Friends wanted!

How can you put into words what this journey has done for us? It’s made me stronger than I ever knew possible while making me fall to my knees in weakness. It’s broken my heart and my soul for every child that I can’t save. It’s made tears fall from my eyes when I watch my sweet girls play because I know there are so many millions of children who will never know what it’s like.

I tell myself, “Can I stop with just Sweet Girl?” Can I tell God that we don’t have enough money or enough room at the table?

Imagine Sweet Girl being a sweet girl, playing her harmonica, drinking her juice box and looking at pictures of HER family. (Imagine the “non-brushed” hair day he talked about in his post.)

There is so much evil in the world. Even within my small adoptive community, I see satan attacking at every turn. Sometimes it’s obvious – sweet precious children pass away while they wait for their mama and papa to come, crises with jobs or houses while parents try to fight to bring home their kids, kids who wait YEARS AND YEARS for their family to find them. Other times it’s not obvious – something another adoptive mom does annoys you and puts a bitterness in your heart or I choose to buy a fancy lunch out when I know what $10 would mean for these kids.

Today, I read a post about a lady who was culling her friends list. She said something like if you read this and don’t plan on praying for orphans, adopting orphans or donating to orphans, then delete me as your friend. At first, I was inclined to agree and shout, “Yes, this is SO IMPORTANT! If you aren’t with me, then you must be against me and if you are against me then I don’t want to be your friend!” But I quickly realized I didn’t mean that.

Do I think that this journey has been so awesome and the reward so great that I think everyone should do it? Yes! But don’t all “new parents” say that? Once you had your first or third child, didn’t you try to tell all your friends that they need to stop waiting and just have kids or another kid now! We all meant it with the best of hearts though. But do I truly judge my friends who choose not to have kids? No, not at all. That is their journey and their choice. I just want to support them on whatever decisions they make and watch God work in their lives. I know that sometimes this means that I will cry with them and be heartbroken with them.

Back to adoption.. so even though I encourage everyone to adopt now, do I truly think it’s for everyone? No, I don’t! Do I think donating to families/children waiting for adoption is for everyone? Nope! I’d hope that you could at least pray for them, but will I really unfriend people who aren’t believers because they don’t believe in prayer? That’s ridiculous. What I do want my friends to do is search their souls and look around them to see where they can help and HELP SOMEHOW. I do think that everyone needs to follow the Bible when God tells us to care for the orphans and widows in their distress, but if that means that you support meal programs for orphans or a work assistance program for widows, then I am so excited for you! And it’s exciting to know that where I’m not called to help specifically, God has called others to help! We are all working towards the same goal!

It’s such a rewarding experience to follow what I think God has called us to do. I get wrapped up in the details of life and get frustrated by it all too, but the reward at the end of this journey wrapped up in a little red headed ball of fire is my light. She makes this worth doing.

What I’m trying to say is, I don’t care if God leads you down a different path or if you don’t think God leads you at all – you are still my friend and I cherish our relationship.

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I was going to stop this here, but throughout this whole post, the theme of redemption has been front and center in my mind. I can’t find an eloquent way to bring the two topics together, but just pretend that a great writer whisked his or her way in here and added a paragraph that combines these two topics.

There is a quote from a man, Derek Loux (http://louxfamilyblog.com/), about Redemption. He wrote this in his blog regarding the adoption of his boys from EE:

On the drive home that night, the Lord whispered in my ear, “This is Redemption. Derek, do you know how far I travelled to get you and bring you back? I had to be separated from my Son, in order to get you, just like you are separated from your children in order to get these boys. Do you know how expensive it was for Me to purchase you? It cost me everything. Do you know how broken, sick, damaged, twisted, dirty, smelly, and hopeless you were? And at the end of it all, you had nothing to give me or add to me. I did it for you. I emptied myself and became nothing so that you could have it all. This is redemption.

 

My friends, adoption is redemption. It’s costly, exhausting, expensive, and outrageous. Buying back lives costs so much. When God set out to redeem us, it killed Him. And when He redeems us, we can’t even really appreciate or comprehend it, just like Dimitri will never comprehend or fully appreciate what is about to happen to him … but … he will live in the fruit of it. As his Daddy, I will never expect him to understand all of this or even to thank me. I just want to watch him live in the benefits of my love and experience the joys of being an heir in my family. This is how our heavenly “Papa” feels towards us.

 

Today, settle your busy heart down and rest in the benefits of redemption. Enjoy the fruits of His goodness, and stop trying to “pay Him back”. You’ll never get close you goofy little kid.

Derek went to be with Jesus a year after he wrote that which makes it even more powerful. It makes me realize that my blessing is that I don’t have to be strong and I don’t have to do it all, I just need to do the best I can. God has already redeemed me and Sweet Girl, I don’t need to do it again. But I do want to watch her “live with the benefit of my love and experience the joys of being an heir in my family”.

