Family Pic Nov 2015

Family Pic Nov 2015

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Wow!  I can't believe I'm writing that we are home.  It was a rough trip, a few tears from all of us at different points during the trek home, but we made it.....praise the Lord!!  And thank you every one for lifting us up in prayer during our homeward journey.  I haven't uploaded pictures yet, or unpacked, and I know I have not posted since we busted these two out of their old lives, but I am pretty exhausted and have 6 kids running around here today that need to have some this is going to be about it for today.  We just wanted every one to know that we made it home safely and more pics and details will be coming........

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Homeward Journey Begins Today!!

Good morning to you all!!  Today is the day....I can hardly wait : )  Aimee and I are spending the morning packing up and then we will have one more lunch here at McDonald's.  We get picked up around 1:30 pm and load up all of our luggage.  Then we head to orphanage to get Julia and Aaron.  Once we are all dressed and ready to go, we head straight to the train station.  The train leaves at 4:25 pm.  This is the 6 hour express train.  It will obviously be late by the time we get settled in and we won't have internet from the time we leave this apartment until we arrive.  So please be patient with pictures and updates.  We are spending Tuesday at the embassy.  Hopefully we will have some time to upload pictures before we fly home on Wednesday.  Keep the prayers coming that we have an uneventful next few days.....

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Last visit before Gotcha Day!!

Monday, April 25, 2011 is Gotcha Day!!  Today is the last day we visited before leaving the orphanage for the last time with Julia and Aaron with us....YAY!!  Tomorrow will be a day for Aimee and I to pack for our trip home and I need to work on filling out some paperwork for the embassy. 

 Julia was holding this ball and shaking it back and forth for a very long time.  She loved listening to the sound of the jingly ball inside.  I took two minutes of video, but again, I can't seem to get it to upload here.  It was uploading for a half an hour and then stated there was an error occurring.  Not sure what the problem is...bummer!  It is so cute to see the concentration on her face as she shakes the ball.  At one point, she dropped the ball on her face and it must have smarted.  At first she had a very startled look on her face, rubbed at her face with her hands, and then a few seconds later started crying.  It is the sweetest, softest cry you have ever heard.  You would probably not even know she is crying by the noise, except for the look on her face.  So pitiful.  For about 10 minutes the tip of her nose remained red.  I loved her up and gave her back the ball and she quieted down.  It is so pitiful to hear her sweet cry, she had me in tears.

 Aaron is very attached to me.  When we are at the visits here, Aimee and I are usually with John and Amy Hinz visiting with their children, Dusty and Sonya.  They have noticed that whenever I leave the room or walk away, his eyes are on me and sometimes gets upset.  I have gotten in the habit of making sure he knows I am coming back.  His whole face lights up when I return.  It is also very obvious that he knows I am his mama apart from Aimee, John, and Amy.  But he is also not overly physically clingy.  I suppose this is a good thing, since at home he will be one of 6!!  Today he was getting very frustrated with his building.  Something was not going right and he threw one of the blocks in agitation.  I tried to help him, but since I can't understand what he was saying, I was kind of useless.  I just brought over some more blocks for him and watched.  He must have figured it out because he was eventually satisfied with his structure.  Our driver, Edward, has been immensely helpful in communicating with Aaron.  A few meltdowns have been averted due to someone being able to translate between us.  I am sure the meltdown will happen at a point when no one will be there to help us communicate.  I was joking with Edward today that I should buy him a plane ticket for Wednesday and he come home with us until Aaron learns sufficient English. 

I can't wait until Monday when I will be able to post pictures of Julia and Aaron wearing something different : )

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Welcome Home Bus!!!

For anyone interested, I will be driving our Church bus up to the airport to welcome home Aimee, Aaron, Julia and my beautiful wife, Carey. I have 11 of the 29 seats occupied. We will be leaving the church at 6:45pm on Wednesday of next week. Their flight arrives at Dulles at around 7:45 and I figure they will be tied up with passport control/baggage claim/customs for a bit.

