>>Tuesday, February 28, 2006<<
Special Report: 80% chance of travel
I am not going to get into too much detail here and you will see why in a moment. This all may change because we all know how tricky forecasting can be, BUT we were informed today that there is an 80% chance we will travel on our first trip to Russia on March 14th! 80%, that's pretty good. That's the same as the number of dentists that agree Trident can reduce the risk of cavities if chewed after meals. Anyway, we are excited, albeit nervous and a bit stunned that this is actually upon us. In two weeks we will be travelling (80%) over to Russia to visit our son. There is so much to do before then, at least it feels like it right now. It is all SO real now...during all of these paperchases and notaries and apostilles, you get so nose-down trying to get it done that you now look up and here you are.

We will know tomorrow for sure whether the 16th (travel on the 14th) is our date or not. Look for an update soon! A 100% update...

This has truly been a special day to hear this news. We would be remiss without mentioning that our good friends are actually on their way to Ukraine right now hoping to come home with a new daughter within the month. Good luck Hills, we are praying for you!
>>Saturday, February 25, 2006<<
Not pregnant, but still expecting

I have to say that this has been a totally different experience for me, especially as a woman. With our last two children...I carried them in my stomach for a llllooooonnnnnngggg time. I felt every kick and every move. I could share the experience with everyone. My husband and family and friends could feel the babies move in my belly. People treat you different when you are pregnant. My husband said that I was so beautiful when I was pregnant. He says I am beautiful now (is he trying to backtrack? just kidding!), but, he said that I had a different look.

Friends throw showers, strangers look at you with that sweet smile. You get pampered in ways that you don't normally get pampered. You don't have to scream to the whole world "Hey...I am having a baby!!", you don't have to yell because they can see it. They could see it with me without a doubt. I was pregnant in every area of my body that is for sure!!!

But, with our baby boy that we are about to adopt, there are no sweet smiles from strangers, no showers (not that we need one or need new things..that is not the issue), no kicks from the belly, no special treatment from others, just papers to be signed and more papers.

It all sounds so selfish, I know. But, let me say that I am most certainly not being selfish. I am just expressing how I have noticed from others how differently you are treated when you are carrying a child than adopting one.

Then, I realize that it's ok...we don't need a shower, we have all the things that he needs. When we hold him in our arms for that first meeting, it will be like he is kicking my belly for the first time. And when he looks at us with those beautiful blue eyes, who will care if anyone got pampered? All of that will wash away. When they declare him legally as our son and he is home and united with his sisters, who will care then who smiled at us? We are a family and that is what really matters.

P.S. My husband says that I have that "look" like I did when I was pregnant. He says that I am glowing. Maybe it is because I feel so blessed to have what I have. How did I get so lucky?
Our dossier is in flight

Who knew that the smallest things in life would be the things that are so exciting?
I have had a set back the past few days with some kind of flu or something. Our girls have it too. My poor husband has been working around the clock at everything. He deserves every kind of medal there is. I couldn't ask for a better man than him.

But, today all Blake and I could say to each other was "Right now, our dossier is in flight to Moscow" For those of you who don't know what a dossier is... it is our entire door to our life practically. It is a packet that includes our homestudy, our FBI approval, our Financial statements, our Medical Statements, everything. I think Russia will know more about us than we do :) It's all good though, we don't mind. We would hope that they would check under every rock if a child is to be adopted.

So, now once our dossier gets there, it will get translated into Russian and then the wait begins for a court date. Wow! It is so hard to put into words how close we are and how excited we are.
I have something to say (sorry for the rant)

OK.....I need to rant...so, if you don't like rants...no need to read this one. :)

I am on a lot of boards as I have mentioned. I ran across a message on one of my boards that just really got me to the core. I fully believe that we are all entitled to our opinions and thank goodness for that. But, I also believe that some of the opinions that people give are based on ignorance. So, since I get to have the freedom of speech..here I go.

The comment was on a board that I am on for ladies who have had a hysterectomy and this particular comment was about how they were no longer able to conceive a child. She said that she already had a child, it just saddened her that the "thought" of no longer having anymore really saddened her. She said that she could always adopt as well as others who could no longer have children. (this was not the part that got me)

WELL, then another poster got on and said that she completely and absolutely disagreed with the above poster. She said that adoption should not be an option for anyone. She said why would you want someone elses "dirty laundry". OOOOOOH......do you see my face burning right now??? Anyway, she proceeded to say that she knows, because she is the authority on this (what? are you Tom Cruise now? just joshing with ya tom, but, seriously..what happened to you????) because her Mom and Dad had adopted 2 other children and one of them went crazy.

Now, take a wild guess which statement got to me. I have heard SOOOOOOO many comments about adoption, it isn't even funny. Hey, I have heard from people I know well. "You don't know what you are getting" Do you think that Ted Bundy's mama knew what she was getting and he was a biological baby? HELLLOOOO???? Jeffrey Dahmer? Need I go on?.

Forrest Gump's Mama said it best "Life is like a box of chocolate's....you never know what you are going to get" (I had to add a little humor there). But, the point is. No, you don't know what gene pool you are going to get. But, there are hundreds upon thousands of children on this earth that are without a home. And ladies and gentleman, whose responsiblity do you think it is to do something about that? OURS. We live on this great earth and we can't ignore what is going on.

The other big comment that is made is "Why are you adopting from Russia when there is thousands that need a home right here in America?" That is always a tough one. But, one thing is....when God said to be a Father to the Fatherless did he say "Be a Father to the Fatherless in your own country". We are a member of this entire universe and we are all contributors to it. So, our son happens to be a special needs child in Moscow, Russia. We don't want a handshake or a pat on the back saying "what a great thing you are doing". No, we were meant to be with him. We were meant to be a family. And thank goodness for his birth parents... (I know that statement shocks many), because if they wouldn't have birthed him..we wouldn't be going to Russia and being blessed with a beautiful boy.

