# 36 : “I have called you by name, you are Mine”!

She sensed impending  danger and anxiously called loudly to her little ones. She didn’t want anything bad to happen to them. The world is an evil place and full of dangers. As to her babies, they were hers and so precious. They came running at the sound of her voice and gathered close to her, cuddling beside her till the danger is past…. “No one will harm you while I’m around” she vowed, “I won’t let them“. She takes such good care of them….even if NOT one of them is hers by birth……Nope!.. this wasn’t me or any other adoptive Mom, (although I’m sure we would all say the same thing), this was our Mother Hen a few weeks ago.

Mama and her babies

This was the beautiful picture of Adoption that I showed to our daughter Niamh (from our 1st Ukrainian adoption over five years ago now). Niamh loves the chickens and faithfully took care of them when we were gone to get her 8 siblings. She so wanted baby chicks this year. Her little brown hen had dutifully sat for 21 days on some eggs that failed to hatch and when we had some little orphan chicks from another hatch we gave them to her and she took them and cared for them like they were her own! She “Adopted” them! So beautiful!

Meara proudly showing off a picture she drew of her mom and dad and siblings just before we came back to Canada. I love that we all look very happy and have gigantic smiles!

SO much has happened to all of us since the start of 2020! and for us it’s been a long two years! We have been caught in the middle of a Global Pandemic, and travelled halfway around the world to bring our children home and SO much more. (Some of it not so welcome news, in fact QUITE the opposite). But through it all, we experienced one MIRACLE after another!

Before I say anything else, I want to say a huge “Thank you” to those of you who helped make our second adoption happen. (aka Steeves Adoption Volume 2). For you all we will be forever grateful. You are “Our Village” who will help us raise these precious children. And so begins the most difficult, and one of the most wonderful things Rob and I have ever done together.

Last picture in the village before heading to the airport in Kyiv

As mentioned our homecoming with the children was quite the miracle because of Covid and the restrictions, closure of airports, rationing of food etc. Our welcome home in the community was something else!

One Sunday shortly after we got home Trish called me and told me to be at the bottom of our lane in 5 minutes. “Bring Rob and the kids too” she said “some folk want to drive by and say hello!”. She made it sound like it would be no big deal and thinking it would only be a couple of people, I didn’t put in a lot of effort into getting ready and we headed down there after lunch.

First of 50 vehicles who came out to greet us and welcome us back to Canada
The line of cars continues

First to appear was her husband Mike, with all their kids in the back of their truck, shouting and waving, big smiles on their faces. Then another vehicle and another and so the line continued! Over 50 vehicles drove by to welcome us back to Canada that Sunday afternoon. The warmth of this made our hearts just swell with thanks! Some people threw out candies to the children. It had a real carnival atmosphere, a bit like the annual parade in Steinbach. Many had made banners with “Welcome Home Steeves” or “Welcome Home Family” in colored letters, some even with Russian lettering! The children felt so wanted, not only by us, but by their newly adopted community. It was beautiful. News of the parade of cars even made it onto Steinbach online as word reached them of this unorthodox “Welcome Home” in the middle of Covid restrictions.

Rear view of our welcome home convoy. Approximately 50 vehicles came out to welcome us home.

Just in case you are interested and still reading, it wasn’t all fairytales and roses in those first few weeks. We had many meltdowns and anger outbursts in those early days, but this wasn’t our first rodeo and we were WAY better prepared this time and felt we knew more of what to expect.

When one of our daughters told me haughtily one day she “didn’t get adopted to do dishes” and that she “shouldn’t have to do ANY chores”. I looked her right in the eye and smiled at her, gave her a quick hug and told her “We all have to do chores, even me!” “I am going to Auntie Trish’s for a coffee before I say something I regret”. Rob was home working in his office so I let him know I would be gone for a bit and when I came back, maybe 30 minutes later, she was waiting for me at the door with an apology and a hug. We nicknamed this beloved daughter “the grand duchess Anastasia” for a brief time and only in private to each other. She never knew about it and besides it wasn’t meant in malice. Somehow that tiny bit of private humour helped make it easier on those difficult days.

I chuckle as I remember our darling Niamh saying the very same thing three years earlier after I had cooked dinner and she was helping me wash up. “You only adopted us to do dishes “she said with a pout, not wanting to help. I laugh now writing this. At that time, I told her “If I had only wanted my dishes done I would have bought a dishwasher my darling, it would have been way cheaper than an adoption”.

Niamh in 2019

I think it is so sad the way these kids want a family but often they have NO idea how to be part of a family. The movies they watch have maids to do things and sad reality is that most rich people are not the ones adopting children, especially not older children and those from hard places with multiple traumas in their pasts. The ones we have chosen to love and who God has opened our hearts to.

Homework and English lessons–these days are difficult and exhausting at present.

We had to wait until our isolation was over before we could have medicals done on the children. We wanted to know if all we had been told about them was true.

First drives and family outings to explore Manitoba

According to the doctors in Ukraine, everyone was healthy except for Meara (6) who was supposed to have a ’heart murmur’. Nothing could have prepared us for the devastating news we got the day following blood work on the Wednesday May 13th 2020. We had only been home with the children since March 23 2020.

The news we got that day would change our lives forever and we couldn’t even begin to imagine just how much.

Meara aged 6

Fallon had just celebrated her 11th birthday that Sunday. It had been a beautiful day and we had enjoyed a barbeque outdoors. The sun had shone and the kids enjoyed playing in our yard.

Rob had taken Fallon in on the Wednesday following her birthday to see our family doctor as we both had noticed an unusual odor to her skin when we met her again that December of 2019. Her skin smelled like rotten fish and her appetite was really poor. Her attitude was still bubbly and she was very happy and affectionate and her smile just as big as ever. Thinking she maybe wasn’t washing herself properly I had helped her bathe a couple of times but nothing worked and the smell was still there.

Dr K called me the next day. “I have some bad news” he began “Fallon is in kidney failure”. “You need to take her to Children’s Hospital Emergency right away”. “Her creatinine is 1169!”. For those who don’t know, normal Creatinine is between 60-110 umol/L. Her’s was 10 times the upper limit of that!!!

DISCLAIMER: Some of the photos below may be distressing to some people. If you are a person that may upset by them, Perhaps an idea to look away now 🙂 but this is our reality so it’s is up to you .

In Children’s Emergency waiting to go to P.I.C.U.
Fallon on admission

Rob drove her in while I stayed behind to pack some things, sort out meals and get someone over to mind the kids until Rob came home later. I had planned to stay with Fallon in Health Science Center, Children’s Hospital for as long as needed. I needed to be prepared as it is 88 km away from our home and I couldn’t just run back home if I needed anything. My friend Carrie was happy to take me up to Children’s Hospital that afternoon. Fallon had just had an arterial line put in to give her medications to lower her BP and also to monitor it and a PICC line also as her blood pressure was dangerously high, 182/129, and the doctors were afraid of her having a stroke. Initially her BP would not respond to ANY medications even I.V. ones. She was in End Stage Renal Failure.

