My Christmas Wish

I have so much to be thankful for this Christmas. But I am especially thankful that Kole is home with us. We didn't even know Kole existed last Christmas and now it feels like he has always been a part of our family. I remember Lane and Hudson's first Christmases like they were yesterday. My heart is just as a excited this year as I think about Kole's reaction to opening Christmas presents for the first time. I imagine the joy on his face, and it warms my heart.

A couple of weeks ago we went shopping as a family to buy Kole a winter coat. As I tried a coat on him and zipped it up, Kole rubbed his hand along the front of jacket and got a huge smile on his face. He looked up at me and dove at me giving me a big hug and a kiss. The look on his face was priceless...the perfect mixture of joy and gratitude. I don't think I will ever forget that look. He loves his new coat; he's worn it nearly every day, even the days when he hasn't needed it. Kole is a constant reminder of how much I have to be thankful for, how many sweet and wonderful gifts God has given me.

Today our little town had a Christmas festival of sorts. Bouncy houses were set up, hot chocolate was served and a Christmas parade rolled down our street. I took the boys to go play on the bouncy houses. Kole was determined to climb up, and go down the massive bouncy slides. At one point Kole was really struggling to make it up to the top and the line was bunching behind him. Lane was already at the top and as he looked down and saw Kole struggling, Lane climbed back down to his brother. He said "Here Kole, take my hand, I'll help you." And he helped his brother to the top. Later on Kole got stuck about half way up and bigger kids started to climb pass him, Kole got scared and started crying, again I watched as Lane, with tears of compassion in his eyes, climbed back down and yelled at the other kids to stop climbing over his brother. It was one of those moments that make you want to let everyone know, "that's my son, the one acting like a sweet angel." Of course I won't tell them that same "angel" gave that same brother a black eye a couple of weeks ago.

I am so thankful for the beautiful boys God has blessed me with. My heart is overwhelmed with gratitude. But, as I look at Kole I can't help to think of the hundreds and hundreds of other children just like him who will spend yet another Christmas without a family. Another Christmas with nothing. Another Christmas being treated like they do not matter. I look at Kole and I think of how different his life is now and how much joy he has brought into our home.

Friends, I am pleading with you...there are children who need families, there are families who want to rescue these children and all that is standing in their way is money. Friends, this Christmas won't you please GIVE, PRAY, HELP change the life of a child by sponsoring them through Reece's Rainbow Angel Tree project. Reece's Rainbow Down Syndrome Orphan Ministry is the wonderful ministry that helped us find and adopt Kole and they are continuing to help hundreds more children with Down Syndrome and other special needs find forever families. My Christmas wish is that hundreds more children like Kole will one day have families to buy them a winter coat, to give them a hand, and to love them for who they are.

Kole's Life Now

It's been quite a while since I last blogged. There is a reason for that...Having 3 boys instead of just 2 has been a much bigger adjustment that I anticipated. Juggling three kids schedules has tested my multi-tasking skills to their current limit. But, I think we have finally figured out a good routine...maybe.

It's hard to believe that Kole has only been home with us for 7 weeks, because in so many ways it feels like he has always been with us. I am amazed at how quickly he has settled into a routine. He gets up in the morning, goes potty, sits down at the table and eats breakfast, washes up, gets dressed, fixes his hair, puts his shoes on, grabs his backpack and lunchbox and gets in the car. He's even almost gotten the hang of buckling himself in the car. One of the cutest things he does is trying to fix his own hair. He stands outside the bathroom door and copies me as I dry and brush my hair. Only he uses the toy power drill as a hair dryer and the toy handsaw as his comb. When he is done he picks up the container of hair goo and hands it to me to put in his hair. He loves having his hair spiked up.

He is very observant and he loves to try new things. When we first met Kole, he acted as though he had never seen or used a crayon before. Now he is getting better and better at coloring and he's almost gotten the hang of drawing a circle. He's making simple puzzles, sorting shapes, organizing things by color and he is signing and speaking several English words. He's told Hudson "stop" when Hudson tried to get a toy from him. He's saying "Hi", "Bye-bye", "Daddy", and he is trying so hard to say his name. When he sees a picture of himself he points to himself and says "Ole." That "K" sound is a tough one, but he watches my mouth intently and tries to copy me. He's signing please, thank you, more, all done, and yes. Kole loves to be outside and he is determined to conquer any playground or jungle gym. He especially loves to run and jump on our trampoline and his giggle and smile is contagious.

He loves going to school. I'm not sure he loves sitting down and having to be still, but he loves the attention he gets from all the teachers and staff and the other students. He is not shy and he hugs everyone. It's nice to know he is so loved at school, and Kole has definitely learned the art of "schmoozing." I can only imagine how good it must make him feel to be getting so much attention. It's such a contrast to how he was treated at the orphanage.

Like any little boy he is active and mischievous. He get's a little smirk on his face whenever he is caught doing something he is not supposed to do. Last week we gave him a light saber (of course) and he just thinks it is the funniest thing in the world to have light saber fights. He's had a lot of "firsts" since he's been home: Pizza, smores, bouncy houses, swimming pools and riding in the jeep with Lane to name a few.

Here are some pictures of Kole's adventures since he's been home with us.

A New Normal

Kole has been home with us for a week today. He acts like he has known us all forever and it feels like our family is where he has always belonged. Earlier today Lane and Kole were chasing each other around the house pretending to be monsters and tickling each other. They were both laughing and smiling, I had to stop right then and thank God for bringing Kole to us. Earlier today Kole grabbed a toy from Lane and Lane pushed Kole then Kole hit Lane. I had to stop right then and ask God to make the moments of laughter and fun more common than the ones of pushing and fighting. They really do act like brothers.

I looked at the faces of my three boys today and I just feel so blessed. People keep telling us how lucky Kole is to have Drew and I adopt him, but we can't but feel like the lucky ones. Kole is so sweet and loving. He is learning new things quickly and he is so observant. We weren't sure what to expect; we knew that there was the possibility that he could be agressive, but he's not. He is so sweet with Hudson. He loves to help. If he sees me clearing the table, he clears it with me; if Lane is picking up toys, Kole voluntarily helps.

Today, I met with some of the teachers and staff at Kole's elementary school. They asked me how Drew and I came to adopt Kole. I love telling that story, because it's such a God story. Less than 6 months after we first heard of Reece's Rainbow, Kole is home with us. Only God could do that.

Drew and I had initially thought that we would wait to start Kole in Kindergarten til he had been home a month or so, but he is adjusting so quickly, and he is so eager to learn new things that he will start on Monday. I was worried that he would not want to be dropped off at school, but after seeing him with his teachers today, I think he may not want to come home. He was hugging all the teachers and even the principal.

So far our biggest "problem" we've had is trying to get Kole to slow down when he is eating. I am still amazed at how quickly he can polish off a plate of food. The other day Kole finished all his spaghetti, Lane got up from the table and Kole slid down the bench and finished off the little bit Lane had left in his bowl. He also, in less than a minute ate an entire apple, leaving only the very top and the stem. He is so cute when he eats, because he stuff his cheeks til he can't even close his lips together and then smiles from ear to ear, like he is so happy to have so much food. And he has yet to turn food down except for a chocolate chip cookie.

I've had a few moments of feeling overwhelmed and wondering if I will ever have a night of sleep where all 3 boys sleep through the night and none of them wind up crawling into our bed. But, it's amazing how quickly having three little boys just feels normal. It's our new normal and I am so thankful that all our boys are home, together.

The Day I Will Never Forget

After nearly 30 hrs of traveling with very little sleep, we arrived in Belgorod Ukraine. We being myself and my friend Camaryn who came along with me on this, my second trip to Ukraine. We finally made it to Belgorod at about 11pm, Monday, August 2. Tuesday morning Alex and his wife Yulia drove us to the orphanage to pick up Kole. When we first arrived I just couldn't help but smile. I was so happy that this day was finally here. I had to go to the orphanage office first, sign some papers, then head to the bank to close out an account in Kole's name (we gave the money to orphanage). I just wanted to run to Kole's room and pick him up.

Finally, they said I could go get Kole; I practically ran down the hallway I was so excited. When I got to Kole's room he and all the kids in his group were sitting on a little bench. They had just come in from playing outside. I called for Kole and when he saw me he got up and came running over to me. He had a huge smile on his face; I picked him and hugged him so tight. All the other children were yelling "Kole Mommy!" I carried him into the next room. We were both just so happy. We quickly dressed him and then went up stairs to the Director's Office to sign some more papers.

Finally, it was time to leave. I held Kole's hand as we walked down the stairs. He smiled and waved goodbye to the orphanage workers as he looked back up the stairs. When we got to Alex's car I picked Kole up to help him in and he started crying and yelling. He's never been in a car before and I think he was also scared because I was taking him away from the orphanage, the only "home" he has ever known. The roads were so bumpy; Kole put his hand over his mouth and cried for nearly an hour as I held him on my lap and tried to comfort him. Eventually he fell asleep. He looked like such a sweet little angel lying there on my lap sound asleep. I could hardly believe that this day had finally come and Kole was beginning his new life.

