A snapshot into what her future held...

A snapshot into what her future held...
Zhukovka, Russia

Friday, November 12, 2010

We can't believe it!

Our agency called Tuesday, and we will be meeting our daughter the first week in December! We have the referral for "Julia"!!!

Kevin is working on the technicalities... cell phone useage, computer useage, learning Russian online through the library...

I am working on the family logistics... my wonderful sister is stepping in to take care of Evan and KK for the week! I am, also, collecting items to take, to the orphanage. I'm figuring out what to pack, how much we can pack, and trying to find things to occupy us with Julia, just in case she gets to stay with us, in the hotel! We are really hoping she will get to stay with us, the three days we are there!

I am making her a scrapbook, showing our family life. Hope it doesn't scare her away!!! : )

Also, all week I've been crafting, in preparation for a show this weekend. I hope to make money to be used toward our travel. We are still short but know that God will provide.

Things are coming together, and God has certainly paved the way for Julia to come home, to her forever family! We can't wait.

More details to come... and thanks to all, as always, for your love and support.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Past, Present, Future

Ok, y'all... not my typical blog post. None the less, just a day in the life...

I've been pondering if I'm hitting an early mid-life crisis. Not the kind where I plan to run out and purchase a new car or perhaps plastic surgery. (Not that I wouldn't consider either of these if we had the funds!) Just the kind where I reflect on the life I've led, what I've accomplished, and what I still hope to accomplish.

The internet tells me a mid-life crisis can happen anytime between age 30 and 45. I am 36. So what leads me to ask this question? I seem to keep reflecting on the past. I begin at age 25 when Kevin and I lived in Westlake, Ohio and worked downtown Cleveland, in TV news. Back then, our weekend mornings were so nice and relaxing. Over coffee at Panera, we would have brilliant, adult conversation... all the while, sharing a cinnamon roll. We would discuss and plan our fabulous future together.

From Westlake, I fixate on Streetsboro, Ohio. Kevin still worked at the Cleveland TV station, and I worked as a TV news reporter in Youngstown. It was while we were in Streetsboro that our work schedules permitted us to have "date night" each Friday evening, after I got off of work. It was always the Winking Lizard where we would dine and relax.

Then, it was on to Marysville, Ohio where I always say, our lives truly began. We bought our first home, brought home a baby boy to that new home, and three and a half years later, brought home a baby girl! I ended my full-time career then to become a stay-at-home mom.

After 5 years in Marysville, Kevin was transferred to Cincinnati, and that is when our present journey began, here in southern Ohio. I really like our town (we have been here three years), I love our schools, and we have made some wonderful friends. Things really are good, but yet, I reflect. On one hand, it seems like just yesterday we were a care-free couple up in Cleveland. Other times, it seems as though that was so long ago!!!

I think the biggest reason I reflect now is, because never in a million years did I see our life path headed in this direction... adopting... an OLDER child! Never did I think I would give up a career in TV news... but then, I became a mom. Never did I think I would give up a career in corporate PR... but then, I became a mom of two. And never, ever, ever, EVER did I think we would be on a journey pursuing the adoption of a child, from Russia!

This recent choice (to adopt) has made me do a double-take of my life! I'm sure Kevin is feeling some of the same things but doesn't feel the need to vocalize things like I do. Anyhow, adoption is the ultimate commitment! One example, I will be home-schooling our 11-year-old daughter for several months until school starts... helping to teach her English. Who would have ever guessed I would do something like that? Additionally, I'm trying to decide what I will do for employment when I go back to work in two years. (Karrigan will be in school full-time then.) One thing I know for sure, is that this time around, I want to do something meaningful, and I would prefer it had something to do with orphan care or adoption. Never did I imagine this, as I was preparing my course load at Ohio State, back in the day! I believe this new passion of mine stems from personal growth... from God. As we mature (and get some gray hair) we begin to see life in new ways. We start to see the things in life that really matter. We begin to take note that our days are numbered. Not to be depressing by that statement... it's just acknowledgement that in the grand scheme of things, we only have a little bit of time on this earth, so we be better do the best job we can! A song I recently heard had a line that stuck out... "We gotta do better than this 'cause we've only got one chance to make a difference." So true... it's now or never.

Sooo... my conclusion. I am happy with the way my life has turned out thus far. I am happy with what I've accomplished, professionally. I am happy with what I've accomplished, personally. (I continue to not only be thrilled but amazed by the man I married! And I thank God daily for the children he has given us... one healthy boy and one healthy girl.) Life has been good... so I should reflect. I should remember. I should reminisce. And... I should be so grateful that God is giving me more to accomplish, this time a job from Him... that I didn't even need to apply for.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Referral is coming!

Oh my all...

Many things have happened with the adoption, the last two weeks! It truly has been an emotional roller coaster filled with uncertainties, questions, and surprises! I can't wait to have more time to write about exactly what has happened, but the end result is all GOOD... no- - it's not good, it's GREAT!!!

One of the biggest things we have to share is that our daughter's name isn't Sveta (Svetlana) as we were originally told. There was a translation mistake, and our daughter's name is actually Julia! The little girl who we have been dreaming about, praying for, and staring at her photo on the fridge is actually Julia, not Sveta!

Sveta is another little girl at the orphanage who is Julia's friend. Sveta is 10, and Julia is 11.

Our agency e-mailed us Friday with wonderful news. The lady working on our behalf, in Russia, plans to get the referral of Julia for us on Nov. 8th! This is a huge deal!!! Once we have the referral, we can make our first trip to meet Julia, then plan for court, when we will finalize the adoption.

We, also, received new photos of Julia, and she is just beautiful! I'm not just saying that as the proud mom- -she truly is a beautiful, little girl, who is getting too big, too fast!!! She has bright eyes and a very sweet smile. Her features are so very similair to our Evan.

Anyhow, because of all of the new information that has come our way, the missions trip with my dear friend, Julie has been put on hold. Instead, Kevin and I will be traveling in the next few months for our actual adoption. We will take supplies, clothing, vitamins, etc. then. We can't wait to meet our girl, face to face! Kevin was just talking about it this morning, and we were wondering what that first visit will be like! We're also wondering what Julia must be thinking right now- - last week, they took photos of her at the orphanage, so she probably knows something is up!

We hope to travel to Russia with a friend, also, adopting from the same orphanage. Our friend lives in California, and she too, is adopting an older child.

Well, must get the kiddos ready for a Halloween party this evening. We are enjoying the fall season and are ready for our harvest to come in... that of a sweet, 11-year-old girl who will complete our family.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Headed to Russia!

More details to come... but just wanted you all to know I will be gone Nov. 5-14. Kevin and my parents will be taking care of our kids while I'm gone.

I'm collecting items to take to the orphanage. They are desperate for children's vitamins, socks, and underwear. If you'd like to help, please let me know.

I will be traveling with a friend... more details on that to come.

If it wasn't for another dear friend, Dawn, I would not be able to do this... to minister to children in need, and see our future daughter... Sveta. Dawn has provided her buddy passes from the airlines, so that I and another person may travel to Russia.

God is so good in how he provides!!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Faith, Hope, and LOVE

Wow- it has been BUSY, since I returned home from a week of promoting the circus, in Toledo. It took nearly a week (seriously) to re-acclimate myself back into my life! Sad, I know! I am thankful that my in-laws were able to come down and take care of the kids, for the week, while Kevin was at work. We couldn't have done it without them.

