Open Arms

Open Arms
...caring for orphans and adoptive families...

Friday, August 21, 2009


We packed a picnic lunch of cheese, bread and fruit and left for Internot 4 to meet the children and their Grandma. We were so thankful she wanted to meet with us. Honestly we didn't know what her response would be. She greeted us with hugs and kisses, thanking us for coming to get the children. Her main concerns were that we are healthy and love the Lord. I do not know what that means to her but she seems to have a faith of some substance. She did provide us some photos of the children's grandfather and mother. I am so thankful we have that for the children. She is a very gracious woman and we plan to get together more in the next few weeks.

We met Dr. Paul and his wife Tania also. They had arrived at the Internot to help prepare it for the new school year. They were doing wallpaper, painting and needed some electrical help. It didn't take long to get put to work. Here is a photo of Igor helping Steve. Some of you know I've been praying for Igor. Oh how I would like to bring this boy home too. He ages out of the system in January. Please pray for a miracle for him.

The children left to go back to Camp and we sent the picnic lunch with them. Dr. Paul had planned a birthday party for Lyonya at camp that afternoon and asked if we be there. We wouldn't miss it for the world. Lyonya had a nice party with friends, cake and candy. Galia took lots of photos. A few of the older boys try to be tough but they melt with the slightest kindness. By the end of the day they would hug us without reservation. How hard it must be to see others chosen while you wait. We were told one boy prays each night for a family or that if that is not God's will that God would have something better in store for him.

Unfortunately we didn't have time to make it to visit Andrei. That was our only regret. We found a ride back to the apartment and spent time with Lena's family. Her mother and brother are visiting this week.

More detail to come....

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Just a Note

Will update more tomorrow but wanted to let you know that our dinner with Jenya went well. We had a nice time getting to know each other. We plan to get together more.
Tomorrow we meet with the Grandmother at 10:30 am Ukrainian time.


The Black Sea across from Andrei's Internot

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Visit at #4

Once you meet with the director and visit with the children, the Director has 10 days to prepare the documents you will need to proceed with the adoption. After our somewhat rocky start we were unsure how things would go.

As we walked to Internot #4 this morning, the first of many miles today, we stopped at a kiosk and bought peaches and pears for a snack. We arrived to a big hug from Pasha and he ran off to get Lyonya and Galia. As we waited for the children, we were informed that the documents were already prepared for us as a big favor and there would be no 10 day wait. Thank you Father. We had asked that He grant us favor with all the officials. He is going before us each step of the way.

We went to the playground area to sit and talk. We had a fun visit. We were able to meet with a few of their teachers and took some photos of them. As we talked, we found out that they never received lunch yesterday because of the time of our visit and it would be the same today, so we left to walk back to the pizza place to buy them something to eat.

We will have to figure out the food situation as we go. Right now we are traveling all over town to obtain different documents so we never know where or when we will be with the children.

Tomorrow we will leave at 8:30 am to go to Internot #9 to see Andrei and hopefully pick up his documents. It will be good to see him again and feel his hug. We have also made arrangements to meet with Jenya, their older brother. We are so glad to be able to meet with him. He told Pasha today that he also is looking forward to meeting with us. We will be sure to get more photos.

Lots of thoughts on the country and the needs....will write more soon.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Meeting: part 3

After a lunch of pizza, (yes there is a nice pizza place next door to the apartment) we headed to Internot #9 to meet Andrei. We were both a little uneasy since we have had no contact with Andrei. What would a 9 year old boy think to have to strangers show up and want to take him to another country?

The regional director was unavailable so someone from the Inspector's office came to meet us and the local director. The grounds were cheerful and the director was pleasant and polite. She had few questions for us and asked if we had questions for her. We asked a few and then she led us to a small classroom where we waited in tiny childrens chairs for Andrei. He had been napping and came in with a sheepish grin. We introduced ourselves and showed him the photo of us with Lyonya, Pasha and Galia. He smiled and was happy to see that we had photos of his siblings.

The gentleman from the Inspector's office asked Andrei if he would like to be adopted by us. He smiled but looked uncertain what to say. Steve told him it was an important decision and not to rush, but to take his time and think about it, that we were in no hurry. We sent him for a snack and then he joined us again and we visited in the play yard for several hours. It took him all of 5 minutes to figure out our camera and he had a great time photographing his friends, us, flowers, etc. He looked through all our photos twice and then came and asked for our large family photo again to show to his friends. He seems very excited. We finally parted and told him we would return the next day and try to arrange a meeting with his brothers and sister.

What more can we say! Praise God!

The Meeting: part 2

This morning we went to meet again with the Inspector in downtown Odessa at 10am. After a short interview, we were given permission to pick up a regional director and go to Internot #4 to meet with the local Director. When we arrived at the Internot, we were greeted with hugs from Pasha and Lyonya. Within minutes Galia was also at our side and we went in to meet with the director.

We had prayed for the words to communicate our hearts with the directors. We are never sure just what is completely understood. The director was upset with us that we had already been to the camp and seen Galia without seeing her first. We explained that we had talked with the Inspector and had only wanted to wish Lyonya a Happy Birthday and she said basically she understood but we were supposed to see her first. So, as a punishment, we would only be allowed to visit with the children on the grounds of the Internot. It was divine however, that we had seen Galia because on Sunday she was to be part of a group going on a trip to the Carpathian Mountains for a 10 days. If we had not talked with her over the weekend, she would have been gone today. That would have put our time here 10 days longer. So, if we can only see the children on the Internot grounds for now, so be it. God is in control, Galia is here and we are able to move forward.