We drove to Odessa; the city were Kole was born, and where his birth parents still live. In Odessa we picked up copies of Kole's original birth certificate, had a new birth certificate made that says "Kole Isaiah Miles", and his parents are now listed as "Andrew Lane Miles III" and "Kamarie Amato Miles." We also had Kole's passport picture made and applied for his passport. Alex and his wife, Yulia had to do some more running around and picking up documents, so they dropped us off at McDonalds for an hour. Kole had his first McDonalds experience and he was just in awe of all the people and children everywhere. He wouldn't touch the chicken nuggets, but he shoved french fries into his mouth til he could barely close his lips. He was so cute; I just couldn't stop looking at him. While at McDonalds, I got a phone call from Alex saying that Kole's birth mother called and was coming to McDonald's to say goodbye to Kole. We got up to take Kole outside where it was less crowded, and as we walked out the door there was Kole's birth mom, standing there with her sister. We walked around to Alex's car and she hugged Kole. She was crying as she hugged him goodbye. It was a pretty quick goodbye and Kole seemed unphased by seeing her and saying goodbye to her. We were back in the car and on our way to Kiev.

Kole wasn't scared this time when we got back in the car. He loved looking out the window and pointing at all the trucks that drove by. When we were about half way to Kiev, we pulled off to the side of the road. Kole's paternal grandmother was standing there, waiting to say to goodbye to Kole. She hugged him and cried; then she asked if I would take a picture of Kole and her so that Kole would have it to remember his history.

When we reached the outskirts of Kiev we stopped to meet with Kole's birth father. Kole's birth father is a truck driver and he was en route from Kiev back to Odessa. He pulled his truck over to the side of the road and came walking over to our car. I really had such mixed feelings about this. I wished I knew what Kole was thinking too. Kole's birth father hugged him tight and started to cry; he cried more than Kole's brith mother or grandmother. I was so tired and emotionally overwhelmed at that point, and I too started to cry. I just do not understand how an entire family can seem so heart broken over this precious little boy, but not enough to have kept him.

We arrived to our apartment in Kiev after midnight. We walked up a small flight of dark stairs and into a tiny, very dark elevator. Kole was scared of the elevator and I couldn't blame him; I was a little freaked out too. Our apartment however is so clean and bright. We gave Kole a bath and he absolutely loved it. He played and played in the water and he didn't want to get out of the tub. After bath we called Drew on the webcam. Kole talked with his Daddy and brothers and said goodnight.

As I tucked Kole into bed that night, I rubbed his back and sang him to sleep, and I could hardly believe this day had finally come. There I was with my son, finally away from the orphanage. One huge step closer to bringing him home.

On the Road Again... Soon

It's packing time again. Actually I am pretty much unpacking, washing, folding and repacking. We arrived home last Saturday evening and I leave on Sunday to return to Ukraine. Unfortunately, Drew will not be able to make this second trip with me. It's not a possibility for him to miss 2 more weeks of work on top of the three he has missed already. A friend of mine from high school is going with me to Ukraine. Drew and I both feel it will be better for Lane and Hudson too, to not be without both parents for another two weeks. They will be taken care of during the day by grandparents and Drew will be home after work every evening. So, hopefully this will be easier on them than the previous 3 weeks. It's been such an emotional and often stressful time for our whole family. Lane doesn't handle change well (to put it mildly), and he has cried a lot since we've returned from Ukraine. He loves to just be at home with Dad and Mom and although he had a great time with Grandma while we were gone, he is such a worrier and he was very anxious for us to return. Hudson too has been extra snuggly since we got home. I'm not complaining about that though :)

We are so excited that in two weeks from today I will be returning home with Kole. We look forward to getting back into a routine with all 3 boys. Please pray that our three boys will bond quickly and grow to love one another. We anticipate that there will certainly be times of jealousy and fighting for attention, but we pray that our home would be a place where KINDNESS and LOVE abound. Please pray that we will have wisdom as we help Kole transition into a very different life, including starting kindergarten.

As you pray for us, please remember to pray for all these precious orphans. I often take the time to pray through all the children on and it is so rewarding when a family commits to adopt one of these children.

Visits With Kole

Well it has been a couple days since I last updated. We have continued to visit Kole every day, usually twice a day. I have to say that it is a little strange visiting our son under someone else's watch. We are permitted to visit him for a couple of hours each morning and a couple of hours each afternoon. We have to keep him on the orphanage grounds. Each day Kole runs for the gate and laughs when we scoop him up and tell him "no, no." He really has a great sense of humor and such an adorable smile. I really can't tell you how much we just want to pick him up and run out of the orphanage gates.

We went to the market and bought some turkey, cheese, bread, and tomatoe. I was pretty proud of myself for ordering at the deli with minimal hand gestures. I made Kole a sandwich and brought some grapes and juice to go with it. So far there is nothing this kid won't eat. We are just amazed at how much food he can fit in his mouth.

Kole took my sunglasses off my head and put them on. I gave him a thumbs up and said "Kole is so cool." He laughed and gave me thumbs up back. Drew and I decided to go to the market and find him some sunglasses of his own. We found some blue camo little boys ones and brought them to him the next day. He was so excited! It's hard not to want to spoil him and buy him everything he could ever want. I know we can't make up for the past six years of his life, but I really want to. I hope some day his memories from the orphanage fade and are replaced with new happy memories of our family.

Kole has had a cough this past week and each day it seems to be getting worse. We spoke with the orphanage Doctor and she told us he is on an antibiotic. But, yesterday evening we went to visit him right after he woke up from his nap and he was just not himself. His throat was sore to the point where he didn't even want the juice we brought for him. Usually he guzzles the juice and soaks the front of his shirt in the process. He laid his head on my shoulder and I sang to him; the same thing Lane and Hudson like when they do not feel well.

Drew woke up this morning with a sore throat too. We were not able to visit Kole today because Drew really does not feel well and Kole is still sick too. Pray for them to get better and fast. I am dreading having to leave Kole at the end of the week, but it will be even harder if he is still sick.

We should be going to court on Thursday or Friday, then we will say goodbye to Kole and come home for a couple of weeks. My heart is still hoping he can come with us. We will return after two weeks at home and pick Kole up from the orphanage. Oh how I can't wait for the day when we drive away from that place with Kole!

Our Days With Kole

It’s Thursday night here in Ukraine. Yesterday and today have been pretty good days. Yesterday morning we went to the orphanage at about 10am to visit with Kole. When we first arrived Kole was sitting at a little table drinking milk from a real glass. He literally squealed with joy when he saw Drew and me. You just don’t know how happy that made us. We had brought a pair of sneakers and socks for him because he has been wearing girls sandals. He sat in a chair across from me; I put one sock on him and started to put a sneaker on him when he just hugged me and squeezed my neck, as if he was saying thank you for getting him some proper shoes.

They let us take him outside as long as we stay on the orphanage property. So we ventured out, and Kole was thrilled to be outside. The orphanage does not let any of the children go outside without a hat, so they gave us a yellow Yankees hat to put on him. Yuck! It was painful to see him in that hat and I can’t wait to get him a proper Red Sox hat. We are contemplating buying Red Sox hats for all the children in the orphanage. Haha!

Kole lead us around the entire property until he settled on a particular playground. There are several playground areas each with their own little “dugout” type area. We sat down and gave Kole a banana to snack on. I have never seen a kid so excited about a banana, nor have I seen a child consume one so quickly. It made me happy to see him so thrilled over a simple snack, but I can’t help but wonder if he does not get much food in the orphanage.

Kole then proceeded to walk around the playground and pick up every pine cone he could find. It was really cute to watch; he would point at one and yell excitedly every time he saw one. He was also really fascinated at the cars driving by outside the orphanage fences. Our time with him Wednesday morning seemed to fly by and before we knew it, it was time for Kole to go back inside for lunch and naptime. Kole hugged me goodbye, but he did not want to hug Drew. That was really tough for Drew. We have noticed that any time one of the two men who work at the orphanage walk by, Kole acts scared of them. We wonder if they have been mean to him, and we also wonder if he has a bad picture of what a father is like because of his birth father.

At about 4pm we went back to the orphanage. Kole was just as thrilled to see us that afternoon as he was that morning. We went outside again and Kole immediately saw some dogs lying on the steps. Side note: there are packs of wild dogs EVERYWHERE! Kole started to run over to the dogs. Drew chased after him and suddenly the dogs growled meanly. It scared Kole and he started crying. Drew was right there and he picked up Kole. Kole wrapped his arms around Drew’s neck and held on tight. It was as if at that moment Kole realized that Drew loved him and would protect him. After that Kole has been so affectionate with Drew and has even wanted Drew to pick him up and hold him.

It was really difficult to say goodbye to Kole Wednesday. He ran toward the gate when we were outside and motioned for us to follow him. He wanted to leave. Then when we were playing inside he packed a small backpack full of toys, got a “walking stick” and motioned for us to follow him out the door. He clearly wanted us to take him with us. It was so cute and heart-wrenching all at once. But for the first time he hugged Drew goodbye too.

We went to the orphanage this morning and afternoon too. This time we brought him a new hat! We also brought him some clean clothes and a pair of sandals we purchased at the market here. Even though we brought him a pair of sneakers, we noticed that they keep putting those girlie sandals on him, so we decided to buy him some boys sandals. Side note: the children play outside, eat, and spend most of the day in nothing but underwear and sandals. And they are all in desperate need of new shoes and new underwear.

