The Final Visit

February 23, 2010

It’s truly difficult to believe that I am writing this blog from my 17th day in Russia. In my many ways the time has gone by fast, but in most ways, I feel like I’ve been here forever. I’m starting to “think” in Russian…with the limited words and phrases that I have learned 🙂

This morning was our last day to “visit” our little man. Tomorrow is a holiday, so we will be unable to go to the orphanage and Wednesday is THE day. I tried to take everything in today.

Pulling up the drive and walking in the door. I wish there were words to give to the familiar smell that we are greeted with as we walk up the three flights of stairs.

We got to go pick up our little man from his room today. He was sitting, very properly, in a chair by the door waiting for us. Steve lifted him up and he just buried his face into Steve’s neck as we walked him down the hall.

When we got into the “family room”, it was obvious that D just wanted to be held. Steve held him and kissed his sweet little cheeks for a while and then handed him over to me. I just stood there, holding him in my arms rocking him back and forth, whispering how much I loved him and how sorry I was that we couldn’t visit him yesterday.

I told him how much I missed him and what a good boy he was. It was obvious that he was sad that we weren’t there yesterday – and I think he was afraid that we weren’t going to come back. So today he was relieved to see us again.

Normally, he darts out of our embrace and heads straight for Steve’s bookbag which is the source of all things good: goldfish crackers, fruit and juice. But not today. Today he just didn’t want to let go. So we held him and pretty soon, a big smile started to spread across his face.

Papa lifted him high above his head and the giggles started to come out. From there, our hour went on as normal: Papa feeds him his banana, piece by little piece. He loves being fed banana.

Then we took out his flash cards, his animal crackers and juice. Then the 2 year old boy play-rampage begins. He is so curious and loves to understand how things work. It is so cute to see his little mind try and comprehend how a toy car goes and how a piano makes a sound.

We had a great morning…then just like that, just like every day we are with him, the hour passes by like seconds and it is time to go. This time, the care taker came in to get him. He went over and gave papa hugs and kisses and Steve had to practically pull him off of himself.

It was so sweet and hard to watch. Then, he came over to me and just collapsed into my arms. I hugged him and kissed him and then stood him up straight and told him he was such a good boy and that we would be coming back soon.

The care taker was getting impatient, but today, more than any day, we just didn’t want to let him go. I had to keep reminding myself of the bigger picture, than in just 2 short days, we will NEVER have to hand him back over again.

As we were walking out of the room, Ludmila said, “well say goodbye to this room, you’ll never see it again.” That statement hit me pretty hard. Tears started to well in my eyes as I stood in the doorway.

A flood of memories rushed through my mind as I thought about all of the firsts that took place in that room: the first smile, the first laugh, the first dance, the first song, the first kiss, the first tantrum, the first time I was overwhelmed by God’s grace and goodness when I looked into the eyes of the most precious boy in the world.

In many ways, I am glad I will not have to see that room again. But, that room also holds some of the greatest moments of my life. So, I said goodbye to the room and hello to a new life that will begin on Wednesday – a life of new firsts.

Thank you for following our journey. I can’t even begin to tell you how encouraging your emails and comments have been to my soul while I have been here. It is amazing to think of all of the people who are lifting us up in prayer.

We desperately need your prayers as we continue this journey in Russia. Prayers that were about strengthening our heart during the wait now become prayers for wisdom and strength as we begin to parent this sweet, amazing, hilarious boy that God has entrusted to us.

Updates:

  • Tuesday is a holiday (Men’s Day…similar to Veteran’s Day)
  • Wednesday is the day we bring him out of the oprhanage
  • Thursday evening we leave by train for Moscow…all THREE of us
  • We’ll update the blog next week with pictures & videos

Prayer Requests:

  • That Dima would be okay on Tuesday without seeing us
  • For us as we prepare to have him in our lives for good
  • All the transitions that are about to hit

Until next Monday, love Kate & Steve

Advertisements

The Latest From Russia…

February 16, 2010

It’s pretty amazing all that can happen in one week. I look back to our last blog and we were just touching down in Russia. Today, as I write, it feels like I have been here for so long and surprised to realize that it has only been one week.

In this time span, I have seen my little man 6 times, watched my husband stand before a judge asking favor to be the parents of the most beautiful boy in the world, said goodbye to my husband as he traveled back to the US to retrieve a necessary document, experienced a Russian awards ceremony, gone to a Russian night club, and celebrated a Russian holiday. This has definitely been the journey of all journeys, and we still have over 2 weeks to go!

My days here in Russia look pretty much the same. I wake up around 7:30am, take a nice warm shower (with my special hard water shampoo). Around 8:30am, I  go downstairs to a wonderfully prepared breakfast by our gracious host. So far, I have had all different kinds of blini (crepes), eggs, caviar, pasta with cottage cheese.

At 9:00, a driver comes to pick up Ludmila and me. Our driver’s name is Vladimir. He is seriously one of the nicest men I have ever met. He is probably in his 50s. He is a retired pilot. He is so kind and gentle. He speaks a little English, but he enjoys hearing me try and speak Russian. Every day, he sets a pillow in the middle seat for me to lean on for our 1 hour journey to the orphanage.

I feel like I know the streets now. I see the same buildings every day, the same snow-covered trees. I know when we turn at the big sign that means we have about 15 minutes left in the ride. We pull up to the big yellow building, From the outside, I look up to the third floor and see the tweety bird curtains, which is where our little man lives.

We walk in the building, up the 3 flights of stairs, hang up our coats, say hello to the orphanage director and wait in a room. After a few minutes the door opens and in walks the cutest little guy in the whole world. Each day, his smile gets brighter and brighter, realizing that I keep coming back.

