Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Today is our final full day in Poland and our last chance to spend time with Wiktoria for several weeks, maybe months.  However, there are a variety of emotions, different than what we expected.  It was a great week.  Today she even called Leigh mama 2 times.  We played this morning at the park, we each talked to the adoption official again through broken English, and even had a chance to take Wiktoria to the zoo.  It was a great day overall.  After the zoo, we had to take her back to the orphanage.  She is so happy there because it is all she ever knew and knows.  She does not know what a mama really is and what a dad or a family is or is supposed to look like.  She doesn’t know what it means to be tucked in bed at night.  Right now she is in a room with about a dozen cribs and it is hard to imagine that the caregivers, who do a great job, are able to give individualized attention.  She did not cry today when we left her.  She happily went to the lady working and began to play.  She doesn’t know that she is about to have a family, a big and little sister, and a forever mom and a forever dad.  Right now, all she knows are women.  How is reasonable to believe that one day she will grow up and come to learn about a Heavenly Father when she has never experienced an earthly father?
Tomorrow we fly out at 625am, having to be at the airport around 5 and getting up at 4am, making this a shorter post tonight.  We leave here knowing that Polish people do not adopt kids that are not labeled as 100% healthy.  If they are healthy, they do not stay long at the orphanage.  Tomorrow we leave this beautiful country, forever having the little faces we met burned in our memory with the realization that many of them will never have a forever family, never have the same opportunities my kids will have, or your kids will have, and grow up with all the percentages against them.  They are more likely to have addictions, be incarcerated, become a prostitute, or commit suicide.  And why?  Look in the mirror and ask that question.  Go to your church body and ask that question.  Not just for the children of Poland but for the millions of children that are orphaned both at home and abroad.  I know it’s expensive, and God has not “called” you do it.  I just can’t imagine standing face to face with God at judgment day and he asks, “Greg, what did you to defend the fatherless?”  Will I have the gumption to say, “Uh, you did not call me to do anything, so I didn’t do anything.  I did go to church every Sunday and pray and………”

So as we transition home, back to life in Cynthiana, please pray for us, for our continued efforts to raise funds, raise awareness, and for our friends and family to accept Wiktoria regardless of what they expect from her or expected her to be.  She is beautiful and looks no different in the eyes of a holy and merciful and just God than you or I do.  Jesus Christ died for every orphan, physically and spiritually.  We are striving to live as Christ, the Jesus of the Bible and not the American church Jesus.  We are haunted.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

2 down, 1 to go

Day two was a long walk around and finally in the park.  We met downstairs at the hotel for breakfast at 8 planned on arriving at the orphanage at 9.  Upon our arrival, we took a walk with Wiktoria.  We had no idea where the park was, if there was one, and followed Magda around while she was on the phone.  30 minutes later, she asked directions.  Once there, we discovered Wiktoria likes to swing and eat.  She will fit in well with the ladies I live with.   After playing for about an hour we returned to the orphanage and went out to join the other kids.  This is my favorite part.  They all want to play with me and talk to me, yet I have no idea what they are saying and vice versa, yet we both keep on talking to one another.  One little fellow, Dawid, looks like a mess.  I am sure there is a story behind him, but he looks like a rascal.  You can see something in his eyes.  I picked him up and he was attached to me like a little Polish spider monkey.  He smiled and held on to me.  I would try to sit him down and he refused to put his feet down.  Wiktoria, took offense to this and ran over to me with her arms up grunting.  So I guess there is some bonding going on with us.  The other children there are just precious.  You can see that some have issues, like we all do, and others look “normal” and you have to wonder why they are there.  I did not want to leave.  The kids just liked playing and being silly, language was no barrier for them.  Love does not have to speak a language.

