On the Way

Where in the world is the Johnson Fam?  Are you finding it impossible to keep up with all our comings and goings and craziness?  Yeah, me too.  🙂  I did a big catch-up post here, for the curious. 

I’m sitting in the Houston Airport, on my way back to Ukraine for adoption court. YES!  Jed is already back in Ukraine working away with our Boys, moving out of our house, and spending lots of quality time with our soon-to-be-son.  Our other kiddos are back in Salem at some wonderful friends’ house.  Grammy (Jed’s mommy) flew to Oregon from Montana to care for them while I’m gone for court.  So, we’re all spread out for now, but it’s all gonna be worth it, because soon our son will be OUT forever!!!  I hope and pray all goes well at court on Monday and I can do a big, fat introduction/birth announcement.  

We arrived in the US as a family on August 11th and had the most wonderful 10 days together before Jed flew back to Ukraine.  It was just pure awesomeness.  

 

We only pack the necessities

  

Ol’ Faithful mustache tape has served us well

  

At the airport in Kyiv!

 
You know, I had read lots of missionary/expat tips on how to re-enter the US after being away for a while, and they all recommended heading someplace that is not your home base and just being together as a family before seeing family and friends.  All the recommendations talked about how it is helpful just to decompress as a family, get over jetlag without demands on your attention and all that.  I thought it sounded like a great idea, but not great on the ol’ budget.  Well, God totally took care of that!  A wonderfully generous couple from Ventura, CA whom we had NEVER MET gave us their house for 5 days.  They left and just let us take over their beautiful home and it was the hugest blessing ever!!!  We went to the beach (where Jed and I proceeded to win the worst parents in the world award by letting our kids get completely fried…oops #babylobsters), we watched tons of movies, we oogled over Target and Trader Joes, I read and read and read some more, and the icing on the cake: Jed and I got to go see my brother star in a musical in La Jolla.  It was AWESOME.  Thank you Dan and Jeannie for blessing us so completely.  

 

Jet lag is a beast!

  
    
  

I’m so proud of my brother!

 
After our 5 day rest, my family drove down and we all met in Anaheim for 4 days of Disney!!!  My heaven!  Haha! My parents had been saving and planning for this family trip for 2 years and it was absolutely perfection.  Seriously.  It could not have been better!  

We did two days of Disneyland and two days of California Adventure and we loved every second of it.  My parents rented a house with a pool so every day we would come back in the afternoon and the kids would swim with their cousins.  Best.trip.ever.  Thank you Mom and Dad for that most wonderful, memorable gift!  

   
 
    

    
    
    

Gotta represent Wide Awake! 🙂

 
Jed flew back to Ukraine on our last day of Disney and the kids and I flew up to Oregon.  Then it was school registration (EEK!) and school supply shopping and embassy document notarizing and health insurance document mailing and doctor’s office calling and soon-to-be-son clothes shopping and back-to-America-culture-shocking (more on that later).  I pretty much ran around like a chicken with my head cut off, so it’s lucky that Grammy arrived when she did to save my children from their crazy mommy! 😉 

 

Seth forgot about booster seats. Ha!

  

My kids were FASCINATED and in awe of the cereal aisle

    

A once in a lifetime experience: they each got to pick out their own cereal.

  

We’ve been so busy we even lost a tooth!

  

The kids insisted we walk to the library instead of driving. “We don’t want to lose our Ukrainian legs Mom!”

 
We are so blessed and SO excited to be just about done with this legal stage of the adoption.  We’re ready for the family stage now. Our mommy and daddy hearts are positively busting at the seams.  We are so close!  The kids are doing amazing.  They are so flexible and adaptable and brave.  They want their brother home super bad too.  

Soon, baby soon!!  

The Skinny

I’m here!  I’m here!  Oh.My.Gooooooodness.  It’s been such a long time. 

