Monday, December 6, 2010

Exciting opportunity to present a conference in KIEV!

I am happy to announce that I will be joining the Daulton's from a Father's Heart, Inc. on a joint project/mission to present a conference in Kiev on Intervention Strateties for Children with Down Syndrome! The conference will be held in Kiev, January 21 and 22, 2011 and will be intended to dispel myths about Down Syndrome and to educate and enlighten parents, orphanage workers, volunteers, and medical personnel on how to work with these children to help them develop to their fullest potential and to demonstrate that these children have value!! We want to instill hope in parents who want to keep their children and raise them at home. Currently less than 1% of parents in Ukraine who have a child with DS ever bring them home from the hospital, and our goal through God's help, is to change the number and change the way the Ukrainian culture views persons with disabilities, The Daulton's will be bringing their Anya to show what a child with DS from the Ukraine can accomplish. We will also be bringing therapy equipment donated for the orphans. I wll be presenting on Early Intervention techniques and consulting individually with families regarding their child's development. My focus will also extend beyond children with Down Syndrome and address any child with a developmental difference.

We are seeking prayer and financial support  to cover our costs of travel, food, housing and interpreters. Additional funds are necessary to pay for the airline's fees for the equipment and supplies we are bringing

YOU CAN JOIN US ON THIS MISSION and help us achieve our goal even if you can't physically join us!

I am accepting donations of equipment and materials for the children and families. I discovered that so many of the children have never even seen themselves in a mirror and would love to put a child proof toy with a mirror in every crib! I need musical and action toys that DO NOT REQUIRE batteries and some action toys such as the laughing stuffed animal AND BATTERIES!  I am also hoping that you will share your child's journey through photos, and videos! Put together a little video clip of your child doing all the wonderful things that they can do and send it to me! If you have pictures of your child in therapy or in the community such as Church, dance class, etc. please send me them so I can share them. Share YOUR child's story with me so I can share it with them! This is an easy way YOU CAN BECOME involved and make a difference! Here's an opportunity for you to show off your child doing what they do best!!!

 I can talk til I'm green in the face (and anyone who knows me will vouch for that!) but your child will be able to say it better than I ever will! Please contact me directly through email (  or through Facebook for more information and an adddress to send your donations. Checks can be written out to Father's Heart which is a 501.3(c) charitable organization so your donation could be tax free. Please consider sending a donation and committing to pray for us on this trip!

Get your UAC Ukraine holiday cards! |

Get your UAC Ukraine holiday cards!

Monday, November 15, 2010

This has been copied from another blog, and had been copied from another blog!! If you care about the helpless orphans and want to help please read this!

Even if you don't feel the call to adopt, you can get involved in orphan care. And here's a simple way to get involved today...

By now, most of you have probably heard about the decision in Ukraine to go forward with a vote to halt international adoption until an inter-country agreement is in place. Please take a moment to write to your senators & congressmen, then encourage your friends and family to contact do the same!

Below you'll find a letter that you can use, or write your own.

To send a letter to your congressman:

To send a letter to your senator just click on the state and follow the link:

Please help us get the word out!!


Dear (name),

I am writing to you today regarding a VERY urgent situation. Many families in the US are currently in the process of adopting children from orphanages in Ukraine. Most of these children are older or disabled. American families adopting these children offer them what may be their only opportunity at a normal and productive life free of crime, prostitution, or institutionalization due to illnesses that are treatable in the United States. I personally know one of these families.

On November 3, 2010, the Ukrainian parliament voted to proceed with voting on legislation that would halt all international adoptions until inter-country adoption agreements are in place (see the State Dept. announcement at . At this point, all that is needed for this to become law is one more vote in Ukrainian parliament and a signature by the Ukrainian president. This could happen any day. If it does, many families and innocent children will be greatly affected. I personally know one of these families.

I am writing to you to urge you to act quickly on this matter by 1. Contacting your Ukrainian cohorts and requesting a consideration of revision of the law to allow adoptions to proceed while the agreement is being drafted (as was done in Russia) and 2. Work with your colleagues in congress to begin drafting this agreement so that it is ready to go in the event the law passes.

Thank you for your timely consideration of this urgent matter!

Please take the time to write these letters. Please forward this to all your friends and families. Post on facebook or twitter or wherever else people may read it and help out.

You CAN do something!! Please help, spread the word, post this to your blog, write letters, and help the government see how important this is!!!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Welcome to my Blog!

I just thought I would welcome any new viewers to my blog and invite you to return in the next few days! Please also review all the OLDER POSTS to learn more of my Mission. I will be updating the blog with information on how you could join me and other's on a Mission Trip in June and how you could help purchase and raise funds to provide a PERMANENT EARLY INTERVENTION team at the Baby House in Vorzel!!!I look forward to having you follow my blog!!
I am heading out to Dansbury Park for the BUDDY WALK!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Help Ethan!

This little guy warmed my heart last year when I magaged to take him for a walk away from the carewaorkers. There I photographed him and cuddled him and did a brief developmental workup. Poor little Ethan, so medically involved , enjoyed the attention he so rarely got. Back in the Baby House he reached out for me whenever I approached.  He craved the attention. This year, I found him looking healthier and more alert. I'm so glad that Ivanna's family was able to snap the adorable picture of him that drew the Malone family to want him as their son!!! The doctor in his Baby House expressed concerns that he was going to soon 'age out' of their orphanage (just like Monroe)! I had brought a helmet with me that my daughter had no longer needed, and they were disappointed that it was too large for him.  I found it shocking that a helmet that my daughter Jillian had outgrown (and she'd microcephalic) was TOO large for this little guy's head! He's so tiny!!! Hopefully, soon he will be in the loving arms of the Malone's and no longer have a need for the protection. If you are looking to help and not sure what you could do PLEASE consider clicking on the picture of Ethan and donate what you could to help bring him home. His family was not planning on adopting again so soon and need help to raise the money. Not everyone could adopt, but everyone should be able to help, even if it's only a dollar! Let's get all the orphans out of Vorzel as soon as possible!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Back to my MISSION, after going back to WORK.

I have had a lot of people contact me, wondering when I’ll post again! As you may know, I am an Early Intervention Teacher and am back at work full time, in a public school program for children ages 3-5. We have been busy with evaluations and settling all our new little ones into the daily routine once again. My own daughter, Jillian, has returned to Mercy Special Learning Center, and quite frankly, both her and I have been exhausted! I’ve been busy following the blogs of the families who are either over in the Ukraine or heading over soon to adopt and bring home their special child. And for all of us who grew up listening to fairy tales, I am happy to say that sometimes life does have happy endings!!!

Remember little Ivanna? Well, the little Princess was carried over the threshold by her new daddy and spent the day at the zoo with both her biological parents and new parents!!! She is making progress everyday and is just so lucky to have been given the greatest parents who are willing to keep her birthparents involved in her life!! What a special couple they are! God knew exactly what he was doing when He matched little Ivanna with Andy and Darlena!!!

And little Ivan’s parents will be boarding a plane in five days to meet him! Ivanna’s parents went out of their way to include both Ivan/Igor and little Leeza while they visited their daughter and were concerned that Ivan would be lost without his ‘best friend’. I had brought a photo album of his family and a stuffed dragon from them while I was over there, and hope that the care workers reassured him that he too was going to have a mama and papa coming for him soon. But the wait will soon be over for the little boy I found standing in the road last summer! God Bless the care worker who let me photo him, and Reeces Rainbow for posting his picture and information. And of course for Danielle and Ben who choose this special little guy!

The Sandra and Marshall is also over there picking up their little Peach and Mallory, and were nice enough to deliver photo albums to the care workers from me of my visit with them this summer!! I really wanted to thank them for allowing me to visit with the children like I did. In all the baby houses, they pulled out photo albums from the families and other missionaries and ‘bragged’ about their children. I also wanted to let them to know that I will be returning and bringing a team through ServingSpecialOrphans soon. (If anyone is interested in joining me, let me know!!!)