We think we get to go get our sweet sweet baby mine in two weeks 🙂

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Hurry up to wait! – Trip 3, Day 0/1

(posted by him)
Almost 30 hrs ago, I stared my day… my first solo trip to Eastern Europe to visit our Sweet Girl. This trip is just a short formality to apply for her passport and only required one of us to be present. We figured we’d just send one of us and save on money as well as disruption to the twins. Since she has already taken considerable time off within her first year of a new job, we figured it was time to cut them a break and send me, leaving her behind to take care for the girls.The commuter flight from Charlotte to JFK was more interesting than normal. There was horrible weather in Charlotte, so much so a water curtain welcomed our entrance onto the plane and the vents were blowing mist – looking like an odd hollywood special effect. I sat in front of a mother from Turkey traveling alone with her newborn who didn’t speak English (the mother) and also didn’t seem to understand that gate checking her diaper bag meant you can’t keep going into it once the plane leaves the jetway. The excitement culminated in a creepy older guy that kept insisting her could help out by holding her baby. As if the drama and the weather wasn’t bad enough, apparently Vice President Biden has just flown into Charlotte behind schedule and had the runway all tied up. Nothing like hearing the pilot say the tower isn’t being forthcoming as there’s a VIP on the ground and a line of 20 planes in front of us. Between the weather and Biden, we sat on the tarmac for over an hour after our departure time.

I was slightly worried the delay would effect me, but I knew I had close to a 3 hour layover in JFK. In actuality it provided me just enough time to grab lunch before heading to my gate and loading up for the 10 hour flight. Dare I say I’m used to it, because I don’t think you can ever get used to it, but it was pretty uneventful. There seemed to be more time in darkness, but still, I cannot sleep on that flight. We arrived on time and heading through passport control and customs was pretty routine. When I got outside, I immediately saw Vita waiting for me and she called Ilya and we scurried off to the car. Now, here’s where things got a bit different. I’ve never arrived before on a middle of the week weekday, but the traffic was far worse than I could have imagined. What was supposed to be a 3hr car ride to her town turned into 5hrs. I think we literally spent 3hrs crawling out of the city. But the extra time allowed me to catch up on my sleep, so it wasn’t too bothersome.

We arrived at my hotel about 3:00pm for a speedy check-in. I got a room on the 3rd floor (elevator only services up to the 2nd) and in the corner of the rafters. Its not so bad, but wifi is much more sporadic than its ever been. The room has two small double beds and is laid out similar to what I’m familiar with just compressed. Vita quickly summoned me back downstairs and said she had called the adoption center and they hadn’t received the court decree yet so we would get in the car and head over to court to check with the court secretary. We traveled to the same building we had court in last month. Vita told me to wait in the car and she returned very quickly. The secretary had the decree but the judge needed to sign it and he was on vacation til Friday and no other judge could sign it.  Since we had expected to have this today or tomorrow, Vita had made an early 9am appointment at the ZAGS (registry) office to get her birth certificate. She said we would now head over there and make sure it was ok to come as soon as we received the decree rather than 9am. Once again I waited in the car.

ZAGS office

Then she asked if I wanted to go to the orphanage… of course!

We got to the orphanage about 4:00 and went immediately upstairs to the directors office where we were invited in to sit down. Vita and the Director proceeded to have conversation for what must have been 15mins with me awkwardly sitting there not understanding a thing. Then Vita finally filled me in they were discussing the paperwork and signatures needed turn over control of Sweet Girl’s bank account to us, a previous inquiry we had made. See, in Sweet Girl’s county, the government gives a stipend of sorts to every orphan, a “safety net” of sorts for when they age out of the system. This account is controlled by the orphanage director until the child becomes of age. However, what they were discussing is she can’t turn this over even though she manages it, only the city’s Organ of Custody, Tatiana (who we’ve met before), can… but Tatiana is also on vacation until Fri. To our knowledge, no adoptive parent has successfully claimed their child’s account in our region and in many cases, it may not be worth the amount of effort, but we wanted to give it a try. If we were successful, whatever funds could be transferred over to a college fund for her in the US vs being lost back to the government she’s leaving behind.

Thank goodness both Tatiana and the judge are expected back on Friday or I would have to wait here through the weekend until Monday!