I had this whole introspective, from-the-gut-post in the works, but, while trying to finish it up I realized I just don’t have the energy for that right now.  So, you get a not-from-the-gut informative post instead.  🙂 

There are a whole lot of emotions goin’ on around here, that’s for sure.  We are gearing up for our first visit back to the States, as a family.  We leave on Tuesday.  WHAT????  Pure craziness I tell ya.  Our life is never boring.  All my introspective writing was on our feelings about leaving our Boys and it was UGLY.  The thought of being so far away from our Boys for several months brings on an instantaneous sob-fest, so I’d rather not delve to deep into that topic.  Let’s just say that we don’t want to leave them, but we are excited to be with family and friends.  It’s confusing, and not black and white.  So, there.  

   
 
Here’s the skinny on what is happening in our life.  Deep breath, here goes:

ADOPTION.  We are in the home stretch of the adoption process!  In fact, we were supposed to have court today, but it was rescheduled for August 31st.  There were no jurors available today and yeah, it’s frustrating, I cried a lot, but we know that God’s timing is perfect.  After court on August 31st there will be a 10-day mandatory waiting period and then we will get to take our boy out of Romaniv forever!!!!  I can’t wait to introduce him to you!  

TRAVEL TO THE US.  We had already planned, before our move to Ukraine that we would head to the US as a family for our first visit in August 2015.  Many, many months ago my parents planned that when we arrived, in August 2015, they would take all of their kids and grandkids to Disneyland.  Well, the time is upon us!  Woohoo!  The timing is a little stinky, with our adoption court rescheduling, but oh well.  We are just thanking God for this last big hurrah before we have another son and our lives change forever.   Don’t people call that like a “babymoon” or something crazy like that?  Let’s call Disneyland our “babymoon”, nevermind that our baby is 15 years old.  Hehe.  (details, details)        

So our family will leave Ukraine on Tuesday and fly straight to California.  We will have a few days to catch our breath before my family joins us for Disney.  Jed will leave Disney early (on the 20th) to fly back to Ukraine.  He was supposed to be picking up our son at that pointt, but then court was rescheduled and yada yada yada.  We couldn’t change his ticket.  Whatevs.  The kids and I will head to Oregon after Disneyland and start to get settled a bit, get ready for school to start.  I will fly back to Ukraine for court on the 29th.  I’ll leave the kids with family and friends in Oregon.  

After court I will come back to Oregon and Jed will stay in Ukraine to finish up all the documents for our new baby.  Then he and our newest Johnson will fly and meet us in Oregon.  Together at last!!!

   
 

HOUSING.  We decided right after we got home from camp that it would be best to move out of the house we rent in Ukraine and put our stuff in storage.  We really can’t afford to pay for a house that’s not being used here, and a house that we’ll be using in Oregon.  So, we’ve been busy packing up and moving out.  FUN.  

While in Oregon we will be renting a house from some crazy-generous friends who are giving us a screaming deal.  Praise God!!!  Friends and family are letting us borrow stuff to set up a temporary Oregon home.  🙂  Thanks!   We don’t know where we’ll live when we come back from America, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.    I can’t think about it now or my head will explode.

SCHOOL.  Our kids (minus the new arrival) will be attending school in Oregon!  This will be a first for them.  Addy and Ez have been to school in Ukraine, but we homeschooled in the US before, so this will be a new adventure for us.  We know our new son will need a TON of medical care and there is just no way I can meet his needs and homeschool 4 kids, so this feels like the most peaceful decision.  I’m a little nervous about it though!  Eeeek!          

