Thursday, December 31, 2009

God's Love

2 What are your thoughts?
The last month and a half has been very hard emotionally. I have felt abandoned, forgotten, and questioned why God did not move in our behalf knowing that He could have made things so different for us.

Today as I sat having brakfast with Nina I saw it. I saw God's love. It was all around me, being shown to me through the Ukranian people, through the German people. I saw it, I felt it, and I cried. Because God has been with us all along.

Through Jerry and Kim, through the Ukranians at the airport, through the Germans at the airport and hotel. All around, God's love. "I will never leave you nor forsake you." Those words are wrapped aorund me today.

I am spent, physically and emotionally, but God's love is wrapped around me.

We are coming home. Tonight, I will finally get to see my family.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Public Adoption Blog

0 What are your thoughts?
Our adoption blog is no longer private, I will be updating there if I get the chance as we travel.

It is snowing quite a bit here, so please keep us in your prayers!

We have a Visa

6 What are your thoughts?

We have a Visa and we are headed home! Later this evening for you we will be picked up and our journey back home will begins. Our flight departs at 5:30 am our time, which means 9:30 pm your time.

45 days, I have been gone for 45 days! I cannot wait to be home, see my husband and my two beautiful princesses. This has been a hard journey, but it was worth it!

Prayer requests
-Please please please pray for a safe travel home
-Pray that Nina does well on the flight
-Pray for safe travel for Andy as he comes to pick us up at the airport

Hooray, we are almost there!

Our adoption blog will no longer be private, so if you cannot log in right now, try again in a couple of hours and it should work!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

3 days left to go

5 What are your thoughts?

It is Saturday evening here in Kyiv. We only have 3 days to go. Early Tuesday morning we finally get to go home!

Yesterday we were not able to get Nina's medical as the place was closed due to Christmas (even though it is a Ukranian clinic) It means that on Monday we have a marathon day getting thigs ready. I think we leave at 7:30 so we can get visa applied for and medical so that we can get that visa later on Monday.

Yesterday was Christmas day, and it did not feel a lot like Christmas, but, our wonderful friends that are here as missionaries invited us over and let me tell you, the food was delicious! They have become dear friends and I think we will always be so thankful to them. They have been wonderful with Nina and Nina adores Kim!

We did spend the morning listening to Christmas songs and dancing around, then we took a short nap and we got to go to our Christmas dinner.

We are counting down the days.

Hope you all had a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Redemption by Derek Leux

1 What are your thoughts?
Derex Leux was a man that loved God and followed Him. He worked for the International House of Prayer and had a heart for adoption. His journey led him to Reece's Rainbow where him and his wife Renee adopted 3 children from Ukraine last year. One with Spina Bifida, and 2 with Down syndrome. Yesterday, Derek was killed in a car accident, our Reece's Rainbow family grieves his loss. As I have struggled with being here for so long, I found this post by him, written last year, when he was here in Ukraine.

Allow the words from this man to touch your hearts. Have a Merry Christmas!!!

Redemption by Derek Leux (bold added by me)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Renee' and I are sitting in the office of a telephone company in Novograd Valenski, Ukraine, using wireless internet. We are in the middle of adopting three special needs boys from an orphanage here. Two of the boys have Down Syndrome. Roman is high functioning, energetic and happy. Dimitri has serious mental retardation, failure to thrive, and though he is five years old, he is the size of a 1 year old. He has sores on his face, a distinct smell of death on him, and yells out if we try to do anything with him other than hold him. Because he has less ability to respond and learn, he naturally gets less attention and care from the orphanage workers in this world of limited resources. The harsh reality of the "survival of the fittest" principle is a life and death struggle that this little boy is losing fast. Our third boy Sasha, is a brilliant six year old who has Spina Bifida (the condition our son Josiah died from in 1996). He is like a learning sponge that can't get enough! He is happy and alert and thirsty for knowledge and experience. So with two of our boys, we get an immediate return on any investment we make. With Dimitri, there's not much immediate gratification. In fact, it's unknown when and if there will be a return at all. This is the kind of situation that makes the carnal, fallen, human reasoning think, "Why try? What's the point? What will this produce? What good will this do? Why not select a boy who has more potential? This looks like a lost cause.

Two days ago we drove for hours into the Ukrainian countryside to the village where Dimitri was born. We met with officials there and signed papers and answered their questions. We also went and saw Dimitri's house. The day had been long, we were still recovering from jet lag, I was beginning to really miss my six daughters at home and all the familiar things our fragile human hearts entangle themselves with in feeble attempts to feel secure. Sitting in the dark on our very long drive back to Novograd that night, the Holy Spirit began to whisper to my heart, and new understanding about redemption began to take shape.

I was thinking, "Man, adopting this little boy has been so much work. This is exhausting, expensive, uncomfortable… and it doesn't feel very rewarding right now." What am I doing in some little Soviet car in the dark, in the middle of rural Ukraine in frozen December, as the driver dodges cats and potholes? What if Dimitri doesn't improve at all? What if we get "nothing" out of this? Ahhh, there it was; that dark, fallen, unreedemed, selfish human love, rooted in the tree of the knowledge of "good and evil". The love the Greeks called "erao" love. The love where we treat someone as precious and treasured for what we can get out of it. This is unlike "agapeo" love, the God kind of love that treats someone as treasured and precious for their good, not for my good. It's when I love a person in order to meet their needs, having no expectation of them meeting any of my needs. At a whole new level, God is working His kind of love into my weak heart, and He's using little Dimitri to do it.

