Monday, October 25, 2010

A blessed homecoming

It is so good to be home but so hard that they are not with us. We had such a great homecoming. Getting off the plane as I said before we were met by my sister, bro-in-law and nephew, who had the best steak dinner ever waiting on us and the sweetest scrapbook and pics. Then, once we got home from my sisters, I walked into a nice clean house with a "Welcome Home" sign in my kitchen. We had to drop my car off at to be repaired before we left so my daddy had went and picked it up and brought it to our house so we wouldn't have to deal with that when we got home. My fridge was stocked, including a fresh pitcher of sweet tea...thus Benji was beyond thrilled, plus we had snacks on the counter so we wouldn't have to immediately run to the grocery store. Then throughout the evening I found little surprises here and there. My mom obviously thought the pillows on our bed were not fluffy enough so we have new pillows and a new blanket on our bed. All my laundry was washed and folded. Then when I went into the boy's room, they had a new rug, new pajamas, socks, a book and curtain rods. Thank you so much mama and daddy for all that you did while we were gone. It made coming home so much sweeter!!
Later that evening, my grand parents came up to see pictures and have dinner. I can't even begin to explain how blessed that we are with people in our lives. The entire time that we were in Russia, we got so much support from back home. Our family was always there to skype when we needed a taste of home, so many friends sent constant support through emails and facebook. The constant love and support from our family and friends helped more than I can ever say. Being in a foreign country on such an emotional experience is tough. But to know that you have so much love and support back home helps so much.
Then when I got to work today, there were special surprises all in my office:) I have some of the best friends that a girl could ever ask for. A special thank you to Ashley, Renee and Tara! You guys are all such a blessing to me. Your love, support and constant words of encouragement mean the world to me. You are truly the best friends that I could ever ask for. Thank you for being there every step of the way with me.

Friday, October 22, 2010

We are home

Yes we are home...but I feel like I left pieces of my heart in Russia. I didn't have as hard of a time leaving the orpahange on Wednesday as I thought that I would. I think I was so on cloud nine that we had such a good day that I wasn't even thinking about it being the last time that I would see them for a while. When we got on the plane to leave that was a different story. Then when we got to Moscow I was okay. Then on the plane leaving Moscow, tit hit me again. I know that this time of waiting is going to be hard but we will get back to them. We just have to lean on the Lord and trust that he is working all things out in his perfect timing.
There is a little issue (well a big issue to be perfectly honest) with the boys biological family. Apparently there is not sufficient evidence that they have done everything that they could to locate their biological family. Well, Tues they located a grandmother. This was almost gut wrenching to us. However we were told that she just had to sign a paper and all would be well. Of course our minds go to the "what if". What if she doesn't sign, what if other family members come forward and want them? We already love them and consider them our sons. I don't know that we could bear it if something happened.
Last night, one of our facilitators called and said that the grandmother has signed. Praise the Lord! This still doesn't put us 100% in the green but in international adoptions, nothing is guarenteed until the judge signs the papers. Thus our drive to get to court as soon as possible is even greater. The sooner we go to court, the less the chance of family coming forward.
We can't wait to get back and see their sweet little faces and to bring them home to be our forever family!
This trip was harder than we ever anticipated. But next time, we will be landing with two of the most precious gifts ever. After a week in a foreign country, extremely exhausted and slap worn out, we were met at the airport by my sister, bro-in-law and nephew. They came to pick us up as they live fairly close to the airport. There was no better return home than to my sweet nephew yelling "Shanny" and running into my arms. They brought us back to their house (where we will stay until tomorrow before we head home) and at midnight....they had steaks, baked potatoes, corn, bread and......SWEET TEA!!! I can't tell yo what a great home coming this was. Benji was beyond thrilled to have "his kind of food"! Thank you Staci and Dwayne. Supper was beyond delicious!!!!!!!!!!!! Also, my sister had hacked into my account where I had pictures from our trip and made the cutest scrapbook of our visits with the boys and had printed and framed two family photos for us. I had no idea she knew how to get into my account (she clearly knows me all too well:) Thank you so much for such a great homecoming!!! We love you guys!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Day 3 with the boys