When we were at the orphanage today we noticed that there was a little girl who was always sitting in the same arm chair. I asked one of the workers if I could go talk with her. This little girl is 8 yrs old and so sweet. She has no legs and when I walk over to her she is smiling and so excited that someone is coming to see her. She is sitting in a chair coloring and she is coloring perfectly. It was all I could do to hold back the tears, because she is so sweet and happy, and I think about what her life could be like if someone would adopt her. She could have a proper wheelchair and she could go to school where I know she would excel, because she is obviously so bright. We hope to bring her some good drawing pencils and books when we come back. But won’t you please pray that she will be adopted, soon!

It’s difficult to visit Kole each day like this. We love our time with him, but we just want to take him with us. What’s also hard is seeing the other 70+ children in this orphanage almost all under the age of 6, and to think of their lives having to be wasted in an orphanage. My heart aches because I wish so badly that we were able to do more, to adopt more. They see us walking around with Kole and they say “Mama, Dada.” And we hear the orphanage workers say “Kole’s Mama and Dada.” I am praying to God that these children will one day have a real mother and father. I am crying to God that He will protect them and keep them.

We will go to court the end of next week and then Kole will legally be our son. There is a mandatory 10 day waiting period after court, before we can get him from the orphanage. We will come home during the waiting period. We are praying that the judge will wave the waiting period though. That pretty much never happens. But we have seen over and over again that God answers prayer, works miracles, and provides. Please pray with us that Kole can come home soon!

A huge praise…We received word today that “Show Hope,” which is the adoption grant ministry Stephen and Mary Beth Chapman started, is giving us a $3000 grant (we don’t have to pay it back). That is a huge answer to prayer as we had to take out some loans in order to adopt Kole. We are just praising God for his continued provision and goodness!

Kole's Birth Mother

I could tell that people had prayed and were praying for our meeting today with Kole's birth parents; our meeting could not possibly have gone better. We were very nervous on the two hour car ride over. We arrived in Kole's birth city, ate lunch and walked around a little. Kole was born in a large port city on the Black Sea. It's very much a melting pot and it feels more like being in the Mediteranean than Ukraine. I probably would really have loved being there except that I felt like I was in a daydream of sorts just waiting to meet with Kole's birth parents. We were expecting to meet both of them, but his father did not really care who adopts him, so he did not come.

We met his mother and grandmother at a beautiful park in front a large Orthodox church; then we walked to a nearby cafe. His birth mother is beautiful, she has orange/red hair and she really is so pretty. I noticed right away that we were both wearing dark jeans, white sleeveless shirts and black sandals. Weird. We sit down at a table and it's all I can do to even look at her. She begins to talk with Alex and he tranlates all her questions for us. She looks at our pictures of Lane and Hudson and she asks about 100 questions. She wants to know what Kole's life would be like with us. Will he go to school? Will other children make fun of him? Why do we want to adopt him if we can have more children "of our own"?

She explains what it's like for children with Down Syndrome or other special needs here in Ukraine. She starts to cry a little. I can tell she loves him. My heart just aches for her. I can't even begin what it would be like to live in a country where people with any kind of "disability" are treated like they are not real people. I can begin to understand why they left Kole at the orphanage, although in my heart it still doesn't make sense.

She shows us pictures of Kole when he was a baby. He is so cute dressed in old fashioned clothes and a bonnet, riding in an old fashioned baby carriage. She shows us a picture of her husband and her. Fighting back tears she tells us that many times she has wanted to go get Kole and bring him home, but his father refuses and he does not want him. She tells us that she is so glad that he will not have to spend his life in the institution and that she is so happy to know that he will be in such a nice family. She tells us that people of our character are rare, we are different in a good way. She and Kole's grandmother are crying. I am crying too. We promise her that we will love him and care for him the same as we do Lane and Hudson.

We exchange addresses and we assure her we will send pictures and write letters. I tell her that I do not think badly of her at all. And I really don't. I did, but after meeting her and seeing that she genuinely loves Kole, I just feel so sad for her. We hug goodbye and we are both still crying.

We will see her again, one more time after the adoption is finalized in court here. She gave the pictures of Kole so we could make copies and return them to her. And she wants to say goodbye to Kole.

Drew and I both felt better and worse after the meeting. We don't love Kole's birth father, to be honest. We feel sad for his birth mother, but we are relieved that she seems at peace with our adopting him and happy that he will have he good home. Thank you all for your prayers and kind words. These past few days have been quite the emotional rollercoaster. But, God has been pouring His graces on us in so many ways.

We returned too late to see Kole today so we are really looking forward to spending a few hours with him tomorrow morning.

Our First Meeting With Kole

I hardly slept last night. We woke up and got ready to go meet our son, Kole. Alex called and said he would pick us up in about 5 minutes and we would go to a cafe to get some breakfast. I honestly, didn't want any breakfast; my stomach was in knots. We went into a really nice cafe' ordered some Americanos and a couple of fruit danishes. I felt so nauseous with anxiety I could barely eat or drink. Alex explains to us that he already went to the Administration of Children's Services with our papers, and now we need to go back there to pick them up. We walk a short distance to the administration building. He goes into the office and then motions for us to come in. There is a short, red-headed lady talking a mile a minute. She asks us a few questions about us, our family, where we live, why we want to adopt etc... Alex translates. We sign some papers and then get into Alex's car and follow her over in her car to go to the orphanage.

On the drive over I am trying my hardest to hold back tears. I can't even begin to explain the array of emotions I am feeling. When we pull up to the orphanage we step out of the car and Alex tells us it is OK to take pictures. His orphanage is actually pretty nice looking and they have a large fenced in playground area. We go inside and sit down in the hallway. Then they call us into the office. We are waiting and waiting. Alex tells us that Kole's biological parents come to visit him once a year and that they are OK with him being adopted by foreigners. We didn't know that his parents came to see him and I feel a little sad that we will be taking him so far away from them. I'm just not even sure how to process this information. Alex further explains to us that Kole's biological parents may want to meet us and that it might be better for us to meet with them and to get things squared away with them before we try to go to court. That way they will not try to appeal our adopting him. He said they have already terminated their parental rights, but it would be good to meet with them just to be safe.

They tell us that Kole was playing outside and he got a little dirty so they are cleaning him up before they bring him to see us. We laugh. We realize that we left the little teddy bear we brought for Kole in the car, so Drew quickly hurries to go get it. All of a sudden Kole rounds the corner holding the hand of an orphanage worker. He is so tiny and cute, he is wearing a pink and white shirt with Snoopy on it and blue shorts pulled up too high, with blue socks and white girls sandals. I tear up the moment I see him and I am frozen. We say hello and reach out and hand him the teddy bear. He reaches out and takes it and holds on to it and squeezes it like it is the only thing he has ever been given. He smiles and laughs and looks at the bear and hugs it some more. I am just staring at him; he is beautiful and so full of life. Finally I just outstretch my arms to him and he comes to me and hugs me. I mean he is really hugging me and squeezing me. I just start crying and I don't want to let him go. He is a little hesitant to hug Drew, because the children in the orphanage rarely see men; they are cared for by all women.

We play with him on the floor and we pull out the photo album to show him pictures of his brothers and us. He grabs it and looks through it over and over again. Every time he sees a pictures of Lane or Hudson he smiles and laughs and points to them. We tell him those are his brothers and he seems so happy. He sits on my lap and looks at the pictures over and over again and he squeezes his teddy bear. He is so little. He is about the size of a 3 yr old even though he is 6 yrs old. All the clothes we bought for him are going to be huge. We bought mostly 5T, so I guess we have some shopping to do when we get home. We only get to see him for maybe 15-20 minutes and they tell us he needs to go eat lunch, then take a nap. We make sure that they tell him we will be back. We give him one picture of us to keep with him, because they said for us to keep the album to bring to court later in the week. We hug him goodbye and kiss him. He waves and blows us kisses and smiles, then he leaves.

After we say goodbye to Kole we go to another room to meet with the orphanage doctor. She is perhaps the cutest and nicest old woman I have ever seen. She is tiny. She explains, in Ukrainian, that Kole was abandoned at the hospital and then brought to the orphanage when he was one month old. The first year was very difficult because he had trouble eating and he weighed too little. He had bronchitis and pneumonia before he was 18 mos old. He is very healthy now; he eats anything and everything. She says he is very independant; he feeds himself, uses the toilet on his own, dresses himself and he plays very well with all the other children. Drew is taking notes furiously because we are not sure if we will have real copies of his medical records to take with us. We ask the Dr. a few questions. She tells us in Ukrainian that we have a great responsibility and she thinks what we are doing is amazing. We tell her we love Kole and we will take very good care of him. She nods yes and smiles. Of course Alex is translating everything for us.

Then we go back to the director's office and they call Kole's biological parents. Alex speaks with the mother and the father on the phone and they say they are OK with us adopting Kole, but Alex arranges for us to drive about 90km tomorrow to meet with them. When we get back to the car I get in the back seat and just start crying. It's just all so overwhelming. Meeting Kole was as wonderful as we expected, but now I am so worried that his biological parents will change their minds after they meet us. I'm not sure how I even feel about taking him so far away from his biological parents. Does Kole know, when these people come to visit him once a year that they are his parents?

