Down, but not out...

So many things to say, so much we have been through today...

Amy and I were ready to go early this morning, since we are in a Bible house (a ministry), and everyone resumed work today, we were able to purchase a Bible each for the girls and grandma.  With gifts in hand, regardless of the outcome - we would leave God's word in our wake.

The meeting was a flop.  Only the director and our facilitator were there,  but no inspector, no child protection services.  They talked for 10 minutes or so and then the director wanted to speak with the children.  The assistant explained that grandma received permission to pick them up during breaks without any inspection of her living conditions and that this was not right.  The director went out to the courtyard to find the children.  He spoke to them out of our sight or hearing for a while and then we saw them back with schoolmates in the courtyard.  We  discovered after a few minutes that grandma had come and he was speaking with her in the courtyard as well.

He came over shaking his head "she is confident that she can reclaim guardianship" and "the girls do not want to go to America".  So with that information in hand, we accepted the closed door and left sad.  I sat down on a bench with Amy and wrote a note in the front of each girls Bible - which I know one of their caregivers can translate (if she can read my chicken scratch - I tried to be neat, really I did - it just never comes out the way I want it to!!!!).  Anyway, loving notes were left inside the front of each Bible.  I went up to their room while they were gone and left them on their beds to receive later.  Ran into the caregiver and asked her to translate sometime after we were gone.

I then felt the need for closure and to say goodbye to each of them.  I say Katya first.  She had forgotten to get her glass beads out of my pocket from the day before.  I pulled them out as I approached her.  She was very interested in them.  As I knelt down in front of her to say goodbye, tears began to stream and all I could mutter was "I love you" and then a few words in English that I'm sure she didn't understand.  The most painful part was her indifferent wave goodbye and off she went, without a blink...without any regret for our pain or loss.  It was hard to swallow.  I have a new appreciation, albeit very small in comparison, to the rejection God must feel when his children reject Him intentionally.  It hurts....maybe that is what we are here to learn...I dunno.

I approached Karina with a similar message, but the tears were not there this time...I compressed them into a small compartment and demanded that they not be seen this time, pretty sure I couldn't take twice the rejection.

At that point we walked out with Ilya (what a blessing that child is and will be to his mom and dad - if you are reading this, be very proud of your man.  He is wonderful and kind and gentle and helpful - you will be blessed by him immensely as you are a blessing to him.  He doesn't want to go to camp, and is waiting for you - counting the days!).  We said some goodbyes to a few and then left quickly.  A flurry of emotions:  hurt, anger, rejection, confusion, disappointment, numb, and foolish to name a few.

We came back to the apartment to pack, told Tonya to get us on a train back to Kiev tonight and we would be on our way.  While waiting, I decided that I didn't really want to bring all these clothes and toys back with us, so we donated them to the orphanage.  We ended up taking it into the director's office. He didn't understand what we were doing, so he called in the English teacher to help.  She translated for us.  He told us not to hurry off so soon, but to wait until tomorrow to see what the inspector has to say about grandma's suitability.  We explained that neither the report from the inspector, or the influence of anyone else it seemed would cause the girls to want to go with us, and we did not want make them do something against their wills.  He said ok, thank you and was very sorry for the situation.  We left again.

Ilya then guided me back to return the stroller that we rented last week, where the vendor proved his honesty by taking back the stroller and giving me 50% of my money.  I never would have made it without his assistance.  The market shops are a maze of street vendors that I easily get lost in.  We ate lunch together and he asked for shorts - which I gladly bought for him, and then back again to home.

On the way, something was stirring inside of me to wait the extra day as the director said.  I called Tonya and told her this.  She had already bought the train tickets, so we are losing 50% of the price.  No problem - a fighting fire has been stirred within us.