Today was our last day to see the boys before we head home. It was a pretty rough morning. We worried all night and all day that we would leave here without them even bonding to us a little bit. We had to run to a notary's office to sign our intent to adopt. From there we had to go back to the orpahange director's office to sign a paper so that they can't show our boys to anyone else. It takes them out of the system as a referral. There we met with a lawyer who discussed a situation with our facilitator. It is a situation that I'll get to in a minute. Then we went to see the boys. As we walked in M was already in the room with a care taker. He smiled when we walked in and when I reached out to pick him up he immediately came to me. A few minutes later, D walks in and acknowleges us but goes straight for the toys. Again he is very guarded with us. After a while he gets the beach ball...his favorite and begins kicking to Benji. This time he was smiling and even laughing when he was playing. M was content to sit in my lap and play with toys. After a while he stood in front of me and just rubbed my face. I leaned forward and gave him a smooch and a second later he gave me a smooch back. D's beloved beach ball busted (but it has served us well this week) so he got on a rocking horse with wheels and Benji and I pushed him back and forth to wach other. He smiled more while doing this then I have ever seem him smile. After a while, Benji spends a little one on one time with M, and I go to D. He is such a sad little boy that it breaks my heart. He lets you play with him for just a minute then he wants to be alone. I played with a paino with him for a little bit. At this point I was determined to get him in my arms. I rubbed his little cheek for a minute. As I did this, he had the saddest look in his eyes. It was terrible. I really felt like he is longing for love but I so scared of it at the same time. Then I reached out to pick him up and his bottom lip just quivered, and he took a step backwards. I grabbed him anyways and just held him close. He let me...praise God he let me! I told him over and over that I loved him (and I said it in the best Russian that I could) He let out a deep sigh, and at this point he wasn't tense at all in m arms...he was caving. I held him for another couple minutes. After this one short but sweet moment, he played with us steady for the rest of our visit. He never from this point on went to play by himself....and he laughed, and smiled.....a lot! He let Benji hold him a lot and even leaned into Benji showing a little more trust. Not long before we were to say good-bye, we have them the teddy bears that my mama bought. (She went to Build-a-Bear and made D a dog and M a bear. Then she got voice recorders for each one). Benji and I recorded our voices in the dog and bear saying "daddy loves you" and "mama loves you". They loved the bears....especially D. He toted it all around with him and he was constantly pressing the button to make it speak. At the very end, we all four sat together on the couch while our facilitator made a few last pictures of all of us. D sat very contently in Benji's lap...which would not have happend yesterday, and M sat contently in my lap. When it was time to go, D let us hug him a told us good-bye with a smile...not a cold blank stare and wave. Benji had M when the came to get him and M pitched a tantrum when they went to take him. The care taker had to take him out of Benji's arms as he was not wanting to go. Part of this made us feel terrible but then again it felt so good that he wanted to stay. I can now leave a little more in peace than I could have yesterday. It's not at all easy to say good by, but there is a greater sense of comfort saying good-bye when you made a connection.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Day 2 with the boys

