Hope's Journey

Hope's Journey

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Life at the Brown Home

Brother and Sister LOVE!

Wow, it's seem like just yesterday that we were in Ukraine waiting to board for our flight home. The adjustment time has gone extremely well, Aimee loves her new home. She has not started school yet, but we are hoping for next week! There have been many "new" experiences such as the dentist, the doctor’s office and shopping! Following our visit to the dentist Aimee had a mani/pedi including pretty little jeweled flowers painted on her toes!  For me a was a sweet moment seeing this beautiful girl pampered and enjoying every minute of it!

Over the weekend we met a couple of girls from our church that are in the 7th grade, they were precious. We had lunch at The Cheesecake Factory and then shopping at Justice. At first Aimee was timid to communicate but as the afternoon progressed she began interacting with the girls … baby steps, we will take em’. 

Aimee has worked very hard to begin writing and speaking the English language. Needless to say my Ukraine dictionary is getting its money worth and we are extremely grateful for the iphone translator! Kendall and Cole have had a wonderful time riding bikes with their sister as well as spending hours on the trampoline. Another favorite is hide and seek as well as good ol’ games of chasing one another. Honestly, they are never any arguments to go to bed; all are exhausted by the end of the day.

Aimee has seen her sweet friend Kennedy and our first weekend home Kennedy was able to come over and spend the night. There have been a few requests to call Ukraine and the talk of missing her friends … I cannot even imagine how very hard it is to be without those she had as family for so many years.

Each day I am reminded how blessed we are to have Aimee as our daughter, she is a joy and we love her so very much!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Just a quick update

On Saturday Nadia asked that we call her Aimee, so Aimee it is :) We gave her the middle name Aimee in memory of my sweet friend Amy Jones that passed away this summer from her short battle with kidney cancer.

Amy Jones

Amy, in the ministry Journey of Sisters that she founded, represented "HOPE". Nadia in Ukraine means "HOPE" so we added Aimee as her middle name. When she asked to be called Aimee, it was a very sweet moment for us. 


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

We are Home!!!

We are so glad to say that we are home!  Flying home yesterday from London felt like the longest day ever. When we arrived at DFW, we had one more immigration line to go through and this would be the one that would make Nadia officially a US citizen.  After an hour of waiting, we were approved to enter the country and Nadia is officially ours.  It was amazing to see our kids and Kristi's parents waiting for us. Three weeks is a long time.  Nadia was also greeted by 2 of her friends who were adopted by families in the metroplex earlier this year.  They were all excited to see each other.  Is'nt God amazing to not only give these girls forever homes but to allow them to be adopted by families who live close to one another.   

Monday, October 12, 2009

Final Leg of Our Amazing Race Home

It's 7am here in London. We will head to the airport later today and look forward to being in our own beds in our own home this evening. 3 days of traveling is taking its toll. Due to the conflicts at the airport in Kiev, we only spent an evening in London. No time to sightsee. We did walk a few blocks last night to an English Pub that was recommended. It is called The Three Magpies and it was delicious English food.

As I had to deal with the roadblock with the airlines in Kiev not letting us leave, Kristi had her roadblock to deal with the next day going through the immigration line at the Kiev airport. I was separated from Kristi and Nadia briefly as I was questioned by an employee asking what was in my luggage and how much money was I carrying. He was checking to see if I had any antiques. By the time I reached the immigration lines, Kristi and Nadia were ahead of me so I got into another line.(For those families who will be leaving Ukraine with their newly adopted children, stay together especially going through immigration lines.) I was able to get through the line w/o any issue. Kristi and Nadia were detained and asked for the original adoption papers and birth certificate. She gave the papers to the attendant and was in a starring match with the lady attendant for several minutes. The attendant left her booth and went into an office with other immigration officers. I was close to the office so I had a front row seat to what happening. They all were reading the adoption papers and discussing it for at least 20 minutes all while Kristi and Nadia were left standing at the immigration booth with many people lining up behind them. The 3 officers approached me and asked if I was the "papa". They then began to question me about the timing of our adoption. They said Ukriane adoptions are never completed in the short amount of time it has taken us(less than 3 weeks). After much deliberation among themselves and Kristi and Nadia still waiting at the booth, they decided to let us proceed. Of course the lady immigration officer enjoyed the stare down of Kristi so much, she continued to do so even though she had been handed the approval from the senior officer 5 minutes earlier. I saw the officer give it to her with the stamps and signatures. It is interesting how only after being a few days in Ukraine, we were able to know what was happening and what discussions were about even through we did not know the language. Body language and tone of words speaks volumes.