So... the latest regarding the adoption since the last post. The regional coordinator, in Russia, has given us permission for me to travel and meet Sveta in either November or December. A friend of mine, also adopting from the same orphanage where Sveta is, is going in December. I'd prefer to go with her; however, our agency is encouraging me to go earlier, if possible. There are a couple of reasons they are encouraging me to do this; however, it's not something I can publicly blog about. Also, since I will be traveling via buddy passes which are stand-by, there could be a better chance of me getting a flight in early November rather than waiting until the holidays are in full-swing.

I am excited about the possibility, but of course, nervous to travel alone. It's so funny though, because while in Toledo, and even now, God just keeps giving me confirmations of the adoption and the travel. A dear friend was over last night and reminded me of my strength and how I can do this, even by myself. This is a friend who traveled to China by herself and is always positive and empowering! Tonight, as I was really needing to hear from God, through his Word, I got this scripture in my daily devotional.

I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.
Romans 9:17

It's this scripture that lets me know God will be with me every second of the trip... giving me confidence, strength, and support to carry out his will for this child. I am still amazed at this task he has placed before Kevin and I. I wonder why he chose this child for us. I wonder why she is in Russia of all places. I wonder what our visits are going to be like when we're together. All I know for sure, is that I can't wait to wrap my arms around this little girl and look at her face! I want to look into her sweet hazel eyes. Although the language barrier--the universal language, love, is all that really matters.

I Corinthians 13:13
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Had God not shown us this child and adoption, we certainly wouldn't be growing in our faith, hope, and love. We know that he is using Sweet Sveta, as part of his master plan, to grow us and her... to further his kingdom. For that, we are blessed.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Road blocks and blessings

Habakkuk 2:3

For the revelation awaits an appointed time;

it speaks of the end and will not prove false.

Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.

I must be quite honest friends... I know it has been awhile since I last posted. There is a reason... I simply have not known what to write. I have been trying, very hard, to wrap my mind around the "latest" and I've needed to do that and "process" before I could inform.

So... we knew getting into this adoption that things would not be easy. We knew and continue to know it is a journey of faith. And now, we are learning, God is working on us and our individual strength... our faith and our strength. I can quite candidly admit, there is room for improvement in both areas.

Typically, with all of the paperwork we have submitted, we would be registered in the region, in Russia, by now. However, we have run into yet another road block involving one of Sveta's parents. There aren't any concerns of either parent wanting to gain rights again, but we now have extra paperwork to do, which of course, takes more time to process, therefore; pushing our visit with her back, yet again!

This is very difficult for us. We have been let down twice now... first, thinking we'd be meeting Sveta in August, then October. It has made us question God- WHY? WHY? WHY? We are trying to do what God asks us to, in the Bible... care for orphans. (James 1:27) So... WHY??? As we keep trying, it seems as though there is one obstacle after another. However, in spite of the obstacles, we keep getting confirmation from God that we are on the right track! It's a really odd place to be!

Pursuing an adoption takes such an insane amount of time and energy. It can truly be both physically and emotionally draining. And now that I know this, I never for a second want to forget or seem ungrateful for the two little blessings we already have! God has given us, already, two of the most precious little souls who have big purposes in this life! Already, we are blessed!

A friend of ours recently made a comment that really made me think. He, too, is an adoptive parent and understands what the process and emotions entail. He said that he's so glad we can't see into the future, because if God would have told him 5 years ago that he and his wife would be adopting down the road, he wouldn't have believed it and would have resisted and been upset about the idea. However, that's not how God works... we don't know the plan ahead of time (thankfully), and He doesn't just throw us into things... He uses time to grow us and prepare us for what He has for us. That outlook has helped me understand our waiting a lot better. Also, right after we got word, our church message was centered around "Waiting!" I'd have to say that's the Holy Spirit giving confirmation we are supposed to adopt... we just need to wait. It's all God's timing, and His is very different than ours. It's amazing that God already knows the timing. He knows the day we will bring Sveta home. He knew the day she was born that she was going to someday enter into a new family... a family in southwestern Ohio... USA!

There's so much I could get into, but for now, I just wanted to update you on what has been going on. Something we ask for prayers about is... a friend of mine, who is a former airline stewardess, has offered her buddy passes to our family. If our adoption agency gives the "ok" I could be traveling with a friend, to Russia, in December. I wouldn't be able to acknowledge that we are pursuing the adoption of Sveta; however, I could meet Sveta, observe her, and take her something. I am hoping this will work out, if it's God's desire. I am so blessed that my friend thought of me, to use the buddy passes which are an amazing deal!

Tomorrow, I leave for a show in Toledo, so I don't know if I'll have time to post. For now, I just want to say... I am so thankful for the family I have, the quaint home we share, the amazing friends I have, the freelance work that comes my way, the wonderful school our children attend, and our health... which I'm reminded of when I see our strong, little boy take to the football field! Waiting is hard, but life in the meantime is good... and I thank God for that!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Russian Fest, Loveland

It was a beautiful day to attend the Russian Festival, in historic Loveland's Nisbet Park. More thoughts to come on the festival itself... for now, some photos from the day.

Friday, September 3, 2010

(Russian) Food for Thought

A friend of mine recently informed me of a Russian festival going on this weekend, in the Cincinnati-area. I've attended Greek, German, and Italian festivals but never Russian, so it should be interesting and enlightening. The festival promises delicious Russian food such as piroshki, stuffed cabbage, and borscht. In case you've never heard of piroshki, it's a stuffed bun of many different ingredients, depending on the region, in Russia. According to the above photo, I think it looks quite delish. As for stuffed cabbage - no surprises there... I even make it myself. (Photo taken this summer, and yes, I make it with purple cabbage... a big hit with Karrigan!) As for the borscht... I've seen Ina Garten make it on Barefoot Contessa, one of my favorite Food Network shows. It's basically a cold beet soup. Hmmm... don't know about that one, but I'll give anything a try once.

I'm sure the festival will deliver more than just Russian food. I did read something about live music, activities for children, and imported crafts such as the traditional wooden nesting dolls. All of this sounds ok, but I think we'll definitely be stopping in around lunch-time... to try the food!

Food definitely equals comfort while shared around the dinner table, with family. Food brings about traditions and warm memories of togetherness and days past. Families bond over recipes handed down from generation to generation. And tomorrow, it will be food that will make us feel... just a little bit closer, to our sweet daughter, a continent away.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back to School

Wow. Wow. Wow.
Blink... summer is over! It certainly was a good one, but I do have to say, I'm actually glad that school is back in session. I have NEVER said that before! I'm not happy that our kids are gone more, rather, I'm glad that we're all back into a routine. I fully believe routines are healthy, not only for Kevin and I but the kiddos, as well. I did a little research to help explain what I mean... the source is: http://hubpages.com/hub/Children_and_Routines__Why_there_Important

How do routines help a child?
The most important thing is routines help a child build confidence in themselves. When a child has a routine established and knows what is expected out of them and how long they have to get the job done, it will help them to manage their time and behavior. Children thrive on pleasing their parents and work hard to do so.

This explains the great attitude Evan has come home with the past two nights! He is really enjoying being back in school and can't wait to show us his school work each night!

