Psalm 68:5-6

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.

God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

I am Stepanie Nance. My family adopted two little boys with Down Syndrome from Ukraine in 2010. I hope to educate and to inspire you. I hope to make you laugh and to make you cry.

Come along for the ride. It's a wild one!

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Ralphie turns three years old today. If it weren't for him I might never have known about Reece's Rainbow and Alec and Zhenya would probably still be waiting for a family to find them.

If you are new to my blogs, you may not know about Ralph's rocky start. I didn't know anything about blogs when he was born, but I knew that I needed an effective way to communicate with a large bunch of praying people. I started with shortly after he was flown to the children's hospital in Kansas City. Here he is all prepped for the flight:

I have to look at those photos and read my old stories from time to time in order to keep perspective. He has come a very long way and touched many lives.

Now I'm feeling ready to take on new challenges. Bring 'em on!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


That was fast! I just tracked our immigration papers and they were delivered this morning. I know. I sent them Next Day Air but it still amazes me!

I wonder how long this whole USCIS thing will take?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Scraped it together!

Our immigration forms were sent out today. It's a big step. Yesterday we cashed in the change we've been saving for the past few months, plus the garage sale money, plus the generous donations made by our church and friends in order to send these forms in along with their rediculous fees. Don't get me started.

I was worried. I knew I was going to be short.

I shouldn't have worried. I should have known . God called us to this adoption and He continues to equip us each step of the way. He is equiping us in every possible way.

That's good because I've been feeling a little detached from the whole thing lately. Don't get me wrong, I'm totally in love with the boys! But it seems a little unreal and I can't get my head around it.

Maybe I'm just trying to stay sane.

Or trying to protect my heart.

I'll be getting on a plane and travelling to a foreign land in a few months. I'm excited, but I'm wondering how I will handle things like language barriers and jet lag. But most of all I'm concerned about how the boys will meet my expectations. I've got pretty low expectations, in case you are wondering. Is that right, though? I'm just so uncertain about what to expect that I done want to think too much about it. Hence, the disconnect.

If you know me then you know I'm used to being in charge! How will I handle being obseved and instructed what to do and when to do it, where to sit and where not to sit with the boys? How will I hand those boys back to their caregivers at the end of each visit?

I guess the only way to know is to slop though it. One step at a time. Knowing that we are doing God's will and that He will carry us across the finish line.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

In my hands...

In my hands I hold a signed, notarized, completed home study!

I never imagined that it would take this long. I made many mistakes along the way. I'm just disappointed in myself that I wasn't better prepared.

Next step: USCIS.

Tomorrow I'll be cashing checks from generous generous friends and taking the adoption change jar to be counted. God willing we will have enough to send our paperwork to the immigration office.

I'm also waiting on some help with this paperwork. I'm so fearful of making more costly and time-consuming mistakes. I just want to get this one really important thing right.

We will get fingerprint appointments from USCIS and after that they will, God willing, send us the "golden ticket", a paper approving our children for immigration purposes. No USCIS approval, no adoption. This is the last piece of the dossier, the collection of notarized documents we need to send overseas to the adoption authorities in the boys' country.

Pray that this next step proceeds smoothly. I've talked to a few people that have had to get our local U.S. Representative's office involved after many delays. My boys don't have time for senseless delays.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hello, new week.

Hello new week! What do you have in store for us? I'm just wondering because so many people I know are dealing with crushing heartbreak, impossible situations and loneliness. If you are the praying type, will you please remember Adeye, Lorraine, and Shelley? Jennifer, too. That's your homework. (I'll always be a teacher at heart!)

Our home study is DONE! I will get notarized copies today or tomorrow. Then we will be sending it off to USCIS for immigration approval. USCIS gets to read our home study, take our fingerprints, and look at our insurance, income, and the size of our home. They will determine whether we have sufficient resources to provide for two additional children. This could take six weeks. Or more. Or it could take two. The unpredictability really makes me insane.

Right now it doesn't really matter how long it takes. There is little chance that we will get to travel any time soon. The volcano in Iceland could make travel to Europe difficult for months. Always the planner and schemer, I've been looking at alternative air routes to Eastern Europe; alternative as in, not flying through Germany. Un. Beee. Leave. Able. Let's just say that these alternatives are out of the question unless I have a positive reversal of fortune.

