"To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair." Isaiah 61:3

The Burckhard Family

The Burckhard Family

Friday, July 31, 2009

The 10 Day Wait....

We are now into our 10 day waiting period that Ukraine mandates for most regions allowing for appeals of adoptions. This could be a long-lost relative, etc. that may want to step forward and appeal the child's adoption. It's highly unlikely, but possible. After the 10 day waiting period, we can pick up the court degree and begin the passport and visa paperwork. We are hoping to come home around August 20th.

Kevin had quite the eventful trip home, but arrived safe and sound last night at 2:30 a.m. It's a story I will have him blog about soon.

So in the mean time, Elizabeth and I are having some great visits with Bella! Yesterday, when she first saw us without Kevin, she said "Papa? Papa? Papa?" over and over. Just between you and me, I think she really likes her Papa and likes pulling his leg about being afraid! LOL

The Orphanage Director came out to visit the three of us playing in a covered area. He handed Bella and Elizabeth each a package of gummy bears candy. Instead of being excited about the candy, she was quite concerned for me and said to the director while pointing at me: "Mama? Mama?" He laughed, held up one finger, said something in Ukrainian, and hurried off. A few minutes later he returned and handed Bella a full-size Korona chocolate bar for me. She happily handed it to me and was content to gobble down her gummy bears!

Dawn & Amanda - Yes, those are her new Preschoolian shoes - she loves them!

Thank you once again for your prayers and support. We also treasure the comments that you post to us on this blog. They are a comfort to know others are traveling this road along with us!

Blessings, Paula

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bella's A Burckhard!!!!

Today--July 28, 2009--Bella became a Burckhard and is now part of a family--OURS! Praise God! The court hearing went very well. The people in the court room included the judge, her assistant, the prosecutor, his assistant, the Orphanage Director, the Inspector, our translator Natasha, our 15 year daughter Elizabeth, and Kevin & me. The Judge asked us to tell "our story" why we want to adopt a child with Down syndrome and why from Ukraine? Kevin did an awesome job giving answers to both questions. Meanwhile, everyone enjoyed looking at our photo album of pictures of our family and home.

After both the Inspector and the Orphanage Director gave their positive recommendations, the only question the prosecuting attorney asked wasn't anything to do with us as parents, but that whether Down syndrome was something that was temporary or whether it is a long-term condition. :)

After a 15 minute recess, the Judge returned, we all stood, and she read her statement basically saying that the court finds that it would be in the best interest of the child to be adopted by Kevin Karl Burckhard and Paula Ann Burckhard! Woo Hoo! We clapped & hugged....very emotional! Everyone filed out of the court room and either hugged us or shook our hand congratulating us.

Later, Anatoly told us that the Judge felt we were a very good family and was very happy for the "girl".

We rushed on over to the US Embassy to fill out the proper paperwork to give me the power of attorney to act on Kevin's behalf when he returns to North Dakota on Thursday. From there, we ate a celebratory lunch at Reprisa--all of had blini's and dessert. Yummy!

After traveling for two long days, going through the emotional rollercoaster of the court, doing more paperwork, and having lunch,we finally got to go and visit Bella. She look very puzzled when she first saw us, but right away said "Mama, Mama!" I guess they weren't quite ready for us when we came in, because as soon as they saw us, they whisked Bella off to the side to put in a HUGE white bow in her hair. She cried and cried when she wasn't able to run to us right away. However, when her hair was done, she ran over to me and gave me a hug.

Sad to say, but she was still "byoos" of Kevin. Sad Daddy!

However, she took right to Elizabeth and sat in her lap and gave her a hug! Yay for Sissy!

We couldn't have asked for this day to go any better! (Well, Kevin would have like Bella to go to him, but....) Thank you so much, dear friends, for your love and support! We can't wait to introduce to you, in person, BELLA BOGDANA BURCKHARD!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Leaving Tomorrow.....

We are so excited! First, to see Bella again and to introduce her to Sissy! We leave tomorrow at 3:00 p.m from Bismarck and arrive in Kiev at 10:40 p.m. on Monday night.

I should be getting ready to go, but wanted to add a few more photos to our blog from our first visit to Kiev.

Sheer Joy!

Climbin' High!

Walking with our purses

Parking....no problem

Our kitchen

Hmmmm....looking for a good deal!

McDonald's with Natasha our translator and Anatoly our Facilitator

Bella....no description needed :)

In front of Dnipro River

Walkways go "underneath" the roads here...