On the drive home that night, the Lord whispered in my ear, "This is Redemption. Derek, do you know how far I travelled to get you and bring you back? I had to be separated from my Son, in order to get you, just like you are separated from your children in order to get these boys. Do you know how expensive it was for Me to purchase you? It cost me everything. Do you know how broken, sick, damaged, twisted, dirty, smelly, and hopeless you were? And at the end of it all, you had nothing to give me or add to me. I did it for you. I emptied myself and became nothing so that you could have it all. This is redemption.

My friends, adoption is redemption. It's costly, exhausting, expensive, and outrageous. Buying back lives costs so much. When God set out to redeem us, it killed Him. And when He redeems us, we can't even really appreciate or comprehend it, just like Dimitri will never comprehend or fully appreciate what is about to happen to him… but… he will live in the fruit of it. As his Daddy, I will never expect him to understand all of this or even to thank me. I just want to watch him live in the benefits of my love and experience the joys of being an heir in my family. This is how our heavenly "Papa" feels towards us.

Today, settle your busy heart down and rest in the benefits of redemption. Enjoy the fruits of His goodness, and stop trying to "pay Him back". You'll never get close you goofy little kid.

You can visit their family blog HERE.

We have a passport!

1 What are your thoughts?

We got our passport today! As I got back on the taxi I couldn't help but cry, we are getting closer, we are going home, finally. This time the end is in sight!

Tomorrow morning we get Nina's medical done so on Monday when we go to the Embassy we will have all our documentation ready and we should get our Visa that same afternoon. Then we can come home Monday night or Tuesday morning!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


6 What are your thoughts?
I now know that Babushkas yelling at you here is normal, so I no longer take it personal :)

On a different note, I wanted to share this video of Nina talking some. Even though language is a barrier right now, after a week with her mama, she really is doing fantastic. Enjoy her cuteness! And even though she does not know what "go potty" means, it is cute to hear her say it (She thinks it either means bathroom door, or simply go to the bathroom, as in the actual room, not to use it)

The Yelling

6 What are your thoughts?
Every time I have been out with Nina I have been yelled out, mainly by older women. Why? Because you are not supposed to take children out when it is cold and snowy, it is unacceptable, irresponsible, and the child will get sick.

Also, she should be wearing tights, she is wearing tights, but I suppose they are american tights, and those won't do. She is wearing snow pants and a winter coat, but for some reason those won't do either. Oh, and she does not wear boots, granted, I don't know that she can wear boots because of her feet and legs, but they don't know that, and these old ladies don't approve. Oh, and she is older and I carry her on a sling, she should be walking!

So do they yell at me? Yes they do. They really do yell, with angry faces. I have no idea what they say but I am sure it something like, "You take that child inside right now! She should not be out her in the cold! She should be walking!" Or something like that.

I just avoid eye contact and keep walking, it doesn't bother me. Too bad we have American clothes, even though we live in a place where it is much colder than here, so I am pretty sure Nina's clothes are warm. Oh well, so is life.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Applied for Passport

3 What are your thoughts?
Today we finally got to apply for the passport. It was really a very simple process but lots of waiting and also waiting for the right people (which means who will help us get the passport done soon)

After that we went back to where Nina's orphanage was so we could do a bank money transfer from Nina's money. (the government here gives orphans money so when they turn 18 they have something, in case of kids with special needs, when they turn 18 the institution gets the money) We did transfer all her money to the orphanage as a gift to them for taking care of Nina for the last 3 1/2 years.

The we went to eat and Nina and I walked all the way back home with her on a sling. Only one lady yelled at me for having her out! And we were both sweating! So no being cold here! I did think I need to get in better shape. Even if she walks, the reality is that to go hicking with the Stumbo clan on mountains and such, we will always have to carry her. So I think Andy and I have a great motivation to get in shape!

We should get the passport on Thursday or Friday. Unfortunately the US Embassy closes on Friday because of Christmas, so we will not get there until Monday, but then we should be all set to come home on Tuesday! Just one more week! I cannot wait!

By the time I get back home it will have been 46 days since being in Ukraine.

We are ready to be home with our family!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tomorrow is the day

5 What are your thoughts?

Tomorrow I will be anxiously waiting to hear about the tax code. I won't lie, I feel physically ill because this has had us on the edge for almost a week.

Hopefully by the time most of you wake up I will have good news to share here, so on the meantime, please pray for our family.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Still no tax code

2 What are your thoughts?

I should let you all know that we have no tax code.

Maybe on Monday, but I say that lightly, since we were told we could have gotten in Tuesday, and by Monday it will be almost a week from the time we were told we could get it.

Best case scenario I come home on Christmas day, if not, maybe the following week, but hopefully I will be back before the New Year.