If you'd like to ride the bus up with us just leave a comment below. The address of the church is 5120 Harrison Road, Fredericksburg, VA 22408. I can't wait to see them!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Aaron's orphanage

These pictures were actually taken yesterday.  We went on an outing to get Julia and Aaron's passport and visa pictures taken.  We first went to Aaron's building and I took a few pictures of where he sleeps and spends his days.  Then we went to get Julia and got in the car for our first trip out of the orphanage.  Julia was absolutely wonderful and did not seem phased at any point in time while traveling.  She did get a bit distressed when they were trying to get her to look straight when taking her passport picture.  But it never escalated to anything disruptive and she was just as happy after as she had been before.  So from what we can tell, she seems like she will be a trooper while traveling home.  I can only hope and pray!  Aaron was very excited to be going somewhere as he was getting dressed.  And as you can see from his picture down below he was all smiles about it.  I made sure it was explained to him that this was not the day he would come home with me.  So he knew he was coming back to the orphanage afterwards.  He was fine until about half way to the foreign passport office when he became agitated about the seatbelt.  He was progressively getting squirmy and irritated.  Tatiana was explaining to him why he was to wear the seatbelt.  He would be okay for a little bit, but started getting more and more restless.  He started swaying his head, seemingly displaying some sort of "self-soothing."  Aimee and I were getting a bit nervous of where this was going to go.  When we got to passport office, I picked him up and carried him across the street.  There was some construction being done that was fairly noisy outside this office and he promptly covered his ears with both hands.  He seemed to not like the noise at all.  Aimee was carrying Julia who is still completely fine with all of this.  The only thing that seems to bother Julia the most is the sunlight.  We cupped our hands over her eyes and she was okay.  I brought some sunglasses that will strap around her head, but I forgot them.  I'm not sure she will like them, but we will try them if needed.   Anyways, when we got inside, I sat him down on a bench.  While we were waiting to get taken back for his picture, he was displaying the same head rolling behavior and sometimes looked like he was about to cry.  He was very squirmy and could not sit still.  Then, finally, I saw him pinch himself between his legs and I finally realized HE NEEDED TO PEE!!!  I quickly asked Valentin to find out where a toilet was.  Once found, I raced him in and the poor little guy went for about 2 minutes.  He really had to go.....and was fine afterwards!!  Phew : )  I was so relieved that was all it was.  Now I know what signs to look for AND I know he can hold it for quite a while. 

I know many of you are wondering what the time line is from here on out.  The passports should arrive here on Thursday.  All the paperwork will be overnighted to the embassy for it to be submitted on Friday. Then we have the three day weekend for the Easter holiday.  Gotcha Day will be the Monday after Easter and we will travel by express train Monday evening.  This will be a 6 hour train ride to Kiev.  Tuesday we will go the embassy and take care of the kids medical and receive their visas and passports.  Wednesday we have a 2pm flight from Kiev to Frankfurt and then a one hour layover (yikes....pray that this is enough time) until we fly home to Washington.  Please also pray that we can get a bulk head seat with a bassinet for Julia.  She does not sit up and is rigid with her back, neck and head slightly to severely arched most of the time.  This will be a difficult trip if I cannot lay her somewhere flat for at least some of the time.  I have been told that the bulk head seating is set aside for passengers with small children and people with special needs, but it is also first come first serve.  With only a one hour layover, this in not likely if I can only request this at the gate in Frankfurt.  I am going to try to request this when I am in Kiev, however, I don't know whether this will work or not.

 The room Aaron and his "groupa" sleep in
 Room where Aaron and his "groupa" play and watch TV
 Aaron's bed
 Aaron's name tag on his bed
 Aaron getting dressed for our outing

All ready to go!!!!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Visit with kids and sightseeing

 Aimee loving on Julia
 Aaron loves to play!!
 Smiles from Julia.....
....more smiling!

 View of our apartment building
 Anunciation Cathedral

 Another catherdral....don't know name
....and another

Aimee and I bought paintings from them....they were very nice.
Dinner at Maranello's

Saturday, April 16, 2011

I'm back....saw our babies again!!

