My Status

January 26, 2010

If you have a facebook account, you know that when you update your status, you are suppose to be writing “what’s on your mind?” Well, today I stared blankly at that little status update window and thought to myself, “what would it really look like if I filled in this blank honestly?” Maybe something like this: (read as fast as possible)

As my mind raced faster than ever, I asked the Lord to quiet me with His love. Deep breath. He brought to my mind and heart this verse, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God, and the peace of God, which TRANSCENDS ALL UNDERSTANDING will guard your heart and mind through Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:6-7. Another deep breath. Thank you, Jesus.

It can be very easy, in this process, to be so entrenched in the details that I forget the gift at the end of this journey. My son. This precious little boy who has stolen my heart, captured my mind and has motivated me to be the detail-oriented person that I am usually not.

This past week has been so full of planning and nervousness. I have come face to face with some of the deepest parts of my heart. I have been bringing my nervousness and fears before God and asking Him to show me what those fears really mean. In a voice that I cannot hear audibly, but one that prompts my soul, I hear Him ask, “Do you trust me? Do you really trust me?” I had to hand over to Him some of the areas of this journey that I have grasped tightly with my own hands.

Last night was the last big worship time we would have with our students before we leave for Russia. At the end of the evening, some of the youth staff came up front and said they wanted to pray for us before we left. They wanted to pray as a family, as a community.

We shared our hearts with them and gave some specific ways to pray. Then we moved all of the chairs out of the way, and sat in the middle of a huge sea of high school students. They surrounded us and began to pray. It was a beautiful moment, given to us by God. One that will forever be seared in my memory.

After the prayer, many students embraced us with hugs and encouragement. One of these students was a 16 year old girl, who just 2 years ago was adopted from Eastern Europe. She lived in an orphanage most of her life and she came up to me with tears streaming down her face. She wept in my arms, as I wept in hers. Moments later, as we were still hugging, another girl who was adopted from Africa 2 years ago as a 16 year old, joined our embrace. We all cried together.

The connection felt in that moment was one that was indescribable. For me, it was a full redemptive moment. A moment that explained so much. For without our journey down this road of adoption, my heart would never have been so compassionate for these girls. And these girls’ lives have been a gift to me, as I see first-hand the life changing impact adoption can have on a person’s life. I am humbled that He has allowed us to walk down this road.

Thank you for your constant prayers and encouragement. We need your prayers now more than ever. This is where the real fun begins!

Updates:

  • The major dates that we know are that we are leaving on Feb. 6th. Our court date is Feb. 11th.
  • We then will stay in Russia for a mandatory 10 day waiting period. We will get to visit him every day in the orphanage.
  • On Feb. 22nd, we will be able to bust him out.
  • Feb. 25th in the evening, we will travel on an overnight train to Moscow. We will arrive in Moscow Feb. 26th.
  • We will do paperwork at the US Embassy in Moscow Feb. 26-March 3rd. And we will come home March 4th.
  • This is all subject to change, but this is what we know as of now.

Prayer Requests:

  • For strength and organization as we spend these next 2 weeks preparing for our final trip to Russia
  • For our little boy, that he would somehow know we are coming for him

Until next Monday, love Kate & Steve

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News Flash

January 19, 2010

Wednesday morning began as any other. I woke up, took a shower, spent some time reading the Bible, called my mom, ate my apples with peanut butter and started on my day. I was hoping to get a call from our adoption agency regarding a court date, but I wasn’t expecting to hear anything until Friday.

It was a special day for me because a good friend and I were going to have lunch and go shopping. She is a friend from my church who I met through the adoption process. She and her husband adopted a little girl from Russia about 10 years ago and they have been a tremendous support to us through this journey. One of her stand-out memories of their adoption process was buying gifts for the different people who helped them out while they were in Russia and so she wanted to have a part in going shopping with me and buying gifts for those who will help us in Russia.

As I was leaving her house, my phone rang, but I didn’t answer it. When I got in the car to leave, I looked to see who had called. It was our adoption agency. At first I was nervous because it seemed too early to hear anything. I was afraid I would hear something like, “Kate, the judge would like to see some more paperwork before she sets a court date…”

So, I took a deep breath and called back. I heard, “Hello, Kate. Well, are you sitting down?”

“Yes,” I said, as my voice already started shaking just hearing her tone.