Once we arrived in London it was like we were greeted by friends. We were welcomed warmly by the immigration office. I asked if it would have been ok if we had arrived a day earlier and spent 48 hours in London. He said of course and we would have been given permission to do so. I was frustrated for a moment about not being allowed to fly the day prior(paying an extremely high price for the Ukraine airport hotel and anticipating an extremely large cell phone bill being on the phone with American Airlines in the States for 40 minutes) but soon that feeling left with the knowledge that we were only 1 more flight away from being home and seeing our kids. I was so proud of my wife how she handled the tense situation with the Ukraine immigration. She was amazing!!!

We made it through the entire adoption process in Kiev, in the Dobro region and with the US Embassy without any issues. We finished in 19 days! Our problems came with leaving the country. So families who are still in Ukraine adopting, be prepared for possible issues when you leave the country. Even though we had all the documents needed, the immigration officers can still detain you if they wish. Know that we are praying for you all. It was great to meet such amazing couples from the states stepping out in faith to adopt a child.

One more full day of travel and we are home and one amazing young lady can not wait to get to her forever home. I think she may be even more ready to be home than Kristi and I. And that is a lot!!!

Thank to all who have been praying for us. Your prayers have been felt and answered all the way along our journey. Our issues with the immigration clearance in Ukraine was not just an intellectual battle between people, it was a spiritual battle of a family adopting a young child and being rescued by their heavenly father.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Leaving Ukraine

Just as in the Amazing Race ( on TV ) there are “roadblocks” and as on the show only one teammate can perform and well, we hit a "roadblock" and Darrin did an amazing job. Yesterday, we arrived at the Kiev airport all 5 bags in tow … and we were even early.

We are at the counter having the bags tagged and on the belt taking them to the plane when the attendant checking us in saw that we were staying in London for two nights. Right then we experienced our first BUMP in the road. Our bags we taken off the belt and the whirlwind began. Darrin then spent the next two hours negotiating with the Ukraine attendants while simultaneously dealing with an American Airlines agent in North Carolina … who by the way was amazing … to try and get us on our flight to London. Let me stop and explain what was happening at this time … because Nadia has a Ukraine visa she is not permitted to stay over 24 hours in UK. The Kiev airline attendants not understanding that because she was adopted by us, she has the ability to receive a temporary visa for our UK stay, which was confirmed to us before leaving the US consulate on Friday.


Oh, the reason we had a 48 hour UK stay … because there were no available flights out of London to DFW on Sunday. Sooooooooo, ultimately we missed our Saturday flight and had to stay at a hotel near the airport. It was extremely pricy, but nice.

We must share a huge “Thank You” to our facilitator, his wife and our precious Elvira for staying with us and taking us to the hotel. They had a family commitment that afternoon and took time away from family, making sure that we were taken care of, precious!

(Elvira with Ana and Nadia)
The hotel was available and had a nice (pricy) restaurant where we were able to eat dinner and then watch So You Think You Can Dance, Kiev. We awoke to a very rainy and cold day, had breakfast, waited in our room for a couple of hours and now as I type are at a café in the airport waiting for our flight. So, as I type we are waiting … yet funny thing, just greeted with English magazines and a warm smile promising seats together on the plane, by the attendant that made us miss our flight yesterday. It is true … sometimes you are given the opportunity to make friends with your enemies.

I would like to make a BIG shout out to the creators of the iphone and to my precious cousin who gave me the iphone … it has kept Nadia entertained for hours. Yes, for those concerned … I took the SIM card out, so there are no “roaming charges” however, I fear the bill from Darrin’s numerous and long calls to the airlines yesterday.

Now, it is evening as I post this last update before our travels to HOME tomorrow ... we are in London.  Once we settle at home for a couple of days, I will begin posting more details about our trip.  We will continue this blog for a few months and update about Nadia's experiences in America.  Thank you to all for your prayers, we are thrilled to be home in less than 24 hours, whooo hooo!

(Nadia enjoying the flight!)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Amazing Race Part 2

Team Nadia started off this morning at 7:45am. We had Nadia's medical clearance and received her visa by11:00am. We have completed all the requirements related to Nadia's adoption!!! In 19 days!!! Wow!!!