Fallon almost died but we are incredibly thankful for her life

She stayed in the P.IC.U. for almost 5 weeks before being sent to the ward for 2 days and then contracting Sepsis from an infection in the hemodialysis line in her neck and almost dying, being brought back to P.IC.U. in the middle of the night by one of the doctors pushing her bed! Later the staff told me they were not sure if she was even going to make it through that night. She was that ill!

We almost lost Fallon but God has her life in His hands and her story is not over yet!

Rob drove up almost every night to see her and me. That meant he had to leave the other 10 children at home and have someone come in to stay with them.

Fallon and Dad when she was starting to feel a little better

It was a very stressful time for all of us. Covid visiting rules meant only one parent at the bedside so I had to walk the streets until he was finished visiting with Fallon. There was nowhere to stay in the hospital as all the eateries were closed due to the Covid pandemic and nowhere to just sit. There was a bench outside and I often sat there and just enjoyed the few minutes of sun on my face.

That area of Winnipeg is probably not the safest to walk around and I did meet some ‘interesting‘ people, but I knew I was protected. I couldn’t help but be thankful! I marveled in the fact that God doesn’t make any mistakes. He already knew that Fallon was sick even when no one else did. He knew her kidneys hadn’t grown from when she was a baby and they were the size of grapes and badly scarred. He also was fully aware that we were going to come and I marveled at the total goodness of a Father who loves Fallon and us so much that it just blows me away! He also knew she would need two nurses for parents. How she survived until we came for her is a miracle but her story isn’t over yet.

Fallon endured the pain of surgery to put in a Hemodialysis line in her neck, surgery to put her Peritoneal Dialysis Catheter into her abdomen, a PICC line in her arm, an Arterial line in her wrist, constant Emesis and retching every single time with her daily Hemodialysis until the two weeks had passed to allow for healing before starting her Peritoneal Dialysis. Needing to be lifted out of bed to use the commode, getting washed up and so on helped to bond us together. I was her main caregiver for all those weeks and in that time, Fallon became totally fluent in English, so much so that when someone in the hospital tried to speak Russian to her she pretended she didn’t understand it even though she did.

Fallon is such a cheerful little girl. She endeared everyone to her.

When we eventually started the daily Peritoneal Dialysis, the drain pain was so bad that Fallon would cry and whimper throughout the night every time her cycle would drain. It was exhausting for both of us. For 10 hours overnight, every 45 minutes the cycle would drain and she would be crying with pain. Only warm blankets helped a little and sometimes I just lay on her bed beside her and hold her in my arms.

Getting some much needed rest. Cuddling with mom.
Cuddling her much loved bear.

It was very hard for me to be away from all the other children for so long and I was a little worried it would affect my bonding with them. When Fallon had somewhat stabilized after a few weeks into her hospitalization, Rob started to bring the children one at a time to see me when he would come to visit Fallon and while they were visiting the two of us would go for something to eat and talk about their day. We would sit on the bench and talk and cuddle. Conor fell asleep with his head on my lap the first evening he came. I guess he missed his mom.

Conor fell asleep on my lap that first evening he came to Winnipeg with his dad.

Saoirse still talks about the sushi we had and that is over 2 years ago! We made some memories on those days and even though it may not have been ones we had initially planned on having, they are still ones we cherish. Meara and Patrick would come together and we had fun bug hunting in the woodchips around the plants in the front of the hospital. Imagine if they had got a mommy that was grossed out by creepy crawlies! Unthinkable 😊

Bug hunting outside the Hospital

Finally, as the middle of June rolled around we got home! Our church friends had been fantastic. A Meal Train had been organized when I was gone and Rob had meals delivered daily so he could continue working from home. This continued even for a few weeks after I got home too to allow me time to care for Fallon and the others without the stress of meal preparation.

“Auntie” Alyson had bought her a blue T-shirt and had the word “Waymaker” printed on the front with a yellow sunflower and a huge banner with “Get Well Soon Fallon” and signed by friends and well-wishers with lots of messages of support and encouragement. Even Rob’s manager told him to stay home as off site was preferable in the middle of the Covid Pandemic. Someone was always dropping by with some goodies and offers of help. This is what the hands and feet of Jesus look like! Love in action!

And so, our life continues. Good days and then some not so good but now that we are two plus years in, I think we have more good ones. Just don’t ask me that question in the middle of a bad one or I may be tempted to give you a different answer 😦

It’s hard to learn to live with so many people with so many different personalities, strong wills, trauma issues and medical conditions and not be affected by life experiences. It’s also the time consuming and bone draining effort of pouring into lives, often to not get anything back for a long time, if ever. Those disappointments I am working on releasing to God as I cannot carry them on my shoulders. That is the only way I can continue to have freedom.

We need God more than ever in this journey.

For us, the cost of adoption was way more than just financial. Although this is a huge part of it, but it in many ways maybe not the most important part for us. God has blessed us, and continues to bless us more than we can ever ask or imagine. For me, it is also the almost certain knowledge that in doing this second adoption, I (Sharon) may never have the opportunity to see my mother again.

This journey is something that I went into with my eyes open, desiring to be obedient to God, and willingly but also something that, if I’m honest, I grieve from time to time. I am not complaining, it’s just fact. This is the reality of our lives. I am so incredibly thankful I was able to say ‘goodbye’ to my mother on a 3-day stopover in Ireland on our way to Ukraine to get children out of the orphanages after the required 30-day wait was over. We made some beautiful memories and those few hours I got to spend with her are something I will treasure for always. I think we both said ‘goodbye’ many times in those few hours! Her dependence on Jesus and her thankfulness in all situations leaves me with an incredible example to follow.

For now, leaving out the financial cost, how could I possibly go back home alone and leave Rob at home both to work and look after 11 children, do dialysis for 10 hours a night sometimes dealing with alarms, run a tube feed and make meals etc. Not to mention the emotional issues we deal with on a daily basis. Nor just now for sure. Fallon came home on 23 pills a day and an injection to make red blood cells once a week.

Meara at the Variety Heart Clinic in Winnipeg where she goes for tests to see when they will replace the Aortic Valve in her heart.

And just in case anyone thought I had too much time on my hands, Patrick spiked a fever and ended up being rushed into Emergency to have his appendix removed in July 2020. He ended up testing positive for Lyme at the same time. His diagnosis of ADHD, Microcephaly and Global Developmental Delay are a full time job, even though I also work outside the home as a Diabetes Educator 4 days a week, but I am eternally thankful for this adorable little boy and how he blesses our family. We just can’t turn our back on him for a second or he will be into something he is not meant to be 🙂

I call this photo “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”. Patrick ended up being rushed in to have his appendix out only to find out he had Lyme also and had to be treated for same.

# 35 : ‘Waymaker’

So much has happened since I last updated our blog so many months ago. Maybe some of you reading here are like ‘why would we even care about this now”? Many others, hearing of our story, have also asked me to post our past and current updates so here they are. I had great intentions of doing this sooner but bear with me for the next five minutes or so and then maybe you will understand why it’s taken this long…

So last time I left you we had just gotten the children out of all three orphanages and we were waiting on paperwork to get them back home to Canada.