It is so good to see the kids again!  We were told by Tatiana that Aaron really missed us.  She saw him a couple of days ago and said that he was asking for his mama and papa.  When she told him that I would be here in a couple of days, he kept asking, "Really?"  She told him over and over again....."REALLY!"  So he was very happy to see me.  The Hinz family who are adopting Sonya and Dusty are here on their first trip.  We were able to visit the orphanage together.  What a playgroup we had : ) 

When we first arrived, I walked down the hall straight to Julia's room.  I was hoping she remembered me and didn't have to warm up to me all over again.  I walked up to her crib and looked in and smiled at her.  She gave me a big grin!  I talked to her for a little bit and then let the nannies get her changed.  She was very happy to be put back in my arms.  She did very well with the "playgroup."  We had to watch out for kids clambouring over and around her.  When she does get bumped or leaned on, she flinches a bit, but ultimately takes it in stride.  This is good since she is one of six kids now.  She also warmed up to my friend Aimee who is with me to help bring the kids home.   

When we left today, Aaron was pretty upset.  He was crying and clinging to me because he said he wants to go home with us NOW!  He was also wondering where papa was.  He had me in tears too.  We explained to him that he would be coming home to America very soon and that papa was home getting everything ready for him.  I think the 10 days were very long for him and he's now afraid that it will be a long time before I come back again.  It has been such a long journey....he can't understand that it really will happen very soon.  How I can't wait to get both of them  home!! 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Going back....

I'm literally walking out the door to head to the airport with Aimee.....prayers please!  Neither of us are fond of flying, to put it mildly ; )  Next time I write will probably be Friday when we arrive.  Stay tuned......

Saturday, April 9, 2011

We made it home!

Phew!  We're home : )  It was a loooong trip, but we made it.  We arrived home on Thursday evening and have been trying to recovery and get so much done at the same time.  As soon as we got home, the countdown started in my head that I have 6 days until I turn around and head right back.  Even though it is short, I really needed to see my kiddos that were here at home with my mom and also get recharged.  Besides being at home and seeing my kids here, I REALLY missed tortilla chips and salsa.  The last day we were in Kiev I was able to get some at the TGIFridays.  But yesterday we went to lunch at one of my favorite restaurants, Salsarita's and had a ton of chips and salsa.  Tonight we are going to Carlos O'Kelly's for dinner and I will surely have some more!!  Did I mention that I LOVE chips and salsa?

We are very excited about tomorrow also.   One of my greatest friends, Ruth, had her baby days before we left for our first trip.  I was bummed that I was going to miss out on his first few weeks.  She did post pictures for me and that was awesome....he is soooo cute.  Anyways, baby Seth Martin Robbins is being baptized tomorrow and Steve and I are his godparents!  This is our 5th godchild and how we love and pray for them all!!  We are very much looking forward to this blessed event and sharing this time with our good friends tomorrow.  God is good :)

So....there is also so much to do before I leave on Wednesday, April 13.  It is hard trying to balance all that I need to do before I go back. I need to get ready to go bring home Julia and Aaron. I also need to spend some time enjoying what I have missed so much while we were gone for almost 4 weeks.  We also miss Julia and Aaron very much.  Coming home and seeing Evan reunited with his older brothers and sisters was just a taste of how joyous it will be when they all finally get to meet their new siblings for the first time.  We cannot wait.

It is also so incredible to have so many friends praying for, supporting and encouraging us through this journey in our lives.   We take so many things for granted in life all of the time. We all do it.  We know we have good friends, but when we stop to think of what they mean in our lives and what they are willing to do for us, it is just so awesome.  My wonderful friend, Aimee, is taking 2 weeks out of her busy life with a husband and 4 kids to come back with me to help me bring Julia and Aaron home.  I know she knows how much this means to me, but it still warms my heart when I think about what great friends God has placed in our lives.  Please pray for her husband and kids at home that the time passes quickly for them as we know she will be missed.   Also, Ruth will be coming to my house two days a week to watch my four kids while Steve is at work.....and she has 3 of her own kids, one of them a new baby, and she homeschools too.  My neighbor and another one of my dearest friends, Lena, will be coming over one day a week to also watch the kids.  And Steve's mom, who came with us on the first four week trip to help us watch Evan will be coming over one other day to take care of the kids.  And my mom leaves on the train this morning to head back to her home in  CT.   She has held down the fort here with our three, running them around to their activities, cooking meals, doing laundry, homeschooling, etc., etc., etc......I LOVE MY MOM!!  She is the best mom I could ever ask for.  It was so comforting to be so far away and not need to worry.....I knew my babies were in good hands.  The sacrifice of so many people to have this all come together means so much to us.  We cannot begin to thank you all enough or convey to all of them how much we appreciate the sacrifices!

