Thursday, December 06, 2007

Home for 1 Year!
December 5 marked the one year anniversary of Rosa's arrival in the U.S. So much has happened in a year. I guess what's most remarkable is the strides Rosa has made in school. She seems to be now caught up with her class in math and spelling. We continue to work with her on her reading, and she is getting a little bit of personal speech instruction at school each week.

Here is a recent picture I took of the kids while my oldest son Brian was opening a birthday gift. We have some great kids and we are so happy we were able to complete our family through international adoption.

Now that we've reached this milesone, I think we'll conclude the periodic entries that we've been making to this blog. We will still leave this blog up because we have been told by fellow adoptive families that this site has been both influential in helping prospective adoptive families decide to adopt, or helpful in knowing what to expect when adopting in Uralsk, Kazakhstan.

Our adoption experiences in Ukraine and Kazakhstan have not only been life changing, but values changing.

We'll never forget the memory of a young toddler boy who cried as we visited Megan in her orphanage one morning, because Megan's "mama and papa were visiting her but my mama and papa are not visiting me." Or the image of a group of street kids in Kiev surviving on their own who we saw sitting together and talking under a bridge one day and as I looked at them, I saw the images of my two young sons at home in the U.S.

We will never forget the older children in Uralsk, who have little hope of being adopted and face a future without the skills they need to survive. Statistics are that many of these children, after leaving the orphanage system, will be involved in crime, drugs, and prostituion. Some will even commit suicide.

Be mindful of these children and do something to help them. Ideally, these children need a home, but if you're unable to provide a home for a child, there are wonderful organizations that you can donate to that provide some help to the orphanages where these children live. One organization that is doing great work in Ukraine is Life2Orphans ( For very little money, you can sponsor an orphan, correspond with the orphan, and be a positive influence in his or her life. Project Empty Orphanage ( helps adoptable orphans in Ukraine get their paperwork ready so that they can be adopted. The World Partners Adoption Agency ( provides sponsorship money for orphans as well as money for projects at the Zhas Dauren orphanage (where Rosa is from). These are just a few of many wonderful organizations.

If we can answer any questions for you on international adoption, please contact us at:

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

On this date, one year ago...

We were introduced to our daughter Rosa. Here is Jo Ann's journal entry from that day:

The waiting is over. We found our new daughter. Alex drove us to the orphanage. It is its own little village in the country. Tomorrow is a holiday here so the children at the orphanage were putting on a program. There are some really nice looking kids. The program was pretty elaborate with fancy costumes. When it was over we saw Rosa. We walked with her to the director's office. He interviewed us. Then we got to visit with Rosa. We showed her our photo album. She seemed to be really interested in it.

She is a very cute little girl. She reminds me a lot of Megan. She has blonde hair and blue eyes and a very pretty smile. She was a little shy. I guess she was told before our arrival that today was going to be a special day for her. Rosa said that she guessed what that meant. When asked if she wanted us to visit her everyday she said "yes." So we will visit with her again at 11:00 A.M.

It felt right. We immediately liked her. She drew us a picture while we were talking with the director. It says "To the Americans From Rosa." We hung the picture up in our hotel room. We are so happy. We feel like a weight has been lifted. We are excited to get to know her.

Here is one of the first pictures we took of Rosa:

And here is a picture of her today:

Rosa has been home a little over 10 months now. She continues to do very well in school. She's very excited about her first Halloween.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Home Nine Months
Nine months ago today Rosa arrived in Salt Lake City to begin her new life. In her short amount of time here, she has learned to speak, read, and write English, advance in math, ride a bike, swim, use a computer, and much more.

School began last week and Rosa and her sister Megan are attending a newly-built elementary school. This picture is taken right before they caught the bus on their first day of school.

Rosa seems to be adjusting well to the new school. Unlike last year where she was taken out of class for individual instruction, Rosa remains with her classmates in all of the subjects. We think she is happy with this arrangement and is determined to either catch up or keep up with the rest of the kids.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Summer Activities
In addition to taking swimming lessons and learning to ride a bike, Rosa enjoyed a short family vacation during the week of the Fourth of July. This year we went to Blanding, Utah and had a fun time. We enjoyed the parade and then participated in a lot of activities at the park. On the way home we drove through Glen Canyon. Here is a picture I took in Glen Canyon overlooking the Colorado River.

Here is a picture of Rosa enjoying one of the activities in the park in Blanding following the Fourth of July parade.

Our hope is to have Rosa close to caught up with the kids in her fourth grade class by the time school starts. We've been working with her every day on reading and math. Rosa and Megan will begin fourth and third grades respectively on August 21 at a new school. Both of the girls got to see the new school and they're both looking forward to the new school year.

I've been especially pleased to see Rosa's progress in math. When she arrived in the U.S. 8 months ago, she could not even do addition. Over the summer, Rosa has learned her multiplication tables and is now dividing. She is every bit as proud as her parents of her progress and when we met the woman who be her new home room teacher this year at her new school, she was sure to mention it to her.

