Our new Boy!!

Our new Boy!!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Our Meeting Day!!

Wow!!! What a day! First, I need to say that Niko and Yulia, our facilitators are awesome. I have heard people talk about why we pay so much money for these adoptions in the Ukraine and I can say with absolute certainty that I now understand. Without the group we work with led by Serge, and run by a very organized group of people, Debbie and I would still be looking at a picture on the internet thinking one day we will be able to adopt. Since we arrived in Kiev, we have been more than informed and I believe they go above and beyond to make sure that the only thing we need to worry about is going to see our child and bonding with him. I do not envy what they do every day, but I now certainly respect it.

Our day started at about 4:00 am this morning. We got up early, because we can’t sleep, but mostly because we wanted to skype with our son Carter, whom we left back in the States. At 6:30 Niko picked us up and after getting Yulia we were on our way to Priluky. Now normally this probably would have been an easy trip, but today was a nice Ukrainian Winter day. At least that is what we were told. To me it seemed like we drove through a blizzard to get here. The wind blew across the road and we could see about 10 feet in front of us. At times I thought we should slow down, but I was reminded that Ukrainians are used to this weather every time a car passed us like we standing still. We went through many little towns and people were out at bus stops waiting, walking, and riding bikes to get where they needed to go. All of this was a new experience for us, especially coming from the great state of Texas.

After a couple of hours we arrived in Priluky. Yulia told us we would go by the child services office and then we would go by the orphanage to see our new son. The drive up to the orphanage began one of the most emotional up and down days we have had in a long time. Before coming to Kiev we were not told a lot about Braeden, not about his real name, not about where he was, or about his health. Everything we knew was that God had called us here and that God will never give you more than you can handle. When we walked into the orphanage director’s office we were told that Breaden had just been put down for a nap and that he would not wake up until around 12:00. Normally this would not be a problem, except we had just driven two hours and Yulia told us visiting time was between 10:00 and 12:00, right smack dab into the middle of Braedens naptime. Immediately we felt a sudden shock of disappointment. All of the build-up, all the intense anticipation, just shot down in a matter of seconds because of a schedule. So we were thinking, “Now what? Well five minutes later we given the news that Braeden was not yet asleep and that they would dress him up and bring him to us…..emotional up and down number one!

Now all we had seen was a picture of Braeden so we were not sure how big he was or even when that picture was taken. When they brought him in to us we were surprised at how small he was and how different he looked than his picture. I know that some adoptive families have told us stories like this, but you never really get it until you live it. Now don’t get me wrong, he is a beautiful baby. Full of life and love for others, but we really started to ask one another, “What has happened to him since that picture was taken?” We immediately took him and held him and realized that the three layers of clothes hid much more about the weight he had lost. His eyes were kind of sunken back and had dark areas under them. He looked very sickly. Our concern definitely shifted to his health. After asking about any history we were told that we could speak to the doctor later. To this point we were told that no one was aware of any health issues. We felt good about that and thought that the orphanage was just underfeeding him. The orphanage seemed very nice to us, though. Everything we had heard about some of the regions really had us concerned until we were there. They had plenty of workers and they all seemed to care about the kids. It was not overpopulated and the director really seemed to have the kids’ interests at heart. She was a proponent of adoption, even if it was by international couples. She just wanted kids in good homes. We started thinking that food was not the problem after Braeden threw some of his up all over his new dad. We enjoyed our time with him for that next half hour, but we could never stop wondering, “is he ok?” We were told that we could come back again after his nap and it was when we returned that afternoon we received emotional up and down number two.

I am able to post this because of a concerted effort by Niko to go the extra mile. During our break we went and checked into the hotel. Unlike the U.S., not every hotel has wireless internet. In Priluky the system works very strangely. One company owns the modem that allows you to log in. The hotel cannot just give you a login I.D., you have to buy a prepaid card from a company and log in using it. After trying to purchase a card we were told that they were out of them until next Wednesday. Now normally this would not be a huge deal because I could use my cell phone. Well in Priluky, there is no cell service, at least not for me. There are some internet café’s, but do not really work with the hours I need to contact people back home. I felt alone on an island without a way to contact Carter, my friends, or loved ones for 5 days. This was unacceptable to me and I began to feel uneasy. Luckily, Niko went the extra mile and we were able to put a band-aid on it, albeit at an extra cost until next Wednesday. We also had to arrange for a taxi to come and get us every day to take us to the orphanage. The drivers do not speak English, but have to understand to pick us up, drop us off, and come back and get us. This is a huge concern when our only means of translation are leaving to go back to Kiev at sunset. Thank you Yulia for handling this so that we did not have to walk, as my grandfather would say, 30 minutes in the snow, barefoot, uphill both ways.

