Monday, October 1, 2007

Adjusting Well...

Elysa & Avery are doing well! They are adjusting nicely to life as siblings :)
These past six weeks since we've been back have been an amazing time of adjustment for all of us...trying at times...but over all a very positive experience. Avery keeps everyone laughing!
His English is coming along...We continue to be amazed at the amount of English that he seems to understand. Even though he is not able to completely verbalize everything, it's obvious that he is understanding what we tell him. He repeats everything we say & is trying hard to make the connection between his Ukrainian vocabulary & English. We joke that he speaks "Ukrainish" because his sentances are filled with a mix of Ukrainian & English words. But no matter what language comes out he always seems to be able to get his point across one way or another!
We can see a major difference in his behavior & personality now that he is settling in & gaining a sense of security & belonging in his new surroundings & our family. He's much calmer & more relaxed then when we first arrived home.
But calming down didn't come without some major tramas to his little world like Elysa's first day back at school....He watched her get on the bus & as the bus pulled away he went hysterical. I'm sure he thought she was being taken away & was afraid she wouldn't be coming back. However, watching her return from school & get back off the bus that afternoon was a huge help for him. He was able to make the connection & understand that she goes to school & comes back watching the bus is a great highlight! He looks forward to meeting Elysa at the bus stop & waving to all the kids & Ms. Bonnie (the bus driver)!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Family of 4...

This past week has been a complete whirlwind as we worked at finalizing paperwork for the adoption, taking custody of Avery/processing immigration paperwork, & finally traveling home.

Yes, we are back on U.S. soil as a family of 4! :)

This next stage of the process will be a major transition for our family & especially for Avery. Everything in his little world has been completly turned up-side-down & everything that was familiar to him in his previous surroundings has changed & been replaced with a new & different way of life that at times can be very scary to him.

Dispite all the changes & the language barrier, things are going very well. We speak enough Ukrainian words to him to be able to help him to understand what we are talking about & he is a little sponge just soaking up and repeating all the English that he is hearing.

Watching Avery discovering the world around him has further impressed upon us just how huge of a transition this truly is for him. Many things that we take for granted are completly foreign to him. Elysa's presence has been a huge help is helping Avery through this time of transition. She takes her job as the big sister very seriously! :)

He is expecially cautious about the food...our food here in the U.S. is very different from what he was used to at the orphanage & he is not interested in many of the things that we offer him, but we are slowly finding things here and there that he likes to eat.

Our time in Ukraine was quite an eye-opening adventure that we will cherish and appreciate for the rest of our lives.

As excited as we are about the adoption, we are saddened by the number of orphans in Ukraine and that so many of the them will never experience the security & support of a loving family. It is our prayer that one way or another they will find their way out of the system & into loving families.

We are truly blessed to have had the opportunity to bring Avery into our family. His personality fits our family perfectly!

We also want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has walked this adoption journey with us & offered prayer support through-out the entire process. During our time in Ukraine there were many times when we truly felt those prayers & are grateful for them.

We appreciate so much the wonderful support group of friends and family that continue to be an encouragement to us. THANK YOU!!!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Avery & Elysa

Chasing Chickens...

Playing in the Sand...

Going for a cart ride...

Playing Hide & Seek...

Longing to Leave...

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Olympic Day

Olympic Day was a special day at the orphanage where they selected one playgroup of children & split them into two teams. The two teams competed against eachother in multiple events. Many of the other playgroups got dressed up for the occasion & came out to cheer the on the athletes.

It was a fun time for all the kids & when it was over, each child received candy & a juice box.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Court Day

Today was our official court hearing and things went very well...the court has approved our request to adopt Avery!

The whole experience was very different from what we expected it would be. Our appointment was scheduled for 9:00 am but since things are very relaxed in Svaliava, it turned out to be about 9:30 am until all the required officials arrived. Max, (our translator) actually had to leave the courthouse and walk a short distance across town to remind one of the local offcials about the hearing...apparently he forgot. :)

We never stepped foot in an actual courtroom, everything took place around a small table in the judge's office. The judge confirmed our names/address/date & place of birth/employment, etc., asked us why we wanted to adopt and granted the approval. Max, was right there translating the judges questions & our responses. The whole hearing was fairly informal & took only about 5 minutes. Max said it was the quickest hearing he's ever experienced!