After our conversation was over, we went to the conference/play room and Sweet Girl was brought in. She looked like she was doing very well, still a bit hesitant at first, but perhaps less so than last time. I quickly pulled her onto my lap and she said she remembered papa. We did our best to explain mama was at home watching her sisters but wanted to be here and missed her very much. It seems as though the orphanage has been talking to her some and trying to prep for her departure. She still claims she is willing to “leave with mama and papa”. After that, we tore into some toys I had brought… a couple old happy meal toys including an airplane with decal kit and some spring loaded little ball, play dough, and some inflatable punching balloons. So we played for about 40 minutes. When 5:00 hit, she wanted to gather up all 3 balloons and her happy meal toys and take them down to her groupa… it was quite funny seeing her try to carry a big armful of toys downstairs. I asked her if she wanted me to come back and play tomorrow and she said yes!

Papa and his Sweet Girl
She wanted all the punching balloons to herself!

So tomorrow we’ll have our only full length play session in the morning. Then Vita mentioned needing the afternoon to complete a bunch of paperwork, so I’m not sure I’ll get to see her twice. And of course Friday is now completely filled with all the official business we must accomplish on this trip because of everyone’s vacations. But hey, I’m used to things coming down to the wire now!

10 Tidbits

Sometimes I think of things or take a picture and mean to post it somewhere and never do.Or maybe, something in itself isn’t enough for a blog post or I just don’t have time so it hides on my phone. Here are 10 tidbits, inspired by the pictures on my phone.10. This morning it was raining and I hit traffic again. I have no clue why in the middle of this road, traffic always stops. I wanted to share this picture with the quote, “At least it’s not Monday anymore!”

9. For LAOKV’s birthday the other week, we went and saw Sister Hazel at Ziggy’s. I knew I was old for 4 reasons. 1) By the time we were done with dinner, I was ready for bed 2) I had a glass of wine with dinner and said that was enough for the whole night. 3) I wore flats and my feet were still killing me after standing on concrete for 3 hours. 4) The old guy dancing behind us was more endearing than embarrassing.

8. I’m addicted to shopping at Goodwill for sweet girl. I have such a hard time paying full or even half price for kids clothes. For the twins I buy a lot of their stuff used from a multiples resale group because the prices are so good. And I still match them and that’s hard to do at Goodwill. But for Sweet Girl, I can find awesome things in singles at Goodwill and I don’t feel bad about it. Yes, she has 11 Christmas shirts, but when you consider I paid $2 each for them so the whole lot is retail for one, who cares! And of course a 4 year old needs 3 bathing suits when she’s coming home in October! I posted this on my facebook, but here’s a recent Goodwill steal – RL Polo Sweater (maybe slightly big, but we’ll roll the sleeves back, Cream Cherokee LS top, Children’s Place Jeans and Target brown boots in excellent condition. $9.50!

7. Cranky loves shoes. She wants them on and off and on and off and on and off all day. Or socks. She can easily get them off herself, but can just now, get her sandals back on again. The other day, she saw her shoes on the floor in the living room on the way to the kitchen for dinner. She insisted (when she insists, we usually say ok, it’s a matter of picking battles) that the shoes come with her. Then she proceeded to use them as bowls for the pretzels she didn’t get to yet.

6. I saw this picture on my phone and didn’t recall what it was or why I took it. Then I remembered – this is the Delta terminal at JFK. There was a pigeon just walking around. Why not! Welcome to America!

5. Also in Eastern Europe, I found Nascar on the TV one day, but the announcers were speaking Russian. It was better than the alternative TV choices!

4.The twins LOVE to eat cereal in a bowl with milk and a spoon. They are SUPRISINGLY accurate with the milk filled spoons for 18 months!

3. The twins have developed in unison, a love for baby dolls. They have two sweet babies they keep in their cribs that Gregory gave them – sometimes they can’t stand to leave baby alone all day and have to go grab her through the rails. They also have two bigger babies that G-ma gave them for their birthday they drag around by the hair. We are practicing loving the babies, being gentle to the babies, feeding the babies, putting diapers on the babies, etc. Just when I think they understand gentle, they decide it’s hilarious to whack the baby over the head.

2. My big girls can now climb up stairs to go down big slides all by themselves. Cranky usually is too lazy to go up the stairs and instead asks that you just put her at the top of the slide.

1.You didn’t think I could go an entire post without discussing adoption or advocacy did you?!? I read this blog post this morning and was in tears. Everyone we have directly spoken to about adoption has been completely supportive, and I haven’t gotten rude comments yet, but I know they are out there, especially for my friends as they willingly adopt children with more severe special needs. This blog post summed it up PERFECTLY.  Click here: Into the Flames. I know it’s another link, but please read it. And then know.. I’m not asking you to go into the building the first time, much less go back into the building. I’m the one going into the building and I just might go back into that building again one day. What I ask you to do, is hold me up when I get out of the building and help me polish the treasure I’ve just drug out of the building who may be covered in soot and grime and be burned in a few places. Can I do it without you? Yup. But, it’s certainly nice to see everyone when we get out!