Today was a good bit tougher than yesterday. I think we just had in our minds that when we got there that the boys would immediately warm right back up to us. D came in first and went straight for the toys. He would let us sit next to him and play but he was not wanting to engage with us at all. It's tough because you want to give him his space and allow him to warm up to you on his terms but we have 2 hours a day for 3 days...we just don't want to waste one moment with him. A few minutes later M came in and was a little more engaging with us than D was but nothing like yesterday. After a good while, Benji was able to get D engaged in tossing a beach ball. He loves to throw and catch. He actually catches pretty good. Then he went to kicking the ball to Benji and let me tell ya, the boy can kick. We got laughs and smiles when he was playing ball, but the laughs and smiles are usually short lived. It almost seems that once he realizes that he is having fun, he catches himself and stops immediately. M played with us pretty good but was a little fussy. He would get tired of stuff very quickly and begin to whine.
I traced their feet so that we can get the correct size shoe. D loved this and wanted me to trace his feet over and over again. But once again as soon as he realized he was relaxed he cut it off and would go off and play by himself. It was just tough that he was so distant today. I do feel if we could just communicate with him a little better that it would have been a little easier.
They soon came and got D as it was his lunch time. The caretaker I am assuming told him to tell us good-bye and he walked up to me. I picked him up and just hugged on him for a minute. He let me and he halfway put his head on my shoulder for a split second. Then he went to Benji and allowed him to pick him up but was very distant to Benji. This was so hard for Benji. I think Benji is kinda taking it somewhat personally.
This left us with a few minutes alone with M. During this time M was a little more active with us. I was able to get some good camera recordings of him copying Benji making funny noises, waking at the camera then I even got him blow kisses to the camera. Then they came to get him. He ran and hugged his care taker which is a good thing in the adoption world as it shows he has developed a bond. He waved good-bye to us but wouldn't give us a hug as he did yesterday. It was kind of a tough day. Yesterday was so great and we had expectations of the same today. That is not to say that today was bad, just not as easy to connect with them as it was yesterday.
I don't know that we can ever describe just how emotionally draining this is. You are fighting major jet lag, in complete culture shock, then a flood of emotions that you were not expecting with the children you are just praying are to become yours. To say that we are flat exhausted is an understatement. Tomorrow is the last day that we get to see the boys until we can come back for court. The way that they were talking today, it would be January or possibly even Feburary. At this point we just have to lay it in God's hands. It is all out of our control at this time...but 100% in his control.
We have been blessed to meet another American couple that here on their first trip. We both met our children the same day. We feel so fortunate to have met them as the are a great Christian couple that has been great support to us. We have been going to dinner every night. There is a great amount of comfort in having someone else here that speaks English. We feel a little more comfortable exploring and venturing out when we are with them. There is a better sense of security with walking around with them. Up to this point the weather has not been too bad. We have jackets but we have rarely worn them. Benji and I ventured out to the market early today. It was an experience. The only thing recognizable was Coca-cola and you better believe we bought some. It is the best thing that we have had thus far.
This evening, as we went out to dinner, it was very cold. Then it began to snow! It wasn't a snow that would stick, just flurries in the air...but snow no the less.
We get to go back to see the boys one last time tomorrow afternoon. We are just hoping and praying that they warm up to us like they did the first day that we met them.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Meeting our boys

God has poured out his blessings on us once again. We went to the orphanage and we had to meet with the doctor at first. They took us into a nice sized playroom and the doctor was going over their medicals. In the middle of the meeting with the doc, the door opens and in walks two of the most precious little boys ever! I wanted so bad to run over and scoop them up but that would have been so rude as the doc was in the middle of talking and we do not want to offend anyone here. The boys went over and began pulling out toys and playing. All the while the doctor was talking and I heared not a word she said. Then they told us we could go meet our boys. At first they were slightly leary of us. Soon enough N let Benji begin to play with him and D warmed up to me a little. I kept trying to talk to N and everytime that I did he would poke his bottom lip out at me and just glare at me. He let Benji keep playing with him and D was letting me play with him pretty good. Eventually I pulled out a talking book that my BFF gave me for the boys and that got them both in m lap....heaven!! Finally N was warming up to me. So enough we were switching off playing with each of them and at one point N let me rub noses with him. Then he grabbed my face and brought his nose to mine to keep doing it. After several "eskimo kisses" he was finally oka with me. Benji and D got a good game of catch going and D was laughing and enjoying it. Then in walks a caretaker. She walked over to N and said something in Russian at which point he flung himself backwards and whined. She said something to D and he hopped up grabbed N's hand and out they walked together. Our translator told us it was time for them to go potty and N didn't want to leave us to go. We could here them in the hall and we heard a little boy say "mama and papa". When they came back in, we continued to play. Our translator told us that D when they had gone potty D told the others that his mama and papa had come to see him and bought him a new shirt and new pants...which we hadn't but I still thought was pretty cute.
Not long after they returned. The care taker walked back in and said somthing and the boys hopped up and began cleaning up. (I am going to need to learn what she said:) Then we had to say our goodbyes for the day. As the boys were leaving, N turned around as we waved and said "paca-pace" (good-bye in Russian)...he came running back and held his hands up to me. As I picked him up he put his little arms around my neck. I could have lived in that moment forever. Then he went to Benji and did the same. D came back and with a little more hesitation allowed us to hug him but wasn't quite as quick to hug back. He is older so we were prepared for him to not warm up quite so fast. We were just thankful that he did let us play with him and he did let us hug him. The ride back to the hotel was a pretty quite one as we hated to leave so bad. Two hours is such a small window of time. I am so ready to get back to them in the morning!
Our translator told us that they did warm up to us very well and that it doesn't always go that smoothly. They have told us that the chances of us getting them home for Christmas is not very likely. I wanted to look at them and say "With the God I serve...all things are possible". I refrained, but I sure was thinking it. We know that it will be a long stretch...but the have them home for Christmas would be a definate miracle from God, and lucky for us...our God provides miracles!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Our first morning in Russia