One of the last pictures at the Orphanage

In an effort to keep away boredom, we spent our days walking all over the town of Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, trying to keep them amused, avoid the apartments getting trashed as they played with abandon as they hadn’t been together as siblings for a long time having been in 3 different orphanages.

Our first night as a family. Family devotions before bed.

Time spent together also helped us to get to know them better. For our excursions we would fill up a back pack with carrot slices, little meat/pastry pockets, cookies, water and juice and have a picnic somewhere along the way. The Black Sea coastline is amazing and more often than not we would either end up in a park or stop by the water’s edge.

By the shores of The Black Sea

We put on so many miles and despite being February and into March, the weather was so wonderful and the memories we made there are all the more beautiful considering what is happening right now in our beloved Ukraine.

We stopped here for treats as we walked.

We had many mouths to feed and now the guy we were renting the apartments of started charging us extra as the kids were leaving “finger marks” on the walls! He had already made us rent two apartments as we didn’t all fit in one. At least we were across the hall from each other.

Even though the orphanage workers had taken good care of our kids, I noticed that every time we came near to the road the orphanage was on, Patrick would tighten up his whole body and clench my fingers in his little ones and keep his head facing straight ahead. I really think he was afraid we were going to return him. I would reassure him with words that I hoped he understood “Neit desky dome Patrick, neit desky dome”. “Patrick is staying with mama and papa for always” and I would shake my head and smile to reassure him, squeezing his hand tightly in affection. He would just get the cutest little shy smile; his eyes would light up and he would duck his little head in a single nod. I was unable to see his face but I knew he was smiling. It made my heart just break as this little person just trusted me and his dad to take care of him. He really couldn’t speak any English yet but somehow, he knew he was safe and loved.

The Orphanage at Bilhorod Dnistrovskyi for small children

At the grocery store Rob had to stand in line on many days for up to 5 times at any one time to get enough food to feed all of us as rationing was starting to bite and things like bread and milk and vegetables were getting scarcer on the shelves. Thankfully until the last week, there was lots of toilet paper available. Those of you living in Canada will get the irony of this remark and the somewhat negative power of social media at this time.

Restaurants in town were now all closed and all the affordable snacks we would eat daily on our travels were now only a memory. Some people hearing us talk, started to give us looks that were bordering on suspicious and even mildly hostile. Patrick (5) got threatened in the park one day with being reported to the police for grabbing at the jacket of a 9-year-old girl on the climbing frame. I had to explain and apologize to the rude and irate mom that he had been in an orphanage all his life and we just got him a few days earlier. “He gets very overwhelmed” I said, not knowing how else to explain the behaviors we were noticing daily in our son, “He didn’t mean to grab at your daughter I’m sure”. (I really wanted to tell her that her daughter was almost twice his size and should have been able to push this tiny boy away but I refrained). I, in my most diplomatic but gently assertive way, asked her to please show some compassion to a little boy who was an orphan until very recently. (Those who know me will admire my patience and tact in this particular instance:) Nevertheless, we avoided taking the kids to this particular park for many days after this.

Patrick was very overwhelmed with being out and about those first few days.
At the park and having fun

We still didn’t have the required documents, passports and ID cards for Sinead and Roisin to get them home. “Here is what I need you to do”, Inna our facilitator told us. “You and Rob need to stay in Ukraine until you get the papers for the two oldest girls. ” What?? I said “No”, we can’t, like no, we need to get home!” “You said that could take up to 4 months or more, we can’t stay here that long” “We need to get back to our other children and our jobs.” “We have already been here for months!” “Could we go home with the small six”? I asked “We have their passports and we just need their Canadian visas and then we could come back for the older two”? I didn’t like the idea but it was an option. “Well”… Inna said, “you could do that… but it won’t be looked on favorably by the authorities” The tone of her voice said that it wasn’t looked upon favorably by her either.

Sinead (back) and Roisin (first from left)

We had a church friend in Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi who said they would be happy to board Roisin but we couldn’t find anyone to provide accommodation for Sinead and as her trade school was closing due to Covid, she would once again be on the street. Not a good option for a 15-year-old girl with nothing to do and no life skills to protect her. What if the potential 4 months ran on to a year or more and Covid wasn’t over by then? What would have happened to our daughters by that time? Those were questions we didn’t have the answers to.

People at home were praying. Our theme song “Waymaker” now became even more of a prayer for us as we walked. I’m sure people who passed us wondered who these lunatics were with all the kids walking the streets every day singing in English.

Finally, came the call we were hoping and praying for. We had one evening to pack up our stuff and get ready to leave Bilhorod. Our faithful driver Yura was going to come and pick up Rob and go to Staracazachi that afternoon to get Sinead and then would come back and take us all to Kyiv the following morning. We would have to stop in Odesa on the way for us to sign some papers. There was rumor of a plane being prepared to repatriate Canadians. If we missed this one they may not be another but we needed to be in Kyiv for now. There were no flights out of Odesa and Kyiv had also all but closed. It’s not like we could just cross over the border into Moldova or Poland. All countries were grounding planes due to the virus and stopping all cross-border travel. I began to see visions of myself as Maria in the Sound of Music, bravely tramping across the mountains in an effort to get to safety with all the kids in tow, Rob dressed in a well-fitting tweed suit just like Christopher Plummer and wearing a pair of knee length leather boots looking dashingly handsome as the male lead in my daydreams.

Last photo outside our apartments before leaving Bilhorod Dnistrovskyi (taken by Slavik our dear friend)

But back to reality. On our last morning even though we wanted to go home, we were a little sad to leave Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi. It had been our home on and off over the last 3 years and we had made so many friends here who we had grown to love. Slavik, one of our dear friends came to see us off that morning and as we hugged him good bye we couldn’t help but wonder when, and if, we would ever see him again.

The drive to Kyiv took almost 5 hours and we were tired and hungry, but mostly tired when we arrived. Inna had sorted an apartment for us on the 1st floor of a building and it was super. After eating some food, we had brought with us, we were ready to explore.

Enjoying the sausage rolls on the streets of Kyiv

Arriving in Kyiv, the streets were almost empty. The stores were closed. We found one hole in the wall restaurant selling yummy little hot dogs with cheese, fried in a dough pocket out of the window. Delicious!!

By “The Cat” in Kyiv on our excursions

We started walking again. It was nice to have the streets almost to ourselves but the limited places to go made it not really the fun it may have been otherwise. Parks and play structures were taped off and the kids not allowed to go on them. This was a bummer as they didn’t understand why they couldn’t.

