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December 13, 2001

Dear Family and Friends,
Thank you for joining us on our adoption journey!   I am starting this website for all of you to keep up with us on our Ukrainian adventure to find our daughter!!!
Our new daughter's name is Lauren (fits with Logan, Jordan, and Graceson), but we are waiting to meet her and see what her given name is before choosing a middle name.  So...wait and see!!!
Please keep us in your prayers!!!  I hope to post very soon our travel date!  We are hoping it will be January 12th, but let's see what God has in mind!
Stay tuned for updates!!!
Lydia & Jeff
Jordan, Jeff, Graceson, Logan, Lydia
and waiting for Lauren!
email me!
When Love Takes You In
(by Steven Curtis Chapman)

I know you've heard the stories
But they all sound too good to be true
You've heard about a place called home
But there doesn't seem to be one for you
So one more night you cry yourself to sleep
And drift off to a distant dream

Where love takes you in
And everything changes
A miracle starts with the beat of a heart
When love takes you home
And says you belong here
The lonliness ends and a new life begins
When love takes you in

And somewhere while you're sleeping
Someone else is dreaming too
Counting down the days until
They hold you close and say I love you

And like the rain that falls into the sea
In a moment what has been is lost
In what will be
When love takes you in
Everything changes
A miracle starts with the beat of a heart
And this love will never let you go

There is nothing that could ever cause
This love to lose its' hold
When love takes you in
Everything changes
A miracle starts with the beat of a heart
When love takes you home
And says you belong here

The lonliness ends and a new life begins
When love takes you in
It takes you in for good
When love takes you in
December 14, 2001

Got our visas sent off, should get them back late next week!!!  We got our invitations to go to Ukraine yesterday!!!  It is getting closer!  We should get an update on Monday, and we are praying for a travel date!!!!
Lydia and Jeff
December 15, 2001

Wow!!!  You guys have amazed us!  We are so touched at all the "well wishes"!  Our family and friends truly are a blessing in our life!  Some of you missed out on the beginning of our story, and if I can figure out how to do it - I am going to try to make a link to another page to tell how it all began!  The story was published in our neighborhood newsletter earlier this year.  So keep an eye out for some of the changes coming.  (In other words I have to find someone who knows what they are doing!!!)  I also want to post a family picture, in addition to the picture of Lauren when we find her!
Hopefully on Monday I will have an update from our agency, possibly a travel date????
I hope that all of you have a wonderful holiday season filled with many blessings,a renewed faith and a realization of how much we truly have to be thankful for. 
God bless,
Lydia (and Jeff) 
December 18, 2001

YIPEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!  IF you haven't guessed, we just got our approval and travel date!!!!!! 
We are leaving on January 7th to go and find our daughter!!!!!! Please keep us in your prayers, for safety on our trip, the safety, health and welfare of Logan, Jordan, and Graceson, our health,  and God's favor with all the officials and people involved with the adoption!!!!  Lastly, please pray that we will recognize Lauren when we see her, that we will know without a doubt that she is the child God has destined for our family!  I am so happy and anxious!  I know that this is going to be awesome!!!!  I can't wait to see what God has for us!!!!  Only 20 more days!!!!!!!
Lydia (and Jeff)
December 19, 2001

Well, things are getting much more hectic!!!  Thanks to a wonderful friend I now have added our picture!  Keep watching for more!
Lydia (and Jeff)
December 21, 2001

Not good news to report today.  I was just informed by our agency that we won't be leaving on January 7th.  Some kind of bureaucracy at the Adoption Center in Ukraine has put a kink in to the plans.  At this point they are still hopeful to get us out by January 14th, but aren't sure.  It seems that even though we are approved, that they have decided inUkraine that they need original authenticated medicals and police reports - even though they already have authenticated copies of them. (authentication is like a step above notarization)
Please keep us in your prayers, I am very disappointed that we are delayed.  I am trying to trust that it is God's timing and He is in control.  I just want so badly to find our daughter and get her home where she will be loved!  I appreciate your prayers, I am just trying to look at this as a little more time to get things taken care of.  I will post as soon as I have any more info.
God bless,
Lydia (and Jeff)
I know that there are many of you out there concerned for our safety, just know that our faith is in God for whatever circumstance we face, his word says:
"All things work together for the good of those called according to his purpose."  Romans 8:28

"Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."  Joshua 1:9

"The Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one." 2 Thess. 3:3
December 23, 2001

Dear family and friends - we are a little encouraged.  I emailed a guy yesterday that is a courier in Washington and there is a chance we can get our paperwork turned around and back to us by January 6th.  There was a family scheduled to leave today though that is ahead of us.  We had originally planned on travelling with friends who are also planning to adopt from Ukraine, so I asked my agency if they would consider sending us at the same time.  It is possible and would be a wonderful solution.  Not only were we delayed but all the families scheduled after us will also be delayed.  With scheduling both familes together there wouldn't be any problems for the families after us, so not only for us, but for all I am praying that this will work.  I know that God is faithful and he is in control.  Please keep us in your prayers - we are so close to being able to go and find her that my patience (what little I have:) is severely tested!  But the wonderful thing in all of this is that Jeff has been so supportive and is truly excited about going to find Lauren.  I know that this little girl is going to be so special!  I just can't wait to meet her! 
Stay tuned!!!!  I hope to have an answer by Wednesday if we will still be able to travel on the 7th.  Our travel agency is holding our tickets just in case!!!
My prayers are with all of you that you have a wonderful and blessed holiday!
Merry Christmas,
Lydia (and Jeff)
As The Voyage Begins
(written by the friend of a friend)

As the voyage begins I feel you drawing near.
Across countries you'll travel to release me from here. 

You'll arrive with excitement and compassion in your heart;  A decision you must make of with whom you will depart.

I won't have the words to tell you that I'm the chosen one.  Look to my eyes and see that I'm your's by order of the Son.

I know that along with you, new trials are on their way.  I'm anxious and willing to deal with new challenges each day.

For on the other side of those challenges lies a loving home;  A home which I'll  grow up in and be proud to call my own.

Come quickly and swiftly with little strife;
I'm eagerly waiting to become part of your life.
December 25, 2001

Dear family and friends,
MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!  This year is a time of mixed blessings for us.  We realize so clearly how very blessed we are this year, and with that realization comes the reality of how many are out there that aren't so fortunate.  We are so thankful for all the many blessings in our lives - our salvation, family, friends, health, our home, an abundance of food and material posessions. 
It was harder to find the joy this year knowing that there are children (Lauren) who are out there without food or shelter, much less a gift under the tree.  So, at our Christmas dinner this year we did things a little different, and started a new family tradition.  We sat an extra place setting, partly in honor of Lauren who couldn't be here with us this Christmas, but also to represent all of those who are out there in need of food and care.  A promise to ourselves that we would try to not forget this feeling, but we would as a family continue to do something about the situation.  What can we do to make a difference?  We aren't rich by worldly standards, but we can try harder to be better stewards of our money so that we can give more, we can make a more concentrated effort to pray for those less fortunate, and we can continue to be an example for our children so that the tradition of giving will continue.  Can helping one make a difference?  It can if you are that one who is helped.
Lauren has no idea how much of an impact she has already made in our lives, our way of thinking.  My prayer this holiday season is that this is only a beginning, that she will continue to impact lives - giving new insight and courage to many.  It kind of reminds me of that LeeAnn Womack song "Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance, and when you get the choice to sit it out or dance....I hope you dance."
I hope you all have a very blessed holiday season,
Lydia (and Jeff)
December 28, 2001