I have really thanked God that my daughter Jillian was born here in America! I think about all the hours of therapies and educational programming, and supplemental supports and services, medical and dental care and DIAPERS, that she has had at NO cost to me, just because she’s entitled to it in America. Because she is a human being whose life is valued! And I compare it to the absolute NOTHING that a similar child would be entitled to in Eastern Europe and it sickens me and reminds me of my mission. Would you believe that when I presented the Head Doctor in the Baby House the two Rifton Walkers, and gait trainer that they commented that they had ‘never seen anything like it’! Imagine a nonambulatory child without equipment!! Well, they had non for an entire Baby House! They were so grateful for their donations and posed proudly for pictures with them. These children and the people charged with caring for them have none of the adaptive equipment and services that enhance the abilities and decrease the disabilities of our special children!

I am now collecting any and all adaptive equipment for the Baby House. ServingSpecialOprhans is in the process of incorporating as nonprofit, so your donations will be tax deductible! Please contact me if you have any unwanted walkers, chairs, helmets, therapy equipment, crib toys, musical toys (non battery) that you’d like to donate!! We have been so blessed to have so much, please reach out to help the little ones not so lucky to have been born in America!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Monroe has a family!!

Monroe finally has a Mama and Papa committed to him!! The Cornish family has decided to adopt Monore after much pray and deliberations! Go to their site to read all about how they came to there amazing decision.

http://cornishadopt ionjourney. blogspot. com/2010/ 07/monroe- has-family. html

Someone donated $20,000 to cover the adoption expenses for Monroe. There are so many children who need to be adopted just like Monroe who are facing a life time alone in unthinkable conditions once they leave the Baby Houses! Not everyone is in a position to adopt, but everyone can be in a position to help, even if it's just by praying. You can go to Reeces and look into Sponsering a Family to help another family fund their adoption expenses!

Vorzel Summer Construction Projects 2010

Below is a list of the repairs to the buildings that were done this summer. Unless you are there, the pictures do not show the dismal conditions that the children have been living under.
Thanks to the hard work of the Mission volunteers organized by Sasha and Olya of Almaz Church significant improvements were made along with a playground for Bdg 5.  The buildings are old, with the exception of Blg 2, and inefficient. I'm sure in the winter the kids are cold and a lot money is spent on trying to heat the buildings! Hopefully now that money could be redirected to the children!!

#1 Bld 3 Sensory Skills Room It is used to teach the children who have cerebral palsy, muscular sclerosis, physical disabilities etc. Needs general repairs and face-lift.

#2 Bld 3 Children’s Restroom A restroom for 15-25 children used to potty-train the kids and wash and change the kids. Needs one toilet repaired, children’s toilets installed, a washing machine, and basic furniture.

# 3 Bld 3 Children’s Restroom #2 Same as above but for the younger children. Needs one toilet replaced, additi0nal toilets installed, bath tub installed and basic furniture.

#4 Bld 3 Large Reception Room It is used to show drama to kids, to have DVD lessons, and when guests come to visit children for adoption. Needs light remodeling of the walls, floor and ceiling, installation of additional lights, and basic furniture.

#5 Bld 3 Changing Room For 15-25 kids and 10 nurses. Here they store clothing for the kids and the orphanage personnel. Needs 2 doors replaced and basic furniture.

#6 Bld 3 Changing Room #2 For 15-25 kids and 10 nurses. Same as above but for the younger children. Needs light remodeling of the walls, floor and ceiling, installation of additional lights, replace 2 doors, and basic furniture.

#7 Bld 3 Kitchen Where they distribute food for children, store the kitchen appliances and wash the dishes. 10-15 nurses eat here. Needs basic storage and furniture.

# 8 Bld 5 Restroom This is used by 30-40 kids and 10-15 nurses. Also they wash the clothes and bed sheets here. Needs total remodeling of the floor and walls, install a bath tub, two toilets, a sink, and a washing machine, and basic furniture.

# 9 Bld 5 Bld 5 was built in the beginning of the previous century. The doors have large holes letting the cold air in, and they do not close properly. Need to replace 9 doors.

# 10 Bld 5 Central Room This is a big room where children sleep, play, eat and study. Needs light remodeling of the walls and floor.

# 11 Bld 1 15-20 kids live here and cannot go outside in rain or snow. Needs a shelter.

# 12 Bld 5 The heating system is more than 70 year old. If we can flush it out it will make all the radiators hot during the cold time of a year. The radiators will not leak and it will protect the boilers from breaking down. Need to flush out and reinstall 30 radiators, flush out the boilers, and flush out about 60 meters of pipes.

(Borrowed from  Dave Daulton of Fathersheart.Inc. ! Thanks Dave!)

I can't wait to see the finished rooms! If anyone ever wonders if their donations really make a difference; they did in this case!! Follow the blog to find out how you could 'own a little piece of Vorzel' and help raise money to fund an Early Intervention Assistant to provide intervention to the neediest most involved children at Vorzel!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

You make a living from what you get, You make a life from what you give!!

Isn't that a wonderful quote and philosophy to live by!! We should all try it!! That statement is on the bottom of a business card from Dr. Yuiy Bezdvernyy, M.D., Ph.D. from Kiev. I had the wonderful experience of meeting with him, and his beautiful daughter, on the grounds of the orphanage. I met him, via email after reading a report that he had written on one of the children who was being considered for adoption by a family. Apparently, Dr.Yuriy's did not quite understand WHY anyone would want to adopt a child who 'had limited potential' when a 'normal' child had so much to give! Well, he also wasn't prepared for the emails that went back and forth between us this year, and for me to fly over there and meet him to discuss his attitude which was really just representative of his culture! After sitting under a large shade tree and sharing with him the why's and the how's and the why not, I think he got it! He is now looking forward to working together to bring awareness and training to the other professionals in the Ukraine! And, I hope to be able to share the progress of this little guy with Dr. Yuriy once he is with his family and begins to receive intervention!!
 Dr Yuriy Bezdvernyy works with a medical group in Kiev who speak English (his business card was in Russian on one side and English on the other)! He's a great contact for not only medical emergencies but also for evaluations!! We take care of your health and peace of mind!! (from his card). He can be reached at his office at (044)551-41-93, cell phone 8-050-469-55-23 or via email at Just tell him 'Sandie' sent you!!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Almazgo MInistry! See what we did with them!!

Go to this link to see the Missison work of Almaz Church!!!
I have a $20,000  GRANT for someone to adopt me!!!
Little Monroe is trapped in his body but if he could talk, he'd tell you how his Doctor cried when she told me that he would be transferred soon to an Internat where he'd be restrained in darkness and fed once a day!Please consider adopting Monroe or sharing his information with EVERYONE you know! With therapies, Monore should be able to make progress but unless adopted soon, he will spend a lifetime alone in darkness! Please contact me for more information on how you can save little Monroe!

Been back at work but want to be back at Vorzel!

I returned to work in my Early Intervention Class for the month of July with thoughts of all the children and new friends I left behind in Vorzel. While there I had the opportunity to meet with Olga, the head speech therapist in the orpahnage who requested my assistance and opinion on a little guy Timothy who has epilepsy, aggressive behavior and word approximations. I spent some time with him, and taught him the sign for 'eat' and 'more'. While working with him, one of the little girls, actually picked up the entire sentence ('I want more to eat.') in English which only goes to show you that these children are craving stimulation!

