Saturday, January 22, 2011

Our one year anniversary!!

Last year, Jan 22,2010, we arrived in the USA with our new children , Christina and Kolya. I have learned several things that I will share with anyone that may actually look at this. I have been urged by many friends to update this blog but to be honest I am just too busy. I also feel that sharing more intimate details of our lives this past year would be a violation of trust to Christina and Kolya. So even though we were very honest and truthful about many of the trials we went through in Odessa, Ukraine, once we set foot in the US we felt we should be careful of what we shared. So I did not share on the blog.

Here are some of the things that God has taught me over this year.

The biggest revelation is that love is a choice. Just as God chose to love me, when I was turned against Him, with no inclination toward a relationship with Him, God still chose to love me before I had any desire for Him. In fact He brought me to himself and through His great love changed my heart and my entire life.

The first 6 months were the hardest times I have ever faced. 2 kids that had been given no love and therefore no discipline, no guidelines for life and family, no idea of what was involved in being part of a family, well, it was tremendously hard. Especially as I homeschooled them, so it was 24/7. My loving husband came home for lunch to break up the days for us and when things got really tough he was only a phone call away. There were many times that he came running home to work through some of the difficult times. BUT never, never did I more deeply realize how it must have felt to Christ when He chose to die for the same people who spit, hit, ridiculed and ultimately put Him to death. Jesus chose to do this. Dan and I choose to love Kolya and matter what. I think that it took a long time for the kids to realize that no matter what they did....they are Edwards and they were not going back to Ukraine!!

So I can now testify that we have 2 of the sweetest and caring children around. Are they perfect? Am I? We are still parenting through things but just in a normal way. No extreme behavioral problems. We know that never will the effects of being an orphan be totally erased but through God's loving Spirit, He is melting their harden hearts and teaching them to love and care for others.

Through all of the above, the kids have learned to read and write to the extent that their Russian is almost all gone. In fact they both read and write better in English than they ever did in Russian. That does not mean they are up to their age level in academics but we just keep plodding along. One of these days they will probably ease into public school but we want to make sure they are ready.
Below are pictures that show the past year. The highlight was on December 25, 2011 - all 6 of my children were under the same roof for the first time in history, ever! It is amazing that a year ago on Dec 25, 2010 the kids legally became ours in Odessa, Ukraine. Christmas is indeed a celebration of what God has done for us.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Remember the good times when the bad times happen!! - advice from our adoption councelor

Some of the new things that we have seen with the kids.

They have never played by themselves. We have about an hour after lunch for rest time. They play quietly in their rooms. Mostly they listen to music. Kolya has discovered how to play without anyone. He has learned to play and make things with legos and built a garage for all the match box cars that he has inherited from Jake who inherited from Jim and Stuart. It has taken awhile. At first he would just rearrange his room. Then he started playing with all the cars. Now the legos came out and he is playing. Even though he always complains about the rest time, he is the one that truly plays by himself.

Christina started to play with a lego play house. This was one that was in the attic from Erin. She said that she did not have anything to play with during the rest time so one afternoon I got it down and showed her how to play and set it up. I would ask her where to put the sofa or the sink. She could name the room it belonged in but she did not know how to pick which room to make into the kitchen. It took us the full hour to clean and set it up. Then she and Kolya played with it for another hour. Kolya loved it and got out the other legos. He then built the garage. Christina then lost interest. She has gone back to listening to music and eating sunflower seeds during rest time.

She has wanted to skate since we were in Odessa and the kids ice skated. I looked deep in the garage and found Jake's old inline skates. Perfect fit and she is off! She did not do well on the scooter that Kolya is zooming up and down our street on. But now she is zooming up and down the street on skates. She does the best on the walking trail around the baseball fields. The walking track is level and we went around and around for about 1 hour today. I walk with Haley, our dog, Christina is on skates and Kolya is on the scooter. They have to stay within eye viewing of me. They like to get ahead and hide but I had to explain that it is dangerous for them if Mama can't see them. Today they were great and stayed within sight all the time.