Hi everyone!  Still no news.  My agency has been unreachable and will be until Jan. 2nd.  It has made me nuts!  I am hoping that we will know on Jan. 2nd when we will get to leave, I am praying very hard that it will be the 9th or at least by the 12th.  This down time is hard!!!!  I have done a little more of my travel shopping and getting the suitcases ready, but until I hear from the agency - there isn't much more to report or do.  I will post again after I get news.
God bless,
Lydia (and Jeff)
December 29,2001

Well, I got a little good news today.  I heard from a courier that told me if he got our papers by Jan. 3rd, he thinks he can still get them back to us by the 7th!!!  So.........there is still a possibility!  I am just praying that our agency agrees.  If anyone reads this, please be praying that they will agree and that we will be in route to Ukraine on the 7th or 8th!!!!   I am so anxious to meet Lauren!  Also, please be praying for God's favor and our safety for the whole trip!  As well as for our kids who are staying here!  You might also want to pray for those who are caring for them!:)
I know that all things are possible with God!!!!!!!!!!!!  I know a year from now I will look back and the wait won't seem quite so bad.
Well.......until Wednesday!!!!
God bless,
Lydia (and Jeff - don't you like how I include him, even when he isn't the one writing?:)
December 31, 2001

Hi all!  We finally got some word about when we leave, sometime towards the end of next week!!!!!  That is the hard part because all of it depends on how fast the expedited papers can be done.  It will take 1-3 days at the State Dept. and then back to our agency in California to proof it.  Then they will next day it back to the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington DC and it will take 1-3 days then they will next day it to us and we are off!!!!!!!!!  I am so excited but feel on overload at the same time!!!  I have been gathering things for the last month or so for packing, so thank goodness I don't have that to deal with.  But I still feel there are so many things to do!!!!!!  Please pray for me that I will efficiently get things done and not run around like a chicken with my head cut off! 
We are so close now.  I feel so overwhelmed!!!  So many fears creeping up on me.  I can kind of compare it to how it felt when I was expecting the other kids and towards the end you start having bad dreams worrying about the health of the baby, the actual delivery process, etc.  No real foundation to the worries, just the feeling of no real control over the process - just having to completely turn over the control to God and trust He will take care of everything.  Isn't it funny how easy it is to trust God with the little things? 
The agency told us to be ready for one of the hardest experiences of our lives and also one of the most blessed.  I am excited to think of the people we will meet, and the experiences we will have.  I know it is going to be an amazing time.  There will be many difficulties we will face and aggravations, but I am hoping that with prayer God will make our path smooth.  We will appreciate any prayers and are praying for God's favor every step of the way.
I will post more as soon as I get an update from our agency - probably Thursday or Friday.  SO CLOSE......................
I pray that this new year will bring all of you many blessings,
Lydia (and Jeff)
January 2, 2002

Well, I talked with our agency today - there is still a chance (slim) that we may leave the 9th of Jan., but will most likely be on the 12th.  I will know on Monday!!!  Part of our paperwork was done quickly, now it goes to the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington.  Again this can take 1-3 days, plus a day for it to reach me.  So, probably leave a week from Saturday!
It has been really busy, trying to get all the last minute things done.  We got our Hepatitus shots today, ouch!
I will post more on Monday, probably evening.  I also want to take the opportunity to thank all of you who have so sweetly offered your support and your prayers.  That is more than some of my own family and friends!  It really means alot, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart!
God bless,
Lydia (and Jeff)
January 6, 2002

Did anyone notice the new link at the top????  If anyone who doesn't know our story is interested in how it all began, you can check out the "How it began.." link.  Thanks to my wonderful "web-master", Sam!!!  I hope maybe that in some way my story will encourage others to step out in faith in some way and trust God with a part of their lives.  This last year has been a rollercoaster, many ups and downs, highs and lows.  I have seen how God has worked in my life in so many ways, from the adoption in itself, the adoption ministry at my church, and the many people he has blessed me with the opportunity of getting to know or help in some small way.  It is like there is this beautiful tapestry that God is weaving, each person I meet, each experience  - is like a thread that by itself may be unremarkable, but woven in to this tapestry helps to create an incredible picture that is beyond my imagination.  I am amazed at when I look back to January of 2001.  God has accomplished so much "in" me and the people around me.  It is hard to believe that a year ago, this adoption was only a thought, a question posed to my heart .......... and now I am so close to meeting the little girl God put on my heart then.
I am anxious and scared, hoping my expectations aren't too high, worried that I will not be up to what God needs me to accomplish through this. I also feel that the time ahead will be a special time of blessing.  Not just for Lauren who will be given a new life (by the way, her name besides ending in "n" like the others, also means "Crowned with Victory".  I thought it suitable for her new life!) and hopefully the opportunity to become the person God purposed her to be.  But a blessing for us, teaching us to reach out beyond ourselves, not limiting ourselves to what we think WE can do - but what God can do through us.
Our lives will be impacted forever.  In fact, they already are.  My daughter Jordan (who has such a tender heart), was the first in my family to want to "open my heart to a little girl" (her words on my Valentines day card, Feb 2001), told me the other day that she wants to have three children.  I asked her why three, and she said that she would like to have two children and adopt another.  I was so touched that in her mind, it was the accepted way of building a family.  If it has such an impact this soon, can you imagine what can happen?  Only God knows the lives it will touch and how.  My prayer is that God will continue to use me, my family and especially Lauren to touch many hearts for all the waiting children in the world. 
Thank you all for joining us on our journey! 
Lydia (and Jeff)
January 8, 2002

WAIT, WAIT, AND WAIT Some more!!!!!!!!!!!  We will find out on Friday if we leave on Saturday the 12th or Sunday the 13th.  Our documents are at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, DC and the couriers were told best case scenario would be the papers would be done on Thursday, worst on Friday.  Then they will next day Federal Express them to us, so obviously if they get done on Friday, we won't get them until Saturday and it is cutting it too close.  This is the joy of international adoption.  But at least we aren't being told weeks, just  a day.   So......stay tuned!:)  I will post more on Friday after I hear from the agency!!!!
God bless,
Lydia (and Jeff)
January 11, 2002