Please pray that our meeting with his biological parents goes well. Please pray for peace for Drew and I. Pray that whatever is best for Kole will happen. Pray that God's will be done and we will be at peace.

Saturday, July 10

It’s 9pm on Saturday as I am lying in our apartment writing this. Another day in Kyiv, another day closer to seeing Kole. We woke up late again this morning; Drew got up around 10am and I got up about 11am. Drew was sitting at the kitchen table journaling when I woke up; I had no idea how late it was because my body was screaming, “I need more sleep!” We got ready, packed the backpack for the day and headed out. As we walked into the hallway of our fifth floor apartment I took one look at the elevator and decided to take the stairs, possibly a worse decision because they are falling apart and they seem to be nothing more than concrete suspended in air with nothing supporting them. I’m pretty certain this entire building was here when Stalin invaded. As I am walking down the stairs I am literally praying “Dear God please do not tell me brought us this far, only so we could fall 5 stories into a concrete grave. “ At about the 3rd floor Drew presses the elevator button and I watch through the cage-like metal as the elevator comes up. It is seemingly raised and lowered by an ancient pulley and weight system. I notice that the elevator has four ropes tied to the top of it and they are what is holding the elevator in air. All I can say is that I hope who ever tied those knots was an eagle scout. I took my chances with the stairs again.

As we venture out onto the street we immediately see a bride in white and her groom in a shiny brown suit, standing in front of a Hummer stretch limo. They are so happy. A babushka walks by and says something in Russian, which I assumed was a word of congratulations because the young couple smiled and said thank you. Just a little further down the street in front of the Golden Gate there is another bride and groom getting their picture taken. My mind wanders back to Drew and my wedding day, less than six years ago. We never would have imagined that this is where God would bring us, Kyiv, Ukraine adopting our third son. Crazy! It’s just crazy.

We make our way past the Opera House, which is huge and beautiful, like nothing in America. I notice though that across the street is a 20+ story, rundown, Soviet style apartment building. What a contradiction. We turn the corner and make our way to McDonald’s. Uggh. We don’t really ever eat McDonalds back home, but it’s the one place here where we know what we are eating, and they have free Wifi. When we walk into McDonald’s we overhear a man talking pretty loudly in English; I just can’t help but eaves-drop. He looks like a Bob Jones professor and all I hear is him saying “I don’t really care for contemporary music in church anyway.” The Ukrainian couple he is talking to kind of roll their eyes and laugh. I am thinking, seriously? I am half way around the world and I am hearing that? I really wanted to tell the guy to shut his pie-hole and stop making American Christians look like the morons we are. After a filling yet disgusting lunch, we decide to walk down to the main street, which we call “K street” because it’s a really long Russian name we can’t pronounce. We go into a five-story mall which is apparently famous. I’m not super impressed and the prices are outrageous. We leave. So glad we walked down this enormous hill to check out this famous mall, now we have to walk back up the huge hill and it is the hottest day yet since we got here.

We walk back to McDonald’s, grab a coffee and sit down. At least now it is late enough in America that we can call our boys. We video skyped with Hudson and it was so good to see his face. He was talking and smiling. We blew him kisses into the web cam (I am well aware of how strange we must have looked to the other people in McDonalds). Hudson reached out to the computer screen and said “Mama, mama.” Seeing him and hearing him made my day so much better. Lane was on his way back from the beach with Grandma so we didn’t get to talk with him then. While we were in McDonalds, it starting raining and thundering and the wind really picked up. After a while it looked like it had let up a bit, so we decided to go back to our apartment and then come back to McD’s at dinner time when we could hopefully skype with Lane too.

Well…as we were walking back it starting raining and the wind starting blowing. I thought my contacts were going to blow right off my eyeballs. We were slightly lost and getting soaked. We ran up the street laughing and trying not to slip and fall. Across the street pieces of tile and concrete were blown off the building and came crashing down to the ground below. Glad we weren’t on that side of the street. We finally see the fancy American hotel to which our apartment is adjacent, but we are on the wrong side. We decide to cut through the Hotel in hopes of staying a little bit dryer. Everyone in the lobby and the restaurant just stares at us as we walk through, soaking wet and probably a little stinky. Because, I forgot to mention that when it rains here it would appear that some of the sewers flood and therefore the puddles of water are not just water. I discovered this the hard way when on our second day here I walked through several puddles wearing my chaco flipflops. Later that day and the next day I kept smelling something awful. I finally figured out it was me. I now have poopy-pee chacos. Awesome.

We made it back to our apartment, finally. We were soaked from head to toe, but it was kind of fun too. After a couple of hours of reading we ventured back out to McDonalds hoping we could video skype with Lane. We talked with Lane for a good 30 minutes; this was the first time we have video skyped with him since we left, and seeing him made me miss him even more. He asked us where Kole was and he was a little disappointed that Kole wasn’t with us. We’re disappointed too. Kyiv is a great city, but I just have no desire to do anymore sight-seeing. I just want to be with Kole and then go home.

Note: After I finished typing that last night, Drew and I were watching a little Sports Night when the power in our apartment went out. It was pitch black outside, but when I looked out the window I noticed there were lights on in the other apartments. Drew found his headlamp and turned in on (I gave him a really hard time about buying that thing, but I was glad now he did). We walk over to our fuse box and Drew fiddles with the fuses a little hoping not to get electricuted; there is a weird burning smell coming from the box. Super! We are going to burn to death in this fifth floor apartment. Drew takes the fuse out then puts it back in and the power comes back on! But...only for a minute, then it's out again. We can't get the power back on and there are no extra fuses to be found. So we decide to go search all the hallways of the apartment building looking for fuse boxes that just might have extra fuses in them. Thankfully noone came out of their apartments and saw the two weird looking American's, in their Pj's, one with a headlamp strapped to his head like he's about to go explore some caves. We never did find any more fuses. So we went to bed. We still have no power today (Sunday), but we are leaving in a couple of hours to drive to Kole's city!

Yesterday We Moved

Yesterday morning we were awakened at about 10:30am (don't judge us for sleeping in so late it's really hard to fall asleep when it's 7 hrs ahead here), it was our facilitator, Yulia. She told us to have everything packed by noon, we were moving apartments and she was going to have a driver a named Sasha pick us up. Sasha would have a USB broadband modem for us so we could have internet in our new apartment. We weren't so excited about moving apartments or only having an hour and a half to pack everything. We had just learned our way away around from our apartment and we had stocked up on groceries the night before. But, the idea of having internet at our disposal made up for the lack of timely notice.

We packed and then waited outside. Of course they did not show up until 12:45pm. Ukrainian's are always late! I am not overstereotyping, it's just the way it is. Sasha pulls up, hopes out of the car, and runs over to us; he spoke no English. The only words I understood were Yulia and Sasha. There is two other people in his tiny car already, some lady who works with Yulia and her daughter. I get the privilege of sitting in the back middle seat. I suddenly have flashbacks of my childhood, the five kids in our family piling into our Mercury Lynx. I'm just hoping that I don't get car sick, as I am prone to do, as Sasha drives like a maniac barely squeezing his tiny car between parked cars and other moving vehicles, over bumpy cobblestone roads. We finally get to our new apartment; when we enter the hallway it is dark and really rundown. There are stairs that are falling apart; the tile on them and in the hall is chipped and broken. There is a small elevator. I'm pretty sure this may be the oldest elevator in the world. It's pretty scary looking and I was pretty nervous to get in it. There is only room for this lady and myself to get in it. I'm a little relieved because Drew is carrying some heavy bags and I seriously question whether or not this elevator could handle that kind of weight. Plus, I figure if the elevetor plumates down to the ground, at least only one of our kids parents will die.

We enter the apartment and it is actually way nicer than our first apartment. The kitchen has new appliances, the bathroom is clean and doesn't reak of urine, which is always a bonus. The tile in the bathroom is new, blue, and shiny, and it has a huge bathtub. We pay this lady $100 USD to stay here two nights. $50 a night is actually pretty cheap in Kyiv; imagine trying to find a clean, safe apartment in NYC for that price. She gives us a usb modem and tells the instructions are in the box. I was pretty excited at the thought of having internet there in our apartment. I could skype with our boys back home, stream some Netflix, or watch Hulu! I immediately open the box; yes, there are instructions but they are written in Cyrillic. In case you're wondering, no Drew and I do not know Cyrillic. I'm trying not to be angry as I watch all my internet dreams vanish. We still haven't figured out how to use it. Thankfully we are a short walk from the "Coffee House" chain; which is basically Starbucks, only the espresso is heavenly.

Shortly after getting to our new apartment we get another phone call. "Hello, I am Alex. I work with Yulia. I meet you at Ministry of Adoption today at 3 oclock. OK?" I reply "OK." Alex says, "OK, we talk more there. Bye." We had to go back to the SDA/Ministry of Adoption to pick up our official referral papers to adopt Kole. We quickly unpack at our new apartment and head out for a walk. We grab a quick snack to eat and then head to the bank to exchange some more USD into UAH money, because we are not certain if there will be banks near where we are staying once we travel to Kole's region. Then we start making our way toward the Ministry of Adoption office. Drew has gotten really good at reading the maps we have, even though they are in Cyrillic. Who knew that Greek would actually come in handy some day; it has surprisingly been a help since Cyrillic was derived from Greek. At least Drew can recognize certain letters enough for us to make our way around the city with ease.