The previous year, I had been introduced to Olga who observed me singing songs and working with the children in Groupa House 3 (Ivanna, Leeza, Masha, Patrick, and Timothy) and I felt very uncomfortable under her watch at that time. When Sasha told me that she requested a meeting with me, I was very excited. Unfortunately, our translator didn't show up so we were reduced to pantomining, and gesturing to communicate initally. We really connected during our meeting as poor little Timothy responded in Ukrainian and gestured frantically for 'more'. Fortunately, Olya Skripak showed up and was able to fill in the blanks for both of us!! I was so pleased to find out that Olga really wants to learn how we do Early Intervention in America! Both her and the Doctor was very curious about our Daily Schedule for the children and the amount of therapy and intervention the children get. They were shocked when they found out that we DO NOT put the children down to rest for three hours in the afternoon like they do! She also did not understand why we use sign language and picture exchange to facilitate langauge development. I was surprised to learn that as a speech therapist she has NO access to a computer! SO for now, all our communication will have to be through her son.
Olga is very proud of the art work she has the children do and was very interested in some of the projects we did in our class. So for now, I will be preparing 'Make it and Take it' projects for her to do with the children! I would love to be able to send activities to her, so if anyone going to Vorzel wouldn't mind, could I send some along with you? I will also be sending her a giant ranbow which we painted with the children's handprints! I suggested they do a similar one on the wall of the Sensory ROom' which the ALmz Mission is making!

In preparation for adoption and sending the children out into the real world, Olga had received a Grant and had professional videos made introducing the children to various things in the community such as the fire trucks and ambulance. These were very well made and filmed on the grounds of the orphange. She  showed me one about furniture, which was a narration of the function and various types of furniture in  a home. For this one, they went to a furniture store and filmed all the various chairs, sofas, tables, etc.. My philosophy is that the 'teacher is  the facilitator of active learning experiences' and her approach is the 'child as a passive learner'. We were able to debate this without me becoming too passionate and Olga was very receptive and understood my point indeed. It conitnues to bother me that all the toys in the room looked 'untouched' by children and expressed this to her. I may have 'hit a nerve' buit I know where I must start!

I was also very happy to hear that she has been providing some services to the local children with developmental needs from the surrounding commuities! So we  have the start of Early Intervention at Vorzel and a contact who is more than ready to learn and implement developmentally appropriate practices! I am really looking forward to returning and to begin training the staff which the Head Doctor requested after our meeting!!

The Almaz Mission Group is working hard on creating a SENSORY room ( which I insisted on calling the Early Intervention Therapy room) so some really great things are starting to happen in Vorzel!  I'm going to need to either learn Russian/Ukrainian or learn how to Google Translate and send her some materials!! Anyway, I was so happy to meet Olga, and begin our professional relationship providing quality Ealry Intervention Services for the children, not only in the orphanage but in the comminity as well! As a token 'seal' of our professional relationship, Olga presented me a pinecone from a tree planted by Alexander the Great himself in honor of his wife Catherine!! (She loved seeing the picture of Masha painting a pinecone and sprinking glitter on it ! They need glitter and paint smocks as well!)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A chair for 'Jana'

I feel so blessed to have been able to accomplish so much at Vorzel. When I started this Mission Trip, I wanted to make a difference for the children. I look at my daughter Jillian, who is severely disabled, and know that if she had been born in the Ukraine, under the circumstances that exist there, my Jillian not only probably would not have survived but would definitely not be doing so many of the things that she is doing now!!

Proper therapies and equipment made all the difference by integrating her reflexes, decreasing her tone and providing the supports she needed to sit up, stand, walk and see!! She has intensive physical, occupational, and vision therapy as an infant, along with speech therapy and early intervention support. When she needed equipment, insurance paid for it, therapies were free! She got everything that she needed as she has me to advocate for her! The children living in the Ukraine are not as lucky. There is no early intervention, and noone to advocate for the children. Parents are left to themselves to try to find services for their children, and almost all are placed in Baby Houses. There they get little or no stimulation, therapies, etc. Some brave families do try to keep their children and turn to the local Baby Houses for support.

It was there in Groupa House 1 that I found Jana lying in a carriage listening to music. He is left there during the week, and taken home on the weekends. His babooska (grandmother) visits him daily. He is loved and wanted but his family does not know what to do with him and have no equipment for proper positioning/seating.

And this is how God works!

The previous week, Dave Daulton and his group from Virginia brought four chairs and a standing table with them on their Mission Trip! I had seen the chairs, stored and knew that the one was just right for Jana! I fitted Jana in the chair, showing the Doctor and staff how to adjust it for him, and was grateful to all the Physical Therapists who treated Jillian and those from work who took the time to teach me how to properly position a child in a chair. Despite the head support, Jana’s head fell forward and ‘Ina’ a wonderful care worker, untied a broad satin ribbon which we used as a head band to hold his head upright. Once positioned, Jana smiled and cooed the sweetest little sounds in response to my ‘sweet nothings’ which I whispered in his ears. I don’t know about the others, but my eyes were filled with tears of joy!!! I missed his Grandmothers visit, but she was so excited and asked if she could buy it!! So, we have to get a chair to him for her to transport him back and forth and use at home! If anyone has one, please email me. I am also taking donation to either purchase or pay for the shipping! I am hoping we can get it and send it with one of the families or mission groups heading over there this summer!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Jo Ann Torres, a True Hero

I would like to publicly acknowledge Jo Ann Torres, who is the true hero of this Mission Trip! Last year JoAnn and her husband Ruben adopted their three daughters, all with Down Syndrome from Vorzel. I flew to the Ukraine to assist Jo Ann bringing the girls home but delays prevented that and Jo Ann flew home alone with all three girls! These girls, joined the Torres family which already consisted of 6 daughters, one who was adopted from Russia with Down Syndrome, one biological daughter with Down syndrome and five other biological children. This year she volunteered to join me on a Mission Trip to thank the care workers at Vorzel by doing their hair. Jo Ann worked her magic and single handedly, broke down the barriers between care workers, families and volunteers!! Through the use of a translator and pantomine, she cut, colored and highlighted approximately 50 woman's hair over four days! In addition, she cut and colored the hair of the graduating students and orphans at Bucha where she is adopting Marco, a brother for her son! She did not turn anyone away!! I don't believe anywhere, anyone ever did what she did!!!!She had some assistance from Nadia at times, who was from Almaz Church and had just received her Hair certificate! Nadia is so blessed to have received on the spot training by the BEST HAIR DRESSER THAT EVER EXISTED!!!Because of Jo Ann's efforts, I was allowed access to the children and relate to the care workers! Jo Ann was gifted champagne and chocolates, coffee and chi in Groupa House 1. Other Houses offered chocolates and drinks! On her third day of her hair-a-thon, Jo Ann received a call that the Doctor was waiting for her in Groupa House 2 where, Oksana, Peaches and hopefully Marshall are! She was so surprised to be beckoned and welcomed by the Doctor who resisted the Mission workers in the pass. This allowed Pastor Sasha to begin a  relationship that had not existed to develop!!! Jo Ann cut, colored, hgh lighted and laughed with her 'clients'. In House 5 they lined up and had set up a beauty shop for her and had arranged 'appointments'. By her second day, Jo Ann suffered swollen feet and ankles and despite being very uncomfortable, she continued to work without complaining!!! Someone else would have quick but not her!! Jo Ann made such a difference in their lives and I believe it will have a ripple effect on the attitudes of the orphan workers. Despiite her exhausting experience, she is talking about a Hair Ministry, organizing hair dressers and pairing them with mission groups in orphanages and Baby Houses in the future!!!. Jo Ann is one of the greatest human beings I know, a true messenger and a SUPER MOM!! Thank you Jo Ann!!

These children are all going to America!!

1.Ivan/Igor was very happy to wear his American Boys Rule tee shirt. The care workers loved looking at the map and learning where each child was going to be living! 2and 3. The children were very possessive of any gift given to them and Leeza and Angelica would not share their Family Albums!4. Ivanna demonstrates how to wrap her hair after washing!5 and 6. Ruslan on Nadia, our translator's lap and then mine once he decided to trust me! 7. Peaches! 8.Mallory/Masha with her Grandmother!And here she is on a bike. That's me blowing up a Tricky Beach Ball, wearing my world's largest fanny pack (which was given it's name by Adam last year).9. Ivan matching colors! 10. Leeza with Sasha listening to a Fisher Price Music Box! (She just caught herself tinkling! She may toilet train easily!) 11. Angelica seeing her mother's picture for the first time!
12. Mallory/Masha with both grandparents!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Severe Jetlag!!