It was our intent to take a quick nap yesterday then stay up the rest of the day and sleep at night. Well, that nap turned into a good 12 hours of deep sleep..thus we woke up at 12 am. This means...we had no food. We tried to go back to sleep and snoozed on and off until 5 am. So, we have had nothing to eat other than a pack of peanut butter crackers each and we had one bottle of water to share. Luckily we have been able to skype with family all morning as it helps us not miss home so bad and keeps us from getting stir crazy.
Benji was been a little nervous this morning. He just laid around in the bed and was just not himself. I asked him if he was worried about the meeting with the Ministry of Education that we have in just a bit. He said no. I asked him if he was worried about meeting the boys in a few hours and he said no. He says he is really worried about getting on the next flight as there is no English spoken nor english signs in that airport.
Finally we got up and went to the hotel breakfast...which is free...praise the Lord. It was quite different. They had mashed potatoes, kidney beans, something that looked like sandwich meat and cheese, boiled sausage and several other things. I pretty much played it safe and ate mashed potatoes, some sliced cheese and a pastry. I did get a little bold and tried a thing that was labeled in english "steamed chicken" and it looked kinda like a meatball. Then I tried some kind of curd pancake. Both were pretty good. Benji played it super safe and stuck with a fruit cup and toast. The drinks they had were tomato juice, currant juice, milk ( and some of it was pretty thick looking...kinda like yogurt) and coffee.
After we ate we went to the ironing room to iron our clothes for the MOE appointment. Then we found the water coolers. So we loaded some cups of water and refilled our water bottles that we had left over from the airport (they advise you don't drink the water here). Other than the glass of juice at breakfast this was the first time we have been able to drink in about 24 hours. After 4 glasses of water and a power bar, Benji has now perked up and back to his normal self. He just said that he feels so much better. Praise God! I was getting worried about him for a little bit there. Poor fella was just hungry and in need of water. Now that we know where the water coolers are we will definately stay better hydrated.
We are just about to head to our MOE apoointment then on to meet our boys for the first time!!! I am so ready for this. We are just praying that they warm up to us quickly. We know that we are doing what God has called us to do and he has been with us every step of this journey. We know that he will be with us through this meetin and visit with the boys. We have been praying since we first saw their pictures that the Lord will begin to prepare their hearts for us.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

We are here!

