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“Every year I live I am more convinced that the waste of life lies in the love we have not given, the powers we have not used, the selfish prudence that will risk nothing, and which shirking pain, misses happiness as well. No one ever yet was the poorer in the long run for having once in a lifetime ‘let out all the length of the reins.” – Mary Cholmondeley

Plane tickets are purchased… again.

And, on May 3rd, we are scheduled to leave for Ukraine which is still in the midst of… hmmm, let’s just say instability.  We are headed ultimately to an orphanage which is just north of Donetsk which, if you are watching the news, is the part of Ukraine that they keep shading in bright “danger-like” colors.  We are going to meet a little boy, Dima, who we only know through the words of our facilitator and some photographs.  And we are going to submit papers to bring him back to the U.S. and become his forever family.

So, I don’t know Mary Cholmondeley… but I’m feeling like we are pretty close to letting out “all the length of the reins” – or the length of my personal reins anyway.

Now… to catch you up.

When last I posted, we had gotten disappointing news about Max… but had not given up.  That following week, we had a conference call with our facilitator, Angelina, and our placement agency.  I had come up with every possible solution… but to no avail.  The answer was simply “no, we will not make him available for adoption” – with no reason, no recourse.  I learned the hard way that not every country is like the U.S. — you cannot fix every problem because they really don’t give you anything to fix.  They just say “NYET.”

And this was all kind of heartbreaking – no, not “kind of” – it was heartbreaking and it was another loss for each of us.

Then came a new boy.  Now it might sound strange to read this blog which seems to showcase a different boy with each post.  And I assure you, that it feels very weird… and somehow wrong.  It is almost as if we are talking about cars on a used car lot.  But it seems that this is the reality of international adoption.  In fact, our placement person, Karen, told me that her daughter was her 9th referral and each one seemed like a “sure thing.”   So, it is something that you have to learn to get over.  And, truthfully, there are a lot of kids out there hoping that people can “get over” our expectation of guaranteed results.

So… meet Dima


Dima is a couple of months younger than Max, turning 10 in September.  He is in an orphanage called Mykolaivka Internat and he’s got nobody.  Well, he’s got nobody yet.  In about 14 days he’s going to find out that he not only has somebody… he’s got 3 somebodies, a dog, 2 cats and a lizard… not to mention a whole lot of somebodies in the form of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends all around the world.  Imagine that day!

You know, sometimes, after a really good night’s sleep, when I wake up in the morning before the alarm and it’s still a little dark outside, I crack my eyes open… and while everything is coming into focus I wonder… could this all have been a really bad dream?  Maybe it is March 16th, 2009 and my 3 kids are about to get up.   But, then my room comes into focus and I see the things that indicate that time has indeed gone on and all that has happened, has indeed happened… some new article of clothing, something on the nightstand… and I breathe in this reality for yet another day.   And over these past months I have wondered if these boys that we have thought about and prayed about wake up sometimes thinking the same thing… only different.  Maybe Dima finds himself in the early morning wondering if when the haze clears, he will be in a room of his own, with his own toys, his own family and breakfast waiting.  And, while no one can come in and change our reality… we have this most amazing  opportunity to change his.  And maybe, this is as my friend Mary Cholmondeley mentions above…  “power we have not used” and “love we have not given.”

Now this all sounds so righteous and amazing… but I would be lying if I didn’t say that there are times when I wonder… “what the he*! are you thinking?” and “why complicate things?”  But then I try to remember back when this was such a strong calling and I wasn’t feeling tired from the process… and that wins out.

So, in closing, despite how obvious it might seem… you may be wondering (or perhaps not) why I chose the title that I did for this entry.  Well, it was not random and I think it is worth mentioning.  For those of you who come to this blog from the Caring Bridge pages… you might remember that on the first Sunday after New Year’s our minister passes a basket around our congregation and we are each invited to blindly select a paper star which has a word on it.  This is our word for the year.  Now, in years past, I would put my star somewhere in the house where it wouldn’t necessarily draw attention, but where I would regularly see it… tucked behind the corner of a picture frame on the wall, peeking out from a lamp base… that type of thing.  But, to confess, I lost my star this year and I couldn’t exactly remember what my word was… but I knew 2 things… 1) I hadn’t thrown it away and 2) it was a word that I couldn’t immediately figure out how I would be able to implement.  You know… like the word could have been something like “generosity” and that is an action word… perhaps not always easy to do… but easy to imagine doing.  This word was different.

And then, at the beginning of last week.  I was doing something in my room… perhaps getting an article of clothing out that I hadn’t worn for awhile… and out floated my star.  And… as I’m sure you have already guessed… I picked it up and the word was “risk.”

I’m not sure there’s much more to say… but a lot can happen in 10 days, so we’ll see where we are next Saturday.  Please do send good thoughts for calm skies and good flying… because you know, I’m not a big fan of flying.

And really really really finally… I would just like you each to stop for one minute and send a prayer to a mom, Terri Clapp, who is a Faith’s Lodge mom (which is self-explanatory) and who just lost her husband, Terry.  Sometimes it is just unfair how much heartache one person must take on and I pray that she can feel all of us trying to lift that weight off her heart.

more to come from Eastern Europe


14 responses »

  1. It will be worth the risk to change Dima’s life forever! And I hope that next year’s star is something like “fun”!!!

  2. Jodie Youngquist

    You and your family continue to inspire us. All of our most positive thoughts are coming your way!

  3. Summer Donaldson

    Really…how much can one family take? I pray this works out however it’s meant to…you guys deserve to be on the happy train headed for peaceful bliss. I love you all!

  4. Good thoughts, many prayers and (pray) a towel for the pool with the name Dima on it!

    Sent from my iPad


  5. You have so much to offer this little boy. How wonderful for him to be wanted by a family with so much love to offer. What a handsome child he is, too. We think of you so often. You deserve the best and are such an inspiration to us all. You continue to be in our prayers.

  6. There can never be too many prayers … lots coming your way, as well as to so many others. Terri’s on the list! Love and safe travels… your updates. They are full of inspiration! xoxo

  7. Kathleen Harmon

    Well all I can say is you are an amazing woman ….and that all you guys eserve is the best of everything!

  8. Leslie, we don’t know each other, but I have followed your story since the beginning through my friend, MaryAnn Dana. The quote at the top of your entry, Sam I Am, says, in part, “We take risks that are unimaginable in any other context.” It seems that risk was in the air even before you plucked that star out of the basket on the Sunday after New Year’s. I hope everything works out for you and your family and Dima. All children deserve to live in loving homes with people who care about them and can take good care of them. I hope Dima finds his way to your home as soon as possible so you can all start living the life you imagined when you decided to take a risk and open up your hearts and home to a child. Good luck – I will continue to follow your journey here!

    • You are right! I appreciate that you reminded me of that quote… I really like that piece of it. And, there are definitely a lot of people, very close to us that want this to be successful but are, at the same time, shaking their heads and thinking that this trip is an unimaginable risk. I suppose at times I am doing the very same thing. But… onward…

      It’s nice to “meet” you. I look forward to checking out your wordpress page. L

  9. Praying for Dima and your wonderful sweet family.


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