I am enjoying my daughter and suffering severe jetlag! Tried to straighten out the blog and gave up. I'm too tired to even think. I'm heading to bed shortly. Tomorrow is another day and I'll work on the pictures. Meanwhile, I got photos from Sasha showing them presenting a blender and a TV to the careworkers for Baby Dat. Isn't that wonderful? Good night! DOn't forget to give your little one a special hug tonight, I know I did!! And does anyone know how to get the Gadgets back to the right. It looks right in the layout but they are all to the left under the posts!!

Last Day at Vorzel

JoAnn and I headed out to the SDA to purchase a few souvenoirs. Here you can get everything you need to remember your visit to the Ukraine. There are two stands which give you a great price which are close to the ‘coffee urns’ near the top. One of the men is Bougdon and they are friends with Nadia, who works with Oleg. They will give you good prices and I got 30 of the nesting dolls and pins to use as fund raisers for my return trip. We grabbed taxi to Bucha and Vorzel. Once in Bucha we met up with Natasha, who translated for Yura who had many questions for JoAnn. One of the older boys was hungry as he did not like the food, so we took a walk to a market where I purchase rotisserie chickens, flat breads and drinks for the boys. I gave one boy who is working in construction the knee pads which I had brought along for Ruslan. He was so grateful and would not call me by ‘Sandie’ but by ‘Miss Sandie’, which shows you how respectful these children are!!!
Off to Vorzel via the bus we went. I was sad knowing that this would be my good byes to the children and the workers. I’m such a cry baby and knew it would be difficult for me.
While eating outside Groupa House 1, we met a business man and his wife who were bringing food for the children there. He explained that every time his business does well, he does something good for others. What a wonderful attitude, too bad that isn’t common in America. Think of all the good that could be done! We helped them unload the bananas, juice, oatmeal cookies and biscuits and showed them pictures of the children from that house. I asked if he would do me a favor and buy a blender for Do Teen Dat, a tiny Vietnamese child in the back with failure to thrive. He didn’t quite understand what I was so excitedly explaining, so I took him around the back and despite his protests that it would be too painful showed him the child. After a conversation with the care worker, he promised to help. We exchanged emails addresses and I am hoping he will sponsor the diapers for Vorzel. The children are allocated 2 diapers per day as the director is afraid that they will run out as they have NOONE to sponsor them. I know that meeting Nickoli was no coincidence; God once again was at work!

After they left, the care workers opened the door and invited us in for coffee and to visit with the children. After many rounds of Ring around the Rosie with Ivanna, Igor, Leeza and Sasha which we got on film, JoAnn left to say her good byes with Yura. Sasha and Olya arrived and we discussed plans to continue the ministry work I started. We would like to do training in October for the staff. But most importantly, would like to be able to hire a Teacher Associate to continue my Early Intervention with the children! They have people who would quit their current jobs and for $1000 USA, they would be willing to work full time in Vorzel. So PLEASE pray that somehow, the money can be raised! If anyone has any ideas, please contact me!!!!
After saying our tearful goodbyes to Sasha and Olya, I then said my good byes to the children. There was not a dry eye in the place! I promised the two care workers that I’d be back and that Leeza, Ivanna’s and Igor’s families would be there soon and will keep them updated on their adjustment to life with their families in America. That’s all they want: the reassurance that they will live a good life. These women love the children and have a bond with them. We must remember that when a child is adopted, a little piece of their heart goes with each child. Anything that you can bring the care workers, such as pictures of yourself, your home and a map of the USA indicating where they will be is treasured information for them, just as tidbits of information you get ahead of time on your child is priceless for you!
Over at Groupa 3, I said my good byes to Ruslan, whom I presented an Amercan Boys Rules tee shirt and videoed him saying ‘I go to America’ over and over again. The staff explained to him that a family was coming to get him and take him to a house with a mom and dad, brothers and sisters. He thanked me. (I cried.). He asked if the house had furniture (chair? bed? table? FOOD?) and cheered after I said ‘Da’ to each one! Unfortunately, I was not able to assure the staff that Timothy would also have a home but promised to try and find him one. So check him out under Other Angels on Reeces and I will update his blurb at a later time, or you can contact me via email, or phone for more information! (PLEASE?) He needs a home too soon!
Back at Groupa 5 I said quick good byes to Angelica, Masha, Anya, Katya, Sasha, Daniel…… the list goes on. My heart was in knots and I knew it would not be good to break down in front of the children so I left.
I ran back to Groupa 3, blew them kisses and told Ruslan “I see you in America” and he shouted back the same!
And I took the bus to the Metro pulling an empty red tote and a plastic bag of 24 ceiling tiles (2’ by 2’) which the construction workers removed from the ceiling in what will be the Early Intervention Therapy Room in Groupa 3. These will be used to raise funds to complete the room and hire the Associate Teacher! So look for your opportunity to OWN a little piece of Vorzel soon!!
Back at the room, we packed with a heavy heart, knowing that what we started will continue through the ministry of Almaz Church and that we will be back!!! And that the families are coming for their childen soon!
On Monday, Ana and Yurig, Ivanna's parents, took us to the airport. They were so happy that they had read that the Stratton's had received the approval for Ivanna and would be coming soon for her. Please pray for their strenght during this bittersweet time. I grew to love them and will hold a special place in my heart for them forever. They are the true heroes in Princess Ivanna's story, a Hallmark special!

Monday, June 21, 2010

More barriers melt at Vorzel!!!

Another great day in Vorzel and Bucha

I can not stop and be amazed at what has happened today. JoAnn and I slept a little later today (7:45) and headed out with bags packed. I believe we are the unofficial American Bag Ladies!! I have a Hawaiian print backpack or the worlds LARGEST fanny pack PLUS a rolling red bag I picked up at the flea market and she is carrying three tote bags of hair supplies! What a team we make! After breakfast at the buffet which involves potato pancakes and chicken with cheese, two glasses of orange juice and a coffee which can keep me going until dinner around 9:00, we hailed a taxi for the orphanages. We were not too successful at bartering this man down so a ride ran us 250 grevnas today but this man did understand ‘hurry’ and I arrived at Vorzel just on time to meet with Olga, the head speech therapist. Unfortunately, we had no translator to assist us but true to our determination to communication we did quite well. Before starting, we ran into the Lorraines who were enjoying feeding their beautiful daughter Oksana a yogurt. I had assumed that Olga worked with all the children in VORZEL and could tell us about Oksana but was mistaken. It seems only the children in groupa 3 have her services.
Olga had wanted my opinion on Timothy so together we attempted to test him using my standardized tests, her materials and pantomime! At one point, Olga laid down on the floor to tell me that he had responded ‘sleeping’!!! The barriers were broken down as we laughed together realizing that we understood each other. It is hard to believe that as aq speeh therapist she has NO computer, standardized tests, or speech materials as we have in the States. Not only that but there methods of intervention have not changed in years! SThere learning/intervention is passive; whereas here it is hands on, active learning experiences that enhance language development! Ahh! (More later on this!) I have so much work ahead of me to bring Early Intervention to Vorzel! I’ll be looking for people to join me in this endeavor!
Timothy’s patience wore out when he heard the Borsh pots clinking for lunch and quickly exited. He sure loves to eat!!!
I then showed Olga, our favorite caregiver from last year, and another woman the pictures on my lap top of the girls at school. They were very interested to here the children’s schedule and how I ran the program. I believe the children get more of a ‘pull out’ service. Olga loves using art and was very curious about some of our art projects and bulletin boards. Luckily for us Sasha and Olga arrived and she was able to translate. It was wonderful to then be able to engage in a real conversation then! She would love to have smocks, glitter, and food coloring for playdough. She was so surprised when I reached into my bag and pulled out food coloring and cookie cutters which I presented to her! JoAnn laughs that my bag is amazing!! It amazes me too! Wherever I go, I reach into the bag and have just what they need!!
At this point the next mission group arrived and Olya had to join them, so we started to say our goodbyes for this time! I was a bit concerned because I did not know where Joann was ( cutting hair in Bucha) and knew she had no cell phone AND mine was dead and I needed to put money on it! Not a good feeling! Sasha called me over to meet the new group and I welcomed them and explained my mission. As I was talking, Olga joined and thanked them for coming and explained a bit about her role at Vorzel. Apparently she was as excited to meet me and was her, and together we hope to bring Early Intervention Services to Vorzel. Some children from the community, including her grandson, do come to the orphanage for speech already!!
After saying our goodbyes again, JoAnn and I joined the group to see the progress on the therapy room and then headed to Groupa House 5 to use the bathroom and sit and eat. We dined on cheese, bread and some meat roll, jelly crousants and cookies! And what to wondering eyes did appear… but the father and grandmother of a little boy with Down Syndrome, age 18 months, who are considering taking him home AND Masha’s grandparents!!!! Sooo….with my card in my pocket (w/email address) we approached them both!. Masha’s grandmother was so relieved that she could have a contact and fought off tears a she posed proudly with her for photos!! She loves her so much!!!