Lastly, we want to thank each and every one of you who has contributed financially to this entire adoption process.  What a testament to God's army being joined together for His glory.  For us personally, it has been such a blessing to not have to worry about how we would be able to afford what God was calling us to do.  We have thought about this every step of the way.  Many times, while we were visiting Julia and Aaron at the orphanage, I was thinking about how this was all possible....and how many people besides us fell in love with them and knew how important is was to us and God to bring these children into our family.  We are so looking forward to the day we leave the orphanage with them and even more for the day they walk into our home forever.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Carey and I are the proud new parents of Julia Adeye Schwenzer and Sergey Aaron Schwenzer!!

Court went well. The judge asked us some questions pertaining to where we live and why we want to adopt 2 more children and why we are interested in adopting children with special needs. Our lawyer and translator let the judge know that we love children and feel that we are the last hope for these little ones. Then a whole lot of documents were read by the judge. Then the judge asked us one last time what our request is. We told her that we wanted to adopt Julia and Aaron and stated what we wanted their names to be. Then she left with the jury (two older gentlemen who sat on either side of her during the proceedings) and said she would be back in 10 minutes with her decision. One of the two jurors looked over our way and gave us the thumbs up as he left the courtroom. 10 minutes later the judge and jurors returned and the same juror gave us a big smile and another thumbs up. I was feeling confident, but still nervous until I heard the decision read. The judge read the decision, which was a 3 and a half page, single spaced, small type document. It took quite a while to read. Finally, she got to the last paragraph which was the actual decision, and Tatyana, our lawyer, turned to us and said the judge is satisfied...which was to say we could adopt them into our family and they could take our name! Carey, who had been calm as a cucumber up to this point shed a few tears of joy after the decision was read. We received many congratulations, hugs and handshakes from everyone in the courtroom, including the jurors. I couldn't stop smiling. I was so stressed out before the appearance. It's just so amazing to think that those kids are ours now. Yay! Спасибо тебе, Боже!

Now we can't wait to get them home...the ten day waiting period has begun. We will be taking a train ride back to Kiev this evening and going to the embassy tomorrow to fill out several forms and have them notarized. Then we head home on Thursday. Carey will head back here the following Wednesday to finalize all the paperwork and bring our "newborns" home. Carey's good friend Aimee is going back with her for this two week trip to help her get them home. I can't wait to meet them at the airport and scoop them up and take them home. What an amazing journey it will be for them. And us!

Until next time...до свидания

Sunday, April 3, 2011

13th and last visit on first trip

So today was our last visit with the kids.  Tomorrow we have court at 9:30 in the morning.  As long as everything goes well, tomorrow night we leave here and take the overnight train back to Kiev to take care of some things at the embassy so that I can come back and bring the kids home without Steve.  We fly home on Thursday, April 7.  We had Tatiana explain to Aaron that we are going home and that I will come back.  He said he will not cry while I'm gone.  So cute.  Today I got Julia laughing again.  It is so wonderful to hear an all out full belly laugh out of her.  It is so sweet.  We video taped it again, but it is still not working for us to upload videos onto the blog.  We are so bummed.  When we get home we will find a way to post them.  Aaron has learned so many English words and is starting to use them with me.  He knows: mama, dada, mama help, mama fix it, good boy, hello, I love you, bye-bye, mama open, close it.  He is also very good at picking up the toys he plays with, even without being told.  Amazing!  He will learn some bad habits from our kids at home.  Hopefully they can learn to be better about this from him.  He is very polite too.  Today I helped him tie a string around a toy for him.  After I was finished he took the toy and said in Russian, "Thank you mama."  Such a sweet boy! 


Friday, April 1, 2011

11th and 12th Visits

So happy to see us!
   She loves reaching for our faces now : )
Check out these acrobats!  She arches her back completely off the ground so that she balances on just her head and feet....amazing!
Looks like Aaron is a leftie : )

We went out on a patio where there was more sunlight....the photosensitivity of Cockayne Syndrome is apparent in this picture.
Checking out daddy's scruff!
Julia almost on all fours.  Strong little girl!