About Me

keri 071

I live in on the North Side of Chicago and have been married to Sergei for eleven years.  We parent four daughters; Elaina (9), Zoya (7), Polina (3), and Evangeline (3).  Evie, our newest daughter came to us through international adoption.  She happens to also have Down syndrome like Polly, daughter number three. 

I like to read and spend time with friends and family, most days. 

Before Chicago, we lived in Ukraine for almost four years church planting.  Sergei was born and raised in Kiev.  Now, he pastors a church in Roscoe Village, our neighborhood. 

I am passionate about my faith, my husband, our children, writing ambitions and advocating for my kids and others who have Trisomy 21…aka…Down syndrome. 

Recently, our daughter Polina was diagnosed with Moyamoya syndrome.  This disease thins arteries that transport blood to the brain.  Polly suffered three seizures and a stroke on 10/18/09 and will undergo two brain surgeries in an effort to diminish further incidences.  We covet your prayers as we pray for 1) Polina’s health and safety through this difficult time and 2) that God will draw us closer to him as a family through this experience.

Thanks for stopping by.


19 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Cindy Wilkinson  |  November 7, 2007 at 2:02 am

    I loved the red balloon journal. I think of the movie I watched “Evan Almighty” when the actor God laughed because Evan told him he had different plans for his life than what God was asking. Polly definitely was a different plan, a better plan. My little Santi was a different plan, a better one. I am going to ask God when I see him why we couldn’t have adopted him when I was a little younger! Sometimes I’m a crab woman at my age! Beth Moore in her Bible study,”Believing God”says God’s word is energizing. I’m counting on that daily. Hugs and kisses to you and your kidos. Cindy

  • 2. ukrainemom  |  November 7, 2007 at 8:38 pm

    Thanks, Cindy! So nice of you to check out my blog! I need some of that energy…Beth Moore here I come.

  • 3. Drea Bult  |  November 10, 2007 at 3:21 am

    Thanks for taking that daring step and pouring out your thoughts for the universe to read. This little corner of the universe is so glad to have discovered your blog, and is a better place because of you. Little did I know way back in O.T. class, when I sat next to you, the way God would teach me and inspire me through you. Love you, Drea

  • 4. ukrainemom  |  November 10, 2007 at 3:37 am

    Love you too, Drea!

  • 5. Squashcanard  |  November 26, 2007 at 2:18 am

    Hi Gill I love your work do more and more often to me your words need to be heard, only you as the Mom can get Polly’s words down on paper. i love you also Mom

  • 6. Jessica  |  December 2, 2007 at 1:25 pm


    Welcome (back?) to Chicago! I came across your blog with a “google alert” I am registered to receive an email every time something about DS is posted on the internet-cool huh?

    I have a 7-year old daughter with DS and life gets better every day. I love being her mom-love what she has taught me-and loving being a part of teh DS community. PLEASE check out http://www.gigisplayhouse.org. I am on the board there and I know our Chicago location should be opening within the next 6 months. It is a great place for you, Polly, and her sisters! I also have a 9 year-old daughter.

  • 7. ukrainemom  |  December 2, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    Thanks Jessica! We have not been able to get involved in the DS community yet, but really want to. I’d love to meet your daughter, my other girls are seven and five.

  • 8. Joseph Parker  |  December 18, 2007 at 6:23 pm


    I agree with these previous comments…thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your “walk” with us.

    I am writing because as, like Jessica, I “google” blogs and tag surf wordpress because I am curious what is going on out there across America with “at-risk” kids.

    I am the President of KidTrek, a Christian organization partnering with local churches, equipping them how to “walk with at-risk kids through life”.

    Using Deuteronomy 6 as the foundational scripture to our mission, we are doing all we can to empower the local church to walk so intentionally with kids through life they will become Christ-changed, hope-filled, productive adults.

    We desire to put adults in the lives of kids, and their families, to be a support through raising them in whatever “at-risk” situation they be in; including the siblings of kids with DS, or whatever other condition s/he may have, which draws attention away from the other kids in the family.

    I would LOVE your feedback in this area and how KidTrek can be better at supporting families of children with DS…our national headquarters are in Los Angeles, but we have a strong foundation getting built in the greater Chicago area.

    Please visit our website at http://www.kidtrek.org and/or our blog at whymissionaries.wordpress.com to learn more about our mission. Your input would be greatly valued.

    Last, what part of the Ukraine were you in? I have two different sets of friends that are serving as missionaries over there right now; for those reasons the Ukraine is on my heart quite often.

    Please, let me know what you think…and any insight or further conversation would be great, you can get my contact info on our website (as well as our contact in Chicago).

    Thanks, and God bless you Gillian!

  • 9. ukrainemom  |  December 18, 2007 at 9:01 pm

    Wow, Joseph, your ministry sounds incredible! I will check out your information. We moved to Chicago b/c my husband accepted a pastorate while we are here in the States. It is our desire to be a church where differently-abled people and their families can feel they belong and can serve.