TIMING.  We aren’t exactly sure how long we will be in the US.  The working plan is that Jed will stay for about 2 months, and then return to Ukraine.  There is a TON of work that needs to be done here (always) and he just can’t be gone for a long time.  The kids and I will stay behind in Oregon until our new son gets the medical care that he urgently needs.  We don’t know how long that will take.  We anticipate more than one major surgery with specialist surgeons.  Things like that just don’t happen fast.  I’m prepping myself to be gone from Ukraine for at least 6 months.  I can’t think about it too much though or I turn into a basket case.  Oh my Romaniv babies!  But, our top priority is getting our new son healthy, so we will do what it takes to make that happen.  🙂  

   
 

WIDE AWAKE.  Are you signed up for our newsletters?  If you aren’t, you should. You can do it here.  I’ll confess that we have not been stellar about sending them out super regularly this year.  But it’s in our hearts to do better with that.  Anywayssss in our last newsletter we talked about Wide Awake’s partnership with a local church here in Zhytomyr.  Christian Youth Church is the church our family attends here in Z-town and we love our friends there.  The vast majority of Wide Awake’s volunteers are from Youth Church, and they are our fam here in Ukraine.  

Wide Awake gave a grant to Youth Church to be used to carry on the work with our Boys while we are in the US.  The grant pays for the work of volunteer recruitment and management, and will pay for the drivers and gas to get the teams to Romaniv while we are away.  Vika, our friend and volunteer, is in charge of the Romaniv work for Youth Church and she has already done an amazing job of growing the work while we were away at camp.  She has recruited many new volunteers and we have now added a Saturday team!  So now the boys get teams coming AT LEAST three days a week, and many weeks they get even more visits than that.  Praise God for Youth Church and their love for the Boys!  We are leaving the work in good hands and we know that our teams will continue to be faithful, even though we will be so far away.  What a huge relief!

That’s the skinny!  It’s a lot.  I know.  If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.  Thanks for coming along on this wild ride.  We could never do it alone.  🙂               

   

  

                                                                                                                                                 

The Crazy Awesomeness that is our Summer Plans

Summer is in full swing around here and it kind of feels like we’re on a roller coaster at this point.  We know we’re safe, we’re all buckled in, but it’s moving a little too fast for comfort and we kinda want it to slow down, but it’s also really good and all the spins are kind of fun, we we don’t want it to stop.

There’s a lot going on and there’s about to be a lot MORE going on, so I better fill you in while I have the chance.  HOLYMOLY.

We have a volunteer arriving on Sunday and she’ll be here for 3 weeks!  Sara is a massage therapist and works at a community for adults with special needs in Arizona.  She will be helping us implement massage at Romaniv and will be doing some teaching for the nurse there.  We are excited to have her along on this crazy journey.  I’m super interested to see how the boys do with massage!  I’m anticipating a strong learning curve…hehe  THISCOULDGETINTERESTING.

On July 7th we’ll head to Mission to Ukraine’s yearly summer camp for kids with disabilities.  There will be two camps and we will volunteer at both of them. Camp was the highlight of our family’s year last year, so we are very excited to do it again.  Woot!  We’ll basically be there for the month of July.  MTU camp is like my heaven.  ILOVEITSOMUCH.

On July 13th we’ll take a little leave from camp because we have our appointment in Kyiv to request our referral and officially begin the adoption process here in country!!!  Yes!!!  Our adoption dossier was accepted and we are ultra, mega, outrageously excited to get this show on the road.  If all goes well we should have our son out of the orphanage and in our arms by the end of August!  CAN’TCOMESOONENOUGH.

 After the adoption is complete we will all head to the US for our first visit as a family since our move here in 2013.  Our new son will need to go to the US in order to become a citizen, and he also needs quite a bit of medical care, so off we go!  Actually, before we ever moved to Ukraine we had decided that August 2015 would be the time for all of us to come back to the US to visit family, friends, and supporters.  We just had no idea we’d also be bringing back another child!  BIGGESTSURPRISEEVAHHHHH.