Well, at last we know!!!!!!  We will leave on Sunday at 11:10am, so probably leave home around 8:30!  I have been really busy today, on the phone with travel plans, agency, friends, you name it and I talked to them!:)  I had the most touching conversation with a man about our hotel in Poland and Germany (Jeff has a layover there and will have to spend the night on the way back).  He shared that he was from Poland, had left during the German occupation to live in Ukraine as a child.  He grew up in Kiev.  His father was arrested by the Russians for political reasons, and ended up dying after a time in prison.  I shared that we were adopting a little girl from Ukraine, and he got real silent then said in a very thick accent "God bless you, God bless you for this.  Thank you so much for helping a child from my country.  God bless you."  Then his voice broke, we had a long silence before either of us could speak.  Isn't it amazing how God can connect me with a guy over the phone and touch me?  It to me just confirms that we are going where we are supposed to go.  I'm sure tomorrow will be even busier.  Last minute house cleaning and errands.  My mother and stepdad will be here tomorrow to take care of the kids and take us to the airport.  On Sunday they will leave taking Graceson with them and dropping the two older ones off with friends.  Please pray that God will be with them, helping them in EVERY way until we get home.  Especially Graceson, she is such a momma's girl, I am very concerned for her.  A friend pointed out that God love's her even more than I do, I just have to entrust her to him.  I love my children so much, that it is hard to believe anyone else (including God at times) could love them or take care of them like I do. 
We are so close now, the time has finally come to go and find the daughter God put on my heart a year ago.  I am so overcome with worries, but also so anxious to go and meet this little girl that grew in my heart.  It is so funny how you can be so both at the same time.  Just like when I had my three children, before labor I was so scared of the actual process.  Everything I wondered about them, I now wonder about her.  What will she look like,  what will her temperment be like, .........so many questions that will be answered soon. 
I am so nervous about the whole process in Ukraine........I'm sure we will be told NO GIRLS, just like all those before us have.  Or only very sick ones.  But we will persevere, and we will bring our daughter home.  I know she will be far greater than we can imagine her.  I am counting on that special overwhelming, "I know that I know that I know" that I have heard so many adoptive parents talk about.  I can't wait to share those moments with you.
We will need and will greatly appreciate any and all prayers.  We know that all things are possible with God, and the prayers of the righteous avail much.  We are praying for God to open the doors and prepare the way, for his favor in every aspect.  May he protect us, make our path straight and give us the strength and courage to face what lies ahead.
God bless and keep you all,
Lydia (and Jeff)
January 13, 2002

Well, the day has finally arrived!  We are hours away from getting on the airplane!  There has been so much going on that so far I haven't had time to stew about the actual plane ride!  I DO NOT LIKE TO FLY!!!!  But like getting my three other precious children, I see the plane ride a necessary evil (like labor) to finding our daughter.  I will do what it takes, like it or not, and will persevere!  Our agency director when preparing us the other night told me polite persistence is what it will take.
I know that the next few weeks will be filled with excitement, anxiety, homesickness, worry, tears, and blessings.  I am so looking forward to finding Lauren, but at the same time, my heart aches for leaving the other kids.  I think of Graceson especially, she is so young and to her the time will seem endless, please keep her in your prayers that God will soothe her heart.
Prayer and faith will be the key to this entire journey.  We will be counting on your prayers to pull us through some very tough circumstances.  Because of the kids, I am praying that our journey will be swift.  Several of my friends have made it there and back in 16-17 days.  I am praying the same or less.  I pray that we find Lauren at the first orphanage, not only because of the time factor but for my heart.  I know that "selecting" a child will be one of the hardest things we will ever do, but I am also praying that we will know without a doubt who our child is.  No second thoughts, just sheer joy of finding her. 
Well, it is very early, I am tired and have a million things to do before we leave.  I'm not sure this is making sense.  So...........next time I write I will be in Ukraine!  Please keep praying and know that you will play a big part in our journey to find our daughter.
God bless and keep you all (especially my precious children),
Lydia (and Jeff)
January 15, 2002

Hello to everyone from Ukraine!!!!!!!!!

We arrived safely, after a very long and exhausting trip.  WOW!!!  Not one I would want to take often.  I met two really nice ladies on the airplanes, it really helped take my mind off of the flying (which I do not like to do).  But let me tell you now, I would take flying over riding here in Ukraine.  What an adventure.  They have their own set of rules here.  Driving on sidewalks, cutting people off, and tailgating as close as possible is allowed!!!!!!

We found out today that we are officially approved since they have the new paperwork.  We will go to the AC (adoption center) tomorrow at 9:00am.  Our agency has one other family that are here with us and will go at the same time.  I am very nervous, please keep us in your prayers.

I found out from my friend who is from Florida and here adopting independently, that they are turned  away two Cathy Harris families that were not officially approved yesterday.  I am so thankful that we have our approval!!!!  For any of those of you going independent make sure you have approval!!!!!

That is really all I have today.  We have pretty much stayed in our apartment, our staff here have been very busy.  One family is finishing up tomorrow and will be heading home, and again they have another family here.  So, needless to say their time is pretty tight.  We should also find out tomorrow what region we are going to.

WE NEED YOUR PRAYERS!!!!  And also keep our children in your prayers as well.  I miss them so much already!!!!!!!!!!!!!  (Hugs and kisses to them if they are reading!!!!!!!!!!!!!)  We will be able to post a picture of our new daughter when we find her, our staff person (Art from here on out) knows all the technical stuff and promised a picture and possibly a video of her on here!!!!!!  I can't believe we are finally here, and it is so close now.

God bless you all and stay tuned!
Lydia (and Jeff)
January 16, 2002

Well, we finally made it to the infamous AC!!!!!!!!!  I was so very nervous, my stomache was in knots and my mouth was dry.  Just as we got there we were informed that we didn' actually have an appointment, and that we might have to come back on Thursday.  After several tense moments, we did get in to see Mrs. Kunko.  She was very nice to us, she even sqeezed my hand as if to let me know things were okay!!!!  Unfortuantely the doctor we needed to see wasn't there and we have to go back on Thursday at 9:00am.  But we were told that there were children for us to look at!!!!!!!!!!!  I am so glad I wasn't told NO LITTLE GIRLS!!!  I think it does make a big difference in being approved verses not being.  Again, she treated us very nicely.  But I am glad that part is over.  The Ukrainian way of doing things is very confusing and very slow.  I had thought and hoped we would be in a region by now.  But at least I was told the little girls we would have shown to us were relatively healthy.  Art asked if we were interested in twins or siblings.  Twins would have been so neat, but I know it was more than we could handle.
We got to meet the other couple that came from Germany.  They are very nice.  It was great having someone to actually converse with!  Art's father chauffered us around today.  We got to do a little shopping but were told to wait to the weekend and their would be more of a selection and better prices.  We saw an incredible church, it was amazing.  There are some incredible statues and buildings here.  Much colder today as we had a lot of walking to do.  The other couple The Hale's went with us, we ate at McDonalds!!!!  It was only $4 for Jeff and I both to eat!  He had a BigMac meal and I had a double burger meal. 
It really is hard not knowing much of the language!  I would very strongly recommend that anyone coming in the future to learn the cyrillic alphabet.  I had thought we would have much more time being chaperoned but have been pretty much on our own.  If Jeff leaves to go home after court and I have to stay longer I am pretty sure I will have one of the staff move in also.
We still haven't adjusted to sleep, I was wide awake at midnight last night.  Finally at 5:00am I did dose off and really had a hard time getting up at 6:30 which is what time we had the alarm set.  We had gone to bed at 8:30 because we were so tired, but tonight I think we will try to stay up a little later so maybe we can sleep through the night!  Television here is a hoot!!!!  Old American TV shows, badly dubbed in Russian.  We saw the Six Million Dollar Man with the Bionic Woman.  The only channels in English is BBC and CNN, which most all they talk about is the situation in Afghanistan.
Well, Tomorrow we see the doctor and look at the available files on the children.  Then we will head directly to the region.  I am asking for all your prayers for us on Thursday (before you got to bed on Wednesday).  I am praying very hard for a relatively quick and adoption friendly region.  But more than anything that we only have to go to one region!!!!!  I am anxious for Jeff to get back to the kids. 
I don't know if I will be able to post tomorrow or not.  I will try.  I am so excited that we are so very close to finding our Lauren!!!
God bless you all and thank you for the prayers!!!  Love, hugs and kisses to my kids!!!!!!!!!
Lydia (and Jeff)