After playing with Angelica for a bit, I went and got one of the walkers I had brought with me, and tried it out on the little guy! I’m not sure who was more excited: ‘little B’. or his Papa!!(or me) His grandma couldn’t believe it either. And I watched teary eyed as ‘little B’ mastered walking with the walker, pulling himself up into it and turning around, and turning it when he hit obstacles!!! Sasha, JoAnn and the mission group cheered for ‘little B’ as he cheered for himself. A few care workers came out to watch and were amazed! Sasha explained that they need to let him have access to it daily, along with Anya! Please say a special pray that this father, who so loves his son, has the courage to bring him home and that we, through Sasha’s ministry can support him! AND that the careworkers use it! I think the new mission workers will follow through!!!

Little B’s father gave JoAnn and I a ride to Bucha, where we spent a few hours sitting outdoors with Yura and his little friends. These three boys are also orphans and available for adoption so if anyone is looking for an older boy let us know!!! One of the boys was a little mischievous and I gave him a purple trivky happy face beach ball which I had for the younger ones. This brought a smile to his face and I ended up giving out the rest of my supply. Imagine this: 30 boys outdoors with only ONE soccer ball which was Yura's. It‘s hard to believe that children can not only be deprived of a mother and father to love them, but a ball as well!!! There are so many children who need to be saved!

Friday, June 18, 2010

WInding Down!

We continue to keep up the fast pace despite JoAnn's swollen feet and my sore knees but we know we must pursue! Yesterday JoANn spent her day at Bucha sutting the children's hair and hanging with Marco. She has really gotten to know him which is unheard of!
I spent the day at Vorzel again! First thing I had the opportunity to meet up with the Lorraines with Oksana in Groupa House 1. I witnessed the bond between mother and daughter develop over cheerios! I gave the doctor a hand knitted pink sweater set from a woman at my Church for Peaches! And guess who was in the waiting room holding her? Her Grandmother!! That's right, little Peaches! I quickly explained to her that she had a family in America, hoping that she understood and blew her blessings and kisses!
I joined Sasha and the Mission Group at 5 and we distributed the bonnets to the children, choosing a special bonnet for each child based on the size, color and sponser! Off to Groupa 3 where we once again distributed bonnets. The Mision group from Michigan presented the supplies that they brought for the children and careworkers.The children were all so excited and thanked them when directed!
Sasha then took me to the back of 3 where they have started demolition on the room that will soon be the 'Sensory Room' or Early Intervention Room. I will be consulting with them on this project and we made a video explaining the purpose and their needs! I'll never make it as a reporter as I stumbled over words, etc. But it was fun!
I met up with Dr. Yurig B. who evaluated Ruslan and Igor and discussed American philosphies vs. Ukrainian on evalution, treatment and prognosis. He is a great contact and available through the facilitator for assessmenta, plus works as a family doctor. I'll share his information later because it's good to know a doctor in iev
At night Ivanna's parents picked us up and we went back to their house for dinner. We had a wonderful time, eating real Ukrainian food and getting to learn them better. They are a very courageous young couple and should be admired for their dedication to their daughter! We have developed a bond with them that is a treasure! I feel as though I have another family in the Ukraine as they are the samae age as my sons!
After a tour of Kiev and a good night sleep we are off once again to Bucha and Vorzel. 2 heads in Bucha left to cut, more bonding time with Marco for JoAnn and I will be meeting with the speech therapist and evaluating Timothy. Please continue to pray for Monroe. And pray that more doors open! We have broken down barriers through JoAnn's touch which allowed me to touch the children. When people allow you to touch them physically they are opening themselves up emotionally. We have melted the walls and made a difference! More later!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Another very busy day at Vorzel

Today was another busy day at both Vorzel AND Bucha! We met Natasha at the Metro and took the ride via metro and bus. It hard to believe that last year we were so afraid and cautious as we navigated the rails and this year we are telling a native where to get the bus to both places. It's really quite easy, even for me who gets lost when you spin me in a circle! At the flea market in 'Sveeatocean' where you leave the metro and catch the bus, I brought a large red tote bag on wheels as my backpack and 'the world's largest fanny pack' were getting too heavy to carry. I am toting my laptop back and forth to show the careworkers the pictures of JoANN's girls in my Early Intervention Program, my daughter and her school Christmas pagent so they can undertand that these children lead productive lives in AMerica! I think they are finally getting it as today the head doctor (the one I was so scared of last year!) asked me to demonstrate my techniques tomorrow and train them. I think she wants me to set up a classroom tomorrow. I gave her the head doctor the donated walkers and she was so grateful. Both her and the head doctor from Groupa 5 accepted them and asked me how to use them. They remarked that they have NO access to equipment like this there! She sent me over to Groupa House 3 and 2 to assess the needs of some of the children! I broke down and cried tears of joy when I saw Ruslan who was NOT at the specialized therapy house. Nadia, our translator and I went to Groupa House 1, where we entered a back door, and were greeted by careworkers who asked for materials for three children. They are in great need of musical crib toys and a blender to prepare the food for a tiny little boy of Vietnamese descent who has failure to thrive. I demonstrated techniques for decreasing his spasticity. The careworker was so grateful and excited to learn that he was visually tracking and responding to her voice. We choose a simple suction cup toy for a highchair for another child who happily spun it over and over again. These children are so deprived of the stimulation that they so need, and the staff has been so receptive! I feel I am making a difference!

Meanwhile, JoAnn took her new son and two of his friends on a trip to the market where they brought soap, detergent, shampoo, sponges, kotex for the orphanage at Bucha. This is what they reqauested instead of balls! She did give him his own soccer ball and found out that he will be going to Italy for the summer (sort of like the Fresh Air Fund in America)! They also purchase fresh fruit and vegtables from the locals for the children. All of this had to be carted back on flat carts such as the kind you get at a lumber store. JoAnn had such a wonderful experience with Yura aqnd will see him tomorrow when she goes back to cut and style the hair of 9 girls graduating from the school. The children graduated after 11th grade , with some trade/skill and are sent out into the world, alone with no family. How alone that must be, no family and now you're on your own! Imagine turning your teenager out on the streets when they turn 18 like that!

JoAnn headed back to Vorzel, via the 'BOP 3' bus, and found herself called by the doctor in Groupa House 2 who was waiting for her to do her hair! I could not believe when I found her that she was all set up in 2 and had already done 3 cuts and getting ready to do the doctors hair when I walked in! I was surprised to meet up with Nadia and Oleg there too!! Pastor Sasha arrived and we had a great visit with the doctor who brought us back to meet Monroe! As I was measuring him for equipment needs, the doctor told me what he really needs is a family real soon. In six months he will be sent to an institution which is like death row. He will be restrained in a crib in a dark room and barely fed. At this point, she broke down in tears and begged me to find him a family. Please get your prayer warriors going for this beautiful little boy! I will update his profile also. Here again, I had caregivers posing with the children! I had the pleasure of seeing PEACH from across the room. She will be have surgery to repair the ventricle in the beginning of July. She looks wonderful but they are concerned she will get sick so she is 'protected' from the others! What a cutie!