Don't get me wrong, the lazy days of summer were welcomed and much needed after a long, yet productive school year. The summer allowed us a break to filter and refresh. Now that we have all re-booted our systems, we are looking forward to great new school year... a fresh start... and lots of fun and memories.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Peace... at last!

Philippians 4:7

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Why did it take all summer to find peace?! What I mean is, I certainly haven't been myself this summer... just ask my dear husband! I've been more stressed, consumed, frazzled... FRANTIC all, because I can't bear to think of our child in an orphanage
-and- have just been wanting so badly to get things moving! This weekend however, it finally came to me! Break-through! Although I've been saying and know in my heart that God is in control, now I really FEEL it. He's letting me feel it. And this too, is part of the journey!

Kevin and I are so excited... our paperwork will be reviewed in Russia today! (Actually, tonight while we are sleeping!) This is a huge step, because this is what needs to happen for us to get the referral of Sveta! I ask you all to pray that the Ministry of Education finds the information in our paperwork to be a perfect match for sweet Svetlana! Ahhh... God has it. No worries here. Kevin is already asleep and now, I will turn in. Just as the song goes that our precious children sing... "He's got the whole world in His hands!"

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sveta is... Everywhere.

When I think we are totally crazy for pursuing this adoption... crazy, because we absolutely can't afford it, I look around, and there's Sveta! I turn on TV... there she is. I talk with friends... there she is. I go to a concert... there she is! I don't mean in a literal sense, I mean, God talking through others, confirming in my heart, that we're on the right path by adopting. So why this afternoon, after leaving my prayer group, where we had just prayed (deeply) that funding would come through, to pursue this adoption, did I get a phone call from a grant company telling me, we didn't receive the grant?! Ugh... I wasn't going to blog about this, because I didn't want you to have to endure my "downer" thoughts, but I guess I should be honest, too, and quite honestly, today stunk! God- where on earth were you? What do you want us to do? Where is this funding going to come from, that you promised? Ok- - there... it's all out there, the questions that I was asking as my head was spinning! The reason for the concern is that we applied for three grants/loans, and this was the one, I felt the most confident in. I worked really hard on it, and this particular one offers grants to families who are adopting older children (like Sveta) and children with disabilities. I am disappointed, to say the least, but I am NOT losing faith... the enemy would like me to lose faith, but he can just GO AWAY! My God WILL provide, and my God is never late, so the funding will come, some way, some how.

After I got the news, I took Evan to football practice, where I tried not to think about it. Then, we came home and had dinner, and while watching one of our favorite shows, Cake Boss on TLC, what kind of cake was Buddy making in that episode??? A cake for ADOPTIVE families!!! Of all of the shows we could have chosen from our DVR list, we just happened to turn on Cake Boss, and that particular episode just happened to be first on the list! Thank you, God! Yes, I know you're here, and yes, I know you want us to adopt! I will keep on track even though we didn't receive the grant... this IS from YOU!!!

For my birthday, my dear mother got me a Vera Bradley purse and concert tickets to Rascal Flatts! The show was this past Sunday, and.... there was Sveta! What I mean is, before the concert was about to start, and as a friend was asking me questions about how the adoption was going, an interview was happening on the big over-head screen. It was an interview with some concert-goers who were leaving the next day to take over an orphanage! Mom and I looked at each other, our eyes both big! Wow- -what are the odds that those people would be stopped and interviewed! Yes, God, I know you're here, and yes, I know that you are confirming that we are on the right path of adopting a little girl who waits in an orphanage!

As we were driving to Marysville yesterday to visit a cousin and aunt who were in town from Alabama, my mind started to drift, and I began thinking about Sveta's birth mom. I got this really bizarre thought. What if Sveta's mom (who we know has passed)... what if she is in heaven watching down on me?! Perhaps she's now Sveta's guardian angel? What if she knows that God has chosen Kevin and I to be Sveta's parents? What if every time I start to get worried or negative, she is up in heaven thinking - Please don't give up on my little girl! That sort of freaks me out! I would want her to know though, that my heart is in this 100 percent, and I already love (by the Grace of God) her little girl, and I am so thankful that she had her, and that we will be able to raise her, to know Jesus.

Finally, God played a song for me yesterday, and it couldn't be more perfect. I'm going to paste the lyrics; however, I encourage you to take a listen for yourself, because it will translate much better. Before you read, keep in mind, this adoption process is not always easy on us... but the reward will be great! Also, when the song says, "Hold on, you've got to wait for the light" it just so happens that "Svetlana" means "light" and we are waiting for the LIGHT! - Cool, huh?

Ok friends, here are the lyrics and the link to listen!



Before the Morning
By Josh Wilson

Do you wonder why you have to,
feel the things that hurt you,
if there's a God who loves you,
where is He now?

Maybe, there are things you can't see
and all those things are happening
to bring a better ending
some day, some how, you'll see, you'll see

Would dare you, would you dare, to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
'cause the pain you've been feeling,
can't compare to the joy that's coming

so hold on, you got to wait for the light
press on, just fight the good fight
because the pain you've been feeling,
it's just the dark before the morning

My friend, you know how this all ends
and you know where you're going,
you just don't know how you get there
so just say a prayer.
and hold on, cause there's good who love God,
life is not a snapshot, it might take a little time,
but you'll see the bigger picture

Would dare you, would you dare, to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
'cause the pain you've been feeling,
can't compare to the joy that's coming

so hold on, you got to wait for the light
press on, just fight the good fight
because the pain you've been feeling,
it's just the dark before the morning
yeah, yeah,
before the morning,
yeah, yeah

Once you feel the way of glory,
all your pain will fade to memory
once you feel the way of glory,
all your pain will fade to memory
memory, memory, yeah

Would dare you, would you dare, to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
'cause the pain you've been feeling,
can't compare to the joy that's coming

Would dare you, would you dare, to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
'cause the pain you've been feeling,
can't compare to the joy that's coming

com'n, you got to wait for the light
press on, just fight the good fight
because the pain you've been feeling,
it's just the hurt before the healing
the pain you've been feeling,
just the dark before the morning
before the morning, yeah, yeah
before the morning


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Shoes - It's a Girl Thing!

Each time we receive a call from our adoption agency, it's very exciting. That means that something is happening in the process... we're on the radar!

We are presently working on our dossier. If you don't know what that is, dictionary.com gives this definition:

a collection or file of documents on the same subject, esp. a complete file containing detailed information about a person or topic.

We will need to take the dossier with us to Russia, and it will be reviewed by the court. Anyhow, while talking with the agency, I asked what gifts we should bring to the orphanage, when we go in October. I was told to bring... shoes! Shoes for girls ages 10-16. Well, it's never a problem to shop for shoes! (It's a girl thing, I suppose!) Anyhow, while out picking up some groceries at Wal Mart, I noticed a huge bin of clearanced girls tennis shoes. Of course, this peeked my interest after just getting off the phone with the agency. Let's just say... SCORE! All sizes of tennis shoes at huge, clearanced prices! Again, I think God was looking out for us!

Deuteronomy 33:25
Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.

So, of course, the soles of our shoes, these days, aren't plated with iron or brass. I'm sure it's more like rubber and plastic. None the less, may these shoes that I am blessing, right at this very moment, help provide STRENGTH... to all of the orphans in need.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Gift of Friendship

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work; If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!

