About the Garrett family
- Matt and Aimee
- Longmont, Colorado, United States
- Matt and Aimee have been married for 9 years now. We have 5 daughters between the two of us. Three who are still living at home. Jasmine is 17, in her junior year of high school. Haley is 14 in her freshman year of high school. Anya is 18 in her junior year of high school. Anya was adopted from Ukraine in 2008. Taylor 18 is a senior in high School living in Thornton, Heather 20 Married living with husband Chad and thier baby Ezrah, he was born in Feb 2011. We are in process of adopting siblings Oksana 13, and Vladik 10 whom we met on a hosting program this past summer.
Friday, April 8, 2011
We're home. It was great at the airport. All the right people, some not there, but that's life. To all who were there-thank you so much, even if I didn't get to interact much or spend the time talking to all those I wanted to. I had been up almost 40 hours and had not slept one bit. This morning, Vlad & Oksana woke up early. Bikes, new cell phones, trampoline, Wii, park...it's like Vlad's trying to get in a life time of fun in one day. I've explained that he's here, it's OK to slow down-no luck. It's all about fun and games. New bedrooms are a huge hit, not overwhelming and today is a good day. To be sure there will be challenges ahead, I know that, but like always, God directs events and paths and knows we need some time before real life kicks in. The first picture is looking back at the plane that brought them home. This will always be the first shot of my new Ukrainians in America, for good, as Garrett's. We've spent the morning setting up new cell phones, eating leftover pizza, taking pictures of Anya in her Skyline soccer uniform, Vlad took Haley to the park to roller blade, ride bikes, run around, etc. All the girls stayed home from school today and I'm glad. Last night, my 20 year old came over with her husband and my grandson. It was absolute chaos with all my kids there(except my lovely 18 year old, Taylor,who was working). Ezrah, my new grandson was wonderful, Poe, the bunny was running around in ultra high fast mode-it was moment to be cherished. I'm no fool-those kind of moments need to happen so that when the meltdowns occur I will be reminded of why all this is happening. One day ago I was in Ukraine. Today, I'm back home. I left a lot of kids back at the orphanage wondering why they weren't chosen. Wondering if someone would pursue them and pay the price in so many ways they aren't even aware of. This is one small blog among tens of thousands and I don't know the reach or impact it has, but I do know that taking care of the defenseless and those who find themselves in places and situations outside of their control is NOT a calling it has the tone and tenor of a command. Anyone who thinks that we, as Christians are called to affluent lifestyles and that God simply wouldn't want that for them is a fool. Those who feel the least qualified(me)need to do this. Don't be a member of the "Pansy Christian" crew. God has no use for those who cloak themselves in comfort and buy in to the notion, "You're Best Life Now". That view of the Christian life is nothing short of a load of false teaching crap! What about the best life now for those who are in the greatest need? Trust me; if you're one of those who have the lifestyle of home ownership, good job, great kids, way to many gadgets, comfort beyond description, routines that cannot be altered and are making you feel safe-you ARE thee very ones who need to get out of the rut, take a chance, walk in faith and make a difference. Don't be the servant who buried the talent. Again, God has NO USE for inaction, none!!!!!! It's NOT a ticket to heaven, it's a ticket to a deeper, closer relationship and understanding of Gods will.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Emails and photos from Matt confirm that it is finally done. They leave for the airport 3am tomorrow morning (Thursday) Kiev to Frankfurt, a few hours lay over and then direct to DIA. Scheduled to arrive at 4pm on Lufthansa. We are meeting them at International Arrivals after they navigate through customs. (most of you know this info already, thanks to Kari who is always so on top of sending out notices of all the homecoming parties. Thank you Kari!) At that point I have promised Matt, he can hand over the baton, this man has had a rough go of things, primarily Oksana and trying to care for this 13 year old young lady, who is going through many emotions and for Matt doing this alone is not normal we do team work parenting through out our days with all the girls. I have been the email/Skype mom/wife for the past few weeks, and supported them as much as I could from here in Colorado. It could not possibly be enough. Vlad is OK very happy as a matter of fact, he seems to always be OK for the most part, non-dairy food, video games, chocolate, bike ride, a little wrestle time with dad, super hero shirts, music videos with dance moves to mimic,that's all he needs, except maybe his hugs from mom, but not much else. Please pray for Matt's endurance and Patience to hold up for another day through the stress of travel. Hope to see many of you at the airport. Love, Aimee
After we walked out of the US Embassy, through the little turn-stile and out onto the street. I turned and took a picture of the kids holding their new visa's when a guy the size of an NFL linebacker approached me and tried to grab my camera saying, "No photos...no photos for