Tired Mama

8 What are your thoughts?
I am a tired mama. Nina is still not sleeping well and therefore neither am I. So if I am tired she has to be tired too. I know life is so different for her, sometimes it sounds like she was crying in her sleep, it really is hard because I wish I could talk to her and understand what she says. Maybe help her work through her feelings. All I can do is pray and ask God to meet her and to calm her heart and all her fears.

Thanks to our friends I was able to learn a few words in Russian and last night after a screaming child that did not want to go to bed I finally said, "Go to bed, do you understand!" All in my broken Russian. She said no, I said yes, and that was that. At least she stayed in bed, still screaming, but she stayed in bed.

Today we discovered a food she likes...cheerios! Oh where will I find cheerios here? I need to go hunting for them.

She is a sweet little girl, and again thanks to our missionary friends we have learned some things about her. She likes dogs but not cats. She thinks she has a nice mama. She likes to play. We also know that she says, "Give me!" a lot, and "I can't" Life will surely change once she has sisters to compete with an a mama that will not allow her to use her disability as a crutch.

She is a lot like a baby or toddler. All about maikng noise, and shaking things like rattles. Everything goes in her mouth. In most ways Nichole is ahead of her, the difference is that Nina can talk, and well, Nichole can sign! But, I do think as Nina is home with us she will start to develop and eventually be close to her peers, we will see, we are just happy that we finally get to call her our own.

So even though the days have been trying with her, it is wonderful to have this connection, that we can get to know one another. Then when we get home at least our relationship will be a little more established, especially when we get to the wonderful craziness of extended family.

On a different note, Nina is cross eyed, and she will definitely need glasses or even surgery if it is bad enough, not sure. Glad we know a great Opp-tometrist!

Still no new on the tax code. I guess their phones are not working and our facilitator is on his way to the town where it needs to be picked up. If he does get it, they will call me and get a taxi for me so we can apply for the passport. We are praying it does work out!

And here are some pictures of Nina :)
These are pictures I took for her passport. She was not supposed to smile, I took lots of them until we found one that will work.

With her binky, I do think she finds comfort in it, and I am okay with her having it, when she is 4, and she understands English, we will wok on being done with it, for now, she needs it! And this is a new one I bought, the one we got from the orphanage was in rough shape, it was about to break into pieces.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tax Code

0 What are your thoughts?

Well, the tax code is not here yet. I just got an e-mail from our facilitator saying maybe tomorrow or Friday. This is not looking so good time wise, but, there is nothing we can do.

Please pray for the tax code to come as soon as possible!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

When Love Takes You In

2 What are your thoughts?

What a wonderful day full of emotion. As Nina and I said goodbye, there were many tears. Tears from her favorite worker, who was struggling not to cry, she gave Nina a kiss and a hug, and as she walked away I saw in her face a broken heart, yet, happiness for this sweet girl. The doctor too was teary eyed, and as all the worker gathered around, I could not help but cry too.

I thanked them for all they have done for Nina for 3 1/2 years. I thanked them for their love, for their care. I told them that they would always have a dear place in our hearts and that we would tell Nina about the wonderful people that were a part of her life while she lived in Ukraine.

Then we walked out of the orphanage. Nina was confused and pointed at the door. "We are not going back Nina" I whispered in her ear, "You are coming home to mama."

I recently found the song "When Love Takes You In" by Steven Curtis Chapman, I cannot embed it, but click HERE to watch the video and listen to the words.

I know you’ve heard the stories
But they all sound too good to be true
You’ve heard about a place called home
But there doesn’t seem to be one for you
So one more night you cry yourself to sleep
And drift off to a distant dream

Where love takes you in and everything changes
A miracle starts with the beat of a heart
When love takes you home and says you belong here
The loneliness ends and a new life begins
When love takes you in

And somewhere while you’re sleeping
Someone else is dreaming too
Counting down the days until
They hold you close and say I love you
And like the rain that falls into the sea
In a moment what has been is lost in what will be

When love takes you in everything changes
A miracle starts with the beat of a heart

And this love will never let you go
There is nothing that could ever
cause this love to lose its hold

When love takes you in everything changes
A miracle starts with the beat of a heart
When love takes you home and says you belong here
The loneliness ends and a new life begins
When love takes you in it takes you in for good
When love takes you in

Yesterday our translator said that Nina looked different, that she looked love. I saw it today, I looked for it. The rest of the children did not look loved, they are wondering if someday love will take them in. I held Marshall today, I helped feed him. I tickled him and took a little video. Oh how I want him to have a family. Most of the kids cried with me there. Did they know I was taking Nina, that love would take her in? Did they want that too? That little boy that is all over the place was hungry for love, I could see it. So I sat by him as he ate lunch and held his hand, he loved it, that is all he

Will love take them in? Will you take one of them in?

Gotcha Day!!!

5 What are your thoughts?

I have her with me!

Sorry, this will be a short post because she is not sleeping yet. Life is so very different for her right now and she is having a hard time settling in.

I do have to say though...she loves baths! Absolutely loves them! She has been trying to "trick me" into going to the bathroom so she can ask for another bath :)

Here are some pictures from today. it feels so good to have her with me!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tax Code: Keep the Prayers Coming!