So, please do me a favor...when talking about adoption....think about what you say. Adoption is not this great deed we all are doing. It is a responsibility we have to take care of the children of this world. And maybe you are not suited for adoption. Ok, I get that. Then sponsor a child. There are great organizations. I have sponsored a child from Kenya since 1995 through World Vision. My dream is to meet her one day. Her name is Philisia. Find your local Boys & Girls Club chapter. Host a child for the summer, or the Holidays. But, don't stand there and look away and act like these children are second class citizens or have "bad genes". You don't know where they come from and they need a home and love just as much as you do. Yes, there are risks. But, there are risks to anything you do in life. Just get educated before making blanket statements.

And one more thing while I am at it :) If you are one of those people that at the sight of seeing children makes you shudder..then you are the ones that should really step up and do something for them. I know you are blinking your eyes and looking at this computer as if you have read something wrong. The law of Karma/Life, whatever it is....will come back to you. I was one of those people. I have always loved kids. But, when I was a business traveler, I would see children on a plane and I would think " Lord, if you just would put me in the seat farthest away from them, then I promise to do better". Sure enough, I would get put right in front of the kid that would kick me. Then, one day, something will happen in your life that is traumatic or life altering and you wished you wouldn't have made those sort of comments. God saw me through those tough times and I have done everything I can to pay back for the "eye rolling" in my younger years when I heard a child crying or the "smirks" that I gave parents because I thought they couldn't handle their own. Trust me. Life comes back around on you. I am blessed ten fold now by having two beautiful children and one that is waiting for us. I smile when I see people rolling their eyes at me when one of mine is on the floor in a temper tamtrum. I think to myself "one day, you will see..either through your own or another way"

Everyone has their own thoughts and opinions as I mentioned before, and I respect that. I hope you respect what I have said here. I just think that there is so many children in this world that are neglected and backs are turned on. The children of Hurricane Katrina, they need our support now more than ever. I feel like we have forgotten about them as a country and as a world. My personal opinion is...if you live on this earth, you need to take ownership. And ownership does not mean just existing. That's all I've got to say 'bout that...
>>Tuesday, February 21, 2006<<
Waddling forward
Truthfully, I thought the only time that I remember waddling was when I was pregnant. So, to be waddling again after this operation, actually ticks me off :) I waddle down the stairs, from one end of the hall and back. Oh, it is a pretty sight my friends...pretty (NOT!) ;)

But, that is the only place where waddling is happening. Because the whole adoption process has taken on a marathon pace. Tomorrow (Feb. 21) we are getting everything notarized, which is a whopping 23 documents. Then, on Wednesday we are getting it all apostilled. No...I didn't just speak Russian. I said Apostilled. I thought it was a foreign word myself. :) In laymen's terms basically it means the state has to stamp that the notary is valid.

THEN....it goes off to our Agency, and off to Moscow. THEN...the wait begins for our court date. Rumor has it that it will be soon in March. Which is wild to think that in less than 4 weeks we will file our court documents with Russia and then meet our son. It will break my heart having to leave him. But, the way it works is that we come back and wait for our Final court date, which we hope is about 4 weeks out. Then, we can either go back to Moscow for 21 days or split that trip in half. We haven't decided on that one yet. But, after that, he comes home with us. He could be home by May.

OR another way to look at it is, he will be home for Red Sox season baby!!!!. WOO HOO!. Sorry Yankee fans. I love ya anyway.

Which, can I go on a rant for a second here?. About a week or two after the Red Sox won the series... I took the girls out to our community pool wearing my pink Red Sox hat and Sophia had her pink Red Sox shirt on. Well, directly across from us was a woman and her kids with their pink Yankee hats on. Who would have thought that in North Carolina that there could have been a potential show down between a Yankee Fan and a Red Sox Fan at a local pool. Luckily, we were classy women. I pointed to her hat and shrugged my shoulders and said "Sorry", she politely said "It is ok". Shew....adversity avoided. I would have hated to had to have made little Maya put on her swimmies and Sophia put on her life jacket and race the Yankee fan kids in the pool. Crisis averted!

Back on track..... sorry for the rant. It is a wild time around our household. I am trying to recover. But, I am a type A personality. I can't sit still for long regardless of Dr's orders. I have to be getting the kids rooms ready for his arrival. Of course, like we need any other projects. Both girls want to change rooms and have it re-painted. Not that Maya knows what she really wants. She is just following sis' big lead. So, Blake is up until ungodly hours painting and working his real job and trying to get all of our documents together. But, we like sports analogies.... we just keep looking toward the finish line when our baby will be home with his family.

It sounds so strange to say that our son is coming home.......

Thank you to Jennifer on Flickr for this picture.

>>Monday, February 20, 2006<<
Swelly Belly
So, here we are filled with so much excitement and love and bursting with everything. Now is the time I should bust out with some kind of song and sing to everyone "We found our son, we found our son, la la la la la". Things should go be going smoothly, right?

Well, it did and I was singing, but, I did it when I was coming out of anesthesia. :) I think I told you all that we never do anything normal. So, again, why start now?

I had an very unexpected major surgery a few weeks back, this would explain all of the postings back to back. I have finally had time to get our blog up and going. And I have certainly had a lot of down time to do it. No worries, I am fine now. It takes a long time though to recover from a hysterectomy. Which I had no intention of ever having, but, life throws curve balls sometimes and hey...I played softball, I know how to catch! :)

The same day that my "Swelly Belly Band" from HysterSisters (for hysterectomies) came in, I thought that was the best thing on earth. I could slap that thing on my swollen stomach that looked like it was 6 months pregnant from the surgery and I was happy as a lamb (another southern slang term for you). But, beneath that package was something that was beyond even holding "Willy Wonka's Golden Ticket". The return address was from Homeland Security.

