What’s Next?

October 27, 2009

I’ve been sitting here staring at the blank screen of my computer for the last few minutes, wondering how in the world to summarize the most life changing week I’ve ever experienced. There are so many emotions swirling around in my heart and I can’t seem to land on just one. I feel like I move in and out of gratitude, excitement, anticipation, pain, frustration and longing.

We had an amazing rest of the week in Russia. Each day, we learned more and more about our little man. Each day he became more comfortable with us as we caught glimpses into his personality and his heart. He is a sweet, funny, curious little boy who functions best when things are in order around him (sounds a lot like his papa).

By the second day, our little guy was feeding us goldfish and staring deep into our eyes trying to figure out who these strange people were. The third day, he was exploring the room and looking back at me to make sure I was still there. He would go get a little toy to play with and immediately come back and sit on Steve’s lap without even being asked. He knew where he belonged.

kissy

By our last day, when the door opened and he walked in the room, his eyes lit up and a smile spread across his face as he made his way over to papa for a hug. I replay each hour of the time we spent with him over and over in my head, savoring each moment, each smile, each giggle, each connection. It all went by too quickly.

As soon as our family time would begin, it would feel like only seconds before the caretaker would knock on the door and he would be taken away. I often wonder what he must have thought. He was told that we were mama and papa and that we were coming back for him, but I don’t know if his little 2 year old mind comprehends what that means.

Who are these people who bring me goldfish and hug me and kiss me all the time? Who are these people who eye’s light up when they see me? Who are these people who left tears on my shoulder when I saw them the last time?

My prayer is that he would hold us in his heart, that as he looks at the picture album we gave him of pictures of us playing with him and smiling with him, that he would find comfort and somehow know in his little heart that we will be back…soon.

On the last day, the orphanage medical director (who helped us piece together our little guy’s story) asked, “do you have any more questions?”  I said, “can we take him home now?” She smiled and said…”I wish you could.”

Thank you for continuing to pray. There is still so much to be done before this process is over. Right now, we are beginning some more paperwork that is needed for the court, but couldn’t be done until we officially accepted him. So, we will begin that, along with updating some other expired paperwork.

While this is happening, our facilitator in our region is sending our formal adoption request to Moscow. It takes about 1 month for this to become official. Once it is official, and all of our paperwork is in, it will be presented to the judge in our region. Our facilitator thinks that will happen at the end of November. That is when we will be given an official court date.

Since Christmas in Russia is in January, it looks like our court date will either be sometime at the end of January or in February. We are still praying for a miracle, and asking that you would too. But, also realizing that the reality is that it will probably be February before we go back. So, that is where we are in the process and why it will take so long.

Steve describes what we are feeling very well. He says that before Russia, we were experiencing the pain of silence. Day after day we wondered if we would ever get “the call”. We wondered if we would ever go to Russia…if we would ever meet our child. And now, we are experiencing the pain of separation.

We love our son more than we ever thought we could and we miss him more than we ever thought we could.

I know he is being fed, and has a warm place to sleep. He gets a bath and interacts with his other little friends and caretakers. But, we were made to have intimate relationships with each other. And he was made to have a mommy and daddy. Someone to whisper “I love you” in his ear when he is sad or afraid. Someone to claim him as their own. Someone to say, “he’s MINE.”

We are so happy to say that, “He is ours. God has given him to us.” My prayer is that he would know that in his heart even now. My prayer is that he would know, that of all of the children in the whole world, God set him aside for us.

We were trying to come up with a tangible way to show our little guy when he gets home that he was in our hearts. So, we bought this jar and each night we go into his room and pray for him. When we finish praying, we put a marble in the jar. By the time he comes home forever, he will see this jar and be reminded that even though we were apart, his heart was close to ours as we brought him to the Lord.

marble jar

A good friend reminded me  of the truth that God is the defender of the weak and that He comforts those in need. Our prayer is that God will be our little man’s defender and comforter when we cannot be there for him at this time.

There are so many stories and memories, and we will take time over the next couple of months to share those with you. Thanks for continuing with us!

Updates:

  • we need to finalize some paperwork then it’s back to more waiting
  • In the meantime, we stare at the pictures and videos we have of our little guy to help hold us over

Prayer Requests:

  • pray that our son would make the connection that the people in his picture book are his parents and they are coming back for him
  • pray that the caretakers would love him and treat him well until we come back to get him

Until next Monday, love Kate and Steve

At Last

October 20, 2009

Wow.  I’m not even sure that I have the words, or even that there are words to describe our day today. Because of how we are updating the blog, we will have to keep this post shorter, but when we get home, we’ll have plenty of time to fill you in on all of the details of our time in Russia.

This morning, we went to the orphanage. It is about a 45 minute drive from our host family’s house. We drove through a lot of countryside before finally reaching a small village.

As we pulled up to the orphanage, I could feel my heart pounding out of its chest. This is it. This is the moment we’ve been waiting for praying for, thinking about. We walked inside and up the stairs of this very clean building. We proceeded into the office of the orphanage doctor. She was very kind and shared a lot of our little guy’s story with us. We had all of our questions answered.