After I'm not even sure how many hours of traveling, we are finally here...closer to our boys than ever and a little over 24 hours from finally meeting them. There was so much to do to prepare for this trip. I was trying to avoid taking any time off of work so the weeks prior to this trip we were swamped to say the least. The trip to the airport I was doing mental lists to make sure I didn't forget anything. Then we get to the airport (my sister and nephew dropped us off...thanks Staci and Nathan.) Then as we were headed off he asked for one more hug. It in that moment hit me....I can't travel halfway across the world...I get homesick! I had terrible homesick issues as a child. I was highly attached to my family. I that moment, I realized....I am still highly attached to my family. Not a day goes by that I don't see or talk to my parents. I can't go a week without talking to them. The nerves had kicked in full force at this point:)
The first leg of our trip was a 10 hour plane ride, which I wans't overly thrilled with. I am not a nervous flyer...but I do like my comfort. As we sat in our seats we had a moment of prayer. The entire take-off I just prayed that the Lord get our plane to Moscow safely, that he keep his hands around the airliner and get us there safely. And so he did. Do let me add that the total trip had a few different legs and each one we had to depend on others to get us to our destinations safely. When we made it to get our luggage and through customs without a single problem. It was honestly a piece of cake. Then our driver met us exactly where he was supposed to holding a sign that beared our last name. He "M", was wonderful! He was such a nice guy and made us feel so comfortable he rode us around the city of Moscow...which is HUGE! We rode by the Kremlin, Red Square and St. Basil's Cathedral. We didn't stop as we have a whole day there at the end of the week. "M" took us to the next airport, walked us in and and showed us all he could show us. At this point we had 10 hours until our next flight. This part was not one of the highlights thus far, but we they had some comfy chairs and we didn't get a whole lot of sleep on the first flight so we snoozed (if you can call sleeping in an upright chair amonst hundreds of people chatting in a laguage that you don't even slightly comprehend). It really wasn't bad at all, just long. If I had it to do all over again we may have gotten a day hotel to rest at. Then, last night we caught our second flight which brought us to our region. That flight was 5 hours and at this point we had driven 3 hours to the airport, flown for 10 hours, hung out in the airport for another 10 hours and we had just has a couple hours of sleep. The flight was not bad, it was just very hot and very packed. Beyond that it was just fine. As we were landing, it was very dark and you could see the lights of the city. In that moment it hit me...our boys were right below us. It was an overwelming feeling of excitement. We have prayed for them for years and now we are closer to them than ever before.
We landed in our region and we were to have another driver meet us there. Well there was no sign bearing our last name....and people in our region do not speak English at all...nor could we find a phone. We really didn't wait long at all before our facilitator found us. We were so relieved as we were gettting a little nervous. Or flight was a little early thus they seemed late when they were really right on time. They brought us straight to our hotel. Then the Lord blessed me once again...we have free Wifi!!! We didn't expect this. My sister sent me with her laptop as it has a camera so that now...we can skype and see each other. We talked to Benji's mama and my mama and daddy. It makes me feel a gazillion times better to know that I can still see them and talk to them every day. We don't have a cell phone here and were fully expecting to only communicate via email....but the Lord knew my desperate need to see and talk to my family:)
Our facilitator "Y" gave us our itenerary for tomorrow (we have the day free today). We have our appointment with the Ministry of Education in the morning then we get to go see the boys!!!
I can not even begin to tell you how awesome God's mercy has been on us this far. He has made this trip far smoother than I ever expected. He as held us in his hands and gotten us here safely with added bonuses along the way. I just can't get over how awesome that God is, and I have no idea how I deserve all the blessings he has given to us!
So for now, we are going to try to nap a little bit then go on a search for food as the only things that I recognize on our hotel menu is boiled veal tongue. This should be interesting:)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

We are heading out to meet our boys! The feeling is quite difficult to describe. We have prayed for these children for years and to finally be heading to see them is beyond exciting. It is almost surreal.
I must say that I am beyond humbled by the amount of love and support that we have recieved from others. Benji had two of the guys that he works with follow him out yesterday and ask to pray with him. There in the parking lot at work, they held hands and prayed for this adoption. We have been stopped around town numerous times this week for people to tell us that they are praying for us. I am so overwelmed with the support that others have given here lately.
My mom bought Build-a-Bears for the boys and we will record our voices and put in them so that they can hear our voices once we are gone. I just want to send out a huge thank you to my parents for all that you have done to help us prepare for this trip. My daddy has made all travel arrangements, made double copies of our plane tickets and of our passports and visas. Mama has made sure the boys have gifts from home, as well as made sure that we are prepared for the cold region that we are headed to. I love y'all and will never be able to thank you enough for everything that you do for us!!
My dear BFF came by and brought me a hand made book of different adoption quotes and poems. I was going to save it for the plane ride, but me and my impatient self couldn't wait. It was so sweet. It will go to Russia with me. Thank you are the best!!!
We are hoping and praying that we will be able to update the blog each day. Goodbye for now, hopefully next blog post will be from halfway across the world but so much closer to our boys:)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Yardsale # 3