It was as if time stood still. I opened it up so incredibly slow. I was so scared that we had missing paper work or that we were denied from the government. Then I read those words "You have been accepted"....and there was a lot more and then it said that "we have sent a cable to Moscow".

Now, picture this for me. I just was out of the hospital for a week and 1/2 and I was walking up my driveway putting on my Swelly Belly Band reading this document. Now, picture when your favorite football player makes that touchdown and does his "dance". You know the one...the one where he makes every kind of crazy move there is and throws the ball to the ground. Well, envision me and my Swelly Belly reading "You are accepted" and doing the "Dance" oh yea...it was a sight to see... jiggling and shaking saying "oh yea...that's right...uh huh" and then ripping off the Swelly Belly Band for a Touchdown Victory Final dance. SHEW!. Got to take a breath....I am reliving the moment now.

Needless to say, I was in need of a wheelchair to get back up to the house. (just kidding..but, it felt like it)
That fateful day

We belonged to a lot of Yahoo Boards about adoption. But, there was one board that I had never thought of before. I remembered that someone had talked to me about Special Needs children in Eastern Europe and how there are plenty of situations that can be corrected in the U.S. (Thank you Cathy O.!!)

So, I found another Yahoo Board to join:

I immediately joined the board and introduced ourselves. I mentioned that we were hoping to adopt a boy under the age of 3. We joined the board to learn more about the different special needs that the other parents had gone through, etc. It was a great experience being on all the boards. Many people had told us about a variety of agencies and non-profits that were specifically helping Special Needs Children.

Blake and I talked about it and we agreed that we would prefer a healthy child if we could. Who wouldn't, right? But, one morning after the many referrals that we had been given or children that we had requested...an email came in. I barely even looked at what the words said. I just saw these 2 big blue eyes staring back at me with this peach fuzz hair that I suppose could be blonde... We had seen several files of children before that were special needs and they were all beautiful. We talked to a fabulous agency. There wasn't anything wrong with anyone of these children. They were all amazing to.

But, this one agency, Lighthouse Adoptions they were incredible and with this one child...this one....he was different, he was BEAUTIFUL to me. His eyes looked at me as if he were looking through my soul. I showed Blake the picture and he said " he is cute". Of course, remember by this time....we had seen a lot of pictures and we weren't sure if the special needs path was where we were supposed to go.

I hadn't even read the email yet and found out what was going on with him. I read the email and I immediately called the agency back. I can't remember if he was one that I inquired about or what. It didn't matter to me. I called immediately, I wanted to know everything. She sent more pictures and partial medical file and a small video. My heart stopped beating when I saw him. It was such a bizarre feeling. I didn't trust myself to feel this connected to a child from a picture, because it happened with Alyona. But, this one felt different. Somehow, he was talking to me. I said immediately outloud "I don't care what the Dr's say, you are my son". Blake saw the new pictures and he came running up the stairs and told me the very same thing..."this is our son".

I know, that doesn't make much sense to many of you. And it doesn't have to. I wished that I could explain it. I tried to explain it to Blake. As days passed and we sent his medical information to Dr. Dana Johnson

Dr. Johnson is one the most renowned doctors for International Adoptions and we trusted his comments. Our referral (I hate referring to our new son as "referral"...but, we can't really show you any pictures yet until the official court date and he is officially ours and lets just refer him as to 'S') . Well, Dr. Johnson said that 'S' had ABS which is known as Amniotic Band Syndrome. 3 or 4 of S' fingers are webbed together. They are even overlapped. It happens when the mother's Amniotic Sac bursts before birth. We had seen his hand in the picture and it never even affected us. The Dr. admitted that he was very below his weight, especially head size, and in every other way. I am not even sure that he is 1%. Maya was born premature as was 'S', but, Maya was at least 20% with all the other kids.

So, what did that mean to us?. Well, it was scary to hear that Dr. Johnson said that he could have mild mental retardation. As for his hand, he will be able to have an operation for it. Even if he didn't, he is able to use it with no trouble now. But, we plan on finding a great doctor to help him with his hand.

But, if you have ever been in this space in your life when you knew that something was meant to be or that everything was going to be alright, then you will know what I mean. When I woke up in the morning, I looked at his picture, before we would go to bed, Blake and I would look at it before we went to sleep. We just knew and know that he is meant to be our son and that it WILL all work out.

We made that phone call and accepted the referral and boy have things fallen into place ever since. There is so much peace in our hearts about 'S' that it is almost scary. Sophia and Maya are so excited that they can hardly stand it!!. As for us, well, we are beyond estactic!. And now... we are just waiting on that little ole letter from Homeland Security that I told you about. Then, after a few (right.....A TON) more paperwork...we are Moscow, Russia bound baby!!!!
>>Friday, February 17, 2006<<
The Homestudy Process
We started our homestudy while Alyona was here. We were thinking Ukraine at the time and we put boy or girl with a huge age range down. We wanted to make sure we covered her age range just in case she was available at the time in Ukraine. But, as I have talked about before, it didn't work out for our family going out of birth order. So, again, the same question gets asked "What now?" We still pressed forward with our Homestudy.

Which by the way...can I say that we had the BEST Social Worker ever!. She was and is the best that is out there. We used Nathanson Adoption Services

Helene, who is the founder and owner of Nathanson has been a God send to us. Both her and Jennifer. So, if you are looking for a Homestudy Agency to use, you don't need to look any further than them.