I have been growing a backyard garden for a couple of years now, and this year Rosa convinced me that we need to grow tomatoes. So I planted 3 plants and now we have enough to feed the neighborhood. Rosa is the only member of the family that likes tomatoes so she has plenty to eat. She also likes cumcumbers which she used to call "cucumburgers."

Speaking of food, over the last 8 months, Rosa has learned to like a lot more of the types of food that we eat. For example, she has gone from fearing Mexican food to enjoying it. She seems to really like Italian food as well.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Home Six Months
As of June 5 Rosa has now been home six months. According to the laws of Kazakhstan, we had to have a post-adoption home study done and sent to Kazakhstan. We had the same social worker who conducted our original home study come and do it. I think she felt that Rosa has adjusted well.

School is out and Rosa is enjoying summer activities. Here you can see her in swimming lessons. We were a little worried that she might be afraid of the water, but she followed her sister Megan in the water on the first day and did really well after that. Megan is next to Rosa on the right.

Rosa learned to ride a bike yesterday. I had been trying to take her out and teach her for some time, but she never wanted to do it. She was a bit scared of the thought of falling down. But yesterday she decided she wanted to teach herself how to do it and she now has it down. She has been using Megan's bike, so we'll need to get her her own bike now.

Rosa is being tutored in reading everyday at her school for 30 minutes. She even has daily homework. So far, she has not protested. I am also working with her and Megan each day on math. My objective is to get her caught up to her class by the time she starts fourth grade in the fall. Rosa is now comfortable adding and subtracting large numbers and "carrying" and "borrowing." We start multiplication this week and she is really excited about that.

It has been really amazing to watch her progress in reading and math. Regarding math, I can recall only a few months ago struggling to explain the concept of subtraction to her. For a time, she felt that she was not as smart as the other kids in her class and was somewhat resigned to the thought of always being behind, but we've explained to her that she is just as smart as them, and just needs to work a little harder to get caught up. She is determined to do that now, and it's been quite enjoyable working with her.

Friday, May 04, 2007

May Update

Rosa enjoyed her first Easter in the U.S. She had fun coloring Easter eggs and getting a basket and a new Easter dress for church. I am posting a picture of Megan and her in their new dresses.
All of the children enjoyed the trip to Disneyland. Rosa seems to take after her dad and doesn't like the stomach-turning rides. While her mom and brothers and sister were free falling down an elevator on the Tower of Terror, she was riding the kiddie rides with her dad.

Rosa enjoyed flying in an airplane again. In fact, all of the kids enjoyed that part of the trip. The hotel was nice. It's too bad we never had time for swimming.

Speaking of swimming, Rosa and Megan are now signed up for swimming lessons once school gets out near the end of this month. We don't think Rosa has ever been in a pool. We probably need to take her to one before her lessons start just to see if we're going to have to deal with some fear issues.

It seems like both girls are now losing a lot of teeth. Rosa has found that there is money to made in losing teeth and seems to show us a new loose tooth every week. For so long, Megan was not losing any teeth and now it seems like they are all ready to come out at once.

Both girls were enrolled in a junior drill team dance class and they performed for their parents this last week. I am attaching a picture of Megan and Rosa following the performance. Both girls did really well.

Tomorrow marks five months of Rosa living with us in the U.S. She has come a long ways since her arrival here. We are hapopy to see her continued progress in school. She is reading very well and her language skills are improving all of the time. We hope to get her caught up in math during the summer.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Birthday Party!

Rosa turned 9 years old today. She started celebrating early by having a birthday party with her friends last weekend. She wanted to have a roller skating party at a roller rink. Prior to putting on the skates, neither she, nor the rest of her friends knew how to skate. But after a few falls, they learned how and had a great afternoon.

These pictures are from the party. The bottom picture is Rosa with her sister Megan.

Rosa continues to progress well in school. Her teacher told us that she is now reading at a second grade level. This is pretty good when you consider that she had not even seen the English alphabet until a few months ago. We have been working with her everyday on math. She is now adding and subtracting multi-column problems. Her third grade classmates are doing multiplication, so we still have a lot of catching up to do. We will be working on multiplication during the summer months.

Rosa is learning to like new foods. She now likes tacos. She loves Arby's roast beef sandwiches so much that she has requested that we go there tonight for her birthday.

Each of the children in Rosa's class make a poster about themselves and it is displayed during the week of the child's birthday. Rosa brought her poster to class today. It had plenty of family pictures along with a map of Kazakhstan with an arrow pointing to Uralsk, and another map of the world with Kazakhstan highlighted.

Rosa will be making her first trip to Disneyland this month. She was very excited to hear that the Disney characters are in the park and you could get your picture taken with them. She is hoping to see Ariel, Cinderella, Jasmine, etc.

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