We arrive at the SDA a little early and wait for Alex. He shows up right about 3:00pm. Amazing! Someone was on time. We go inside, wait in line for a few minutes, show our passports, sign something and pick up our papers. We go back outside and Alex explains that he will drive us to Kole's city because the train doesn't go there. We will leave Sunday between 2-3pm and it is about 500km away. Alex is clean shaven, has short hair, is dressed very American and drives a really nice car with leather seats. There are mullets everywhere; Drew has been taking pictures so we will have a little Eastern European Mullet Album to share when we get home. Seriously though, I feel like I am in a Billy Ray Cyrus music video. We are happy that we will be driving in Alex's car to see Kole. Have I mentioned that none of the cars here have seatbelts in the back seat? Well, Alex's car does! Yeah, atleast as we are flying at ridiculous speeds down the highway, I will be buckled in.

After we say goodbye to Alex outside the SDA we walk decide to walk back toward an Irish pub we spotted earlier that day. I'm not sure how much more McDonald's or unrecognizable food my intestines can handle. We get to the pub, go downstairs from the sidewalk and walk into a beautiful pub with big screen TV's. We sit down and they hand us a menu in ENGLISH! It's not cheap compared to what we have been eating, but we are starving and tired. So we order the things that seem most like American food off the menu. Our waitress brings us bread with butter and she sets a bottle of Heinz ketchup on the table. I smiled so big and said "ketchup." She laughed and said "you like Ketchup, yes?" Drew and I just laughed; we probably seem really weird to her. But they charge for ketchup packets at McDonalds so we haven't been getting any. If you know Drew at all it is quite impossible for him to have a meal without using half a bottle of ketchup.

Our meal was incredible. I had chicken and roasted potatoes, Drew had turkey wrapped in bacon with potatoe fries. There were sliced tomatoes and cucumbers on our plates and all the bread and butter we wanted. So yummy! They also had free wifi, so we called Lane and video skyped with Hudson and chatted with a couple of friends on facebook. It was a real pick-me-up.

After that we headed back to the apartment and did some reading for a couple hours. For dinner we ate some cups of noodles (think Ramen) and some crackers, we had purchased at the market. It made us feel less guilty of spending $25 at lunch, since our dinner cost about $2. After "dinner" we pulled out the laptop and watched a couple of episodes of "Sports Night" we brought with us on DVD. Great show by the way; another Aaron Sorkin masterpeiece. Just before the start of the last episode we watched, we popped a couple of Tylenol PM (which is our only hope of getting any zzzz's).

It's been difficult to sleep for a combination of reasons: 1) When we go to bed here around midnight, our bodies still feel like it is only 5pm. 2)Our bed at our first apartment was horrible, you could feel the springs sticking into your back. 3)I just can't stop thinking about Kole. I just want to be with him, and these days in Kyiv with nothing really to do are getting old.

Dear Kole

In two more days we will meet you for the first time. You have no idea what is in store for you. I wonder if you have been told that there are people coming to see you. A man and a woman who want to be your Mommy and Daddy. I wonder if you know what a Mommy and Daddy are. I picture you at the orphanage sometimes, seeing other children being picked by nice mother’s and father’s to be their children; I picture you wondering when and if anyone will ever come to get you. We are coming Kole! It seems like all your Dad and I have done is wait and now we are waiting some more ‘til we can be with you, but you have been waiting for more than six years for someone to rescue you. You won’t have to wait much longer, little man.

I have pictured the moment we first meet you with great anticipation and anxiety; I think I may have pictured it a thousand times. You are so happy to see us and you call us “Mommy” and “Daddy” right away. I imagine hugging you and kissing your face. I’m crying; it’s a “happy cry” as your brother Lane has learned to call it. You’ll learn too, your Mommy is way too emotional; as is your brother Lane. I keep picturing you hugging your Dad and riding on his shoulders. I have dreamed so many times of what it will be like when we take you by the hand and lead you out of the orphanage, and the joy I will feel in my heart knowing that you will never have to return to that place. I hope your little heart will be filled with joy too. I picture your face staring out the car or airplane window in amazement. I imagine you playing with your brothers at home in our living room. Everytime I imagine a moment with you in it, it’s in slow motion like I am watching a movie where I am happy crying because all the drama has been resolved, and David Gray or Alexi Murdoch music is playing in the background.

I hope you like us. We love you already with all our hearts. I know it may take you a while to want to hug us or to want to be hugged. That’s going to be hard for me; I hug and snuggle your brothers a lot, but they don’t always want to snuggle either. They are busy boys. I know you will like them. Lane is so excited to teach you all about trains and he can’t wait to jump on the trampoline with you. They made you a teddy bear that is sitting on your bed at home; Lane picked out a Star Wars jedi outfit for it. I know you don’t know what Star Wars is yet, but I’m sorry to say that when you live in our house there is just no escaping hearing something about Star Wars being mentioned on a daily basis. I’m sure you will have many epic light saber battles with your Daddy and brothers in the back yard. You’ll be sharing a room with your brothers, and Lane has asked many times if the two of you could just sleep in a tent on his bed every night like you are camping.

Lane is loud and funny, kind and sensitive. I know he will make you laugh; he is so silly and he loves to entertain. I hope you like music, because we play it constantly at our house. I love to pick up your little brother Hudson and dance around with him and Lane. Lane borrows Mommy and Daddy’s cd’s and puts them on in his room, way too loud and dances around. The other day he asked if he could borrow a cd “like maybe the Beatles or something else cool.” Usually he asks someone to come and dance with him. I’m just warning you, you will be forced to dance, but don’t worry if you haven’t any rhythm, no one in our house can actually dance; that just makes it more fun.

Hudson loves to play and he laughs and smiles constantly, but don’t take his red ball away from him, or he might bite you. He will play catch with you all day if you wanted. It’s one of his favorite things to sit on the floor and bounce his red ball back and forth, and he’s getting really good at catching it. I hope you are a heavy sleeper, because Hudson wakes up in the middle of the night sometimes just babbling and talking, and he’s loud.

The week before we left Georgia to come to Ukraine Lane helped me pick out a pair of sneakers for you. I have no idea what size feet you have, but I just really had the urge to buy you a nice pair of sneakers. Your Dad thinks they are a little ugly, but I think they look cute; your Dad has horrible taste in shoes anyway, he would wear his Chacos 24/7 if I let him. Lane was slightly disappointed that we didn’t buy you some light- up Sketchers like his; Lane thinks that every kid needs to have a pair of sneakers that light up. I don’t have the heart to tell him those are really nerdy; I’m just hoping he outgrows the light-up shoe phase at some point.

Your Dad is just as excited to meet you and bring you home as I am. We talk about you ALL the time. I think your Dad and I look forward to different moments with you. He can’t wait to teach you how to play video games and take you to your first movie. We both just can’t wait til we are all together as a family. There are so many things we talk about teaching you; we wonder and laugh about what you might think of our crazy family or the way we do things.

I can’t wait to teach you about how I was an orphan too until God rescued me and brought me into his family. There are so many things I want you to know about our great God, but mostly I just want you to really know Him someday, like your Daddy and I do. I hope that even now you are sensing His love and protection. We have prayed every day since we first saw your picture that God would protect you and keep you safe until we could take you home. I love you so much Kole Isaiah Miles. Just two more days son.

Update From Abroad

We had our appointment at the SDA this morning. We sat down with an SDA worker, she pulled out a big file with our names on the front and our facilitator translated for us. She asked us about ourselves, our home, our family and why we wanted to adopt Kole. We showed her pictures of Lane and Hudson, and we explained why we wanted to adopt Kole and how we fell in love with him the first time we saw his picture.

We were so relieved that Kole was still available for adoption. We knew there was always a small chance that before we could get here he could be transfered out of his orphanage, or another family could have adopted him.

They then told us about Kole. He was abandened at birth in the hospital by his parents. I started to cry a little bit, partly because I was thinking about this beautiful boy having to spend these first 6 yrs. of his life in an orphanage, but also because I was thinking of how difficult it must have been for his parents. The culture here is just so much less accepting of chilren with Down Syndrome or any special needs. And I know how often even in America we hear ignorant comments or receive long stares. I can't imagine how sad it must have been for those parents to have a child here and feel like they couldn't keep him because of how they and he would be treated.

The SDA worker decribed Kole as emotional, sociable, and well-behaved. Sounds a lot like our boys, minus the well-behaved part :). We saw pictures of him when he was younger. He had chubbie cheeks; he was and is so adorable. He was not smiling in any of his pictures. I really just can't wait to see him smile, to hug his neck, and kiss his face, tickle him, and play.

Our official referral papers will not be ready until tomorrow evening, and we will go pick them up at the SDA. Because it will be the weekend the orphanage and the offices in Kole's region will be closed. So we have to wait to travel there on Sunday. We will meet Kole Monday sometime. That was a little disappointing to hear; we had so hoped it would be possible to spend the entire weekend with him.

So for the next few days we will just be here in Kyiv. More waiting... :)

Here At Last

We arrived yesterday around 1pm Kyiv time. Going through immigration and customs was simple and fast and the people here are so friendly. Our facilitator had arranged for a driver to pick us up at the airport; our driver's name was Nikolai. He spoke great English and he drove like a New Yorker. Nikolai drove us to our apartment; it looks a little shady on the outside, but after we climbed 3 flights of stairs and went into a small, unlit hallway we entered our apartment. It is actually quite nice and very clean. We were exhausted from not really being able to sleep on the plane so we slept well in the apartment.

