Be cool: a few words about adoption referrals.

It’s a big deal to get an adoption referral. There’s one part of you jumping up and down and celebrating, and the other part of you that thinks,

“Ok, Starchenko, let’s dig in deep and see what’s going on here.” Becuase there will be something. And it’s ok. Expect that.

When it comes to Eastern Europe, there’s a few things to keep in mind:

1. It costs money to use public restrooms. They are zealously guarded by little old ladies, and if you don’t pay them, they get mad throw your gloves in the snow. Trust me. Maybe I’ll tell that story one day.

2. Most everyone drinks. every day.  There’s a man I used to watch from a second story window in Alex’s aunt’s village. He would stumble around drunk at 10 AM, and then fall off the curb and lay there in the middle of this dirt road until he woke up. It was awful to see.

3. People don’t always have enough to eat. This is not true of every eastern european country, but of many of them. Malnurishment is a huge problem. Combine that with drinking, and you’ve got a perfect recipe for general unwellness.

4. Kids suffer the consequences of these conditions.  Premature birth, low birth weight, FAE (Fetal alcohol exposure) and later, possible FAS (fetal alcohol syndrome). Kids in institutions have these labels. Almost all the way across the board. And then they don’t have parents to help them over come them or the stigma of them. Double whammy.

Does it make your heart hurt? It makes mine hurt.

When I first read a few of those words and phrases on Violets referral, I was a little worried. But we feel confident that God has chosen this child for us, and that she is our daughter. So we’re committed to helping her face whatever challenges develop in her life, becuase the way we look at it, if she’s going to have challenges, it’s better to have them with us than with out us.  We took her referral to an IA doctor, and he said that she looked wonderful- to prepare for the worst, but that it probably won’t happen. Basically, he agreed with us that we need to keep in real, and check ourselves for pie in the sky expectations. We assured him we don’t have any. We’ve accepted her on the basis of what that paper said not on some strange illusion of grandeur that she’s in “Perfect health”. I’m not in perfect health. Alex has his issues, and lately, I’ve been looking at one of Lev’s legs and toes and thinking to myself, “I should ask about that at the doctor.” Not one of us boasts health to brag about.

So my point is, If you want to adopt cute kids from eastern europe, go for it! We’re so thrilled to be part of the program we are. But leave behind your western ideas that you’re going to have a kid with clean, label free bill of health. That referral will have something will make your heart lurch. But Be cool and take heart: Your kids are created in the image of God. They are created in a certain way to reflect his glory.  They have as much potential as any kids in America if given the chance. But they need that chance. I’m looking forward to what Violet becomes. She’s coming to a good place and to a family that eagerly awaits her.

We don’t know what it will look like to parent Violet. But God does.

We don’t know what her needs will be. But God does.

We don’t know anything about girls- I’m not very girly, so the idea of tea parties and dress up, and bras and hormones worries me a little. But God will show us how to parent her.

We do know that we put our yes on the table with confidence and had a hearty fist bump afterwards. She’s ours. And we can’t wait to meet her.



  1. What a pretty middle name 🙂 I just caught up on your blog and will be borrowing your phrase ” makes your brain melt & run out your ears” That is so hilariously true, especially about adoption paperwork (and we came home Feb of 2008)! I love how perfectly descriptive it is!! Good luck with the waiting for your second trip.mi hope and pray its crazy soon!!

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