[T]heir mumbling grows to shouting. They say that they could understand you feeling like you needed to save one -as they glance cautiously at the little one that you just risked your life for….that you were willing to GIVE your life for……but they really can’t understand why you would go for another. Haven’t you sacrificed enough? Some are even saying that you are selfish! They are saying that when you race into that house, it makes them uncomfortable. It distracts them from the things that they have to think about that day. You try to reason with them, but their faces are full of pity for you! Pity that you have obviously lost all common sense. That you have stepped out of where God would want you to be….

Bonus: While I was wrapping up this post, I went to Goodwill for my lunch break. I found this coat for $3. Baby Gap 3T. I previously bought sweet girl a coat, but it’s a 5/6. I was nervous it wouldn’t fit and I was nervous about the weather in October in Eastern Europe if the coat didn’t fit. I hear we might see lots of snow. For the price, it’s worth the risk. I need to borrow my favorite 4 year old soon so I can try it out to see whether to pack it or pass it on to someone else’s littler sweet girl.

COURT

Long overdue I know.

As much as it’s adjustment to go to a foreign country for a week, it’s a big adjustment to come back home too. We have family visits to try to get in, two girls who missed Mama and Papa, laundry, more laundry, housework, chores, jobs to catch up on, etc.

Add into the “funk” that we keep finding ourselves in once we’re home and it’s a disaster around here. Add to it, the girls are both cutting teeth and got flu shots on Thursday. And then, I managed to catch a cold Sunday too. Anyway, I want to document all the emotions that encircled the COURT experience before I forget.

The night before court we went to bed a little late. Once we recover from the jetlagged induced coma’s of the first 24 hours, our bedtime in region falls at about 7am EST so it’s hard to make yourself sleep. We woke up in the morning and our nerves were a wreck. I checked the weather and saw that it was about 45* out. Not great news for my summer dress/sweater and bare legs. I at least was rational enough to know our adoption wouldn’t be denied based on non-weather appropriate clothing. I couldn’t force myself to eat, but I did manage a glass of coke. I threw a honey bun and OJ in my bag as well in case I had a minute of calm. Court was at 9:30am and Vita was picking us up at 9am. We walked downstairs early and were surprised to see Vita waiting for us. She’s very punctual but usually waits outside in the car. She was dressier than she’s been. You could feel the tension in the air from Vita as well. We hopped in the car and jetted off to the adoption center. We were picking up the lawyer from the adoption center on our way.

At the adoption center, Vita hopped out and about 10 minutes later came out with a piece of paper we had to sign. So at 9:15am on the morning of court, we were still signing important court documents. Then Vita tells me I need to basically memorize what’s on this sheet (in a different language!) as the judge will expect me to know it! Um.. no one told me I had to memorize!

Finally at 9:22 or so, the lawyer comes out. She was very young and dressed fashionably. Definitely a shock. I’m too worried about being late to absorb much.

We cram into the car and head over to the court house. We had seen this building before since Thursday Vita had to file some more paperwork with the court secretary. We went through “security”. Someone let me know if you can explain this. You put your bags on a table, walk through a metal detector and then get your bags. But you don’t have to take anything out of your pockets for the metal detector so it keeps going off and the guards don’t seem to care. And your bags don’t have to go through the metal detector at all? So what’s the point of the metal detector?

Anyway, after some more “come here”, “sit here” and “wait here” from Vita we went into the court room. They had the window open. It was no more than 60* degrees in the room. It was probably a 15’x25’ room. There was a raised portion at the front with 3 nice chairs and there were tables lined up perpendicular to this. Then in between the perpendicular tables there were probably 8 rows of benches – very uncomfortable wooden benches.

Vita gave me some more last minute pointers and all the other people chatted like they all knew each other. Eventually at what I’d estimate to be 9:45, the judge came in. He was 50-ish, smaller stature, gray hair, and blue eyes. He was serious, professional with a slight hint of don’t mess with me.

Everyone in the court room was introduced. Some of these translations missed us because we thought the guy sitting off to the side in the odd uniform that doodled the whole time was the security guard. Nope, he was the prosecutor! So we had him, Vita and I on the front row. The orphanage director and the adoption center attorney on the 2nd row and the child advocate on the 3rd row. To the right of us was the court secretary at a table and to our left was the security guard turned prosecutor. Basically, everyone was positioned to stare at me. He and I elected me to be our family spokesperson which meant that Vita and I had to stand the entire time we were questioned. My feet started to hurt even though my heels weren’t that high. He complained that sitting in the bench for that 2 hours was harder. Who knows. Anyway, for two hours, I was questioned about EVERYTHING.