We had another yard sale this weekend to help with the adoption funding. The first two yardsales, we had so many donations that we have boxed everything up and had this yardsale out of everything that we had left over from the previous two. The night before I prayed for an exact dollar amount and let me tell you....we made the EXACT dollar amount that I had prayed for!
My daddy and mama were there every step of the way once again. From getting everything set out, to getting signs made and put out, to cleaning up. My daddy made BBQ and hash to sell...which proved to be a quite good money maker. So thank you daddy!! My parents have put so much elbow grease into our adoption and every fundraiser that we have had. We are so blessed to have you guys for parents and the boys will be blessed with the best grandparents this world had to offer!

We were also blessed with some amazing friends that came out to help. Renee, who is really more of family to me than a friend, worked so hard and stayed right with us on this yardsale. You are so special to us Renee and we love you dearly!! (and yes I just said your name twice...but you do so much for us that there is no way that I am not giving you a shout out for all that you do).

We also want to thank Joe and Mary for coming out and helping so much. They are yard sale masters and they worked so hard to get things set up. Then they were back the next morning to help sale. We are so blessed by friends like you. You guys touched are heart and we are so greatful for all of your help.

At church yesterday, Pastor Addison called us to the front for prayer. He couldn't have prayed a more perfect prayer for the journey we are about to go on. We were so touched and so thankful for such a great pastor and his family.

One of Benji's brothers called last night to check in and see how things went. He is heading to a prayer conference this week and wanted to let Benji know that the day we leave he is getting all the men to stop and pray for us.

We are so blessed by all the people that have sent up prayers on our behalf and that have been by our side through this journey. We are blessed with amazing friends and family. We are ever so grateful for those who are there with us every step of the way, who we never have to ask a thing from, but are just there. Even those who I know couldn't be there and I would never expect to be there, were still emailing and texting us to let us know that you were thinking and praying for us. I must say that I am one blessed gal! I have some of the best friends in this world. Without the support of our families and our very dear friends...we would have never made it this far. We would not be headed halfway across the world to meet what we are praying is the sons that God has for us, if it weren't for the constant love and support that God has sent us through our family and friends.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Catching up

I am a few days behind on posting. So I have to do a little catching up.
First, my mother-in-law made new bedding to match bedding that we purchased a while back. It is soooo cute! I love it! I am blessed to have a mother-in-law with such talent. I do apologize for not having a picture right this second but I keep forgetting to grab my camera. I can't wait to post the pics and show off her mad sewing skills!

Second, we are having another yard sale this weekend to help fund our adoption. I have said from day one that the Lord will provide. Let me also say...the Lord has always provided! Any time that we have had to pay for something...the money has always been there. This first trip is going to deplete the stash and the next trip is the big one financially. Thus are trying to churn profits anywhere we can right now. We are also in the process making t-shirts to sell so stay tuned.

I leave you with a game. The game is entitled "Guess my mama's occupation?"
The below picture is a hint....

If you guess drug are wrong, however the picture may suggest otherwise. She brought over a "kit" last night for our trip. The only thing we don't have in this kit is the cure for cancer:) We have guaze, bandaides, anti-itch cream, hydorcortizone, aloe, cotton balls, q-tips, tape, eye drops, sinus blaster, Tylenol,Tylenol PM, aspirin, ibprofin, rolaids, night time cold meds, day time cold meds, night time sinus meds, day time sinus meds, pepcid, cough drops, immodium, hand wipes, hand sanitizer, kleenex, medicated lip balm, heat packs and anti-embolism socks.

The nurse in my mama just came out! As much as I have laughed at this, I am going to be one thankful person if I need any of it. Thank you mama for ALWAYS looking out for us.