Category: Family

Gettin’ Too Cold For Portraits? Not in Georgia….

Photographers everywhere know that at a certain time of year, outdoor family portraits, or photography of many types, becomes a bit uncomfortable.  The farther north you live, the more skin-cracking portrait sessions get.  FORTUNATELY, I live in Georgia, and we shoot outdoors most of the year.  It is, however, a bit hit-or-miss in the deep winter months (although a 70 degree day is rather common).

Here are a few images from one of our ‘frozen sessions’ with my friends Mark and Charity that was actually in the 70’s.  They are my ‘Hollywood’ family because they look so great.  Let us know what you think!

Midyette-Family-(7-of-7) Midyette-Family-(3-of-7) Midyette-Family-(4-of-7) Midyette-Family-(5-of-7) Midyette-Family-(6-of-7) Midyette-Family-(2-of-7) Midyette-Family-(1-of-7)Have a great week!



The Dirty West…

Each year, around Thanksgiving, I, my wife Kim, and (now) the 3 boys, head due west for the enchanting land of Western Oklahoma.  That sounds a bit like the beginning line of a National Lampoon movie, but such has been the routine (at least for me) for the last 7 years (Kim has been going back since her initial ‘vacation’ East in 1996).  Kim’s entire family is from either the panhandle of Oklahoma, or Southwestern Kansas.  It really is a magical place… and, apparently, they all decided to stay…for some reason.

I don’t really mind the trip.  It usually falls at a time where even the nothingness that is Oklahoma seems like a vacation, and I usually welcome it.  This year was the first trip with the boys, and we decided (our bank account decided) to drive instead of flying, as we normally do.  We decided to take about 3 1/2 days to get out there, not knowing how the boys would do with the monotony of the driving, and not really wanting to do the entire 21 hours straight ourselves.  The boys did great.  Between their ‘discs’ and the truckload of Hot Wheels that they brought with them, they occupied themselves for the vast majority of the trip, with little to no brawling.  PTL.

Being a photographer, and the fact that Kim’s entire family knows I’m a photographer, I usually have a small bit of equipment with me on the trip.  This time, because of some additional projects that got planned for me, I had a bit more.  Not really an issue…I really do like the projects.  I’ll post some of the images from those later.  But, what really interested me this trip was….actually, I should go back a step.  One of the sides of Kim’s family lives outside a town called Keys, Oklahoma, which barely even shows up on Google Maps.  Her grandparents have lived there for over 60 years.   They live in a structure called a quonset.  Never heard of one?  Me either.  Picture a huge, round, grain storage container, roughly 60 feet in diameter.  Cut it in half, and tip the sucker over on it’s side so it forms a dome top.  Well they got one of those, and built a house under it.  While inside, you’d never imagine what the outside looked like.  It looks and feels just like any single-family home anywhere.  Of all of the images I took while we were there, none of them were of this fascinating place.  Nice one.

Anyway, here are some images from AROUND the home, but not of the actual home itself.  Maybe next year…

The place is really one that time has passed by.  There are remnants from their farming past, old vehicles that were ‘some-day’ projects, toys from decades ago (they made them differently then), and an aged earth that is reminiscent of a post-apocalyptic future.  I only scratched the surface this time, but I hope to really document the place next time we visit.  Here is a taste.  Have a great weekend!

India, Ukraine, and a cat named Jeff… (Part Deux)

I was exited to travel to Ukraine.  It was a bit of an adventure.  I tend to be the type of person that plans, executes, and then evaluates afterwards.  This was the kind of trip where the only thing I got to plan was the flight over.  Kim tends to operate this way more easily that I do, but I, occasionally, do enjoy the novelty of it also.  As cultures go, on the surface, Ukrainians are similar to Americans.  But it is just on the surface.  It seems that there is a younger generation there, maybe the generation since the fall of USSR, that is most similar, but those who lived through the Soviet system are seemingly unchanged.  They tended to be generally unfriendly, depressed, and not interested in other people.  They have adapted the conveniences afforded by the Western influence, but mindsets, habits, and outlooks on life seem the same.  This sets the stage for nearly every human interaction we had in our, nearly, 9 weeks there.