Finally, after many walks to the Embassy and meetings with the consulate, Rob got a call from his contact there. A plane was leaving in 2 days time to Toronto to repatriate Canadians and pick up Ukrainians wanting to come home. We still didn’t have any documents for the two older girls. The Ambassador granted citizenship to Roisin and Sinead and gave them a paper with their names and a black and white photo on it. One sheet of paper! A4 size. We were told “We need you all on that plane”. “There may not be another”. So, we got to booking tickets. Canadian Tire Mastercard decided that now was a good time to block Robs card for ‘suspicious activity”. We had even told them where we would be! Like really?? The customer service number wouldn’t work from where we were but he got all of us booked on a different card. $17,000+ later and we were heading to the airport the next morning in 2 Ubers. The first one with me and several of the kids and our luggage arrived fine and we waited on Rob and Sinead as they had all our documents. And we waited… his driver had dropped them off at a closed terminal and driven off. Thankfully he was able to catch a bus and without much time to spare he arrived looking a little flustered but happy to be where he was supposed to be in the first place.

Entering the airport, a female Canadian soldier in uniform met us and greeted us with “I was just waiting on my family!” and a handshake. That felt so wonderful! Then the consulate and the Ambassador herself came to visit with us, telling us she was here to make sure we got on this plane. Larissa is such a lovely lady. We still didn’t have any passports, visas or official ID cards for Sinead (15) and Roisin (14) so for anyone who doesn’t believe in the God of miracles, please try taking two big girls through 3 international airports with no passports and just a single piece of paper and see how you get on?…. I’ll wait…

With the Canadian Consulate in Kyiv-they were amazing!
Myself and the Canadian Ambassador

Once we left the Canadian Consulate staff and headed upstairs to board, we discovered the Ukrainian authorities were not letting anyone go without just a wee bit of a fight so they took us to a line where we all stood with many others and waited and waited and waited… while they went over our court decree and documents with a fine-tooth comb and finally, after keeping the plane sitting on the runway for over 3 hours past the time we were meant to take off, we boarded.

God has a lovely way of showing up just when we need Him the most! The Canadian consulate officers were in the seats behind us heading home too and offered to help with the kids if we needed them to. It’s so nice to feel loved and protected. We were exhausted.

Fallon enjoying the flight

Next stop Paris and then onto Toronto.

Thank goodness we had the foresight to pack some a activity books!

Arriving in Canada I had an insane urge to kiss the ground, but again I resisted. I didn’t want my new kids to think their mom was a total nut job. They would have enough time to draw their own conclusions about that 🙂

The flight to Toronto was just in time! If we had arrived a few hours later we would have had to quarantine in Toronto for 14 days. We didn’t have the money for that. Our friends back home had even helped us financially this far by sending funds to help with the added time we had to spend in Ukraine. As it was we had arrived before midnight on the day the rules changed. We slept, or at least tried to sleep, on the floor of the airport. I didn’t care. It was cleaner than anything we had seen in the last several weeks. It felt so nice to be home.

Grabbing a much needed rest

Walking through security to get to our gate for Winnipeg I had a laugh. The security officers were talking among themselves. The kids all were in front of us chatting away to each other in Russian. One female officer said to the other “oh man that’s a lot of kids” Can’t be theirs, they look too old” I would almost have exploded in laughter if I hadn’t been so tired. I know I probably looked like I had aged a 100 years in the previous weeks. “Must be their grandkids” she continued “maybe coming back from vacation” I didn’t say anything until we had cleared security (just in case:) and then I went back with a smile on my face. “Just to let you know I could hear you talking” I began, “Actually they are our kids and we have even more at home”. “We just adopted them and yes, we are a little older but you might want to keep your voice down in the future as I heard every word you said” “Have a lovely day”! Her face was scarlet as she tried to deny but I smiled and walked away. Don’t assume just because you hear the kids that the parents don’t understand you.

We arrived back in Winnipeg and walking down those stairs we saw our other three children with our dear friends Mike and Trish. They had brought them along to meet us and we would be self isolating as a family in the next few weeks. How I had missed them! I didn’t realize until that moment just how much!

Our new children knew them from before as Mike and Trish had ended up at the same orphanage in Ukraine when they adopted their first 3 the previous year. They knew we had been hoping to adopt these children but couldn’t tell them when they were there in case it didn’t’ happen. We couldn’t hug due to Covid but walked out of the airport socially distancing (almost:) and picked up our bags to transfer to the van Mike had brought along that our church had blessed us with.

Then the drive home. It was super good to see Niamh, Conor and Declan again and hug them again. They seemed to have grown in the weeks apart. Niamh especially had matured and was no longer my little girl. Meara now filled that role.

The church ladies and others had been busy! Our dining room was lined with jugs of laundry soap, toilet paper and other non-perishable items. A new industrial size washer and dryer had been purchased and funded by a few people who had taken one look at my tiny one that had been in our old house when we bought it in 2009 and decided right away that it wouldn’t do at all to wash clothes for so many. A new little chest freezer was installed in the basement and filled with ground meat and farmer sausage that a co-worker had donated. We felt so welcomed home and so blessed!! Thank You Jesus!

The love gifts showered on us by friends

Supper that night was an experience to say the least! I made farmer sausages, potatoes and vegetables and gravy. Amidst the complaints from some, and compliments from others, I set up all the plates and dished the food. Rob asked me where his supper was? I actually have to say I was a little irritated as I looked over our countertop all covered in plates, reminiscent of a hotel kitchen before a big dinner is served. “it’s there” I snapped “I dished up 11 plates!” “There are 13 of us now Sharon” he said with a smile. Oh, that’s right, now I was laughing. I guess I lost the ability to count our kids in the last few weeks. I had gotten so used to cooking for the 8 children plus us 2 in Ukraine. He and I had a sandwich while the kids ate dinner. It was fine to be home.

First meal as a family of 13!

Thank You Jesus for being so faithful to us!

# 34 : Storm Chasers

Have you ever wondered what drives individuals to race around “Tornado Ally” attempting to capture that perfect photo or footage of nature’s raw power of destruction? Often times deliberately placing themselves fearlessly (or thoughtlessly) in path of that menacing force. I am sure there is a very real adrenaline rush, I almost feel a rush watching in comfort of my living room. Certainly, not something that I aspire to DO! Though the scenes they capture are amazing to watch! Some how this second adoption journey has almost made me feel like a storm chaser – like Sharon and I have been inviting fate! Have we (I) been guilty?

A few months ago I posted a blog about the speed bumps of life and reflected on how they can be, and I believe often are, God’s way of slowing us down to get our attention. The last few weeks I have come realize that was really an over simplification. Because life is not just peace and bumps. That is like saying life is like maple walnut ice cream! Meaning life is a blend of positive and not so positive experiences!

Let me explain. I really like maple ice cream but really do not enjoy walnuts! I can politely consume them under duress, but I find them so bitter and hard to swallow. Even the thought of them makes me cringe! And by the way Ukraine has probably the freshest and best I have ever tasted but I am sorry, I have to pass. You can always have my portion!

Where am I going with this? Well Jesus in John 16:25-33 speaks plainly with the disciples trying to reassure them of the Father’s love as He begins to prepare them for his crucifixion, resurrection and ascension. In fact He says “I am telling you this so that you might have PEACE IN ME”. But then He seems to undo everything with this statement, “In this world you will have tribulation. . .” What reassurance and peace comes with knowing that!