Back at Groupa 3 I met with the speech therapist who would like me to assess Timothy and a few others this Saturday. Next week, Sasha's mission group will start tearing down and building a 'sensory room' for that house. He would like us to fund raise and provide materials if possible.

I was so busy all day going back an forth from one Groupa to the next and meeting with doctors and careworkers that I never met up with the psychologist, Dr. Yurig as planned. I just don't have enough time to do all that they need in the 5 Houses but will try my hardest. I need to stay longer!

The helmet I had does not fit Volva in Groupa 1. Does anyone have access to one? I will be gathering a list of requested items and will be posting them at a later date. Sasha and the Almaz Church are doing amazing things for the children at Vorzel. They are so committed to the orphanage and the children so please remember them and their mission in your prayers as they are truly Guardian Angels of these children!

We will be dining at Ivanna's house tomorrow night with her family which will be a wonderful opportunity for us to get to know them. It's after midnight here and we will be up at 5:30 to start the day again! We did not leave Vorzel until 8:00 tonight so we are putting in really long days. It's a good thing we did our site seeing last year because we have spent 10 hour days at the orphanage. Next time I will stay at the Vorzel Sanitorium which is only 32 dollars per night, including 3 meals and a five minute walk to the Groupa Houses!
Can anyone tell me how to get pics out of Kodak Easy Share and into blog?!!!!!I can't upload the pictures and videos!!!!SOS!!!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Very busy in Vorzel.

Well, I finally was able to get the internet at the room and translate my Blog into English! It's amazing how fast one can get frustrated when you can't get into your blog or email!! We have had three amazing days at VOrzel! On Sunday, we went to Vorzel with Ivanna's perents and brother and had an enjoyable visit with them! They love her so much and want her to have a life in America where she can get the services she needs! Today got there by 11:00 and didn't leave until after 7:00. We met with Sasha and Olya from Almaz Church who have helped us through their mission, achieve our mission! As a treat to for the careworkers they arranged for JoAnn to do their hair! JoAnn has done the hair of at least 30 woman in two days! That's cuts, color and highlights! She has softened the hard shell of the careworkers and has really made a difference in their relationship. These woman are remarkable and truly care for the children!!!She has had the assistance of a young woman, Nadia to translate ! They were 'partying " with leis on and gave us champagne and chocolates! (Yumm!) This may have been the biggest thing that has ever happened for these woman. They were so grateful. JoAnn continually reminded them that she was doing this to Thank them for taking care of the children!I will tell you more and send photos in future updates.
While JoAnn cut hair I 'helped' myself to the children! Yesterday, I spent the day in Groupa House 1 with Igor/Ivan, Ivanna and Leeza along with Misha, Mikey, and Timothy. The workers allowed me to interact with the children and even filmed me with them when I gave them my camera! These are the same women who escorted me to the office last year! Leeza and Ivanna were transferred to Groupa House 1 from 3 and Ivan/Igor from House 4 and they have blossomed! Ivanna and Leeza are both repeating words and saying some words spontaneously.They can both do the actions for simple Russian Children's songs when sung by the workers and try to sing along! They are so proud of themselves! They look so much better too, healthy, longer hair, less scrathes and abrasions! Both girls can follow simple one step directions in Russian. I taught the three of them how to play Ring Around the Rosie and they LOVED it! I even had the careworkers doing it too! Once I stopped they continued to do it themselves and I heard lots of words, especially "FALL DOWN"! So the girls are verbal and should take off once in a language enriched, loving environment!!Leeza held onto her book and pillow, looking at the pictues, repeating Mama, Papa!But she was so sweet and shared the album with Ivanna and Sasha. He's a little guy who is verbal, hydrocephalic but not signed off yet by his parents. Ivan/Igor runs Groupa House 1. He is SOOO verbal, some echolalia but lots of spontnaeous speech. He sings songs, recites poetry and gives everyone a quick back massage when requested! He uses all the workers and children's names, and learned mine rather quickly.I was amazed at his progress from last year! The children in this House have no toys to play with, despite a room full of educational toys locked behind a pink door! Supposively this is where the teacher works with them 1 on 1. The entire situation got me very annoyed and really upset me so I'll tell you all about that later. The saddest thing in that House is that three children were transferred to the Internat: red headed Ruslan, Katya and Vova. These children were never released for adoption by their parents! Little Misha is pathetic, pale and in a brace for hip dysplasia. Please pray for him, he looks like he will be leaving us soon! Vladik is still there, a little stronger, but still needs surgery.
I found a boy lying in a stroller who has severe cerebral palsy and microcephaly whose mother and grandmother are rasing him and drop him off there for babysitting! He was too big for the strolller so I was able to position him in a chair donated from Dave Dalton and his group from Virginia last week. Isn't that wonderful! One hand sows the seed....
When his grandmother saw him positioned in the chair she asked if she could buy it. So look around, I need to get them a chair for home!!Send me pics if you have one,so I can get the right one! I'll figure out how to get it to him! The careworkers and Doctor assisted in adjusting the chair for him so they had hands on training. They never saw anything like it and were so happy to have an upright position for Jana!
I even met the orthopedist who thought I was a doctor and explained the conditions of each child! When he asked me my techniques on 'nerve repositioning" after tendon release I explained that I was 'only a teacher' but will get his surgical information from USA! They use Botox injections and do surgery only on the children who they think are 'candidates' for it based on 'potential'.
Today we were in Groupa House 5 where Milena and Lillia were raised! Again we were welcomed with outstretched arms and smiling Groupa workers lined up with a schedule ready! As JoAnn cut hair, I showed a slide presentation on her girls at school. The Doctor was especially interested in HOW they learn and their functioning in the communitiy. I shared pictures of my daughter and we discussed how America deinstitutionalized in the 70's and built in the supports for the family! The workers all agreeded that he children would be better at home and I was approached by a worker who has stayed in touch with a family that took their DS child home! In addition, there are two other 2 year olds with DS there whose parents visit them weekly and also are considering taking them home!!Isn't that wonderful! Hopefully tomorrow those parents will come to meet me for strategies and support!
So, I spent a lot of time with Masha and Angelica in the afternoon! And may have five other children without DS who are available also! Both girls are doing so much better than last year! And wear 18-24 month size clothing. We had so much fun playing RIng around the Rosie and imitating the gestures to songs such as "If you're happy and you know it clap your hands..." and Head Shoulders, knees and toes". They are both imitating gestures and following simple directions. They are HAPPY and HEALTHY and BEAUTIFUL and I couldn't hug them enough!! I kept telling them that they have Mama's and Papa's. Angelica kissed the pictures in her book and they both blew kisses and waved 'hi'. This entire experieince has been so awesome for me and I know that God has directed me to do more! Anya is now standing and imitated arms up and clapping! She is lower functioning but is interactive and I did get her to laugh and smile! Tomorrow I will bring her DJ's Rifton Walker and see how she does with it!
And tonight I got a worker in Groupa House 2 to bring PEACHES to the window for me to see! She is more beautiful than her picture if you could imagine! And she looked very healthy too!!Now hopefully, we will get into this House tomorrow!!!
I have been disappointed as RUSLAN is still at a specialized medical theapy center recupperating from surgery. I will be meeting with the doctor/psychologist who evaluated him for his family and will see if he can take me to see him.
I have so much to tell everyone about their children and once home you can call me. I am so tired now. JoAnn is fast asleep but I will to attach some photos!Please be patient with me as I am so technology challenged. Next trip I need to bring a tech expert along!!!

Monday, June 14, 2010

We're safe in Vorzel , Ukraine.