PS.  You can email me on the link where it says email me.  If you sign the guestbook it is very limited on the length of message!  I would love to hear from you!!!  Believe it or not we are trying to kill time until we head out!!!!  The link will take you to ukrainianmomma@yahoo.com .
January 17, 2002

Well, we made it through our second visit to the AC.  We are leaving in just a little bit to go to the region of Cherkassy, only about a 3 hour drive from here.  The only thing we know about the little girl we are seeing is that she was born in 2000 and that the doctor said she was a good child to see.  Please keep us in your prayers, I am praying so hard that this is Lauren. 
Things are so different here.  People do not hardly look at you and smile.  I don't think the doctor really looked at us much, never smiled at us.  Made me very nervous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  
From what I hear Cherkassy is a small region and will be pretty primitive.  No Pizza Huts!!!!!!!  Probably no internet cafes.  It will probably be Sunday before we will be able to post again.
Hopefully we are on our way to see our daughter!!!!!
God bless you all!!!!!!  Hugs to Logan, Jordan and Graceson - I miss you so very much!!!!
Lydia (and Jeff)
January 18, 2002

Well, we made it back quicker than expected.  We did not find Lauren in Cherkassy.  We did see a little girl who was 18 months old.  She was very sweet and very delayed.  She wasn't sitting alone, crawling, much more like a 6 month old to us.  We both felt a real peace that she wasn't the one.  The doctor said she would have a good future, meaning that with some work she would really catch up.  But for some reason we just didn't feel the connection, and since it was mutual we are trusting that she was not our daughter.  I thought I would be brokenhearted (or feel really cold hearted) but I know that because she is young (way younger than we expected) and that the doctor says she has a good future, she will find a family soon - her family.  I will keep her in my prayers, that God will direct the right parents for her, to her soon.  We will go back to the AC on Monday.  Everything here is hurry up and wait!!!!!!!!!  And as many of you may know, that is driving me crazy!!!!!!!!  Most people here only work 1/2 days on Fridays, so we couldn' go back to the AC until then.  I am praying that for time reasons that the next region will be the one - we may get to experience the train after all!!!!!!!!  But we did decide that we were not going to focus on the time, and make a wrong decision based on our schedule.  
That is much harder to live than to say.  I miss the kids so much I can't stand it.  I am dying to talk to them.  We have had  much more down time than I thought we would have.  It is 3:45 in the afternoon here, almost dark and much colder today.  We have no real plans other than trying to find something to eat.  We had a really funny experience last night.  A friend of mine who is here in Ukraine and just found her daughter told me about this wonderful salad - that I HAD to try it "?livae", she didn' know what all was in it, but she thought it was great .  We were at a small restaurant in the region last night and I saw it on the menu.  They did have a menu in English.  It consisted on many chopped up vegetables and.........cow tongue!!!!!!  I informed her today and had a laugh over it, she did NOT know it was tongue!!!!!
We will probably go to Souvenier Hill tomorrow and try to find some gifts.  Things are somewhat more expensive here than we thought.  Most of the vendors speak some English and are TYPICAL sales people."We have good deal for only you", "This is best price"......you have probably heard them all. 
I can't even begin to describe the driving here.  There are no lanes, it can be 4 lanes one minute and 5 the next.  Faster is better and the closer you can get to another car and cut him off the better.  Our driver is very nice, but must be kin to Mario Andretti!  We are in a small Czech car called a SKODA, with surprisingly enough leg room for Jeff (okay, not real comfortable!).  Anyway, he likes to drive so fast it is shaking!  I prayed all the way to Cherkassy last night, I am almost hoping our next region will be by train!  I would much rather fly (did I mention how much I hate to fly!).
I have decided this whole process isn't for everybody.  It takes tremendous faith, and much patience.  It can be very scary at times, but I know it will all be worth it.  The way they do things here is so very different than in America.  So very corrupt, the buildings here look almost in ruins from the outside.  When we were at the AC on Thursday, the doctor had to call the operator to make a long distance call because the government had not paid the phonebill!!!!  Guess who owns the phone company?  So strange!  Another thing that is strange is that people here dress so stylishly!  Why is that strange?  Because they make so little money!  Art (our staff here) told us that women will save all year to buy a very expensive coat or shoes.  Even though they may only make $50 a month, they will save and buy a $800 coat!  Everyone here wears fur coats!!!!  And hats!  Jeff has decided he has to have one of the Russian style fur hats!  And square toed shoes they wear here. 
I enjoyed reading all the messages, I don't have time to answer all of them but I do love to read them!  I am expecting to find some from Logan and Jordan (hint, hint).  It is just so touching how much support you have shown us.  I know I must look like an idiot sitting here in the internet cafe crying as I read them!  Please keep writing and read the posts for info!!!  We will probably post here over the weekend, but not sure about Monday (again, it is hurry up and wait!).  If it goes like it did the other day, we will look through books in the morning (actually we never saw a book then, and knew nothing about the little girl until we got there), and then we have to wait for papers when we have decided on a region.  That takes several hours so we may have time to post where we are going.  Possibly Donetsk region, which is like a 15 hour train ride over night!  I'm sure I will feel fresh after that!!!!  But I am pretty sure they have an internet cafe there we can get to!  I am really praying that we find Lauren soon, I want to get home to the children as soon as possible!  Please keep us in your prayers, we want the little girl who is right for our family and that we are the family for her.  Plus we are praying that both of us will have that confirmation and there will be no doubts!
Well, my time is almost up!  I hope to hear from more of you!!!
God bless you all!!!!
Lydia (and Jeff)
January 20, 2002