In the Greek word for tribulation, the sense is NOT WALNUTS OR UNPLEASANT TASTE – BUT TRIBULATION (thlipsin). Thlipsin refers to major life challenges, not just a superstore parking lot stop sign or speed bump seemingly arbitrarily placed to annoy me. In fact Jesus is referring to life events of significant severity and sacrifice that loss of life or other major calamity. Jesus is referring to the potential for major life crisis. He doesn’t want us to be alarmed or come undone if or when this happens. Because this is not the end . . . He says “take heart be encouraged because I have over come the world”. Jesus is in control : He is the Way Maker. And continues to make the way through what has been a very difficult and complicated process.

Upon our arrival to complete this our second adoption – Jesus’s second leading to Ukraine for Sharon and I – there have been a variety of surprises (to use the words of our adoption facilitators). The logistics of adopting 8 siblings has been a daunting task for them to whom we are very grateful for their expertise and tenacity and patience with us.

What was supposed to be a simple revision of birth certificates, application for passports and visas has been complicated by the revision of national ID cards for the two oldest prior passport application. COVID-19 quarantine locked us in Ukraine for what looked like the duration: It wasn’t. Read about another miracle in a future post! The support provided by the local baptist church was so appreciated. The enthusiastic backing of our church family and friends in Canada is nothing like I have ever witnessed let alone ever experienced before.

Spring is in the air – apple and cherry blossoms in the park in Bilhogorod-Dnistrovskyi.

# 33 : Reunited!

Finally, after 3 years and what has seemed like endless delays we have been reunited! Some of our faithful supporters have already been inquiring about photos, please bear with us, the photos of the kids will come! Our facilitators continue, to very efficiently complete virtual mountains of documents for a yet to be announced court hearing. The process continues to be in a very sensitive state.

Since the time that our referral was issued I have pondered how to best keep our readers updated! In the wee hours of this morning I awoke with a start, having the words “reunited” firmly planted in my mind! That is it! We have been reunited! I wanted to spring from my bed and start writing but given the nature of our accommodations (for which I am grateful) I had to slither out of the end of the bed stumbling over the edge of the area rug at its foot! So much for not awaking my sleeping beauty (Sharon)!

Reunions taking a variety of forms! These dear friends Ola and Victoria from our first trip to Ukraine in 2016

The Lord brings to mind a variety of reunions in scripture that all take a slightly different flavour. Isaac’s reunion with his family at Nahor in search of a bride in Genesis 24 is a heart warming narrative as Isaac wins the heart of Rebekah and the approval of her family. You can’t miss the EXCITEMENT!

Then there is the very suspenseful narrative of Jacob and Esau, couched in the background Jacob’s deception some 20 years earlier. You can’t help but feel the intense ANXIETY that overcomes the household of Jacob as he enters Esau’s realm. Jacob’s departure from his uncle Laban who certainly was every bit Jacob’s match at deception, coupled with his pending face off with his brother Esau whom Jacob and Rebekah had so craftily deceived in Genesis 32. Jacob ought to be terrified given what he had done. Revenge seemed justified! But time and God’s love have prevented the embittering of Esau’s heart yielding a loving reunion!

Then in Genesis 45 we read about the reunion of Joseph and his jealous brothers. I am sorry but I have often read this narrative with a lot sympathy for the brothers! Joseph’s approach in relating his dreams to his family has never demonstrated (in my mind) very much common sense! Add that to Jacob’s overt preference for Joseph and you certainly have a recipe for jealousy! We would see that ‘making differences’ is poor parenting and almost guaranteeing setting his son up for failure. But at the passing of Israel (formerly Jacob) Joseph reassures his brothers in Genesis 50:19-20 …”Don’t be AFRAID. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done the saving of lives!”

As we anticipated our reunion similar feelings encroached. There was excitement, anxiety and a certain amount of fear. Though we have been through this process all before there have been many changes locally and we are dealing with a different set of personalities! Oh dear Lord help my unbelief!

So Friday December 13th we would finally be reunited! After logging 7.5 km of walking in Kyiv the day before, to finalize the referral, followed by an overnight sleepless train ride to Odessa. Not to fault the train ride as I quite frankly find it a novelty. Then we were bouncing and weaving 100 km in a taxi to Bilhorod Dnistrovskyi to secure accommodations. Followed by another 40 kilometres of bouncing and weaving along to Starokozache to present one referral and initiate the adoption process there. Then bouncing and weaving 40 kilometres back to Bilhorod Dnistrovskyi to present the second referral and initiate the adoption process here!

So after being awake from 0600 December 12 until 1830 December 13 we were able to experience multiple hugs, kisses, “I love you mama, I love you papa” – all this on our very first visit. For over a year we have daily prayed for these children by name as if they were already ours! During these months we have been surrounded by individuals prayerfully and even financially supporting this process of providing a forever family for these children. They are unbelievably special!

Open market money changers! Same gentlemen who aided us 3 years ago!

I am reminded of events a year ago when we returned from our first appointment with our agency in Canada. We had asked them about possibilities and options with regards to a second adoption and that night around the table we shared this with the children! I will never forget the tender words of Conor at the end of our discussion through his tears, “Why did God chose us to be adopted first?” What a loving and compassionate heart. I know why God choose Niamh, Conor and Declan first – because they have a heart to share!

Even though our reunion has been very joyful, our 3 year absence has given rise to some protective barriers being developed around the heart of one in particular! This youngster who 3 years ago when sitting cuddled on Sharon’s lap, actually said “Can’t you take us with you?” All the while our children were running about virtually ignoring us. The 3 years of additional rejection and hurt have created a very hard shell. But we are confident with time and prayer and showers of love that a once very soft heart will again be soft and open. Thank You Jesus for your faithfulness!

# 32 : Free Fall!

Earlier this fall our daughter Tracey had suggested a family photo shoot when the fall colours were at their prime. Short notice made it difficult to get 100% attendance and the wet fall made rescheduling to accommodate a poor option. We did end up with 24 out of a possible 30 children (spouses included) and grandchildren present!

Our 3 youngest with 1/2 of our grandchildren!

As we were wrapping up the day some of wee ones climbed onto our back deck (which isn’t child proofed as yet as the railing isn’t on). I cringed suggesting to the dads that maybe the youngsters should come off! To my horror, instead it became; “jump, dad will catch you!” Each of the youngsters at first were somewhat reluctant! With some coaxing they either just walked straight off the edge or walked up to the edge of deck, and leaned forward dropping into their father’s strong arms. The smiles and giggles upon contact with their father’s hands was priceless to watch! But what was more intriguing was the mounting confidence they demonstrated with each jump even as dad stepped back and lowered his hands, making each fall longer. Those that had required coaxing no longer did, they were learning a whole new level of trust in a “Free Fall,” into Daddy’s arms!

Likewise as a skydiver standing at the open door of an airplane anticipating the ‘okay’ to thrust himself through the opening into open space. The skydiver is not demonstrating blind faith but rather a carefully calculated event. Though I have never attempted skydiving and frankly don’t ever plan to, I cannot help but imagine the experience! The deafening throb of the engine combined with the muffled sound of air rushing past ones face, threateningly ripping at skin and clothes, have a mesmerizing effect on one’s psyche.