3 What are your thoughts?
I just got word that our facilitator was able to apply for the tax code! He said tomorrow we will stop by and show them the new birth certificate. At that point they can give us the tax code or make us wait!
Pray that we do get the tax code! Pray with us, then we can really get things moving!With God all things are possible, He can make this happen!

Tomorrow is a big day for us. Tomorrow is "gotcha day!"

In the morning I will go and get Nina's new birth certificate. Andy and I will be listed as her parents, her birth certificate will actually read "Nina Stumbo!"

After that, we are stopping by the tax office to check on the tax code. If we get it back, we can even apply for the passport later in the day.

From there we go to the orphanage and we get Nina!

Our translator told me she went to the orphanage today to get some pictures. She told me she got to see Nina.

"She looks differnt." She said

"What do you mean different?" I asked

"She looks different than last time I saw her, different form all the other kids"

"And why is that?"

"I can tell the difference, because she looked loved"

Yes, Nina is loved, she is loved! And that has made all the difference!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Prayer Request!!!

6 What are your thoughts?
Tomorrow morning, which will be tonight for most of you, our facilitator will try to apply for our tax code.
This tax code is what keeps families here the longest. It can take a day, or weeks!
I thought we would apply for this on Tuesday, but they will try this tomorrow!
Pray, please pray!

-Pray that they are able to apply tomorrow
-Pray that the tax code is ready by Tuesday! Yes I am asking for something that is not likely, but it is not impossible! How great to pick up Nina and be able to go get her passport right away! Then we would for sure be home by Christmas!

So tonight will you pray for us? And tomorrow morning will you continue in your prayers?

Empowering People, Changing Lives

3 What are your thoughts?
Occasionally I receive e-mails from people that happen to find my blog and want to share something with me. I love hearing their stories and with some of these people I continue to be in contact with.

Yesterday I received an e-mail. It was an e-mail from a 19 year old young lady who is passionate about empowering people with disabilities, so they can change their lives and rise above their limitations. She knows far too well, that everyone has gifts and great potential. And she should know, she has Cerebral Palsy.

Erin's blog is called, "Empowering People, Changing Lives." I spent some time reading through her blog and I could not help but cry. Erin is such an inspiration, and through her life and accomplishments she gave me a wonderful gift. The gift of hope. Hope for Nina.

Erin has accomplished more than your typical 19 year old! She has more talent in her than most people, and she has decided that nothing will stop her. Sure, maybe some people will look at her and think she has limitations, but what she has is determination to show everyone that nothing will stop her to accomplish what she sets her mind to.

I want to meet her! I want her to meet Nina! Amazing how God brings the right people into our lives just at the right moment.

So take some time and visit her blog!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

From last post

1 What are your thoughts?
Some people have asked me if Nina says "Lucha" at the end of the video. You see, my sister Luisa goes by the nick name "Lucha."

You can see in the video that after she says "Lucha" I am about to repeat it and then I stop myself, because my first thought was, "there is no way she is saying Lucha, no way she remembers that!"
Probably one of the first times we looked at pictures I said everyone's name in my family photo, so how could she remember her specifically?

Well I have asked my Russian speaking friends, "Is there a word that sounds like "Lucha" in Russian?" The answer: Yes! It kind of sounds like "Lucha" quite a bit, and it means "better" like if you were comparing 2 things, and this one is better, then this one is lucha :)

So yes, Nina did say "Lucha" because it was the one Russian word that I had said that she understood while pointing at her auntie Luisa. She remembered! So Lucha, if you read this, you are the best!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

7 days, 3 more to go!

9 What are your thoughts?
Just three more days and our waiting is over. It means that I can get Nina's new birth certificate and tax code and then take her out of the orphanage forever! Yes, I am counting down the days and I am so anxious to have her home!

My visits with Nina have been wonderful. Our bond continues to grow and she is definitely making her way into my heart. My daughter, wow, I have another daughter! And every day, more and more, I become her mama, and every day, more and more, she chooses me. We did not know how long ti would take for her to feel like she belongs to us, and when we first met her we really wondered if this was going to be a long long process. But today, my heart is full as Nina gives me hugs and calls me mama. I have posted more pictures on the adoption blog, but just had to share some pictures here too, and a sweet sweet video of Nina being silly and looking at pictures. Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Angels Needing Families

5 What are your thoughts?

Edited on August 2010. Oksana (Olivia) is home with her family, and Marshall's family is on their way!

Meet Marshall

Boy, Born January 11, 2007

This little muffin is a bundle of sunshine! Marshall is HEALTHY and happy and doing very well. He has blonde hair and blue eyes and is a caregiver favorite! He will really benefit from a loving family.

I took these pictures of Marshall today. he is a sweet little boy. He plays so well on his own and one of the workers was playing with him and my Nina as I came to visit. I think he is teething because he was chewing hard on some toys. I know these are not the best pictures but he was not interested in getting his picture taken :) At some point he got hurt and started to cry. One of the workers (my favorite one) got him and he cuddled right to her. This is a very good thing for a child in an orphanage!
He just has stolen my heart.

To see his picture on Reece's rainbow click HERE.
Scroll down to orphanage 12 and that is Marshall (And I have no idea why he is always wearing pink, he is a boy!)

