Saturday, December 29, 2012

Refocusing

         I have so many mixed emotions right now, but one thing is for sure....there are way too many contradicting, unreliable sources floating around about this situation and I am going to attempt to stop reading them.  There is a verse in Philippians that reminds us not to be anxious about anything (Philippians 4:6-8).  This verse has been on my mind and given to me as a reminder, but I think that I have often overlooked the significance of the final verse.  Verse eight reminds us to focus our thoughts on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.  God doesn't just say not to be anxious, he tells us what to focus our minds on!  Reading the hundreds of articles of speculation and finding hope in some and discouragement in others does not seem to fit into the list above.  The only thing I can think of that would qualify is the word of God.  I have made myself a nice little word document of scriptures to read and keep my mind focused instead.

        Today there seemed to be some hope that we were one of six families who would be allowed to complete our adoptions as we have already had our court dates.  Now it seems that is not the case, and that these six families are those whose 30 day wait period will finish prior to January 1st.  I have never been a fan of roller coasters and I am going to remove myself from any unecessary rides here.  When I hear some official news, I will share it....but in the meantime I will keep my focus on the one who is ultimately in complete control. And I will continue to pray without ceasing.

        These past few days have taught me a valuable lesson.  I should be living my entire life with this type of complete dependence on God.  This state of helplessness and literal waiting at His feet is where I should always be.  I also find myself wondering if on a larger scale, we as many nations of this world are where God wants us.....coming together in prayer for His children.  I have read hundreds of comments from passionate Russian citizens who are just as heartbroken at the ramifications of this law and the people behind it.  They offer such sweet encouragement and support, and are joining in prayer with us.  I have read comments from people all over the world who are praying that God would intervene.  These precious, innocent children are being brought to the attention of millions and are being held up in prayer by people around the world. 

        I am so grateful for all of the prayers for our family, our precious son, and all of the other children and families involved.  At this point we will likely not hear any news until after January 8th as everything in Russia shuts down for their holiday starting today.  In the meantime, we will continue to prepare for our trip and for the homecoming of our son in expectation of what God will do. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Praying Without Ceasing....


    I lift my eyes up to the hills, where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.  Psalm 121:1-2

     The day we had our court hearing to make the adoption official was the day this entire mess hit the papers in Russia.  At the time it seemed that because our adoption was technically official and we were congratulated on being parents, that we would not be affected.  I felt physically sick about the implications of the potential ban for other families, but most of all for the hundreds of thousands of orphans who may be denied a loving family.  Day by day it has come closer to reality and it seems that the goal is to prevent even one more child from leaving the country.  Even those of us who have had court hearings may be denied the right to bring our children home….what should be is not what is.

     I struggled so much with accepting this journey in the beginning….and now here I am fighting for it with everything I have.  For the first time in my life I have 100% fully felt led by God from day one of this journey…..this was not my idea, it was His….and He was so persistent in showing me that this was His plan.  For the first time I feel like we were obedient to a call that was completely out of our hands and beyond our control.  I wouldn’t trade a moment of this journey for anything and I am so thankful that He has been patient with us as we learn what it truly means to follow Him. 

    Knowing that God called us to this and that He knew that this would happen leaves us once again without control, at the feet of a God who is Sovereign and loves this little boy more than we could even fathom.  My heart aches and my stomach is in knots…..I don’t think this is a lack of faith, nor do I believe that God expects a peace or trust that doesn’t “feel.”  I think He feels it more than I do.  His call was for us to follow, and His promise is to be there to guide us and equip us….not a promise that everything would go as we would hope or expect.

     I serve a God that parted a sea, raised the dead, heals the sick, rose again and is bigger than any situation I may find impossible.  I KNOW that He can move mountains to bring this adoption to completion.  I also know that we as sinful creatures each have our own free will and, as we have seen too frequently lately, that often has devastating consequences on those around us.  I often wonder how many times, when situations could have, almost were, or may have been devastating, God has intervened and shielded us from extreme consequences and suffering.  When does it end?  I fully believe he CAN change this situation and I wholeheartedly pray that He will.  Now more than ever, these children need our prayers…..please join with us as we pray according to God’s word.  That we, and other families, can continue to follow the call to care for the orphans (James 1:27), and defend the cause of the fatherless (Isaiah 1:17).

          “I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart.  And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.  So don’t be troubled or afraid.”  John 14:27

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Second Trip - Part II

         For a variety of reasons it was near impossible to keep up with these blogs as I did on the first trip.  There was only one more day, however, as our time on this trip was short!  Our final day was priceless.