If you are adopting from this region email me and I will give you details of some questions I skipped here. Without further ado, here’s the list of things I had to answer:
1 .     Tell me about yourself.
2.      Why did you decide to adopt?
3.      Why this country?
4.      Why Sweet Girl?
5.      Family history of adoption.
6.      What was the date of your marriage?
7.      He noted that I had a divorce while I was in college and then I was grilled on that. What was the date of marriage and divorce of your first marriage? Why did this marriage fail? Are you sure you won’t get divorced again?
8.      Tell me about your financial situation, your jobs and how much do you make?
9.      How much is left over at the end of the month?
10.    Can you afford another child?
11.    Did you have medical exams in the US and in this country?
12.    Are you healthy?
13.    Tell me about your biological children.
14.    How long are they in daycare?
15.    Why do you want one more child? But your children are so young?
16.    Wouldn’t you like to wait to have another child?
17.    Tell me about your living conditions.
18.    Do you own your house?
19.    Tell me about the neighborhood.
20.    Tell me about your religion.
21.    Did you know Sweet Girl was baptized?
22.    Was your homestudy authorized? What was the outcome?
23.    Do you have experience with older children?
24.    What training did you do?
25.    Your homestudy says you attended school at a Baptist Day School. Are you Baptist? Is this prodestant? Please explain this.
26.    Do you know about the legal consequences of adopting?
27.    Do you know what makes international adoption different?
28.    Do you know you have to register Sweet Girl at the consulate?
29.    Do you know you have to do post placement reports?

So at this point, I’m clipping along. These are all questions we’d discussed except the Baptist one since I forgot that was in my home study. I’m thinking he’s wrapping up. Nope.

30.    Will you be able to support your family if one of you loses your job?
31.    Do you know about the Russia/US Treaty that was just signed?
32.    You know that after September 1st you would have been required to have more training?
33.    Are you aware that if the laws change again, you could be required to comply?
34.    Do you know why the treaty was signed? (Trick question! Got this one right though!)
35.    Have you heard about the news stories of mistreatment of Russian children?
36.    Would that happen to Sweet Girl?
37.    Tell me about meeting Sweet Girl.
38.    Tell me about this trip.
39.    How do you plan to communicate with her?
40.    Do you know about her character?
41.    What do you know about her medical conditions? (this was the sheet I memorized in the car!)
42.    In spite of what the reports say about her, you still want to adopt her?
43.    Are you prepared to treat her current and any future medical needs?
44.    Did you have meetings with Sweet Girl in the presence of the orphanage staff?
45.    Did you get all necessary info from them?
46.    Did they mistreat you?
47.    Did they demand anything from you?
48.    Do you know about Sweet Girls biological family?
49.    (Detailed questions here about her bio family)
50.    Is your home ready for her?
51.    Will you put her in daycare?

At this point, I could care less what my extended/emotional answers should be. I’m just answering as succinctly as possible.

52.    How long will she be in daycare?
53.    Will you parent her or will someone else? (?? Huh?)
54.    Will you keep the adoption a secret from her or anyone else? (she’s 4???)
55.    Does NC allow you to adopt a child?
56.    What do you plan for her activities? ( I said ballet, gymnastics and soccer – excellent Eastern European passtimes)
57.    Do you receive any financial assistance for her?

Finally, he was done with me. Whew. Remember that he asks in his language, Vita translates to me, I answer in English and she translates back to him.

He asked Him to stand and asked if He had anything to add. He said no. Vita told him he must say something so he said a couple sentences about caring greatly for Sweet Girl and wanting her to be a part of our family. He then asked the court for permission to adopt her.

Then, the security guard stood up and we realized he wasn’t the security guard. Oops. The prosecutor asked:
1.      Do you have any bad habits?
2.      How do you plan to maintain her heritage and culture?
3.      Are there resources available to you?
4.      (some specific questions on her history)

Then the orphanage director was introduced and she said her bit. She stated she was in support of the adoption.

Then the child advocate spoke and said her bit. She stated she was in support of the adoption. We didn’t think anything of it as we had no reason to believe someone might disagree, but then the judge said, “This is the first time the administration of the Vladimir region has ever supported an adoption to an international family. Are you aware of that?” She stated that she was, but in this case, the region felt as if we were truly the best family for her. It was a great sign.

Then the adoption center lawyer said her bit. She stated she was in support of the adoption.

The judge then started at the top of our pile of documents and read what each one was and summarized it. Then he got to our document that we had to do at the last minute back in the US that we thought would hold up court. He read it, set it down and moved on. Vita, Heand I audibly exhaled and relaxed on the bench.

Then everyone in order had to again go through their permissions/declarations. He and I had to ask permission to adopt and the others had to confirm that the adoption was in the best interests of the child.