Meet Olivia

Girl, Born May 2, 2005

Miss Olivia was born with CP. She has sandy brown hair and striking blue eyes, with a fabulous smile! She is medically healthy besides her CP. From an adoptive family who visited with her in June 2009: Olivia has CP and the caregivers
say that she has shown a bit of a cognitive delay as well. From what I can tell she has trouble with her legs but is much stronger than Monroe. She is one happy little thing and is always holding her arms out to me. She is tall too. I think I've heard her speaking some Russian. She is just so sweet."

Little Olivia wants a family so very bad! Every time she sees me she calls for me, "Mama! Mama!" and just cried. It just breaks my heart. Today I gave her a big hug and she just melted into my arms, she let me hug her for a long long time. She is starving for attention and wants love and affection. Who doesn't?

I know they say she has a cognitive delay, but this could just be an orphanage delay (I would feel confident to say any child in the orphanage might qualify as delayed, regardless of a special need or not, orphanages cannot provide the stimulation that a home can give)

Olivia's CP is very mild and only her legs are affected. She can pull herself up to standing and she can walk holding on to someone or something. She loves to snuggle and she does ask for a Mama and a Papa. Are you her family?

To see Olivia on Reece's Rainbow click HERE.

You will have to scroll down and find her picture, she has a (12) by her name.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Missing My Silly Ellie

3 What are your thoughts?

When we first got to Ukraine, I found one of those sticker earings inside one of the books I had brought form home. I set it on the table and it stayed there until it was time to move to a different apartment. Every time I would look at it, I would think about Ellie.

When I packed, I decided to put the little earing in the case for my glasses, knowing I would for sure look at it a few times during the day. It is silly how a tiny piece of plastic can hold so much meaning. Because every single time I see that heart shaped earing, I think about Ellie. How sweet she is, how silly she is, and oh how much I miss her. As a matter of fact, I had never missed anyone as much as I miss my girls right now.

Ellie, my first born. The little girl I always wanted and dreamed off. My artist and storyteller. Oh how I wish I could see her now, making her silly faces, dancing around the house.

Soon, soon I pray we will be home and I will get to wrap her in a big warm hug.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Will I be her yes?

4 What are your thoughts?
I will be honest, as Andy and I prayed about weather we should adopt Nina or not, her diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy scared me. And I mean, really scared me. Down syndrome was familiar, it made more sense for us to adopt another child with Down syndrome, but Cerebral Palsy? That was a different story.

If you have been to our house before, or if you know our daughter Nichole, you will soon realize that one of her favorite things in life is...Signing Time! Nichole loves signing time and she walks around the house carrying a case of the DVD with Rachel's picture on it. Yes, Rachel is Nichole's favorite singer, there is no doubt about that!

So because our family is a signing family and because we own almost every DVD there is, I also get updates for Rachel's blog.

During this particular time of prayer as we were asking the Lord if he was calling us to adopt, and as my fears of Cerebral Palsy held me back, Rachel wrote this post on her blog. I encourage you to read it, and warning, have a tissue in hand!

Rachel has a daughter with Cerebral Palsy, her name is Lucy. Rachel has asked herself if she is strong enough to be Lucy's mom, she has also determined to always be a "yes." for Lucy. Her post touched me, her post challenged me. Would I do that for an orphan girl that would be sent away to an institution and discarded like a broken piece of glass? Would I be strong enough to be her mother? Would I be her "yes"?

Yes Lord, I will.

Today I was Nina's legs for the fist time (adoption blog post.) Her face was the best reward of all. I am not a runner, never have been, but for her, I will be

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Pictures from Court Day

1 What are your thoughts?
When we had court, our plan was to go to the embassy that same day so that we could spend Andy's last day with Nina. However, court started late, and we had to pick up Kellsey (Frank's daughter, he was getting her out of the orphanage that day)

AS it turns out, we arrived during nap time, and well, we had to wait. They did finally wake Kellsey up and got her ready. Our facilitator then informed us that we would have to go to the embassy on Friday morning. Meaning, no seeing Nina!

Our facilitator then explained this to the orphanage and they agreed to wake her up so Andy could say good bye. She was very sleepy, and probably surprised to see us there.

Andy said his goodbye and gave her some kisses (and candy!)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday Dec 4th

1 What are your thoughts?

Today we went to the American embassy to make sure that Andy signed all the documents that we will need before Nina and I go back home. Then tomorrow early in the morning, Andy will go back to the US.

Just to clarify, we do not have Nina with us. Even though she is officially a Stumbo, she has to stay in the orphanage during the 10 day waiting period. After the 10 days I could go get her, or wait until all the paperwork is done before getting her out. I will probably wait, since there is a lot of waiting around and running around that would be difficult to do with Nina. As soon as we are ready to get the passport though, I will get her out of the orphanage forever! For now, I can visit her during week days.

Yesterday was a very exciting day. Not only did Nina become a Stumbo, but our friends Frank and Renee (well, I suppose just Frank) got to take Kellsey out of the orphanage. I was fighting tears because it really was exciting and hard. The workers really care about these children, and one by one they came to say goodbye to Kellsey. They would get really close to her, forehead to forehead, and whisper to her, probably saying that they would miss her. Some had tears in their eyes, I could tell it was hard for them to see her go. At the same time, Kellsey is leaving all she has ever known. Yes, what she has now and what she will have is surpassingly greater. But for now, it will be hard. I am aware it will be hard for Nina too.

