Monday, December 28, 2009

Full Circle...

Concentric circles... there's the bigger circle of 2009. We applied to Building Blocks Adoption Services on December 31st 2008. So in a very real sense this calendar year was set apart to pursue our international adoption... full of LOTS of paperwork, homestudy, fire inspections, long distance travel, looking through books for the faces of children that seemed to have "Work" written all over them... and now we're HOME where we all belong. Guess when we arrived home? Yep, December 31st 2009! The smaller circle was our "in country" circle... our plane landed in the Ukraine October 31st and we arrived home exactly two months later. (At the beginning of our trip we faced a "flu ban," at the end of our trip the flu had hit the girls orphanage...round-and-round we went.)

What a wonderful reunion we had with our sons! Jesse is beaming... we're all "pinching ourselves" trying to decide whether this is real or a dream. Our guys have been great with the girls. Yesterday we all went sled riding... maxed out fun! Tim and Debbie were driving home and aggreeing that we both had enjoyed our sleding time and how many different combinations of people there are to go down on two-man sleds, when you have 8 people to share your family sledding adventure with. Tim concluded, "Eight is great!"

Full circle... expanding circle... it's a process and GOD always finishes what He begins!

"Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him."
- Psalm 126: 5-6

PS - Look for a video... comin' soon...!!!!

PSS - Thanks for carin' enough to read our blog... we'll update "HisNewWorkCrew" several times over the next months... So feel free to take a peak back now-and-then! May God bless you all this New Year!


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Playin' Hide 'n Seek in our Flat...

Sasha has found out something about her new Papa... HE LIKES HIS COFFEE! So she came up with an ingenious idea... whenever Papa is not looking... HIDE HIS COFFEE!


Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas in Kiev...

Greetings from Patrick, Deborah, Sasha and Olya Work...from our very comfortable flat in Kiev...complete with jacuzzi tub for our soaking pleasures! We are counting down the 3-to-5 day waiting period for the girls passports. It is a good opportunity to make connections with the girls, in our slow-but-steady type of way. Our first 24 hours with the girls were very, very difficult because of how much we needed to get done in Odessa, sloshing through horribly thick slosh on all of the sidewalks, soaking wet feet for hours and hours and two train rides. (It must have been so confusing for the girls... this is adoption? Where is the USA? We've heard all this talk and seen pictures of Tim, Justin, Jordan and Jesse... when do we get to meet them? Debbie asked Zhenya to explain that we have to do all this to get passports SO THAT we can take planes back to Ohio and finally be HOME!)

We had a nice breakthrough in Kiev when Debbie invited the girls to help make eggs in the kitchen. They loved cracking the eggs, stirring, frying, scooping, setting the table, pouring juice, etc... Sasha wouldn't let Pat into the kitchen until everything was ready. It was so cute! Now we were seeing those smiles back again! Then in the evening we filled up the jacuzzi tub with deliciously warm water and the girls climbed in and took a LONG bath with jets bubbling full force! Now we were adding some laughter to the mix!

Today is Christmas and we are taking our daughters to our favorite Ukrainian restaurant, translated means... Fat House! Yum, yum! Another special memory was sitting together on the couch, Sasha holding a Russian version of the Bible and Pat and Debbie holding English versions. Pat found Luke 1 in the Russian Bible and Sasha read a verse in Russian and we repeated the same verse in English. It was one of the most powerful readings of the Christmas story we ever experienced! The last special memory we'd like to share is the present that Pat gave to his special ladies... we all received sparkling pink bracelets from Papa! He said that we were his special, beautiful girls! (See picture!)
May the Lord bless you and yours this Christmas and
throughout the coming New Year!


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

FLU Epidemic hits the orphanage!

Can you believe it? (Remember our FIRST obstacle... a 3 week flu epidemic shutdown!) Their orphanage school is closed down. Everyone is wearing masks or scarves. Many children are sick and they are quaranteened in the dormitory. IRREGARDLESS: We are picking up the girls TONIGHT! (Debbie has visited the last two days, with her own mask firmly tied on. Sasha and Olya have slight coughs, but do not seem bad at all. They are very excited to come with us! Tomorrow we take them to Odessa on train to get them scanned for their very own passports. There is a 3-to-5 day waiting period for passports, so we'll head back to Kiev to wait... which will afford Zhenya some much deserved time with his wife and son and will be fun for us, cuz the girls have never seen Kiev and it'll be gorgeous with Christmas lights! Looks like Christmas in Kiev with our "angels!") Love you all!