So, in my last installment, we left off with a ridiculous trip from Kiev to Sevastopol to meet our boys.  They were staying there for the summer in an attempt by the orphanage director to give them a bit of a respite from orphanage life.  It was a mix between a camp, and a resort, about 2 blocks from the Black Sea (which isn’t actually black).  Even though they were right there on the water, we don’t think that the directors ever let the kids in the water.  Not sure why, seems a bit torturous, but such is life.   Our boys (Samuel, Caleb, and Reese – American names), had been in the orphanage for about a year.  They were happy, energetic, and talkative.  I don’t think you can be a child in an orphanage, and not know what the deal is when a (relatively) young couple from another country comes to meet you.  They knew what was up.  We weren’t allowed to stay long.  Since our trip to Crimea was not ‘official’, we needed to stay under the radar.  We were scared, though.  I mean, we leave our comfortable life in the US to go adopt 3 children that don’t speak English, may not like us, and are probably really pissed about their lot in life (up to that point).  So, when we left Crimea, we wanted God to say to us (in a big Godly voice…) “ADAM AND KIM!  THIS IS MY PLAN FOR YOU!  ADOPT THESE BOYS!”  Well, it didn’t happen that way (surprisingly).  Here are some photos of the boys at that time.


Reese and Caleb


Reese and Caleb

Samuel (uninterested), Caleb and Reese


Once back in Kiev, we had a choice to make….Decide to pursue these boys, or roll the dice and press our luck.  Well, our abounding trust in the Ukrainian government being what it was, we decided to pursue our boys.  (we really liked them, anyway).  This meant that there was more waiting, more paperwork, and, yes, there were more bribes.  Again, the bribes were just to get the government workers to simply do their jobs.  They weren’t to circumvent the process or the law.  This next bit took about 3 weeks.  Doesn’t sound like a lot, I know, but when you have explored the crap out of Kiev, and are stuck to a pretty tight budget for food, lodging, and transportation, options for passing the time get pretty bleak.  So, we started taking photo jobs.  Gotta do something, ya know.  I’ll do some blog posts on those shoots later.

I did promise to tell you about Ukrainian lines.  In the US, we have lines.  They are usually single-file, and you wait your turn to where ever the line is leading.  We are used to them.  No one really likes them, but there is a certain expectation that, if you wait in the line, you will eventually get to the front where it will be your turn.  Well, the Ukrainians must have missed that lesson in grade school.  Kim and I were at a 4th of July celebration (held on the 7th) put on by, what we thought was, the US embassy.  There was no admission charge, but, if you wanted food, you had to buy tickets.  We bought ours and got in one of 4 lines leading to what was supposed to be American food.

Now, up to this point, we had been good Americans.  We were louder than most people, but we kept our boisterousness to a minimum, and tried to stay off the radar.  On this evening, we were introduced to Ukrainian lines, or ‘living lines’.  People come into the lines as they wish, and have absolutely no shame about that fact.  They would use very loose ‘associations’ with someone they claim to know, say hello while in line, then never leave.  Also, the line doesn’t just just grow from the back, it grows from all sides.  People add from the back, the sides, and, if you can believe it, from the front.  There was a period of about 20 minutes where the line didn’t move because people kept moving to the front.  Eventually, our efforts to subdue our American-ness wore off.  Adam and Kim got mouthy.  We physically blocked people from getting in front of us and used some serious stink-eye for those who tried.  The line moved pretty quickly for us from that point on.  But I digress…

So about 3 weeks pass, and we paid to bring the boys up to Kiev.  They took a train which takes about 18 hours.  They were brought to the orphanage, and the next day we went out to see them, with our facilitator and the case worker assigned by the court.  This was to be our ‘official’ visit.  As we pulled up to the orphanage and walked to the front door, we could hear the boys inside yelling (we didn’t understand them) and Sasha told us that they were yelling “our parents are here, our parents are here!”  That was nice.   I believe that there was supposed to be some type of ‘observation’ of us on the visit, but once we were ‘introduced’ to them, we pretty much left the office with them and took them outside to play.  On this visit, we really only got about an hour before we were shuffled off to the director’s office to answer a few questions; one of those being whether we wanted to proceed ‘officially’ and move to adopt them.  We said ‘da’.

From that point on, we saw them just about every day, and all day.  Our court date was within that week, and our petition to adopt them was granted by the judge. Only one of the boys, Sam, went with us to the court appearance.  He was old enough to be able to answer questions posed by the judge.  Here are a few images from that day after we left court.

L-R: Rep. from the orphanage, Kim, Me, our case worker, Samuel. Notice the amazingly tacky pink 'court' house.

Kim and Sam in the clothes that the orphanage picked out for him. Really?