Frank will try to get on the same plane as Andy so they can fly together, hopefully it will work out.

Prayer requests
-Safe trip home for Andy!!!
-Safety and comfort for me as I stay behind
-That once the 10 days are over things move quickly and we can be home for Christmas. Right now, we are praying for December 23rd! That is 10 days to get everything we need after the 10 day wait is over!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

She Is Ours!

9 What are your thoughts?
Thursday December 3rd is the day that we became parents for the third time.

It is official, we have another daughter, Nina Stumbo!

(Will update more when I get a chance)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Visits with Nina

4 What are your thoughts?

Each time we have gotten to see Nina has been unique and different in many ways. We are getting to know each other and we work through shyness, a language barrier, and limited activities to do. Yet, we are getting to know each other, and we are really looking forward to seeing her tomorrow.

We think Nina will be able to pick up English pretty well. She imitates everything we do, and the more comfortable she is with us, the more she speaks in front of us, thus, imitating our words too. It is so cute!

I have tried to teach her sign language, but really, I think she will learn the words along with the sign, so who knows how much she will sign! I guess she will have to learn signs because of her sister Nichole :)

Is she as excited to see us as when we see her? Probably not yet, but she sure gives us big smiles!

Her orphanage is wonderful. The doctor there cares so much about the children, and there is one worker that really loves Nina and we can tell Nina loves her too! We really really like her as well, and hope to get pictures of Nina with these two wonderful women.

We cannot wait until we can bring Nina home.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Court Date

2 What are your thoughts?

We have a court date, it is on Thursday December 3rd at 12:30 (most of you will be sleeping!). This is where the judge will pronounce Nina to be our daughter, and she will become Nina Stumbo, what a crazy thought!

After Thursday we begin our 10 day waiting period. Andy flies home on Saturday, day 2 of our wait.

After the 10 days I get to go get a new birth certificate for Nina. In this certificate, Andy and I will be listed as her parents. After that, we can apply for a tax code (not sure what it is for). They say this tax code can take 5-14 days to get. It is necessary to have this to apply for her passport. Once the tax code is here, we can apply for her passport. They say it takes around 10 days.

Nina then has to have a medical examination where to determine she can fly home. Once she is in the clear, we take the results with her passport to apply for a visa. Once we have the visa, we come home!

So this is what we have left in order
-10 day waiting period
-Birth certificate
-Tax code

So, at this point, me being home before Christmas is looking hard. BUT, we are asking you all to pray that the Lord comes before us and that all things fall into place so we can be home before Christmas! This would be cutting it short, but it can happen. So please, pray with us!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Our daughter!

6 What are your thoughts?
Our sweet daughter, it has been great to see her the last few days. We cannot wait until we can get her home and have her meet our girls (who we miss so much)
We wanted to share a picture of us with her :)
And the adoption blog has great pictures and videos!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Our Apartment

2 What are your thoughts?
Our apartment is pretty big. We have two rooms and a bathroom. I figured you don't need to see the bathroom (we have a washer in there)
But we do have our living room/dinning room/kitchen room, and then our bedroom.

Text Color


3 What are your thoughts?

This country is full of rich history. There are some beautiful buildings and churches.
I wanted to share just a few pictures.
When walking into a church women have to wear head coverings, and at one particular church, even a skirt, so I rented the skirt you see (it was more of a wrap)
Really, this city has beauty in every corner seems like.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Call to Prayer

8 What are your thoughts?

It is 11:30 for us on Monday morning, I know most of you are sleeping.

We have received news today that the quarantine in the orphanage has been extended until Thursday and they still don't know if this will affect our referral.

To say that we are discouraged is an understatement. We have been waiting since our original SDA appointment last Wednesday for this referral. An appointment that lasted 10 minutes. Nothing has happened since then.

They say there is a possibility for us to get it today, if not, we will not get it until Thursday or Friday.

If you read this on Monday morning, PRAY, please pray that we hear good news at 3:00 pm (your 7:00 am)

We need this referral!

Lord, we are in the palm of your hands, all things are in your hands. Please, grant us the referral.

No referral. Now we wait until Wednesday or Thursday.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


2 What are your thoughts?
We have been in Eastern Europe now for 5 days. The last few days we have had time to enjoy the city and be tourists :)

There are beautiful buildings here and a lot of rich history. We have walked a lot and enjoyed being in a big city.

Our apartment also is big and very comfortable. It is nice that we have our own little kitchen and we are able to make some of our meals, of course we have been eating out every day. Our goal is to have a day where we just stay here and save some money!

I will try to upload pictures tomorrow.

If there are any questions, I will try to answer those too, we have time to do that!

Oh, and our SDA appointment went well, it lasted no more than 15 minutes and now we are waiting to receive a referral so that we can continue on with the adoption process. Pray that we receive that document on Monday!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

We made it!