Hello!!!!  I hope everyone is doing okay there!  We love hearing from all of you, again click on the email me and write us that way - the guestbook doesn't allow for a very long message and if you email us we can reply directly from that!
Well, we had very good news last night!  The little girl that we went to see on Friday found her family!!!!  I am so amazed how God works at times, you would think by now I would realize he is capable of anything.  If we had not been delayed, we would have not been here the same week as the Hales (the American military family that is also using our agency) and would have never met them.  They wanted a child as young as possible and figured they would have better luck finding a boy, so never considered asking to see little girls.  When we saw Yelena, we knew she wasn' ours but I thought of the Hales (Wayne has blonde hair and blue eyes just like Yelena) and asked Art to see if they might want to see her.  They agreed to go and see her on Saturday and they fell in love!!!!!  They realize that she will require alot of care in order to catch up but this will be their first child and will have the time to give to her.  I can't wait to hear how she is doing in a few months!  I felt so touched to be part of God's plan!  Again, all the details led up to them finding their daughter!  They called their families and found out that both of their mother' had been praying that they would find a little girl!  One even specifically prayed for a blonde blue-eyed granddaughter.  Gives me goosebumps, it is so awesome!!!!!!  But now that we have accomplished part of God' plan I am anxious to find Lauren!!!!!!
Like I wasn't anxious before, huh?  I understand the delays because it ultimately accomplished a greater good, but I am praying that now we will find "Our" little girl!!!!  I am so homesick for my other children, I am praying it is soon.  I think just knowing that they are half way around the world makes it even tougher.  I have spoken to them all on the phone now, but their is a delay after speaking so it makes it a little tougher to communicate.  They seem to be all doing well, which we are so thankful for.  Please keep them in your prayers that God will continue to give them comfort and peace, especially Graceson.
We went sightseeing and shopping yesterday, Max was our interpreter.  He is young and so very nice, also has a great grasp of english.  He studied in the states for a year.  He shared so much with us about Ukraine and its people.  He has a very different perspective than Art, who is Russian born.  He has a great love for Ukraine and the people and a understanding of them.  We saw some absolutely beautiful churches.  They are magnificent!!!!  I know our pictures will not accurately represent their beauty.  Jeff bought his Russian style fur hat, he looks so very funny in it!  Most of the men here are short (or at least much shorter than Jeff!) and with the hat on it makes him look giant!  You will have to see it!  Maybe we can post a picture later!
I am praying so hard to know God' plan for us, and praying that things will not be delayed again.  I ache for the daughter that I know is waiting for us.  I am also praying and asking specifically that you pray also for favor with the officials.  My friend just had to pay $1200 in "expedite" fees (loosely translated to bribes).  We are praying that God's favor will be worth more than the bribes.  I don' mind paying some but am hoping for much, much less.  Another friend paid $2000!!!!  I am also praying that things will from here on out go much quicker.  It is so frustrating that after going to the AC you then have to wait for the rest of the day to get paperwork which then allows you to travel to the region.  Everything is so slow, hurry up and wait is the motto here.  But everything moves at a much slower pace here than in the states, which isn't all bad.  We are very spoiled to our conveiniences and really don' t stop and consider what it is truly costing us.
We also had pizza yesterday!  It was pretty good, even better since it was American food.  I think we were taken advantage of because we were American though.  They included a menu and we were charged about 25 more hreyvnia (?) or about $5 more than what the menu said.  Part of me doesn't mind because the people here are so poor.  Not all the people though, there are alot of people here who are extremely wealthy even by US standards.  There is very little middle class here.  Mostly poor.  There are many babushkas (older women) selling anything they can scrape together to sell on the side of the street.  One lady had only about 2 cups of beans.  So very sad.  We also found out there is very little credit here.  I guess at 60% interest I wouldn' charge much either!!!  Most people pay for their apartments up front, as well as their cars.  Cars are half the price here as they are in the US, but again I wouldn't want to pay 60% interest and have to pay it off in 2 years!  Most people own their aprtments and pay around $15,000 - $30,000.  They are usually only a one or two bedroom.
Well, enough for today.  I may be able to post on Monday before we go to the region, while we are waiting on our documents to be prepared and let you know what region we will be heading to next!  Please keep us in your prayers that this next region will be where Lauren is! 
God bless you all!!!!!!!!!
Lydia (and Jeff)
January 21, 2002

Well today has already had its ups and downs.  We got all ready to go to the AC again today and then Art stopped by and told us that his mother had recommended that he go alone (apparently it is not a good thing to be seen to often at the AC and we have been there twice).  He told us to sit tight and he would call us.  After he left I began to pray over every aspect - asking for God's favor for Art that he be shown the right children and given the right referrals, for favor for us to find our daughter in this next region, and that Satan would be blocked in every attempt to stop this.  About 10:45 I was washing out clothes in the bathtub (now I know why they wear their clothes a week, if I had to do it everytime like that you would see my family wearing the same clothes repeatedly too!!!!!) and I just got kind of a weird tingling over me, and my first thought was "Art found her!".  About 15 minutes later Art calls to tell us he has two little girls in the Chernivitsi region which is about 3 hours southwest of here.  One was born in August of 2000 and has brown hair, the other one was born in August of 1999 and has blonde hair.  That is about all we know about them, one has the same dignosis as the little girl we saw (cerebral paralysis) and the other sounds pretty good.  I don't know which is which.  It sounded like the younger one was in better health.  I am just praying that one of the little girls is Lauren and that we will know without a doubt!  About the time you all get up we will be in the region (around 4:30 our time and about 8:30am your time or 7:30am for you Indiana people!!!!).  I am asking all of you (I know you are all already praying) to please say a specific prayer for us today, that we will find Lauren and that we will have God's protection (riding there with Art's dad again, a little scary!!!!!) and his favor with all the officials there, and most importantly that one of these little girls is Lauren and that we will both agree on which one she is and will have no doubts.
I'm not sure how big the region is so I don't know if we will be able to post or not.  I will try to call my family if we find her and ask them to post if we can't find a computer.  I am praying that by the time you read this tomorrow we will have found our daughter!!!!!  I am ready and anxious to meet the little girl I have prayed for for so very long!!!!
I will probably be praying all the way there (either that or I will be too scared stiff by the driving, wish I had a valium!!!).  I know that your prayers will also make an impact.
Thank you all for your support and encouragement, keep writing!!!!!!!!!  We don't have time to answer all of your emails today but loved reading them.  We will try to respond to them after we get back (if we have time, which quite honestly I hope we don't as that would mean we are busy getting things wrapped up here!!!!).  Hoping to be back home very soon!!!!!!!!!
God bless you all, hugs and kisses to my kids!!!!  (Logan, Jordan and Graceson, I miss you incredibly and so does Dad!)
Lydia (and Jeff)
January 23, 2002

No luck yet.  We are heading to the Donetsk region soon.  We are getting on a train after all, for a 14 hour ride.  We will see a little girl in the morning.  We were told she is 0-3 years old, possibly 1 and a half.
Lydia (and Jeff)
January 24, 2002

We've possibly found her.  We're working out the details and may know more tomorrow.
We've tried to respond to emails, but the computers have been too slow- keep them coming, we enjoy reading them.
Lydia (and Jeff)
January 25, 2002

Okay everyone, things are happening but for the sake of security we will not be able to post everything
until after court.  Just know that things are going well and Lauren is absolutely precious.  After court I
will give all the details!!!!!!!  She is quite a bit younger than we expected!!!!!!!  Next week probably by
Friday, you can expect a picture and when I get back to the states I will really "tell all"!!!!! I know it is frustrating not knowing and it makes me just as frustrated not to tell!!!!! 
Her name is going to be Lauren Jeanette (after my middle name, Jeff's mother and a couple of other
special people I know.  Hint to Rhonda H.!  And after a special aunt.) We are doing well, but bored to death.  Expect a lengthy post tomorrow we will be back in Kiev!!!!!