They have a built in 10 day waiting period that is really a “speak now or forever hold your peace” kind of a thing that we had to wait through before we could take them from the orphanage permanently.  Shortly after the court date, and before the 10 day period was up, it was time for Adam to get back to the US.  Kim took over, visiting the boys at the orphanage each day until they could leave.  She would help feed them, teach them how to bathe (apparently, no one else thought this was important) and teach them what a real bear hug was.  I know that some only know the uber-agressive, assertive, whirlwind that is Kim, but very few get to see the side that I see every day.  This is the gentle, warm, and maternal side of her.  I knew when were dating that this side was in there, it just took a bit to find it.  When I did, it was an easy decision.  Well, the boys now got to see it too.  They are just as hooked as I am.

My Kimee...


Kim had a few more bumps in the road before she could bring them home.  Mostly dealing with travel documents, but also with some relatively significant dental work that all of the boys needed.  All told, they needed about a dozen teeth pulled, drilled, filled, and root-canal(ed).  We thought we were going to need to take out a second mortgage to pay for all of it, but in Ukraine, the dental work is dirt cheap.  If we were to have had the work done in the US, we would probably have paid between $5k and $10k.  If you need this amount of work done, it is actually cheaper to book a round-trip flight, go to Kiev, get the work done, stay for a week, and fly back.  No joke.  But we got it done.  The kids were very proud of their ‘American teeth’.

One annoyance after another, we got them home.  They are happy, the eat like horses, and they are very exited to go to school.  We are so grateful for all of the prayers, notes of encouragement, and assistance we have received along this journey.  Kim and I are not really people that easily accept help…we tend to like to do things ourselves.  In this process, I can’t tell you how much of a blessing our family and friends have been.  Of course, God calls us to love Him and love others, but we tend to ignore the part where He places upon each of us the duty to accept help from others, because it blesses them to do it.  I didn’t really understand this part very well.  I do now.  It was wonderful.

Now comes the next chapter.  We are exited to introduce our new family to you…


India, Ukraine, and a cat named Jeff… (Part Uno)

My wife, Kim, and I have had an eventful few years.  Not to say that our entire marriage hasn’t been eventful, but the recent past has pushed our limits.  Why, do you ask?  Well, let me give you a bit of back story.  I’m 36, and Kim is, of course, perpetually 29.  We, in the last few years, had begun to seriously consider starting a family.  That in itself is a stressful decision, but we weren’t convinced that God had it in our direct path to ‘birth’ them.

A few years ago, Kim was scheduled to go on one of her regular trips overseas for work.  This trip would take her to India for the second time.  Because work paid for all of her expenses, we thought it would be a good opportunity for me to go on one of these trips.  Two weeks in India, with only airfare and food to pay for seemed reasonable.  While there, we saw some of the most glaring images of childhood need we had ever seen.  It was truly heartbreaking at times.  Apparently, India has about 1.2 BILLION people.  Arguably more than China, but they can’t count them all.  That enherently means that there is enormous childhood neglect throughout the country.  We saw it first hand.

This little guy was sleeping in the middle of a construction site. He was sound asleep on a rice bag.

Some of the children's expressions were heartbreaking.

Some expressions were very joyful.

She had never seen 'whitey' before...


This was about the time that Kim and I had our first serious conversations about adoption vs. natural childbirth.  If anything would help us make the decision, India would.  We knew that God had a plan for us.  We knew that, whatever our plans might be, God had a better one.  We knew it.

After seeing the need in India, it was apparent to us that adoption was the way for us.  We might not be ruling out natural childbirth forever, but for now it wasn’t right.

Fast forward one year.  If you have been through the adoption process, be it stateside or international, it always starts with the home study, and a TON of paperwork.  We had, through a series of trials and errors, decided that we wanted to adopt from Ukraine.  Why Ukraine you ask?  Well, Ukraine is one of the last countries that will allow prospective adoptive parents to actually MEET the children they mean to adopt before they actually do (at least for now).  This has some advantages and some disadvantages, but, for us, the advantages well outweighed the downsides.  So, Ukraine it was.

Fast forward another year (this is how long the home study, domestic and international processes take) and we were on a plane to Ukraine.  We had no idea what to expect, despite the best efforts of our facilitator to prepare us.  Let us just say that, despite their assertions to the contrary, Ukraine is not pro-adoption.  The process is largely corrupt, and EVERYONE gets payoffs simply to do their jobs.  They are not payoffs in the sense that people can do unscrupulous things, but if you want to have your file reviewed and acted upon this calendar year, you better get out your wallet.

Average post-WWII buildings in Kiev...

A pretty girl and Blue Steel...