Jennifer (our Social Worker) spent a lot of time in our house asking us about our lives, our children, our thoughts on adoption. A Homestudy is not inspecting your home to see if you have dust. But, it is a way for them to gage who you are, where you came from, your values, can you financially support a new child, etc. Of course, it is scary at first. But, having someone like Jennifer puts your mind at ease. She is now considered a friend of ours.

Then, there is this a form called the I-600A that we sent ahead before the Homestudy was done. I considered it as getting in line until the Homestudy was ready. The 600-A is a form from the US. Citizenship and Immigration Services and you complete this before you have identified a child or even if you have identified one. Then, you get an appointment from the Government to get your FBI fingerprints done.

By this point, we have already had our local, state and now coming up on our FBI fingerprints done. :) But, there is something special about having the acceptance letter (called the I-171H) come in. But, that comes a little later.

During all of this...we are now assuming we are going to Ukraine and adopting an unknown child. UNTIL....that fateful day that I joined a Yahoo group.....
>>Thursday, February 16, 2006<<
HALF TIME: We forgot to introduce ourselves
Our Honeymoon
Typically, most people start out their blogs with the portion "About Me". Well, we never have done things normally, so why start now? I figured it was about time to tell you all a little bit about our family.

We are the Ellavsky's (I can hear you now trying to pronounce it "AALLOOWWSSY" ELLLLAVASSKKSY") Let me help you a little with our last name. When you pronounce it, it sounds like you are saying Alaska, but, with an I (ALASKI) does that help? :) Don't worry, anyplace I go..if they can call us by our first name, i know they are talking to us.

Blake and I (Caroline) live NC with our two beautiful daughters (No, we are not biased at all :) Big Sis is 5 1/2 and she is our little actress, dancer, singer and one little girl who absolutely loves school!!
and Little Sis is 2 1/2 and she is well.... what is the word to describe a jumping bean? She jumps wherever she goes. She doesn't walk...she just jumps!!! She is very active and aggressive (but, a dollbaby) She is our tomboy. We are terrified for when she starts sports and the coach calls us and tells us what she has done to the other team. We have some work to do with her "independent streak" ;)

As my very Southern father would say "M is like a bull in a china shop". Get the two girls together and well, you can imagine our house. :). We have a lot of fun. I love to dance too...so, at night, we turn on the music and we start to boogie. Blake loves photography, so, he gets the video out and shoots all of our wild antics. I can't quite get the girls to do the "Raise the roof"...the are not as ummmmm can we say "Old School Hip Hop" as their Mom :) ha ha!!
But, we listen to everything.

Blake works for a great company. He is into Product Management for an e-procurement company. That is how we actually met. His true love (besides me) is photography. Can I tell you how fantastic he is? I know he is my husband and I am supposed to brag. But, he is so humble and I constantly tell him he should enter contests. He is now into blogging big time and doing PodCasts on the side with his friend critiquing Movies and TV Shows. You have to check out their website...The TV Oracle.

As for me, well, I did the big time corporate thing for a long time. I know I am only 36...but, it felt like a long time to me :). With our second pregnancy , I became very sick with Pre-eclampsia and it became a bad situation. I had no other choice but to deliver her early. She was sent to the NICU for a collapsed lung and I had to stay behind because I was still in the hospital myself. Two months later, I lost my big corporate job. One month later, Blake lost his father at a very young age to stomach cancer and 2 months later my father had to have his leg amputated and he too got cancer. SHAZAM!!! CAN WE SAY "WAKE UP CALL?!?!" My whole life seemed to be focused on career and getting ahead and trying to be the perfect career woman, wife, mom, SUPER WOMAN!. But when all of that happened...those things seemed to just disappear. I transitioned into Staying at Home by consulting for a while. I had an identity crisis there for a time. But, I will leave that for a whole other Oprah show (who happens to be my all time favorite person). Finally, I am getting my groove together. I have enjoyed working with one of my closest friends on getting her own business started. For all of you dog lovers out there...YOU HAVE to check out her website. www.baileyandwags.com I am so proud of what she has done with her business. I can only take a very small amount of credit. It was such a fun project.

Now, I do freelance work here and there and I work part time. I love it!. I feel like me now. I am able to take our girls with me to work when I go. S is in school and loving it. I have made great friends with all of the Mothers in her class. I feel like I belong again. I am actually working on the biggest dream of my life. It has been a year that I have worked on it, and it may take me umpteen more years. But, the beauty of it is...I am living out a dream. I am writing a screenplay. Two in fact. One about my husbands father who was an undercover FBI agent, and another one which is a fictional/fantasy screenplay. I have been a writer all of my life and I have had a little actress in me. At the tender age of 6 years old with my moms platform shoes and her makeup on...I did proceed to give my Academy Award speech :) (that is the truth)

I was headed down that road as a youth, but, as we all know...life takes us down different paths sometimes. So, here I am full circle... married to the man I love with 2 of God's greatest gifts (Sophia and Maya) and I am FINALLY writing my screenplay! YEEHAW!!

Oh by the way, I don't say "Yeehaw" around my in-laws because they are all from Boston. So, instead, I ask "Where did ya pak the caw?" Ha (don't hurt me northerners ok?!?!) I am now part North and a lot South and a bit of California. That is one of the best places on earth that I have lived. Sorry folks...that is the truth. But, back to my in-laws.... I have the best in-laws the world could ever ask for. We are blessed. Truly blessed.

And as for my family....we are tight. I have 2 sisters and 1 brother. My parents live nearby so they are always so helpful with the kids. And I talk to my sisters and brother all of the time. My bro is a DJ, my oldest sister is an author (she is famous..I like to brag about her too...check out her website http://www.cdavisfreelance.com, and next in line is my other sister who is a Music Teacher and boy can she sing!!!.

