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!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Special Guest Post by James

We are in Kyiv and we are OK. We have no internet, however. I would almost rather sleep on the floor than have an apartment with no internet! We are only here for one more night, though.

I asked my husband to write about our trip so that you could read about our journey from his point of view. We have a special houseguest tonight with a cell-phone network type of internet connection. I was able to use a flash drive to get James' file posted here. It is long, but enjoy! Here is what he has to say:

The Adoption

Not knowing what to expect on this trip, well everything that could happen has happened so far. One thing we have to remember on this trip is to control what we can, and let God handle the rest. We need to keep the main thing, the main thing. And that would be we are here to give Alec and Zen a forever family. To love those to like we love our own. God has filled our quiver and has laid it on our hearts to add 2 more to that quiver. So we are here in the Ukraine to do just that. So many things left to do. First is to get used to this time change!

The flights – we were on time leaving Wichita what a bumpy ride that was, 4 hour layover in Chicago followed by the longest flight I have ever been on. 8 hours of cramped in a seat. Well at least I had the aisle. The guy behind me was a good 6’ 10 man was he crammed in that seat. Steph and I were pretty exhausted already due to being up til 2 Saturday night doing are usual last minute packing. One of these days we will learn to pack ahead of time. I doubt it but it sounds good.

If you have never flown overseas, then make sure you book your flight on Lufthansa airlines. Man do they take care of you. First were the cocktails, then dinner, then breakfast. Plus they go up down the aisle most of the time refilling your water for you. They give you a hot wet wipe to clean up with during the trip. So what do you do for 8 hours on a flight? Good thing they had free movies or music.  I watched Sherlock Holmes, always a good one. Beethoven’s 9 concerto. It put me to sleep for a bit. Alice in Wonderland, never seen it not too bad the Johnny Depp version. I watched something else too, but it must not have been that good, cause I don’t remember. Oh well, I will catch it again on the way home.

Steph didn’t sleep but maybe 20 minutes the whole time, I think I got an hour or so total. She watched music video first then she started watching Sherlock Holmes, not her cup of tea.  Then I think she watched Alice in Wonderland, then a couple of other things then she watched How to Train your Dragon. (I will catch that one on the way home) she said it was cute. She was crammed in the middle so not to comfortable for her.

But we made it to Dusseldorf, went thru security again passport checkpoint. Then down to the gate. Man was it hot. One thing I have learned so far is that these people don’t like AC. We were in this little gate area and so were a hundred other people. Get the picture, no AC or very little, no fans to circulate the air, already exhausted, been up for 19 hours plus by this time. No Euro’s to get a soda out of the machine, oops forgot to exchange money and it wasn’t worth the hassle to go back thru security and exchange money. Besides it was only 3 hours. Anyway, while we were waiting out our 3 hour layover, we met another couple going to the Ukraine to adopt an 11 year old girl. Pretty cool! Finally boarding time for the last leg of the trip, we all piled on this little bus and they took us on a 5 minute ride out to our plane sitting in the middle of nowhere and we boarded. Not as nice as the last airplane, no tv, but they did feed us as soon as we got in the air.

Then the fun began when we landed in the Ukraine. There was supposed to be someone there to meet us, I will get back to that. First we had to take a bus from the plane to the terminal. Ok back to that crammed in a small place with no AC and a hundred plus people, at least it was only a 5 minute ride. Then we got to stand in line for passport verification. Did I tell you they don’t like AC for some reason? We had to fill out these forms that state your name and such, you give it to them they stamp it give you back half of it to hold on to until you leave. Well we filled them out on the plane and when we were standing in line Steph looked at mine and I had the birth date in the wrong order. Apparently they like the day first 11/05/19??, I had it 05/11/19??.

Oops we are next, Steph told me to fill out another one, I told her to go it was our turn, I didn’t have time. So, I just made the 05 into an 11 and vise versa. Wasn’t pretty but it was my turn. I handed it to him, he looked at the paperwork look at me, I think he rolled his eyes, not sure, I would look him in the eyes. LOL. He stamped it handed it back to me and I took off thru the gate. Phew, got by there.

Now where did Steph go, she already went to look for our checked bag. It made it, yay! Ok, customs time. Do we go thru the red check line, or the green check line. Hmmm! Well we read the wall, we had computers, so maybe we go thru the red one, nope the guy said just go thru the green line. Wahoo! We made it thru customs. Not that we wouldn’t have, just that we didn’t have to unpack everything and explain what we were doing. This is what I pictured us having to do.

Ok now out the doors to the Ukraine where we will find the person holding our name on the sign. We were both looking forward to that, to actually have your name on a placard when you get arrive. Well that is when the fun began, there was no one there?? So we walked around, told the cab guys, no we don’t need a ride a couple hundred times, all different people asking by the way.

Ok here we are in a foreign country, no phone, no internet, still had dollars and no greva yet, no ride, don’t know where we would go if we had one. What are we going to do? There was one cab director guy that wanted to make sure we had a ride though. He had seen us several times making the rounds looking for our ride. He offered to let us use his phone to call, great one problem, we didn’t have the number. Ugh! This nice young man took us and showed us where to change our money, then pointed us to the internet cafĂ©. Ah internet, 10 grevna (stephanie here-it was really 20 per hour!)for an hour. Ok, that will work.