This morning we got up and headed out to see the sights. The city is busy and there is so much to do. We walked to St. Michael's Monastery of the Golden Domes which was destroyed under Stalin and only recently rebuilt in 2001. Outside the monastary walls there is a stone and iron cross which stands as a monument to the victims of the Ukrainian famine of 1932-1933. Down the hill from St Michaels is St Sophia's Cathedral, Kiev's oldest standing church. The architecture and details on these buildings is ornate and beautful.

We spent some time in Independance Square where the "Orange Revolution" took place in 2004. Across the street is the monument of independance which was erected in 2001 in celebration of Ukraine's 10 yr anniversary of self-rule and freedom from the USSR. Near that monument is also a statue of founders of Kiev; 3 brothers and their sister. The sister, Lybid, supposedly chose the spot where Kiev was to be and named it after the oldest brother "Kyi." The younger brothers were Schek and Khoriv. And yes I am getting this from our guidebooks.

The history of this country is both sad and fascinating. We are loving our time here so far. Today we walked everywhere. Tomorrow morning at 11am (4am EST) we have our SDA apt. Pray that all goes well! Probably the next day we will take a train to Kole's region. We just can't wait to see him and hug him.

Going Soon!

We finally got our court date this week and bought our plane tickets. We go in July for our first of two trips and Kole comes home with us our second trip. It is so exciting to think that in just 3 weeks we will be with Kole. Pray that we would be a reflection of Christ's love to all we meet there and that we would have opportunities to build relationships with whoever comes across our path. Pray for Lane and Hudson as they will be staying with friends and relatives while we are gone. We have never left them for this long and it difficult for me to not worry about them.

Hopefully the next time this blog is updated it will be with pictures of Kole Isaiah Miles with his Mommy and Daddy.

Vote For Hudson!

Every week Parent Magazine selects at least 50 photos for their cover contest. A photo of Hudson was selected for this week. Vote for Hudson and if he is the number 1 photo this week he moves on to the semifinals. The winners get to be on the cover of Parent Magazine. I say it is about time they had a real cutie on the cover. I am not certain, but I do not think they have ever chosen a child with Down Syndrome for their cover before.

Click on this link and VOTE FOR HUDSON!

Correction: There are at least 4000 pictures and Hudson is #155 today (June 8).

Our Journey To Here.

Nearly every adoption grant that we have applied for has asked us to include a copy of our "adoption story" and how we came to have the desire to adopt. When we sat down to write out our story we saw more and more how God has woven together even the littlest details in our lives to bring us to this place where we are adopting a son who has Down Syndrome into our family. So here's our story, all of it; it's not short, so you may want to go grab a cup of coffee first.

Drew and I talked about adopting even before we were married, so we always knew that somewhere down the road, God would grow our family through adoption. We wanted a large family and I knew I was no Michelle Duggar, so adoption seemed like a logical choice. We see adoption as perhaps the best earthly picture of what our Heavenly Father has done for us in making us His sons and daughters.

It was February 14, 2008, Valentine's Day, and Drew and I were on our way to see a Fetal Medicinal Specialist because on the previous day my OB had seen something on our ultrasound that concerned her. We prayed during the car ride over, believing that God was in control. After more ultrasounds at the specialist's; the Dr. told us that he believed our son had Trisomi 18 or Trisomi 13. He said that we should expect to lose our son by 20 weeks. Well, we prayed for a miracle and God answered; at 20 weeks Hudson was still growing and healthy. When we learned around 28 weeks that Hudson had Down Syndrome; we were relieved and overjoyed that he was going to be OK! I know for many people hearing that they will have a child with special needs is earth-shattering. But, for us it was good news; Hudson was going to live, and we really never felt sad or disappointed that God chose to give us a son with Down Syndrome. Hudson has brought immense joy into our lives and we see in him a picture of grace, every time we look at his sweet face.

Rewind to March 2005. We were expecting our oldest son Lane and although he was a "surprise" we were thrilled! At my first ultrasound apt. my OB saw something that concerned her. It appeared that Lane had a fluid mass at the back of his neck. So she referred us to a Fetal Medicinal Specialist. This fluid mass is often present in children with Down Syndrome or some other chromosomal anomaly. At home, the night before we were going to see the specialist, I remember sobbing. I told Drew, "I just don't think I can handle being the mother to a child with special needs." When we went to the specialist, he did not see the fluid mass they had seen the previous day; Lane was fine. I am ashamed at the selfishness in my heart then and that my faith was so weak. What a difference 3 years made. I went from weeping over the thought of having a child with special needs to rejoicing over having a son with Down Syndrome. Praise God for changing my heart. We view all our boys as a treasure.

Since having Hudson we have seen what a privilege and blessing it is to parent a child with special needs. We knew shortly after he born that we wanted to open our home to orphans with special needs, particularly Down Syndrome. We just didn't quite now how God would work out His plan.

So, fast forward to February 17, 2010. I am sitting in the waiting room of Hudson's Pediatric Therapists' Office and another mom (Kristi Cox) and I start talking and she begins to tell me of Reece's Rainbow Down Syndrome Orphan Ministry. I knew immediately this was how God was going to once again bless and grow our family. That evening I started looking at the website. I contacted Andrea, the Director of Reece's Rainbow to get the initial paperwork. Drew and I were certain that we wanted to adopt through Reece's Rainbow.

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (Feb. 18-20)- We started looking through pictures on the website, praying, and talking about how this would work out. How would we ever decide on which child to adopt? But we were confident that God would direct. Saturday, Drew was away at seminary, while I was looking at more pictures and saw Nikolai (Kole). I was just immediately drawn to him, maybe because he looks so much like Lane and Hudson. After Drew got home and we talked some more, we emailed Andrea to find out what country Nikolai is in.

Sunday, February 21 - When Drew saw Nikolai's picture again, he too had an overwhelming sense that he was the one we needed to adopt. We found out that Nikolai is in Ukraine. Andrea sent us our commitment papers. We were so excited and continued to pray for God to providentially work everything out, just as he already had. We knew that God was telling us, "He's your son, you need to commit to adopt him now."

Monday, February 22 - We sent in our commitment papers for Nikolai! And we began working on the mounds of paperwork, getting our homestudy set up etc...

Tuesday, February 23 - We received an email from Andrea, the Director of Reece's Rainbow telling us the following

"just wanted to let you just saved Nikolai from the institution. They were DAYS from transferring him. Our facilitator called and they said they will hold him."

By institution, she means a mental institution, which is where most children over age 4, with Down Syndrome who live in Eastern Europe and Russia will spend their lives. I couldn't stop crying. Nikolai (Kole) was nearly 6 years old, but God had been keeping him at the orphanage for us!

So here we are, May 6, 2010. In one month or so we travel to Ukraine and shortly after, we bring Kole home! And God has provided over and over again for our adoption. When we committed to adopting Kole in February we hadn't even begun to save for adoption; we really thought that adoption was going to be much further down the road for us. Now God has provided over $16,000 of the $25,000 needed for Kole's adoption.

We can't praise and thank God enough for all he has done. And we are just so grateful for the many people who have given toward Kole's adoption. We hope that when we are in Ukraine we will be able to have opportunities to share how great and mighty our Creator is. He created these beautiful children with Down Syndrome; they are not mistakes to be locked away in mental institutions. These are precious lives, as are the lives of all children. We hope that Kole's adoption is only the beginning of our family's journey of caring for orphans.

Making Progress!

Well, I haven't written an update in a while because we have just been waiting, waiting to get some paperwork back so we could send our completed dossier to Ukraine. Last week we faxed a copy of our completed dossier to our facilitator in Ukraine, so she could proof read it, and so the translator could start translating.

We just got word today that we only to need to fix two documents and they are very small, easy fixes. So our dossier should be en route to Ukraine tomorrow! Then in a couple weeks we will have a definite travel date. Looks like Kole will be home in time to experience South Georgia during the hottest months of July and August :)

God has continued to provide and continued to bless this adoption through the generosity of others. To date we have saved/raised/been given/pulled together $16,000 toward our total cost of $25,000. About $3600 of that has been through donations. We now only have a $9,000 "deficit."

It has been exciting and encouraging to get letters and donations in the mail and to watch our donation fund through Reece's Rainbow grow each week. Lane and I have a good time doing our "donation dance" in celebration, and Hudson just laughs and claps when he sees us acting like the loonies we are.

Drew is finishing up this semester of seminary in a couple of weeks. I don't how he manages to work so much and study so hard and still be the awesome husband and father that he is. I know he will be glad to catch up on some sleep, at least for a couple of weeks between finishing seminary and traveling to Ukraine.

Hudson is having his adenoids removed and tubes put in his ears on May 12th; his surgery was postponed because he was sick with Bronchitis. Pray he stays well now so he can have his surgery and hopefully experience some relief!

Now that all the paperwork is done I feel a great sense of relief and it is a little easier to focus on the fun part of all this; getting Kole's bed ready, painting wooden letters so he can have his name over his bed like Lane and Hudson do, and putting together a photo album to take to Ukraine so we can show Kole pictures of his brothers, his house, his car, his relatives etc... We just can't wait til he is home!