Proverbs 27:17
As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

How blessed I am to have some really fabulous friends. And "fabulous" quite frankly, just doesn't do them justice!

My friends let me see things in a new light. My friends support and encourage me. My friends won't let me fall, when they know I'm about to. My friends pray with me and for me. My friends make me smile... laugh... and a couple of days ago... they made me cry! (Good tears though!) My friends knew exactly how to bless me on that particular day... and they will be there, without a doubt, when it's time to bless our new daughter.

It was a complete surprise when Julie and Marisa showed up (Carrie couldn't make it), at our coffee date, with a cake, telling me cheerfully, "Happy Birthday to Sveta!" They are so amazingly thoughtful! How could I not have tears when they went out in faith to celebrate our daughter's birthday!

These girlfriends have already blessed Sveta through much prayer; however, on this day, besides the cake, they got her a birthday present that I got to open... it was a Bible, perfect for her. It's an English-Russian Parallel Bible. On the left column, it reads the English translation. On the right, it's the Russian translation. Perfect for Sveta when she comes home!

There are so many blessings that will come from this Bible. As we present it to Sveta as part of the new "things" in her room, she will understand the value that her new family places on God. It will allow her to keep something of her heritage, close to her heart, so that she may always remember where it was she came from. It will be a tool to help her, as she grieves. It will help her understand her value, how much we love her, and most importantly, how much her Father in Heaven loves her. It will bring comfort beyond measure. It truly is the perfect gift.

Thanks to my gals... Carrie, Julie, and Marisa. May you know what a gift YOU are, to me!

Saturday, July 31, 2010


Our sweet girl turned 10 today! We have no idea if the orphanage celebrated or not, but we are celebrating and thinking of her all day! Can't wait until next summer when we can have a party with family and friends! The kids did a great job helping with the cake! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SWEET SVETA! WE LOVE YOU!!!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Fair Future

It has been quite a week- -one that I'm sure, I stretched myself a little too thin for. Somehow though, all worked out, and I'm pleased this Sunday and am feeling the relief of rest! Let's see... the kids attended an all-day Church Day Camp, in which I was one of the leaders. I worked the Farm Bureau booth twice at the Warren County Fair, for four hours each shift. And... the kids both participated in the Guys and Gals Lead on Friday night, and Karrigan participated in the Little Miss Warren County contest Saturday morning. Whew! Today, we attended church, and tonight, I must finish some paperwork for my publicist job before we head to the Union County Fair tomorrow! Busy, busy... but life is good!

On the way to church this morning, we were re-living and re-hashing the recent fair events! Both Evan and Karrigan got really excited about the possibility of Sveta participating in the fair next year! Karrigan promised she would teach Sveta how to lead "Diamond" the ewe lamb, and Evan agreed! Of course, that led to a discussion about who Sveta will want to play with more- - will she want to do "girlie" things with KK like playing dolls and doing crafts, or will she want to learn sports and how to play video games with Evan! I assured both kiddos that Sveta will likely enjoy some of the same activities that both of them do. And she will, also, be able to teach them a thing or two!

This morning at church, as I was praying during worship, I felt a peace come over me. God told me, through the Holy Spirit, that next summer, as we look back at all of this we're dealing with now- the stress, the unknown basically... it will all seem like it never really happened, because He was there for us the entire time, taking care of everything. He, also, shared that when the Ministry of Education, in Russia, comes back from vacation in mid-August, the employees will be ready to get to work and will process our papers quickly! I'm going to stay optimistic about this, and go with it! I love it when God puts things into my heart! The biggest thing I heard from God today, is that although we haven't received the "official" letter- we have been granted a loan from one of the companies we applied to!!! God said the financial concerns, regarding this adoption, will be taken care of. I have FAITH, so I declare the messages of the Holy Spirit to be true, this day!!! It's vulnerable of me to put all of this out here on our blog, for everyone to read, but I want everyone to know how God keeps His promises... all we have to do is have faith in Him!

We ask for your prayers this week, dear family and friends.

These are the verses headed for the bathroom mirror... good reminders when the enemy's "doubt" starts to surface.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)

When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted. (Psalm 138:3)

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Love to you all,


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dreams, Disappointments, and Stepping Out

Just a quick update on us... we found out yesterday that we will not be traveling to Russia next month, as we had anticipated. We are now being told it will be more like October! The Ministry of Education, in Russia, is on vacation through mid-August, and unfortunately, we are at their mercy. So of course, this was a "shock to the system" and certainly disappointing! Our dreams of meeting our sweet girl next month went down the tubes. HOWEVER... of course, God has a plan in this and every situation. There is a reason we are not leaving next month, so we must accept that and adjust our way of thinking.

2 Samuel 22:31
As for God, his way is perfect;
the word of the Lord is flawless.
He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.

Before we got this news, I had enjoyed coffee earlier in the day, with my dear friend, Tracy. http://www.ourpromisedson.blogspot.com/ She asked me a really interesting question that completely made me think the rest of the afternoon! She asked if we had bought any clothes yet for Sveta. I explained that no we hadn't, because I suppose we just wanted to make sure this adoption was really going to happen. Immediately, she said with conviction, "You KNOW this adoption is going to happen!" I was speechless for a second. "Yes!" I said, right back with conviction! "Of course I know it's going to happen!" She further explained that buying one's child an outfit is a "step out in faith"... in essence, I would be saying to God and everyone else- -YES, I KNOW this is from you Lord, and I have FAITH that you, Lord, will make it happen.

Well, guess what Karrigan and I did? We made a stop at Old Navy. I'm not really sure why we chose that particular store, but I was hoping they were having a sale, since right now, we are all about SAVING! Sure enough... girls tank tops on sale! I wanted to purchase just one item to hang in Sveta's closet, so that I could "step out in faith". Because it was such a good sale, we ended up getting Sveta two and Karrigan two, and of course, little sister gets to match big sister!

Two bright-colored tank tops now hang in the closet. Not only do they make me smile, they make it a reality that sweet Sveta will be home... by next summer.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Initial Paperwork Now in Russia!

Our "initial packet" to the Bryansk region of Russia made it, this past weekend, with no hiccups what-so-ever! Additionally, it has made it into the hands of the regional coordinator there. Hooray!!! I got a brief text from the "deliverer" of our packet, dear Angie, my new friend from Mercer County, Ohio who is also going through the adoption process with the same agency as us- European Children Adoption Services based in Plymouth, Minn. Angie and her husband are presently in Russia, and this time, they will bring home their sweet son, Roman. I have been so blessed to get to know Angie, and I thank God for placing her in my life.

Angie was kind enough to ask the regional coordinator if Sveta was in the same orphanage as Roman. As I suspected (since she is a few years older), she is not. Angie offered to take a couple of photos of Sveta for us while there (if the kids were in the same orphanage). That would have been great, but I accept that it just wasn't meant to be. It's amazing how we as "waiting" adoptive parents just want so badly to have a photo, a video, or even just an observation by a friend, who has seen our child and can give us a nugget of information that we didn't already have. We won't know a lot about Sveta until we actually arrive in Russia, which should be in about 6-8 weeks. Although that's the typical time frame after the "initial packet" is delivered, I think Kevin and I are still in denial almost that it's actually going to happen. We still just haven't wrapped our minds around the idea that we will soon be hopping on a plane to Russia, then a train which will take us 7 hours to see our daughter! I've said in this blog all along, our adoption is a journey... journey indeed. ~Especially since Kevin has only been outside the states to go to Mexico, and for me, I've only stepped across the border to Canada.

