Category Archives: Dnep

Operation “Dinner Out”

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Greetings Everyone!

Well, The rescue operation is underway :)
Shannon, Carson, and our friend Andrea are currently in Kyiv, Ukraine.  In a few days’ time they will be in Dnep (I won’t write the whole name of the city; chances are you might not pronounce it correctly!), the city where our kids have been living for basically their whole lives.
(Of course, if you are reading this, you probably know all about the adoption, as well as Anton and Lena Hazletons, the new additions to our family.)

A theme verse for this adoption journey has been Psalm 68:6,

God settles the solitary in a home; [He] leads out the prisoners to prosperity. (ESV)
God places the lonely in families; [He] sets the prisoners free and gives them joy. (NLT)

That’s pretty much what the Lord has done in our family this year: He has granted us the privilege of adopting two orphans who, like all of us, need a family to love and care for them.

…so you may be wondering, Why Operation Dinner Out?

About 10 years ago, there was a movie about a rescue mission (to break someone out of wrongful imprisonment) which went badly, and the rescuer needed some rescuing, too.  He had an influential friend who used all the power and resources at his disposal to get his buddy and [the other prisoner] out of their captivity.  The name for the final rescue was “Operation Dinner Out”.

our plans do not include a helicopter extraction.   yet.

And so it is with us.  Our family – our children – have been orphans their whole lives until about 10 days ago, when a judge awarded us custody and we became their family. YAY!!!!!!
…the journey (well, at least this part of it) is almost complete.  By God’s grace, the solitary have found a home with us; now our rescue team has been deployed to set them free from a lonely existence and bring them home.  Because of the Lord’s work and provision (which He has accomplished due to support from many of you!!! Thanks again!), the jailbreak is on, and our kids will be home in time to celebrate their new sister’s birthday.


That is all for now.  More details to follow.


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As I sit here typing this, Shannon and Carson are laying down for a nap (mine was earlier). She is almost asleep on the couch; he is jabbering and talking to the wind blowing outside the bedroom window. Ahhhh, the wind. So inviting and welcome – the combination of wind and cloudy skies has made August much more fun there in Dnepropetrovs’k than in good ole’ Southeast Texas. Today’s high temperature? (factored for est. heat index) Around 70oF; back home it’s more like 109o. yeesh.

(UPDATE: at the time of posting this entry to the www, the current temperature is 66. niiiice.)

The only environmental downside for me is that my body seems to be rejecting this pleasant, welcoming Ukrainian city. In the last two days, I’ve been (on occasion) sneezy and sniffly, with itches in my eyes and the back edge of my palate. I’m not sure what’s going on here. Shannon tells me what I’m experiencing is something called “allergies”; I have heard mention of this, but to this point, have not been able to experience it. I would like to return or exchange it for something else, please.

“Hey buddy, can you spare a brother some nettle?”

Fortunately, we have something I can take for it that will counteract all this loveliness in no time; I’m also eating local honey like crazy, though I admit that I would do that anyway.

In other news, we have just three more visits with Anton and Lena before our court date when the judge will award the kids to us and make us legally parents of five! Please join us in praying for a great outcome. Who knows? We may even get to bring the kids home on this first trip if the Lord so ordains another miracle. Otherwise, it’s back home for about a week, and then Shannon and Carson will make another journey back here to set the prisoners free and bring the solitary into our family!

It’s pretty rough out there. Fortunately, Danger is my middle name.

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I think we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping everyone out there updated on the newest Hazletons and our journey to bring them home.

However, there are three more kiddos in the crew, and we brought one of them along on this adventure. Many of you already know this, and may be wondering how Carson is doing. Well, he’s been fantastic, especially considering that his first airplane ride was a 9-hour one (followed quickly by another 2-hour one), he’s sat (in a stroller) in numerous lines, waited in many offices, ridden in lots of cabs, lived in 3 homes in 6 days, all while recovering form jet lag and a constantly changing sleep schedule while barely getting to play at all until he met his new brother and sister. Oh, did I mention he’s bringing a new tooth in?

jet lag? what jet lag?