Americans."!!! "What! They're my kids. Don't tell me I can't take a picture. I'm outside the Embassy. Get out of the way or smile". Got my picture. He then turned away and started yelling something at the guards who just ignored him. We then walked all the way from the US Embassy to St. Michael's and St. Sophia's. Took a turn to the north and west, walked between two huge government buildings and headed to St. Andrew's and the SDA. We then walked down the long, windy street with all the tourist booths and did some gift shopping. Ended up eating, stopping by the supermarket for food and snacks for the trip home and then all the way to Karen Spring's apartment. This took about 3 hours. The walk from the US Embassy is not that long and takes only about 20 minutes. I've finally gotten my bearings in Kyiv and have figured out
how to get places without getting lost...finally! I'm telling you, if you can at least read cyrillic, the trip and process are a LOT less stressful and fun. We ended the evening with a meltdown from the always lovely Oksana. Won't go in to details, but o
ne very small misunderstanding about phone calls that were allowed to be made on her last night here ended up ruining the evening for her and disappointing for all of who were here. Vlad, well, he's 10, male and acting tonight like a kid on Christmas Eve. I so very much love this young girl and will do everything to make sure she's OK. Oh, we watched stupid, "Mega Mind" for the 5th time in 48 hours, in Russian. We were in and out of the Embassy in less than an hour. We've had so much fun the last three days and Karen's been so incredible...her and Julia Sergenko, who made dinner tonight for all of us, well, all of us at the table. Another little something to put on your, "to do" list; after you get your visa's and all is well, call your facilitator as a cour
tesy. I forgot to do this. After all the hard work and effort Valentine put in, you would think it would occur to me to let him know that everything went well and that I didn't get arrested for taking a picture OUTSIDE the gates where there are NO SIGNS, NO NOTHING!!!! At the Embassy, there was a couple who had issues with all the finger-printing. Don't know the details, but they were denied proceeding and were told they would have to go back to the states to have them redone. They didn't have any kids with them so I don't know what was going on, but I do know they were mad as hell! This is the last post. I'm done. Off to the shower to finally shave. The last thing I need is to have my beautiful, wonderful wife not want to get close because of that. I'm also looking forward to seeing my girls at home. I know I'm not the cool dad and I'm not as exciting as I think I am, in fact, I think I'm borderline annoying, but I love all of them anyway and do miss them. I guess with the US Government shut down on the horizon, it's a good thing I'm getting out of here today. I'll get processed in the states right before this happens. At the Embassy today, they mentioned that the Embassy would actually be shut down indefinitely if this happens. One more day and I could have had a problem. I think God knows I may be at the end of my rope. See some of you soon. For those who are doing this or thinking about doing it: think of it like this; when God says to do this, He says it with the same force as when He says to be loving, be patient, be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving, etc. He NEVER says to do those things IF you feel "called" to do them. Quit making lame excuses, quit justifying in-action...it's LAME!! God has no use for LAME! Why? Because it's lame! Can you imagine someone saying, "Oh, you know, that's a great thing you're doing, being(patient, loving, kind, forgiving, adopting, etc.) but you know, I just don't feel "called" to that right now." Shut the hell up! Talk about twisting religion and theology in to self-made religion cloaked in comfort and safety...I'm pretty sure that's referred to as false teaching! Satan doesn't want us to recognize it as that, that's why he's so subtle and cunning at disguising it. If he can get us to talk our selves out of actually following God's will by saying clever, religious sounding things like, "I just don't feel called...", then he has us chasing our tails. Time to stop-really, it is.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
This is a shot of Vlad praying for our passports and visa's at the War Memorial Park. It never ceases to amaze me how wrong I can be about things I think I have such a clear understanding of. As I spend more and more time with Oksana, I'm beginning to realize that this girl really has a heart of gold. She goes to a LOT of effort to keep it hidden. While she may do things and say things to Vlad that appear hurtful or harsh, she goes way out of her way to make sure he is completely cared for, safe, well fed, etc. I think at times that I'm seeing one version of her and she'll do stuff that is genuine that makes my analysis nothing but guess work and foolish. Perhaps I need to just sit back, provide for her like I do my other girls, make sure she's safe, secure and confident and get out of the way of her development. I really hate that about myself...when what I think, literally, can be opposite of reality. What I love??? I am completely convinced that there are times when the Lord empowers you to behave, react & process situations in such a way that you do the right thing, despite