“Well, we have a court hearing scheduled for your son…” I started laughing, cautiously, because I still was unsure of when the court hearing would be. There was so much riding on the date because basically any date after Feb. 14th,  would require us to redo our entire home study, which would include a big chunk of money and a whole lot of time.

But, we also know that in our region, they only schedule court dates on Thursdays, so the only possibilities of a court date where we wouldn’t have to redo our home study would have either been February 4th or February 11th. It just seemed so unlikely that it would be either of those days, so I had my mind and heart somewhat adjusted to the expectation that we were going to have to redo our home study.

But either way, a court date is a court date and I was so excited! And she asked, “would you like to know when your court is scheduled?”

“Yes!”

“February 11th – which means you will not have to redo your home study.”

I started laughing and screaming while apologizing for being so loud. I was trying to take deep breaths, but every breath I took ended up in either a scream or laughter. She let me know that she would be sending me an email in the next couple of days with the trip schedule and all that we would need to get in order before we leave. We hung up the phone and I just couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face. I got home and Steve and I jumped up and down and celebrated. It was an amazingly wonderful day. A day that I never thought would actually come.

It was so beautiful because the day before, I got a call from a dear friend who said, “I want you to know that I am fasting and praying for you and for the judge and the process today and tomorrow.” Steve was with a good friend that day who also prayed for us. And when I was in my small group the night before, the women decided to take every hour through the night to pray for the judge, the facilitator and all of the people and details involved in the decision. It was an overwhelming and humbling experience to sit there among this group of 15 women and feel the love and support and desperation on our behalf.

We had come to the place in this journey where we realized that there is absolutely nothing we can do except to plead with the One who holds the keys to our journey. For whatever reason, He has chosen to grant us favor in taking the next step towards becoming a family. We are so grateful.

Every morning I wake up with thoughts of our little man. I picture him in his little room, playing in his new home. I picture him eating ice cream for the first time. I picture our trip home together. I picture him meeting his grandmas and grandpas. I picture the little things of life together. We are so excited and grateful to be in this new phase of the journey. It is crazy and exciting with lots of work and details, but it is so fun knowing how close we are to the finish line.

My heart is overflowing. God is good and He is faithful. Thank you for journeying with us. We have been overwhelmed with the love, support, encouragement and perseverance that you have had as you have walked this path with us.  We can’t wait to share more blog updates from Russia in less than a month!!

Updates:

  • we are leaving for Russia on February 6th!!!
  • we just need to secure our visas, complete a few more documents and do some doctor visits

Prayer Requests:

  • for our little boy’s heart, that it would begin getting ready for our return
  • for these next few weeks as we complete all of the necessary requirements to make our trip as smooth as possible

Here we go!!! Thanks so much for your prayers and support. Until next Monday, love Kate & Steve.

A Filled Room

January 12, 2010

I’m sitting here in our little man’s room watching Steve put up blinds and curtains while listening to the WeeSing Fun N Folk CD. Songs like “Froggie went a courtin’” and “Old Dan Tucker.” It brings back memories of being a little girl on the hammock with my mom, singing with all the neighborhood kids. We would just sing and sing all afternoon.

I’m sitting in our new glider, looking at D’s bed all decked out with a quilt, sheets and bed skirts. I look to my right and see his closet filled with precious little clothes and toys and socks and shoes. I see his little personalized comfy chair from Aunt Lyndsey and Uncle Jeff. I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

For so many years I would close the door of this room, as it was a constant reminder of the “room that was suppose to be..”. And now, this room is the room that brings me the most joy, the most hope, the most reminders of God’s goodness in our lives.

This room has been filled by the outpouring of people who have traveled this journey of adoption with us. Many of the people who helped fill this room also were the ones who gave to us financially to help support our adoption. I am so humbled.

Each night, Steve and I sit in our son’s room. We start out by just talking and dreaming and wondering what the future is going to be. What toys will he love the most? What books will we read over and over again? What will he look like in his cute little polar bear pajamas? What memories will we create in that room? Then, we pray for him.

It began with us just sitting on the floor of an empty room, with our hands resting on his crib. As each week of waiting went by, we slowly moved from a room where our voices would echo to a room slowly taking shape for our little man. We are unable to deny His goodness.

On the wall are pictures of our time with D in his orphanage. They are precious images filled with smiles and giggles, with hope and longing. They remind us that God has given us far more than we could have asked or imagined in our little man. He is so perfectly made for us.