Bring Kole Home!

We are selling orange rubber wrist bands debossed with the phrase "Bring Kole Home." They are only $6, which includes shipping in the U.S. and Canada. We will be taking orders via paypal through May 30th. Then please allow 2-3 weeks for production and delivery.

Be part of bringing Kole home. Click below.

2 Months Down 2 More Til We Go!

Drew and I have found ourselves joking and laughing a lot about how life has got to slow down at some point, right? As we started the new year we were looking forward to life seeming to have slowed down a bit. Ha! Well then February 17th came; that was the day we first heard of Reece's Rainbow through a friend while sitting in the waiting room of Hudson's (our youngest son) PT office.

Now just two months later we are waiting on only a few documents before we send our dossier to Ukraine; hopefully this will happen next week! We are also waiting to hear from several grants and a couple different interest free loan places. Pray for good news! We anticipate traveling in late May to mid June. Realistically we still have about a $14,500 deficit for all our adoption expenses. Raising $25,000 in four months is not so easy for us, but it seems like no big deal for God, so I keep reminding myself of that when I start to get worried.

I have never mentioned this before, but with any adoption there is always a possibility that when we get to Ukraine, Kole will no longer be available to adopt. A couple people have asked us what we would do if that happened, all I can say is that we just don't know. We both sensed very overwhelmingly that Kole was who God wanted us to adopt, so we are praying and trusting that he is being kept safely at the orphanage til we can bring him home.

In the midst of the paperwork and planning we have tried to keep our usual family routine. Lane is having a difficult time anticipating another big change for our family. He tells us often that he can't wait for Kole to get here, so he can teach him all about trains and jump on the trampoline with him. But, Lane does not like change, at all, so he seems anxious and insecure about what all this means for him. He is not happy that Drew and I will be gone for a couple weeks. So, we are really making an effort to keep his usual schedule and to spend lots of quality time with him one on one. Pray for his heart to be at peace and for him to adjust quickly and positively to having another new brother.

Hudson has had some minor health concerns over the past few weeks. Long story short he is having his adenoids out and tubes put in his ears. We are awaiting some results from his cardiologist so he can be cleared for another surgery. But he will probably have surgery within the next few weeks. Pray for us to not be anxious, pray that everything goes perfectly, and pray that the surgery brings about the results we are hoping for.

Though the past couple months have been stressful at times, God has taught us so much! It's been fun and exciting anticipating having another little guy running around the house. We learned to cut out some time and money wasters to make more time for simply spending time as a family. God is good and gracious!

If you feel lead to give toward Kole's adoption fund, you may do so as a tax deductible donation
through Reece's Rainbow by clicking HERE and following the instructions.
Be sure to designate your gift to the "Miles Family."

Adoption Benefit Concert

If you are in the Greenville, SC area come on out for a night of stellar music!

Adoption Update

Everything is going fairly smoothly and quickly with Nikolai's adoption. We completed our homestudy and were recommended for adopting Nikolai. We mailed what is called our "Child Specific Petition" to Ukraine requesting to visit and then adopt Nikolai. We are awaiting approval from USCIS (immigration) to give us an appointment in Atlanta so we can be fingerprinted and have background checks done on an international level.

Please pray that USCIS moves quickly and approves our application to adopt Nikolai. We have completed ALL other paperwork, so they are the one thing that could greatly delay this process. Once we receive our approval from them, we can submit the rest of our paperwork to Ukraine.

Please pray that Nikolai will be held at the orphanage and not transferred to a mental institute. The week we sent in our commitment to adopt him, he was scheduled to be transferred, but we were told that the Director of the orphanage agreed to keep him there. We are in communication with a facilitator in Ukraine and trying to ensure that he will indeed be kept at the orphanage for us.

God has continued to provide in many ways for us. Various friends and even some we don't know have given nearly $4000 toward Nikolai's adoption. Our home study agency is also a licensed international adoption agency and is acting as our adoption agency at NO CHARGE to us. This saves us thousands of dollars and also enables us to apply for several adoption grants which require that we adopt through an agency, not just a facilitator.

For those of you in the Greenville, SC area...our friends Jason and Joanna Bursch are giving a benefit concert for Nikolai's adoption. The concert is May 7, at 7:30pm at the North Hills Community Church - Community Cafe.

After much debating and discussion we have decided to name Nikolai "Kole". There is still much debating going on over a middle name :). Kole turns 6 this week on April 7. We wish so badly that we could be together for his birthday, and are looking forward to having a big party for him after he is home!

We covet your prayers and we are so thankful for the many emails and notes we have received encouraging us as we go through this process.

Grace and Peace,
Drew, Kam, Lane, Hudson and Kole Miles

Overwhelmed With Gratitude

We are blessed with wonderful, amazing friends and by other Christians all over the world. We are so thankful that so many of our friends are supporting us and encouraging us in adopting Nikolai.

On Sunday, some friends stopped by and handed us a check for $500 toward Nikolai's adoption. Then today I checked our sponsor link at Reece's Rainbow to see our account was at $1203. Some other friends had given $500. Some people we have never even met as well as many other friends have given, and we know they are making a sacrifice to do so. We are just blown away at the generosity we are experiencing. Nikolai has $3756 toward his adoption that did not come from us.

It's not just the monetary support that we are so grateful for. We have received so many emails and notes letting us know that we are being held up in prayer. It's so comforting to know that our family is being prayed for.

Our dear friends Jason and Joanna Bursch are giving a benefit concert May 7 at the NHCC Community Cafe in Taylors, SC, and are giving everything made toward Nikolai's adoption. And another friend is designing a poster and invitations for the concert.

Another friend gave us a stack of books to have, to sell on our Amazon account, and she is having a yard sale and giving us the proceeds from it.

Really! I think the list could go on and on. We just feel so overwhelmed with gratitude. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I can not express in words how much having the support and encouragement of friends means to our family.

Adopting the Hurt Child

I just started reading "Adopting the Hurt Child" by Keck and Kupecky, a few days ago. I've worked with children and teens in foster care and group homes before and I've seen and learned of how badly these kids are treated. In fact when I was 20 years old I had my first experience working with children in foster care, and it was that experience that God greatly used in my heart to give me the desire to one day foster and adopt.

The authors of this book state that in the U.S. alone, their are 510,000 children in foster care and 129,000 of them can be adopted (written in 2006). Most, if not all of these children have been hurt or abused, and it is often difficult for them to love and trust anyone. But there is hope, if a family will open up their homes and hearts to these children "it is never too late to hope."

It's convicting to think that we go to church every week and talk about God's love, we engage in debates over the downfall of our society, and we claim to be pro-life and fight for the rights of children. Yet, we have in America a great "problem;" these children, as the author points out, are "society's children." But, this problem is not without a simple solution. Do what Scripture tells us, as believers, to do. Care for the orphans. "Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress" James 1:27.

Not everyone is called to be a foster parent or to adopt, but as Christians we are all called to care for these children. We all have a role to play in these childrens' lives. What is your role?

Adoption Progress Update

I feel like we may be setting the record for fastest paperwork filler-outers :) We have the final meeting for our homestudy tomorrow evening. We have a great homestudy agency which is processing our homestudy very quickly and not charging us the usual extra fee to do so. The director of the homestudy/adoption agency has been so helpful and has made herself available to answer our questions and help us pro-bono. She has been so patient and kind and has been a tremendous help to us. Reece's Rainbow has a team of volunteers that have compiled our dossier for Ukraine and are guiding us step by step as we complete it. Because we are adopting "independently" we are saving thousands of dollars. We could not do this without the time and help from those volunteers at Reece's Rainbow and the director of our homestudy/adoption agency.

We have completed our I600A Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition. This document along with our completed homestudy goes to USCIS (formerly INS) and they set up a time for us to go to Atlanta to be fingerprinted. Then they approve or disapprove of us adopting Nikolai and bringing him back to the US (the simplified version). Well this process typically takes 90 days in Georgia and we don't have 90 days. We have contacted Georgia Senator Chambliss' office and they have been so helpful. They have already contacted USCIS on our behalf and are going to follow up on our application. We pray and hope that the added nudge from the Senator's office will speed up our application!

Until USCIS approves and processes our paperwork we can't submit all of the necessary documents for our dossier (which goes to Ukraine). Please pray that everything will go smoothly and quickly. We want so badly to bring Nikolai home soon! We pray that he is kept safe and well til we can see him.

I'm Not Really Sure What to Call This One

As children of God we are ADOPTED, we did nothing to earn the title "Child of God." We are His because He chose to make us His, even those of us that are the most difficult, unlovely, weird, whatever ... Yet Drew and I have received negative comments from "Christians" about the fact that we are adopting a child with Down Syndrome. They hurt and make me angry all at once. I wish I could make some people understand that we are not adopting because we naively think that our life will be a walk on the beach, or because we are ignorant of the fact that having children with special needs means things may be more difficult. I want to say to those people "We know what we are doing may appear crazy, we realize we are not rich, we know that at times we will grow weary, but where is your faith?" "There is so much more to life than being comfortable!"