Just so that you know we are a RED SOX family. We are split between the Patriots and the Carolina Panthers. We are Wake Forest fans. I can't help but still pull for Carolina Tarheels Basketball (because when I was a kid living in Wilmington, NC...I watched Michael Jordan go all the way..I even wrote to Coach Dean Smith to ask for the teams autograph when MJ was there). So, we have a diverse house. And it is awesome. And sometimes, I even love the Miami Dolphins (used to live in Florida too)

So, now we are at a place that we feel that it would be a detriment to my health to have a third child and to their health. We are feeling the need for a little blue amongst the pink around here.

SO.....that is just the tip of the iceberg about us... but, it is a good start :)

Oh ...How could we forget our precious Bulldog (Lilly) , as you can see in this picture ...she is dolled up for Christmas. It still doesn't seem to make her look feminine does it? Oh well, she is our sweet heart. Next to her is our other love....His name is Stilts. His legs are like walking on stilts and he constantly looks pregant. Lilly and Stilts like to pretend they don't like each other...but, it is a complete farce. :)

Where do you go from here?
There was a part of us after hosting that left us so confused. We just "knew" that God had brought her into our life to be our child. Why else would HE have done that?. Well, as I explained, we truly believe that she was an instrumental part of leading us to our son. We believe that we are helping and have helped her find her family.

There is never a night that goes by that we don't pray for Alyona, and Yana, Alyosha and Lelia all of the children that came to NC that were here as Host children that greatly impacted our lives. They didn't just come here for no particular reason. They were destined to be in our homes. Before even Alyona left our home, we jumped right on our adoption boards that we have grown so closely too and sent out the word about this beautiful child in need of a home. We have no control over what will happen next. The NAC in Ukraine was closed, it is now opened back up but with certain provisions. We can only pray that her family is out there waiting for her and in my heart of hearts, I know they are. I feel it deep in my bones that they are on there way now or soon to be. I feel the same way about the other children.

Have you ever had that "vibe?" that feeling that you just knew that all was well?. We did. But, where did that leave us?

To cheer up the girls, we rearranged their rooms to make it look brand new and give some new life back into the house without Alyona around. Sophia had been asking for a brother in her stocking for Christmas. Well, as well all know...it just doesn't work that way.

Blake and I had our devotion one night and we did that same look as we had done so many times before... and we both said it at the same time "I want a son". We gave each other a big hug and felt like all the guilt we have been feeling about Alyona was gone because we knew she was in God's hands.

So...how does a son just fall into one's lap?......
>>Wednesday, February 15, 2006<<
Letting Go....
It is amazing how 3 weeks sounds like a very long time. When we first started out on this hosting journey, we thought that the time we would have with Alyona would last forever. Well, even though forever is in the dictionary "a limitless time", for Alyona it was time for her to head back to Ukraine.

We cannot even begin to explain the mixture of emotions that we had going on. Here was this little brown hair, brown eyed girl that showed up in our lives and turned it upside down and how were we supposed to just pack up her bags and just say goodbye? In that 3 weeks that she was here, we both felt that God had another family chosen for her and we were meant to have another child chosen for us. I can't explain it, but, it was something that we both felt.

It was a wild 3 weeks. The first week, as I mentioned, she still had her angel wings on as I like to say :). Then, I think she realized what real freedom was all about. By the second week...if she didn't want to do something, she wouldn't move. I remember specifically a time when we went on a play date with my daughters school and we went to Dairy Queen afterwards. All the kids got exactly what they wanted and were very happy. Midway through their shakes, Alyona decided that she wanted more of everything. I had to say no. She proceeded to throw the largest temper tantrum and went under the table and held on to the table post and never did move. When it was time to leave and I was saying goodbye to the other mothers (and of course sweating profusely of embarrassment on the inside), I had to get on the floor to convince her to leave. Nothing worked. I finally had to peel her fingers off of the table and carry her out with my two other children in tow. All the while she was kicking and hitting and saying some very interesting words in Russian. This happened on numerous occassions. I felt like I was on Candid Camera and someone was going to jump out any minute and tell me that this was all a dream. It never happened. :)

BUT, on the other end of the pendulum, there was the very first time she looked me in the eye and said " I love you mama" and she put her hand on my cheeks and held me close. Can your heart really come out of your skin and fall out on the floor? Mine certainly felt that way. Or there was the time when she drew a picture of Blake and I holding hands with our wedding bands on and said "Mama...beautiful...Papa...handsome". Watching her play with our children and be so loving at times warmed my heart.

I prayed every night for God to answer us. Are you sure we heard you right? Maybe you were wrong, maybe she is the one for us. Maybe that gut instinct that both Blake and I have is just something else. I prayed outloud and would even say "Well God, maybe we could make it work with Alyona being the oldest. Can't you make this whole birth order thing work? You are a God of Miracles?"

Two nights before Alyona had to leave, we had to inform her that it was almost time for her to go back to Ukraine. She broke down into tears and it seemed as if a river came out of that poor childs body. She said "Mama...please....no goodbye.... please...come to Ukraina". All of the temper tantrums and my hair falling out from chasing the girls around and saying "Nyet" every 5 seconds suddenly vanished in a blink of an eye.

I crumbled into a million pieces. I had to walk away. Her tiny hands walked over to me and touched my arm and said "Mama...please no cry". We held each other for what seems like an eternity. I wanted to wash every bit of hurt that she had ever endured and here was this orphan child trying to comfort me. I was screaming on the inside " Dear Lord...how can we do this...how can we send her back? We can't let her not have parents" Oh, the anguish that we felt. To make matters worse, our two children were in worse pain that we were. They were crying as if they had lost their very best friend. I began to question myself if we did the right thing by even hosting at all. We had such horrible guilt that we didn't feel "led" to adopt this beautiful child. What was wrong with us?