    We were in Kiev and knew most of the missionary families there. We also know families from some other towns.

    Who do you know?

    God bless and I or my husband will be in touch.

    Thanks for commenting.

  • 10. Joseph Parker  |  December 19, 2007 at 4:04 pm


    The friends that are there long term are Doug and Masha Shepherd, church planters in L’Viv (part of the Presbyterian Church of America, smaller, more conservative branch of Presbyterian denomination).

    I also know Bob and Sharon Hilts; they are not there on permanent status, as missionaries with OC International, they travel to different parts of the Ukraine two-three times a year training church leaders in ministry to youth through summer camps, and the like.

    Anyway, I look forward to hearing from either you or your husband…I am eager to talk with you more.

    God bless you!

  • 11. kate  |  January 4, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    Welcome to the blogosphere! Thank you for reading my blog! I’ve just added your to my blog role!

  • 12. onegirlfriday  |  April 17, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Looking forward to reading your blog

  • 13. pswmjp  |  May 8, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    Hey Gillian,

    Madison and I were just looking at Polly and her walker….she is SO beautiful and looks absolutely GREAT!


  • 14. ukrainemom  |  May 8, 2008 at 11:07 pm

    Pattie, thanks for stopping by! Hello to all our friends in St. Joe.

  • 15. muchgooder  |  August 30, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    I stumbled across your blog about “full retard” but apparently you removed the ability to leave comments. I wrote on this topic in my own blog, for anyone that is interested:


    What is sad is those that try to push their moralities and sense of decency on the rest of the world. The movie was making fun of hollywood and the actors that take roles to win awards. It was also making fun of the audiences (including the people that find this movie offensive) that went to those movies and enjoyed them. Downey Jr’s character (correctly) pointed out that if the character was “too retarded”, people (like you) didn’t go to see it and they didn’t win awards.

    But that isn’t the point. If you find something offensive, please don’t go to see it. Free speech or art does not come with a “decency” label attached to it. Isn’t everything going to be offensive to someone? I’m tired of people telling me what I can and can’t watch. I probably hate a lot of the things that you like or find funny but I will fight to the death to protect your right to enjoy such things. Please give me the same respect.

    (and yes, I have a handicapped person in my immediate family)

  • 16. Lauren  |  September 12, 2008 at 5:37 pm


    I’ve been working on a social media project involving mom blogs and wanted to run this contest by you. My name is Lauren; an intern with Rev. My group is coordinating a community-outreach effort for the REV Spokesperson Contest. After looking at your site, I feel that your audience would be interested in knowing about us and our little contest! The idea is simple: we’re looking for healthy, active moms who can tell their story, give advice and empower moms who aspire to “do it all” without neglecting themselves.

    REV. product features 3 varieties of Epsom Salt (for Moms, for Athletes, and for Families), but rev-life.com is an online community centered on health, going green, and finding the energy to get it all done! For our members, it offers blogging, social networking, and tools, such as calendars and photo-sharing.

    We’d love to do a link-exchange, but right now we’re in the process of setting up our blog-roll.

    In addition to $1,000.00 cash and a 6-month supply of REV., there are quite a few perks and although only 5 moms throughout the U.S. will receive the Spokesperson honor, everyone who enters will be contributing to an online community that has been created to support, inspire and equip them with resources.

    Can you reply and let me know if that sparks your interest and if you would be willing to post information or otherwise help us spread the message? We can offer 50, 100, 150 word write-ups if you are willing to tell your community about us.

    Check out this link for more information http://www.rev-life.com/?BCRGUID= REV5766

    Please let me know if you have any questions.

    We look forward to hearing from you!

    Rev Outreach

  • 17. Christy Wong  |  October 2, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Hello Gillian,

    I found your blog through searching for mom blogs. I work in the publicity department at Tyndale House Publishers and occasionally we send books to bloggers for reviews on their blogs. I was wondering if you would be interested in reviewing children’s books for us since you’re a mom. If you’d like, you can also review other books that might be of interest to your audience. Please let me know if you would be interested in this opportunity.

    Warm regards,
    Christy Wong
    Tyndale House Publishers

  • 18. Meghan  |  August 25, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    Hi Gillian,

    I just received goosebumps when I watched the montage, summarizing the adoption of Evangeline. What an amazing and beautiful story. Congratulations!

    I wanted to get in touch with you about a program we are working on, where you and your family would receive free tickets to Disney on Ice, “100 Years of Magic,” at the United Center on September 8th. I thought this would be a wonderful event to attend for your entire family.

    When you receive a free moment, feel free to drop me a line at mdaly@momcentral.com.

    Thank you, Gillian!


  • 19. Beautiful B.  |  March 2, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    Just want to wish you a very Happy Birthday, Gillian! Not sure if this will get to you or not but I hope so. I don’t have your e-mail address so thought I’d try this method. Take care. Hope you’re having a great celebration! xoxoxoxo BBB


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