Thursday, September 20, 2012

Battling World's Toughest Mudder To Bring Home Ukrainian Orphans!

I have been sitting here trying to figure out how one tries to ask someone else for money. I mean really. The holiday season will be starting in a couple of months and every one of us is going to get hit with requests for Angel Trees, school fundraisers (how much overpriced cookie dough can we be expected to buy?), special offerings at church…the list goes on. Not to mention that we all have a bunch of worthless junk we have to buy to give to each other since trying to outdo one another at Christmas seems to be so important nowadays. Gas prices are high and going higher, the economy is horrible, people are out of work and any of us with jobs could be next. What a bummer. We should all stop reading now and move on with our sad sad lives.

Our Story (for you newcomers)...

As most of you know, Cammie and I hosted two girls (ages 7 and 10 at the time) from Ukraine during the Summer of 2010. They were part of an organized hosting trip that brought a couple dozen orphans from Ukraine to live with various families (most of which have now been adopted).  They lived with us for about six weeks. We fell in love with them in about 6 minutes. We had no doubt from the very beginning that we wanted them to be a part of our family...they fit perfectly! Little one even wanted a gun! Unfortunately, it wasn't going to be that easy. We had several months of drama to deal with first. Eventually, one by one, the hurdles started to fall. A few months later and our girls arrived home forever!

The need...

Adoption is hard. Adopting from Ukraine is arguably even harder. I have no desire to go through all of the drama that we went through again. That isn't to say we won't go back. But for now, we have what we consider to be a fairly large extended family that are in need and that we can better help (at least right now) through avenues outside of adoption.  While the extrended family wasn't something we were looking for going in, this extended family has been a huge blessing to us and it is wonderful to be in a position where we can help.  So, while we may never go back, (to adopt) some people continue to go back. 

"Debra and Ray" went to get their first daughter at the same time that we did. They dealt with the same governmental drama that we did and we all worried together whether or not things would work out. They hosted their girl the same Summer we did and they actually got their girl home the same day we did Since their new daughter had spent several years at the orphanage, some of the other kids at the orphanage became like family to her.  I saw the video of their new daughter's best friend as she said goodby. It was heartwrenching! The poor girl didn't know what to say or what to do. She had no idea (nor did their daughter) that as soon as they got home with daughter #1, they started paperwork to go back and get her!  Six months after adopting their first, they were back in Ukraine not only adopting their daughter's best friend but an additional "unplanned" daughter as well! This adoption trip was harder than the first because this time "Debra" spent much of her time in Ukraine alone without electricity (after a storm) and with a pretty nasty illness.  Eventually, this adoption was also complete and their family of five was all together. All three girls are doing wonderfully! Watching them adjust so well and mesh together as a family has been a blessing to myself and anyone that has been watching their story.

"Debra and Ray" are going back one last time. As I already shared, they hosted another girl this Summer and they are headed back to adopt her and her younger sister.  It is hard to say "no" once you get to know these kids. For sure when you know you can help them...even though you know what lies in your path and how tough it is going to be.  Anyone involved in adoption knows that the costs of adoption are high. When you get them home, the bills continue to pile up as you have years of medical and dental neglect to attend to, special education needs, tutoring, counseling, etc. Not to mention the obvious normal expenses of raising a child.

I am asking for your support and I am appealing especially to those of you that have never been involved in the adoption community. Why? Two reasons: First, because most adoptive families are already tapped out either dealing with their own expenses or giving heavily to other adoptive families. Secondly, and most importantly, because many of you are missing out on a huge blessing.  How often can you actually give to something that is going to make THAT BIG of a difference as rescuing an orphan out of an orphanage? "Rescuing" you say?  As much as I hate it called that now, I said it anyway. As I mentioned over a year ago, I didn't rescue my girls, I went to go and get my daughters. I don't see our trip as a rescue mission and my girls don't think of me as their rescuer. I am their daddy.  The truth is, "Debra and Ray" are going to be even more blessed by these two girls than they already have been with the first three. But yes, these girls are going to be "rescued" from a life with almost no hope for any type of a future by being adopted.  Any money donated will directly impact the lives of two little orphans in Ukraine. How cool is that!?!

How you can help...