The day came when we had to take her to the airport. The strangest thing in the world happened. Blake and I woke up and we looked at each other and we both felt peace. We realized at the same time that maybe she was put into our life for a reason. Maybe we were to be her champions to find a family. From what I do know, you are allowed to tell others about a child you hosted in Ukraine and that is perfectly legal. I couldn't quite put my finger on the type of peace that we felt until a little later.

Back to RDU Airport we went. This time, Alyona had 2 HUGE suitcases weighing in at 70 lbs and the other at 55 lbs and a Barbie backpack and her own backpack with snacks and supplies. Mind you, that when she came off the airplane the first time...she only had a tiny backpack with just a days supply of clothes. We sent her and her orphanage back with donations from our dentist, friends, family, ourselves, the YMCA...it was unreal. It impacted me beyond words. We were given special permission to walk her to her gate with John who was our friend who was going to fly them back to JFK to meet the rest of the group to fly back to Ukraine. We checked and rechecked that she had all that she needed in her carry on bag. Do you have your snacks?, your chapstick, your wipes, you extra clothes? I know she couldn't understand a word that I was saying...she just smiled at me and kissed me on the cheek.

The final boarding call came. My heart dropped right into the pit of my stomach. Alyona ran right into Blakes arms and held him with all of the strength that she had. Our 2 girls jumped into his arms as well and I watched the 4 of them hold each other tight. Then, it was my turn. Alyona came to me and said "Mama...please...no goodbye". I got on my knees and put a heart necklace around her neck and said "Mama-Papa Loves You so much-never forget" we cried and hugged all the way to the ramp. She let my hands go and looked back at us and said "no goodbye". And then she was gone. The flight staff started tearing up and even told us "My god you are killing us"

We took our children who were crying uncontrollably into our arms and walked next to our dear friends who put their sweet host child on the plane too.

We walked arm in arm with Dan and Michelle in silence. It was then and there that it hit me... We thought we were going to show Alyona the world, but, she ended up showing us the world. She showed us that love speaks many different languages and knows no boundaries. She taught us to stop and smell the roses. I felt peace that day when she got on that plane that God has a special family already picked out just for her. We were just a stepping stone to get there. She had to stop at our house along the way to teach us a little bit about the "journey inward".

Lets talk some more about Hosting...
What can we tell you about hosting? There is so much to say. First and foremost it was the best experience of our life. Not only our life, but our childrens. It humbled us in a way that we have not been humbled before. It taught us:
  • Listen to your Hosting Programs advice about the children!!!!
  • Don't go into hosting thinking you know everything...YOU DON'T!!!
  • Patience, Patience, Patience and then a little more patience.
  • Let go of the "Norman Rockwell" Dream.
  • Get on Host Boards and learn from others who have gone before you.
  • Hosting in Ukraine is NOT pre-selection for adoption. It is illegal in Ukraine to pre-select. Even though many people think that hosting programs are a showcase for adoption. DO NOT go into thinking like that or you and the child will be heartbroken. I will go into that in more detail a little later.
  • Love unconditionally. Remember, these children may not have experienced love in the way that you have. So, they may reject you at first. Don't take it personal. But, don't give up.
  • Don't overstimulate...try to have a routine. It is hard, but, try.
  • Do not over do it with the gifts. This is not because you want to be stingy, it is because it is very overwhelming to a child who has not had this before.
  • Remember, you are not their parent and they may not see you as an authority figure. They will see you as their Vacation Guide. This was the hardest to understand. Be flexible, don't try so hard to make them conform to your rules...it is only 3 weeks.
  • If you do have to put them in time out..it is different for children in orphanages, it is best to stay with them than to leave them alone. Just sit quietly while they are in time out. Trust me, it worked. I was shocked.
  • When it comes to food, don't be surprised if they don't like what you think they would like. McDonald's and Pizza isn't always the biggest hit. Sometimes, just plain ole Beef stew and bread is like eating at a 5 star restaurant.
  • Oh yea, they don't like to sleep alone or in the dark. Leave the lights on....
  • Be careful when going to Target or grocery stores....they might just put everything they see on the shelf into your basket. Trying to explain why you can't buy it all is sometimes very interesting!! :) No where in my quick Russian pocket guide was there " We can't buy the whole store"
  • BATHS......oh wow....stock up on bubble baths. If you think going to Disney will make them happy. Think again my friend. Just turn on some warm water, and put in bubble bath and you will have the happiest camper alive!.
  • Most importantly, even though there is the language barrier...there is the universal language of love. Hugs, smiles, and saying lots of "bravos" when they have done a good job will go a very long way.
  • Lastly, remember...it is not the gifts that you think that will impress them. Our child was more fascinated by flipping on and off the light switches in the house. She loved the lights in our mini-van. She thought she had won the lottery when she found out we had a DVD in the Mini-Van! :), jumping on the trampoline, picking flowers (even if they are dead because of winter) and bringing them to you because they just want to see you smile. Those are the things that seem to bring them the most joy.

Hosting is about opening up your hearts and your home to a child(ren) to experience a once in a lifetime opportunity by allowing them to spend precious time with you and receiving attention and love that they usually lack back home in their orphanages. One of the goals of these programs are to give underprivileged Ukrainian children a hope for the future. Unfortunately, statistics show that up to 40% of these children were abandoned at birth and the other 60% were removed from their homes due to parental neglect. Our hosting program as do most programs feel that providing these children with the opportunity to experience American culture, language, and lifestyle is a marvelous way of motivating and inspiring them.

I can't tell you anything about how Russian Hosting programs work. They may work differently, but, I can tell you about Ukraine. As I mentioned earlier, Ukraine does not allow for pre-selection. Many people just assume that when you host, then you can adopt. It doesn't work that way. Besides being illegal in Ukraine, it can also set you up for a painful experience.