6 What are your thoughts?
We are here and we are doing well :)
Our apartment is really great and we finally got access to internet. It is not the best, but it works for now!
Our SDA appointment is tomorrow, so I will update as soon as I can.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

And we are off

3 What are your thoughts?
This afternoon we got into our car and headed over to my mom's house. Our dear friends had taken our girls for the morning so we could get all our packing done and they prayed for us and sent us out, out to get our daughter. As we pulled away from our driveway my eyes got watery. Next time I see my home, Nina will be a part of our family.

We are covered in prayer, we are showered in love. We know that as we travel and journey to get Nina, we have many people praying for us, lifting us up to the Father. His peace surrounds us, we are excited to go.

Friday, November 13, 2009

She has a family!

2 What are your thoughts?
Lera, the little girl I posted about just a few days ago, has a family!

Praise God!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Adoption Blog Going Private

13 What are your thoughts?
On Saturday our adoption blog will go private. If you did not receive an e-mail from me today, it means I do not have your e-mail address. I need your e-mail address so you can be added to the blog list.
Unfortunately, a private blog can only have so many readers, so I will give preference to our family, however, I still have quite a few open spots!
I will continue to update this blog as well, so people will have a general idea of what is going on.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Orphan Sunday

0 What are your thoughts?

Girl, Born August 7, 2005

If Lera doesn't have a family committed to her adoption within the next few days, she will be sent to a mental institution where she will then be unadoptable and 'sentenced' to a crib for the rest of her life.
Here's a little about her: Lera is a gorgeous little girl with blonde hair and blue eyes. She is 4 years old. She is quite high functioning, and doing very well. She has flat feet and a systolic heart murmur, but no major heart conditions. She is able to walk and climb, she eats by herself, dances, and understands and follows directions. She has also been transferred to the regular class, so she living and learning with her typical peers.
There's a grant of $1,000 available to the family that adopts her. It's so sad that she's run out of time. She is in RUSSIA and those are closed institutions. Here's the info about adopting from her region of Russia:

  • 2 trips
  • Both parents for first trip, about one week
  • Both parents travel for 2nd trip, approximately 14 days (One parent may leave after the court proceedings are finalized, after about 5 days.)
  • Total program and travel fees under $25k
  • Fee includes a $1000 orphanage donation
  • Only one child can be adopted at a time
  • Married couples and single mothers may apply

Please pray for a family for Lera to come to her rescue quickly!! Are you that family?

And if you live close to us, we will help you raise the money!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Last Leg of the Race!

1 What are your thoughts?
We are close, so close to being done raising money for our adoption. I have one last chipin. All donations are tax deductible. If everyone gave at least $5 and invited 5 friends to give this much, then we will get there!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Winners of "A Different Dream for My Child"

2 What are your thoughts?
We have our winners! I tried to be a little creative and get my girls to help me out. Only Ellie would slightly cooperate, she was not too excited or thrilled about it.

I prayed that the right people would get the book. Some of you shared a little bit of your stories and I wish I could give you all a book...sigh...I only have two.

What I did was get all the names from the comments on a piece of paper, I tore them out and put them in a bowl. Ellie drew the names.

One of the winners I know how to get a hold of, the other one I do not. Please send me an e-mail so that I can get your address and mail you the book!

Monday, October 26, 2009

2 Blog Announcements

13 What are your thoughts?
First, I wait until tomorrow evening to draw two names to win "A Different Dream for My Child" So if you want it, leave a comment! For every comment your name will be entered for the drawing!

Second, we have a travel date! We are only a few weeks away but I cannot post the date or details until our adoption blog goes private, so make sure you let me know if you want to be invited to view our blog. It won't happen in the next two weeks, but soon after that ;) (hint, hint)
Also, if you know Nina's country, please do not post or mention it in your comments or any written public material, this could actually stop our adoption, and we are so close!

Thank you!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Different Dream for My Child #3

3 What are your thoughts?
Interview with Jolene (and remember that for every comment you make you have a chance to win her book!)

1. Why did you write a book on the topic of serious childhood illness and the needs of parents of seriously ill children?

In 1982, our son was born with a serious birth defect. Immediately he was flown 700 miles away for life-saving surgery. He spent almost three weeks in neonatal intensive care. In the next five years, he had a total of seven surgeries and countless medical procedures. Because of the distances involved, we were uprooted from our family, church, support system and community. Even though our son recovered and our faith grew through the experience, I’ve never forgotten how isolated and alone we felt. When the ordeal began, I couldn’t find any books that offered the guidance and comfort I needed. For years I waited for someone to write a book for parents in similar circumstances, but no one did. Finally, I realized maybe God wanted me to do it.

2. When a child has serious illness or condition, the focus is on the child, but the parents must need support, too. What kind of support do they need?

They need logistical, financial, emotional, and most of all, spiritual support. The health care community is pretty good at helping parents negotiate the first two, but the last two require more resources than they can offer. My book and website,, provide parental support, but neither are substitutes for the presence of family, friends and church family. Parents need someone to sit beside them while they cry, someone to support them so they can support their sick children.

3. Friends and family often want to do something for the parents of a seriously ill child, but don’t know what to do or how to approach the parents. What suggestions do you have for them?

