Journey to Julia Video

James 1:27 – “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction”

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Present

Dear Friends and Family,

We always like to watch/read multiple versions of Dicken's "Christmas Carol" over the holidays.  This year we had the added benefit of Joshua appearing in a performance of it at the local theater as one of the Cratchett children.  Consider this post your tour of Christmas Present.

It is hard to believe that one year ago we were picking up our dear little Julia at the orphanage.  Here she is in her Christmas pajamas waiting for Santa this year, with her Mom and Dad.
We definitely did not get a white Christmas (which is Ok by Tom - check out Addisu riding the camel).
The kids definitely had visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads up until Christmas morning.
There were many tasty treats prepared and consumed by all.
Ah the glow of Christmas on the carefully selected and made gifts below...
The little kids were excited when it came time to open their gifts.

And everyone looked beautiful or handsome for church as appropriate.

Our photographer got his own portrait studio equipment...
and yes - there were lots of trains.
That is about all the Christmas joy that will fit in one blog post.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Years to you and yours!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thankful Hearts

I love the line in the Veggie Tales song that says "Because a thankful heart is a happy heart...".  Very true.  Well we are thankful for a very blessed weekend gone by.

I'm also learning that in today's cyber world there are Facebook people, blog reading people, email people, and then a very rare breed that do all of the above.  So even though our weekend goings on have been posted multiple times by different people in different places, I'll post it here again for the benefit of those blog only people.

We had a great visit with Andrea G from Canada including a great hike at Mount Mohonk.

And a great visit with Uncle Lau including a Christmas wonderland display.

 Addisu's first visit to see Santa - ever!

And there is the ever adorable Julia.

As we work our way through Advent season, time to prepare to celebrate the coming of the infant Jesus.  Christmas will be here before we know it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Happy Thanksgiving to all!  We have been busy all this week preparing for Thanksgiving 2011.  We are very excited in our household, because this will be our first Thanksgiving with Julia at home.  Tom and I met Julia last year on Thanksgiving Day.  That evening we went out to Celentano's Pizzeria, in Kharkov, to celebrate Thanksgiving.  Along with the joy of meeting Julia that day, Tom and I were also sad, since we were missing our children back home very much.  So this year we are really looking forward to spending Thanksgiving together, along with two special guests.

My uncle will be spending the long weekend with us.  He lives a pretty quiet life in rural upstate New York and I'm sure, on some level, he is happy to return to his little home in the country after of a couple of days with our group. :)
Our other guest is coming all the way from Canada.  Many of you may also know this special person.  Around our home she is affectionately called, "Andrea the Missionary".  I discovered Andrea's blog when I saw a comment she left on another RR family's blog.  It just so happened that Andrea had been on a mission in another region in Ukraine at the same time Tom and I were over there.  She is home now, so I decided to contacted her.  We have read each others' blogs and exchanged some e-mails.  I could tell from just reading Andrea's posts that she is a special person and I knew we could spend hours talking about orphan care and RR.  I invited Andrea to come and visit with us and I thought Thanksgiving would be a fun time for her to come to the "States".  So, needless to say, we are all very excited that Andrea took us up on our invitation and will be coming for a visit.  We can't wait to hear about all of the missions she has gone on.  You can visit Andrea's blog here.

We hope that all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We pray for safe travel for all those making a trip to visit friends and relatives.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Happy Birthday Julia!!!!!!

Happy Birthday Julia baby! 5 years ago today, you came into this world. We didn't know you then, and we wouldn't for another 4 years. But how amazing and blessed we are to think that a year ago today we were getting ready to travel to you, and a year from then, we now have you home with us! You are funny, sweet, silly, independent- I could go on and on.Your spontaneous little giggles light up our lives more than you know. You have shown me personally things I never would have learned on my own. You have taught me so many things in just one year of being home. I so hope you enjoy your first birthday with us, and I can't wait to celebrate them with you for the rest of our lives.