Monday, December 21, 2009

ANOTHER WALL... Smashed, toppled and broken!

I'm smiling from ear-to-ear! God is good... I just got the call I've been waiting for... and the latest issue has been resolved! Remember the story of the "cold" Chief Judge who kept telling us to "come back?" Well, Pat and Zhenya went this morning and she said that soon she was leaving for vacation. And, if she couldn't get it done today, she'd let another judge do it tomorrow, Tuesday, December 22nd. But, Zhenya appealed to her and asked if she could please try to do it today. She said, "Come back at 2:00 PM!" (Noticing a pattern?) SOooo, they came back at 2:00 PM. To make a long story shorter... she ended up calling her superiors at the Court of Appeals and they told her that since our ADOPTION DECREE is a valid document and has an addendum dealing with the mispelled last name... THAT DOCUMENT TRUMPED THE OTHER ONE and we did not need to change the original court decree that took away parental rights from the birth parents. Zhenya gently pressed further and asked the Chief Judge to call the Birth Certificate Chief Officer and explain all of this. She called and the office was closed. Zhenya had the ladies home phone number! THE CHIEF JUDGE ACTUALLY AGREED TO CALL THIS WOMAN AT HOME AND SHE EXPLAINED EVERYTHING FOR US!! (There was NO bribing involved... the judge simply had a change-of-heart!! Then Zhenya and Pat hired a taxi, went to the home of the lady who is in charge of birth certificates, picked her up, took her to her CLOSED office and she made NEW birth certificates...TODAY! The girls now bear our NAME, it is completely official...orphans no more! Zhenya said he estimates that we are 90% of the way through the adoption process... social text numbers, Passports and Visa's left to go. (Interestingly, we applied to Building Blocks Adoption Services on December 31, 2008!) Tick...tick...tick...goes the trip-o-meter!


Sunday, December 20, 2009

My two heroes... Patrick and Zhenya!

Forgive me as I get a little emotional today! I'm sitting alone in our hotel room, while Zhenya and Pat are heading back to Artsez...AGAIN... to face a formidable obstacle there, in the town where the girls grew up. Last Thursday "the gang" (Yuri, Zhenya, Pat and Debbie) all went together, in Yuri's taxi, to try and solve this same problem. But, we were buffeted by a huge snow storm and lived thru the most terrifying 12 hour trip of our lives. (But, God orchestrated miracle after miracle and literally saved our lives. If you are interested in this story of the amazing provision of God, please ask us for details when we get home. We'd love to tell you the story!) Barely recovered or warmed up, the next day we were slapped down by the Chief Judge who we found to be colder than our 45 degree hotel room or the many snow drifts we had to dig ourselves out of. FOLKS... did you know that the Cold War is not over yet? This judge has lied to us several times, but in one brief moment of honesty, she told Zhenya that she does not believe international/American adoptions are in the best interest of Ukrainian children. She flat out would not give us the addendum we need to correct the original court decree from 3 years ago. (We need this document to get the new birth certificates and social tech numbers.) Zhenya said our case has been the most difficult one he has faced in 10 years of helping people adopt!

Back to my HEROES! I want to honor my husband, Patrick for taking on the task of adopting orphan girls at the age of 52 years. He has been a wonderful friend, prayer partner, romancer, educator and leader on this trip. I miss him right now, and ask that you pray for success this Monday in all their endeavors (We need a couple of Christmas miracles this week!)

Also, Pat and I would like to honor ZHENYA... one of the most amazing people we have ever had the privilege to meet. Some of the best ways to desribe him would be... accomplished administrator, diplomat, fine legal mind, kind, generous to a fault, Lover of God, courageous and hard-working. But, probably the BEST word to describe Zhenya would have to be PASSION. He is passionate to find forever homes for orphans. We have laughed together, prayed, cried... he's seen us when we've been sick, he's defended us, suffered for us and given every last ounce of energy to help us. He has become a very, very special friend!