The judge left and then we waited for about 15 minutes. The others sat and chatted. They attempted to make conversation and asked us how much plane tickets to Russia cost and how many times we had to come. We explained we had to come 4 times and that plane tickets were $1500-$2000 per person each time. Vita said that was about 50,000 rubles per ticket or 400,000 in rubles just for plane tickets and they all seemed shocked. I think they are confused why we do this. I’m not confused. I do it for her. From the moment I saw her picture with her little red curls I knew she was mine.

After 15 minutes, the judge came back in and said she was ours too. Sweet relief it was over!

Here’s everyone but the prosecutor and judge. Vita is taking the picture.

Court secretary, orphanage director, attorney and us.
Friday afternoon we were asked not to see Sweet Girl. The Director has an inspection happenning and she thought it would be confusing and crazy. We were sad, but we respected her wishes.
So instead of a visit, we walked around her town some and took some pictures for her to see later. Here are a couple.
On Saturday we got up at 5am to drive to the airport. We got there in more than enough time and while in line to check in, met another family who was on their gotcha trip with their two new daughters. It was nice to meet then and talk to people who understood English. We bumped into them again before boarding our flight and then learned they were sitting 3 rows behind us and then we saw them again at customs in JFK. Watching them navigate the airport with the little ones helped us greatly as we are planning our own gotcha trip.
You better know what gate you are supposed to be at because unless you speak this language, there is no way to confirm the city is right!

The flight home was uneventful. The flight from JFK to CLT had issues, but we ended up in Charlotte about 11:30pm on Saturday – about 24 hours straight of travel.

So now we wait for 30 days. At the end of the 30 days, the adoption is final and she’s ours. But, in our region, the passport takes 3 weeks, so we will have to go back and apply for the passport and then go back again 3 weeks after that to pick her up.

“I will not leave you as orphans.  I will come for you!”  John 14:18 

Weary…

This has been a very hard week on the adoption front. I’m growing weary. At a time when the end is in sight and I can see the finish line, I just can’t seem to find the strength to get over these last few hurdles.
We got a court date for August 31st. We leave in 10 days. We should be jumping up and down, we should be so excited, but we can’t, because once again, there might be one simple piece of paper that’s missing that could bring it all come crashing down. I feel like for every single document, for every step of this process, the burden has been on he and I to fight for our Sweet Girl. Nothing has come easy. Nothing has been simple. After months on end of EVERY DAY having to fight for something, we are drained.
I can’t wait for the judge to ask if I will treat this child as my own, if I will love this child. I want to tell him that beyond a shadow of a doubt she is already my child. I already love her as my daughter. I want to look him in the eyes and tell him that every day of this journey I have fought for her and I will not rest until she’s sleeping in her bed, in her house, with her mommy and daddy saying prayers with her and telling her stories.
As I was listening to the radio in the car on the way to work this morning, I was thinking of how of course I won’t give up, of course we’ll keep going. I suddenly realized that this is what God does for us every day.
He fights for the souls of his children.
Through war, poverty, hunger, and more, He battles for us.
Yet, He’s never grown weary and He’s never thought of giving up.
So when today, we grow more weary still by the battles yet to fight to bring her home, I will remember, that I don’t have to be strong, my Father is already strong for me.
Until she is in our family pictures, we won’t rest.
Saving a spot for you Sweet Girl…

How did we decide to adopt?

I think it’s pretty common knowledge we had some struggle conceiving Cranky and Happy (ironically the treatment we pursued has a next to 0% multiples rate – ha!). But finally I was pregnant and I had a blissful 2 weeks basking in the knowledge. And then the morning sickness hit at 5w5d. And then at 5w6d we found out it was twins. And then, I had a rough go of a high risk pregnancy. And then we had a rough go of it in the NICU when they were born premature and Happy got rushed into emergency surgery. And then we had a rough go of it for the first few months while we all adjusted to our new normal.When we were just finally getting into our groove, it happened.

I was still barely sleeping and stress and money worries (holy moly 2 infants in daycare!) were still hanging out.

We said, NO MORE KIDS UNTIL THE GIRLS ARE 5!

There was no way we could afford another in daycare and still protect our financial future.

And then..

I saw her..

(We were not able to share this picture before we met her)

I wasn’t expecting it. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I’ll never forget where I was or what I was doing. But I heard Him plain as day. “She’s the one.”

“The one what God? The one I’m to pray for? The one I’m to advocate for? The one? What does THE ONE mean??” I knew my questions were futile. I knew exactly what He meant before he answered. “She is your daughter,” He whispered to me.

Without thinking, I fired off an email to find out more.

I emailed 2 friends her picture. They were confused. Honestly, I was confused.

I said, “But God, I have 2 babies! Special needs! This is too much! The time! The money! – I have to tell him!”

And then I wanted to passout.. oh my goodness.. I was going to have to tell him.