         When we arrived at the baby home Levi was still eating as he had slept late.  In addition, the meeting room was being used so we were left in limbo waiting for them to find a place for us and waiting for Levi to be ready to play!  This ended up being a blessing because I was able to ask some questions and obtain some information that I hadn't thought would be possible.  In the end we were able to meet in the regular room, however we were sharing it with various workers who were decorating for Christmas.  It was really sweet how much time and care they put into decorating and although we couldn't understand what they were saying, it was clear that they each had their own opinions about how things should be done and what looked best; it was quite funny!

         They brought Levi in and when he saw us he got so excited, he was physically shaking his arms around and squealing.....and then he reached out for me!  We enjoyed our last couple of hours with him and he seemed to enjoy himself as well!  He loved the Christmas decorations, and all of the attention since there were so many adults in one room and just him!

        The rest of our time there was wonderful, some of which I can not share, but thank you all so very much for your prayers.  I really have thought on so many occasions, how blessed we are to have so many people supporting us and praying for us.  The first trip was so smooth that I kept waiting for something to happen...some road block or struggle.  This time, as things became more official, I could see that the enemy was trying harder to wreak havoc.....just thinking quickly I could list several things that seemed to work against us initially, but that all worked out in the end.  They may not all seem so monumental, but they were reminders that God was with us and that He had everything worked out...from the very beginning.  Here's just a few.....

* Caleb started with a fever and chest cold the day before we left.  He had never complained about his chest hurting in the past and this worried me.  I hated to leave him at all, never mind when he was sick.....he ended up with the flu, but my parents and doctor took great care of him and he definitely had a great week!  Knowing this, I had peace about being away from him.
* Our seats weren't together on both of our 9+ hour flights.  All I could envision was my getting sick as I did on the first trip with a stranger who didn't speak my language next to me.  I of course was still inclined to worry for some reason......both times they ended up being able to change our seats. (and I never once got sick)
* We didn't receive the email, but our facilitator had sent an email saying she may be late or not make it to the airport because there was a blizzard in her region and she didn't think there would be a train or bus to get her to us!  This would have left us in a very difficult situation without being able to communicate with anyone at the airport.....she was panicked and we had not the least concern about arriving there since we didn't know about this issue!......she was there when we arrived and had been able to get a train ticket.
*  We would have been able to at least recognize our driver had our facilitator not come, but he became sick and cancelled......Thankfully he suggested a replacement who was able to drive us for the week with such short notice.
* I didn't have an important document at one of our meetings.....but they processed our paperwork regardless.

 
           "For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your  
              faithfulness reaches to the skies."  Psalm 108:4

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Second Trip - Part I

               (Tried posting this several times, but the internet wasn't allowing me access to this page so hopefully this works!)

 

   It’s fascinating to me that coming here for only the second time has seemed so normal….as if it were part of our ordinary routine.  It’s as if we have just picked up where we left off.  We visited a store today that we had briefly went to during our first trip and the woman asked how long we were staying…she thought it was quite a long time we were spending here.  I suppose people don’t usually travel to another country twice within a couple of months, so she reasonably assumed we had never left…..and that is sort of how it has felt to me.

    This trip has seemed so condensed and a bit more chaotic…but that was to be expected given the length of time we are staying and all that had to be done.  We arrived Sunday night and were able to go to see Levi first thing Monday morning.  There was a music class being held in the room we typically meet in so we spent our time in the Director’s office.  At first I thought we were having a meeting and then they brought him in!  He didn’t seem to remember us as I had hoped he would…..he clung to his caregiver as she tried to hand him to Luke, but as soon as he came he seemed to relax.  Oh he is so precious and my heart went out to him….we really are still strangers and as exciting as all of this is for us, it is scary for him.  But it didn’t take long and he was enjoying himself again.  He sure does love to play and is entertained with the same toys and games for all of the hours we spend with him.  We brought a mirror toy this time as we were told he may never have seen himself, and that was quite the hit!  He would look at us in the mirror and then look up at us in person, as if trying to figure this out.  We built towers with some blocks which we taught him to knock down and he got quite a kick out of that.  Books were only good for chewing on and I noticed four teeth had come in since we last saw him.  We tried holding his hands and helping him to walk, but he much preferred doing it on his own….holding onto the couch and walking back and forth between us, pulling up and sitting down over and over again.  It is such a joy to watch him figure things out….I love to just sit and watch his face as he seems to process what we are doing and then tries to imitate us....so precious!