In the end, the interview seemed to go well with the director and others present. We only had a short while with the children but were told to come back at 10:30 tomorrow for a longer visit. Up to 3 hours. All three children said they wished to be adopted and wrote a statement stating that fact. They giggled with us and we each tried to find the words to communicate. Pasha and Lyonya speak more English than we expected. That will be real helpful in the next few weeks.
We had to part all too soon but we left with the hope of tomorrow.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Meeting: part 1

Where to begin? Took a taxi to the camp this Sunday morning with our interpreter. She wanted to go to the sea first but I asked to please go to the camp first. She said this would be fine. Within minutes of arriving at the camp, a young girl went to look for Galia as we waited. It was only a few minutes and we saw Galia coming toward us. As we rose she ran to us and we embraced.

We did not know if the children even knew we were coming to adopt them. We had written Sasha and Jenya back in March but did not know if they told the younger ones. Galia said they did, but that Andrei does not know yet. We do not know what his reaction will be as we have had no contact with him. Galia told us that her Grandmother knows also and is supportive. We hope this is correct.

It was so amazing to finally connect with her. She was a little overwhelmed from the attention and she seemed a little self conscience. She understands some English but speaks very little. The same with us and Russian. We agreed to teach each other. She says she is a good teacher of Russian. Time will tell. The boys were off with a local Pastor. I think he is connected with the work of Grandma Steele, but am not certain. We will try to connect with the boys tonight or in the morning.
We just praise God for making a connection this morning. Will keep you posted as we will have several official meetings this week.

There is a lot of need here, physical and spiritual....Thank you so much for your prayers. Until later. Blessings.

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord let the Earth Hear His Voice

Thursday Aug 13, 2009
We awoke this morning to the sound of hymns being sung outside our room as the men of the church were having a prayer meeting. We recognized the song even if we didn't understand the language. Worship is worship everywhere.

We had a breakfast of fruit and bread and prepared to go to our appointment at the State Department of Adoption. Our facilitator picked us up and things went much faster than we expected. We were approved for a referral to visit both of the orphanages where the children are located.

We left knowing we needed to return later in the day to pick up the paper work. Since the papers would be ready we decided to travel that evening by train to Odessa in hopes of seeing Lyonya on his birthday Friday. We returned to the church to pack and get ready to leave.

In an effort to be brave we decided to venture out alone and walk to the cafeteria that our tutor Lyudmyla had taken us to the previous day. We were so proud, we made it there without getting run over. We even went back for supper! Traffic is interesting to say the least. Like Chicago without stoplights! Really. No stoplights. Maybe some in the other areas but not in this part of town. Steve had heard that there are two types of pedestrians, the quick and the dead.Our goal was to be quick.
We couldn't pronounce the names of the food we wanted but managed to point and ask please. The food at the cafeteria was amazing. Wish we could share.

We picked up our referrals, said goodbyes to the church people and caught an evening train to Odessa. We had a very nice train, must be newer, not what we were told to expect. We left at 10 pm and arrived about 6 am the next morning.

We traveled with our interpreter and went straight to a friend's apartment. She is graciously allowing us to stay here at least a short while. I know once we have the children we will have to do something else. Her roommate, Lena, greeted us. She is such a blessing. She's young (22) and her heart is to serve Jesus above all else. We look forward to getting to know her better.

August 14
We slept a few hours and headed to the camp hoping to see Lyonya before our 2 pm appointment with the inspector. Apparently we need to see the inspector, then the two local directors, then the director of the orphanage where we will see the children.

At the Camp we waited to see the children as we were told they had gone on an outing that morning and would return by lunch. We would have to leave by noon though to make it downtown by our 2pm appointment. In the end the children could not be found even by their friends. Their friends think they went to see their grandmother for Lyonya's birthday. We left them a note saying, “Steve & Carol came from the US to see you. We will return tomorrow.” After an intense taxi ride to the inspector's office we waited quite a while and then were told it would be best to return on Monday morning at 10 am. So the official meeting will hopefully take place on Monday. We will try to go to the camp tomorrow and visit the children again. We will keep you posted.

There is much that just has to be left in the hands of the Father. He has provided in amazing ways and has given us many divine appointments in our meetings with people.


Gaby, the young lady from the airport in Charlotte, told us that the Lord told her that we would have many divine appointments in our time here in Ukraine. We have already had several. The most memorable is Esther. (Carol brought her “Esther: Beth Moore” workbook from the ladies bible study at church last fall. Thinking this would be a good time to go thru that again.) Wednesday morning after a shower we tried using our hairdryer. Yes, we used a convertor,but still POW! We weren't sure if we just cut off the power in our room or in the whole church. It took a while but we finally communicated in broken Russian what had happened. We learned where the panel box was and never had another problem with the hairdryer. However a few minutes after returning to our room there was a knock on our door. It was Esther. She is a single mom who struggles to make ends meet. She works at the church cleaning. She had received some paper work in English that she was unfamiliar with and could not read. We were able to translate it for her and help her fill it out. They were standard papers that Carol sees at work every day. If we had not been able to help her with them she would have had to pay some one to translate them. She came again later in the day and talked with us while our tutor Lyudmyla was visiting. She is a precious sister and had been praying that the Lord would send someone to help her. She cried as she shared how touched she was by how He cares for her in sending us to help her. She prayed for us and walked with us to the subway until our paths took different directions. We hope to see her again when we return to Kiev.