School is slow but sure. We try to do at least some school every day - Mon-Fri. There are so many doctor visits right now that some days we only do one or two things.

Stuart saw the kids when they first arrived over 1 month ago. He came to visit again yesterday and could tell the difference with the language. Their command and understanding of the converstations is great. They just cannot always communicate to us.

Just tonight after I had prayed with Kolya, was trying to tell me something about blue sky, sun, clouds, face, Jesus. Around and around we went. He even drew a picture of the sun, blue sky with a cloud and a face in the cloud. The word sounded like neighbor, or neighbook. Finally I figured out that he was saying that Jesus was up in heaven. The word was the Russian word for heaven. He knew that Jesus had ascended into heaven and that Jesus is in heaven!!!

If it is really serious and important to them and after several frustrating attempts to understand we call our friend, Anya. But normally we can draw, act it out and use the Russian dictionary to figure out what is going on. On medical details we get together with Anya.

We went to the dentist, which could have been a great time of fear. Most dental care in Ukraine for orphans is pulling teeth without anesthesia. So I followed Lauri Taunton's suggestion. Jake went in first and the kids watched everything that happened to Jake. Then they got their teeth cleaned, xrayed and examined. The results are that all 3 went to the orthodontist. Kolya needs 2 baby teeth pulled - the teeth are half the correct size because of decay -and 2 adult molar filled. Then will need spacers to hold the teeth in place until his adult teeth come in. He is having them out next week and then the spacer the next week. Christina has 1 tooth to be pulled as it is a baby tooth that is in front of an adult tooth that has already come out. She also has 2 baby teeth that have small cavities that will need to be filled not pulled. Jake has crowded teeth and needs braces!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOW!!

After the dentist appointment without Anya, we went to her house so that I could tell Christina and Kolya what was coming up. Both seem fine and loved the orthodonist, who is from our church and had already met the kids. We will see how the teeth being pulled next week goes :) !

Many, many people have brought us food. Thank you, thank you! After a particularly hard day of dealing with school and behavioral problems, I am so thankful NOT to have to think about what to cook for dinner. I thank you all so much as I know many of you are also praying for us daily!!

In Him Alone,


Sunday, February 14, 2010

After many requests I will try to blog again!

Many friends and family have asked how we are doing and the answer is that we are fine. Does that mean everything is smooth - NO!!

Yesterday, after a couple of hard days, Dan gave me the whole afternoon off. I did not know what to do. I went to Target, ran some errands and then went to a movie - Percy Jackson, etc. I was very tired, depressed and deeply depressed. I was wondering what we had gotten ourselves into, was I going to be able to make this, my love for the kids was there but the desire to be with them was not there. Then I lost my keys to the car. After much searching and calling Dan, the customer service desk at the theater had them. Driving home after a half day off, I was almost in tears of depression. I had been praying all day off and on but I was praying with great despair. God brought to mind the verse that I have the power of God, the power that raised Christ from the dead, within me. Not me, not my positive mind, not all the pep talk, but the Holy Spirit. I realized that Satan had been lying to me all day and I had been listening. I greatly rejoiced to hear and realize anew that God was the power, He is the only way I can make it and He has been the One doing it all this time. I had taken my eyes off the cross. Immediately I felt a lightening of my chest and my depression was gone. I returned home still tired but with a joy in my heart.

After all that you may ask what has been happening, well, here is the truth. Adopting 2 is harder than adopting 1. We knew this going in but still it is hard. But as I sit here, which one - Christina or Kolya - would I return?!??? The answer is neither. They are my children - good or tough times.

The first week was a breeze. The honeymoon time. Having fun exploring their new lives, family and environment. Even school was new and fun.