As I reflect on God’s goodness to me, I am so thankful that my mom was in town this past week to attend a shower given to us by some wonderful friends. It was a great day filled with laughter and tears and prayers.

The men even came, which I was so grateful for. I know it’s not a “guy thing”, to go to a shower, but they were so gracious to be there and I loved having Steve by my side. We truly sense that our long and painful journey of waiting is coming to an end. Speaking of which…

This afternoon Steve and I were sitting in Starbucks when I got a called from our agency. We were told that our facilitator in Russia will be meeting with the judge on Wednesday to review our documents and hopefully set a court date. Our facilitator will push hard for a date as early as possible, maybe even the beginning of February. Or it’s possible it may not be until the end of February.

The worst case scenario would be if the judge finds something wrong with our paperwork and asks us to redo it before any court dates are set. That would prolong our waiting by months. So, I am asking that you would be praying extra prayers this week. Our region in Russia is 8 hours ahead of us, so if you are up late on Tuesday night, feel free to begin praying specifically for our facilitator. We ask for your prayers all through Wednesday morning as well.

I pray that the judge will find favor with our documents. That she will look at them and say, “oh, this is an easy one!” I pray that everyone will be in the right place at the right time to make the best decision. I pray for an early court date so that we will not have to redo our home study. Would you join me in these prayers?

I fully believe that your prayers and God’s power have sustained us in this season of waiting. I trust that these same prayers will be a part of plans working smoothly this week in Russia. As Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego once prayed, even if things don’t work out they way we planned, God is still good and worthy to be praised.

I fully believe that. Even if we do encounter the worst case scenario for this week, God is still a good, loving God who is passionate about His children. This journey  has led me to such a confident declaration.

Thank you for walking it with us. We covet your prayers and encouragement during this time of aching and longing for our little man.

Updates:

  • Wednesday is a big day as we await the word from our region’s judge
  • the clock is ticking on some important documents that will soon expire

Prayer Requests:

  • that the judge would OK our documents and set us an early court date
  • that our little man would remember us and long for us to come and get him

Until next Monday, love Kate and Steve.

Goodbye 2009

January 5, 2010

Happy 2010! We are back home in Akron after a wonderful 2 weeks with family and old friends. And as I sit here typing this, looking out our big window, I am watching the beautiful snow fall. I don’t love the cold weather, but snow is peaceful to watch and its a good reminder that seasons change.

And with the changing of seasons, comes the changing of a new year. Steve and I are back in the routine of having a weekly lunch date. We sat and talked about this past year and thought it would be fun to write about the ups and downs of 2009. So, enjoy and may they also allow you to think of your top 5 highlights of 2009 and top 5 valleys.

The Top 5 Highlights of 2009:

5) Relationships:

Through this adoption process, it has been so amazing to experience deeper relationships with people. It has been so encouraging to see our family members tear up when they think of our little man, and to smile when they see him on video.

Our church and our friends have been so unbelievably supportive and prayerful. One of our best friends have a clock in their house that is set to Moscow time and under the clock is a sign that says “Pray for D”. We could not ask for better friends.

And an unexpected blessing has been all of the new friends we have met through this blog. Many are walking or have walked the road of adoption. Many have sent emails and made phone calls, sharing  exactly what we needed to hear. Many have given no explanations, but rather share in the camaraderie of blessings and pains that accompany this unique path.

4) Baby Showers:

As I said before in an earlier blog, baby showers were always something that I had given up on when we faced the years of infertility. I had come to terms that I may never get to experience a celebration like that for me, personally. Although it was something that would always bring sadness, I had “gotten over it.”

In 2009, I was given 2 baby showers. One by friends. One by youth leaders and students in our ministry (who are also friends). These times were beautiful, redemptive moments in my life – celebrations of our family to be. They served as reminders that this adoption is actually happening, and that many people are taking this journey with us. We are so blessed.

3) God’s Provision:

Even though I know that God is in control and that He is good and faithful, there have been times along this journey where my heart and  head have not always aligned. A friend joined us today at lunch and said, “it just doesn’t seem fair.”  Many times, I’ve said those same things to God.