A friend that we have made while in Ukraine said this evening that it is so evident that God has blessed each step of our adoption process. She has been with us most of time and has witnessed God at work. Our journey has been a testimony to her of God's grace and faithfulness.

We were anxious this afternoon about our flight schedule for coming home. We had scheduled our departure date for October 15th before we came to Ukraine. Even though we have had an amazing time in Ukraine we are ready to come home especially to see our kids. We are so glad to say that we have a flight from Kiev to London Saturday afternoon and will spend a couple of days in London due to lack of available flights. We will arrive back in Dallas on Monday.

A huge thankful to all of our prayer warriors!!! Your prayers have been felt. I (Darrin) believe that this journey to adopt Nadia has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I am so grateful that we stepped out in faith and pursued this opportunity.

We had our last dinner in Kiev tonight at a great Ukrainian restaurant. On our way back to the apartment, Nadia could not stop smiling, laughing and even skipping. She is so excited that the process is over and she will be coming home.

As Hope's Journey is coming to a close... Hope's Story is just beginning!!! It is going to be one amazing story that only God could create. We are thankful that He has chosen us to be a part of it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Amazing Race

Kristi and I finally made it on the Amazing Race.  Of course it was not the one on TV that we love to watch and desire to do one day.  We had our own here in Kiev.  We started the morning early with a list of tasks to complete in order to be able to leave for home this weekend.  We had the best assistance from our personal driver, interpreter and facilitator.  We could not have done so well without them.  They were so excited with us as we completed necessary tasks. We love our Ukraine team!  We call them Team Nadia.

Making the most of our time was very critical and being ready at a moments notice to complete a requirement was a priority.  It was so evident that God had orchestrated each step as He has been doing with our process.  We were told that we accomplished today in what would have been 5 days.  Thank you God!!! It looks very good that we may leave this weekend.  We go tomorrow for Nadia's medical clearance in the morning and then to the US embassy for her visa.  Should we receive her visa tomorrow we can leave this weekend.  Pray this will be so.  If we do not receive it, we will have to stay in Kiev until next Wed because Monday is a holiday and the embassy will be closed.  We are so close!  Should we leave this weekend, our process will have taken 19 days.  It is unheard of to complete the process this fast.  Thank you for all of our prayer warriors, your prayers have been felt throughout our process!

Pray for Nadia, she dealing with bronchitis.  We have meds and she is feeling much better. 

We spent the day yesterday site seeing around Kiev. Here are some photos.

The entrance to a new memorial for those who died of a government caused famine during 1932-1933.  Over 4 million died of hunger. Amazing statue of a young girl holding 5 stalks of wheat.  If anyone was found with wheat, they would have been arrested or punished worse. Even if wheat was on the ground it could not be picked up and taken.  All was government property.

Our tour guide let Nadia light a candle and ring the bell in memory of those who died during the famine.

I found our house in Ukraine.  It was built in the early 1900's

It was a private residence for many years.  The roof is covered with all kinds of sea creatures, lions and various heads.  I don't think Kristi would like to live in this house though.
We have enjoyed walking through the parks in the city.  The leaves are changing colors.

Kristi's favorite place for a coffee.

Our apt building in Kiev. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Still waiting on Nadia's passport

We expect to receive Nadia's passport on Thursday 10/8.  She will receive medical clearance and then on to the US Embassy for her visa on Friday.  Should everything go as planned, we can possibly leave this weekend and be back home on Monday.  Here are a few more pics of our time in Kiev.

McDonalds in Kiev very popular place! Have not tried it yet but was told a burger is only .50 cents.

Babyn Yar
September 29 1941 Nazi troops rounded up Kiev's 34,000 Jewish population, marched them to the Babyn Yar ravine and massacred them all in the following 48 hours.  Thousands more were killed here when it was turned into a concentration camp.  Above is a huge Soviet Holocaust memorial created in 1976.  This is amazing to see.

Another memorial in this area. We have learned so much about the history of Ukraine that is filled with much pain and loss.

Nadia enjoying the city for the very first time in her life! She loved riding the metro especially the escalator that goes way underground to catch the trains.