So yeah, he’s been a champ. His usual bubbly, happy, funny, charming, Carson self. Everyone loves him. People are always smiling at him, talking to him, playing with him, and even trying to hold him when we let them. Being a momma’s boy, he doesn’t usually go for that, but he has surprised us a time or two.

what’s not to love?

He’s adjusted quite well to um, more relaxed child safety standards as far as travel. He has not seen a car seat since Houston, and he’s loving the freedom. He’s also getting pretty good at sitting in a big boy chair for meals.

big boy at the dinner table

The only real hiccup came today during our second play time with Anton and Lena. I was carrying Lena around, and we went to the merry go round where Carson was playing with some dominos. He was doing quite well on his own, so we turned to walk away. I took one step and heard the sound of him losing his balance and falling off his little perch. Fortunately, his head broke his fall. oops.

Even then, he only cried a bit. Lena checked on him, and Anton went to get him a wipe to clean off the new goose egg on his dome. In no time at all he was ready to go, though he did not put up any fight at all when we said our goodbyes and loaded him up in the stroller. I think he fell asleep before we left the orphanage courtyard.

knot head

Yeah, Carson’s doing great. He is, as always, a blessing to his momma and daddy and everyone else who gets to be around him. Please keep his new tooth in your prayers, as well as that knot on his head.

Sunny Morning- 2nd day of visits

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We were greeted with kisses!  Wasn’t expecting that!  The Nannies told them to give us kisses, I’m sure, but they weren’t hesitant at all.
After our warm welcome to the orphanage, we headed back to the playground, because, as the facilitator said, “the children need fresh air.”
Here’s a few pics from the morning visit.
Do I finally have a left-handed child??

Got Your Shades, Mom

Hazel Eyes

Both wanting Papa’s (Daddy’s) attention

Does anyone know how to say “the pig and chicken stayed home” in Ukrainian?

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We noticed from the first meeting we had that Anton is very detail oriented. He did not take his eye off the paperwork that was being reviewed, signed, stamped, and exchanged. Later, when we gave the children toys to play with, he kept taking one toy apart and putting it back together. (he wasn’t disassembling it; it has three or four parts.) And then, this afternoon we all got a longer visit together on the playground. During that time, we got out a little container that has farm animals in it. The container has a picture of what belongs inside (this is one way Shannon is training our kids to clean up after themselves.)

wait just a minute……

Well, Anton had a question about these toys: Where are the pig and chicken? You see, they were in the picture, but not in the container. We had to tell him the pig and chicken stayed home. Interesting!

Lena seems to be a big, playful adventurer. She got over being shy muck more quickly than Anton, and she was all go, no quit when we were playing on the playground. And just like her sister Maggie, she seems to have no fear. When combined with Anton’s shyness and focus, she seems to be quite able of running all over her new brother.

However, she also shows strong nurturing tendencies. When she and Anton hijacked Carson’s crackers (a fact that stretched our youngest boy more than a little), she made sure that whenever Carson called for a cracker, he got one.

here, let me give ya another one

Of course, she always held the bag, but she continued to give them to little brother until they were gone. Anton was on his own; I guess she figured orphan rules applied, and he was big enough to either get his own or go without. No worries, though: at the end there was an empty bag, three sets of cheesy cheeks, and even a cracker or two for Momma and Papa.

o.k., that’s all for now.

we’re gonna post some late-breaking prayer requests tomorrow morning (our time), so stay tuned.

Thanks for being a part of this adventure! We might have been able to do it without you, but I’m so glad we won’t ever have to find out. May the Lord bless you more and more and more each day because of the prayer, encouraging notes/posts, and many other ways you are joining in our journey to Joy…and her brother.