    Court was scheduled in the afternoon, and I suppose I have a very “movie-like” image of what court should be, because it was nothing like what I expected.  We separately answered a few questions and signed our names in an office, waited for our facilitator to take care of some aspects and then it was official!  As with almost every major part of this journey…it feels surreal.  I think that having to wait 30 days for the court decree to go into effect and not being able to bring him with us, has some bearing on that….but soon enough it will be as real as it can be and I cannot wait!

   Our time has been dependent on when we can meet with various officials or offices to obtain adoption and birth certificates, take care of passports etc.  Fortunately we were able to spend a couple of hours with him again this afternoon and this time he smiled when he saw us and was rearing to go!  He was a busy little guy for most of the afternoon…..and then as it usually goes he suddenly feels worn out and just wants to cuddle….no complaints here!  He has the funniest facial expressions and has really started to use his voice in a way that lets you know what he thinks. 

   We will be able to spend the morning with him tomorrow, the afternoon will be more paperwork and then we head back home!  This time it’s a little easier, knowing we will be back so soon, and for the final time.

 

   There is one more thing I’d like to share…..yesterday on the day we made this adoption final, there was an article in the newspaper here declaring that there may be a ban on American’s adopting from Russia.  Obviously we were thanking God that this will not affect us since we have already had our court date….but I felt physically sick at the thought of the many other families who are in the midst of this process and may be affected, as well as for the hundreds of thousands of orphans here that so need a loving family.  Nothing is concrete at this point, but the reason behind the ban is even more disturbing (I have copied and pasted a brief article below regarding the situation).  The reason I share this is to ask that you join me in praying for this situation, for the families trying to bring little ones into their families, and for the future of these orphans who are just so precious!

 

NCFA Responds to Possible Russian Ban of Intercountry Adoptions to the U.S

Russian Parliament Proposes Ban in Retaliation for the Magnitsky Act; International Politicking Would Force Orphaned Children to Pay the Price

December 18, 2012 – Alexandria, VA – Legislation has been introduced in the Russian Parliament that would ban intercountry adoptions with the United States.

This radical amendment to the Dima Yakovlev Law was proposed as retaliation against U.S. passage of the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, a bill that imposes sanctions against Russian officials perceived by the U.S. to be guilty of human rights violations in Russia. Among the sanctions is a prohibition on Russian criminals visiting the United States.

This threatened ban on intercountry adoption comes after years of discussion between Russia and the United States to address areas of needed reform, strengthen protections and increase accountability, and better serve adopted children and adoptive families. Recent negotiations resulted in a bilateral agreement between Russia and the U.S., which went into effect on November 1, 2012.

“Orphaned children could become collateral damage in this round of international politicking,” says Chuck Johnson, president and CEO of the National Council For Adoption. “The proposed Russian amendment is a punitive, excessive, and highly unfortunate reaction to a U.S. policy that has absolutely nothing to do with intercountry adoption. The opposition of some Russian politicians to the Magnitsky Act, which prevents Russian human rights violators from entering the U.S., should not threaten the possibility of adoption for orphaned and vulnerable Russian children. NCFA and other U.S. adoption advocates are pleading with Russian officials to do the right thing for the more than 700,000 children currently living in institutions in Russia who deserve loving families of their own.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin, while displeased with the Magnitsky Law, promised an “adequate and not excessive” response. “Banning intercountry adoption is excessive,” says Johnson. “Russian orphans are counting on their President to hear their voices.”

Download a PDF of this statement here >>

Lauren M. Koch
Director of Development and Communications
National Council For Adoption

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Glimpse of the Beginning....

          Today I received another exciting update.  The unexpectedness with which we receive updates makes each feel like such a gift!  Our tentative travel dates have us bringing home our little boy by the end of January!  It's hard to imagine that in a month and a half he will actually be home....to stay.

           As if that wasn't enough, our facilitator shared with us that Levi has been making tremendous progress developmentally since our time with him. Both the baby home director and the social worker agree, and say the personal attention he received during our time with him as well as the delay of a second surgery and his ability to have time to heal, have all contributed to this.  They say he is very expressive with all of his caretakers once again, that he is babbling and walking with support.  I can't help but be reminded of the concerned consideration that we possibly seek another referral when I hear of his progress.  A few small factors have contributed so greatly to his benefit and progress....I cannot wait to spend the next weeks, months and years loving on this sweet boy and watching him thrive. 

           These dates, plans of a final trip, word of his progress, and a fast approaching court date all offer me a glimpse into the end of the adoption process and the beginning of life as a family of four...although at times it has seemed long and drawn out, it is at the same time hard to believe that it has almost been a year.  We officially signed the papers to begin this adoption on January 18, 2012 and his court decree with come into legal effect on January 17, 2013.  Words can't express my anticipation for that day and those that follow.....