Another monument created in 2001 to commemorate the Jewish children who perished at Babyn Yar.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Enjoying our time in Kiev

Sunday morning I(Darrin) tried to find Hillsong Church Kiev.  After walking around where I thought it was located, I realized it had relocated to another part of the city.  I ended up at St. Andrews church which is a beautiful orthodox church.  There was a service taking place so I slipped in the back to watch.  The church is so ornate and and has beautiful detail and paintings inside.  You immediately are given a sence of awe and reverance.  A small choir was singing and the priest was administering the sacraments. It was at this time that I had such a great time of prayer and thanksgiving for all the Lord as done.  The worship experience was not what I am use to but I was able to worship anyway.  The fact that we have been able to rescue one of the least of these is truly amazing to consider.  God has brought us thousands of miles from our home to rescue an amazing young lady and for her to be a part of our family.  I look forward to the day when she shares her story.

Again we missed the Hillsong service Sunday evening by finding it's location too late.  We hope to try again.  Fortunately we were able to watch our home church's service.  The weekend was the family Home Improvment Weekend that we had been working on for the past 8 months.  I was dissapointed to not be there and so glad to hear that it was a success.  While watching the Sunday morning service I could not keep my eyes off the banner that was hanging behind the guest speakers (Jeff and Debbie McElroy, Forever Families).  In the center was the word "Family" with the subtitle "...is where your story begins". Even being in Kiev we were ministered to through the service.  Nadia's story has begun on October 2, 2009 with being adopted into our family! What a huge thing to realize how important a family is and the influence it has on our children.  God has chosen our family to be the best family for Nadia.  We are blessed!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A great day in Kiev

We have had a great 2 days in Kiev ... there has been time for rest, sight seeing and enjoying our time as a family minus two.  We were able to skype and visit with Kendall and Cole yesterday, we miss them so much! Nadia is enjoying her time as Nadia Aimee Brown ... below is a picture of the "offical document."

I think we are all missing her friends at the Dobro school (orphanage.)  Before we left we passed out lots of candy and many hugs and kisses.

Today we went to Independence Square where Nadia had an artist sketch a portrait, it is beautiful.

The weather has been perfect and we are enjoying seeing the trees change to amazing Fall colors.

Our time this evening has been spent watching Nickelodeon in the Ukraine language.  Just a few minutes ago we were pleased to find CNBC in the English language ... although that did not last long since Nadia was holding the remote. Later we had some fun with the camera ... we have never seen Nadia laugh so hard!

She had a blast taking some self portraits, she is quite the acrobat! Oh and look at those BLUE eyes! Sooo pretty!

Time for bed!  Nite Nite!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Darrin with Nadia's friend Ana (one of 3 sisters) at the orphanage

Darrin and Nadia Day One at school

Nadia and her friends greeting us at the gate!

Seeing each other for the first time at the school

We are back in Kiev

Nadia's Birthday Party (Holding a gift of flowers)

Saturday morning is here … the day after our appointment in court to adopt Nadia. We arrived in Kiev last night around midnight. We feel that we left one country and arrived in another. Dobro is a small village with each small home raising their own vegetables and housing chickens, pigs and goats behind the house. We had an amazing 9 days in Dobro. No TV radio or any other distraction. It is a beautiful countryside. Kristi and I became the village's main attraction as if we were celebrities arriving into town. We were invited to a wedding celebration, met the mayor and other key leaders, given tours, treated to amazing food, and have built amazing relationships. Many have claimed us as being a part of their family. Many in the village were praying for us and for the adoption including a 70 year old lady named Lana, who met us outside the court to say that "God is with us"! We had taken a huge box of food to her earlier in the week learning that she was very poor and without food. People would tell us that it is like a fairytale for Nadia to be adopted by us and come to America. The Lord has opened many doors for us to connect with this village and plant many seeds of the Gospel. We attended the Baptist church on Sunday with only 15 in attendance. Even though we did not speak the language we felt the Lord's presence and were embraced as fellow believers. They had a special time of prayer for Kristi and I and then wanted us to read from the Bible and Kristi to sing; very special time. Everywhere we went people had already heard of us and wanted to meet us. This is a optimal place for God to work and the Gospel to be shared. We feel that the way has been paved for others to come.