So the hard part of the paper chase is coming to a close. Now we wait on the government and work on fundraising and grant applications. Best case, we will need to come up with an additional $7,ooo. However, I'm feeling like we should be planning for worst case scenarios. Especially after this past week!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Garage Sale Days!!

Tomorrow is our community garage sale day. It seems as if the whole world descends on our little sleepy suburb on this day each year. At the sale in 1991 we found the most amazing dog for $2. I hear there is a house on the other side of town that has a bunch of stadium seats for sale this year. Yes, you can find just about anything here on garage sale days.

I had envisioned having our own sale this year to benefit our adoption. With all the excitement, therapy, sports, out-of-town dads, and babies I didn't have time to prepare much, though. My neighbor on the other hand...she has been saving up a ton of stuff for this sale.

She has offered to donate a portion of her sales to our adoption!! YAY!! We are bringing a few things over to add to her items. And we are baking cookies to sell, along with popcorn, lemonade and sandwiches.

Did I mention that she is donating a portion of her sales?

If you live in the Northwest Wichita area, won't you look us up?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A New Day

Today was a brand new day, complete with fresh mercies. Yesterday was a real stinker.

I received redone police clearances yesterday and couldn't believe my eyes. It was the same errors all over again. I was in the blackest of moods. On top of being frustrated, I got the feeling that they weren't returning my phone calls.

How on earth was I going to get these required documents done to the stringent specifications that I needed?

I'm a fixer. I'm a project girl. Maintenance drives me nuts. Take the dishes for instance. It kills me to have done all the dishes and they just get dirtied up again. I like to paint, plant, sew and build, things that get done and stay done. I'm also used to being in charge. My husband travels a lot so I'm used to being independent and in charge.

Having this paperwork incomplete and being dependent on the good graces of someone else to get it done nearly did me in yesterday. I could feel my blood pressure ratcheting up!

I guess some lessons I may never completely learn.

Today I received the police clearances in the mail. And they were done correctly. (Well, the gold sticker isn't quite right, but close enough I think) All of a sudden the birds are chirping and all is right with the world.

I'm feeling pretty sheepish and apologetic. When will I learn that I'm not in charge. I'm not independent. I'm not at the mercy of a mid-level bureaucrat. God is in charge and I'm fully dependent on Him. I ought to know this by now.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My visions.

I have been following adoption blogs and dreaming about the beautiful children on the Reece's Rainbow website for years. For years I imagined what it would be like to make my own adoption journey.

I would go through different scenarios in my head. One goes like this: our family and friends catch our vision immediately. They all offer material and moral support. We are overwhelmed with well wishes and completely covered in prayer. The paperwork falls together effortlessly. We get all our approvals in record time. We have great adventures travelling to meet our wonderful, sweet boys. There is a great big party waiting for us at the airport when we all return home.

Another goes like this: our family and friends cannot understand why on earth we would want to add any more children to our already larger than socially acceptable family. They spend much energy trying to convince us that we are ruining our current children's lives. We pull together as a family. It's us against the world! The paperwork falls together effortlessly. We get all our approvals in record time. We have great adventures travelling to meet our wonderful, sweet boys. All our friends and family have a change of heart and there is a great big party waiting for us at the airport when we all return.

Funny, huh?

Really nothing has yet happened according to any of the scenarios I had imagined. OK, my whole life has not lived up to my original visions. (that's a good thing, by the way) So, really it's no great surprise. Here is what I have found so far:

  • The people that I thought would be supportive have not been supportive. The people that I thought would be negative have been surprisingly encouraging. Fundraising is painfully slow.
  • The paperwork has NOT fallen together effortlessly. The crazy this is that there is nothing really hard about the paperwork. It's mainly that you are counting on other people to do things right. And they don't. And then you have to point that out to them. And ask them to try again. Then they hate you.
  • My children get it. They are forever hunting for pennies for the adoption jar and even dropping in tooth fairy money. Ralph gets excited and signs "brother" when he sees the boys' photos. I hope they are as understanding when I'm gone for a month!