your normal patterns. I have been able to do things in the past and here, that are completely contrary to who I am. The best part is that they come so easily(and not always)that in hind-sight, it can only be that God reached down and inserted Himself not only for the person or situation to be blessed, but to almost save you from yourself. It has been rather easy to not over-react, not be bossy, not be irritated, not be grouchy, boring or insensitive over the last week that I have had them all to myself. To be sure, I'm not up for, "Dad of the year", but I'm SO thankful that God helps me, albeit subtly, to be who He needs me to be for these two during this time. Under normal circumstances, there have been things that have happened that were I to react as usual, would have been very bad for the situation. I'm having deep thoughts today because I have my super-cool, super-sexy, super-scratchy, somewhat gray, adoption beard going. Makes me feel wise...sort of. Medicals all done today. Tomorrow we pick up visa's then taking a tram to St. Andrews to do some gift shopping in the area. It's tourist hell up and down the streets in this area. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be asked to watch, "Mega Mind" again, tonight. My single biggest concern at this point is whether or not the 11 hour flight from Frankfurt to Denver will have in-flight entertainment. Please, God, just one more request...The picture above is Oksana and a monument to survivors of famines in Ukraine. If you saw the size of the portions and all the different items Oksana orders, you'd feel confident, as do I, this girl will never starve. Here's a tip: I have cut my food expenses by 1/3, no kidding. I DO NOT order anything when I eat with these two. First-the portions that are served are ridiculous. "Super Size Me" takes on a whole new meaning here. Second-they eat less than 1/2 of what they order-I get all the leftovers and it's more than I can eat. Also, I dare you to try and communicate that you would like a, "to -go" bag or box for what you don't eat, so don't order your own plate of food. Wait for it to find it's way to your side of the table. Something else; the bathrooms, at times, can be confusing. I've posted a picture of the letter that indicates the womans bathroom. It is an "X", with a line through the middle. I know that the word, "Zhena" is wife and it starts with this letter and has the feminine gender behind it. The men's is simply, "M", but that is often no where to be found. Finally, one more video from yesterday. This is at the War Memorial Park. You walk underground and pass by a series of gigantic statues depicting different aspects of the affects of the war on the country. It's very impressive.
Monday, April 4, 2011
Sunday, April 3, 2011
If it wasn't for all the disapproving stares and glares I got from just about everyone today, it would have been the perfect day. Apparently I won't be up for any, "Dad of the Year" awards here as I clearly had my kids under-dressed for the conditions and I was in my cargo shorts and sandals. The picture to the left is from a monument on Independence Square where the direction and distance radiate out in the direction of major points of interest. Oksana & Vlad are standing on the one for Odessa. The main street here is shut down on Sunday's and people can walk up and down this usually jam-packed street and feel safe. We went to church this morning for two hours. We rode the "METRO" all the way there by ourselves. When I reached in my pocket and pulled out the card for the church, two young men sitting across from us smiled and said, "Where are you from and are you going to ISA?" I answered, "Colorado and yes, we are." They were on their way to the same church. As we talked on the METRO, all the eyes on the train went right to us and just watched us using English. That's also when all the disapproving stares started. The little guy next to the guitar was at church. He sat next to me. When the offering was taken and he saw me put some in, he said, "You have money? I want money!" I don't know if it was habit from being here but when he asked, I opened up the wallet and gave it to him. He ran after the offering bag and stuck it in there! He then sat real close and spent the better part of the hour asking me for more. He also asked me for my phone. Didn't happen.The service was great. After the service, we got on the METRO with Karen Springs who took us to the center of the city, "Maidon", or Freedom Square. when you get off the METRO, you take an escalator that is ridiculously long. I could not believe how deep the train system must be and from what I understand there are even more levels below this one. We are going to try and take the same route tomorrow except this time we will make a switch to the line that runs East and West. Hopefully Oksana will help with this. The picture of Oksana and I was actually staged and taken by her. This was unusual as she continues to demonstrate a clear distrust in me. Nothing gives her more satisfaction than exercising some sort of control or subordinating of me. I've addressed this earlier and I'm playing alone. Can any of us even begin to imagine how difficult it would be to completely leave behind everything we have ever known to go to a completely different place that will take away our niche's that have been so carefully and meticulously carved out? What must Abram have felt like, or even Jesus when He gave up Heaven for 30 years of