Now is the time to step away from the door if you are having second thoughts or need to double check your gear. Because once you roll out that door, you cannot climb back into the plane, you are in short – COMMITTED! But not blindly! You trust the physics of a parachute properly folded that will respond to a pulled ripped cord and that in turn will allow the resistance of air tearing at the fabric to properly fill the parachute, so that you can effortlessly and safely descend back to earth. All this happening as you are falling at a speed of 200 km/hr in a stable “Free Fall.”

The view and perspective one gets from those altitudes! Huge obstacles below are dwarfed! For a very few seconds one can get a hint of how our Lord sees our world, our life. His perspective makes everything more manageable and purposeful and secure!

That is exactly what He has been teaching us! As I was having devotions this morning and reviewing the various notes of encouragement sent our way from those of you back home who are walking this journey with us, the common thread of “COMMIT and TRUST” is woven through the texts. The two pictures that came to mind were just as I have previously described; one of a fearless skydiver and the other of a trusting child both stepping into a “Free Fall of Faith.”

In Genesis 12-15 we see Abram embarking on a journey where Jehovah declares “I will . . . do not be afraid. . . I AM”! As we launched into this second adoption a year ago He has repeatedly reminded us of those very words. The fact that “He will” produces questions like, how? when? where? But he coaxes Abram and us with come “do not be afraid,” I will catch you because “I AM”! And He catches us because He is with us wherever we go! I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Each time that I face a new challenge am I approaching it with a growing confidence and dependence on Him, because He is proving himself to me over and over again? Just as each time as our grandchildren fell into their father’s arms, they became bolder in their faith!

In Psalm 36:5-6 the Psalmist presents how in inescapable our Heavenly Father’s; “love, faithfulness and righteousness are.” So no matter the situation we are in, He has us covered He’ll catch us with arms wide open. All we have to do is “Trust Him!”

As I read on in Psalm 37:3-4, I was challenged as the writer wants me to Depend (TRUST) on the Lord, Delight in the Lord, Devote (COMMIT) your way to the Lord. As we began this journey, we have had to depend on the Lord in ways that I never have before! I have typically been very guilty of being very self reliant but with each adoption I am learning (sometimes the hard way) how very God reliant I need to be! Because it is in this God reliance that we find provision and security! Oh Lord help us to depend on You to complete this adoption!

The Psalmist exhorts that we ‘Delight ourselves in the Lord’. That delight will grow out of our dependence or trust in Him! Just as when the children’s first “Free Fall” into dad’s arms was expressionless, subsequent jumps were filled with smiles and giggles. The provision and security accompanying dependence results in a relationship that is Delightful – you can’t get enough of His presence – it is hungering and thirsting after righteousness. I am smitten – I have fallen so far short of truly finding delight in His presence. Continually busy with projects that have frequently crowded time with Him out of my day or reducing it to a bare minimum. “But it is for the family or for the second adoption” – I could always find a legitimate or justifiable reason. Oh Lord forgive me! Is it this lack of balance that has led to our current unprecedented delays that we now face? Is this your way of getting my attention? The promise here is being granted the desire of our heart – which at this moment is an adoption referral!

Thirdly the Psalmist says Commit/Devote your way. You know with either the grandchildren jumping of the deck or the skydiver jumping out of the plane – once they either roll out of the cabin door of the airplane or step off the deck they are committed there is no turning back! Lord we have committed this adoption road to you, but if in anyway we have overlooked any aspect please clearly make it known. There has been no turning back! Recent events have left us shaken, pushing us into His word and onto our knees! The beautiful promise here is that as we trust Him, HE WILL DO IT!! Thank you Lord Jesus! YOU WILL DO IT!! You will catch us as we allow ourselves to drop into Your loving arms!!

# 31 : Speed Bumps

Have you ever been running behind, trying to wrap up the day’s errands and get home to unwind (or face another list of of solicited jobs) and every where you turn you’re applying the brakes for speed bumps? I hope I’m not the only one guilty of succumbing to the hustle and bustle of the proverbial rat race!

Seriously though I do hope every one reading this has NEVER found themselves cutting across the Superstore Parking Lot to avoid the speed bumps or annoying arbitrarily placed stop signs at the end of parking rows . . . where nobody drives anyway! I hope I am the last impatient soul on earth!

I had our itinerary in Ukraine well laid out. Fly out of Winnipeg November 23 2019, arrive in Kyiv November 24, get oriented in Kyiv November 25, (including a few walk a-bouts – even found the office where our appointment would be – not bad after 3 years). Well so I thought!

We timed our walk to ensure a timely arrival the following day. Oops this just supposed to be my itinerary – I’ll carry on.

November 26 2019. Our appointment at 10:00. November 27 pick up orphanage referral and take the overnight train to the orphanage. November 28 meet the children and spend the next 14 days getting acquainted with children. December 13 bring the closure of adoption documents to Kyiv and application for court hearing and fly home to await scheduling of our court date . . . . . . . and so on!

Commemoration of the Holodomor

Don’t step on the glass!

So tell me then, with such a well thought out plan, why am I, at 06:00 on November 30 writing this from our 7th floor apartment in Kyiv!

We haven’t got to the orphanage, we have not been able to get our referral – so we are still in Kyiv at the mercy of the system. Why Lord is this happening? It’s those annoying speed bumps of life! Let’s go back to the Superstore parking lot for a minute and think about their purpose. Brainstorm with me – humor me for a moment! Yes of course they make us SLOW UP! But why?

Can you imagine the chaos in parking lot if everyone was impatient like me and in a hurry to get to the next item on their list! Those speed bumps slow us up, make us aware of others, make us yield to others, make us think of others, keep us and others safe, because others have lists and needs also! Forgive me as I ramble – but we have come across another speed bump! We can choose to ignore it and have our necks compressed as our heads are thrust into the ceiling liner or we can apply the brake and yield to the bump and take in what lies around us and move on!

Yes we are desperately eager to get to the orphanage and meet the children and start building relationships – BUT THE LORD SAYS;

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭55:8-9‬ ‭NIV

Sharon and I are recognizing there is a bigger picture. The Lord is trying to teach us this over and over. I am typically not a slow learner at least so I thought!

To be honest when the office told us that they only do second appointments on Thursdays and only do 2 appointments a day and December 4 they will let us know if they can see us on December 5, and that it will most likely be December 12 or 19! WHAT IS THIS FOR REAL!! I almost lost it – no way am I applying the brakes for this speed bump, this is stupid – out of my way! It would not take more than 10 minutes to write the referral letter and we would be on our way! Ouch . . . feel the neck compression!