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Anton (With Mama)


Lena (with Daddy)

This day has seemed never-ending. We got off the train at 7am, and literally haven’t stopped until about 7:00 this evening. There was a LOT of official business… and a LOT of just sitting and waiting around for official business… and it was tiring, especially for the little guy… especially since the little guy and I didn’t sleep more than 3 hours on the train last night.

But adrenaline kept me going. I was ready to meet those beautiful children waiting just a few miles from where we were running around… I couldn’t believe it was about to happen…

How We First Laid Eyes on Them

When it finally came time to meet the kids, we were whisked to the orphanage, where we were seated in a front entry area and told that some paperwork needed to be completed before the children were brought to us.

Carson was walking around, exploring, and Jeff and I were sitting on couches. I turned my head towards some movement at the front entry, and saw a nanny walk in holding the hands of two children… OUR two children… they were whisked right past us and into another room. I reeled my head around to Jeff and looked at him in disbelief.

Then we were ushered into the orphanage director’s office with a bunch of other people: two of our facilitators, orphanage director, the social worker from across town, the orphanage psychologist, and a few others. Lots of Russian was thrown around the room, and Serge, one of our facilitators, said, “Show them the album!” We pulled out the Shutterfly photo book we had made of our family and Serge pointed to the last page, where there’s a picture of our friends, the Carlins, who adopted a son from this same orphanage.

Lots of “oohing” and “aahing” ensued.

Then, before I even knew what was happening, Anton and Lena were brought into the office and lots more Russian was flying around the room… and perhaps some Ukrainian as well…

Anton was so, so shy. He literally hid behind Lena, who was a little bolder, but still apprehensive. Anton has such expressive eyes, and I thought at any moment he would cry, and I asked our facilitators if the kids were scared…. he said they were just shy, especially Anton.

The orphanage director had the kids come around to her side of the desk, and she turned away from us, put her arms around Anton and Lena, and lovingly spoke to them in a whisper, reassuring them.

The two of them both came over to us, apprehensively, and we were able to tell them hello and hold their hands… everyone in the room kept reassuring them. At one point both of them did start crying and it nearly broke my heart. But Serge told us not to worry b/c it was just a lot for them to take in today – you see, before today, they had no idea they would be brother and sister, and that a strange Mama and Papa, speaking a different language, would come to visit.

We went back out to the sitting area with Anton & Lena, and pulled out a few toys, a notebook, and some crayons. Within a few minutes, they warmed up, and I saw a few shy glances our direction, and some smiles. Anton whispered to Lena a lot, showing her the toy he was most interested in. Before we left to do more business, we played a game of balloon volley with them.

We returned in the afternoon, and when the kids were brought to us, Anton was still shy at first, but they were all smiles. They each took our hands and called us “Mama” and “Papa” and we went outside to the playground. They both loved looking at the shutterfly book and asked us lots and LOTS of questions in Russian, which we couldn’t answer, unfortunately. I just told them what I knew in Russian, things like, “this is our home”… “this is our family”… “this is your sister/brother”….

Within just a few minutes, they were both vying for our attention. We played, took lots of pictures, and explored every last thing in the backpack.

Then it was time to go and we said “pakah”… I am interested to see how they react tomorrow morning when we return for another visit. I have no idea how much they understand at this point.

Thank you all for your prayers… we are staying in an apartment that is a 10 minute walk from the orphanage, so that is very good. However, we had to buy a cell phone modem for the computer, b/c there is no internet in our apartment… now we can get online, but things go MUCH more slowly, and video chatting isn’t going as nicely as it was when we had wi-fi in Kiev.

Time to call it a night – more pics later…


We met them. !!!!!!!

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Greetings, everyone!

Just sending a quick post via my new 3g modem from the Apple Store in Dnepropetrovsk. Yes, you read that right.
We met the kids!!!
He is really, really shy and seems to like to figure things out.
She is tall & skinny, and super playful.
Their momma’s heart almost broke for joy when they walked into the room.
We got to meet them and play for a few minutes. We’ll see them again in a short while.
More to follow (including pics!)