                                                            January 2011

                                                             February 2011

                                                              March 2011

                                                                 April 2011

                                                                  May 2011

                                                                   June 2011

                                                                July 2011

                                                                August 2011

September 2011

                                                                October 2011

                                                                     November 2011
                                                               Happy Birthday Beautiful :)

Friday, October 21, 2011

If They Could See Her Now


I can hardly believe that Julia has been with us 10 months already.  In some ways it seems just like just yesterday that Tom and I were in Ukraine to meet her and in other ways I can't remember our life before her.  This Thanksgiving we will be celebrating our year anniversary of the day Tom and I met Julia.  I remember the day so clearly.  We were brought to the orphanage by our driver, the facilitator and a very nice lady from the government who needed to witness our first meeting with Julia.  I experienced such a mix of emotions that morning.  I was excited, nervous, and a little anxious.  I thought I was hiding my emotions well until our facilitator and the lady from the government speaking to one another and pointing at me.  Then our facilitator says, "You look so nervous and scared.  Don't worry.  I know Yulia (Julia) she is a sweet, pretty little girl."  So much for hiding my emotions.

I can still hear the "click clack" of the nanny's shoes as she came down a very long hallway from Julia's groupa room with Julia in her arms.  All of the sudden a tiny, quiet little girl was placed in my lap.  I think my brain shut down for a moment.  It is hard to believe that after all the paper work, waiting for a travel date, plane rides and a long train ride that your new daughter is sitting in your lap.  My first impression of Julia was that she was very quiet and sweet.  Our visit was sort of rushed and there was a lot going on.  The orphanage doctor was telling us about Julia and our facilitator was translating and asking if we had any questions.  It was very hard to form sentences at that point, since I was trying to concentrate on Julia.  I did notice that Julia did not look at us and seemed a little bit in a "fog".  I knew from the reading I had done that some children who have been in an orphanage for many years may have what is known as institutional autism.  I was pretty sure that Julia had some of those characteristics.  This observation, of course, was in no way going to change our minds about bringing Julia home.  She was our daughter and we would do anything to help her.

Today, ten months later, I attended Julia's first parent-teacher conference at her school.  Wow, all I could think about when I was driving there was the first time we met her.  Tom and I had no idea what her future looked like, but we wanted to be sure that she had every opportunity to grow and learn.  Well, this determined little girl has accomplished so much.  We are grateful to her teacher, the therapists and aides.  Julia is using sign language, (almost every sign is food related :), she is walking, she is holding a crayon, she is playing with toys appropriately and seeking out interaction with her classmates.  She has learned to feed herself and chew her food before swallowing.  I know you other adoptive families with understand how exciting this is.

I know the workers at the orphanage would be very proud of her.  I wish they could see her now and know that each child that they take care of has so much potential.  We are grateful to the nannies who took care of Julia for four years.  We could tell that many of the workers cared about her and did the best they could for her.

We also are so glad that I "happened upon" the Reece's Rainbow (RR) website in November 2009.  Thank you, Andrea Roberts, who founded RR and works tirelessly to advocate for the children who are in need of a family.  Julia has blessed our life greatly.  Each member of our family is better for her being in our lives.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Where is My Family Friday?

For two years now, the children of Reece's Rainbow have never been far from my thoughts on a daily basis.  I know from the communication I have had with other RR families and individuals who advocate for the children the same is true.  Our family feels so blessed that, Julia joined our family in December of 2010.  We wish we could bring more children home, but for right now I must focus my time on my 6 wonderful kids in my house. That being said, I still want to advocate for the children on RR and pray that many families step forward in faith to bring a child(or children) home.  I have been praying especially for the "older" children lately.  In reality, they are only 6-9 years old, but are considered the older children. Their risk of being transferred is much greater than the children slightly younger than them.  It breaks my heart.  For this Friday, I want to tell as many people as I can about Kate and Dasha.  They are in the same orphanage and could be adopted together.  From what I understand they are in an orphanage where they are being well taken care of and educated.  How awesome is that?  To top it off, they are as cute as can be.  So, here are Kate and Dasha.  Please pray with me that their forever family or families come forward for them soon.

Please keep our, Julia in your prayers.  She will be having an endoscopy next Wednesday in an attempt to figure out some of her "tummy issues".  We hope we get some answers.  Thank you and have a great weekend.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A person's a person, no matter how small...

Our Joshua and the local "Kids on Stage" theater group put on a wonderful version of Seussical the musical this past weekend. Josh played Horton, the big hearted elephant who protects those whose voices are too small to be heard by most of the world/jungle. The messages and corollaries to the plight of orphans and other helpless children around the world were too loud and touching to be ignored in this simple little story.

From Seussical

"Alone in the Universe" - Click below to view the duet between Horton and Jo-Jo the Who.

Reminded me of another little angel who is still finding her voice, and needs some standing up for now and again.

We're glad Reece's Rainbow and Andrea Roberts are out there, raising the cries of these little ones so they can be heard (Happy Birthday Andrea!).