Despite the difficulties of 2012, we have much to be thankful for. Our (not so) little family first. Our new church community, new friends, old friends, extended family. We are thankful for health enough to work, employment to keep us running, a little house to shelter us, and a new home (nearly finished) for us to move into. Grateful for a farm, healthy animals, and acres of soil to steward, and for the woodland and stream that support wild creatures and make our new home so beautiful.
This year’s Thanksgiving meal was especially blessed since each child helped with a dish. Here is James helping with the pumpkin pie:
A very traditional New England Thanksgiving Dinner was enjoyed by all:
And we snuggled up by the fire with dessert and cherished family time.
Rejoice always Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.~ 1 Thes 5:16-18
Although it is not yet even Advent, I know that many of you have begun shopping for Christmastide. And today is Small Business Saturday. We have sets of Chrism-Scented Christmas candles, hand-poured by us, available for pre-order in our online shop. They smell positively divine! $25 the set.
Sometimes the mission you think you’re setting out on changes slightly. The big picture is the same, but the finer details, the ones you had imagined, are revealed to be very different. And that is as it should be, because God’s plans are always
better than anything we could imagine.
This week, after several weeks struggling with our chosen adoption agency, we decided that we couldn’t work with them anymore. I won’t go into details, but if you’re curious, please do email us. What this means is that, in all likelihood, we won’t be able to adopt Sveta and Alexi. We have been told that there is another family also working on adopting them, and we hope that that is true. More than you know.
We got a piece of information last Wednesday that helped us to determine our current course of action. I checked my email on my phone, read through the message from Ukraine that I was expecting, and suddenly felt at peace. I hadn’t anticipated that reaction. But it was a confirmation of our suspicions, and fears.
At that moment, Brian and I were sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room, fretting over what we were certain was going to be bad news. The staff all looked sorrowful and anxious. But I need to back up a bit…
Several weeks ago, before my twice-monthly injection, I took a routine pregnancy test. To my surprise, it was positive – strongly and quickly positive. Of course, I was thrilled, and Brian was thrilled. But it was tempered with caution after our recent experience of the loss of our little Beatrice. We were guarding our hearts. And we decided to guard everyone else’s too. We told no one but our pastor, Father David, who gave us and the new baby a blessing on the spot.
And we decided not to say anything to our social worker or our adoption agency until we felt as though we were out of the woods…
And last Wednesday was to be the day. I went in for my 12 week check up with the doctor I had seen throughout my previous pregnancy. I was wracked with nerves because this was the point in my last pregnancy that we learned that she had passed away. My blood pressure was high and my pulse was racing. The midwife applied the doppler probe to take a listen for the baby’s heart beat.
Several minutes passed and still she searched.
She checked my pulse.
She kept searching.
She kept her spirits high and was trying so hard to encourage us. She sent us to the waiting room to wait for Kathy, the ultrasound lady. Kathy and I had got to know each other very, very well during my last pregnancy, what with the weekly ultrasound to determine our status. Once a week for 10 weeks.
After what seemed like an eternity, the door opened and Kathy, looking very tense, called us into the ultrasound room. She asked all of the usual questions – usual for me – “are you bleeding?” “how are you feeling?”
She snapped out the lights and I lay on the table, bare belly, Brian standing by my side. I couldn’t watch the screen as she moved the probe over my abdomen. I covered my face with my arm, tears streaming down my cheeks. So quiet…
Then Kathy said, “Nissa, I want you to look at this.”
I reluctantly uncovered my eyes and turned them to the screen. I stared. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. There, in the middle of the dark screen, was the form of a perfect, wiggly baby.
To music none of us could hear. Not with our ears.
But in our hearts.
All is well. All is well.
Our newest baby will arrive during Eastertide, sometime in April. We are overjoyed. We are so abundantly blessed.
So what does that mean for our ministry to orphans?
The short answer is that we aren’t sure. At least not in the short term. We are planning to continue with our homestudy and get it completed (we will likely need to have it updated after the baby arrives), renew passports, and gather as many of the required documents as we can (the ones that aren’t time sensitive). And we will be working with an independent adoption facilitator in Ukraine. Someone we have come to trust, for his honesty and generosity. Someone recommended to us by a family who has used him for their adoptions.
And we are asking to be approved for up to four children. These children may be related or unrelated. And because pre-selection of children is actually against the law in Ukraine, our children will be a surprise!
That isn’t unlike birth, is it?
God’s plan is perfect, and we are humbly honored to participate in it, no matter where it leads.
We are continuing to raise funds for these adoptions, if you are moved to contribute in any way. You will be blessed. Please check our adoption page later this week for updated information. And pray for the children we had hoped to adopt. They need our prayers still.
Our adoption homestudy is almost complete. (yay!) Thursday is Brian’s solo interview with the social worker. Then we’ll schedule a tour of the farmhouse… when we can get it finished. We need to have an army of people who can wield hammers, sanders, paintbrushes and rags. Our older kids have been an enormous help. Our time is so limited – we need man (and woman) hours to put our temporary kitchen in, and the two floors, and paint the walls.
In the meantime, we’re working on co-ordinating a time to Skype with Sveta and Alexi. We’re going so slowly right now. Now we’re working a hosting arrangement that will bring them here for Christmas. I am so looking forward to making some memories for them – simple memories.
Cutting the Christmas tree from the upper field and dragging it the ¼ mile back to the house.
