The food in Ukraine is so yummy! Our first day here Natasha our translator took us to an open market, kind of like a farmer’s market, and we bought raspberries, new potatoes, carrots, onions, and cabbage. It is remarkably fresh and cheap! There are ladies selling their produce, flowers, and such every where you turn. And with the exchange rate, the prices are very low for us. A huge basket of freshly handpicked raspberries were 25 ghrivna or around $3.00.
So each morning, Kevin and I make our kasha (oatmeal) with yogurt (really creamy) and fresh berries. This is beyond delicious and holds us over until lunch. Kevin’s hoping that the daily oatmeal will lower his cholesterol numbers just like they show on the TV commercials.
Natasha has introduced us to a variety of Ukrainian foods: salo which is salted pork fat eaten on black bread followed with a slice of garlic; borscht - incredibly good even if it is hot outside; shish kabobs which is really just grilled meat; vernikis - stuffed dumplings; chocolate; tomato, cucumber, goat cheese, olives salad with a little oil & dill (scrumptious!), cabbage rolls - we told her we call them “pigs in a blanket” and she laughed and said she had never heard them called that before!
Kevin and I have ventured to the grocery store by ourselves as well. Most of the middle aisles are filled with things to drink, mostly beer and vodka. I really like the Coca Cola Light which is their form of Diet Coke. It’s sort of like a treasure hunt to go grocery shopping when you can’t read the labels. Once I thought I was buying salt, but instead brought home citric acid. Definitely not the same! One night we made sausage, sliced new potatoes, and onions at our apartment. Very good! Then, we used the leftovers scrambled with eggs to make a sort of hash the next day for lunch.
We are wondering what Bella eats. One day we got to feed her a jar of baby food that they brought us. She ate that like nobody’s business! However, she has not like the strawberries or juice we brought her--she just nodded her little head and said “nyet, nyet” (no, no) Yesterday and today, the orphanage workers asked us, using their own form of sign language, not to feed her. They patted their bellies, touched their mouths, and said “nyet.” We are hoping to get to watch her eat at a table with her groupa soon. She hasn’t been able to drink from a juice box straw or from our water bottle, so we are very curious, as they told us she is a very good eater?
As you can see, food is a very important aspect of being a Burckhard. Ha Ha! I am sure our little Bella will fatten up in no time...
Here's our Reece's Rainbow Families together at a Mexican Restaurant called Tequila House. It, too, was surprisingly good!
Yesterday, Kevin and I arrived at the orphanage early in the morning. We glanced around the orphanage grounds to find her little groupa. When we spotted them watering the flowers, we noticed the kind caregiver point us out to Bella. When she saw me, she started running towards me on the brick walkway, arms outstretched, yelling "Mama, Mama, Mama!" As she reached us, I bent down to see her and she wrapped her little arms around my neck and gave me a hug! Melted my heart!
She is also very smart--She is learning signs as we teach them: more, shoes, and I love you (done as the peace sign). Her teacher had us observe her put two puzzles together. She can ride a tricycle, loves the swinging rings, and would stay on the swing the whole time if we let her. When we were walking around the paths, she heard a bird tweeting, stopped, listened, and flapped her little arms!
The Director of the Orphanage told us on the first day that she is a little star, and loves to perform! Grace will have a sister to sing High School Musical songs on the Wii with her! They can put on little shows for us!
Although we are having fun visiting with her, we are missing our other children terribly. We miss and love you three!
What can a little girl who is barely 3 feet tall and weighs less than 30 lbs do in 3 days that many grownups, including some of my best clients, my mother, Paula and my Managing Partner, could not do in over 8 years?!?!!?! Get me to shave off my goatee that’s what! It is just one of many steps I am willling to take in hopes of winning her love, heck, in hopes of just getting her to stop running away from me shrieking “byuse, byuse, byuse”! Translation: afraid, afraid, afraid of your grey chin fur! Hope I can still convince the agents in customs that I am the same guy as in the passport picture ! Dasvee danya, (good bye) Kevin
Everthing is going well here with us. Thank you so much for your prayers. It is extremely hot here especially with no air conditioning. And, our electricity went out two times today which means no fan. Oh well, the fan does not work very efficiently anyways; we joke that it is breathing hot air on us!
Here are more photos of our Bella Bogdana....
Will post more tomorrow! Love & Paka, Paula & Kevin
We got to meet our little Bella yesterday! She is just precious! She calls me Mama (with some prompting, of course) but is very "afraid" of Kevin and his goatee. It is actually kind of funny. She will look right at him, touch her own chin and say "byoos" (phonetic spelling) "byoos, byoos" or translated says, "afraid, afraid, afraid!" She backs up from him and clasps her little hands behind her back so that she will not have to touch that thing! Needless to say, she has not seen many men, especially ones with white fur on their faces!
Finally here are a few photos:
In front of the SDA building, a Reece's Rainbow tradition! Left to Right--Anatoly the facilitator, Natasha the translator, Paula, Kevin: <
Here is a photo of our very first meeting at 10:00 am, Tuesday, June 23, 2009. She is clutching a little doll we gave her while she sports a big, beautiful Ukrainian bow!