The next day, I emailed him her picture. I didn’t have the guts to tell him in person. I simply said, “Can I have her?” He didn’t answer so I clarfied, “I’m serious. I want her.” (That’s the actual words from my G-Chat transcript). He’s heard crazy things from me before, but this might be the winner.

I got another picture.

She’s just over 2 here. This is the earliest picture anyone has seen. The fact that she wasn’t smiling in this one either strengthened my resolve.

We talked through it for a couple days. I tried to forget her. She was all I could think about. I spent hours researching everything I could – about her, about adoption, about Reece’s Rainbow. The thought of having to live without her overtook me. Within a month we jumped in head first. They estimated the process would take 12-18 months and $35,000. I couldn’t imagine the thought of either. The estimated budget is now over $50,000 and while it’s a large sum of money for sure, it now represents LIFE. Her LIFE. I will pay anything to show her that she is precious, she is ours, she is valuable, she is LOVED.

This sweet girl will never go without a mommy and daddy again.

6th 4th

Another week has passed – where is the time going? I’m so happy that the weeks are passing quickly – it means it’s one week closer to when we get to see you again! It also means one less week to get ready for you!

The last news we heard is still no news. I tried to think of a creative way to skip our third trip and just take 3 total, but our facilitator said it’s just not possible. We are hopeful to hear something this week. We’re desperate to get back to you!

We finally figured out what you are going to sleep on when you come home. It seems like it should have been an easy thing, but it was hard! One day this week Papa is going to put your bed together and then we can work on the finishing details of your room. Mama has already made you a quilt for your bed. Now I just need to make a couple of pillows, your curtains and a pillow sham for your bed. And hang the artwork and print your name letters and hang those up.

On July 3, we went to Annie’s house for our annual July 4th trip. This is the 6th year we’ve done this – or the 6th 4th. Every year the cast of characters changes slightly, but it’s always a good time. And the best part! We just have to bring food so it’s free!

Here are all the pictures! Next year you get to come! Yay! And Taylor will be very happy she doesn’t have to play with “all those babies!” And Olive gets to be there next year too if Olive’s Mama braves the heat with a wee one 🙂 And hopefully other friends will be on the way to #2 too!

+7 days

It’s been 7 days since we left your country. 10 days since we kissed your cheeks and said goodbye.It feels like it’s been a year, or more.
It feels like it was a dream, or maybe more appropriately, a nightmare. Where we got a wonderful week with you just to be ripped apart against our will.
It feels like we’ll never get back to you.

Our next trip will be for court. We’ll only get to see you 3-4 days for this trip too. We feel blessed that you live in the capital of your region so when we go for court we’ll get more time with you. We don’t know when court will be. We are hoping for August, but we’ve heard that lots of judges in other regions are taking August off.

I haven’t blogged all week because it’s painful. It’s hard to take myself back to you in my mind but know that it’ll be so much longer until we can come see you again.

I started selling little necklaces to help us raise the last little bit of money to bring you home.

Well, it doesn’t feel like a little bit, but compared to the whole total, it’s less. We started off thinking bringing you home would cost about $35,000. Wow, lots of money right? Well, when we got into it, we thought the total would be more like $45,000. But, now since we’re trying to bring you home in the summer, it’s going to be $55,000. Blah. Mama and Papa have wiped out all the easily accessible cash they had. And so many friends and your family have been trying to help too. We’ve come up with about $40k. We still need to find out where we can get $15k more. That’s only 600 necklaces 🙂

Since 600 necklaces is unreasonable, we’re also going to have 2 yard sales. One at grandma’s house and one at our friend Lesli’s house I think. I think we will try to do them on 7/21 and 7/28. We have had a few people give us some great stuff to sell, but we need lots more! Mama and Papa need to go through all their closets too and get more stuff! I’ve thought about going to the goodwill donation trailers at night and taking the donations people leave on the steps, but someone told me that was illegal. I don’t know where else to get donations of things to sell. It’s frustrating asking people for help when I feel like I am guilting them into helping.Maybe the yard sales will help us raise about $1000. Down to 560 necklaces, but I have a few more ideas of things we can try and sell. It’s hard to put myself out there for you when no one but your mama and papa love you this much. I’m so afraid I’m bothering everyone and they will love you less because your Mama and Papa harassed them for fundraisers. 


In other news..

On Tuesday night, Mama and Papa and Happy and Cranky are going to the mountains to see Annie for the 4th of July. The V’s are coming and so are the J’s. We hope to spend lots of time at the lake and eating good food! And it doesn’t hurt that all we have to bring is food and everything else is free.

See how much fun it looks! (Pics from last year)

Okay, well Cranky doesn’t look like she’s having fun here, but when we weren’t trying to get her into the water she loved it!