Contrasts - in our apartment

A few hours after landing in Kiev - on our first trip!

My next post will be after court on Tuesday, July 28th. I am praying that we will have great news to share on that post!

Love in Him, Paula

Friday, July 24, 2009

My Stomach's Doin' Backflips!

Every day I watch the little videos we took of Bella...I can't wait to see her again. But, I of little faith am so nervous, my stomach's doin' backflips.

The what if's are haunting me! What if Bella doesn't remember us? What if she isn't there? What if court does not go well and we don't get to adopt her? What if, What if, What if?.......

At this point, I take a deep breath and meditate on one of my favorite verses:

"For I know the plans I have for you," Declares the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Please pray for strength to finish strong, no matter which "what if" comes our way!

In Him, Paula

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bella's Orphanage

Thought I would post some photos of Bella's current home--the Berizka Orphanage in Kiev. Our translator said it is one of the nicest Ukraine orphanages she has been in. We are thankful that Bella has been blessed to spend her first years in such a nice orphanage--but, it is still not a home AND she does not have a family who loves her.

What a parallel to God and our future home in heaven! Bella doesn't know that life is going to be better than what she's always known, and we of little faith do not always trust that heaven will be a better place--with a loving, PERFECT Father!

This adoption has opened our eyes in so many ways! What an honor and a privilege to have this experience to glimpse into the ways our Father has adopted us and how His Son prepares a place for us! It is so hard for me to wrap my mind around it, yet through this adoption process, I gain a small understanding...

Love in Him, Paula

Berizka means "White Birch". This is a white birch tree right outside the orphanage gate:

Kevin in front of the orphanage minutes after we landed in Kiev on June 21st:

Paula pointing to Bella's toothbrush with her little towel hanging underneath:

Bella's bed - note her name "Bogdana" is taped on the bottom:

The Orphanage Director pointing to Bella's bed:

Silly Papa!

Kevin and Bella in front of the beautiful flower gardens:

The Berizka Mural on the outside of the building:

Even the babies have outside time:

The Director (& us) He's holding a photo of Jake--He loved Jake because he has a cat that is his "twin" right there in Kiev! Who knew Jake would have a hand (or paw) in this adoption! See Kevin, Jake is a good cat!

Feet washing time before going in for lunch time:

This is the main area where Bella's groupa played:

One of Bella's favorite areas to play with her own personal playmates - us!

Going in after play time:

We had the honor of observing music class one day:

Bella pointing the way out :)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sissy's So Excited....

Why, you ask? Well, after much prayer and consideration (not to mention an expensive expedited passport), Elizabeth is going to come along with Kevin and me when we return to Kiev this coming Sunday.

She will be missing one week with her Texas cousins and her national youth group convention in Colorado. However, this will be a once-in-lifetime opportunity to learn about Bella's country and heritage.

We have had some serious discussions with her about how this is not a vacation, but a missions trip of sorts. Most days will be spent going to the orphanage in the morning, returning to the HOT apartment, and then going back to the orphanage in the afternoon. Even with all that, she is adamant that this is what she wants to do.

I am thankful that she is able to accompany me...She will be a BIG help to me both during the visits with Bella and for bringing her home. It will also be a great time to bond with her new little sister Bella. I think they are going to love each other....I know I do!

Love, Paula

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Meeting Bella for the First Time...

This video is from our very first meeting with Bella in the Orphanage Director's office. Also, there were our facilitator, translator, her teacher, the orphanage lawyer, and the Regional Inspector (the pretty young lady in white on the other side of the table.)

We were all sitting around the Director's conference table, and we heard this little shuffling feet behind us. Kevin and I turned around, and there she was...our little Bella...she was real! Both of us just sat there staring at her. It took a few moments for me to come to life and kneel down beside her. I reached in my purse and pulled out the little doll she is clutching in her hand.

Previously, the Director said that Bella is very smart and is quite the actress. You can tell he really cares about the children; note how he buttons the back of her dress while she is giving out candy! He seemed so proud of her, especially when she handed out candy to everyone in the room before taking some for herself! This video encapsulates Bella to a "T", even down to the very end where she backs up in fear of Kevin! This is a moment in time we will never forget! So, we wanted to share it with you--our dear friends....

After the meeting, the lawyer and director went over Bella's history and medical records with us. We were told that she has a patent oval window heart defect that may have closed on her own. Also, she has had hernia surgery (they performed surgery through her belly button so now she doesn't have one--it's just a line that looks like her silly "old man" grin.) Other than that, she is very healthy.