Mama, Papa, & Bella outside playing on the Berizka orphanage grounds today, Wednesday, June 24th-- by the way, Happy 16th Birthday to my niece Alex!
Tonight, four Reece's Rainbow families got together at a "Mexican" restaurant. Here we are with our translator Natasha.... c
Best be getting to bed. It's 12:20 am here and we are dead tired! I will write more details tomorrow and post more photos.
Hello All! Coming to you live from a Ukraine internet cafe. We got Bella's referral today!!!!! We get to meet her tomorrow after 10:00 a.m. We are so excited!
Our translator is Natasha and she is awesome! She has gone above and beyond the call of duty! What a blessing to have someone so caring, smart, and who even laughs at Kevin's jokes. Ha Ha
If you would like to skype call or call us, you may do so at 38 067 169 7560. I think there is a small charge for the skype to cell phone charge, but not very much. Also, please note that we are 8 hours ahead CST.
We do not have internet access yet, so I will update with pictures soon. We are having a great time so far, but have not run into any other Reece's Rainbow families yet.
Thanks for your continued prayers! Love, Paula & Kevin who will be meeting Bella tomrrow!
Taking a deep breath here! I can't believe that this day has finally come! We are having our last night together as a family of five! We took Grandma Lucille and Grandma & Grandpa Herslip out for supper, as Sam called it "the farewell dinner." Then, we had a rousing game of Apples to Apples (Grandma won)at our house.
We still have quite a bit to do before we get going. We have to leave the house at 3:45 a.m. to get to the airport for our 5:00 a.m. flight.....then to Cleveland....to NYC.....then on into Kiev on Sunday morning at 9:05 am. Urkaine is seven hours ahead of the CST.
So, now we say "Paka (see you later) everyone!" Until we meet again--in Ukraine!
Bogdana...ok, that name was never in the running on our lists of favorite baby names! However, when we found how its meaning -- gift from God -- we knew it would fit perfectly for our new little girl.
To decide her first name, we enlisted my sister, her five girls, Grandma and went through name after name that everyone liked. Bella rose to the top of the list. We were thinking Isabella but thought we would shorten it right away for her, so it would be easier to spell and pronounce. However, that didn't exactly work out as planned because Grace calls her "Pella." :)
Let me back up one step, Kevin and I have always leaned towards traditional, Biblical names for our children. When Elizabeth was born, Kevin shouted "It's an Elizabeth!" We knew our second child was going to be a boy, so we had no surprises there and went with our only name choice - Samuel.
However, when we were expecting Grace, we could not come up with a boy's name. Thank goodness she was girl! Because if we would have had a boy, we had no boy name picked out, and Kevin would have named him "II Samuel." Ha Ha, funny guy!
So now, our fourth child, will be called... Bella=Beautiful Bogdana=Gift from God Burckhard (easy monogram for her...BBB)
A few months ago, I was given additional photos of Bella from another adoptive mom, Mandy, who visited Bella's orphanage when she was on a missions trip to Ukraine.
Here are they are:
These photos were taken in April 2008 when she was three. She looks like a petite little thing. I am excited to find out her size, weight, shoe size, but mostly what it feels like to actually hold her in my arms! Counting the days.....
Our blog will be going private soon. What does this mean?
It means that we will be able to be more open about the adoption, post pictures, give details about Bella's country, and share more personal information.
If you would like to follow our journey, please leave your email address and your name in the comment section. In the next few days, I will send out invites to those who would like to follow our journey.
Last night, Kevin and I were shell-shocked, just sitting looking at each in disbelief that we are actually on our way to meet Bella.
We have seen God's hand in this journey through every detour, pothole, and open road! We have been amazed at how he has worked everything out! Thank you for your ongoing prayers and support!
I don't know if everyone knows this, but in Bella's country you do not get a referral to the requested child until you get there and have an appointment with the adoption department. There is a small chance that she may not be available for adoption due to circumstances such as another family requesting her before us, paperwork mix-ups, etc. So continued prayers for a smooth referral are appreciated!
If we get referred to her, we will probably get to meet her on June 23rd or 24th! That is not very far away! Yay!
And, if we do not get referred to our precious Bella, we are trusting that God has a different child in mind for us--that He is using Bella to point the way. We would be devestated, of course, but will trust that it will all work out for our good and His glory!
First of all, thank you everyone for your prayers and support. Waiting for news has been a difficult thing for me to deal with. Fortunately, Kevin is always optimistic and has been a rock during this whole journey. He keeps reminding me that until God says "No", that we are to persevere in order to bring Bella home.
This whole process has revealed, once again, how weak I really am. When the going gets tough, my nature is to pull back and hide. Shamefully, I think, wouldn't it just be easier to quit? However, this time, that is not an option. A little girl's life is at stake, so I push forward, leaning on God and the people He has placed in my life. What a humbling place to be...
Now for the hopeful update! Here is what our agency said yesterday regarding our adoption process:
"No news is really, good news. If the SDA was going to reject it they already would have and the facilitator would have let me know. We should have a travel date for them before the 20th (most likely sooner but they legally have that long) so in the next 2 weeks they will for sure know when they will travel."