Then the Lord reminded me:

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

‭‭James‬ ‭1:2-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

All that we are experiencing during these days is for our development, our maturity that we would be complete lacking nothing! Obviously it is of no surprise I have room for a lot of growth! Especially when I look at the beginning of these verses. James the brother of our Lord does not use the old adage “Grin and bear it.” No “consider it PURE JOY.” That is not a smile over clenched teeth muttering “just wait when I get a chance I am going to . . . ” No, “Pure Joy,” which is not joy with a scowl, not a smile when others are watching. It is total complete joy at spiritual growth and development that is taking place. Utter delight that he is still working on me. Wow! I was brought to my knees, over breakfast I tearfully asked Sharon to forgive me and asked the Lord to fill me with His joy.

Moving forward will I always be able to apply the brakes as the speed bumps of life confront me, no I know I will fail! But I also know that as I look to the Lord He will enable me. Join with us as we pray for a December 5 appointment, and learn to face life’s speed bumps with joy!

# 30 : Deja vu

Three years less a week and we are back in Kyiv. Leaving Winnipeg’s James Richardson International Airport at 14:15 on November 23, 2019. We arrived in our apartment at 16:30 November 24, in Kyiv. Tired but safe! The apartment is cozy and centrally located just a couple blocks north of Independence Square.

Our hearts are full of anticipation as we await our Ministry appointment Tuesday at 10:00. Sharon and I both commented on how relaxed and at peace we are at the end of a very turbulent week. One that has been filled with what many would consider very unsettling news. Tonight we had to relive much of those feelings as we reviewed recent events bringing our facilitator up to date.

This peace we share can be nothing other than the Lord’s answer to the many prayers that have entered the throne room on our behalf. Friends and family have faithfully covered us with prayer and our loving Heavenly Father has responded. Pastor Dylan shared Joshua 1:9 with us – and we cling to it.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.””

‭‭Joshua‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The verse is by no means unfamiliar but such a timely reminder! But what the Lord has really impressed on my heart now, is the rhetorical question that He initiates with! Have I not commanded you? Twice before the Lord insights Joshua to be “Strong and Courageous.” Now here in verse 9 the Lord a third time intends a similar exhortation but begins by reminding Joshua “I have already said this .” The reader could assume from the previous renderings that the Lord is merely providing a good suggestion. But NO – He makes it very clear this is a command that has already been issued.

Strength and courage is the mark of faith or trust in the Lord – it is living proof of our trust that He is with us wherever we go! Our courage will fade as our faith fades. The Lord does not want us to shrink back or cower in the face of adversity or trial. But rather he expects that we will face it head on boldly. But not because we are adequate or competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves but our competence is in the Lord, 2 Corinthians 3:5. It is the Lord alone who makes the way, it is He who will do this “...for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.””

‭‭Joshua‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Thank you Jesus for making a way. Thank you Jesus for all who stand by our side in prayerful support!

# 29….”Death overcome by The Word”….

This week there has been much upheaval and unrest in Ukraine.  This is not good in any way! Thousands of Ukrainians gathered in Independence Square in Kyiv to protest on Sunday October 6th 2019.  I don’t pretend to understand the politics or everything that is happening over there between the Russia Federation and the Ukrainian forces but we are praying for wisdom for all involved and a real sense of peace for those affected by the turmoil.   (photo credits Fakty.ua & Ukrinform).  

As a child of “The Troubles” myself, I would hate to think of Ukraine going through again all that my home country of Ireland went though for many years.  Growing up in County Donegal in the Republic of Ireland, only 7 miles from the border with Northern Ireland, I saw and heard many things that a child should never have to see or think about. Nowadays of course that child would be rushed off to see a psychologist, diagnosed with a string of letters and given some pills, but back then we just realized it was a part of life we didn’t like, had no control over, and something that we would eventually get through. I feel it made us resiliant.

British soldiers and paramilitries with guns were as common to us as anything.  (My life was threated on more than one occasion by protestant paramilitaries in black balacalvas holding M16 machine guns pointing at my face). It was commonplace to hear of bombings and shootings and I couldn’t count the many times I rode with my dad past burning cars or stepped over spent bullet cases laying in the gutters of the streets of Derry, my mother’s native town. We could hear the bombs going off and the news each night was filled with the names of those whose lives had been taken by car bombs or had been shot that day in Northern Ireland. Peace was hard fought for and won at a great cost.  I wish people would seriously think before resorting to violence.IMG_1881

My mother prayed daily for all those involved and I learned the value of prayer from a young age by watching her, even thought I didn’t understand it all back then. I can still see her kneeling on the floor by her bed with her hands on her Bible, kissing it and crying out to Jesus. The Word was so important to her. She knew the Only One who could help.

We celebrate Thanksgiving in Canada this weekend. I am so thankful for where I live now.  There are things about Canada that are maybe not to everyone’s liking but we have so much to be thankful for here as a nation.

On any given day here are just a fraction of the things I am thankful to my Father for : I can go to sleep and awake again in my warm, comfortable bed after having had a restful sleep. I am thankful for good health and that I can stand and walk unaided to the bathroom.  I have clean water both to wash in and to drink. I have a choice of food to eat for breakfast. I can share the affection and laughter of spouse and family. I can pray over and wave our children off to school.  I can enjoy that second cup of coffee, meet for Bible study with friends, pray,  have the mental faculties to understand what I read, have a lunch to eat made from food that’s already in my fridge. I can get into my car, go to my place of employment and receive a good wage for my labour. I can travel in safety, knowing that in all likely-hood my car won’t be hijacked or burned. At work, I can have a break (on a good night) eat supper and have people I work with who are kind and whose company I can enjoy. Have a career that I love and have wanted for many years. Have the freedom to speak about Jesus (at least for now). Get a phone call from either my husband or adult children to say they love me. Have the freedom to attend church services where Jesus is the primary focus, SO, SO, much to be thankful for!!! (and I know I haven’t even covered even the half of it).IMG_1523

So as we gather with family, please remember the One from who we receive all good things and return Him thanks for the same.  And let us remember the poor and unfortunate in other countries also.  Please, help us get our children home! 

# 28…In appreciation of my Father’s love….

This week with Fall well and truly here and Winter fast approaching, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and just reflecting.  It’s a good exercise at times, a sort of “self check”.  We are still in the “waiting phase” for “Steeve’s Adoption Volume 2”.  Our documents are where they need to be and for now we wait and pray.  Please remember to continue to pray also.

I just love this picture! Don’t you?  Declan with niece Autumn, sharing a hot-dog.  Phoenix the cute dog looking on and hoping they drop some 🙂

In my ponderings this week I was thinking about how my children percieve me.  What do they see when they watch me go about my daily routine?  What am I modeling for them? Someone said recently.  “If we don’t show our kids how to follow Jesus someone else will show them how not to.”  If I’m not super excited and authentic about my relationship with Him then my children probably won’t be either.  It won’t take long.  The Israelites in the Old Testament had the same issues as us and we all know what happened to them. Wandering about, lost in the wilderness, giving their hearts and devotion away to any but the One true God and so on.  It wasn’t a super positive outcome for the old Israelites.  I don’t want that for us or for our children, any of them. This continues to be our goal. It’s a lifelong process.

Our family enjoying time together.  24 out of 30 were able to join us.  That was good for the 3 day notice.  I love our kids & grandkids!