Kiev is a very large city similar to New York with many large buildings and very expensive shops. Nadia has been skipping down the hall in our apartment with a huge smile across her face; such a difference from the day before court. Thank you so much for your prayers when we shared with you about Nadia struggling prior to court. God led us to seek out her teacher in her school, the director of the school, and other dear friends that Nadia trusted and was able to share her feelings with. Nadia had heard stories from court that some families were not approved to adopt and the children returned to the orphanage. She had assumed that we would not be going to court and that we had already been approved to take her. The morning when her emotions consumed her was not because she did not want us to adopt her. It was because she thought she could cause the judge to deny the adoption with either words she would say or actions. Her desire to be our daughter was so great that even the slightest possibility of the adoption failing through her into a huge emotional state. After meeting with her teachers and director her understanding of the court process lightened her and her strength for speaking out in court was increased. Everyone encouraged not only Nadia but us as well in knowing that we were Nadia's prayers for parents. Her desire for us to be her mom and dad was much greater and deeper than what we had known. It was so great a desire that the thought of it not coming true was heart wrenching for Nadia.

To see her in court with us the following day could only be God at work. She smiled the entire time and spoke with confidence when the Judge and others questioned her about her desire to be our daughter. It was a proud moment to watch our new daughter "shine"! To have seen her in despair the day before and now speaking with such boldness and strength was a result of your prayers lifting us up! She could not control her smiling as the court proceedings continued. As we listened to our interpreter of the Judge speaking our hearts was so full to seeing Nadia's dream of a forever family coming true. When the Judge gave the decision of the adoption being granted after 2 hours in proceedings, I thought Nadia was going to leap in the air with excitement. Right now as I type, I can hear Nadia singing in the bath and the only words I can understand are mommie and daddy in the mist of her song. She has a pure joy this morning! Following court, we headed to the orphanage for Nadia to say goodbye and collect anything that she wished to take with her.  The kids were all crying to see her go especially Nadia's best friend Natsha.  I think at that moment if I could, I would have loaded all of them up and brought them home with us.  It was an emotional time of saying goodbye.  Nadia gave everything that she had away to the other kids including all the items she had from last summers time with us in the states.  She left the orphanage without any possessions.  We were told that this was an great character trait to share everything she had in the world with others. 

We filed for Nadia's new passport last night in Kirovograd on our way to Kiev. 3.5 hours by car. We expect to receive it by Thursday of next week and then we will go for the medical clearance and then on to the US Embassy for Nadia's visa. As soon as we get it we can come home. There is a slight chance it could be next weekend but most likely Monday or Tuesday 12th or 13th. Pray for the earlier. We miss Kendall and Cole so much and long to see them. We plan to send the weekend and next week relaxing and enjoying Kiev. Nadia has never been here so it will be fun to show her the city and maybe take in a show or two at the theater. Since I saved up my vacation days to be able to be here and complete our adoption, it is nice to have a few days to rest and relax as if on a vacation.

The past 13 days have been an amazing experience for Kristi and me to share. We had prayed for God to do something so great in our lives that we could only say it was from Him and we are experiencing it. We would not trade our time spent with Nadia, those in the Dobro village and now our time in Kiev for anything. We have taken many pictures so hopefully we can get them downloaded so you and enjoy them as well.

**We will post pictures soon**

Our love to all!

Darrin, Kristi and Nadia

Friday, October 2, 2009

Prayers Are Answered

Thank you so much for all the prayers that were a part of our yesterday!  It is now official...Nadia Aimee Brown is ours!  Our day in court went very well.  The court gave us our official declaration of adoption of Nadia.  We are now on our way to get her new birth certificate and passport.

I will post more details a little later, but wanted you all to know that Hope's Journey is almost complete. 

Philippians 4:19  My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Please Pray for Tomorrow

We ask for your prayers more than anything today. Nadia has had a very emotional day with us. Tomorrow is the court hearing and she is truly struggling with her desire for adoption. When asked this morning if adoption is what she desires, she answered that she did not know. If asked this question in court by the judge and she responds as she did this morning, he will not grant the adoption.

Last night we had a very fun time celebrating her birthday with friends, a cake, balloons and much laughter. But, this morning as we begin discussions of tomorrows proceedings she began to cry and literally stopped all communication with us. We have met with her teachers today to help all of us in understanding what is best for Nadia. All the adults here know that she will have a much better life in America, as do we. They continue telling her that, but within her heart and due to heartache in her past which led her to the orphanage, she is unable to make a decision without emotionally shutting down altogether. We only want the very best for her whether it is for us to be her forever family or if it is for her to remain her where she is growing and thriving in school, emotionally and with those that she trusts.

Our hearts are breaking as we see this struggle within Nadia's heart. She longs for a family, but right now her past is hindering her ability to move forward.

Please dear friends and family, pray. We will hopefully be able to post an update tomorrow afternoon.