After leaving the orphanage, we headed to the apartment where we will be staying when we return.  It is near a large mall.  Magda says it is the largest in Poland.   They have street signs in the mall to help navigate.  The apartment facilities were nice.  They are all furnished, have tv’s, wifi, playgrounds, and a guarded entry.  We were told that there are some celebrities that live there so it is guarded and well maintained.  Afterwards, a tour of the mall was in order.  A quick trip through the Polish version of Wal-Mart showed us that everything we would need would be right there, from soup in a box, to clothes, to diapers, to a whole frozen catfish, whiskers and all.  Lunch was in the food court.  Choices range from Thai to McDonalds, KFC, Burger King, Kebabs and traditional dishes.  Leigh went with the traditional foods and I had a kebab.  There is lody everywhere in the mall.  I think it will be a great, potentially fattening place to live.  However, we have to walk to the mall to get it, so it will be our reward for the exercise of walking to the mall.  Justified. 

We then took the train back to the hotel to rest and freshen up before returning to see Wiktoria and the other children at 3.  This afternoon we stayed and played around the orphanage and played bubbles, in the ball pit and with the other kids.  Wiktoria seems to be getting closer to both of us, yet we have to leave her in a couple days and return weeks, maybe months later and do the whole thing over again.   J

Random things from today:
·         At the movie theatre here, you get to pick your seat when you buy a ticket.

·         When in the WC, and there is any question, always use the big button on the toilet.

·         Leigh had a boneless chicken leg for supper.  Who knew?  How do they walk?

·         Mountain Dew here tastes more like Kroger Dew Drop.

·         Taxi driver per day = about $85.  Riding the train = $1 per trip.

·         The mall is ridiculously big and most young folks that work there let you struggle with communicating with them a little before they respond to you in perfect English.

·         A whole catfish, skin and all, stares at you as you pass by.  You can also buy a frozen chunk of cut fish.  Bait is what I say.

·         My wife bumps into someone tonight and responds in Polish with “Good morning!”  She is great.

·         The orphanage does not use baby wipes.  Instead, you get in the sink and get hosed off and sponged down.

·         My quote to Leigh, ”I thought we bought that chocolate candy for the kids and that candy bar for Freida.”  She says, “We can buy more!”

·         There is a precious girl and little brother sibling group in the orphanage.  Who will rescue them?  Who will show them the greatest example of God’s love and how will they learn and understand and a Father’s love and the family of God if they have no father and no family?

·         We are here now.  We are getting only one.  Who will go next?

Monday, August 29, 2011

"I'm in love, I'm in love, and I don't care who knows it!"

Random movie quote from.....?

It’s august 29th, do you know where your adopting friends are?  Well they are in Katowice trying to figure out how we were chosen to be blessed by a petite little blonde chick.  Today was our big day, we thought.  We did get to meet our daughter, but the day was not as big dramatically or emotionally as we thought.  The day started with an 8am meeting with Polish officials.  Get that mental image in your head.  We thought we'd be in a big room, lots of old ladies in nun outfits staring at us, looking for something wrong with us, speaking all fast and genuinely being scary and intimidating.  What we got instead were two young folks, in a meeting room with a kitchenette and a flat screen tv who looked just like we did.  They both spoke English and were very welcoming and accommodating.  The meeting went well and we just reviewed Wiktoria’s file and talked about our family, childcare, and casually chatted.  Most of the talking was in Polish so we just sat there and smiled and hoped it was something good. It must have been good because after about 25 minutes or so, they decided to let us go to the orphanage and meet her.

Upon arrival at the orphanage, it was nothing like the horror stories you hear about or the old school orphanages you see in the movies.  It was very modern with lots of toys, books, flat screen tv and looked just like an American day care and actually better than one I have been in most Sundays.  All the toys, shoes, clothes, jackets and whatnot were organized.  I thought this may have just been because we were coming, but later, as we were playing with Wiktoria, we saw that after she played with each toy, she put it back where she found it.  So anyway, back to the story…..we were waiting in a therapy room with a plastic ball pit, which I loved, talking to the social worker and psychologist about ourselves.  Again, a lot of conversation in Polish between the ladies there and the lady that is representing us.  They must have bought everything because they brought Wiktoria in for us a few minutes after talking. 