Love to all and thank you for the prayers!!!  God has been good!!!!!
God bless,
Lydia (and Jeff)
January 26, 2002

Hello to all!!!!!!!!!  We are glad to be back to Kiev and have a computer that is much faster!!!!!!!!!  Our friend Sam posted for us while we were gone.  Well things here are much better than when we left!!!!!  I tried to post before we left but the page was getting too long and Sam reformatted it for me!!!!!!
We have been so touched and blessed by all of you and your encouragement!!!!!!  Family, friends (especially those from long ago!), all of you have really made us feel so blessed!!!!
God is good!!!!!!!!!!  I can't wait to get home and share ALL the details with you!!!!!!!  We just want to make sure there are NO hitches in this.  We have gone through too much to find her!  She will melt your hearts!!!!!!  Hopefully we can post a picture in about a week and a half.
We are so ready to be home, this is the hard part of the whole trip.  She is definetly worth the extra week it took to find her though.  And a week in a lifetime is minor.  I just miss our other children so very much!!!!!  But I have heard that they are all doing well, even Graceson!!!!!!  They say that she has been singing and dancing so I know she is happy!  She will love her baby sister so very much!!!!!!!
I can't wait to share more with you.  At least the sun is shining here today!  It has been so gray and dismal.  We have not seen Ukraine at it's best!!!!  There are some absolutely gorgeous churches and monuments, but the people here have such a hard life.  But Ukrainian's are survivors, just like our Lauren!!
I can't say that I am anxious to come back soon (especially without my kids!) but someday we hope to bring Lauren back to visit.  We will also do all we can for the orphans of Ukraine by sending aid and support.  I will not forget the children who are left behind!!!!!!
Thank you for all the prayers, don't stop them yet though.  I am anxious to get Court over with and be heading back to the good ole USA!!!!!!!!! 
Love you all,
Lydia (and Jeff)
January 27, 2002

We are still sitting in Kiev, trying to find something to do!  Actually a little later we are going shopping to find some new clothes for Lauren.  Nothing I brought with me will fit her!  What a hardship to have to shop for a little girl (NOT!!!!!!!!!).  I love to shop and especially for girls clothes!!!!  I have several outfits to return once I get home!  I have had such a wonderful support base with my friends from home.  I am so touched at how blessed we have been and could not have done this without all of them and their help.  God has been so good to us!!!!!!!!  We have even been able to experience a few miracles on the side here so even though the time has dragged it has all been worth it.
I pray that with my whole heart that those of you reading will be impacted by this journal.  Maybe your calling isn't to adopt, but maybe God is calling you out of an area of comfort.  I hope by reading our struggles and victories and experiencing the way God has worked with us, for us, and through us - that you will give over an area of your life that you have been holding on to. 
I have been so touched by messages from people we have never met and those of encouragement from our family and friends.  This journal has been a blessing to me and I am so thankful that I did it.  I read back through my earlier entries and see how far things have come!  WOW!!!  We are actually only days from having a permenant new member in our family!!!!!! 
Please continue to keep us in your prayers!!!!
Love and blessings,
Lydia (and Jeff)
January 28, 2002

Another long day!!!!!!!!  And tomorrow will be too.  Hopefull court on Wednesday and then we will have our little girl with us!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I would love to watch a movie (that is in english and not dubbed!!!!!) or just to find some Americans to chat with!!!!  Sorry I am whining, I am just so ready to be home.  I miss my kids!!!!!  There are probably many new families who have arrived here in Kiev hoping to make it to the infamous AC and be guided to their children, I am so thankful that I am on this side of it now.  Being there was such a stressful time.
We finally figured out what the lady at the Kodak booth was telling us and our pictures will be ready tomorrow.  I wish we had figured it out earlier and we would have them back by now.  I miss her so much and I am anxious to get back to the orphanage and get her.  We haven't really been calling her Lauren yet, her name is Irena (which was her mother's name).  We feel that until she is "officially" our's that we will call her Ira (pronounced ear-ah) which is what the caregivers call her.  I will call her Lauren when I carry her out of the orphanage.  I was a little hesitant about not using her name especially since it was her mother's, but a friend pointed out to me that God renamed people all of the time and it usually signified a new life or calling.  I like that, especially since her name means crowned with victory (Lauren) and a gift from God (Jeanette).  Pretty cool, huh????  She truly is a gift.  So many people talk about how blessed and lucky she is to be getting a new life, but we are the ones who are blessed.  Just to be given the opportunity to raise her and love her is a gift.  She will grow up knowing she is adopted, but that it is a special thing.  I know that God must have big things in store for her!!!!!
Well, our hour at the internet cafe is almost up.   Now to try to find something else to do!!!!!!!  I think we will probably take a walk.
I'm sure I will have time to post tomorrow, but after that it will probably be when I get home!  I am praying to be home on Monday evening or Tuesday evening!!!!!!!  Please pray that things go smoothly and very quickly.  Then I will tell you ALL about her and the details of our trip!!!!!!!!
Love and blessings to all,
Lydia (and Jeff)
January 29, 2002

Well, disappointing news to report.  We found out our court date is Friday at 3:00pm (around 7am your time).  We were so hoping for Wednesday, with Thursday being the latest.  We were really discouraged yesterday after hearing.  I know in light of the miracles we have had we shouldn't be mad, but we are just so homesick and anxious to be home.  Even a couple of days matter.  Actually after court, I will have to stay in the region until Monday to get Lauren's birth certificate, and passport.  Please pray that this is quick, I have heard that sometimes they can take several days.  Then after we get those we will head back to Kiev and have to get her examined by the American Health Clinic here, then we will have an exit interview with the American Embassy in Kiev.  After that Lauren and I will be off to Warsaw and then the next day we will have our last phase of the exit interview with the American Embassy there.  For some reason they do not process all of the adoption stuff here in Kiev.  Please pray that I don' get caught in too many weekend delays, I want to be home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I know that I originally prayed that I was willing to be here as long as God needed me, but I never dreamed it was going to take this long.  Jeff will have been gone 3 weeks when he gets home and I will have been gone 4.  I need to be with my kids and just be able to touch them and breathe in their scents. 
But I know we need to be grateful for all that we have, I don't mean to whine I am just homesick.  Jeff heard a couple of men talking at a restaurant yesterday and he said that he wondered what they would think if he asked them to come and just have their conversation so that we could listen to them.  We are that anxious to TALK to Americans.  Or at least speak English.
I had never realized just how spoiled we are in the US.  Shopping here is quite different.  The selection is so limited and the things that are remotely westernized are so expensive. 
Just a quick note to Laura Losch - I have tried to email you numerous times and your mailbox will not accept our message.  We get failure deivery every time.  Just know that I have tried and we will catch up when we get back!!!!!!!!!
Love and blessings to all,
Lydia (and Jeff)
January 30, 2002