hell on earth. This is also one of the few shots I have of her showing teeth, which she refers to as, "Big American Teeth Smile", and then scoffs at. She also loves to point out men who are wearing what she has decided are women's jeans, laughing at and mocking them-sometimes intentionally loud enough for them to hear. She's also the master at creating scenarios where she has to get on the computer, or comes up with some scheme that allows her to get her little fingers back on her Ukrainian FaceBook. She is pulling out all the stops in trying to maintain contact with a world that is slowly getting further and further away. Every time I turn my back my peripheral vision allows me to completely see what she's up to. She lost computer time yesterday because the night before she recognized that I was involved in a conversation that distracted my attention. She jumped on the opportunity to get on FB and do some more connecting. What I do like is when confronted, she doesn't cover-she concedes and accepts. Vlad spends most of his time just trying to squeeze the most fun out of every opportunity and is mostly interested in stuff when it involves some sort of video or arcade game. When walking through Independence Square, there are these aggressive street vendors or performers who literally thrust themselves on you in an attempt to get you to take a picture of them with your kids. One such young man had a pigeon that he put right on Vlad's arm as we walked by. I didn't know what was happening so I took a shot and video with my Blackberry. When I tried to walk away, still not knowing, him and his friend surrounded me and started yelling at me in Russian. I did hear the word, "photo" and a few other words like, "dienge"(money) and, "seh-chass"(right now). They became incredibly angry, demanding and hostile. When one grabbed my arm, still yelling, that was when it ended abruptly with some very loud yelling and unmistakable body language on my part. There was also a living statue. He would only move when given money. One woman approached, gave money and he reached down and grabbed her hand and would not let go! She smiled, then became nervous. Vlad approached put in grivnha and he let go. I took a quick picture and he bailed. Tried taking a picture of Oksana near a statue and this guy dressed up as an American Indian literally threw himself on her. He tried again and she had to run away. We ate at a nice cafeteria that was really good. Oksana ate more food than all the rest of us put together. It had this fresh orange juice machine that peeled and squeezed the orange right in front of your eyes and dropped the next one into place. We then walked to get ice cream and then went back to the apartment for some DVD's and dinner made by Karen, Oksana and Vlad. I did nothing. Every day I realize how different this is going to be for me with these two. It's going to require very careful interaction with Oksana and learning how to survive the energy of a 10 year old boy. I have to keep reminding myself he's 10, not a grown man. We did watch "Mega Mind" again, today. It's a new favorite and really, what a great story! I can do the laugh just like the main character and now, Vlad thinks he can so that's all we've heard all night long. The night ended with Oksana reading a Russian adoption story about a cat to Karen and Vlad. It was amazing, touching and, for whatever reason, I was proud. I sat behind them for most of it and was pleasantly surprised that, although I comprehend very little, I could totally follow along, word-by-word. Then Oksana tried to get on FaceBook one more time. She's relentless. This will be my greatest test, yet!!!! BWOOOHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHA......!!!!
Saturday, April 2, 2011
We slept until almost noon today. I think the last three days caught up with us, finally. We went for a walk to what we thought was the closest supermarket, turns out there's a huge one about five blocks to the east of Karen's apartment down Yarisovskyia. Again, I found myself defaulting to the always controlling Oksana when it came to the purchase of food. She did good! At the apartment, she set off on a mission of preparing late lunch. Mashed potatoes, bread with butter, mayonnaise and what WAS a sort of Ukrainian Spam, but what looked exactly like cat food. As I watch this young thirteen year old girl, it is becoming obvious that she thinks she is in control-of everything-probably because she has been for several years, especially when it comes to Vlad. I have taken the approach of stepping back and not over-doing the parent thing at this point. We're not even out of the country and have only been out of Izmail three days. I'm trying very hard to follow the words I once heard: "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." Once we land in Munich or Frankfurt, the language power-trip she's on will disappear. I have light at the end of the tunnel, this Thursday or Friday. For her, it is a light that is dimming. I've decided with the support of Aimee to just relax. She probably knows it's quickly coming to an end. Nothing demonstrated that better than the walk to the larger supermarket when I took a totally different way for almost 10 blocks in completely unfamiliar territory and not only Vlad, but Oksana drew very close to me, holding my hand at times. She has refused to do this while here. I want her to know how much I care to at least form some sense of trust and bond before I start