She was all dolled up in a little dress and had her hair fixed.  She was/is a doll.  We were prepared for screaming, gnashing of teeth, and the worst.  It went perfectly.  God could not have answered prayers any better or ordained a better child.  She was very content to play by herself, with us, whatever.  She was laid back, never cried, and soon began to open up to us.  There are a couple guys who work in and around the orphanage so she has some contact with males thankfully.  Before long, we were playing with a ball, blowing bubbles, and hammering stuff.  She looked like she was checking for studs or something.  She would walk over to a table, hit it two or three times, make a noise and walk away.  Then to a door, then a wall, and then to Leigh.  She took up with Leigh first, as expected.  We later joined the other kids outside after seeing the room where the kids slept.  She played well with the other kids.  They were precious.  Not all are up for adoption as some have been taken away temporarily by the state for various reasons.  While playing outside, Wiktoria ran up to Leigh, made a babble sound similar to Jake Lawrence, reached up for her and after being picked up, gave Leigh a hug.  The workers enjoyed seeing this and seeing that there weregoing to be any attachment concerns.

After being outside for a while, we went back in and prepared to leave.  After lunch, we would return and spend another couple hours with her, playing and bonding.  Upon our return, I knew I had some ground to gain.  As with most small children, you can throw them up gently in the air and they either respond with a smile or a look of terror.  I took my chances.  Sitting by the ball pit, I lured her over (sounds creepy) and we played with a toy.  I went for it.  She smiled and laughed.  We did this a couple more times and she loved it.  Later, she would run over to me from across the room and put her arms up which eventually led to a hug.  She would come and spread her arms out and lay her head against mine.  And you, like the SNL church lady are probably saying, “Well, isn’t that special.”  It was.  Wiktoria had taken to both of us on the first day.  The orphanage ladies liked seeing this and upon our departure this evening, she even appeared sad that we had to give her back, or she did not like what was on her supper plate.

All in all, I would say that day 1 with her was a success.  We seemed to make a positive impression with the workers there and our representative said they liked what they saw out of everyone and that there is a chance that things can move quickly after we leave as far as the return bonding time is concerned. 

Random things from today:

·         Dirty diapers stink worldwide.

·         It cost 100zl to get a boot off of your car for parking illegally over here

·         The cry of an orphan is a terrible sound, but one that has a remedy if Christians stepped up.

·         I learned that my aunt Shirley borrows Facebook accounts, like Paul used to.

·         Having friends at home that take time out of their lunch break to ask if they can pray for you is wonderful.

·         Mushroom lasagna is not very tasty.

·         My wife apparently requires one Bounty candy bar a day to function properly.

·         Driving 100+mph on the highway is okay.

·         Bums don’t stop asking even if you say in English, you don’t speak Polish.

·         Churches here and at home struggle with politics in the church.

·         The imagery of spiritual adoption and physical adoption is humbling, incredible, and amazing.  The God that brought us here wants Polish, Russian, and all orphans to grow up and love him just as he wants our middle class  biological American kids to.  But how will they ever hear?

·         We have to have a major stuff reduction sale when we get home so we can come back here and bring this little girl home with us. Adoption fees are bad and unexpected costs stink.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

It's sunday August 28th. Tomorrow, it goes down.

This is going to be the first of many posts to come in the next days with a plethora of information, mainly for those who are looking at our blog for information on the Polish adoption process, so those of you who are not, you will have to skim through these randomly detailed sentences in search of something you may consider interesting.  I write this from 26 floors high at the  Qubus Hotel in Katowice, Poland, with the dual sound of English and Polish Billy Madison playing on the tv behind me.

Our journey began Friday morning after dropping the kids off at their respective places, kindergarten and the tire shop.  Ryleigh spent the day at school and Layla spent the day with Freida and Danny learning to rotate and balance tires and do payroll and whatnot.  After driving the roughly 5.5 hours to beautiful Detroit, we boarded the Lufthansa plane, bound for Frankfurt, Germany.  Some random things from the plane are:

·         The lady beside Leigh slept through roughly 95% of the flight.  I mean mouth open sleeping.  She was amazing.