Hello to all!  No real change in things here, we are leaving Kiev tomorrow to fly to Donetsk region.  Apparently no train tickets were available.  Talk about frustrating, you never know till the last minute if there really are train tickets or not! 
Today we went and had the court decree notarized as well as two papers Jeff needed to sign before he left. There was a little worry when they told us that Jeff would have to be back on Monday, but after we explained the situation they agreed to let us go ahead.  But with stipulations!!!!  Pray that there are no snags!  We met a really nice American couple from New Hampshire at the American Consulate.  They had adopted a 7 month old little girl and an 8 month old little boy!  They were absolutely precious!  Then as we were leaving another American couple walked in with a little boy who was about 2 years old that they had just adopted.  We also met another couple at McDonalds that had found a little boy who was 15 months old.  All the children were so sweet (of course none as beautiful as Lauren!:)  and it was so wonderful to think they now have parents and are starting a new life! 
Well, we will probably have time to write once more before we leave tomorrow but if not - it may be several days before I can write again!  Keep the prayers going, hoping I may be home soon.  We were told today that I might make it home on Thursday!!!!
Love and blessings to all!
Lydia (and Jeff)
February 8, 2002

Hello!!!!!!!!!  Sorry I haven't posted in so long.  I am in Poland now - what a wonderful place!!!  After Ukraine, I almost cried at how nice and friendly the people are here.  At the airport in Ukraine no one offered to help me lug two suitcases and two carryons to get the bags checked!!!  Finally some AMERICANS did help.  I met two families that had adopted children from here and they were so kind to me and so helpful.  Then when I get to the airport in Warsaw, everyone there was so helpful!  I was picked up at the airport by a Mercedes taxi to take me to the Sheraton Hotel (which I highly recommend to anyone adopting from Ukraine or any other country that exits through Poland!).  Again, everyone was so very nice, I almost cried from the smiles and helpfulness.  I actually did cry while talking to Jeff and the kids later.  I am so homesick and so anxious to be home!  I will be  there tomorrow!!!!  After a grueling flight schedule of 3 changes!!!  I am not looking forward to that, I am praying for angels on the way home to assist me! 
I had our embassy appointment today, things were fine.  Americans sure get the red carpet treatment there!!!!  Always to the first of the line!  I have to go back a little later to pick up Lauren's visa!    I am very behind on emails, so please be patient with me!  I will try to answer them soon!  It is so wonderful to read all the support and encouragement!  Here I am sitting in the businesss center of the hotel and again tears streaming down my face!    Poland is so wonderful after being in Ukraine!!!!!!!  Did I say that already?  If so, it bears repeating again and again!!!
Hope to catch up with all of you next week!!!!  Sorry it has taken me so long to post!  I am actually holding Lauren and pecking with one finger right now!!!
God bless you all!!!!!!!!!!!
Lydia ( not Jeff this time as he is back at home!!!)
February 11, 2002

I am finally home!  Just one day shy of four weeks from the time I left - home has never felt so good!!!  I would have posted yesterday, but I was exhausted.  From the time I left Warsaw on Saturday morning at 6:30 am until the time I got to St. Louis at 6:30pm was 22 hours!!!!  Then if you factor in how early I had to get up to get to the airport, you can add another 4 hours!  I would advise anyone who is going through this process to have their spouse (or a friend) to be with them the whole time.  Doing it by myself with an infant was incredibly hard - even factoring in the many angels I met along the way who were so helpful, with holding the baby so I could go to the bathroom, carrying my carryons, etc.  Lauren ended up getting a fever on the way home too, bless her little heart she didn't get to enjoy her first couple of nights home.  She seems a little better today, but I will have to call the doctor - I think her congestion and runny nose has turned in to a sinus infection.  She has an appointment with a Pediatrician tomorrow that specializes in children who have been internationally adopted.  SO, maybe we can make it till then.
Okay, I said I would share more when I got home .............. Well, first of all Lauren was born on August 18, 2001!  She was 5 months and 6 days old when we found her.  She was born with a hole in her heart, and a mild heart murmur.  Things have greatly improved since her birth, and we feel that she will be completely healthy.  She is a tiny little thing.  She weighed 8lbs. 3 oz. at birth and now at 5 1/2 months old she only weighs 10lbs.  I am anxious to get her fattened up!  I am feeding her every 2-3 hours instead of every 4 like the orphanage. 
The orphanage tried to take good care of the children, but because of having so many children there they can't devote much time to any certain one.  Lauren's group had about 12 infants under the age of 1.  They fed her a bottle 5 times a day, but the bottle had a huge hole in the nipple and they basically just poured it down her throat.  They do not burp babies there, and she would end up spitting up a large amount of what she had consumed.  I spend almost 30 minutes feeding her and she is spitting up very little (I think what she is spitting up is due to the congestion).  So, hopefully by keeping more down and eating more often - she will gain weight quickly!
She is so sweet, and seems to be a quiet and calm baby.  I am still a little in shock about the diapers and bottles!  Jeff and I went expecting to come home with a 2 - 3 year old who was most likely potty trained!  But after meeting this little girl, we knew she was ours.  I'm sure God was smiling down on our expectations and saying "think again!".  We feel incredibly blessed.
This was definetely the HARDEST thing we have ever done.  There was a day that we felt we might come home without a child.  Many fears, heartache and doubts.  My advice for any of you going through this is PERSISTENCE.  And your facilitator is EVERYTHING!  Without the right connections, you may not come home with the child of your dreams.  Keep praying and hold fast to finding your child - and be open to what God may have for you - again, we never expected to come home with an infant!  People would ask me why I didn't want an infant and I would always say that I had had that blessing and that was for someone else who hadn't been there.  But I had been praying for a year that God would direct us to THE child he had for us, and we feel he did.  It amazes me that from the time I met Katie (adopted from Russia in November of 2000) and the stirrings of adoption hit me (14 months ago!) and the time frame of Lauren's conception and birth, added to her current age  is 14 months!  About the time of her conception, God conceived the idea of adoption in my heart.  What a God thing!
Well, I am going to have to post a little each day until I get caught up.  Obviously my schedule is now being dictated by Lauren!
It is wonderful to be home, I am so blessed.  Logan, Jordan and Graceson have all fallen hard for their baby sister.  I was so touched by their love and affection for her.  We are truly blessed to have such wonderful children.  God is good!  And his plan is always better than the ones we choose ourselves.
Stay tuned for more details!!!!
Lydia (and Jeff)
Though not by our creation,
Our child by God's design.

Welcome to our family,
Lauren Jeanette Tarr
Born August 18, 2001
Adopted February 4, 2002

We are truly blessed and are so thankful for this precious little girl, we pray that we never forget what a gift she is, and that we will always remember the children who were left behind.
Jeff, Lydia, Logan, Jordan and Graceson
February 26, 2002