We will be honest and say that when Alyona stepped foot off that airplane and we saw her for the first time, we just knew she was the one. She was our daughter. Our mind forgot about the politics. Don't get me wrong, many people have adopted after hosting a child. It just so happened that they were lucky enough that when their paperwork got finished and they traveled to Ukraine, the child was still available.

For us, we had those dreams that first week that Alyona was here. But, our dreams started to fade when reality started to set in and we saw that our family dynamics were not moving in the direction that we thought it would. Sophia is our oldest at 5 1/2 and then here comes a Alyona at 7 1/2 and she took over. It was really eye opening for us to realize how "birth order" was so important. We thought it would be no big deal and it isn't for many, but, it was for us. So, when I say...be careful of your expectations...your heart can easily get broken.
What happened to that Norman Rockwell Picture???
The Christmas presents were open and bows and wrapping paper laid neatly on the floor. The fire place was burning and all were nestled close by. All was quiet throughout.....

Oh...you thought I was going to write a traditional Christmas story, huh? :) Not at the Ellavsky house on Dec. 25th 2005. The story really goes like this....

After all of the million of presents were open, I felt like I was in the middle of an Indy 500. Not only were our kids running around the house like chickens with their heads cut off (sorry for the analogy..but, it is a southern expression my family has always used). We also had a beautiful Ukrainian child who spoke Russian and who knew very little English and she too was running around, but, we couldn't understand a word she was saying. Well, for one exception...she loved the word "NO!!!" :)

Then, truly all did become quiet that night when it was almost time to go to sleep. With a sigh of relief, my husband and I were able to drop our tired bodies on the couch. Unbenownst to us, we thought the girls were brushing their teeth and and the big girls were helping baby sis get ready for bed.

Well, they were in a way.... they were brushing their teeth, their face, and their hair with their new found makeup that they had all gotten that day. Alyona didn't know much about makeup, but, she did know that she liked it. So, she proceeded to put every drop of every thing in the 'girlie makeup case" on herself, Sophia and Maya and down the stairs they came. Here is a 7 1/2 year old, a 5 1/2 year old, and a 2 1/2 year old at 10:00 at night covered from head to toe in glitter and glam and boy were they proud!

Here I am lying on my husbands shoulder with my eyes closed, hair sideways and drool coming down my mouth from the extreme tiredness from the non-stop week we had had. Blake is staring at the ceiling as if he is suddenly going to find out the meaning to life. So when we first see them, my first thought was "What in the world were you thinking?" but, then taking one look at baby Maya (well, not a baby..she is 2 1/2) with her hair straight up in the air with the hair glitter gel that Alyona put in it and the bright red lipstick covered all over her lips and cheeks....we immediately started to laugh.

Sometimes you just have to take that Norman Rockwell picture out to the curb and put it with the trash. Because what is left behind is so much better.
>>Tuesday, February 14, 2006<<
Reality starts to set in
If you look back on a couple of posts and remember what we were told from our Host Program about all the different "Should and Should Nots" ... Well, to be honest...we ended up doing a lot more "Should Nots". Not that we were trying to do it that way, but, it was something that we just couldn't help. In looking back, I think we thought that we were doing the right thing. We saw this beautiful child and felt like she deserved all the "doting' and loving that she could get and we wanted her to have the most spectacular Christmas ever.
We bought her and our girls all dresses for Christmas and then to go and see Santa Clause. From the moment that she arrived, it was go, go, go, go.

I work at the YMCA and the next day that she arrived, I took her to work with me. She was like a rock star. Everyone wanted to see her. The next day was on the go also. We were off to go and meet our friends Angie and John to pick up the Chaperone (Luda) and to see the other children from Ukraine. We stayed busy the next day and then we threw Alyona and Luda a Welcome/Christmas party and neighbors and family came by with Christmas presents galore. Mind you...Christmas hadn't even hit yet.

Slowly, the angel that floated down the escalator started to lose her wings :). But, it couldn't be anything that we were doing, right? We had done all of our research and we knew it all.... :)
(as she says with some sarcasm) :). On Christmas Eve, we drove to meet our friends Michelle and Dan and dropped off Luda who became a dear friend of ours despite the language barrier. We knew enough Russian to be dangerous and she knew enough English. She was someone that we will always remember.

The next day, we were off to a Christmas Eve party.
We just couldn't figure out why our sweet Alyona was starting to melt down and to not listen and to run around the house as if she had eaten a bowl full of sugar.

THEN....it was Christmas Day. Never in my life and definitely in her life have I seen that many Christmas gifts for one child. They were gifts from everyone from everywhere. She was just blown away. She just ripped through the presents, not even taken the time to really look at them. Things started to slowly get out of control.

What was it again that our Hosting Program told us to do? :)
And the Angels sang.....

The day that our host child arrived at the airport, there were 2 other host families waiting for their children and we had so many friends, family and neighbors there waving the American flag and balloons. We had a banner up welcoming all of the children to the US.

When we saw Alyona (our host child) coming down the stairs, it was as if an angel floated down the escalator. It seemed like skies opened up and cherubs sang from above. It sounds crazy, but, time stood still for us. Alyona ran straight towards me and gave me the biggest hug. Tears ran straight down my face.

It was amazing, she then went to Sophia and Maya (our two girls) and gave them a gift.

We were so touched. All we could think about was here is a child who has nothing and she is giving our children a gift. We were so smitten with her. All of the children got together and immediately bonded. It was such a beautiful sight to see.

>>Monday, February 13, 2006<<
Hosting over Christmas '05
Ok....so, we think we are "experts" now on everything there is to know about children from orphanages...right? WRONG. But, we didn't know that at the time when we decided to host a beautiful 7 year old girl from Ukraine.