As for other happenings... hmmm... well, this weekend, I finally felt at peace for the first time since summer began. I've been so under pressure to fill out the grant and loan applications and fundraise, that I just haven't felt a lot of joy like I normally do in the summer. Also, I believe that the enemy was stealing my joy. This weekend, I chose to get it back! We had an incredibly fun Saturday walking the nature trails of Pine Hill Park, in Mason. Afterwards, the kids had a blast running through the fountains there! We even packed a picnic lunch and just RELAXED. Kevin and I both needed that. We decided to continue the fun at home, camping out in the backyard! Now that was memorable! Although our tent is supposed to sleep 6 persons, our experience is that four persons was tight enough! As we were sipping our coffee on the back porch Sunday morning, Kevin commented, "We'll soon need a larger tent with a third child and all." He was thinking of Sveta in a way I hadn't yet... all FIVE of us camping out, as a family. It's thoughts like that, that bring me joy and put a smile on my face. Having a wonderful family like mine... how could I not smile!

Monday, July 5, 2010

All good things must come to an end

As I wipe the sweat from my brow, I can take pleasure in a job now... done. Our lavendar has all been picked. I'm sure the bees are not especially happy with me; however, as we all know, all good things must come to an end. While those pesty, yet necessary, bees have enjoyed their daily nectar, Kevin and I have enjoyed the fragrant aroma coming through our bedroom window each evening. There is nothing like the delicate smell of lavendar... at least we think so. It does not appeal, however, to dear Evan. I can understand where he's coming from though, because it's hard for me to believe that lavendar is in the same family as mint. I do not care so much for mint, as when it hits my tongue, I almost feel a shock to my system.

The pale, purplish color of lavendar appeals to curious Karrigan, and she enjoys inhaling the goodness of the flowering plant while playing outside. She also enjoys the fact that lavendar draws her very most favorite things on earth... butterflies! Luckily, she has been content seeing only white butterflies zooming through the flower spikes. The colorful butterflies tend to hang out on the cone flowers.

I'm sure our sweet Sveta will enjoy the lavendar, as well, since she will get to partake in the lavendar soap-making process with her brother and sister. That is what we shall do with these glorious flowers and flower buds. Perhaps by the time we get Sveta, we will be set up to make lavendar honey! Now that is something to think about in the coming year.

Sooo many uses for lavendar: Saches, potpourri, soap, honey, in baked goods such as scones, candied for cake decorations, herbal teas, dried flower arrangements, aromatherapy... I could go on...

Reflecting now... it is a bit sad to say goodbye to the lavendar this year. However, time moves on, and for that, we are grateful. That means we are days closer to meeting our "newest"... sweet girl.


Cool fact: Essential oil of lavender has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. It was used in hospitals during WWI to disinfect floors and walls. Who would have ever guessed?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Slipping and Sliding

I’m listening to my babies outside… there are lots of giggles and “whoa-s!”. They are playing on the Slip-n-Slide! Summer fun at it’s prime!

There is one baby missing however, and my understanding is that she is at summer camp. It apparently is a “camp” set up, in the middle of the forest, within walking distance of the orphanage. I’m told there’s a lake. At first, I got excited that our girl gets to go to camp! Then, “mom reality” set in: Does Sveta know how to swim? Is the camp co-ed? Do they put sunscreen on the kids? Is there protection against wild animals in the forest? See how my imagination works? I nearly work myself up to an anxiety attack!

God is there though, at camp… he is with Sveta and all of the other children. I have to just trust. That’s a word I am learning a lot about on this journey… TRUST.

Psalm 46:10
Be still and know that I am God.

So very true! And I find comfort knowing that the weight of the world doesn’t fall on me. God takes it for us. I trust Him that he will take care of Sveta both at camp and at the orphanage, and I trust Him that he will bring her home to us this winter.

She is already missed by each of us on a daily basis. Some days, it’s going to the library. Some days, it’s going to get ice cream. Today, we miss her giggles… outside on the Slip-n-Slide!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Refinement and Birthdays

Today is my 36th birthday. Happy Birthday to me- I'm on the "other" side of the mid-thirties, inching closer to... you know what comes next. Wow.

It's ok though... truly, I'm ok! The reason... well, first let me admit, I always imagined getting older as equating to- losing purpose in life. Getting depressed. I mean... NOTHING, at all, to look forward to. Wrinkles. Gray hair. No hair... bald!

Yes indeed, I do now have a few wrinkles. I do now have a few gray hairs. BUT... I also now have a "richness" in my life that I never imagined. In fact, I have more purpose now than I ever imagined. I'm needed more now than I ever imagined! AND... I'm, also, more at peace now than ever before! I know God better. I know my husband better. I know myself better! 36 is actually feeling pretty good! Accept, of course, for the occasional stiffness I feel in the mornings shortly after waking and the "sometimes" fasciitis in the feet. (Girlfriends-we've had this discussion!)

I'm always amazed at what can happen in a year's time! That's why we can't completely plan out our lives, too far in advance... we CAN set goals for ourselves, but we never truly know what will happen in a year's time. That's kind of exciting- don't you think? When I turned 35, for example, NEVER did I imagine we would be adopting a 9-year-old girl from Russia! One observation however- and I'm sure if you think about it, you'll find it true of your own life... many things that I spoke about either as a child, teen, or early 20-something have happened! For example, when Kevin and I were dating, both of us mentioned we would like to live in the Carolinas. Check! We wanted to live in a brick house. Check! And Kevin thought it would be "cool" to adopt, since "there are so many kids out there who are in need of homes." Almost check!

Another thought about this adoption. When we first found Sveta's photo, online, back in February, and decided to pursue the adoption of her, never did we imagine how many people this would affect, other than ourselves and our two children. I am now beginning to see how God is using it for His glory! We have two sets of grandparents who are excited to be grandparents again! (Thank you, Grammie and Bump-Bump -AND- Mammaw and Pappaw!) We have great-grandparents praying for us. We have our siblings who are supportive, encouraging, and willing to help out! We have friends praying for us! We knew we were loved, and now, we know we are BLESSED! (Love you all!)

Additionally, family and friends have shared that this adoption has encouraged them to seek the Lord and read what the Bible says about orphans. Wow! Praise God! - - I've watched my husband, who rarely shares his personal feelings/opinions/thoughts, etc. talk with people about how we were moved by a message, at church, pertaining to adoption and how he felt the Holy Spirit working within him, to adopt. Again, praise God! - - And, one more to share... I made a new friend recently while working freelance at P&G, and she confided that she talks with her husband about our adoption in an effort to open his heart to it and God, in general. GOD You are so good!

In conclusion, I'm glad that God has continued to "refine" me year after year, leading up to now, 36 years! I look forward to more refinement, as we continue on this journey He has put us on. And, I'm always amazed at how God works in us and through us, for His glory.


Romans 8:18
Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Nutrition for the Body... AND Soul.