Hello everyone!!!!!!!  Sorry it has taken me so long to update this page!  It has been a busy two weeks home.  Saturday (one week after being home), Graceson had to go to the emergency room and was admitted to the hospital for a respiratory problem of some sort.  She was really sick and had to have oxygen and an IV, apparently there are some pretty nasty viruses going around here, it wasn't RSV though.  Then Monday after getting her home and having to do breathing treatments, Lauren was sick and had to go to the emergency room and was also admitted to the hospital!  Two kids in the hospital back to back!  Things were pretty crazy here!  She had a much less severe case of what Graceson had, but because she is so small and was having some breathing problems too they admitted her for observation and gave her oxygen (no IV needed!). 
I can't believe it has been a month now since we found our missing daughter!  She is truly blossoming, she was so somber and big eyed when we first met her - with an occassional shy smile.  Now she smiles so big she wiggles with it!  She is no longer somber but very smiley, her dimples just shine!  She now recognizes us also!  I love to see her face light up when she sees me!  The kids, Jeff and I are all in love with her!  She is such a sweetheart!  She still hasn't laughed yet, she gets just to the point she is about to burst out with a laugh though.
She is also gaining weight!  Her little face is starting to round out and she is getting some rolls on her little legs.  Her little body no longer looks skeletal, getting more normal looking.  Another couple of weeks and she will probably be caught up!  She charted much better than the doctor or I anticipated!  She was 50% in height, and 25% in weight!  She is almost right on target developementally, which is amazing!  And so far all her tests are coming back with wonderful results!  She is truly our little miracle!
I am hoping to get a new picture posted here soon, we have snow here today or I had planned to take her and have her picture made!  She is so beautiful, and so sweet!  I can't wait to get her picture up in the empty frame we have had on our wall for so many months!  It still amazes me that I have been praying for her since before she was born!  I have tucked my prayer journal somewhere and haven't found it yet, but just kind of courious to see what my entry was for August 18th! 
This whole journey has been such a God-thing!  For Jeff to go from NOT WANTING TO ADOPT, to being ready - but only wanting a toddler, to him being the one who said "this is our daughter", to telling me with tears in his eyes that he couldn't love her more, awes me!  God has worked so many miracles in this!  Just a note to all of those who see obstacles in their way of doing what they feel God is leading them to do - God can and will work miracles and turn it around!  Just don't give up, be persistent and stay on your knees!  There is a wonderful book I read that is a great encouragement also, "IF YOU WANT TO WALK ON WATER, YOU GOTTA GET OUT OF THE BOAT".  Can't remember the author, but I'm sure you can find it or order it at a Christian bookstore!
Also, I have received may emails from people wanting to know what agency we used for our adoption - God's Families out of California, (www.godsfamilies.org).  Their staff pulled many tricks out of their hats to get things done, and having the right people in country is critical to finding available children in Ukraine!  I met so many people who were going home heartbroken because they did not find the children they wanted, it almost seemed they had settled for children (not that they didn't fall in love with the children they found) but had to let go of a dream.  Those people had facilitators they didn't trust, and who seemed to be pretty inexperienced in getting things done.  Our agency was there for us every step of the way, (just a side note - even if you love your agency you are still going to experience frustrations and have moments of unhappiness, just make sure that you discuss the things you are upset with and let them know what things you would like to be different - no one is perfect and it takes consideration on both sides!).
Well, that is all for now.  Hopefully I will get a new picture soon and more info.  Also I will try to post more about the actual process later.
God bless you all!
Lydia (and Jeff)
June 11, 2002
Well..........FINALLY an update!  I am so sorry that it has taken so long.  I have just been caught up in the daily grind!  Hopefully tomorrow or the next day I will have some new pictures posted!!!!  Lauren has continued to grow and bloom!  She has completely attached with no problems, and any health problems that once existed have all healed themselves.  Her 9 month report says she is totally healthy!  God is so awesome!!!!! 
A year ago when I was still praying about the little girl that was somewhere out there......I prayed that she would be a child people would be drawn to, so that I could share her story, hoping to encourage others.  About two months ago, a lady at church come up to us and told us how beautiful our baby was and how she has a special light in her smile that just draws you to her!  It felt like such confirmation.  She is so fun right now, she has a huge smile with killer dimples, and two little teeth that sparkle on the bottom.  She is crawling, and cruising furniture, standing alone for longer periods of time, and probably not far from walking. 
One funny story - we learned that she could pull up and stand when we heard her fall out of her bed!  She scared us and herself to death, thankfully there were no injuries - only a few tears.  But the week after that was HARD!  Now that she could stand up, she didn't know how to get down.  I would put her down for a nap or bed and she would immediately scramble to stand up and then stand there and cry, then we would continually repeat the process!  Finally a week later she was in her playpen and she accidentally let go of the side and landed on her bottom.  I clapped and told her good job!  It was like a light bulb went off in her head, you could see it in the expression in her face, like "OH, so that is what you do!".  Then she proceeded to stand up and plop on her bottom probably 20 to 30 times!  It was hilarious!  After that naptime and bedtime was easy again.
I just reviewed the stats and I am amazed that there have been only a few days that I had absolutely no hits...after all this time!  I pray that this will continue to be an inspiration to those who are still waiting to hold on to their dreams.  I was so touched the other day to email someone who is currently in Ukraine looking for their children, only to have them email me back and share that they followed us on our journey and gave them hope and determination to carry on and not give up.  Unfortunately they are, as well as many others, are having a difficult time right now in Ukraine.  It breaks my heart to think of how difficult they are making it (Ukraine) to adopt their children, I know it must break their hearts to let them go, but a true love would want the best for them - a loving home, no matter where that might be.
I am so excited that adoption is seeming to get more publicized!  The Hallmark Channel has a series on adoption that is great so far!  It has stories on all aspects of adoption - private, international and foster care.  Hopefully it will inspire others.  These children touch so many lives, they are such precious gifts to us.  I am still amazed after all this time that God chose me to be a mother to the most wonderful 4 children.  Three grew in my womb and I can see myself in their faces, one grew in my heart and I see God's love for us reflected in hers.  I wish everyone could experience that gift.
Well, I better wrap up for now.  But I will update and post pictures as well as a timeline sometime this week.
Many blessings to all,
Lydia (and Jeff)
July 18, 2002

Okay, so I lied about getting the picture on the next day, sorry!  I haven't been able to get someone to put it on for me, but I just got a photo disc from Sears so I will attempt to load it!  Lauren is 11 months old today!  As you can see in her picture she is amazing! Now I will have to figure out how to turn it the right way!! We are so incredibly blessed!!!!!!!! 
Lydia (and Jeff)
August 5, 2002

Finally, thanks to a wonderful friend, I have Lauren's latest pictures up!  She has grown so much!!!!  She is almost walking and trying to say a few words, of course refuses to say Mama!  She just looks at me and smiles and says Da Da!  The rotten grin on her face says it all!  I hope to have a time line and some other adoption related information soon.  Again, I feel so very blessed!!!  Feel welcome to contact me if you have any questions!
Blessings to all,
Lydia (and Jeff)
Lauren - age 9 months
August 18, 2002

Well, today is Lauren's 1st birthday!!!  She is such a blessing to us!  I look at her and I am amazed that God brought us together with this little girl who was born half a world away!  We can't imagine our lives without her now.
She gave me a gift for her birthday - she finally said "Mama"!!!  And I am so thankful for another mother - the young girl who gave her life.  I can't even begin to fathom how hard it must have been, to make the choices she had to make.  I pray that God will bless her and will give her comfort this day as she remembers what she went through a year ago this day. 
I can only imagine what it must have been like to hold this precious baby in her arms, looking down in to her eyes and knowing that she would have to cherish this time enough to last her a life time.  She will always be part of my prayers.
For those of you who are just beginning your journey, have faith that God will direct you.  Stay strong and trust even in the difficult times.  I look in to the beautiful face of my daughter and I am blessed - she was so much more than we ever expected.  I only wish every child had a family that loves them as much as we love Lauren. 

Blessings to all,
Lydia (and Jeff)
Lauren - age 11 1/2 months