Her biological mother was born in the same year as me and is from Kiev. She has a degree in engineering and is a geologist. Her biological father is from Chernobyl and is a driver. We were told that they are a good family with no drug or alcohol history. Sadly, they did not visit Bella once in the hospital after her birth, but left her there. She was then transferred to her current orphanage and has been there her whole life. The parental rights were later revoked. Oh, and Bella has an older brother and sister. We will have access to any and all information we desire, so that will be good.

Wow, what an emotional day! Can't believe it was only just a few weeks ago! Now, we are counting the days to be reunited with our little Bella, never to leave her again!

Love in Him, Paula


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Swingin' Bella

Finally, a "live" shot of our little Bella Bogdana...We miss her sooo much!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Max, Charlie, Zhora, & Lilya....Help us Find Their Forever Families...

During our visits with Bella at the Berizka orphanage, we got to meet four other Reece's Rainbow "at risk" children with Down syndrome.

We were given permission to take their photos to help them find families. Here are their precious photos:





Please pray that their forever families find them soon! If not, they will soon be transferred to a mental institution--where a large percentage of children die within the first year :(

If you are interested in one of these precious children or know someone who might be, please follow this link: http://www.reecesrainbow.org/atrisk.htm

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14:18

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Grandma 'Cille's Party....

The good thing about our court being delayed is that we got to be here for Grandma 'Cille's 84th Birthday. If you didn't know, her parents immigrated here from the Odesa Region of Ukraine!

Kevin's sister Bonnie was here from Seattle and his brother Terry and family (Andrea, Grant, & Blake) were also here from Tennessee. We had a great time being together with the Burckhard clan!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Bella Remembers Us!

Early this morning we received this wonderful message from Natasha, our translator:

Thanks for letting me know that you made it safely back home. Anatoliy has been to the orphanage. He saw Bogdana playing with the kids. When she saw him, she raised her arms and told " Mama... mama..." . She knew that we've been to the orphanage with you. She is very clever.

This little message brings us such comfort....Love in Him, Paula

Friday, July 10, 2009

Texas Cousins Coming....

Guess who's coming to North Dakota? Yep, it's the Texas Cousins (and Aunt & Uncle too). They are driving straight North and will be here on Monday night.

We are so excited to see them again....Lots of fun stuff planned for the cousins including a Taylor Swift concert at the ND State Fair. But mostly, just hanging out together.

While Kevin and I were in Kiev, we showed Bella our photo album every day. Whenever we got to the "Texas Cousins" page, she would stop and pour over their pictures. She could even say "Tasha"--the youngest TX cousin.

Here's Bella looking at the picture:

Since the Texas cousins are all girls--Alex, Kassie, Julianna, Victoria, and Natasha--Bella will be one well-dressed little girl! In fact, Aunt Karla just called from her storage unit in TX to ask what sizes of clothes to bring. The silly Aunt is doing this and she hasn't even finished packing for her family yet. AND, it's 106 degrees there right now! She better have the girls bring winter clothes, because it's only 60 degrees here in ND right now!

And now, because of the delay, little Miss Bella won't be home in time to meet her Texas cousins. So,we will take lots of pictures and videos for her though, so that when she meets them soon, she will feel like she already knows her Texas Cousins!

Love, Aunt Paula and the ND Cousins!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Back in the USA....

Hello Friends!

Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement. We started our day flying out of Kiev at 5:30 a.m. and flew via Frankfurt into Bismarck at 2:30 p.m. After finding out our luggage didn't make it, my dear sis-in-law Brenda gave us a ride to our home in Minot two hours away. Our luggage will be delivered to our house tomorrow.

It was wonderful to hug and kiss our kids! They loved seeing the pictures of Bella, the country, and hearing our stories.

I am sooo tired I think I am going to fall off my chair. So, will post more tomorrow....

PS - the caregivers in Bella's orphanage assured us that they will show our photo album to Bella every day and tell her that her "Mama and Papa are coming back soon!"

In Him, a pooped-out Paula

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Not Our Will....

Today was a hard day....our court date will not be until July 28th. :(

I guess when our Facilitator and Translator were trying to tell us it is very difficult and different to adopt in the city of Kiev, they weren't kidding!

So, we are flying back tomorrow morning--and both returning on July 26th. After our court date then, Kevin will return to hold down the fort at home. I will stay here for the 10 day wait and then for an additional 7-10 days to do the passport and visa. I won't be home with Bella until probably August 18th.