As the flyer below states, I am asking for per lap pledges for the World's Toughest Mudder which my brother and I will be competing in on November 17th and 18th.  I am also accepting one-time donations but I prefer the pledges due to the extra motivation it provides (call me selfish).  The estimated cost of the adoption is $25,000 and the distance to Ukraine is 4,533 miles. That is $5.50 a mile. Will you consider a pledge of $5.50 per lap or more? 

Fundraising Flyer

Keep in mind as you consider a pledge, that I am old (43) and feeble (just look at me) and only 261 people completed even a second lap last year.

Most dropped due to hypothermia while many others broke bones or were otherwise injured.  My shoulder still isn't at 100%, I haven't lived in a cold climate for years, and I hate crawling through water on my stomach while getting shocked with electricity. HATE IT!

Not to mention, I don't really like exercising, and running for miles on end bores me to tears. Basically, I am lazy and weak.  Surely I will only be able to do one lap? Perhaps I will almost rip my arm off my shoulder like last time or maybe the 12,000 volts will finally knock me completely senseless so I can't continue? It seems like even a $55 / lap pledge is safe?

Perhaps you just like seeing people suffer. I understand. Part of the reason I enjoy both Crossfit and these supposedly extreme events is that I get to see others suffer. If that is you too, won't you pledge a little extra to see me suffer more?  I will do my best to share my experience both during and after the event if it makes you feel better.

The event...

So the event is pretty simple. At 10:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning we start and we will attempt to complete as many Tough Mudder laps as possible. The obstacles are a harder than a typical Tough Mudder (which to be fair aren't very hard) and there are more of them. Some will have penalties for failure while others will disqualify someone who can't complete them.  The weather may or may not be extremely cold. That is all part of the fun.  Whoever completes the most laps by 10:00 a.m. Sunday morning wins and everyone else has up to four hours to complete the lap they have started. 

More details can be found on the Tough Mudder website at:

So that is it. Thanks in advance for your consideration and please check back for more updates.


P.S. The attached flyer leaves off a good bit of information since this is a public blog.  For my family and friends, I can send you a more detailed flyer (including a photo of the girls they are going to adopt) if you wish...just ask.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Wow, the ignorance of that comment is astounding, and why is it not surprising that the individual was unwilling to put his/her name to it?

    Love you guys and we'll be discussing our involvement in your mudder hopes! :)

  3. I agree Tara. We will never know their name. It's so stupid it is actually laughable. I'm not sure who 'illegally coerced' anyone. Lol The birth family had no rights. The girls were stuck in an orphanage unless adopted. I therefore am ignoring this person. However, I am responding because I want to encourage other adoptive families to ignore such people as well! Choosing to have a relationship with a birth family is a tough decision, but I hope others will consider it inspite of ignorant people like this. Sometimes this is not a good idea, but sometimes it is. Unlike anyone I know, however, we did insist that we had support of the grandmother because she is a wonderful person. She simply isn't physically able to care for them. Although we were not obligated to have a relationship with the biomom, I feel it is important for our girls. None of the family had any rights and we didn't have to do any of these things. It has been incredibly healthy for the girls and us. So, to adoptive families everywhere: There is always one idiot out there. Their comments name them as such. Ignore, do the right thing anway, and be happy with that. We definitely are!

  4. Ahhh, the angry "anonymous" from Colorado strikes again. Welcome. I was expecting at least one negative comment. Tara is right, the ignorance is astounding.

    I am not sure how helping raise money for a family means that they "cannot afford to adopt more kids" and the girls themselves seem to be doing pretty good. It seems to me that helping someone else out voluntarily because some of us actually feel led to do so is a good thing. I am pretty sure that Debra and Ray are busting their butt to earn as much money as they can and are doing everything in their power to see these orphans get adopted. What are you doing anonymous? I mean, outside of making negative comments?

    As far as my wife and I "illegally and unethically coercing" biomom and grandma to let me adopt the girls. I find that comment kind of strange since the big law breakers at the time were technically biomom and grandma themselves. They conspired to have grandma take them to grandma's house on the weekends and then actually go stay with biomom instead. That is when they saw most of the physical abuse from husband #3 against biomom. Want to guess how legal that was? Want to guess how many times biomom actually went through the legal route to visit the girls? Want to guess what her chances would have been if she had tried? Do you really want to take that side of the argument?
    By the way, coercian involves some type of threat or force to get what one wants. We never made any threats or used any force (unless the letter we wrote grandma had some special powers), and if you took the time to actually read our blog (instead of the 6 posts you actually clicked on) you would know that. Biomom and Grandma were simply scared to death that we would hurt the girls or steal their organs.