When offering help, be specific. Instead of saying, “Let me know what I can do to help,” say, “I’ll mow your lawn while you’re child’s sick,” or “I’ll organize meals three times a week and call with the schedule every Tuesday.” At, I’ve posted a three part blog series with a total of fifteen things to do for parents of sick children. The list isn’t inclusive, but it’s a great place to get ideas.

4. The outward changes in the lives of parents of very sick children are visible. But what internal changes do the parents experience? How does it affect them spiritually and emotionally?

Our culture promotes the belief that we can control every aspect of life. When a child becomes seriously ill, the delusion comes crashing down and parents begin asking questions. Why is this happening to us? How could a loving God allow children to suffer? Parents need to know their questions and feelings are normal. They need permission to question God and express their doubts. They need to know other parents have been where they are and how they survived. Otherwise, it’s very easy to blame God, to doubt the existence of a loving God, and to lose faith.

5. What about the rest of the family - siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins? How are they changed? What support do they need?

One of the moms I interviewed for A Different Dream made an interesting observation. She said their daughter Beth’s struggle with cancer was hardest on the grandparents. The grandparents often felt like helpless onlookers, getting health updates secondhand, while the parents always knew what was happening and were actively involved in the treatment plan. I think that sense of helplessness afflicts all extended family members.

Siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins need to be reassured of how important their presence is to the parents. Encouraging extended family members to fill a more hands-on roll – serving as head a family prayer chain or official photographer, updating the Caring Bridge website for example – will also make them feel more like they’re doing something real.

6. One of the difficult realities of life is that not all children survive their illness. What if the unthinkable happens and a child dies? How can those parents work through their grief and recover?

Parents have to avoid isolating themselves. They have to let people in, tell them how they feel, and keep sharing as they walk through the long road of grief recovery. Certainly, if the parents are part of a church family, they should ask the pastor to help them find grief counseling. Compassionate Friends is a national organization for parents who have lost children. It has support groups all over the country. Hospice is another organization designed to help grieving families. The resources page at provides links to a number of organizations and some excellent books.

Also, parents need to realize that their healing will be slow. As one father in Different Dream said, “The grief process takes a long time. You have to allow it – instead of going after it – so let it wrap itself around you.”

7. If it’s hard to approach the parents of a seriously ill child, it’s doubly difficult to know what to say to parents who have lost a child. How do we approach them? What should and shouldn’t we say and do?

Never say, “I know how you feel,” unless you have lost a child in similar circumstances. Instead ask how you can pray for the family and make specific offers of help, like those mentioned earlier.

Also, be sure to use the child’s name when talking to grieving parents. For some reason, perhaps because we feel using a name will be too painful for the family, we shy away from using it. But every parent I spoke to said they loved to hear their child’s name. They loved to hear others tell stories about their children. So tell your stories if you have them, even if you cry while you do it.

Finally, periodically send notes or cards to the family for at least a year, especially on the child’s birthday and on the anniversary of the death. Tell them how you are praying for them and share your memories of their child. Parents need to be encouraged and remembered for months and years after the funeral.

8. If you could choose one statement of comfort or encouragement that readers come away with after reading A Different Dream, what would it be?

I want parents to know that no matter how deep their suffering and loss is, they are not alone. They don’t need to succumb to hopelessness because God understands exactly how they feel. His Son died on the cross, so He knows the pain of separation caused by the loss of a dearly loved child. He is with them, and He cares about them, especially when they feel most abandoned. They can trust Him to lead them through this hard time, until they find purpose and meaning in the different dream God has for their child.

Check out the book review at A Different Dream for My Child #2

Book trailer at A Different Dream for My Child#1

You can leave comments on any of these posts for a chance to win the book!

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Different Dream for My Child #2

8 What are your thoughts?
Sorry for those waiting for this post. Remember that for every comment that you leave, your name will be entered to win one of her books (there are 2, so 2 people will get the book!)
You can leave as many comments as you want!

September 4, 2009--Grand Rapids, MI--If your child or the child of someone you know struggles with a life threatening or chronic illness, then you know how all-consuming such circumstances are. There's no such thing as having a "normal life," only a relentless and often lonely roller-coaster of giddy hope, streak fear, blessed victories, and shattering defeats---and constant prayer.

Jolene Philo knows how it is because she and her husband have traveled the road with their own son. In A Different Dream for My Child, Jolene shares frank, heartfelt meditations to build your faith and hope. You won't find trite, easy words. You will find rare understanding, refreshing honesty, and a wise spiritual companion to walk with you through the highs and lows that only the parent of chronically ill children can know.

We avoid the subject of chronically ill kids and the needs of their parents because it makes us feel uncomfortable. But each year, 10% of newborns spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), and over two million children are hospitalized. When the parent's needs are met, they can better meet the needs of their sick children.

I have had the pleasure to meet Jolene, she is a fantastic godly woman. I really enjoyed her book and even though I have not had a chronically ill child, we have had hospitals stays with both oour girls and I could relate. her prayers are beautiful and touch the heart. This is a book that I will keep close as we travel the road with Nina and her medical needs due to Cerebral Palsy and little medical intervention.

Check out the book trailer on my previous post A Different Dream for My Child #1

You can check out Discovery House Publishers or directly Jolene Philo's site.



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