If you come home in September, then we will try to take a day trip to the mountains so you can see the house and the lake too. We have decided though that until at least Christmas we won’t have you spend the night anywhere but in your own house. We want you to feel secure and comfortable before we ask you to sleep in another bed.

Missing you sweet girl….

Da Svidaniya! (Trip 1, Day 7)

(posted by him)
Day 6 -6/23-  Our final day in country before starting the long travel home. We woke up this morning around our usual time to meet Ilya out front of the hotel. But something was different this morning. We had said our goodbye’s to Vita the night before as there were no more trips to the orphanage and no more visits with Sweet Girl. Instead, we would be traveling back to the city where the airport was located in preparation for departure… a day of mild sight seeing in attempts to take in some of Sweet Girl’s culture as the orphanage doesn’t permit visitors over the weekend. It was a somber feeling leaving her hometown, being so close to her knowing that tonight, when we laid our heads down, we’d once again be in different cities and the distance between us growing.
The drive to the airport was 3 hours. We had somehow gotten accustomed to the driving… bumpy, narrow pothole filled roads, aggressive driving, mounds of traffic… but we were in good hands with Ilya, who we have grown to admire.. and the drive went surprisingly fast. Even without Vita present and though Ilya spoke little English, we had reached a comfort level. Before we knew it, we were pulling up at our hotel smack in the city centre and quickly unloaded. We presented Ilya with the gift we had brought him. He seemed genuinely surprised and motioned for us to wait while he ran back to his glovebox. He returned and presented us with two coat pins… propoganda from his nation’s past… muttering in broken english “very old” and “history”.  We were touched by this gesture, he will be missed, and we hope he is our driver in the future.
After saying our goodbyes, we were alone once again. It was noon, but we went to try and check into our hotel anyway. We were pleasantly surprised to find the staff speaking english. We were told no rooms were ready yet, so we asked that our bags be held as we set our on an adventure… a few hours of light sight seeing in the city centre. Our first mission, navigate the local subway system to get there. Luckily, she had done a little research ahead of time and I had a tourism book that already came with a local subway map and translations of the stops. We found a station not far from our hotel and mapped out a route to get there, now to execute. Buying tickets proved far less challenging than initially expected. We found our line, only challenge was to make sure we’re heading in the right direction. We made our choice and hopped on a train. Unlike NYC, the subways lacked any sort of helpful hints for foreign travelers. No maps of the stops, no LED boards showing the next stop, stations were barely marked. The driver would simply come over the intercom and verbally announce the stop. Luckily we were able to correlate with our map, make sure we were on course, and count the number of stops to our destination. When we surfaced from the train, we found ourselves in the middle of a mall, albeit generally where we intended.
The Great Wall surrounding their nation’s “white house”.
Where we surfaced from the subway. Seemed as though some festival/concert was either setting up/tearing down as there was lots of mobile fencing diverting the flow of people and coordinating off certain areas.
We decided to walk around not knowing exactly where we were going. Most of the streets seemed to be closed to traffic. Not sure if this was due the event, normal for the weekend, or what. Pictured on the right turned out to be a very large and extravagant mall we discovered.
One of the most famous Cathedrals in all the world. Of course the crowd control barriers prevented us from approaching at all angles, so we simply had to admire from afar.
The barriers prevented us from entering a square that would be normally teaming with thousands of people, but today was only filled with empty sound stages and crew techs.
The great mall from the front and an empty beautiful square.
To enter the subway, you had to swipe your paper card in front of these scanners. We had only purchased 4 trips, 1 for each of us out and back, so we were careful to make sure to enter the right station/line. We bought ourselves no second chances.
The subway arriving. Not much different than NYC subway in terms of comfort, though I did miss the little LED navigational boards that lit up as the train hit each stop.
Our hotel for one night, a much different experience than the hotel we had been in all week in Sweet Girl’s hometown. This hotel is from their countries history, and is very large, extravagant and somewhat Americanized by comparison to where we came from.
Grand entrance way where we were greeted by multiple English speaking staff.
View of the city from our room on the 9th floor.
As we had such little time here and our thoughts were still with Sweet Girl back in her hometown, we had little time to enjoy it. For tomorrow we would be waking up early to start our journey home. In place of Vita and Ilya, we had Boris and Irina who would be picking us up from the hotel and escorting us to the airport. We had yet to meet them, but they would be our guides in the big city. That night, we recieved a call from Boris to the next morning. We would meet him at 7:00am to head to the airport. Even though we were in the city, the drive to the airport would take 45mins – 1hr due to horrendous traffic. We look forward to returning home and seeing Cranky and Happy, but can’t stop wondering when will we see Sweet Girl again and will she remember us and our short journey. Until then, Sweet Girl….
-Papa