Second week- the limits were tested, rejected and tested again. Phones were put up, keys to cars are now put up, passwords on computer, etc. It was like 2 toddlers trying out all the limits at once. What can we do, touch, explore and what are you going to do about it! School was no longer new and the old orphanage school was forgotten. No school was declared many times this 2nd week!

3rd week - was the week of rebellion - nothing held back. Spitting, biting, opening doors on moving cars, no seatbelts, etc. This was a very tough week. Many positive going forwards after the testing but each battle was so draining.

Dan finally verbalized what he was seeing. Christina's default is to say "no!" and say it loudly. That is like a red flag in my face. But if I do not react and just move forward then generally she will do what I ask. This is not how I work with kids. This IS now how I work! It is working and today was much smoother. In fact there was not one major behavorial issue. There were several no's but we just went on. This is not giving into her but working around her. She needs to be gently lead to obey. I was trying to shove her to obey.

Kolya was even beginning to act the same way as he saw that Christina was getting all attention. So we started showing more attention to him in good ways. Making sure he had all our attention at times. He has certainly responded positively to this.

As you can tell, today, Sunday, has been a good day. Tomorrow may not be good but we will move forward. I know that Dan and I can do this, love Christina and Kolya, bring them into a family relationship and share the gospel of Christ with them. We can do this because God is so big, so good, and this is His plan. How delighted we are that He has allowed us to be part of their lives.

So far we have had a 4-5 hour visit at the International Adoption Clinic - lots of lab work done, good results, pediatrician visit with H1N1 shot, Tb test - negative, and then meeting with the specialist at UAB for their first visit and flu shot. The test shows that their immune systems are doing so well that no change of medication will be made at this time. This week we have dental visits. Jake is having his check up first and then Christina and Kolya will have their dental visits. We also have a eye doctor apt. and an hearing test apt. Then on the 22nd of Feb we will be doing developmental and speech testing for over 5 hours. With 2 it is takes longer. So we are keeping the medical community busy.

Our friend, Anya, has gone to all the appointments so far as our interpretor and friend. She has really made it less frightening for the kids and all the visits have gone well.

Thanks for continuing to pray for us. We need it every day! There is so much that is going well: sleeping through the night - no nightmares, no bedwetting! Bonding - they love to be held and cuddled, rocked and loved! Both kids love Jake and seem to be adjusting well to family life. Eating: they both like a lot of foods - no spicy foods yet but they are trying. Anya has given me some hints on favorite foods so that has helped also. They love our dog, Haley! That really was a concern that they would be scared of her, or mean to her. However they love her, play with her, feed her and argue over whose room she will sleep in at night.

In Him Alone,


Thursday, January 28, 2010

A beginning!

Life is always is just a bigger change at the Edwards' home right now.

Culture shock has hit not just the kids but me! I was warned but really did not believe it. When I pulled out the silverware drawer in the kitchen...the second silverware drawer were I keep the extra serving spoons, knives, measuring spoons, etc. I thought "What do I use all of this for?" When I first walked into Western and there was so many choices of fruit and vegetables, leaf lettuce... I counted 5 kinds. All clean and pretty. I had a list and after I went through the cashier line I realized I could carry all of the groceries in my 2 cloth bags like in Odessa.

The first place out of the house I went to was the dry cleaners. I was cleaning Dan's suit and our many jackets. I got out to talk to the man and he smiled and spoke English. All the signs were English. I could read and understand. It has given me a feel for how Kolya and Christina must feel completely surrounded by English. Their comprehension is much much better than ours was in Russian.

Funny things the kids have done:

Brushing teeth with a sonar care toothbrush. Learning when to turn it on and off. The first couple of times the toothpaste spun off. Then they learned to not turn it on until it was in their mouth. Then they would go to spit and splatter when they take the toothbrush out without turning it off. The bathroom is messy!!