Seeing the lights in Forest Park.
Attending Mass, listening to Papa preach on Christmas Eve.
Games and puzzles.
The kids are excited about having them here with us to share everything that makes Christmastide so precious to us: making gifts for them, helping them to make gifts, and maybe playing in some snow!
And after Christmas, we hope that an invitation will come from the Ukraine government, allowing us to finalize their adoption.
And then there is Sergey. He is in a different city altogether, and we aren’t sure if we can get him into a hosting program for Christmas. We would dearly love to. We all want to share those joys and memories with him, too.
Will you help us give them all the greatest Christmas gift ever by contributing $10, or as much as you can? And will you share this post and our adoption page with friends and family?
You can send it through Paypal to “nissa_@_gadboisfamily_._com” and make sure you mark it for “The Gadbois Family Adoption” so that we can keep it separate. And include your mailing address too so that we can thank you!
It is a chapter we have been trying to write since we first married, twenty-one years ago. But we don’t control time, and we are only co-authors of our lives. It seems that this is the time and the Hand of God is writing furiously. Once we had made up our minds that it was time to investigate the possibility of adoption, the cogs caught and the wheels began to spin.
We discovered that we would not be eligible to adopt from Poland, as we had hoped, because our family is so large. It seems that it is possible, but that the wait would be considerable – smaller families are chosen first, from what I understood. The agency we were working with suggested that we consider Ukraine, and referred us to an agency. It just happened to be one local to us (serendipity!).
I rang them up and explained why I was calling. Karen, the director of Good Hope Adoptions (don’t you just LOVE the name?) asked me some questions about our family, and about the kinds of children we might be interested in adopting. She said she thought she had the perfect sibling set and sent me information the next day. We prayed and prayed to be prudent in our decision – we fall in love so easily. But we knew that these kids were perfect.
We looked around for a homestudy agency, and found one 20 minutes from home, and made an appointment over the phone to get started. And Karen arranged a phone call with the Ukrainian facilitator who knows our children. We talked for an hour. We both agreed that we should go ahead with everything required to bring these children into our family. She felt that we would all be a very good fit. We arranged to begin sending photos and letters, and soon phone calls or Skype sessions.
We asked for a blessing from our pastor (and Brian’s boss), Fr. David. He is so supportive and enthusiastic – like a grandfather would be.
And then the paperwork began. LOTS of paperwork. Forms, forms, and more forms. Checklists. Documents are piling up (which is incredibly satisfying to see). The older children have had their share of various forms to fill in – CORI checks, FBI fingerprints, DCFS child abuse checks… And they’ve been beyond amazing.
Caroline filling in her form for a DCFS check…
Officer Gaylord was so sweet. Curious about our adoption, cheerful, and very kindly let me snap a few photos of Cate, Jack, and Brian having their prints made.
I ordered books to create a unit study on Ukraine, and asked for help from friends – one who is of Ukrainian descent, and another who is an Eastern Catholic clergyman. We have collected a nice selection of resources covering history, culture, religion, food, and crafts. We have always felt that we would adopt the culture of our children’s country of birth – just as they will adopt our respective cultures (Brian’s and mine). It is what makes a family a family.
This beautiful traditional Christmas story from Ukraine inspired an idea for a photography project…
For the older children – a non-fiction and a novel.
And now, I suppose, I should introduce our beautiful children:
S and A. They are 17 and 12. Being 17 means that – ordinarily – you have aged out of the orphanage system and must make your way on your own. I won’t horrify you with the statistics, you can look those up easily enough if you’re interested. In the case of our children, S is staying on a bit longer in order to not be separated from her brother. She is a good student and hopes to go to college, she enjoys helping the staff at her orphanage with the younger children. We are working on arranging English lessons for her ahead of her homecoming. It should help her acclimate more quickly, prepare her for further schooling here, and perhaps get her driving license. He is also a compassionate child – and loves to play soccer. If we can arrange it, we will have him join in for English lessons to smooth his transition.
One of the things that Liliya told me is that she has been taking S to church with her. Despite not having had that in her life before, she has embraced faith. She has been praying every day for a family to take them in and give them a life. And we have come – God heard her cries and called us.
More recently, a friend that I have made in the process of investigating adoption from Ukraine, sent a link through a group we both belong to. It was a link with information about a young man who is waiting to be adopted. S is 15 years old. He has been passed over for adoption, despite his intelligence, kindness, responsibility, and abilities. After reading about him, and watching a brief video interview of him, we think he’s just amazing. And we are praying about the possibility of adopting him, too.
And we have enlisted these intercessors to help us:
St. Olga of Kiev
Fr. Michael McGivney, servant of God. Founder of the Knights of Columbus.
Now, phase II of paperwork commences – immigration forms and dossier compilation. And if everything moves as swiftly as it has been up to now, we have been told that our children will be home to celebrate Christmastide with us. What greater gift is there?
It will take a miracle for us to raise the funds that quickly. But we believe in miracles. If you feel called to be a part of that miracle, please visit our shop and choose something to purchase. Or make a contribution through Paypal (nissa_@_gadboisfamily_._com). Make sure your note says that it is for our adoption so that we can keep it separate. We don’t keep a penny of it – everything goes to the adoption agency, the facilitator, the orphanage(s), and both US and Ukrainian governments.
And we’re thinking about some other fundraising ideas – some fun things for folks to participate in while being a part of giving the greatest gift in the world to some fantastic children.