Tomorrow will be the first day of of our mandatory 10 day waiting period. The purpose of the waiting period is for appeals. If anyone is not in agreement with our adoption of Avery they have 10 days to file an appeal of the court's decision. After the 10 days is over, as long as no one has appealed, we will be able to begin the process for revising his birth record to list us as his parents, as well as work at getting a passport & visa issued for him.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Elysa Turns 7!!

Elysa had the rare opportunity to celebrate her 7th birthday in Ukraine. She celebrated with some of the kids from Avery's playgroup by taking in cookies & a small ball for each of them.

They enjoyed the cookies & had fun throwing the balls & watching Elysa fetch them.

Later, they thanked her by soaking her with the hose as they played in their little baby pool. She had a great time!! :0)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Visits with Avery...

Our visits with Avery are going better everyday. Our first couple visits were a little crazy, he was very hyper & over-excited, running from one thing to the next like a wild man. I think he’s just not used to getting one on one attention and didn’t know how to handle it. However, at our last few visits he has been somewhat more calm & relaxed. I think he is becoming more comfortable in our presence.

Separations, when visits are over are the hardest part. No matter how hard we try to smooth things over, he can sense when our visit is coming to an end & starts to get very upset. He does anything he can to keep us from taking him back to his playgroup.

The kids are separated into groups of approx. 10-15 according to age & it is that group of children that they spend all their time with. They sleep, eat, & play together and aside from the outside play time that they get all the rest of their activities take place within a 1 to 2 room area set aside for their particular age group.

Avery is fascinated by the world around him & very curious about the world outside the orphanage gates. He gets so excited about cars & will immediately stop whatever he is doing to watch the occasional car pass by.

Friday, July 13, 2007


We apologize for the delay in updating our blog, internet access in Svaliava is very limited.

The Carpathian mountain region is truly a beautiful area. The people of the town of Svaliava refer to their town as a big village & it really is like taking a step back in time. No credit cards are accepted here. Most of the roads here are rocky dirt roads with the exception of the main road through the middle of town which is a form of cobblestone.

To get around some people drive, but we see a large number of people walking & riding bikes. You will even find horse drawn wagons transporting people & supplies through town.

We are currently staying at the residence of a local family, arranged by the orphanage director. They have a couple extra bedrooms that they periodically rent out to adoptive families & have generously opened up their home to us during our stay here.

Their home is a 30 minute walk from the orphanage which makes it easy for us to walk to all our visits. Except when is rains, then we have to get a ride. The thunderstorms here are quick & fierce (lots of lighting & loud thunder that rumbles through the mountains).

Our Translater “Max”, headed back to Kiev a few days ago to file our official petition to adopt Avery. Assuming that everything gets processed smoothly & we get all the official approvals that we need, we tentatively have a court date set for July 23rd. Max will return on the 22nd to be here in time for our court date.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

The Lord Has Blessed Us With A Son!

We are very excited to introduce to you the newest member of the Stout family, Avery Emerson Stout.

He's a healthy, happy, entergetic 3 1/2 year old who is full of life!!

We are so thrilled to have finally found this little bundle of joy that we've been waiting for!

The actual adoption process will take approx. 1 month to complete & we look forward to returning home as a family of 4.

Avery lives in an orphanage called a baby house where there are many young children. We are permitted to visit with him 2 times a day: from 9:45 -11:30 in the morning & then again from 4:00 - 5:30 in the afternoon.

Every time we walk in he comes running from wherever he is with a big smile & his arms open wide yelling "Mama, Mama".

He seemed to take to us right away & is very possesive of us to the other children. In his little Ukrainian voice he makes it clear to the other children that we are his family. He tells them "My Mama, My Papa, My Sistrichca (Sister)"

We are so thankful that our prayers have been answered. God is so good!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

A Second Appointment At Last!!

