St. Pete

July 28, 2008

We are so excited to tell you all that we have been assigned a “region” of where our little baby’s orphanage will be. It is in the city of St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg is on the west coast of Russia – on the gulf of Finland. It is the second largest city in Russia and it is the home of the famous Hermitage and St. Peter’s castles. We are so excited to be able to tell our little baby, (we are calling him or her “St. Pete” for now) that they come from a rich & cultural heritage.

We went to Border’s bookstore last night and looked into all of the travel books to get a feel of St. Petersburg, the sights and the culture of the people there. It definitely made it seem “real”. It seems like the people of Russia are very hospitable and they love inviting guests into their homes for meals. This excites us because we love going to people’s homes for meals ☺ If you have any information or have ever been to St. Petersburg, we are wanting to be as informed as possible, so any insight or references would be awesome!

Because we now know our region, we can also begin our “dossier” – which is a term for all of the paperwork that we will send over to Russia so they can approve us to adopt one of their children. These documents include passports, marriage license, and all kinds of papers to sign get notarized. They even want pictures of Steve and me in all of the different rooms of our home (so they can see where the baby will live). It is exciting to embark on this next big step. Once all of those papers are completed, they will get translated into Russian and then be sent over to Russia to gain approval.

We also are in the process of raising our second big “chunk” of money for agency fees – we are trying to raise $10,500. This will include the second half of our agency fee ($2500), $1000 for translating our paperwork into Russian and then half of our international fee ($7000). Once we can raise that money, we can send in our paperwork to Russia and then wait on the approval. Upon receiving approval, Russia will then send us “referrals” which is a name and picture of our potential child!

I hate that this whole process right now is a lot about finances. But, we knew coming in that this would be the reality of our situation. We knew that God was going to have to provide the $40,000, which is the total of what we need to raise. We also have seen how He has been using people to do this. We are honestly so grateful and please know that we absolutely cannot do this without you.  At times the task seems impossible, but we know that God is a big God.

Updates:

  • This past week we sent in the immigration approval for our child. We are now waiting on the government to receive those documents and approve us.
  • We have been fingerprinted – the last step for our homestudy. We are now just waiting for it all to be processed by Christian World Adoption.
  • We continue to receive financial gifts for our agency and personal fees. We are so grateful for both.

Prayer Requests:

  • Please continue to pray for God’s financial provision as we move into the next step of the adoption
  • Pray for the orphanages in St. Petersburg, Russia – and the child God has set aside for us
  • Pray for wisdom and speed on the part of both the US government and Russian, so our papers can be dealt with quickly

Thanks so much for journeying with us. We hope to report more great news next Monday!

Kate & Steve

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One Step Closer

July 21, 2008

Wow. A lot has happened in a week. I’m not quite sure where or how to begin, so forgive me if things seem a little jumbled.

My parents came to visit us from North Carolina for a few days. We always have such a great time when we are together. We had some really good talks about the adoption process, like what we’re excited about, what we’re scared about, etc. I’m so glad that I have parents that we can have these conversations with – they bring such support, while at the same time realistic expectations to this process. I can’t wait for them to be grandparents – I already know they are going to be amazing. They are some of the most loving people I know, and I honestly believe that God has prepared them and gifted them to be grandparents of an internationally adopted child. They are so loving and unassuming. I just can’t wait!!!

We also received some more great news about our finances. Both our agency and personal fees are consistently multiplying. God is blowing our minds with how He is choosing to provide. Like we say often, we don’t know how much people give, but we know who gives. We recently discovered recently that one of the high school students from our church has contributed to our personal fees. This student donated out of their own checking account, in a sacrificial way. Wow. When I found this out, it brought me to tears – God has put amazing people in our lives, both old and young…and we are grateful for each of you who have given financially and with your prayers and encouragement. God continues to remind us that we cannot do this alone!!

This morning, we had a phone meeting with our newly assigned case manager from CWA. Her name is Fiona, and already we have seen how helpful and encouraging she is going to be for us. She walked us through all of the steps in the adoption process. She also asked us questions about our hopes and desires for our child. She then informed us that in the next few days we are going to find out the region in Russia our baby will be adopted from. The more details we receive, the more “real” this process actually feels. Our region will be determined based on our desired age and gender of the baby as well as which orphanages will be able to meet those desires. We are so excited and praying that God will give CWA wisdom as they make this decision. We can’t wait to find out and learn everything we can about the region. We’ll let you know as soon as we do!!

Fiona was also very encouraging about the money that has been donated to us. She said that at the rate we’re going, we’ll have our baby in our arms in no time. “Have our baby in our arms”…I love to sit in that thought and picture what it will be like. I’m not naïve enough to know that there won’t be frustrations and potentially very difficult transitions that both the baby and Steve and I will have to make. But, the thought of holding the baby that God has for us – our baby – in my arms, kissing him/her on their little forehead and telling him/her over and over again that they are safe, loved and valued is a picture that I never want to forget about in this process of paperwork and waiting. Thanks so much for sharing in this journey with us. As I said before, we truly could not even imagine this without you!!