When we returned to the orphanage we got to sit down with the doctor and discuss Braeden’s health history. This doctor brings in a folder about an inch thick with sheets of information written in Ukrainian and hard to decipher in English. The expanse of medical terminology in Eastern Europe is limited and there is truly no English equivalent to explain it. So what sounds like no big deal to a Ukrainian doctor is much more serious in the states. Let me begin by saying that Braeden has spent almost the last year in hospital. What we heard next broke our hearts and made us realize that this kid needs us now more than ever. Much like our son, Carter, Braeden spent the first days of his life in a hospital being evaluated and tagged with many ail nesses associated with Downs Syndrome. Carter only spent 13 days in the hospital. Braeden spent 90 days and when he was released, his family immediately gave him up to the orphanage and never looked back. At 7 months of age he began to have a lot of reflux and could not keep food down. A doctor looked at him, but determined nothing was wrong. Up to this point, Braeden was on target for weight, but then began to lag behind and even lose weight. He began to lose strength and staff members kept an eye on him. In April of 2011 he went in to the hospital again to because it was determined he not only had a minimal open oval window in his heart, but that he had a double aorta and had to have surgery. I am not sure what the technical term is, but they went in a removed an extra dividing wall in his heart. During recovery, he still did not gain weight and continued to regurgitate his food. He was very sickly and as soon as he healed from the heart surgery they took him back to the hospital for a second opinion for why he could not keep food down. Now Braeden likes to eat. You cannot put food in his mouth fast enough. The problem was he could not keep it down. The second opinion, done on very antiquated equipment determined that he had lesions or adhesions inside the lining of his stomach and these were keeping food from getting through his stomach to his lower intestines and duodenum. Essentially, most of everything he had been eating never made its way to be digested and therefore never used by his body for energy or muscle growth. In October of 2011 he was admitted to the hospital again for a gastric surgery to fix the problem. He was set to be released in Early December 2011, but came down with Pneumonia. Luckily he was already in the hospital. So exactly three weeks before we stepped foot on the Ukrainian soil, he was being released from the hospital again. So you can imagine why when we looked at the clothes of this 18 month old baby we understood why he was in a 3 month old onesie and 6 month old clothes that fit over the top of that. We are saddened and it is very difficult to learn all of this information. It is a lot to take in in an hour and we are still trying to filter all of the information. What has he been through and what is in his future? Well his future will only get better and we are happy that we will be a part of that. Carter was very healthy and we thank God every day for that, but this kiddo needs a break and we are thankful that God placed us here to give that to him.

There are so many things going through our minds right now. We miss home, especially our son. We are in a place where we feel alone, and we have new information to decipher and muddle through. Please pray that God will continue to guide us. He has gotten us this far, but we will need a lot of strength and faith to continue moving forward. We are trying to keep the big picture in mind. We hope to give him a better life and we hope that Carter loves him like a brother should. So many things, but for now we will take it a day at a time.!!!


  1. So many emotions... I'm so thankful you've gotten to meet him and hold him. Praying that the Lord eases your minds.. that's alot of information to absorb at one time. This very precious little boy doesn't yet understand what a wonderful life he'll be living.
    Trust in the Lord.
    He is your strength.
    Praying for you all.

  2. Good to see that sweet boy in your arms!! You're so right - and it's something you don't read about often on blogs. But the photos we all fall in love with only represent a split second of our child's life. It's hard to realize that life has 'gone on' for them since the day the photo was taken. Glad you're there now - and he can grow and flourish from here on out!

    And isn't Niko fantastic?! We completely fell in love with him in our 30+ days there! We really do miss him!

    Praying for the rest of your time there....!

  3. What an incredible story. I can't imagine any better saviors for this little boy than you two. I know that y'alls passion and love will not only change the course of his life but also give a life back to him. I'm praying for his health as well as a safe return to his new home in the great state of Texas!


  4. Jared, I don't know that we ever really had a conversation when we were both working at Westlake, and especially after reading this blog, I'm sad that was the case. This writing is full of truth and detail and emotion. It's clear and vivid (oh god, English teacher). You've got a book here. But more importantly, you have new son. Congratulations.

  5. Congratulations on your new son! I was wondering if you think he may have celiac. I think that there is a higher then average rate in kiddos with Down syndrome. Easy fix with diet changes......just a thought.