The plan right now is that Jed will be in the US for about 2 months and then he’ll return to Ukraine to get back to work. The kids and I will plan to stay in the US until we get our new son’s most urgent medical needs met.  Then we’ll join Jed back in Ukraine. We’re thinking maybe the kids and I will be in the States till after Christmas?  I’m just not sure.  We’re open and we don’t want to rush things.  But in a way it will probably feel like our lives are on pause.  I’m not sure how we’ll navigate that well.  I guess one day at a time.  I get overwhelmed if I think about it too much, so I won’t.  At least not right now.  🙂 PROCRASTINATIONISMYSPIRITUALGIFT.


So, that’s where things stand right now.  A lot goin on, and lot yet to come.  We are doing well, just maybe a bit overwhelmed at the moment.  We have so many ideas, so many plans for the Boys, for the work here.  It’s hard to imagine leaving it all and going so far away.  Wide Awake is granting our local church here in Zhytomyr with funds to be able to coordinate and continue the work at Romaniv while we are gone, so that is really reassuring.  We won’t be leaving the boys without love and care.  Our volunteers will continue to faithfully go and love the boys.  It will just be hard for us to be away. Yet it will be wonderful to be with family and friends in America.  Yet we will also be adjusting to a new son and helping him learn how to be part of a family.  Yet we will not be bringing him home to the house and community where we actually live…at least not right away.

Lots of thoughts, lots of emotions, lots of awesomeness happening, lots of everything.  I’ll do my best to keep you posted along the way.  Thank you all for being such a dear part of this journey.  Thank you for your prayer, your encouragement, your friendship, your financial support.  We have felt so much love and support along every step of this journey.  Praise God we don’t have to walk this path alone!  You are a blessing to us.   WELOVEYOULOTSANDLOTS.

Pics: Hava in Kyiv with her perty new headband, our beautiful Addy and Hava in Kyiv, St. Andrews Church in Kyiv, our kids with a famous statue outside the adoptions office in Kyiv, St. Michaels Church in Kyiv (my fave), Seth is taller than Hava (and 17 months younger!), my everyday morning view, our garden when it was beautiful, our garden infested with bugs (grrrr…ain’t nobody got time for that!), Seth posing with his new bike, my kids being “special”, our neighborhood!

Unexpected Blessings: England!

Did you know that I could be the perfect criminal?  All these years earning money like an honest person, and I could have just been a thief! 😉  You see, unbeknownst to me, I have almost no fingerprints.  Yeah, I guess no one really pays attention to their fingerprints (or lack thereof) until they try to adopt.  Who would have thought that this biggest hurdle in our adoption process would be my fingertips??????  

For our adoption we have to have FBI clearance (which requires fingerprinting) and US immigration approval (which requires a separate fingerprinting process).  Easy peasy, if you have fingerprints.  We had our fingerprints taken with ink in Kyiv, at the Embassy, and then they were mailed to the US for processing.  My FBI prints were rejected first, for poor quality, so I had to fly to the US to have them redone.  Remember that?  Well, then my US immigration prints were rejected, soooooo Havalah and I flew to England last week to have them redone at the US Embassy in London.  At that embassy they have an electronic process with which you can do your prints over and over until you get high enough quality prints to be accepted.  I found out last Tuesday that the London Embassy would do my prints on Thursday, so Hava and I flew out last Wednesday.  

At first I was frustrated to have to fly to another country AGAIN, on behalf of my fingers, but we’ll do whatever we gotta do to get our baby home, so we decided to make a bit of a holiday out of it and enjoy ourselves in the process. 

     

We arrived in London on Wednesday afternoon and our appointment wasn’t until Thursday at 1:00, so we spent Wednesday evening and Thursday morning exploring London and drinking in ALL THE ENGLISH being spoken everywhere.  It was awesome.  Going somewhere where you can understand everything is like a vacation for my brain.  It is a relief, and just a joy.  We had the best time.

               

We headed to the US Embassy with time to spare on Thursday and nervously awaited the staff member who would take me in for my infamous prints.  

