching Darian, Trevor, and Alexis.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


One of our mutual attractons so many years ago was that neither of us ever wanted children. We were both dedicated, career-oriented people. Hmmm... how things change.

On August 1, 1999 Darian came into our world and we knew we had made the right decision to forgo our DINK status (Dual-Income, No Kids) and join the parenthood club. Exactly 13 months later to the day, Trevor became a part of our family and confirmed that our decision was right.

Two beautiful boys, no worries in the world... what else could we want? Well, we wanted two girls. Both of us were aging, however, and we were acutely aware of the many children in this world who needed a warm, loving family. So, we decided to go the adoption route.

We started the whole process about 4 years ago and finally got Alexis from Ukraine in the summer of 2007. And now, we're just a few days away from bringing home Katrina and starting a new chapter in all our lives.

Darian will turn 9 and a half this Sunday (super bowl Sunday). Trevor will be 8 and a half on March 1. Little Alexis will have her third birthday in between the two.

Darian, Trevor, and Alexis - we cannot imagine life without you. You bring us so much joy and happiness. So, Big D (Darian), Sweet Pickles (Trevor), and Poodle-Doodle (Alexis) - get ready. Mommy and Daddy are coming home and we may never stop hugging you!!

P.S. Thanks to Uncle Mark for daily reading our blog to Al and Fern.