Saving the best for last, we'd also like to THANK and praise God, who the Bible describes as being a "Father to the fatherless." He is the consummate Father, yesterday, today and forever... and we are very thankful that he's adopted us into His family! Pat and I had been spiritual orphans before we were rescued by the love of God and we now see the sacrifice that Christmas represents in a whole new LIGHT! At Great Cost, the Father sent His only son to be our rescuer. At great cost, Jesus said Yes and left the pleasures of Heaven to come to earth. At great cost, Jesus said YES to a torturous death and bore our sins, so that whosoever believes on Jesus shall be saved and eternally adopted into God's family! Now that's the BEST adoption story ever!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Met with the Judge this Morning!

Believe it or not... our most recent hurdle, has revolved around the letter "e." Sasha's original birth certificate had ONE mispelled letter in her last name. This simple clerical error has caused huge headaches for Zhenya and has slowed down our adoption process! Our judge here in Kotovsk, overreacted to the error and made Zhenya's job thrice as difficult... multiple trips, 4 hours south to Atrsez, rounding up 6 different documents! The SDA told Zhenya the judge was being ridiculous. Then Zhenya talked to another judge here in town and he said he would have easily OVERLOOKED the clerical error... a judge who understands the difference between "the letter of the law" and the "spirit of the law!" BUT, our judge held Sasha and Olya's adoption decree in his hand, so we had to jump through his hoops. SOooo, today we accompanied Zhenya at 8:45 AM to the judges chambers, armed with our newest batch of six documents, we appealed to the judge to release our paperwork and let us continue down the road! GOOD NEWS! The judge said, "Yes!" He was satisfied with the work that Zhenya had done and he surrendered our documents to us. Zhenya commented later that there was a definite difference in the demeanor of the judge today. HE HAD SOFTENED! (Thank you Lord... for turning the heart of the judge!)

Tomorrow... the three of us and Yuri, our friendly taxi driver will head south to pick up the "fixed up" original court decree that took parental rights away, get new birth certificates bearing the last name... "WORK" and obtain new social tech numbers!

WARNING: Our return flight reservations for December 23rd are seriously jeopardized because of these unexpected problems and delays. But, we hold out some hope for a literal Christmas day return. But, as our good friend Diane Negi shared with us that she is certain that the Lord will help us to return on just the right day. So we continue to take one day and a time and trust in the words of Jesus, "I will not leave you as orphans... I will come to you!"


Monday, December 14, 2009

Solo Visit Today!

Pat was feeling a little under the weather today... fighting a cold and winning the fight but thought he'd keep the germs in the hotel and take a nap. Sooo... Debbie ventured to the orphanage, compliments to our ever faithful friend, Yuri, the taxi driver. When I saw the girls I pantomimed to them that Papa was sick... coughing and he stayed back at the hotel to sleep. I could tell that they understood. So we settled into some counting games and looked at a beautiful picture book of Kiev. Then we finished with several rounds of UNO! (Ya gotta love UNO, cuz your learning how to say colors and numbers and SOMEONE WINS! Mama - 2 games, Sasha - 2 games, Olya - 1 game!)


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Visit # 19...

Every day is different. Our visits always seem to get off to a slow start. On the weekends we visit in the dormitories, during the school days we meet in the adjacent school. No one ever seems to be expecting us, even though we visit the same time each day. We have to round up the girls and then the challenge is... WHERE to actually visit. Yesterday we spent some time in Olya's little bedroom and played "I Spy" and ball toss alphabet and practiced the song, "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes." Today, we visited in Sasha's room and the little lounge/dressing room she shares with about 8 other girls. (See attached pictures taken by Olya and Sasha.) The last week or so, we've introduced Chad Tumino's laptop (hey, thanks a million Chad!) and an Alphabet Al, sing-along CD and songbook. After we do that for awhile, we let them go to Microsoft Word and they type their names and Papa and Mama and various words from the songbook. Today Sasha typed, Papa and Mama - I love you. As the girls typed today, we popped in a Glen Miller CD... Olya was so cute as her head bobbed along to the Big Band tunes and she hunted for her A, B, C's on the keyboard.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Tears of Joy... Tears of Sorrow

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven; a time to breakdown, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh." - Ecclisiastes 3

We have laughed with the girls playing basketball and acting out action verbs like... jump, run, walk, catch and throw. One day we made a flutaphone and Pat's hat into makeshift "bat" and "ball." We took turns pitching, catching and hitting. Olya took a turn pitching to Papa and Pat started making the silliest faces and wiggling his butt at "homeplate" while taking practice swings with his flutish bat. Olya started laughing SO hard she literally fell on her pint-sized butt!