It took some effort, that’s for sure.  The computer kept rejecting, rejecting, rejecting, and ultimately wouldn’t pass some of my fingers, but in the end the staff member assured me the prints he had captured were “good enough”.  SWEET RELIEF!!!!!!  I was nervous since I don’t understand the system and he hadn’t gotten a “pass” for all of my fingers, but in the end after 20 reassurances, I decided to trust him.  Haha.  

We celebrated by going to theater to watch a movie in English!  Such fun. 

One funny thing about this trip was seeing everything through Havalah’s eyes.  Although we’ve only beeen gone from the US for 18 months, that’s a long time for a little one.  Hava was only 4 when we left.  We were standing in line for our passport check when we arrived at the airport in London and when she heard people talking she said “Mom!  They know how to speak English here!”  The not so funny thing was the constant reminders to my rather outspoken daughter that yes, people speak English here, so yes, they can understand everything you say.  Oy.  

Her fascination with squirrels, common place in Oregon, but not common in Ukraine cracked me up.  She saw a Burger King sign and said “Hey!  I think I know that place!”   Her awe over all the green grass and amazingly in-repair sidewalks made me smile.  She made friends with strangers on every form of public transportation, living it up with her mad English skills.  What a sweetie.   

          

We did some more exploring on Friday morning, and then took an afternoon train north to Hull, to spend the weekend with some friends.  

Just the week before Hava and I were in England we had a team from Hull here in Ukraine, so we were happy to see them again and visit Hull Vineyard, their awesome church that supports Wide Awake.  It was a sweet time enjoying friends and making new friends.  We felt so loved and cared for.  My heart was encouraged and Hava got her love tank filled to overflowing.  Thank you Hull friends for loving us so well.  We love you!!! 

(boohoo I didn’t take nearly enough pics in Hull))

        

We’re back in Ukraine now and just waiting on our US immigration approval, and then all of our documents can be submitted to the adoption authorities here, and our in-country process can begin! 

Would you pray with us for speedy approval by immigration, and that the adoption authorities will have no issues with our paperwork?  Our situation is unique, so we aren’t sure if they will require extra documentation from us.  We pray not, because we are desperate to get our son home.  We are so close!  

I’m so thankful for the special England gift that God gave to Hava and me.  It seemed like an inconvenience at the time, but it was just pure blessing.  God knows just what we need, and He goes before us to prepare the way.  I mean, the week before I found out I would be going to England He brought us English friends who would bless our socks off and shower us with love.  This trip wasn’t just about fingerprints, it was about me learning to trust Him and His goodness, even more.  

One step closer to getting our baby home.  What a wild ride!  🙂

Wide Awake on Wheels

The day has finally come!

Today we bought a van!!!

Thanks to amazing friends and supporters in Lucerne, Switzerland and Talbot, Oregon we’ve had the money for months!  But, laws in Ukraine concerning vehicle purchasing kept changing after the first of the year and we were waiting for the final decision on how the laws would be interpreted before we forked out the cash.  The laws would determine if we drove in a car from another country or if we bought locally.  

Jed ended up finding a great van right in our very own town, and today he picked it up!

And there was much rejoicing.  🙂







There is space for 8 passengers and then the driver.  There is also space for at least two wheelchairs!  What a blessing.  This will also give our family much more freedom and that brings an extra dose of rejoicing! (think room for grocery bags, the ability to give friends a ride, and the possibility of drives out of town to nature…yay!)











To our friends who gave thousands and thousands of dollars, your gift will literally change lives.  We can’t even describe to you how much easier it will be to get to our Boys.  The Director has welcomed us there as often as we want to come, but lack of a vehicle has limited us many times.  No more!  Many of our youth that come to Youth NIght miss out on the events because of the difficulty of transporting people in wheelchairs.  No more!

Tomorrow the van will make it’s first trip to Romaniv.  Wide Awake is on the move!  Praise God!!!!



PS:  I just got confirmation that three more of our boys ARE OFFICIALLY AVAILABLE for adoption!  Expect an intro post soooooooon!!!