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