Wow- -can't believe how far we've come since I last posted! ALL of our paperwork should be arriving in Russia, in the next two weeks! We have passports... we applied for the I-600A which will allow for Sveta's visa... our home study is complete along with social worker visits... we've learned what an Apostille is at the Secretary of State's office in downtown Columbus! (And how expensive they are!) Things are really moving... and smoothly. I acknowledge this fact to God everyday, because it's HE who is allowing it all to flow. It's HIS will and HIS perfect timing. I haven't been anxious, at all, since Easter weekend. I've just remained focused. The goal is for Kevin and I to meet Sveta in mid-August and accept the referral of her. August is not that far away! Yay! I can't wait to meet her, and I go to bed at night thinking about our first meeting. I'm pretty sure (knowing me) that I will cry the moment she walks into the room. I will get teary, and Kevin will grab my hand and give me the little smile he always gives that boosts my confidence. I, also, can't wait to see how Kevin reacts and interacts with Sveta. He is such a great daddy, I just know he'll know exactly what to do. It will come naturally for him.

So... of course, we're always talking about Sveta like she's already here! Today, we got our first share of our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Basically, we buy a farm share for the summer months, and each week we get the most beautiful basket of fresh produce. This time, we got broccoli, zuchini, radishes, and lettuce. As Evan and KK gobbled down the broccoli (which they call "mini trees"), I thought about how blessed we are, and how we can't wait to bless Sveta. At the orphanage, she doesn't get a variety of foods and not nearly enough fruits and vegetables. I'm already concerned about her diet and her overall health. We are truly eager and READY to provide our sweet daughter with the nutrition she needs... for the body and the soul.

Monday, April 5, 2010


Thank you for coming and visiting this blog! I've never done a blog before, but I, along with my dear sister (who set this up) thought it would be helpful as our family begins the journey of adoption.

I've been keeping a journal about the process, my feelings... and basically what led up to us wanting to adopt a precious 9-year-old Russian girl, who presently awaits in an orphanage. We know that her mother has died and her father has never come forward to claim her.

And so, taken from my journal, the story goes like this:

Feb. 21, 2010

It is Sunday afternoon, and the Lord my Heavenly Father has just revealed to me that I have a daughter who I didn’t know I had. Shocking, I know. I was not prepared for this, or so I thought. Our little girl lives somewhere in Eastern Europe, I’m guessing the Soviet Union. My heart is aching, because I found out (in my heart) that our girl has been hurt. She has been neglected in some way. I am sobbing as I write this, and God is giving me the words to type. Imagine how you’d feel if you found out your child had been hurt. I feel that pain right now about a little girl I’ve never even met. I don’t know whether to be happy with God for revealing this to me or to be mad at him, because now my heart is so heavy. (I could never be mad a God.) I am helpless. I cannot jump on a plane to go save her. I don’t even know the whole story. All I know is that God has placed this on mine and Kevin’s heart, and I will see how God wants to use this. My husband and I do not have $30,000!!! But I know that nothing is too big for God. If this is truly him, he will provide, and I will do his work. That is what I’m on this earth to do. I’m not a perfect mother, but I have so much love and compassion in my heart. That comes from God. I will do whatever HE wants. I am scared that outside members of my family will not be supportive. They don’t have this in their hearts. I feel that when I bring our daughter home however, they will all "get it"- -the blessing. The journey though will be tough. I’m fearful, but I’m going to pray for strength. I am going to stay focused on God. I have not felt him for a very long time, and I’ve missed him. He is here now though in a big way, moving. When I went to Marion Christian Center (MCC) back in November, it was revealed to me that, "my heart will break when I see those who many would just leave by the roadside". Well, I saw them on a website… many many children who need homes. I saw our daughter right away. [(MCC) said I can spot a need like I have my own radar. I now believe this after my experience.] I knew it was her, and so did Kevin. She’s ours, we know it. We want her to know it. We want her to know we are going to fight to get her. She will have a family who loves her. She will have parents to tuck her into bed at night. Our natural children will embrace her and will learn about God’s love through this. - -God, take this… use me… use our family for YOU.

Feb. 22, 2010

Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.
Isaiah 1:17

I went to bed last night thinking about our daughter. I imagined a photo of her with our other two children. She fit in perfectly, and she and Karrigan were wearing matching dresses that had daisies on them. Crazy stuff! Then, I thought about how to sign our Christmas cards with a new child who is older than the other two. Does her name come before theirs, since she is older? So many questions, and I know this is only the beginning. I love talking with our children about it, because I want them to learn to have hearts for orphans. Kevin doesn’t like when the kids talk about it and ask questions, because I think he feels like we might be setting them up for disappointment. I feel as though we’re preparing their hearts. I wonder where exactly she was born… a hospital? A home? I wonder what her parents have fed her over the last 10 years. She looks healthy. Her hair however is very short. I hope to find out some answers today when I call the agency representing her. I pray they are forthcoming. I pray this agency isn’t sketchy. Our daughter needs us, and this, I will focus on. I have complete faith the Lord will work this through.

Feb. 24, 2010

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
James 1:27

Yesterday was a wonderful yet emotionally exhausting day! I made a fruit salad and headed over to the Snyder’s for Asher’s dedication. After 11 months of being in the states, his adoption was finalized. Many things "clicked" for me yesterday. I realized that God started working on my heart (and my awareness of adoption) two summers ago when I helped raise funds for Asher’s adoption. Back then though, when I thought about Kevin and I adopting, I envisioned a baby, and I would have feelings that something just wasn’t right. God knew all along that some time needed to pass to ready me for the idea of adopting an older child… a 9-year-old girl. I, also, believe that part of God’s perfect plan was to put me in a school where I’d be teaching 7th and 8th graders, again, raising my "awareness" of what that age group is like, since "our girl" will be close to that age shortly after we bring her home. Wow-God is amazing! I, also, discovered, yet again, that when we make a point to surround ourselves with Christians, wonderful things can happen. Last night, Carrie and Angie were wonderful to talk with over coffee. Carrie has such a big heart for adoption, and Angie and her husband have explored it and even attended a conference about adoption. Angie was able to share with me that there is financial help available which is something Kevin and I certainly desire and will need. I firmly believe that God will be faithful and will provide. This is HIS desire, and Kevin and I are just carrying out the plan. Speaking of Kevin and I, we have not yet committed 100 % to adopting. We need to have a conversation soon though, because my heart is swelling each and every day, even every hour as I think about our daughter in an orphanage. I’ve decided to wait one complete week (although it kills me) before we talk and commit. I am so amazed by the ways God is touching Kevin’s heart. Kevin asked a colleague, who is on her third adoption from Russia, to have lunch and discuss the process. Kevin initiated that! He, also, told me last night that he looked at a license plate and saw the letters G-O-D although, those letters weren’t actually on there. Amazing. Anyhow, today, I found out through the agency, that our girl is in the region of Bryansk. Of course, what we noticed right away was Kevin’s brother’s name – Bryan with an "sk" on the end. I began researching it. I, also, ordered our birth certificates so that we may soon get our passports.