·         I sat on the aisle.  A man kept getting in and out of his luggage which was stored right above my head.  He touched my body several times with his body.  My shoulder did not like it.

·         A lady of larger proportions than I sat across the aisle from me.  She stood up about halfway through the flight and proceeded to exercise her hips back and forth in almost a hula hoop fashion for several minutes.  My eyes did not like it.

Once arriving in Germany, we were greeted with some rain and delayed about 25 minutes, after waiting about 2 hours.  Security guards looked at me crazy when I removed my shoes to go through security.  Looking around, I was the only one with no shoes.  While waiting for our flight, people watching was a joy, as always.   Once we boarded the 1.25 hours flight to Katowice, Poland, the exhaustion was beginning to fade and the excitement of what was really about to happen began to creep back in.  Realizing that we were about to reach the city were our daughter lives continues to be overwhelming.  We sat at the baggage claim, praying that Leigh’s bag showed up because the airport called my cell phone while in Michigan saying that our bag came off the conveyor belt but had no travel information on it.  Luckily, Leigh had put our home address and my cell number on our bags.  It showed up as did the other two and we then moved on to the realization that we were about to walk out of an airport in a city we had never been, into a language we know enough of to sound American and stupid, look for a  young guy we had never met, hope that he takes us somewhere that a lady we have never met arranged, all because we were adopting through an agency of people we have never seen, yet sent thousands of dollars to.  That in itself sounds a little crazy, but thanks to Allison who provided a pep talk on the way to the airport, we accept it as crazy and do it anyway.  Stepping out of the tunnel with our bags in tow, we saw a young man named Tom who held a little sign with my misspelled name on it.  Tom had a nice Audi with some Soulja Boy, some Polish music, and classic 90’s hits on the radio to make us feel welcomed.  He zipped in and out of traffic all the way to the hotel.  He spoke enough English to have a conversation and make for a comfortable, pleasant ride.  He gave us a rough, muddy idea of what our schedule would be and said see you later.  We hoped the hotel staff spoke English because we had no idea if the hotel was in our name of that of the adoption liaison we had never met.  So fast forward to early evening Saturday, we were tired, hungry, nervous, excited and various emotions.  However, Pizza Hut was next door and the quest for supper was short lived.  After dinner, it was almost 7pm, we went to bed exhausted and full, though not as full as a supper at Leonos.
Sunday morning came 14 hours later for us.  Ryleigh and Layla make sure that sleeping anything close to that long never happens at home.  Even the thumping speakers of techno music at the bar on the hotel roof could not keep us up.  Breakfast was in the hotel restaurant and was included in the rate.  They had a good spread of hot and cold foods, juices, coffee, and more.  A good mix of traditional polish breakfast foods and some western foods like bacon and potato cubes made us content.  It was now 1030, we had no church to go to, 1.5 English channels on tv, and no idea of what to do.  We walked around town some and not much is open on a Sunday.  After learning where some things were, Leigh made a plan.  For quite a while I have been crafty at developing ideas to avoid going to the IKEA store just above Cincinnati.  Oh but guess what, there is an IKEA here.  Lucky me!   So we take a taxi ride there and leanred that it is internationally true that IKEA is not really a store men want to go to.  Just like I imagined, women running everywhere with their man following just behind.

Other random notes for those interested:
·         Exchange rates are better when you use your debit card.  They were 2.48 at the exchange place and we got 2.7 something by paying with the card.

·         Our hotel elevator moves so quickly it makes your ears pop going up and down.

·         140 kilometers per hour feels pretty fast, because after conversion, it is fast.

·         Katowice has less of an old town feel than other places we have visited.  More western with regard to dress, music, restaurants.  Less of a traditional feel.