My wife being the resourceful woman she is sat down and hit the FB account and emailed everyone she knew and got a hold of our facilitator and within hour we had a ride. Ok, so it was 3 ½ hours after we landed.

There was some confusion on when we were coming in, not surprised with as many people that she has coming in to adopt that she works with. Great people though! Yulia and Nickali got us in their car and we head into downtown Kyiv. We were dead tired by this time we have been up for over 24 hours at this point, Steph with no sleep on the trip, I gave it up on the last flight and slept for about an 1 ½ of it. The ride was adventurous. Beautiful scenery, not so beautiful sights, and traffic. The weather was great, so we rode with the windows down, I played damn tourist and took pictures in the car.

First stop was to get us a phone to use while we are here, next show us where we will be staying the next couple of nights, where the TGIFridays is for internet and company of the other families that are here, kinda the local hangout for us to meet and talk face to face with the people we have got to know over the last 6 months of the adoption process. Tonight we will meet Julia and her family, tomorrow night hopefully we will get to meet Toby and TJ!

Ok, we find those places, Niko stops gets our apartment key, takes us to the market so we can get dinner, ham, bread, and mustard (I picked the wrong one, grab the hot one) and water. Now to the apartment so we can get settled in cleaned up and call the kids via Skype. Nice little apartment, you wouldn’t be able to tell from the outside of the building but it is nice on the inside. Niko gets us settled in, hooks up our phone, turns on the AC yes AC finally! Shows us the tv, it is great, just wait I don’t understand what he is saying, lol, there is only 3 channels that they speak English. The BBC channel, CNN, (UGH) and one other. Oh wait there they were speaking English, no, yes they are but then the translator talks over the English, so I catch every word at the beginning of the phrase. Entertaining to say the least.

In the mean time while Niko is messing with the phone and I am playing with the TV, Steph is trying to log on. Uh Niko, how do we connect to the internet? He gets up looks behind the tv, looks in the other room, calls Yulia. Ugh! NO INTERNET! We can walk 8 blocks to the TGIF or just skip it cause we are beat. Sorry kiddo’s we will talk to you later. By this time my poor wife has had it, she gets up and goes to wash up from the trip. Niko says good night after we pay him for running us around and says call if we need anything at all. I really appreciate that guy, he took real good care of us and made sure we were good before he left.

By this time it was 8:45 here, 12:45 at home. Steph got cleaned up, I made me a sandwich, came out of the kitchen and my lovely wife bless her heart was already in bed sleeping. So I was quick to follow.

I woke up, it was dark, grabbed the IPOD, 2:45 am and I am wide awake. Which brings me to where we are now, 6:45 am and wide awake. What will today bring?

One of our first tasks is that we have to have names for the boys for our appointment on Wednesday. When it comes to naming the boys we have thought hard, thrown out many names. We have been calling them Alec and Zen for so long how do we change them. Well if you knew their real names you would understand why we are changing them. I can’t spell them let alone try and say them.

Stephanie here - you will learn more about the boys names later. :)

Zhenya is what they call him, and I have called him Zen since the first time I saw him so that is what I am staying with. xxxxxxxxxxxxx, I will probably call him xxxx, the kids will probably call him xxxx. They have always liked that and already named him before I had a chance. But a name is just what we have to put on the paperwork. With our other kids, we have always had a couple picked out and then we get to look into their little eyes and we know which name is right for them.

Putting down a name before we get to know them, well not our style but we will do what we have too. After all it is just a name on a piece of paper. Take Jordan our 8 year old, his name is Jordan Christian Avery Nance and I call him Fred! LeRoy William Hunter, same thing I call him Hambone and so does everyone else. Rose- Boo Hoo, Ruby Baby Boo Hoo, Wes is mess to me, Rich is doodle, Chip well is chip his real name is Casey, Thomas goes by Hank, then there is fred, the hammy, and Ralph well he is my handsome boy. So you see it doesn’t matter what we put down on the paperwork, they will be ours and we will call them whatever is fitting.

Now Alec, what do we call Alec? What do we put on his paperwork? Steph has always liked the name xxxxx. Me not so much. xxxxx, do you like that, you may not, I didn’t at first but it has a certain something to it. Don’t know what it is but I like it. When I look at Alec’s pictures I can see him as xxxxxx. So xxxxxxxxxxxxx it is.

Now we relax today and then the appointment Wednesday, hurry up and wait on the approval paperwork Thursday, then catch a train south 15 hours to meet our boys on Friday. Oh that day can’t get here fast enough. I can’t wait to pick them up and hug them and tell them, it will be a month or so and you will be home with your forever family, to never look back and have the life you may not have ever had. To have brothers and sisters to love you teach you, just to have!


  1. Glad you arrived there safely and in one piece.Hope you get easier access to internet soon- it would be lovely to "make" this journey with you

  2. Crying over here!!! So excited for you...what an adventure. Can't wait to hear those names.

  3. me to I cant wait to find out the boys names, hope things continue to get better

  4. OH, Wow , James, you're a good writer. And can you imagine: a honeymoon, re-union/new friends and 2 new boys, all in once. I prayed for you during the night-asking the Lord to bless you and sort out all the bumps ahead. I'm so glad for all the adopting parents that you've met. May God make each day memorable and may He give ALL of you favor wherever you go.



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