This Monday past was National Adoption Day.  A day set aside once a year to honour adoptees and those who adopt them.  Actually, in all honesty every day in our lives is ‘adoption day.’  There is not a day goes by but I am so incredibly thankful for these beautiful people who God in His amazing love and mercy brought into our lives. I still can’t believe that they are mine! Ours!  I couldn’t imagine life without them, without any of our children for that matter, grown or otherwise. It it always easy? No! but it’s most definitely worth any struggle that might come with it.

But what does is mean to be adopted?  There are different kinds of adoption.  It’s not just two parents adopting a child or even children.  When someome asks Jesus to come into their lives as Saviour we become adopted into the family of God.  We belong. This first and formost is the most important adoption. Then there is family like ours. Our big, blended family. When I met Rob (almost 20 years ago now) I adopted his children into my heart and he did the same with mine.  When our adult children met and married their spouses, we adopted them too as part our family and they became our children also.  As with all big families we don’t always agree, sometimes we argue, sometimes we pull away for a while but through all this we still love each other, we have each others backs and we want the best for each other.  We want to build each other up and encourage each other.  Our words should be always filled with grace.  We should be quick to say “I’m sorry, please forgive me” when we are wrong.  Not easy but necessary. We need to love each other as Jesus loves us!  As I was writing this post I thought of it like this:  God’s native language and nature is “LOVE”.  So should ours be to everyone, not just to those in our families.

This week has been busy but fruitful. We started off last Sunday with church then had our family over to our place for a photo shoot and weiner roast.  Most were able to come but the short notice didn’t work for one of our sons and his wife and 2 kids.  Another son-in-law was sick so he stayed at home and a daughter was on vacation but we had a blast with the ones who were able to make it.  24 people out of 30 was really good for the 3 day notice. It was such a beautiful fall day, the weather was amazing and we were all able to be outdoors for the evening around the fire pit.  Such a blessing!  I love our kids!.

Our children with some of our grandchildren.

Then on my days off I got 3 duvet covers made so far for our new children and split and stacked some wood for the winter after this one. With Rob and Niamh’s amazing help, we canned jars and jars of homemade spaghetti & pizza sauce. We had quite the production line going:).  I’ve also caught up on a couple of episodes of a British crime drama that I’ve wanted to see for a while. Getting the canning done brings a real sense of accomplishment that I’m sure many here can identify with, especially with the cooler days coming faster than I would like them to.  Stubborn Irish woman that I am, (“ha ha!” says Rob- well he should know eh?) I refuse to give up wearing sandals or skirts most days until it’s way colder than this!

Myself & Rob in our yard.

“But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him, and His righteousness with their children’s children”.  Psalm 103 v 17 (NIV)


# 27….”You are with us in the waiting….”

Over that last few weeks a lot of people keep asking us where things are currently at with Steeves Adoption Volume 2. Sometimes it’s really difficult to know what to say. The “hurry up and wait” is in full swing!  We are working hard at home getting the finishing touches on the rooms and garden produce canned and frozen. Honey has been extracted too. 

Declan likes to help his dad with the bees.

We are both trying to spend as much time with our family also. We never want any of our children, grown up or otherwise, to feel they are being “replaced” or are not as special to us once we add to our family.  Crazy as that sounds it would be like telling someone that once they are pregnant again there is no way on earth that they can possibly love the children they already have, now that another child is on the way. That would be pretty silly: right?

Financially we still are about $9,000 off our fundraising goal for the first trip. The generous support of those who have a heart for orphans has raised almost $41,000. That is incredible and humbles us completely.  “Thank You Jesus for the faithful generousity of those around us.” “Our Tribe” as someone called it. I love that title! I love being part of the “Tribe” of God!

A few Saturdays ago 3 little girls, nieces of a good friend, baked cupcakes and sold lemonade on the street in Steinbach. These 3 who have the most compassionate hearts that I’ve seen in a while made a whopping $71.00 from their efforts for our adoption fund. Their auntie brought them over so they could meet us and give it to us themselves. Rob asked if he could show them the books we made for our children about the orphanage just so they could see for themselves the conditions some children live in and they sat mesmerized, close up beside him on the sofa so they all could see as he explained the pictures to them. “God I know that You have planted seeds of Your love in their hearts to help others.” “Can’t wait to see where this will go!” 

These 3 beautiful girls, Isla, Florence & Nora, baked and sold cupcakes & lemonade to raise $71 for our adoption fund. Way to go girls!

Also a couple of weeks ago we had a sleepover here with some of our grandchildren. Micah and Grace came on the Monday evening and Sophie joined us on the Tuesday morning. Our house was totally filled with laughter and squeals of joy as they played! It was so noisy and so lovely! Rob and I just smiled at each other as I made us coffee as we wouldn’t have heard the other speak above the racket. I had a couple of days off so we baked and played and danced and had fun.

The waiting is difficult. We had a set-back just over two weeks ago. Our documents were all submitted and then we were told that the stamps on the Canadian Notiary signatures were not quite the way Ukraine wanted them done. Our agency has been submitting them this way for 15 years with no issues and no notice prior from the Ukraine that they now want something different. In a week they had two sets of papers come back, ours was the second. It is frustrating! The children are in orphanages waiting and some official half the world away doesn’t like the way a document is stamped. Ah well! nothing we can do about that. We resubmitted and the wait begins all over again. Funny this time I am way more relaxed about it. I am very thankful for that. Maybe I was focusing too much on the future?

Our kiddos here went back to school two weeks ago too. Lots of excitement and nervousness for them about the first day. Some sadness for mom as I waved them off and then it’s back into routine before you know it. Volleyball, youth etc. The inclusion and acceptance of those from other places is so important.

Off to school for another year.

I have a few days off again. We had hoped that we would be in Ukraine but God has other plans. His timing is perfect. Two weeks ago someone asked about the delay and Rob explained what had happened with our papers. As Rob began to explain the situation to this prayerful supporter, words began coming that he had never before considered.  That these seeming roadblocks were not roadblocks at all but actually the Lord carefully laying out his plan for bringing our new children home.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  Isaiah 55:8-9

Rob said at that very moment he just felt Jesus put His arm around his shoulders and gently tell him “I got this, it is going to be okay.” Rob said it was so real and so comforting that he just started to cry and so did our prayerful supporter! If you know my husband he is not one prone to flights of fancy and this was very real.

God is doing amazing things in our community. Beyond our understanding. He for sure is teaching us to trust Him. Please continue to pray for the children who God will bring into our family that He will protect them in the interim period while we wait. Pray for our paperwork and most of all that His will be done in our lives. In our broken world maybe sometimes we find it difficult to really believe that we have a Maker, Redeemer & Saviour who loves us so totally.  He’s not at all interested in a fancy church building, in rules and regulations, in new flooring and carpets. He is however concerned with things like, am I submitting myself to Him, what have I done today to help the needy, how have I loved others today and am I following what He tells me to in His Word in my daily life by walking in obedience.  I can only answer for me.

Trish gave me this beautiful gift the other day. She had matching ones made for us. I love it!