Tonya indicated that she had about an hour long conversation with the girls, fully explained the disease that they have to them, and spoke very sincerely about the opportunity they have before them and the problems with what grandma appears to be doing.  Tonya did indicate that she doesn't think they will feel differently, but left her phone number with them and told them that they must make a final decision by 8pm.  Tonya also told us that the inspector was off to the grandma's house today to determine her suitability.  If she is found not suitable, then she cannot stop the process.  We also have reason to believe that the grandmother is attempting to use them for financial benefit of a governmental subsidy and is not genuinely concerned for the girls well being.  She has 7 other children and a myriad of grandchildren whom she has nothing to do with for some reason.  The uncertainty with that is whether or not she will show the inspector her true dwelling, or rent something for a day or coerce someone into helping her with a better place than she actually has (Tonya has been to grandma's and it is not a pretty picture apparently).

We have decided at this point to cancel our train for tonight and see what the inspector reports back.  Based on those findings we will either move forward or not.  If she is not suitable, we will proceed with paperwork and get it all shipped off to Kiev for processing.  Basically, option 4 in the previous post was our desire, but didn't happen.  For some reason, we cannot just walk away at this point - so have opted for option 2.  Depending on the judge, the girls likely will not have to appear before them, and as they have already signed consent - it may be a matter of paperwork.  Yes, this will be against their current wishes...but they do not know enough to know better.  Again, they don't know what they are choosing, only what they are not choosing (the unknown). So for their own good, if grandma is found unsuitable, we will proceed with the process until we are legally denied or approved.  This will be hard, but I feel in their best interest.  Sometimes you make your child eat the peas, so they can have the desert...this is how I feel about it at the moment.

It has also crossed my mind that in some way this is how God works with his own children.  He first loved us, He initiated relationship with us, He sacrificed all for us, He determined before the foundation of the world who would be his.  He chose us before we chose him.  It is a great mystery to me the harmonious tension between pre-destination and free-will.  He is the beginning and the end, He started it for each of us and chose to bring us to new life, and we responded.  In a way, we are choosing to bring them a new life and would then hope that they respond positively in the end.  We do this for love, and for Him who modeled for us what it means to lay down His life for us all.

So for all of our urgency in packing and preparing to leave, and now having given everything away, returning the stroller, sacrificing $50 in train we are spending the night at least one more evening to see what happens with the inspector.  The outcome of her report will determine whether push forward with the legal process or not.  The girls leave for camp on Thursday, this may be a good thing.  We do not think that spending more time with them will do any good for this point it is a legal issue and one we will press into until the last scrap of opportunity is gone, or success occurs.  God bless you all, we are encouraged and have a spirit of power and hope within that is not natural given the circumstances.  So we trust that this is from God, and if we are pushing our own agenda that he will continue to prove Himself stronger than we and shut the door even more tightly.

Love to all, we miss you and so value your words of encouragement and empathy.  They help sustain us during this time of trial.


  1. Praying for both of you. May God comfort you and give you peace in the midst of this trial

  2. May you rest in his arms....

    ’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
    Just to take Him at His Word;
    Just to REST upon His promise,
    And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”

    Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
    How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;
    Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
    Oh, for grace to trust Him more!
    Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus,
    Just to trust His cleansing blood;
    And in simple faith to plunge me
    ’Neath the healing, cleansing flood!
    Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
    Just from sin and self to cease;
    Just from Jesus simply taking
    Life and rest, and joy and peace.
    I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,
    Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
    And I know that Thou art with me,
    Wilt be with me to the end.

  3. You know, eating peas always made me throw up. But, nevertheless, I loved your analogy and whole heartedly agree with your perspective and approach. You need to walk away from this with no questions or regrets and know that God chose the ending...not you.

    In conveying this situation to my friend, Nikki, I told her that I knew Jeff well enough to know that he will fight hard to the end if he is called to do so.

    Thank you for proving me right.

    One day, through this, I hope all your children realize and learn the lengths you both would go for them...all the way to the end. If these girls do or don't come home with you, I also pray that they will retain the memory of being fought for......although I am praying they do this on US soil.