Greetings! We arrived yesterday in the Ukraine and were met at the airport by Yurig, Ivanna's father. After managing to get my 100 pounds of luggage plus the walkers into the car, he drove us to our apartment at 19 Besinia Street Kirv. Unfortunately, our apartment wasn't ready til 1:00, and we were ready to sleep, but it gave us enough time to go to the buffet and eat!!!! After stuffing ourselves, we went back to the room to rest before heading out to the baby House at Vorzel with Yurig Ana and baby Igor to meet Ivanna. Jo Ann and I were not allowed into Groupa House 1 where Ivanna, Leeza and Igor/Ivaan were so we took walk while Ivanna's parents visited with her. We strolled into Groupa House 3 where Masha's careworker, our favorite, recognized JoAnn and I and was anxious to see and hear updates on Masha. We saw Timothy ther who looked really good,, thinner however, and he respoded 'Hello' and waved to us!! Out inthe road, we met up with Lillia's Careworker who excitedly kissed her photos! We got to visit with Ivanna, right before leaving and were thrillled to see her imitating and interacting very positively with her mama, papa and brotheran and Leeza who climbed out of the window. I got some great information on Ivanfrom Ana! We also got to see Igor/IvArt night we made it back in time to meetat TGIF with Okasana's parents, Erin and larry Loraine, Sophia and her mom and dad, the Sanchez'z, jospeh's parents and another couple adopting 4 little ones!!! (Sorry I forgot their names.)
This morning we met up wwith Natasha and took the metro and bus to Bucha and met 'Marco/Yura' and I am proud to annouce I witnessed JoAnn confirm her papper pregnancy. It's a BOY annd I don't know what he weighs but he's 12 years old, and has the cutest smile, twinkle in his eyes and looks like he was their biological son! hE WAS ESTATIC WHEN HE MADE THE CONNECTION BETWEE 'GOING TO America ' and Mama and Papa. Not many people get to watch a mother and son meet for the first time but once again I was blessed to be part of this experieince!We then took the bus into VOrzel, missed our stop and was helped by a young woman who turned out to be Tatina's daughter, who was the wonderful careworker who posed Ivan for his picture last year!!!Could you believe it! Tomorrow we will go meet with her and her daughter will translate for us! She is in Okasama's Groupa House!
We are currently meeting with Sahsa and Olya and will be heading over to the Baby House in a few mintues to meet the children! Tomorrow we will bring all the equipment and meet with the Heaad Doctor! We hope to post pictures tonight! See TORRESFAMILYADOPTION.BLOGSPOT.COM FOR MORE!

Friday, June 11, 2010

More stuff just arrived!

My boyfriend AL, just showed up with more things donated by some of the families of the children I work with! I now have 3 walker (a purple gait trainer!) to figure out how to bring! Al has this great idea to 'shrink wrap' them with the material you get at Home Depot to secure things to your car top! So off we go.... I hope Ivanna parents can fit us in their car!
Jillian came by with her Dad to give me a hug and show off her Challenger Baseball League trophy! She was so proud and I'm proud of her! She sure made a difference in my life and I hoipe I can make a difference in the life of at least one other child (one at a time!) in Vorzel!!

Getting serious now! Will it all fit??!!

Okay so I'm home now and trying to figure out how to pack all of the stuff I have to take! I've got Rifton walkers, a therapy ball, a helmet, 100 hats and sun bonnets (approximately 100, only 1/2 with committed donors), lots and lots of craft supplies, Croc kneepads, rattles, music boxes, a laughing dog, an evaluation kit, 50 pairs of socks, a slip n slide (FUN!!!!), side walk chalk, sign language booklets, 25 beach balls, hand crocheted sweater sets, bubbles and wands, and so much more!!! I have't started on my 'Ukrainian' wardrobe, and emergency medical supplies (antibiotics, hand sanitizer, meds, sunscreen, etc.).
I've got the cutest shirts for Ruslan and Ivan that say AMERICAN BOYS RULE! I'm so anxious to see them as they were both little guys that I 'found' last year and now have committed families!!!We also have gifts for Ivann's family and Sasha and Olya. Jo Ann's suitcases are loaded with hair supplies for her Hair Salon for the Careworkers and children in Vorzel', gifts for them and everyone else. I have my electrical plugs especially for there, a wattage convertoer, my lap top, iphone, and camera. I just brought a video camera that films at different angles, and a voice recorder. I did forget the kitchen sink, so the hand sanitizer will have to do!!!
It's not too late to sponsor a bonnet! For a $10 donation, a sun bonnet will have your name in it and be given to a child. We will continue to label them right up til we deliver them!
So...please pray for us; that we arrive safely and have a productive mission!!! Follow along on our journey....

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Please see the SPONSOR A BONNET campaign below (older posts) and donate in memory of little IRA! I still have approximately 45 bonnets without a Sponser!!!

Sasha and Olya Skripak

I will be joining Pastor Sasha and Olya Skripak from the Almaz Church in Kiev on their mission in Vorzel. The men who are on the mission will be working on the buildings and the women will be attending to the children. I will be training Olya and the mission workers on early intervention techniques. God brought us together last summer over the children in 'the forbiddden house' after meeting two of their mission workers, one of whom had ben raised in Vorzel. Sasha was instrumental in getting us into the House and helping us get some photos of the children. Olya, his wife had been wanting to learn what to do with the children to stimulate them and that turned into an opportunity for me to do some training with local woman who were interested. Hopefully, I will be able to do more trainings and these women will be able to go in and support new families so the children don't end up in the Baby Houses!!! Every summer Sasha, Olya and their three children Liza, 5, Gera, 4 and Martha age 2, spend six weeks at the Sanatorium ministering to the orphans in Baby House 12. And Olya is blessed to be pregnant with Skripak #4 this time!I'm not sure where else they will go this summer but last year spent time in Sri Lanka at an orphanage there!

Why do they do this?
Reason 1. God adopted us when we were orphans. Jesus promised: I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you. (John,14:18) Blesses the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spirituaal blessing..., just as He chose us in Him...He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will (Eph.1:3-5). reason 2 God commands to serve the orphans and we want to obey Him. Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan,...(Isa. 1:17) Pure and imdefiled religion in the sight of God and Father is this: to visit orpohans...(Jas.1:27).

Six days to go!

Well, it's Sunday night and we leave in six days!!! I feel I have so much more to do and no time to do it! It's my last weeek at school and I have to plan a Graduation Ceremony for my preschoolers who will be going off to a kindergarten program for next school year! I got hit with a sinus infection and lost most of the weekend to sleep...but my body needed to rest up for what lies ahead once I arrive in the Ukraine!
We will leaving on Saturday, June 12 and arriving in the Ukraine on Sunday morning. We willl be picked up at the airport by Ivanna's parents, Ana and Yurig. I hope our suitcases fit in their car! Last year, while visiting with Masha in Groupa House 3 , Jo Ann and I met Ivanna's parents who visit with her as often as possible. They are a beautiful young couple who represent so many of the birth parents over there. They were encouraged to sign over their baby Iva within weeks of giving birth to her, never taking her home from the hospital out of fear and the lack of support to raise a special needs child in their country! This is where more efforts need to be made, in order to support these families by encouraging Early Intervention services to be available for families and children!!! And this is where I'd also like to focus my work!! Ana begged us to find a home for Ivanna in America. Her fears were that once transferred to the institution she 'would disappear because she had a goood heart.' Indeed that night on TV we saw a news report about an arrest of an 'organ ring' in which orphans were snatched and shipped to other countries for their organs!! This was real!! Could you believe it?!How frightful for a parent who loves their child! It's bad enough that they were unable to get her back once they placed Ivanna but to have to sleep every night with that hanging over your head!!! Once I got home, I circulated Ivanna's story and begged people to pray for a family for her. I sent Andrea updates for ReecesRainbow and one night two very special people in Mississippi fell in love with little Ivanna after seeing her face on Reeces Rainbow! Now hopefully, their story has a happy ending. God had BIG plans for little Ivanna and her parents. Darlena and Andy Stratton are 'this' close' to being on a plane to picking up their new daughter, Ivanna. And they are open to sharing Ivanna's life with her biological parents. Now isn't that a story made in Heaven and a Hallmark special!!! I feel so blessed to have been a part of this. I am hoping to encourage Ana to be an advocate for new mother's to keep their babies once she sees the progress Ivanna can make! Part of it is the bleak message and prognosis they are given at birth, And the belief that these children are victims from Chernobyl!!!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Mission to Ukraine, Vorzel Orphanage

Sad News!