But it seems that when these feelings intensify the most, God sends some sort of a reminder that He does hear our cries. Maybe it is a check in the mail from a perfect stranger who heard about our adoption. Maybe it is a gift from a family member. Maybe it is a facebook message with a passage of His truth. Maybe a hug at just the right time. Maybe a blog comment that nurtures our soul. Maybe a student who feels compelled to “do something” for the orphanage.

He has provided. He has provided financially far beyond what we ever thought possible. He has provided hope and encouragement and support and love. We are so blessed.

2) The Referral Call:

This will be a day I will never forget. I will never forget waiting in Steve’s office for the email containing the picture of our little man. We opened the file and tears streamed down both of our faces. We just knew. There were no words to explain. We just knew. All of the waiting and the frustrations seemed to pass away in that moment as we sat there overcome by God’s goodness. We are so blessed.

1) The Day:

There is no other way to describe this day than “the day”. The day we met our son for the first time has no words to describe it. Because there are none big enough, beautiful enough, emotional enough, perfect enough. His curious little eyes looking deep into mine, wondering who this lady was who kept stroking his cheek. This day where Steve got our little man to laugh in a way that I’m sure had been stored up for many years. It was an amazing day. A hopeful day. A wonderous, glorious day. We are so blessed.

Top 5 valleys of 2009

5) Documents and paperwork:

Hundreds of dollars spent on probably hundreds of documents and copies sent to Columbus, Ohio – to North Carolina – to South Carolina – to Russia. I have seriously become friends with the County notary of deeds as well as the postal worker in my town. Honestly, they both want to meet our little man when he comes home.

The darkest valley of paperwork was just a few weeks ago when we had to make 2 separate trips to Cleveland over a document containing one minor smudge. It was so frustrating to feel like we were doing everything right and working so hard to make the process move quickly, only to have to do more. But these documents have led us to our son…

4) Continued infertility issues:

This year has also reminded us that we will face my medical issues for a lifetime. These medical issues will affect my diet, my lifestyle and decisions about long term plans for our future. One day in the parking lot of our doctors office, I spent some time just crying. But God reminded me that infertility has led us to our son…

3) Our region switching:

By April of 2009, we had been waiting for 8 or 9 months. We were hopeful that we would get a referral call very soon. We did get a call that month, only it was a call that let us know that our region was changed. It was like starting the wait all over again from the beginning.

We had to make a very tough decision – to continue on with the adoption process in Russia, or try something (or somewhere) else. Through tears and frustrations, we still could not shake our calling to Russia. So we decided to stay in it for the long haul. Though painful, the region change has led us to our son…

2) The waiting:

Days turned into months, months turned into years. Never did I think I would ever have the perseverance and stamina to wait like this. At times I felt like I was the victim of a cruel prank. Just when I thought I couldn’t wait any longer, I found out there was more waiting still in store.

Meanwhile, friends got pregnant and had their babies. Other people adopting brought their children home. Still we waited.

God’s truth of “strength rising as we wait on the Lord”, became something I would cling to, even though there were times that I didn’t have any more strength, I just wanted to give up. But it is the waiting that led us to our son….

1) Saying goodbye

Just like there are no words to describe the first time we ever met our son, there are definitely no words to describe the day we had to say goodbye to him.

I will never forget – D was sitting on my lap and our translator was telling him that we were getting ready to leave and wouldn’t be back for a while. He immediately got up from my lap and began to play with toys by himself. He wanted nothing to do with that conversation and neither did I.

So, I went and scooped him up into my arms and hugged him and held him. I told him I didn’t want to leave and that if it were up to me I would have come for him 2 years ago. I don’t know how much he understood, but I trust and believe that He understood my heart. He felt my tears on his cheek and He felt the hug that didn’t want to let go. But the goodbye is part of the process that leads us to our son.

This past year has been a year of some of the highest highs and some of the lowest lows of our lives. This is the story God is writing for our lives. As our story connects with His story, through the calm and through the storm, we are reminded that He is a God who loves His children.

His love doesn’t always look like we want it to look. Sometimes it involves waiting for something we want. Sometimes it involves pain. But, all of the time, it involves us growing closer to His heart and experiencing the compassionate love of Christ in our lives. And we are so blessed.

Updates:

  • still waiting for a court date 😦

Prayer Requests:

  • for our little boy, that he would somehow know we are coming back for him
  • that we wouldn’t have to red0 our homestudy

Until next Monday, love Kate and Steve.