My husband and I decided that there was no greater gift that we could give to each other than to bring an orphan to our home for 3 weeks for Christmas. We went through a hosting program that was incredible. Our entire family, neighbors, community, everyone got involved in bringing this little girl to our home for Christmas. We were completely shocked at the outpour of support.

We saw a glimpse of a picture of this little girl before she arrived to our airport. Oh my word....our hearts melted. Everytime I looked at her picture, tears would well up. I could not imagine her having to live in an orphanage. It hurt. We were determined that we were going to show her the world when she got to our house.

"Be careful to not overwhelm the children", "Don't give them too many presents", "Don't bring too many people around them the first few days" "All of this will overwhelm them". This is what our Host Organization told us. Well, it wasn't like we didn't believe them. But, we just thought that well maybe that they didn't REALLY know what they were talking about :).

We met some incredible people before the children got here. To this day, we are very close to Michelle and Dan from Charlotte, NC and Angie and John from Salisbury, NC. This does not even touch the people that we became close to from the online adoption community. It was like this whole new world came to us.

The day came for our host child to arrive at the Raleigh/Durham airport. Just imagine Christmas songs playing in your head, our girls were dressed in their Christmas outfits, I even thought that we were the best Norman Rockwell picture out there. I went so far as to think.... "What if she is the ONE?".

There was a whisper in my ear that I really couldn't hear. It had been told to me before, but, I suppose I haven't been listening...... " A man makes a plan in his heart, but, God directs his path" Proverbs 16:9

Sometimes we just want to direct our own path...doesn't God get that? :)
>>Sunday, February 12, 2006<<
We have a plan!! So we think......
So, here we go (it's the summer of 2004)....all excited and feeling led to adopt. Now what do we do?. I went to Stephen Curtis Chapman's adoption site.

There were so many resources there....we just soaked it up. Then, I learned the power of GOOGLE! :) WOW!!. Let me tell you how many adoption sites and Yahoo groups are out there. It is amazing. We realized that we were being led towards Ukraine and Russia. I am listing some of our favorite Ukraine Yahoo Groups that are very active and give great information. The first two of course are local to where we live in North Carolina. But, I am sure there is a local Ukrainian yahoo groups for every state if you search for it.

Then, below are also great resources for Russia adoption. They have been extremely useful for us.

So, for a year we researched everything we could get our hands on about adoption ........we thought we had a plan. :)

"A man makes a plan in his heart, but God directs his path" Proverbs 16:9

We came to a stand still. We felt such a strong calling in our heart to adopt. But, we didn't know where He wanted us to go. We didn't know where our child was. We said to ourselves "Well, I am not sure I want to do diapers again, lets go older and lets get a boy....oh...maybe a girl....oh maybe from here....oh maybe from there". You get the picture, we were trying to figure it out ourselves. Finally, we let go and let God.

Life started to happen and we got busy with our girls and work, and life. So, we thought that maybe adoption wasn't where we were supposed to go. Maybe we were blessed enough to have what we have. But, that tugging feeling never let go.

One day in Sept/Oct '05 a post went out about hosting a Ukrainian orphan for the holidays. BOOM....it hit us like a ton of bricks. We knew that we were being called to do something, but, we didn't know where God wanted us to go yet. But, we knew that God wanted us to bless a child that had nothing. Wow.. did God have a different plan than we thought......
>>Saturday, February 11, 2006<<
What Now?
I mentioned Stephen Curtis Chapman in our last post. He has a song out from his album ALL THINGS NEW that has a song in it that has become our theme song throughout this entire journey. We would like to share it with you so you can see how it has affected us.

What Now?

I saw the face of Jesus in a little orphan girl
She was standing in the corner on the other side of the world
And I heard the voice of Jesus gently whisper to my heart
Didn't you say you wanted to find me?
Well here I am, here you are

So, What now?
What will you do now that you found Me?
What now?
What will you do with this treasure you've found?
I know I may not look like what you expected
But if you remember this is right where I said I would be
You've found me
What now?

And I saw the face of Jesus down on Sixteenth Avenue
He was sleeping in an old car, while his mom went looking for food
And I heard the voice of Jesus gently whisper to my soul
Didn't you say you wanted to know me?
Well here I am, and it's getting cold

So, What now?
What will you do now that you found Me?
What now?
What will you do with this treasure you've found?
I know I may not look like what you expected
But if you remember this is right where I said I would be
You've found me

So, come and know
Come and know, know me now
Come, come and know, know me now
Come and know
Come and know, know me now
Come, come and know, know me now

What will you do now that you found me?
What now?
What will you do with this treasure you've found?
I know I may not look like what you expected
But if you remember this is right where I said I would be
You've found me
What now?
What now?
>>Friday, February 10, 2006<<
So, why are you adopting?
We have been asked this question before. I suppose the biggest reason the question is asked is because we have two biological children of our own. Most people think that once you have your own, then there is no need to adopt. Well, our blog is not only to tell our story about our journey to find our son. But, also to dispel the misconception that there is no need to adopt once you have your own. I hear even from my own friends that are unable to have children biologically that they are questioned about adopting.

About a year and 1/2 ago, my husband and I were listening to one of my favorite Christian Artists. His name is Stephen Curtis Chapman. He was talking about how he has 3 bio children of his own. And he said that he and his wife felt "led" to adopt.

He read a scripture that really hit home to us..

Psalm 68:5-6 tells us that as the Father to the fatherless, God delights in setting the lonely in families.

Something about that really touched our hearts. If we are to be Christ-like, then we are all called to be fathers (mothers) to the fatherless. That was the turning point that started us on our journey of adopting.