Tonight I found out that Ira in Baby House 1 died in Vorzel. I am overwhelmed with feelings of sadness and anger. She is the precious little girl below as the model for my Sponser a Bonnet campaign. How could this be allowed to happen? Little Erra (Ira) had hydrocephalus and was severely visually impaired and may have been autistic as well. But she was a bundle of giggles and laughter and a great little cuddler! How sad that she would die alone without ever knowing the love and comfort of a mother and father. Please pray that she did not suffer for long and that she rests in peace in the comfort of our Lord's arms! This is the reason I am so passionate about helping these little one's. They are all alone, discarded and 'warehoused' until our Lord reaches out and calls them home. Could you imagine if your child had noone to hold them when they were ill, sad or scared?! Please help me to help these children. Spread the word...pray...and open your hearts to either adopting an orphan with special needs or helping another family bring a child home!!! "It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish. " Mother Teresa

Please go give your little ones an extra hug tonight as you thank God for all the goodness that He has given you through your child!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Heading over for a Mission Trip

Well, if you read my first post to this blog, I will continue now. Once over there, my heart went out to all the precious children who were in the orphanage just wating and needing to be loved. You can't imagine what it could be like until you see with your own eyes the blank looks in the babies eyes and then the smiles as you embrace them! In the ukraine as in most Eastern European countries, chidren with disabilites are not aborted as they are here in the states. We are grateful for that. However, at birth, the parents are given very little options other than to turn their baby over to the government for care. There are NO support services for the families; no early intervention, no special education. It is a disgrace to have a special needs child. Very few families keep their children at home. Remember, it was the same way over here in the USA just 60 years ago!!! Once in the Baby Houses, some fortunate children are signed 'off' by their parents for adoption overseas. Only recently has the Ukraine started a foster care system and started encouraging families to adopt (but not the special needs children!!). If by five, the children are not adopted they are sent to INTERNATS, where the statistics vary but a large percentage of the children don't even make it one year there! They have no medication, are fed once a day, diapered once a day and receive no education. They are asigned a crib, where grown adults are contorted by the restrictions. Here in America, the animal activists would be in arms if animals were found in similar conditions, but these are not animals, they are children, God's SPECIAL children.

While there I learned of a Groupa House where the children were "freaks', victims from Chernobyl and you needed a strong stomach to go in there". Some children even had six fingers and toes! (imagine that!). Well, my little Jillian was born with six fingers on each hand and armed with her picture I entered the Baby House (to use the bathroom). What I saw were perfect, innocent children of God who were 'unique' and each one more precious that the next! It was here where suddenly, it all made sense to me; Why I had Jillian!! Had it not been for her extra digits, I would never have been so assertive and allowed into the Groupa House. (I'm still not sure they even knew what I was doing there.) It was then that they informed me that the DIrector wanted to see me. Once I was escorted to the MAIN Office, my camera was confiscated, and I was able to communicate (via Google translator on the computer), who I was and what I was doing there. After praising them for the care they put into the children, they accepted me and escorted me out (after laughing at some of my pictures of Jo Ann and my site seeing adventures). It was then that they allowed me to walk among the children, and to interact with them!! I knew then that God was telling me that this is what He wants me to do, to minister to the special orphans and to bring Early Intervention training to the staff and families!!
I will be returning June 12-21 to join the Sasha and Oyla Skyrpak from the Almaz Mission in ministering to the orphans. I will be training staff to use sign langauge to enhance communication skills, and I will be assessing and identifying children and providing support for adoptive families. My suitcase is already loaded with materials, rattles,bibs, socks and sun bonnets. I'm hoping to be bringing some donated walkers and therapy equipment as well. I will be meeting with the Orphanage Psychologist to discuss evaluations and to train him in a new assessment tool I have developed! Jo Ann Torres will be joining me. on this mission. She has volunteered to cut and color the hair of the careworkers who work LONG hours, six days per week for the equivalent of $120 a month!! And of course we will be meeting with Ivanna's mother and father whose story I will tell at on a later post.

The Boy from Baby House 10 and one in Groupa House 3

The Boy From Baby House 10
From the Nightmare of a Russian Orpahanage to a New Life in America
by Alan Philps and John Lahutsky
St. Martins Press, New York 2009

There is an amazing story of a young man, John Lahutsy who was in Baby House 10 in Russia, who was adopted by Paula Lahutsky, a school psychologist from Pleasant Valley School District, my home school district!!!! What an amazing coincidence! Paula had evaluated all three of my children at different times in their school career and I remember when she was adopting John from Russia with cerebral palsy!! John was in a Baby House with the most involved children, and had he not spoken up for himself and someone went to 'bat for him' , he would still be there lying in a crib in unthinkable conditions!!! This is a must read book for anyone who is thinking of adopting or knows anyone who is adopting!!! His amazing story will encourage you to fight for these children!!!
His story has been repeated in Vorzel (and I imagine in other orphanages as well) ! I found blond hair, blue eyed Ruslan(pictures above) also with cerebral palsy in the back of Groupa House 3! Ruslan was soon to be trasferred to the internat and NO adoption agency knew of him! Recently Ruslan had surgery, just like John did, and spent weeks in a hospital recuperating alone! Had it not been for his facilitator and Sasha Skyrpak, a missionary from Almaz Church, he would not even have had pain medication and decent food to eat! Imagine a child going through surgery alone!!! But Ruslan won't be alone for long!! He now has a family in Virginia in the process of adopting him!!! Please pray it goes through soon so Ruslan can get the medical attention and therapy he so badly needs here in America with his FOREVER FAMILY!! The picture above is the one I snapped of Ruslan shortly before I was called to the adminstration building for questioning about what I was doing! See John's site for pictures of him as well as his efforts to help the orphans!!

For more information about this amazing young man who is such an inspiration and to order his book go to


You can SPONSOR A BONNET for an orphan in Vorzel for $10.00. Your name will be written on the inside as donated by YOU! Half of the money will be used to pay for the fees for a translator while over there and the other half will go directly for materials for the children! Please pay through your PayPal account on the Chipin Widget! Thank you so much!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Early Intervention Specialist/Consultant

Hi Thanks for visiting my blog!

I'm Sandie Flannery ...and it seems like my entire life I have been involved somehow with Special Needs children. Back in grammer school, I was the 'future teacher of tomorrow' volunteering at lunch time to help with the special education kindergarteners. In high school, I started a Saturday morning Special Recreation Program. I got a Bachelors degree in Special Education from the University of Florida ("Go Gators!") back in 1972. Wow! I'm dating myself! And a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Special Education in 1984! I've been working in Early Intervention for over 30 years now!!!
After giving birth to two healthy sons, Kristopher, age 26, and Lee, age 23 God blessed me with my daughter Jillian Joan, age 18 who has Agenesis of the Corpus Collasum, a midline birth defect and is severely developmentally delayed. It was hard for me to understand WHY God had given me such an involved child especially after having had two stillborn daughters and I worked as an Early Intervention Teacher/Consultant! After I realized that He had been preparing me all along with the skills and support I needed to raise my Special daughter, I stopped questioning and accepted! But I still always thought that there was another reason that my life was the way it was and that God had given me Jillian. I knew He had plans for me!
Those plans were laid out clearly for me this summer when I found myself in an orphanage in Vorzel, Ukraine.
I had gone over there to help a dear friend, Jo Ann Torres and her husband Ruben bring back their three precious little girls with Down Syndrome, whom they adopted......