    Our prayers are with you today. We are praying for everyone involved. Like I said, I have so appreciated your updates and the opportunity to pray for you. I hate the fact that fact that both of you are being shattered right now...but, like you said, I am grateful that if shattering has to take place, it's for the cause of the gospel.

    We love you too.

  4. Been praying and continuing to do so.

  5. I so understand your flurry of emotions. Reading them brought back the memory of my own painful emotions during a similar situation.

    Please remove "foolish" from that list. Regardless of the outcome in this, you can be confident in knowing that you have stepped out in faith and obedience to our Lord's calling. You can also be confident that regardless of the outcome you will walk away knowing our Savior and the depth of His own sacrifice (rejected by so many) for us more fully then you did before. You are sharing in His suffering.

    My heart aches for your pain. Please know that I am praying for you and for your precious girls.

    Lori King

  6. Praying Amy....have been...and will continue to do so. - Lori

  7. I'm not sure what to say. Thankful the Lord is in control of the whole situation! He is using you to accomplish His desires! He is using the circumstance to grow you into His image! I will continue to pray for you and for the girls. As for the Grandmother,remember, time and truth go hand in hand. If the Lord wills you will have the truth about her soon. Praying and waiting to hear/read your next update.

  8. Alicia - that song, along with several others have proved to keep my faith strong and give me resolve. Thank you for the reminder. Im thankful to have music on the ipad, and in my heart - it is good to sing praises to our King. When I don't think I can endure or feel any more deeply - I sing!

    Thea - thank you for your confidence and approval - means a lot to me and to us.

    Family, thank you for your prayers - keep them up please, for the sake of the kingdom and for this little girl whom we already love much.

  9. This reminds me of the part in Adopted for Life where Russell Moore writes about the day he drove away from the orphanage for the first time with his boys. Here is the excerpt:

    When my wife Maria and I at long last received the call that the legal process was over, and we returned to Russia to pick up our new sons, we found that their transition from orphanage to family was more difficult than we had supposed. We dressed the boys in outfits our parents had bought for them. We nodded our thanks to the orphanage personnel and walked out into the sunlight, to the terror of the two boys.

    They’d never seen the sun, and they’d never felt the wind. They had never heard the sound of a car door slamming or had the sensation of being carried along at 100 miles an hour down a road. I noticed that they were shaking, and reaching back to the orphanage in the distance.

    I whispered to Sergei, now Timothy, “That place is a pit! If only you knew what’s waiting for you: a home with a Mommy and a Daddy who love you, grandparents and great-grandparents and cousins and playmates and McDonald’s Happy Meals!”

    But all they knew was the orphanage. It was squalid, but they had no other reference point. It was home.

    Jeff and Amy,I am so glad you are willing to fight for those girls despite the pain and vulnerability that you are exposing yourselves to. They do not know what is best for them...they cannot...but thankfully God knows...hang in there as He shows you His Will in this situation. Don't feel foolish. You are actively modeling the love of Christ and His unwavering pursuit of His children. It is a beautiful thing. You are an encouragement and inspiration to the Body of Christ no matter the outcome. Love you!

  10. Lynette, your words brought us both to tears. I have read the book you reference, but it's been a little while and it's not so fresh in my mind. Thanks so much for the reminder. I still struggle with removing them from their grandmother. Just seems wrong. But the more I learn about her, the more she worries me. She is a vindictive, manipulative and violent woman and is THE reason why their bio dad is not around. She ran him off and has tried to cause a car crash and kill him by sabotaging his car. She has said she daily wishes for his death. None of her 7 children nor her other grandchildren have anything to do with her. Not someone they need to have any contact with!

    The only solace I can take from separating the girls (have not given up hope that they will both come this trip) is that we will most likely be coming back for Karina because everyone thinks she will one day in the near future (after we are gone of course!) change her mind and Jeff will come back for her. Thanks again for your prayers. We have no other ammo :) Love to you and your family, Amy



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