Doesn't that sound good? I'll keep you posted. And, your prayers are still appreciated! Love, Paula
Well, we are forging ahead as if we are heading out to Bella's country any day. My heart fills with excitement and my mind overflows with all we have to do!
This is what we are currently working on...
* Kevin is furiously working to be able to save the money needed for the adoption without taking out a loan. We have also been so blessed with love gifts from family and friends totalling $2,100! As of today, we have about $6,000 left to meet the cash requirements for the adoption.
* Making lists of lists of things to do-- packing lists, shopping lists, notes for the family left behind, questions for our agency, and on and on....
* I am going room by room doing a deep clean and purge! Throw, stow & go with those things--watch out family!
* And on and on...
Keeping busy helps me feel like I am doing something productive, rather than sitting here waiting and checking my email for news and waiting and checking my email and waiting.......
When Grace was first born and I was struggling with the fact she had Down syndrome, those first two months of her life were excruciatingly hard on me. And, just when I felt I was losing ground, my Pastor would call and say to me the words "Romans 15:13, Paula, Romans 15:13". That is all he would have to say, and I would turn back to God from the pit and cling to Him once again.
This same verse is proving to be a lifeline once again as we wait for news to adopt our little Bella. I pray that these living words will bring comfort to those of you who read this and are feeling like hope is slipping away....
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13
Grace's t-ball team, the DreamCatchers, starts tonight. She is so excited and keeps saying "my turn"? I suppose it's her way of saying "Ok, I've gone to everyone else's events, now it's my turn!"
Here is a walk down memory lane....
In 2006, Extreme Makeover Home Edition was in our town redoing the DreamCatcher's Founder and Leader's home and the ball diamond. Paul, one of the designers, took special interest in Grace...
Here's another shot of Grace on Paul's shoulders during a game. After it was all over, I found Paul's blog and he said that the highlight of his time in ND was meeting a little girl named Grace!
Here's the "talent" as they were called greeting the DreamCatchers at an exclusive party on the set....
Each night, in reverse inclusion sort of way, the DreamCatchers get to choose a buddy. Grace always selects a "cute" boy to be her buddy. The buddies consist of local athletic teams, Key Clubs, etc. Each team will take one night and be a buddy. This is a great way to expose "typical" kids about how children with disabilities are "more alike than different!"
Here's Grace with her best friend (and future husband, ha ha) Conner....
And, finally, the lady that started it all....one of Grace's favorite people, Michelle Bliven, DreamCatchers founder and friend....
Thanks for your encouragement and prayers. It's hard not to get down about this, but I am trying to trust in God and remain upbeat. Please pray that our facilitator will be able to push our dossier through so that we won't have to redo any paperwork. More importantly, that things will progress smoothly so that we can bring Bella home sooner rather than later....
Well, we just found out that our dossier was not accepted because the country does not recognize one of Kevin's medical codes. They are not concerned about any condition, just that the code is the one they want (and they will not give anyone a list of the codes??????)
Will you pray that our facilitator there will be able to push the dossier through? If not, we will have to redo Kevin's form and then resubmit on another Monday in the future.
We are still waiting to hear from our adoption agency if our dossier was submitted and accepted yesterday. I am really nervous that something is wrong because we haven't heard. But, until God says "no", I will trust that everything is going to be fine--It is just soooo hard!
We did receive great news, though, in that the moratorium on adoptions in Bella's country isn't on the docket for voting as expected. So, for right now, it seems that issue is put on the shelf which is awesome news for the families in the final stages of adoption.
We had a 10 hour adoption class with our home study agency yesterday. It was a good class, although it was a really long day. When I got home, I was disappointed that we did not have any news on our adoption. And, the news piece on our family had to be postponed until next week because the young lady doing the story has a wedding this Friday and some family health problems.
I pray that the next time I blog, I will have good news to share about our dossier. Would you pray that whatever God's plan is for this adoption, that I can have peace with it? Thanks! I really need your prayers and encouragement right now!
Yesterday I drove Elizabeth three hours (both ways) to Richardton, ND, to be a counselor at Camp ReCreation---a summer camp for adults with developmental disabilities. Each camper is paired one-to-one with a counselor. This is THE highlight of the year for Elizabeth. In fact, she loves it so much that she will be a counselor for both sessions of the camp. This is her third year as a volunteer counselor.
Next year she hopes to bring Grace to the camp with her. We joke that Grace will probably need two counselors because she is so busy! I miss my Elizabeth, but am so happy that she enjoys this camp almost as much as the campers!
Hello! My name is Paula Burckhard. I am married to Kevin and have five children: Elizabeth (18), Samuel (14), Grace (12 w/Down syndrome), Bella (7 w/Down syndrome adopted from Ukraine 2009); and Nole' (4 w/Down syndrome adopted from Serbia 2011) We are a family that loves God and desires to bring him Glory in all we do.
Nole' (listed as Nathan) Came Home on March 2, 2011 from Serbia!
Bella Bogdana Burckhard
This "beautiful gift from God" has been given to us through the miracle of adoption. She became part of our family in August 2009. We are excited to see how God will use this Ukrainian princess for his glory!