·         Our guy at the front desk works a fireman’s shift.  24 on and 48 off.  We will miss him.

·         Grocery stores only take cash, no credit cards and bags cost additional money.

·         There are 230 volts coming out of the wall.  Watch out for sparks.

·         Deciding where to eat on a Sunday is as hard here as it is at home.

·         It’s gross both here and at home to pull a hair out of a freshly opened bag of trail mix.

·         Reading “The Hole in our Gospel” makes my toes hurt, just like “Radical” by David Platt.

·         Lody (ice cream) is delicious over here. 

·         If you visit the “Patio” restaurant and ask for an English menu, you have to sit outside on the patio and not in the restaurant.

·         Marek, my newest crazy guy friend speaks no English, is persistent, yells loudly, smells slightly of alcohol, is in need of money and gives decent directions.  I am a magnet.

·         There is a good chance that in roughly 12 hours from now, we will be face to face with our new middle daughter.

Friday, August 19, 2011

August Adoption update

This time last month we were writing to inform everyone of the latest update in the saga that had become our adoption journey.  What started out as a night of VBS quickly turned into an emotional night with tears of joy spread over the faces of a circle of prayer in the church office.  The love and support we have received from our church has been incredible.  Kind words when you need them, prayers, financial support and more keep us going still today.

What we learned from that night and the week that followed is that the Army of God is undefeated.  During that week, the army was praying for a specific need we had within our family.  A need that Satan had his manipulative hands on and was trying to use to rob us of our joy.  Never before had the words of Matthew 10:34-36 been real in our lives.  Never before have we been so in tune with the will of God that Satan rears his ugly head and is obviously trying to impact what we are doing because of a conviction, a calling, a stirring, a whatever you call it, from God to adopt.  I know we are not all “called” to adopt a child, but we are all called to look after and take care of the orphan (James 1:27).  This need was met on the following Saturday we thought and we rejoiced that we had new support from a much needed area in our lives.  No names to be used to protect the various misinformed, out of touch, and non-supportive people in our lives.  There are multiple “christians” unfortunately in this category.

It is a scary feeling for us to be in the center of Gods will and see the work that Satan is doing to oppose it, but we are right where we need to be.  The scariest thing is when we think we are doing all this Godly stuff and we don’t see Satan at work opposing us.  Makes you wonder who we are working for, God or ourselves.  We pray that we get to the place in our Christian walks that the devil dreads every day that we wake up and head out the door.  Yes I saw it on a bumper sticker, t-shirt, etc…
So that brings us here to the third week in August.  I am still unemployed officially, though staying at home with a child is much more like a job than I imagined it would be.  Ryleigh is loving kindergarten and her teacher and the whole experience.  She became famous by having her picture on the cover of the back to school edition of our local paper.  Our adjustments to our new roles in life seem to be going smoothly.  I have done more laundry in the month of August than I have done in my whole life.  My brother always said I would make a good wife one day.  So as I sat down to take a break after putting Layla down for a nap, the phone rings and it is our agency.  (This being the second phone call within a week’s time.)  The first they needed a letter talking about various things such as the existence of Layla, who was not in our original paperwork, what we planned to do as far as travel and whatnot once we were able to retrieve Wiktoria and so on.  I figured this was another one of those phone calls.  Thankfully it wasn’t.  They said they had exciting news.  The Polish authorities had approved us to adopt Wiktoria!  This was the missing piece in our journey.  We accepted her, they accepted us, and now we have travel dates. 

In order to be home in time for a wedding, we are looking at travelling to Katowice, Poland on the 26th of this month (1 week from today!), arriving on the 27th and meetings with authorities on the 29th-31st.  During this time we will also be visiting the orphanage and spending time with our newest child.  Please pray this goes well as it will be a scary time for her wondering why these weird people are looking at her crying, taking pictures and snotting all over the place.  Remember our girls we leave behind for a week.  Please pray for our travelling safety and health and that things with us and our new child go well.  Pray for how you can be part of ending the global orphan crisis.