We would rather never have nice cars, a big house, nice clothes etc... so that we are able to adopt children into our home, love them, make them our sons and daughters and provide for them. This is what God has called us do and we are so happy to do it. We would never have thought that we would be these people, but God knew all along that he was preparing us to be parents to children with special needs. I can't imagine doing anything else with my life and I don't want to.

Nikolai is our son, the same way Lane and Hudson are our sons. It just so happens that Nikolai has temporarily been in the custody of an orphanage in Ukraine. But, he has always been our son and God has always known that. Some just don't understand that. I don't fully understand myself, why we didn't find him sooner, how our hearts can love this little boy, who we have never even met, so very much. The only way I can explain anything is that it just has to be a God thing. And it kills us that on April 7, when Nikolai turns 6, he won't be with us to celebrate his birthday together. We think about him, worry about him and pray for him, just as much as we do Lane and Hudson. He is our son.

It just amazes that any one who claims to be a child of God would not fully understand and support another Christian's decision to adopt. Where would you be if God had not adopted you?

A Snapshot of Grace

The last couple of weeks have been so busy with paperwork and meetings that I feel like I haven't had a lot of time to really reflect on many of the things that God has been teaching me. I like writing them down so I can really think them through, go back and revisit them and maybe someone else will be encouraged too.

The fact that God has rescued me from a life of sin and grafted me into his family has gained new meaning to me over the last few weeks. On many occasion as I have been working on adoption paperwork, I have stopped to think about how truly amazing it is that we can be called sons and daughters of the King. Our adopting Nikolai is a picture of God's grace in that way, but it is really only a snapshot of grace. What God did for us, we could never do, and his love is perfect, unselfish, and immeasurable.

As I have thought and prayed over being a snapshot of grace to Nikolai, this thought entered my mind "how am I a snapshot of grace to Lane and Hudson?" Am I a parent like God is a parent to me? Do I teach them in a kind and gracious manner? Do I make sure they know that they are forgiven? Am I as patient with them as God is with me? What kind of picture of God and grace am I painting?

God is patient, kind, slow to anger, always there, gracious, generous, and forgiving. He delights in his children and his love is perfect. That is the kind of parent I want to be and need to be.

Adoption Homestudy Tonight

We have our adoption homestudy interview as a couple tonight at 7pm. Tomorrow evening we will have our home inspection as well as individual interviews. Next Thursday will be our last homestudy interview. Please pray that these go smoothly, and that the homestudy is processed quickly.

We have received a few emails from some of you regarding donating through Reece's Rainbow with concerns over whether or not your donation has been credited properly to Nikolai. If you do donate through Reece's Rainbow please go through this link After you enter your information you click on "send special instructions to the seller" and you can put in a note to designate the donation to the Miles family. You can also donate directly to us through our Paypal account.

We covet your prayers for us and for all three of our boys.

Grace and Peace,
Drew, Kamarie, Lane, Hudson and Nikolai Miles

If you want to be added to our email list you can email us at

Reality Check

It just hit me yesterday...we could be bringing Nikolai home in June! That is only three months away. Then a sort of panic ensued; it was brief as I stopped to pray. "God, you have made it clear that Nikolai is our son, you have worked out everything so far to this point. You will somehow give us $18,000 so we can bring him home."

We were told to expect our total costs to be about $25,000. Drew and I have about $5,000 and we are selling nearly all of our books, DVD's, CD's and more which will hopefully generate another $2000. I hadn't really thought about where the rest of the money would come from until yesterday. It seems like a huge amount to us but we know that God will make a way.

So we are calling all pray warriors to pray with us!

If you feel lead to donate to Nikolai's adoption, you can do so through our Paypal Account

All we need 450 people to give $40 each.

If you want to buy some of our stuff on Amazon click here.

A Real Hero

I have known Beth Milbourne since our sophomore year of college. We've been through a lot together over the past 11 years. I love that although our lives are very different and our dreams and aspirations are at times not at all the same, we both have a common goal...using our lives for whatever God would have for us, to his glory.

About a month ago, after the earthquake in Haiti, Beth felt called to go to Haiti and serve the people there. She had just finished her Bachelor's Degree in Nursing; she took and of course "aced" her boards, and a couple of weeks later she was on her way. God provided the money and the means for her to get there. Yesterday, she posted this update on facebook.

Today marks 2 weeks for me on the ground in Haiti. I have avoided sending a specific update because what I have seen and what is going on here is completely overwhelming when I stop long enough to think about it. Even now as I sit here with the purpose of sending an update, I am having a hard time knowing where to start or what to say...
I made a concerted effort to be without expectation coming here. But as we all know, that seems to be impossible. My first day in Haiti, I was definitely confronted with things I never expected. The organization I came down with (IBG Haiti) has rented a house just outside of Port au Prince for the entire year. Our first day here, we spent "setting up house" putting together 13 bunk beds, setting up a kitchen, etc. I really struggled with the thought that we were going to be sleeping in a house, on mattresses, while the people we were here to serve were sleeping in the streets or under sheets. One of my first steps of faith while here was to submit to the leadership of the pastors that God had put over me. The more I have learned about their plans for that house, the more I am thankful to have been a part of setting it up. The plan is for the long-term, using the house to help Haitian pastors with theological training as they work to rebuild their lives, their churches and their country.
Since then I have moved to a place called Quisqueya. It is a Christian school that since the earthquake has become a compound and deployment station for medical workers and some US Army. I am amazed at the heart of the leadership and staff here. They are true servants. (Please check out their website/blog If anyone is interested in coming to Haiti or supporting a specific ministry, I would recommend going through IBG or Quisqueya. God has definitely directed each of my steps and prepared the way before me. (Side note: Just as I typed that last sentence there was another aftershock, the ones that I have felt have only lasted a few seconds and have done little or no damage)
For the majority of the time that I have been here I have worked at one hospital, CDTI. Because of the amazing relationships God has given me, that has been a primary purpose for me while here, to build relationships with the people God has put right in front of me. By working at the same facility I have been able to build relationships with patients, their families, staff members, translators and other relief workers. I love coming through the gates and hearing patients calling out my name, happy to see me back. The hospital was a private, 18 bed facility prior to the earthquake. The man who started the hospital had the goal of raising the standard of health care in Haiti, so it was a top notch facility with CT, digital xray, mammography, fluoroscopy in OR, an ER... now we are down to mammography. There is one functioning CT machine in Haiti and it is on the Comfort ship that is parked in the port. CDTI is a primarily orthopedic hospital, so the lack of xray has been very difficult. There is a foundation working on getting us a working xray processor. We currently have 75 in-patients in 11 tents in the courtyard, and run an out-patient clinic that sees between 100-150 patients each day. Since I have committed to be here for a longer period of time I have been promoted rather quickly. This past weekend the American doctor that has been administrating at the hospital took a much needed R&R, leaving me in charge. It was (and still is) an intimidating thought. I am constantly having to remind myself of 2 Corinthians 5:5-7 “He who has prepared you for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight...”
One of the amazing things about being in Haiti right now, is that God has literally brought the world to Haiti. I have worked with people from all over the US, Mexico, Bangladesh, Canada, England, France, Germany, South Korea, Israel, just to name a few. I was hit with the thought that God could be bringing people here to Haiti to hear His Name and return to their country changed, proclaiming the Gospel of Christ. God's purpose for allowing such a catastrophe could be to start a worldwide revival. As I have ridden in the backs of every type of vehicle imaginable around Port au Prince, the song “God of this City” has been running through my head... “You're the God of this city, You're the King of these people, You're the Lord of this nation, You are. You're the Light in this darkness, You're the hope to the hopeless, You're the peace to the restless, You are. There is no one like our God... For greater things have yet to come and greater things are still to be done in this city...” God has a bigger plan for Haiti than we could ever imagine. He loves the people of Haiti more than we will ever understand. He died for the souls of Haiti. He has called us to be His hands and feet, what an amazing privilege!
I know that the prayers of many saints have sustained me over the last couple weeks. This has definitely been the hardest thing I have done in my life, but I know that God has called me to it and I know that He is, and will continue to be my strength.

Beth truly is a hero, she is giving of herself even when there is "nothing" to be gained in return. Please pray for her with me as she serves in Haiti.

The Treasure

When Drew and I first followed God's leading to commit to adopting Nikolai, we sort of laughed to each other knowing that we do not have $25,000 readily at hand to cover all the costs. But we knew that God would provide. We also know that part of God's provision is showing us what areas we needed to make sacrifices in or be more frugal in. Though it's not the perfect analogy, I suddenly felt like the man in Matthew 13. We too have found a treasure, our son Nikolai. We have found ourselves in a state of mind that we have never before been in. Willing to sell EVERYTHING we can possibly sell to bring Nikolai home. And it has brought an even greater joy to our family to see God working in our hearts this way.

On Friday, we set up a seller account on Amazon HELPOURADOPTIONFUNDBUYOURSTUFF to sell all our CD's and DVD's, many of our books and some household items. Over he weekend we have already sold nearly 40 items and earned nearly $500.

We also have been renting a storage unit to store some furniture and stuff we can't fit in our current home. We have begun the process of emptying it out and selling what we can. We just sold our futon!

It is only God that has made us realize that we really don't need so much of what we have. We have found a treasure, a great treasure, Nikolai, and we will do whatever it takes to bring him home. We say with such joyful hearts, "Thank you God for your leading and provision."