Then there have been times of tears...tears in Kiev and tears in Kotovsk. Together we have wept while praying, talking and reading out loud. We were both moved to tears while visiting the Monument of Hunger. There were tears of JOY, the day we finally got to meet Sasha and Olya! (Debbie remembers asking her roommates, back when she was single, to pray for her, because she never cried. She wanted to feel things more deeply and be stirred to the point of tears. God heard that prayer back in 1984 and must have said to Himself... it's only a matter of time!) God definitely seems to be softening our hearts and increasing His compassion within us. Our most recent "waterfall" experience was in the office of Ludmilla, the Executive Director of the orphanage. As she told us the story of our daughters early years... a story laced with gross neglect and rejection we were deeply saddened. (In an attempt to honor our daughters privacy, we are withholding certain details of their history.) But, honestly this new knowledge has already been helpful to deepen our desire to serve as Mama & Papa and strenghthen our commitment to see them thru the tougher stuff of life.

Today we took the girls, with Zhenya and went shoe/boot shopping! Oh my... (that committment I just mentioned...? already tested!) they were overwhelmed by all the choices... they wanted toys and hair clips and Sasha wanted black shiny high heels and when we went to eat, they ate and ate! On our way back to the hotel, they wanted to stop for candy and chips. While in our hotel, they split a banana, ate a big cookie and had TWO BOWLS OF CEREAL! (The good news is that they seem to love bread and cereal...just like their brothers back home! We keep asking ourselves, "Where could they possibly put that much food?" Zhenya said this is completely normal, that orphans tend to hoard food.) So back to the shoe shopping. We had to set limits and price shop... Sasha and Olya's first introduction to Papa and Mama's version of "generousity within the budget."

After this somewhat exhausing shopping trip and lunch venture we headed back to the hotel and Zhenya was off to work on the birth certificate issues. Debbie built some great memories curling the girls hair for the first time. And, then something WONDERFUL and UNUSUAL happened... Sasha decided that she wanted to clean and straighten our hotel room. Wait a minute... as Debbie pinches herself and asks Pat, "Did you ask her to clean?" Pat said, "No!" Debbie asked again, "Did you command or suggest that she clean up?" "Double negative," Pat replied. Then the angel choir started singing the Halleluia Chorus as Mama watched her beloved daugher make her bed, fluff pillows, wash dishes and CLEAN ALL THREE SHELVES, and straighten each nicknack and napkin! (Babushka Holley soak this in... Auntie Beth stop your toothy grinning and give me a "high five!" Ha!)


Monday, December 7, 2009

Bought the girls some new coats!

Right down the street from where we stay, there's the coolest market ever! Vendor after vendor selling everything from bowls and cups to shoes, coats, fresh veggies, puppies, live poultry, fresh eggs, books, shaving lotion, handmade socks and disposable diapers! (Most vendors have an official structure that serves as there little "store front." The market is open for business... Weds., Friday and Sunday. But, some folks just lay a blanket down on the outskirts of the market and sell things from their blanket.)

The coats (pictured above) were bought at the market... pink for Olya and Red for Sasha! Oh how fun to start shopping for some girl things!


Friday, December 4, 2009

Happy 12th Birthday Jesse Ryan!

Can it be that you've turned 12 years old already? It seems like yesterday that we were counting how many steps you could take before you fell on your well padded, diapered bottom! We had so much fun watching you grow from a baby to a boy and (oh no) soon from a boy to a young man! We are VERY, very proud of you buddy! (You're going to be a super dooper big brother to little Olya... we have NO DOUBTS about it.) Thanks to Auntie Beth for coming to our home from Columbus to make your special day memorable! Have fun!

(Enjoy the attached video clips!!)


The Judge said, "Yes!"