Ukraine is a beautiful country.  It is incredibly fertile and picturesque, but the people have had an amazingly brutal past.  Millions upon millions of their people have died or been killed, unnecessarily, over the centuries due to their government’s greed, fear, and hunger for power.  Just pick up a book on Russian history, and you’ll see.  It is written all over the faces of their people.  This has lead to an incredible lack of individual sense of value.  They have tremendous national pride, but, as was the case with the Soviet system, the individual is not worth much.  This has a dramatic effect on the children of this country.  I don’t want to start quoting statistics, but it should suffice to say that they do not have the infrastructure to succeed.

Back to the story.  Kim came from a big family.  She would have been content to bring home a baker’s dozen, and have it done in one shot.  Such is the efficiency of my beautiful wife.   However, ‘sensible’ minds prevailed, and we settled on a sibling group, 7yrs and under, and between 2 and 4 children.  Again, this ‘seemed’ sensible.  It is kinda like going to a sales showroom where the salesman quotes you a price that is 3-4 times the actual price, which makes the ‘actual’ price seem reasonable.  I can feel the grey hair coming in now…

We began the process in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine.  Beautiful city, that sits right on a big, Mississippi-like river, the Dnieper, and looks like any eastern European capital city, old buildings, new ones, and lots of people.  We also like animals, so everywhere we go, we tend to try to take care of any strays we see.  The building we stayed in had one such stray… an all white cat, that believed he was just as human as we were.  We named him Jeff.  People names for animals are funny.

Jeff the cat. He enjoys milk, tuna, and an occasional rendezvous under the stars...

We had some let-downs after we arrived in Kiev.  Despite our best efforts to prepare ourselves for these kinds of things, it still kicks you in the teeth, and it hurts.  We had been made aware of a 3-brother sibling group that fit our original criteria, and that were available.  Because of the way the adoption process works, we would not be able to see/meet these children unless we went through a request/referral song-and-dance with the very government department that handed us the set-backs.  We decided to do things a bit differently.  The boys were part of a local orphanage that made a habit of taking all of their kids (about 20) down to the Black Sea for a few months in the summer.  We don’t think they let them swim in the Sea, it was just a “let’s just sit and look at the pretty water” kind of trip.  Real nice.

Kiev was 8 hours from Sevastopol, according to our facilitator, which is where the boys were.  In actuality, it was 12 hours by car.  3rd world roads, no stop lights, no cities to speak of, some real fun driving.  We headed out at 5:30pm.  Rolled into town at 7:30 the next morning.  Met the boys, and got to spend about 20 minutes with them.  These were our boys.  Zhenya, Daniel, and Kyryl (6,5, and 4).  Back on the road for the, what became, 14 hour drive back.  Now the fun starts.

In my next installment, I’ll share the wonderful world of hurry up and wait, Ukrainian style, and I’ll tell you what a Ukrainian line is.  It’ll make you angry just reading it….



You may or may not know this, but we love animals.  We have several.  They are fun, they make us laugh, and they love us no matter what stupid things we do (we love them too).  We have a lot of pets, 4 big dogs and 3 cats.  In the hierarchy of our ‘animal kingdom’, there is one Alpha….and her name is Macy.

Macy is Kim’s baby, raised from a pup, and coddled like no other.  She is a 9yr. old 75lb Husky/Malamute mix and is more of a cat than a dog.  She is impeccably clean (most of the time), much prefers to hunt her food (our squirrel and lizard population is nearly non-existent), and can do no wrong (in her mother’s eyes).   We love Macy.  She keeps her other ‘subjects’ in line and is clearly the Alpha….just ask her.

About 6 months ago, we noticed that Macy had a little irritation in one of her eyes, and was having trouble opening it all the way.  It is not unusual for the ‘street gang’ to get a bit too rough in the yard and one or more of them comes in injured (think midnight vet emergency room visits).  Nothing new.  SO, when we decided to take her in to our local vet, we didn’t expect anything unusual…maybe just a scratch that got inflamed or something.  Well, this time we weren’t so lucky.

The doctor looked at her eye and his suspicions were aroused very quickly.  He ran some tests, and it was confirmed that Macy had stage 5 Lymphoma. (Dogs apparently have 5 stages, unlike the 4 human stages.)  Lymphoma?  Not 30 days before, we had her in for a tooth extraction and they didn’t see anything.  Well, it was there now.  What does this mean?

We decided to start treatments for her and she is powering through like a champ.  She’s about 4 months into her chemo, and is doing great.   Same attitude, same intense wrestling matches in the yard, same lazy naps on my pillow,  (yes, my pillow) and we love her more than ever.   Here is a bit of eye candy of Miss Macy…