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever. Psalm 136:1

After what seemed like an endless state of waiting, today turned out to be a bit of a whirlwind.

The Lord has answered our prayers & granted us a second appointment with the State Department for Adoption. Our Facilitator got a call this afternoon from the SDA & they informed him that if we could come right away they could accomodate us for an appointment -- within a half hour we were sitting in the office.

It turns out that we will be headed to a city called Svaliava in the region of Uzhhorod. This trip has been an amazing journey that has taken us from one end of Ukraine to the other :) Uzhhorod is located in the Carpathian Mountains, at the fartharest point on the western end of Ukraine, near the Slovakia border.

We are very excited to be leaving the city & heading for the hills -- with the hope of finding the child that the Lord has been preparing for our family!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Bit More Waiting...

We recieved information today that we will need to wait just a little bit longer.

There is a Ukrainian holiday taking place this week called "Constitution Day" which is much like our 4th of July holiday in the states. Due to this holiday most offices & business will be closed from Thursday through the weekend.

We continue to be hopeful that we will be able to get an appointment early next week & that the child God has in mind for our family will be made known to us.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Trusting In The Lord

Thus far, this adoption process has taught us so much about truly trusting in the Lord as we continue to be stretched in new & different ways.
Although things haven't always worked out as we envisioned they would, we're making the best of the situation by focusing on enjoying each other's company & our time together as a family.

We’ve come to realize that perhaps all the delays are really a blessing in disguise for our little family of three. We’ve laughed together, cried together, & on a couple occasions even laughed until we cried. :)

Perhaps the Lord is giving us some extra bonding time before we welcome another child into our family. :)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

A Trip To The Zoo

Today we treated Elysa to a day at the zoo or Zoopark as it is called here. Due to the timing of this trip to Ukraine, Elysa missed out on a school field trip to the Philadelphia Zoo, which was a bit upsetting for her, given her love for animals. So, we told her if we could find a zoo over here we’d try to go.

The zoo here is much different than the Philadelphia Zoo & perhaps not quite as cool as being able to experience it with her friends. However, she had a good time exploring all the animal exhibits & riding the little train through the park. She even treated us to her best “fishy face” impression in the aquarium section! :)

Friday, June 22, 2007

An Evening Out

With the extra time we have on our hands we have been trying to immerse ourselves in the culture & enjoy the opportunities to meet new people.

We had a wonderful opportunity the other evening to spend some time visiting with a Ukrainian family. They invited us to their home for dinner & cooked a traditional Ukrainian meal for us, which consisted of borsch (soup), pork & potatoes, salad, & homemade berry juice. Followed by fresh picked cherries, apples, & chocolate candies for dessert. It was fantastic!

After dinner we spent the rest of the evening visiting together. The father speaks Russian, Ukrainian, & English so he was able to translate the conversations between our families.

They have two daughters ages 9 and 5 & Elysa enjoyed her time with them immensely. The language barrier can be difficult even for children, however they found a way around it & had a wonderful time laughing & playing together…and attempting to teach Elysa some Russian words.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Our opportunity for an appointment has been postponed until Monday or Tuesday of next week.

Please continue to lift this time up in prayer.

The adoption authority in Ukraine has undergone some major changes (for the better) in the last year & some of the delays we are facing now are due to the timing & implementation of those changes.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Taking In The Sites Of Kiev

We are anticipating an appointment this coming Thursday or Friday...still waiting for confirmation on the exact day & time.

In the mean time, we are looking for things to do to fill the time. We've spent quite a bit of time hiking around the city, exploring new sites & getting a feel for where things are located. We were able to get a hold of a map & have had an interesting time using that to find our way around. It's interesting because the map is in Ukrainian, so we try to match up the letters on the streets with street signs we find.

We had the chance to walk to a large working monestary that encompases a couple churches, & some underground burial caves. It was very interesting to see the ornate detail that the church buildings are decorated with.