Updates:

  • more great donations coming into personal and agency fees! Thanks so much
  • We will be filling out and turning in our immigration approval paperwork for our baby this week
  • We are going tonight to go get our fingerprints – the final step for our home study to be completed

Prayer Requests:

  • That God will direct CWA right to the region in Russia where our child will be
  • For comfort and a supernatural peace for the birth mother – to know that her baby will be loved unconditionally
  • We will have wisdom with filling out paperwork
  • That God will continue to stir in people’s hearts to give financially as we continue to strive towards the needed amount of money

Until next Monday, Kate & Steve

Rejoicing

July 14, 2008

It was Friday afternoon, I checked my email as I always do, and I had an email from Tracy, the finacial person at CWA. She writes me every Friday to update me on where we are finacially with our agency fees. I really wasn’t expecting anything. Over the past week, God had really been reminding me that this whole adoption is still HIS.

Trusting in His provision through people is a tough balance. It is easy to put my hope and faith in people, in their resources. But, what God has showed me over the last week is that it really does come back to Him and how HE stirs in the hearts of people to give and how much to give. And if I trust Him, He will provide in the most unlikely of ways…really so the glory can go back to Him as He reminds me that He will do more than I could ask or imagine.

So, back to the email. It read, “Congratulations, Kate. You now have enough money to go on to the next phase of the adoption process.” I couldn’t believe it. Just last week, we were nowhere NEAR what we needed. As you can imagine, I was absolutely ecstatic! I ran to tell Steve and was trying to play a trick on him to tell him that we still didn’t have any money, but, if you know me, you know I’m a bad liar and I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I had a smile that I couldn’t wipe off…and I began dancing around the house. So, Steve obviously knew it was something good.

The cool thing is that Steve told me that on that morning, he woke up at 4am with an urge to pray that God would provide the money this week. So, we give Him the praise. Since we now have enough to go to the next step with CWA, we were given access to an online planner that details every single step of our journey of adoption. It was overwhelming to say the least. But, we are so thankful for this agency – I can’t imagine trying to figure all of this out on my own! Our next step is to begin to apply for immigration and a visa for our child. And from there it’s lots of paper work, notaries, official documents, more money and then more waiting.

While Steve and I were eating lunch today, we figured out that we now have 1/8 of the adoption paid for. It is exciting to see how far we’ve come and scary to think about how much more we have ahead. But, this week, we feel God has given us a gift of encouragement and hope to go on. It’s been a reminder that He is in control and $40,000 is nothing to Him. We are excited to see how God continues to provide.

As you know, we never know how much someone gives, but we are told who gives…and we have been blown away by who God is using to help us in this journey. We can truly say that we have been so blessed and encouraged by such amazing support that has already been given to us through prayer, words of encouragement, and financial provision. We are so grateful!

Here are some more updates:

  • Our home study is now able to be completed because of the funds given, so we will be able to begin applying for grants and scholarships in the next month. yay!
  • Hopefully this week we will get our fingerprints done and send them off to immigration

Here are some ways to pray this week:

  • Thank God that the birth mother of our baby chose life
  • Pray for wisdom as we fill out lots of paper work
  • Pray that God would continue to stir in the hearts of people to give as HE wants them to

Until next time, Kate & Steve

Reflections on India

July 7, 2008

Well, we made it safely back from the beautiful country of India. It was an absolutely amazing time. God taught us so many things about His heart – His love for every person. We spent some time in different slums in India where a group of people called the Dalits live. In the Hindu caste system, the dalits are seen as lower than dogs – they are often referred to as “untouchables”.

We were told that at least 1500 people were living in one of the slums we visited. They were living in utter poverty. It was so overwhelming. And then, as I met person after person, they would tell me their names. God brought to my mind that He knows each of these people by name. He created them in His image, He knows the number of hairs on each of their heads…and that brought me a sense of hope. There is a song by Caedmon’s Call, a Christian band who has a heart for India. They wrote a song called “Mother India” after one of their trips there. The chorus of the song was the soundtrack in my mind as I walked through the slums of India and met and hugged some of the most beautiful people I have ever seen:

“There’s a land where our shackles turn to diamonds
Where we trade in our rags for a royal crown
In that place, our oppressors hold no power
And the doors of the King are thrown wide”

I also spent a lot of time thinking about the child we believe God has for us in Russia. There are so many children that need to have parents that love them, both in Russia and all around the world. And at times the task seems overwhelming, to the point where you wonder if helping just one is even worth it. But then I am reminded that each person on this Earth is valuable and worthy of love. God showed me on this trip His heart for orphans, His heart for loving the unlovely. And for even those children who may never experience love on this earth, “there is a land where our shackles turn to diamonds. Where we trade in our rags for a royal crown.” How I pray for that day to come quickly.

Here are some updates of our adoption:

  • We have received some special donations from family and friends and we are SO thankful!
  • We are still waiting for enough money to meet the initial agency fee to begin the process – until that fee is paid, we cannot move forward

Ways to pray:

  • That we would remain dependent on God’s timing and His provision
  • Continued prayer for the birth mother (good decisions, bonding)
  • Pray for our child, if he or she is born, that he/she would be touched and loved often by the orphanage workers
  • Pray that God would stir in hearts of people to give how He wants them to give

Until next week,

Kate & Steve