We are very disappointed and have shed some tears. It was SOOOO hard to say goodbye to Bella knowing we won't see her for two weeks and that she really isn't officially ours yet. Please pray for her to be safe and that everything will be finalized at the end of this month.

We are not sure why this is happening--but we trust in God and look forward to the day when we can share our testimony to His grace and mercy in our adoption journey.

Love in Him, Paula

Our Wonderful Caregivers!

We wouldn't be able to stay here and feel comfortable without the "A-TEAM" of caregivers we have in place! We have been so blessed to not only have Grandma & Papa, but also Jen & Kara!

Jen is our noon to five shift. She is a special ed student at our local university and has been our main go-to person this past year! She is great at trying out new methods with Grace for discipline and learning! In fact, a day before we left I asked Jen that while we were gone if she wanted she could make a chart for Grace to be able to count the days until our return. The NEXT day she came with a beautiful poster size chart made out of foam pieces with pockets with butterflies and hearts on sticks for Grace to move as she counted down the days! I was thinking maybe just a print out from the computer, but no, in usual Jen style she goes the extra mile! We so appreciate you, Jen.

The 5:00 to 9:00 pm shift is covered by no other than the sweetest girl you will every meet- Kara! Now, Kara has a smile on her face no matter the circumstances. Her positive attitude and baking skills have also been a blessing to our family! Grandma informed me that Kara is a "great little baker" and has been treating the kids, and allowing Grace to help, to home-made brownies, cake, and cookies! Not something they ever get from their mother! Ha ha (Cuz I don't bake....)

Kara emailed us this funny story today:

Grace has always been really easy to please and take care of.. however, one day she was a bit crabby and annoyed with Sam and I.. so Grace and I decided to go to Brett's Pee Wee game and THEN the park.. well.. on the way there she found a volleyball in my car (not unusal)... I hear
Grace- "Kara, what's this"
Kara-"That's a VOLLEYBALL! :)"
Grace- "Kara,Watch me"

As I look at Grace in the rear veiw mirror, I see that she is about to attempt a serve. Now as you know my car is not big.. nor is it enough space to throw a vball around.

Kara-"Grace, I wouldn't do that... you might hit me or yourself.."

Welp, Grace served dispite my warning!.. and the ball hit the seat in front of her and then came back to hit her in the nose.. needless to say, she was not a happy camper!
Before I go on, I have noticed she loves to play with the electric windows.. and whatever makes her happy is fine with me... but after listening to the window roll down, I hear...

Grace- "There.. alll better."

As I looked in the rear view mirror to see what she was talking about,.... I saw a car slamming on its brake to avoid hitting the volleyball that was thrown out the window and bouncing across the road.

Kara- yelled "Grace did you just throw that ball out the window!!"
Grace- in fear that I was mad.. "No..."

After that.. I knew I just had to laugh.. haha.. "serves" you right volleyball! luckily I wasn't on broadway!! haha

AND, last but not least is the night shift! Grandma comes before 9:00 to take over for the evening. She sits by Grace's bed when she gets there and Grace asks her EVERY night, "Grandma are you SURE Mama and Daddy come back?" Ooh, break our hearts! But Grandma is very reassuring and Grace snuggles in and goes to sleep.

Grandma and Papa are the best! Nothing else to say...we love them dearly and have been blessed a million times over by their thoughtfulness and compassion and deep love for their whole family.

So, as Wednesday in Kiev is beginning, I can rest during this uncertain time knowing that our children are in the best hands possible....God, Grandparents, Jen & Kara!

Thank you, our precious caregivers! Love in Him, Paula

Monday, July 6, 2009

Little Piggies.....

This little piggy went to market, this little piggy...... What fun! I don't know if Miss Bella has ever had her shoes off outside. We were "naughty" and took off her hat and shoes and let her swing barefooted! She kept looking down at her feet, laughing, and wiggling her little piggies. The breeze felt so good I'm sure.

Then, we went to a covered play area and the three of us took off our shoes and wiggled our toes together. She giggled, but then insisted that we all put our shoes back on! Kind of afraid to break the rules, I think! :)

While I had her shoes off, before she insisted that they really need to be back on, I was able to trace her foot on a piece of paper to figure out what size shoe she wears (Thanks for the tip, Lyndi!) Then, today she insisted we all take off our shoes again, and she traced our feet! Too precious!

She also LOVES wipes! After tracing our feet, she washed our feet and her own! What a little servant...ha ha...

What a blessing to be able to witness one of her firsts---to go barefoot in the summertime!