Suddenly there was a knock on the door. Before we had a chance to prepare,  in walked a caretaker with our precious little one following right behind. He had on these cute little denim overalls with a sweater underneath. His big beautiful eyes met ours and I knelt down and wrapped my arms around him.

meeting our little guy for the 1st time (we're not allowed to show his face)

meeting our little guy for the 1st time (we're not allowed to show his face)

He curiously looked around and we started playing right away with his new little Tonka truck. We were then instructed to move to a private room for some “family time” with him. And that began the greatest hour of my life.

He is the sweetest little darling. Once he got used to us, Steve picked him up way over his head and then brought him down and kissed his neck and he just laughed and laughed. He had the biggest smile and sweetest giggle. He loved to be held and cuddled and kissed.

I carried him around the room and sang pop goes the weasel. He thought that was the funniest thing. He would just look at me and we’d start laughing so hard together. We put him down to see if he wanted to gravitate towards the toys or the banana that we had been feeding him, but he just walked right over to Steve for some more cuddles. It was absolutely precious.

We can’t wait to see him tomorrow. We are praying for more of the same. God has blown us away with His goodness and we attribute that to His lovingkindness and your prayers. Please keep the prayers coming. We sense them and are watching them come alive right before our eyes. God is good. He is faithful. And we are overwhelmed with blessing…much more than we could have asked for or imagined.

Updates:

  • we get to see our little guy again tomorrow, this time after lunch
  • We will update our twitter feed as many times as we can

Prayer Requests:

  • that we would continue to bond with our little man!!!

More to come: twitter.com/goingtorussia

Love, Kate & Steve

It’s Happening

October 13, 2009

It’s absolutely amazing to think that one week from today, we will be in Russia, meeting our son for the first time. It feels so crazy to even write that out in a sentence. We’ve been in this waiting time for so long, this desert land of wonder and desperation and now here we are, 5 days away from stepping onto a plane for an adventure that will change our lives forever.

We’ve ordered our visas, purchased our plane tickets, and purchased gifts/toys for our little man. This whole week has felt so surreal. My emotions have piqued on almost every level. I’ve experienced excitement like I have never felt, love like I have never felt, and nervousness like I have never felt.

The overall state of my heart is that I feel absolutely blessed. When I look at the picture of this little guy, our son to be, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I think I have memorized every eyelash, tried to count every hair on his little head, stared deep into his beautiful eyes in search of what he must be thinking.

I never knew I could fall so in love with a picture. But, it’s more than a picture. He’s our son. (I know, not officially, we are still a few months away from that). But, he is the one we’ve been waiting for. I can’t wait to see him face to face. I can’t wait for him to be able to look into my eyes and wonder what I must be thinking. I can’t wait to watch him try to figure us out. I can’t wait for him to see our eyes light up when we see him for the first time. I can’t wait to hear his first laugh, see his first smile, comfort him when he cries the first time in front of me.

I know all of these things may not happen on the first trip. I’m trying to set my expectations. I feel like I have this flood of love stored up that I just want to pour all over him, but I do have to remember that to him, we are just strangers. For him, he will wake up on Monday morning like any other day. He’ll eat his breakfast the same way he does every morning…

Then all of a sudden 2 people who speak a different language, people who he doesn’t recognize, are going to walk into his life. How scary that may be for him. So, I’m praying that God will show me how to show him all the love I have for him in my heart, without overwhelming him. That may be through a simple smile or a hug. But, we are trusting that God, as He has been this entire journey, will go before us and prepare the way for our family.

Here is what our upcoming schedule will look like:

This Saturday afternoon we will fly out of Cleveland and arrive in St. Petersburg, Russia some time the next day. From there, representatives from our agency will pick us up and drive us another 4 hours to our region. It is 7 hours ahead of east coast time.

On Monday, we will wake up and head to orphanage!!!

Tuesday through Thursday we will get to go visit the orphanage every day. We will be staying at a wonderful woman’s house who will prepare meals for us, take us around the town and be at our side. We are already so grateful for her.

Thursday night we will head back to St. Petersburg.

Friday we plan on spending the day touring St. Petersburg. We will hopefully see the Hermitage and many of the other beautiful places that St. Petersburg is famous for.

Early Saturday morning we will hop back on a plane and fly back to the states. If all goes according to plan we should be back in Cleveland Saturday evening. Pray for our hearts to be strengthened as I’m sure it will be so difficult to say goodbye to our little guy.

We so appreciate your prayers. We have been overwhelmed this week by all of the amazingly encouraging comments, emails, phone calls, hugs, letters. We feel so strong knowing that we have so many people who are praying with us and for us as we take this next step!!