waving the sword of parenting-at least a little. We also SKYPE'd with mom, Haley and Anya today. Oksana already started placing clothing and room arrangement orders. If she grabs the keys, phone or wallet out my hand one more time, I'm going to, well, do nothing! It's not hard understanding her, at all. Survival! That's it. The picture above is the Wi-Fi connection window you get when at Karen's place. Is that just about perfect, or what?! Because you really are! Church tomorrow then Independence Square for the day. In an attempt to make the days go by, I'm pacing the activities as well as giving each kid 6 Benadryl tablets in there juice or late night drinks so they don't wake up until at least noon every day. By the time you shower, eat, dress, watch a show, sit around, it's 3PM, or so, not a lot of time to kill. Once again, that's my "inside parenting skills" coming out, what I meant to say was, "I can't wait until these bundles of joy and appreciation wake up each morning so I can spend all day paying twice for hair pieces because we sat on the first one; pay twice for eye drops because we lost the plastic dispensing cap; be told I don't know where I'm going because THEY don't know where we're going; have eyes rolled at me when I make a comment about how some kitchen utensil works and it turns out I'm right; pay for ice cream only to watch it hit the ground because we're too busy trying to push Vlad off the sidewalk in to on-coming traffic; wash table cloths full of orange juice because it seemed so right to hand joust next to the laptop over some kind of candy; burn hands lighting the gas stove because, once again, dad doesn't know-"I know!!"; place food and clothing requests because the 9 outfits we have in the suitcase just isn't enough for 6 days and the $50.00 in food in the kitchen isn't exactly what was wanted at 9:35PM". Yes, that's what I meant to say! I could have sworn the adoption manual said something about worshiping the ground I walk on. Beautiful!! Now that I've been all sarcastic and Vlad has downed four eggs, Oksana just presented me with a wonderful egg omelette with sausage...and it's only 9:45PM! OK! Now, after watching "Mega Mind", it's 11:45PM. They are the masters and time-warping. They literally have no concept of bed time. Vlad goes to bed when Oksana tells him to and she is NOT about to be told that midnight is too late for her. Aimee's favorite movie contains the phrase, "I like it the way I like it!" This is not only the gospel according to Oksana, but she adds in, "I'll get it the way I want it!". Did I mention that the Ukrainian culture is VERY matriarchal? We're taking the "Metro" all the way to Karen's church tomorrow morning. It is underground the whole way and only costs a little more than a quarter. I hope when we get off and exit onto the street we're not somewhere in Crimea. The video is a portion of late lunch/early dinner that took place.
Friday, April 1, 2011
In Kyiv @ Karen's apartment. Train sucked! Above is Oksana & Vlad in the train. I think we got put in the extra wobbly, bumpy car. I mean, why not just make an amusement park ride out of it while you're at it. So this is how it goes boarding the train. We arrive 1/2 an hour early and we walk to the beginning of the train, 1st car. Hand the woman the tickets, she looks at them and says something to Oksana(on a side note: it is so nice having your own, personal, 13 year old translator...most of the time!). We haul three large, heavy suitcases all the way to our cabin. Put the luggage on the upper bunks. Lay out the bedding. Get all our stuff out and situated-DONE! Oh, not really! "Please, may I see ticket"-in broken English. Says something to Oksana who rattles off something as only an angry, 13 year old, female Ukrainian can....we have the wrong car....we have to move! Packed up, out the small hallway, back down the steps, out into the cold, dark night & off to the correct car, which is close to 200 yards away. Not good. I should mention here that at 11:25PM, I wasn't feeling really, "Christian", or bubbly-all-over considering the cost, aggravation & chaos of the last three days. When I finally got all of our stuff out I looked at the smug woman in her uniform who just glared at me, I asked her a very polite, simple question about the misunderstanding, wondering what had happened. She just shrugged her shoulders and slowly turned away with a slight smirk on her face(you know that look: the one that, in your deepest thoughts, makes you want to do a spinning side kick to the chest, but at this age you'd hurt yourself more than the other person-yeah, that one-don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about). It was at that moment that I learned that certain vulgarity is universally offensive! No, I don't recommend it & I regretted it later, but I got to tell ya, when I realized she understood it and my point was made, I had about 30 seconds of euphoria and satisfaction that only Satan could appreciate. It's what I refer to as, "An apostle Peter moment". I've got more to write and I'll have time later. We're going to go for a walk and get some real food. I'll end right now by mentioning that Oksana took the lead at the store in Odessa the other night for food and made us all breakfast yesterday morning. It was good, but I didn't know you could use that much cooking oil for eggs and sausage. And yes, I know I said "Kyiv". It was Odessa! Please, I really just don't need to be corrected right now!