    They were about as ignorant as your comments.

    Once they met us, they were fine. And by the way, grandma and biomom actually didn't "let" us adopt the girls. They had no legal say in the matter and we could have much more easily (and cheaply) hired a lawyer to go down there to "remind them of the law" if we wanted to use the forceful route. Certainly, that would have been more "legal".

    Anyway, no hard feelings. Part of blogging to the world means that you open yourself up to criticism so it wasn't unexpected. I am well aware of the negativity that is thrown on adoptive families including Debra and Ray.

    Too bad we don't care.

  5. Funny, we proactively took our children to see counselors, to help with their adjustements etc. After a month of weekly visits, we went to once a month, and after 2 or 3 of those, we were told that our children were well adjusted, happy and healthy children and that the professionals saw no need for counseling services. But thank you for assuming that they are not settled or doing well. I love ASSumptions :)
    Do they speak perfect English? No. Do they make mistakes? Yes. Does that mean that 2 more orphans should remain orphans? I don't think so.
    As for finances, we have adopted 3 kids in the past 2 years. We fundraised less than 0.5% of those expenses. Are we millionaires? No, but last time I checked that wasn't a requirement for adopting. We will get there, because these girls deserve a family- and that alone is the biggest motivator in the world.

  6. Wow! What incredible ignorance. I have followed Debra's blog since her first adoption and I have always appreciated and admired the incredible effort she has taken to make sure that her children were adjusted, accepted, and HAPPY. She's fought like a Mama bear to make sure that they get all the tools and options that could possibly be available to them. While, no, they were not related prior to the adoptions, they are sisters now. If you read her blog at all you can see this in every sentence she types and every beautiful picture of her girls.
    Why is fundraising to help two children know the love of a family in any way a bad thing? I do not understand the mindset of people who make these comments. Adoption is something with a very tight deadline, it's not always something you can plan in advance.
    I have loved Debra's blog for years. It's one that I read daily. And it often helps me with insight for my own children and my stepdaughter as we are blending a family as well. She's very real, very honest, and a very good mother.
    I do not normally comment, but when I saw this I had to. I am very happy that you have such a wonderful community of support to be willing to help each other in this way. If only the majority of our society would give of themselves in this manner... imagine what our world would be like?
    Sorry to be on a soapbox, but I do not like to see good people attacked. I would be happy to pledge for your laps in this endeavor ( Tell me where to go and how.

    1. Thanks for your support are exactly right.

      The easiest way to support us is in the fundraising is to click on the "Fundraising Flyer" link right above the chart, then fill it out and mail it in. The flyer should have all of the information you are looking for. Thanks again!

    2. Wow! I was sitting here reading your blog, and thinking how cool this fundraiser is, when I scrolled down and saw Anonymous' post and nearly fell off of my chair---such vitriol!! I am still astounded by the bitterness of this person and wonder why someone would lash out in this ignorant and cowardly way. Anyway, bravo to you and I will click on the form.

      As for Debra & Ray, well, all you need to do Anonymous, is follow their blog to track how the "unrelated" girls have settled in. They are absolutely blooming, and the transition is amazing. And, by the way, Anonymous, while these girls were not biologically related, which I guess is your criterion for sisterhood, because of the bond they had formed in the orphanage they were every bit as close and perhaps closer than American biological sisters.

      Debra and Ray, like Loren and Cammie, have brought girls who, through no fault of their own, were condemned to the very small, poor and restricted world of a Ukrainian orphanage, into a home filled with love and appropriate structure and these girls have bloomed.

      What price do you place on a life, Anonymous? What level of material comfort and money does someone need to have before its "OK" in your book to save a child? If you saw a child drowning in a pool would you hesitate to save him because you might chip your nails, or get your silk slacks wet, or because pool water would ruin your $300 Keratin treatment? I hope not, but frankly I'm not sure. But I am sure that Debra and Ray are stepping out in faith to save 2 more kids, and my money's on Loren! As for you Anonymous, I hope you reconsider and join in too.