They were both excited about all their clothes. It did not matter if they were used or new. They were thrilled that the clothes were theirs. They had been excited for the small amount that we brought in the suitcases for them. Christina kept saying, " Christina's, Mama?" Kolya loved his clothes. They both amazed me by what they like. Their styles and tastes are pointing to personality. For Christina, glitter and sparkle and she will wear it. Kolya loves soft clothes.

They both love Haley, our dog. I have had to explain that Haley is a Babushka - revered older lady in other words a grandmother. Kolya wanted Haley to get up and run but she was ready for a nap!

Both the kids want Haley to sleep in their room. So one night Haley's bed is dragged into Christina's room and the next night is Kolya's. They also like to walk her on the leash. However we have been walking with the Megginsons and they have a new puppy so the kids take turns over the puppy.

Behavior problems are less frequent than in Ukraine. However we had a major blow up today. So please keep praying for us. We need strength, love and God's awesome power.

In Him alone,


Sunday, January 24, 2010


We arrived Friday night to a great welcome at the airport!! Family and friends greeted us, cheering and clapping as we walked toward the entrance. Several other passengers were asking each other, "who is the celebrity?". I turned around and said, "see these 2 kids, they are the celebrites!". I went on to say we were returning from adopting them and that all these crazy people were our friends!! So sweet!! Signs of welcome, balloons, stuffed animals, flowers - WOW!! But especially faces of love and lots of love!!

We have seen a change in both kids as we are now home. Both are so happy!! Christina was still hesitant even Thursday before we left Kiev on Friday. Mainly the unknown was scarry! But she watched the map on the plane and when the plane had finally passed into America, she was excited. "America now, Mama?!" Both kids were very excited. They are now dual citizens of USA and Ukraine.

Thanks to all who have read this blog and prayed with and for us. I doubt that I will post many more but feel free to contact me at if you would like to contact me.

Again we give God all the glory and honor for the adoption of these 2 kids, Christina and Kolya. We continue to ask Him for the next adoption of both Kolya and Christina into His family for eternity.

In Him Alone,


Thursday, January 21, 2010

We are going home!

Got the visas to US without any trouble. Changed tickets to leave 5:30 AM Friday arriving in B'ham 8:35 PM Friday!! YEAH!! We are going home!! Kolya excited, Christina scared! Pray for us! Thanks.

Need to get some sleep. We wake at 2 AM to get to the airport:( But we are going home :)

In Him alone,

Leslie and Dan
Christina and Kolya

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Arrived safely in Kiev!

We got in last night about 10 PM. The kids were either in Odessa or in Kiev. They could not understand the in between even though we explained even with our interpreter that it would be 5-6 hours, until 10 PM that we would get to Kiev. They had never ridden in a car for a long trip. They had taken trains to camps and the short car trip from train to the camp. They were very good. Quite excited.

We got to sleep after 11:30 to wake up around 7:30 AM. We had an appointment with the US Embassy to start the paperwork for the visas at 9:30. Then to doctor for medical appointment. We have lots of forms to fill out. Tomorrow we have an interview at 2PM to turn in the papers. And everyone thinks we will have the visas back on Friday.

We leave early, early on Saturday morning. We have to be at the airport at 3 for our 5 AM flight. That means we leave the rooms at about 2 PM. Oh, well, no doubt but we will sleep on the planes.

We are in rooms in the same hotel that the Taunton family stayed in Kiev. It has a little grocery in the basement on the end of the building. We came with very little food so this morning we had hot tea and oranges only.

How the kids were doing? They are doing well. Some hesitation over the doctor but we had Sasha , our facilitator, explain how little of an exam it would be. And it was very short and sweet. Behavior, apprehension at each step then once we are through the step, joy! When Dan came home with the passports we all cheered and danced through the flat. Our landlord was sitting, waiting for us to leave. He just smiled but on the inside I am sure he was laughing!

Keep praying. We are almost home!! I pray thru out the day that the Lord will allow us to leave on Saturday. I don't even pray for the details, just that we can leave on Saturday. I do pray for us to be content with whatever His will will be.

In Him Alone,