Feb. 26, 2010

Remembering the story of Moses…
When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh's daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, "I drew him out of the water." Later, when the boy was older, his mother brought him back to Pharaoh's daughter, who adopted him as her own son. The princess named him Moses, for she explained, "I lifted him out of the water."
Exodus 2:10

It’s now Friday, almost one week, since we first discovered Sveta… our daughter, Sveta. A lot happened this week. In fact, it was an emotional roller coaster. She has not left our minds or hearts once. In fact, God has been preparing our hearts more and more each day. Wednesday night was rough, to say the least. Right before bed, Evan asked to look at Sveta on the computer and tell her good-night. As I pulled up her posting, her status had changed from "Eligible for Adoption" to "On Hold". Oh no, how could this be- -my heart truly sank. Evan began to cry. I had to console him that it was ok- -Sveta was getting a family and could leave the orphanage. He didn’t understand and kept saying, "But mommy, I want her to live with us." It broke my heart even more. As I got him to sleep, I came into my bedroom and broke down myself. I haven’t cried so hard in a really long time. "God," I asked, "I thought you told me Sveta was our daughter. I know I heard you loud and clear Lord, how did I miss this?" I wept… and wept. Kevin came in and held me, and I continued to weep. His heart was heavy, too. However, he gave me hope. "Is there a chance the agency could be holding her for us?" he asked. I told him I didn’t think so, because the way it was explained to me, there were no guarantees, since our home study wasn’t even complete yet. He asked me to call the agency in the morning and inquire. I had already done that. I very calmly left the agency a message inquiring on Sveta’s status (although the agency was closed). The next morning before school, Evan said, "Mommy, I had a dream last night. I dreamed that Sveta was supposed to be ours." He went on to tell me, "Mommy, I think God is telling me in my heart that Sveta is supposed to be ours." My precious boy. I talked with Tracy (Snyder) about it, over coffee. She understands more than anyone. I cried. I told her that last night after I cried, a brief peace had come over me. I felt like perhaps since Kevin and I stated aloud, earlier in the night, that we were 98% sure we were going to pursue this, maybe losing Sveta (the thought of it) was what was to confirm in our hearts that we actually were 100% sure we wanted to pursue the adoption. I wondered if that was how God was confirming in my heart. That could be the only explanation. I knew that if there was any chance we could still get Sveta, I would do whatever it took. So, while still at Tracy’s I called the agency. Very hesitantly, I inquired with "Judy". And before I could get it all out, Judy said, "We are holding her for you!" I tried to keep it together long enough to get off the phone, and after about three thank yous to Judy, I did manage to get off the phone calmly. Tracy was there for the waterfall though, and I made her cry! I called Kevin and right away, he was relieved. We will be getting our daughter, because God is in control and knows the plan.

So, I’ve called the MN Attorney General’s office and no lawsuits have been filed against ECAS. They appear "clean". They, also, have never been blacklisted in Russia. I, also, talked with a family from the reference sheet who has now adopted two older children from ECAS. It was an amazing phone call. The family has been blessed in so many ways, and their children have adjusted beautifully. In fact, the girls learned English in about three months! It was such an encouraging conversation. I will be keeping in touch with Sherri and Kevin Dehn.

Today, I finally spoke with Pamela Hook, from Adoption Circle in Columbus. She is arranging our home study. I am so anxious to get the paperwork going. It should take about two months to process. It will take another two months for approval from Russia. Once Russia approves it, we can get the official referral of Sveta. This is going to be a killer… we want our daughter out of that orphanage! We want to begin the process of her healing and being able to bond with us.
Kevin spoke with "his Tracy" at work today! We both have friends named Tracy who are going through the adoption process. His Tracy is leaving for Russia next month to meet her new baby! How exciting! I chatted online today with Deering Dyer (former colleague from the Farm Bureau), who is also in the process of adoption. He told me of all the Biblical Truths of adoption. He helped me realize that all of us are adopted by God Our Father. - -Just as children have the responsibility to represent well the family name, so Christians have the awesome responsibility to represent well the Name of God who has adopted them as sons and daughters into His family. Loving, lending and doing well to our enemies should be a trait of God’s adopted sons and daughters.

"My Tracy" asked what possible names we might consider for our daughter. This is the fun part to think about rather than all of the paperwork that is ahead! I think we will talk with Sveta about what she wants to do. We don’t want to take away her name that she has been called for the past 10 years. Our new friends Kevin and Sherri, however, mentioned that their daughter wanted to change her name. It was like a clean slate. If that’s the case, some names have come to heart. Each has it’s own unique meaning. Karis means "Grace". Evelina means "life-giving". (We are giving Sveta life.) Evangeline means "like an angel". I really like Evangeline, because it was our Evan’s precious face that we saw resembling Sveta’s precious face. When we saw Sveta, we thought about how she would always feel comfortable with us, because she looks like us - - especially Evan. I would love for her to have her brother’s name, in her name. We'll see...

Feb. 27, 2010

What to tell our parents who are going to be completely caught off guard…
I found this on CAFA (Christian Advocates for Adoption). Honestly- - these sentiments are EXACTLY how I feel, and I even quote the scripture in James quite a bit!

When Christians adopt we demonstrate love to the watching world. We show love not only in word, but also in action. When we adopt, we choose to give our life away. After all, adoption is expensive; it is inconvenient; and finally, it lasts a lifetime! Why would we do this? Very simple: "We love because he first loved us." (1 John 4:19). Isn't it is time for Christians to realize that our lives are not our own?

Now is the time for the Church to rise up and take seriously the Biblical mandate of James 1:27 "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress..."

More and more followers of Christ are choosing to adopt. They do so carefully and intentionally after counsel and much prayer. It is not an easy decision for many believers, but it is very often the right decision. Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these my brothers you did it for me." (Matthew 25:40).

March 21, 2010

The Lord asked us to adopt… and we said yes.

It wasn’t instantly though… it took a couple of days of true discernment… "sleeping on it" to make sure this was a desire in our hearts from God.

Here we are exactly one month from the day I first began writing about this journey… the day I heard in my heart that Sveta was our daugther. Wow. Now the true "longing" has begun. In preparation, I have read three books on adoption, and our home study paperwork is well underway. (Just to note for future reference, the books I read are: Adopting the Hurt Child, Wounded Children Healing Homes, and Our Own – Adopting and Parenting the Older Child.)
We joined an adoption support group. We met for the first time Friday night at my friend, Tracy’s. It was wonderful talking with other couples, and it’s comforting to know there are people out there who truly care and understand. They too have been called by God to do this wonderfully challenging job.

My dear husband is presently, as I type, hammering away! We are finishing our basement so that we will have enough bedrooms for all three kiddos. Evan would like to move to the basement, since it would allow for a larger bedroom. Of course, he desires a rock wall that will allow him to crawl up to the ceiling. His dad is designing his room with that in mind, along with a nice, comfy space to play the wii.

Today, as I was looking at Precious.org (the website I found Sveta on), I noticed a change. Her birthdate was changed from January 1, 2000 to July 31, 2000! I put an e-mail into the agency right away to inquire why it was updated and how the correction came about. My personal hope is that the agency was working on Sveta’s paperwork, getting her ready for us, and noticed the birthdate was wrong. That means our girl is younger than we first thought. She is only 9 if this is true. That is great news to us. We don’t care either way – she’s ours… however, as a parent, we cherish each and every year we get to spend with our children, and this means we get another year with her before she reaches adulthood!

