Adoption Photo Journal

This was the first time we met Hannah (child on the left) along with three other children. We knew right when we met her that she was our child to be. Notice the big bow on her head, it was almost the size of her head.

The other children's names were from left to right; Juliet, Ruseland & Danny. We seriously considered adopting Ruseland as well but after prayer we felt that God had another family already picked out for him and that our hands would be plenty full with just one child at this time. It is very hard when you see these children and know you have the ability to make a major difference in what will happen to them. I am so grateful that we have a personal relationship with the Lord. He truly guided our every step as we sought Him in prayer

This is the "Children Center" located in Kiev. We spent three days here working on finding a child. After we located Hannah we reported back to "The Center" so they would remove her from the list of available children. Notice how dark it is, the coldness matched this scene as well. It is very common in the Ukraine to go to a government building in the middle of a work day and only one light or as in this case, no lights be on. It was strange to me that this was the place that was going to bring such happiness to our lives.

Our first few days at the "Center" were met with much trial as we were told there were no healthy baby girls available for adoption. After contacting our prayer support team about this situation suddenly we came across the picture of Hannah. We were told that she was to sick and that another family had already seen her and was not interested. Still I felt that we were to go see her. She was in a town called Zhitomir, located about 100 miles west of Kiev. I'm happy we pushed the point and even more thankful that God opened a way through faithful prayer from our friends back home, for this trip led us to our "Little One".

This was only the second time we saw Hannah. By this time though we were in full swing to adopt her. She had on at least three layers of clothing here and shoes that were much bigger than her feet.

During the long weekend we could not do anything regarding the adoption since all government offices were closed. We were given a picture of Hannah after the first time we met her which Cindy spent hours staring at. I told her she was going to stare a hole right through it. We were so happy when Monday was finally here so we could go visit our baby to be.

Here she is, our little Hannah as the orphanage handed her over to us now as her official Mommy and Daddy. This was only the third time we had met face to face. Hannah's original name was Masha which means Maria in Ukrainian.

We named her Hannah in reference to Hannah in the Bible (1 Samuel 1-2). I had just been reading the story of how Hannah could not have children. Then she prayed to God and told Him that if He gave here a child, she would dedicate that child to Him and to His service.

As we were leaving the orphanage for the last time I asked if we could see were Hannah spent most of her time. They took us to a downstairs room and as we entered these orphaned children came running towards us as if hoping we were there to take them home. It was very gripping and broke my heart. As we started to leave each of them began to wave good-bye to Hannah. It seemed that they knew this would be the last time they would see her. I will never forget that moment.

The orphanage is broken up into age groups. There were about 10-12 children around Hannah's age (1/12 - 2 years). There were even a pair of twin boys in her area. There was a nice playground for the children outside. We also found out there is a local church in the area that regularly helps out with special needs.

The lady on the right is Svitlana. She is the resident doctor that runs this orphanage in Zhitomir, Ukraine. She was so happy for us as we took our new baby from her care and into ours. I must commend her for the great job she does at this orphanage. It was very clean and all the staff seemed to care so much for our child.

The orphanage director (Svitlana) was required to appear before a children's advocates board. Here she would either approve or disapprove of us as potential adoptive parents of this child. As we hoped she approved 100% in our adopting Hannah. The board also questioned Cindy and I and then the 12 of them voted to allow us to appear before the local judge for the remainder of the local adoption process.

Here were are as a new family of three. We sure have a lot to learn about being parents. We spent the next two weeks with Hannah in the Ukraine finishing up the paperwork that would let us finally bring her home to Tennessee. Documents needed translating, stamps and seals. At times it felt as if we would never get home, lost in a sea of red tape and paperwork.

Since we were in the Ukraine, all of our documents were in Ukrainian. This meant that they needed to be translated into English for the legal work and visa's needed from the American embassy.

We spent our evenings and weekends passing time in the living area. Hannah liked to play the piano and loved to dance around the floor when I play the guitar. By now I had at least a handful of nicknames for her including; Twinkle Toes, Squiggle Bug & Tinkle Berry. What silly names we call our children. To get Hannah familiar with her new name (Hannah) we called her Hannah Masha. Eventually we could just call her Hannah and she knew we were talking to her.

While in the Ukraine we stayed with a Ukrainian family. Povel, Tanya, Timothy & Serge were great host. Timothy and Serge (the boys) sacrificed there room so Cindy and I had a place to call home away from home. I brought the Uno game which the boys loved to play all the time.

One of our last days in Kiev was spent doing a little gift shopping. This is how I carried Hannah, in a backpack sort of configuration. In the background of this picture you can see a church called St. Andrews.

When we traveled I would also have my big backpack on my back as well. Cindy and I packed in such a way that we could carry everything with us (including the baby) all at the same time

Finally after nearly a month in the Ukraine we were able to travel by train to Warsaw, Poland to complete the immigration process for Hannah. After 20 hours, two boarder checks and a restless night we arrived in Warsaw. Just a few more days to go and we would be home.

This was one of the more interesting train rides I have been on. At midnight we pulled into this big building. Then the entire train was jacked up and the wheels were removed from the train. Then a shorter based wheel assembly was attached to the cars. The reason for all of this? In Poland and most of the rest of Europe they use a more narrow track than in the former USSR.

Hannah found plenty to do in Warsaw. As you can tell from our room, she has a flair for redecorating. This hotel room felt like paradise after being in the Ukraine for so long. I think it was nice just to have our own space for a while. On our last night I found out there was even a Pizza Hut in Warsaw and ordered out for us.

The reason we had to go to Warsaw was that the American embassy in Ukraine was not big enough to process the necessary paperwork to get Hannah an immigrant visa. Hannah is still a legal citizen of the Ukraine and eventually will have duel citizenship in the US as well as the Ukraine. What does that mean? Well she will have a valid American passport as well as a Ukrainian Passport. Both countries will consider her a legal citizen of there country.

Now back home in Tennessee, we all had some adjusting to make. Hannah seemed to not have much trouble getting the hang of eating "Goldfish" crackers. For the most part our biggest hurdle was getting over the eight hours of jet lag. Finally one night we all fell asleep at 5pm and woke up at 6am the next morning. Than seemed to do the trick.

Our trip from Warsaw to Tennessee was a long one. First a one hour flight to Vienna. Then a ten hour flight to Atlanta where we immigrated Hannah. Lastly a one hour flight to Nashville. We were met by a wonderful reception of friends.