The courtroom was humble, two bare lights hanging down from chains, a judge sitting up on an elevated wooden desk, flanked with two court witnesses. Their was a court recorder on our left and a prosecuting attorney in front of us. The girls sat to our left and Zhenya to our right, the Inspector to his right, the orphanage lawyer sat behind us. The judge started by asking Pat his name, address, profession and salary and the same questions of Debbie. He wanted to know about how we'd handle the language barrier, how does it work having grandparents living in the same home? The prosecuting attorney asked Debbie how would 4 boys relate to 2 sisters? Debbie explained that we raised our boys to be gentlemen, that they are kind and are looking forward to having sisters. The attorney wanted to know why 4 boys were not enough? Debbie explained that we had extra room in our home and hearts and that we wanted to give two sisters another chance in life. Zhenya encouraged Debbie to share how she wanted a daughter. So she explained that we've always joked that we don't have the "recipe" for having a girl (muffled laughter throughout the courtroom, even the judge chuckled.) Debbie explained that she was looking forward to being a mama to these two sisters. The Inspector testified to the lack of contact the girls had with their brother and the troubled track record the brother had and that it was his opinion that it was in the best interest of the girls to be adopted into our home. Pat ended by making a final promise to the judge that we'd do everything in our power to provide for, love and protect these two precious girls. The judge then took a break to deliberate with the two witnesses. We reconvened in 5 minutes and the judge awarded us custody of the girls and granted permission to change their names to... Alexandra Faith Work & Olya Isabella Work!


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A few words from the "orphans" back at home...

OK, so I know everyone is expecting every blog to come with Ukrainian stamps on it, but not this time. This blog comes from nowhere else but Medina, Ohio! Yah, I know, the big news is with my parents and the girls... but here's something to hold you over...

Our experience without my parents can be culinarily described in one word- chicken. Yup, chicken. Lots of it, too. Ever since the memo went out that we don't want pig in our meals the poultry seems to fly in to our home all by itself. But it hasn't really... it's been delicately cooked and seasoned and personally given to us brothers and for that we say thank you! Particularly, thank you Mrs. Negi and Mrs. Turner for helping out an extra lot. We've been well fed! In fact, for the first, I don't know, fifteen days we didn't have to prepare a dinner at all! We either ate fresh homemade food or had the painstaking and unbearable duty of warming up leftovers! I hope you picked up on the sarcasm... life's been easy without our parents... culinarily speaking..

Maybe you laughed at the blog title, but I have felt, and perhaps all of my brothers have felt, like "orphans" lately. Olya (not a typo) and Sasha have had it much, MUCH harder, but I atleast feel like I can empathize with them, especially since our parents departure was over a month ago. I grow fonder of them even when I'm with them, but when I'm not....

So what has my experience been like, food aside? Let me tell you this... I miss their prayers and their wisdom. I just talked to my mom and dad a few hours ago and was amazed with the wisdom I've been missing. You see, lately the scary thought came to me. What if Olya or Sasha hug Jesse more than they hug me!!! Or what if they avoid talking or playing with one of us! It was so comforting to here my mom say what her and my dad had realized.... It's not about us! Yes, we'll love the laughter and games and the ability to learn together, but this whole mission is about showing the love of Christ. No matter what happens, if we show the love of Christ (who was rejected in his own town) even if/when they don't seem to show it back, we are still doing what He wants us to do! I take great comfort in my parents wisdom to dwell on the fact that is truly not about us. It's about two orphans being adopted into the Work family and shown the way to be adopted into God's.

We miss our parents a lot, yes, but we're comforted by knowing that they're safe and thriving physically, emotionally and spirtually. Thanks to everyone who's read the blog, prayed for my parents, given us meals, prayed for us, financially supported, hosted us, and blessed us with their well-wishes, hugs and love.

One month down, one month to go.

Love you all and God bless you!

- Jordan (semi-on-behalf-of-his-brothers)

P.S. - If you have a desire to feed us... we wouldn't mind a chicken-free dish.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Court Date Set!

This Friday, December 4th at 11:00 AM, Alexandra and Olya, Patrick and Debbie and Zhenya will appear before a judge in a court here in Kotovsk. If the judge decides in our favor, we will officially become parents of these two precious sisters. We will go out for lunch and "whoop it up" Ukrainian style. Then it'll be back to the orphanage for a mandatory 10 day waiting period. Afterwards, we will pick them up and travel to Odessa where we'll need to pursue getting new social security-type numbers and passports. (That process can take 3 - 5 days.)

Today, during our visit, Pat had Zhenya interpret to the girls that we love God and God loves them and it is BECAUSE of HIS LOVE that we are pursuing them and want to adopt. Honestly, they looked a little "blank" when we talked about God, but that's OK... we just planted our first seeds!