As for now… the wait continues. Each day that passes is hard to take knowing our daughter is in an orphanage. By the way, last weekend, I think I found out which orphanage she is in! By searching on the web, one site led to another, to another, to another, and I came across a lady on Facebook who used to work in a Bryansk orphanage (Zhukvoka orphanage). By looking through her photos, I noticed that the background matched the background in Sveta’s photo! The bookshelves that Sveta is standing infront of look the same. So I’ve been e-mailing with this gal, who lives in England, and she has been so insightful. I’m going to post the questions I asked her and the answers I got back. My questions are in bold.

Why are most of the kids placed in the orphanage?

Most of the children were there because of neglect, abuse and often through their parents being dependant on alcohol (vodka is very cheap out there), I think in the time I was there there were around 400 children in the orphanage, but only 4 or 5 of those were true orphans without parents. Some of the stories about children can be very hard to hear and very heartbreaking.

What are the general attitudes of the children?

For the most part the children are happy, a lot of them realize that they are better off in the orphanage than with their families. The younger the children the happier, and I would suspect the easier it is to more then into an adoptive family, when they're older they tend to be a lot more suspicious and don't trust as much. Sadly in the last few years quite a few children got fostered to Russian families (for a cash incentive) but then when the money dried up the families sent the children back which messed up a lot of the kids emotions, and damaged the trust even more.

What are the girls like – are there any bullies?

The girls I guess are like any girls, there is a bit of bullying, and there a groups like 'the popular ones' 'the clever ones' etc, I would say pretty standard of what goes on in any mainstream school across the world. The thing to remember is that there is a pecking order, traditionally in Russia the older children are in charge and tell the younger ones what to do. With the children living in groups (called families) the older ones look after the younger ones a lot, but will also boss the younger ones around. Children who are different with special needs etc do tend to be bullied a bit more.

What are the children fed? Any medical care?

The food is pretty basic stuff. The orphanage grows their own potatoes and the children live on potatoes. Lunch tends to be traditional Russian soup. They have black bread, which I am sure you'd be able to get a recipe for. Meat is a treat, especially something like chicken, I remember going out once with Valentina and buying a pig which they then took back to the orphanage, killed and chopped it up for dinner. They don’t tend to have sweet things, ice cream is comething saved for Christmas etc. Mostly it’s very basic but filling food. Not a lot of fruit. Milk there is horrible and has the risk of Turburculosis but a lot of the children won't touch it.The orphanage has its own medical area and they go to hospital if needed. Russians tend to be very cautious about an illness even coughs and colds. I know that AIDS is very high in Russia, a lot higher than the government admit.

5. Do the children have their own clothes, if so how many outfits? What about bathing?

The children don't tend to have their own clothes but the people who look after them in the groups distribute what they need. Things are then handed down to the younger children. there are showers but not baths I think the staff are very keen for the children to be clean and washed, and keep them clean.

6. Do the children have their own beds?

Yes when we first started visiting there they shared beds, but I think we provided enough money that now each child has their own bed. They share rooms within their family groups.

7. Are the children allowed to accept gifts?

They can have gifts from outsiders, and they are allowed to keep them. It's worth remembering that anything of value may go missing though as the older children do take stuff. I have been saddened sometimes when I've been there to see certain children being singled out by families who are going to adopted them (I can understand why and think its lovely to want to bless them), but often the other children feel let out and rejected, so I would always suggest if you took a gift for a child you take something for a couple of their closest friends too, or maybe even something small for something in their family groups.Sometimes families want to give financial gifts to the orphanage and in our experience any money we've given gets put towards whatever we ask (furniture, food etc).

8. How many children did you see get adopted?

At the moment I'm not sure, when I lived there it was probably a family or 2 a month, but now I don't know.

9. Do the children ever get ministered to?

I assume you mean in a spiritual way with this question? As far as I know there is nobody in Russia who does this although we tried to encourage the local Baptist church to get involved but that didn't really work. Our group from England is Christian but we haven’t been for a while. I think there is a church from America that visits sometimes but I'm not sure.Valentina has a basic faith but the country is still very much communist and Christianity/other beliefs are not often very publicly admitted.

10. What kind of schooling do the children receive?

There is a school attached to the orphanage, I'm not sure of the quality of the schooling, but they do attend school Monday-Saturday.

As I read these, several things came to mind. Most importantly, our girl probably has no idea who Jesus is. Also, her nutrition is of great concern. I’m glad she doesn’t go to bed hungry, but I wish she was getting more protein, fruits, and vegetables. Can’t wait to get her home!!!

This verse helps to keep me patient…

Philippians 4:6

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known to God.

Additionally, I recently had a show in Toledo, and on the way up, I was singing my praise music and praying a ton! God told me, "When you see her, your faith will be revealed." It will indeed, because right now… this entire journey is a big "leap of faith".

March 22, 2010

Still today my paycheck has not come. In order to be assigned a social worker, we need to pay Adoption Circle $1500. I do not know why there is a hold-up. I run to the mailbox, anxious everyday. I look at it though not in terms of why Feld isn’t mailing my check, rather why God isn’t letting my check arrive. Is there a reason? I know all things happen in his perfect timing… but what could God be doing now? With this desire of ours to get moving on the adoption, why is he stalling the process? I know there’s a reason. I know I’m being taught patience and faith. Today, this verse comes to mind. Evan had to learn it in school, and it still sticks with me, as well.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.

March 23, 2010

I have felt it all along, and today it was confirmed. The agency said Sveta is a true orphan. Her mother died and her father is "out of the picture". The Russian government has searched for the father since 2005, and he has not come forward. So, since she has not been claimed, she is officially an orphan. When we started this adoption process, and I was asked by family and friends about Sveta’s background and her possibly being "damaged" from neglect, I told everyone that I can see into her soul through her sweet hazel eyes. I said that I thought she looked like she had a "sweet soul", but that I see a sadness in her eyes. Sure enough, with the death of her mother, there is indeed sadness, and she has to be grieving the loss. I pray that her mother was loving and they had a tight relationship. That would mean that Sveta will be a little more "whole" in life I think. If she had been neglected by her mother, that could cause worse scars- -a feeling of why wasn’t I ever loved or why didn’t (or couldn’t) my mother love me? (I must be a terrible kid if my mother didn’t love me.) Instead, Sveta likely knows of love, and the death of her mother was out of her control.

I would be lying however if I didn’t feel a little scared after getting this update. Will she look at me and tell me that I will never be her mother, because she already had a mother? Will she fear forgetting her mother and act out towards me, because she feels I’m trying to be a replacement? I know the answer to these questions… it’s all possible. BUT we WILL get through it, and no matter what, she will be loved and cared for. I will find strategies to let her know I’m not trying to replace her birth mother, perhaps I can tell her I want to be her "American" mother because no one could ever replace her Russian mother. I don’t know… I will talk with the therapists and see what they recommend. We will say and do whatever is best for Sveta.

I went to get my passport today, so that was progress. It should be here in 4-6 weeks. It’s hard to believe we may be visiting our girl in late July, early August. That is- -if all the paperwork goes through smoothly and Russia invites us to come meet her. Now that we have confirmation that Sveta’s birthday is July 31, 2000, I would love it if we could be there for her birthday!
Today it’s not scripture getting me through, but it’s a song…

Mighty to Save
Jesus, he can move the mountains, my God is mightly to save, he is mighty to save.
Forever, author of salvation, he rose and conquered the grave, Jesus conquered the grave.

Bryansk Home

Bryansk Home
My two favorite colors together seem to be common in Bryansk homes.