Updates:

  • all of our visa paperwork is filed and we expect to receive them in the mail Tuesday or Wednesday
  • friends of ours who have recently adopted from Pskov have been providing us with wisdom and encouragement that is so invaluable as we prepare for our trip. It has been so awesome.
  • Here we go! We leave Saturday 🙂

Prayer Requests:

  • please pray for our flight – that we would have no delays, connection problems, lost luggage, that we’d get some sleep, and for my fears of flying
  • for our times at the orphanage, that we would ask good questions to the workers and that our time with our little one would be priceless
  • for our hearts as we get ready to step out into a huge unknown – so many emotions, we just need lots of prayer 🙂

Exciting times! We are so grateful for all of you who are walking with us through this life changing season. It is an awesome journey.

We don’t know what the internet situation is going to be like once we get in Russia. So we started this TWITTER account, that Steve is hoping to update from his phone. We’ll see. Love, Kate & Steve.

BIG NEWS!!!

October 6, 2009

Friday afternoon, I was going about my daily business. I had just finished running some errands and walked in the door when my cell phone rang. If you have seen me the past few weeks, you would think that my cell phone was surgically connected to my palm because I didn’t want it out of my sight, in hopes of “the call”.

So, Friday at 1:45, my phone rings. I look and see that it is an 828 area code, which is the area code of our agency. “Oh my goodness..this is it.” I answer the phone, my voice shaking, “hello?”. “Kate, this is Anya, I have some information for you about your adoption.” We finally got our referral call! I asked her if she could call back in about 15 minutes because I wanted Steve and I to be together and she agreed.

So, I raced as fast as a law-abiding citizen could, up to Steve’s office. He was out to lunch with some of his coworkers when I called him and said, “Anya called. This is it. I’m coming to your office.” So, he raced back and met me there.

We paced back and forth for a few minutes waiting, waiting, waiting…and then the phone rings. We  answer on speaker phone to the sound of our good friend, Ben. He is the one who works at CWA that we were friends with from North Carolina. He was the one who was our connection to the agency and he and his wife, Brooke have been encouragements along the journey.

Ben said, “I’m looking at a picture of your son.” Tears, laughter, disbelief. “And I do have to say he’s a handsome little fella.” HE!!!! “Congratulations”, he said.

Kate listening to the good news on speaker phone

Kate listening to the good news on speaker phone

And then our case manager made him leave so we could have a confidential conversation. I honestly don’t remember much of what she said after that. All I could think about was that this was the day we had been waiting for for so long and it is finally here!

Towards the end of the conversation she said, “Well, I’m sure you want to get off the phone so I can send you a picture of the little one.” I laughed. Yes!! So we hung up and Steve and I anxiously watched my yahoo inbox go from no new messages to 1 new message. We opened up the email and attached was a picture. Hands shaking, we clicked, “download attachment.” And we waited.

the picture has finally arrived!

the picture has finally arrived!

Then there, before us, staring right into our eyes was THE MOST precious little guy we have ever seen. Our breaths were literally taken away. Tears filled our eyes and we were speechless. In that moment time stood still, and in that moment that time that we have been waiting seemed priceless and so worth it.  We are in love. We are trying to guard our hearts because we know there is still a lot to take place in order for everything to be finalized, but we couldn’t help but give our hearts away because he has so taken ours.

Steve seeing our son for the first time

Steve seeing our son for the first time

We printed out his picture and I carry him around with me wherever I go. The paper is already worn from me just looking at him and squishing his cute little chubby cheeks with my fingers. We immediately called an international adoption clinic located right here in Akron. They are doctors who specialize in looking over international referrals and giving their thoughts and opinions. We called and asked to make an appointment.

They told us that the doctor was leaving on Monday for Ethiopia, but they were so excited for us that they said they would come to the office on Saturday morning to have an appointment. We were so grateful. So, we met with a doctor on Saturday morning at 8:30 and she had such wonderful things to say about our little guy. She said he looked great!

This morning, we officially told our case manager that we would like to move forward and meet him! A few hours later she called us with our travel dates. We will be leaving on October 17th. So, here we go!

CWA has been so awesome and helpful and encouraging. So, over the next 2 weeks we will be making traveling arrangements, applying for our visas, hopefully getting our visas, getting our little guy some toys, and withdrawing some fresh money from the bank…This is the craziness we have SO been looking forward to! I love it!

My mom keeps saying how cute it is to think that our little guy is just going about his daily business, having no idea than in just 2 short weeks he is going to meet his parents and his life, and ours, will be changed forever.

My heart is overwhelmed with gratitude and awe and excitement. When I look at him, I think…God knows. Already, He has given us more than we could have asked or imagined and we can’t wait to continue to watch more of His blessings pour into our lives from our little guy.

Thanks for sticking with us this far – now we get to experience the fun part together!

We will keep you posted and hopefully next week, we will be able to be a little more specific with our travel itinerary, and then the week after that, will be a post from beautiful RUSSIA!!!

Updates:

  • this is it! Things are finally moving for us!
  • due to security reasons, we cannot post the child’s picture or name, until after the adoption is finalized

Prayer Requests:

  • please pray that we would get prepared to leave in these next 2 weeks
  • pray for the health of our little boy, & that his heart would be ready for us

Until next Monday, love Kate and Steve 🙂