Ask me about the ease of approvals and travel later. We'll have to see how they live up to my visions of perfection. I have high hopes for adventure and my beautiful new boys.


I just checked our family sponsorship page at Reece's Rainbow and we now have $300 in our grant fund! After battling paperwork today, I really needed to see that. God bless you, whoever you all are!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mini Q&A

Did you hear about the 7 year old boy whose adoptive mother sent him back to Russia? Are your boys in Russia?

Yes, I have heard. The story, as reported, leaves me with more questions than answers. It's bad enough that there are so many orphans in Russia, but the fact that one woman can spoil their chances of finding a family makes me feel quite ill.

No. Our boys are not in Russia.

When will you get to bring them home?

We must travel to meet our boys and have a court date. After that there is a waiting period before we can bring them home. If all goes well, we may get to travel in June.

Do they know you are coming? Do you have any new photos or updates?

We do not know if the orphanage director knows that we are coming or not. I'm not sure if it would make any difference anyway until our paperwork is sent over and translated.

We do not have any new photos or updated information about the boys. However, there are several families in the process of adopting from their particular orphanage. There is a chance that we will get some new photos or other information soon. Wouldn't that be nice? I'd love to have some photos to liven this space up a bit. You don't really want pics of my piles of rejected paperwork, do you?

Friday, April 9, 2010

The rollercoaster

I'm fairly certain the roller coaster I've been on this week won't be the last one I ride before this journey comes to a close. It is just tiring. And I've been disappointed in myself for not handling things as well as I should. I've mentally prepared myself for delays, for dealing with bureaucrats, for redoing paperwork ad nauseum. I'm the kind of girl that likes to keep it together. I'm not terribly emotional.

We have paperwork and fingerprints sitting in some government office. Sitting. Their own request form asks whether we need expedited processing and why. Their website says that expedited processing is not available. *sigh* Which is it?

At least this particular gov't agency actually answers their phone.

We have received some paperwork from another gov't agency in record time. The problem is that it was done sloppy. I am not about to send any documents that are not perfect to Ukraine. It would cost our sweet boys more time and we'd end up having to redo the document anyway.

This particular agency does NOT answer their phone; you must leave your name and number on their answering machine. And then you sit around the house because you know that they will call back the minute you step out the door. Which is what happened when I had to leave to pick up Ralphie from his preschool testing.

Like I said, it is a roller coaster. There are highs to go with the lows.

We received a large gift this week. This $500 will go a long way toward our final paperwork push over the next few weeks. What a blessing!

Today I took a change bucket to the credit union to cash in all the coins. This was the bucket of change donated by a group of disabled adults. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was almost $90 in this coffee can. Wow!!

I found out today that our home study draft will be done soon. Maybe tonight! I should be very excited, but I'm not gonna believe it until I see it. Now I'm even feeling like maybe I don't want to read about myself and my family. It may be quite weird.

Please remember our chip-in fundraiser. Only one week left!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

I Got Nothing.

I have nothing to report. Things seem to be at a standstill, on the surface at least.

Our home study won't be completed until the FBI clearance is received. I called them and they said they had us in the system and were working on it. At least the guy was friendly, right? He said I might try calling back in a week.

In the meantime, we are knocking out as many of the rest of the dossier documents as possible. I want everything in the dossier ready to go when we send our home study off to USCIS. We don't know how long it will take for USCIS approval, but lately other families have been surprised by a speedy approval! I know. USCIS and speedy in the same sentence!

I just don't want to be caught with my pants down!

I'm really concerned that we will be caught up in a landslide where everything comes together all at once. I'm afraid that I won't have time to apply for grants or plan a nice fundraiser. Fear. Not from God, that's for sure. So I try to tune it out and continue to take steps forward.

And then, there are the boys. I'm so in love with them, but I put up a little wall in my heart. I can't think about them too much or I start worrying. Are they hungry? Are the other kids mean? Are the caretakers abusive? Do they ever receive a tender embrace or sweet words?

We are on our way, dear boys! We are coming as fast as we can!

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