Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Another Day at Home

Today Max and Misha and I headed out early for Max to see the dentist. Max's teeth are in very rough shape and we are looking at 4 extractions and 5 fillings. The plan is to do these at the local Children's hospital under anesthesia. We have appointments with the boys' MD for February 11th so we will see what, if any, tests he might want to run and will do all these at the same time as the oral surgery. As a whole, the boys are very healthy other than Max's teeth.

(Melissa here: Misha's teeth are pretty bad too but he wouldn't let the dentist see his mouth today. Max took 10 minutes to open his mouth. He was afraid. Apparently, this isn't his first visit to a dentist. If it is, he must have heard horror stories from somewhere. He was terrified. Poor guy!)

Max has a bit of something that looks like a lazy eye.

Misha has very sensitive skin so for him, we have switched laundry soap.

Vitali has a very serious case of: I-run-into-everything-and-throw-stuff-including-
tantrums-and-fall-all-the-time-itis with a few whack-a-mole tendencies!

We have been deliberate about sharing our process because one of our goals has been to raise awareness about the plight of the 150,000,000 lost children worldwide. Please do not be afraid to ask us questions! We will do our best to answer them. Some we will answer openly here, some more open in person or by email and some we won't be able to answer because we have to respect our sons' privacy.

Here are a few recent questions:

Why did you choose Ukraine?/ Why did you not adopt domestically?/ Why not Africa, China, etc?

There are 150,00,000 lost children so we had to say no to 149,999,997 to say yes to 3. We carefully looked at our goals and objectives and chose international adoption based on Matthew 25:45 we tried to look for "the least of these". We also looked closely at Rwanda, Estonia, India, Russia, Hungary and Azerbaijan but these were not the right places for us.

Children in the USA have a chance. It is true that 40% of US foster children will end up in the penal system at some time but if an American child applies himself he has significant opportunity. Most children overseas who apply themselves will still end up as educated prostitutes, drug addicts, cadavers or criminals. The chances one of these lost children has is almost zero!

We chose Ukraine because we thought it gave us the best opportunity for success. We knew the cost of this adoption would be staggering and so we knew we wouldn't have the funds to do it over. After careful analysis and prayer we settled on Ukraine. Our sons were in Ukraine!

What happened to the boys' birth family? What do you know about the birth family?

We know almost nothing to be honest. Of what we do know, we will only share a minimal amount here. The boys had a single mother and her rights were terminated for cause based on a singular traumatic event . Our boys lived in the orphanage for 4 years and in 2006, the boys were placed on the Ukrainian database for adoption.

Our boys finally became available for adoption on December 6, 2007. We traveled to Ukraine on December 7, 2007. The reality is the boys have never really known "a family;" they are just now learning what it means to have a family. (Misha told the translator today: "we eat good, we sleep good, and we have a mama and papa")

How much did it cost? How did you pay for it?
We are still adding up the costs, but at this point the direct costs look to be about $40,000. This includes lawyers' fees, Ukraine costs, room and board, airfare, US immigration expenses, home study expenses, etc. The indirect costs include 2 months lost income, home improvements and supplies necessary to accommodate three new children, and a vehicle for a family of eight. These costs are in excess of $25,000. There will be significant additional costs associated with Max's dental work. We paid for all of this $1.00 at a time.

We had saved about $12,000 prior to starting. We began paying for items as they came. We cut our expenses as much as possible. My business grew about 15% this year. We had nearly 50 people financially invest in us and our children. We have spent more money on this adoption than we make in a year and have done it without going into debt. It might be the "church answer" but apart from God this would not have been possible!

Can you afford these boys? How will you pay for college?
Yes, we can afford the additional expense of these boys but the reality is that we will have to make sacrifices. We are not going to be able to do things we might have been able to had we not had three more mouths. The reality is that these boys are our 'why'. When you know your 'why' and choose to ignore it, that is a rather precarious spot to be in!

College will come sooner than we expect but the reality for our boys, and other children like them, is that they would have been facing much larger issues such as suicide, drug addiction, or exploitation. Our boys will not lack for opportunity or education. The opportunity might be difficult and come at a cost but they will not lack.



MamaPoRuski said...

Thanks for your continued posting. I am praying for your adjustment! I found being exhausted from travel and not having a "honeymoon" period overwhelming! I'm sure you have already packed away anything breakable that has value to you, it's easier to forgive the tantrums that way. God Bless!

Ruslan and Inna said...

I love reading your updates! You're such a wonderful family and the boys have truly gained the best parents and sisters they could ever have.

As for the dentist appointment - I think all kids from former Soviet Union are afraid of dentists. I remember my mom had to write notes for me to take to school that we were seeing another dentist and that the school dentist didn't need to check me out. They had very old equipment and it always hurt like crazy as they never numbed anything unless they were pulling teeth.

Rachael said...

I love your blog. Thanks so much for your honesty. It helps so much. My husband and I are just starting to think about adopting.

christie said...

Steve and Melissa,
The dental fear probably has to do with no anesthesia used at the EE dentist. Our translator told us most of the time, they line the kids up and use nothing. Thus... the fear.

Our girls from the same orphanage had 8 cavities each. :)

Tami said...

Amen!!! You've put into words what I haven't been able to. Thank you!
i'm so glad to hear things are going well and that the boys are overall so healthy. Poor Max. That's got to be rough - but going the surgery route will be so much easier on him. We'll pray for Misha that he opens up (punny, I know) to the idea of going to the dentist.
Hugs to all of you!

Irina said...

Thanks for the information. I would not find courage to ask about cost of your adventures :). I am glad, my acquaintance to America begins with remarkable people :). When Max will grow, you will tell, how it "DA" has changed a life to he, his brothers, and your family. He present the man.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget to ask to be invited to the olderkids support group. It's open to families who have children adopted (age 5 or older at the time of the adoption) from Ukraine, and other eastern European countries. It's an awesome group!
Catherine Hendrickson
family #475

ManyBlessings said...

I am a new reader here (just found your blog yesterday) and would love to know what agency you worked with. We have a friend of ours working with children and living in the Ukraine and my heart is very drawn to this country.

BethPie said...

Steve & Melissa, thank you so much for continuing to share. I really hope this inspires others to consider adoption. We've found that God has provided for our needs every step of the way since we began. HE has already made provisions for us to begin another adoption when our Asa comes home from Haiti.

We'll be praying for the boys and any dental procedures they're facing. Poor little guys.

Anonymous said...

It's been exciting to see God's hand throughout every step of your journey! How thrilling to be able to log on and see the events of each new day! What a beautiful family- a match literally made in heaven!
Love & prayers,

The O'Haras said...

Steve, your words ring true. I have a hard time dealing with people when they talk about "how can you afford college" for your kids. I hate to inform people but college is not the end all answer to the worlds problems. It is love and that God has given our families and as you said, to know the call and not respond...I don't want to stand before our Lord and try to explain something like that.

Praise our Lord for His Mercy and Riches!

Annie said...

My son Sergei, it turned out, had a root canal without anaesthesia. He remembers laying in his bed and putting his face against the cold wall to help relieve the pain. So dentist fear is not surprising. What is surprising is that my children didn't really have any - except for Zhenya, the youngest, who is SO afraid of shots. All of them have elected to have cavities filled without anaesthesia.... Their teeth, fortunately, have not been too bad!