Our hour is filled with goldfish crackers and an apple or bananas. Vladimir always sneaks me a piece of candy to give to him. I have learned so much about our little man and the more we are together, the more I think he understands me. I’m different than anyone else he has met.

After our hour together, the caretaker comes in and takes D to lunch. I ask him to give me a kiss (in Russian) and he gives me a big kiss and we say “paka paka” (bye bye). And then he is gone. I take the one hour ride back home, have lunch and then spend the afternoon by myself.

I’ve been doing a lot of journaling, trying to remember every detail of our time together and all that I am learning. God is showing me so much about Himself through this experience. One of the greatest things that I am being reminded of is His love for me.

I think about the words that I most wanted to learn in Russian to speak to my little man. The phrases that I have learned so far are: “I love you”, “You are my boy”, “Good boy”, “Come to me”, “Sit with me”, “Kiss me”, “Play with me.” Those were the first words I learned, and I say them to D over and over for the entire hour.

I have also learned to say “be careful” because as he grows more comfortable with me, he has begun to explore – climbing things, getting in to things, like any 2 year old would do. So “be careful” has become a necessary word in our relationship.

But the words that I want him to dream about at night, the ones that I want him to replay over and over in his mind when he thinks about me, are not “be careful” or “don’t touch” or “no”. As he drifts off to sleep at night and recounts his day, I want a smile to spread across his face when he pictures my eyes looking into his and me saying to him “di moy mychik” (YOU are MY boy).

I want him to feel warm inside when he thinks about walking into a room and seeing me with my arms open wide ready for an embrace. I want him to think about how safe he feels when he is reading his book in my lap, knowing I will protect him and not allow anyone to take it away from him. That is my heart for him.

I think about God’s love for me. I am convinced that what God wants me to think about as I drift off to sleep, are the words He speaks to me: I love you. You are MY girl. Come to me. Sit with me. Rest in me.

So often in my life I tend to make up rules and lists of things to try to earn God’s love. I follow the rules and hope he thinks I am “good”. Though there are times when He must remind me to be careful or not to touch, at the heart of it all is a God who deeply loves me. He loves us. God is love. That is who He is. That is His core.

That is where I find rest and peace and hope and joy. I hope as my little man continues to trust in my love more and more, he will find freedom and hope and rest and peace and joy.

The days have been tough, especially without Steve. But, God has been teaching me to trust in Him alone. He is stretching me beyond what I ever thought I could handle. Those who know me well, must laugh thinking about me sitting completely by myself for hours on end in a foreign country. No texting. No phones. Limited email.

God has brought me to a place of solitude as He is preparing my heart to be the mother that He wants me to be. The mom that my little man needs. The mom that is stretched far beyond her own capabilities and resting in the heart of God’s love and refuge.

Thank you for your prayers. I so need them. I have had people write me and say they have woken up in the middle of the night and felt compelled to pray for me. I am so grateful. I need them every hour of the day as we are coming closer and closer to the end of this portion of the journey and the parenthood adventure begins.

Feel free to email me or facebook me. I’ll try to respond, but I don’t have much time on the internet, but I do love hearing from so many people!

Updates:

Here is the latest schedule:

  • See D for the rest of the week, same as normal
  • Friday morning: Steve leaves to come back
  • Saturday night: Steve arrives back in Russia
  • Sunday: regroup day
  • Monday: visit D together
  • Tues: visit D together (holiday: “men’s day”)
  • Wed: paperwork in the morning, visit D’s village, bust him out!!
  • Thur: leave in the evening for Moscow
  • Fri: paper work in Moscow, medicals
  • Sat: Moscow hopefully meet up with other adoptive families for dinner
  • Sun: Moscow
  • Mon-Wed: paperwork
  • Thurs.: COME HOME!!!!!

We will be able to formally introduce our little man online once we get to Moscow. We’ll have pictures and videos that we’ll post online. Also, feel free to follow us on TWITTER.

Prayer Requests:

  • That the visa Steve is obtaining would come quickly and correctly
  • Safe travels for Steve
  • Continued bonding for mommy and son
  • Protection over D’s life: that no one would stand in the way
  • Peace for mommy’s heart

I so yearn to return home with Steve and D. Thanks so much for your encouragement through this long final chapter.

Until next Monday, love Kate & Steve.

I’m not even sure I can begin to put into words the unbelievable emotions and craziness of the last 36 hours. I honestly didn’t even know that so much could happen in less than a 2 day span.

It began with the big snowfall of 2010. We woke up at 6:00am on Friday morning. Steve immediately went outside to shovel the foot of snow that had dumped onto our driveway, so we could get our luggage out of the house.

Our friends, Eric and Adrianne, picked us up at 7:00am. We loaded up in their car and began to head to the airport…or so we thought. Before we could drive anywhere, our tires began spinning in the snow and the car wouldn’t move.

So Eric and Steve got out and pushed the car. We would go about 5 feet forward then get stuck. Over and over. Finally, Eric took the wheel and I got out in the freezing cold to help Steve push. Once the car got moving we all jumped in and headed to the airport….or so we thought.

In order to get on the highway, we had to up an unplowed hill. You guessed it, tires spun again, and the car stopped moving. So, Steve and I got out and began to push.

Picture this scene – Steve and I running in place behind a car, up the highway. I was pushing with all my might – screaming out loud, “this is not going to be what stops us!!” We got the car going and started sprinting beside the car, opened the doors and jumped in. The four of us just laughed and cried in disbelief.

We got to the airport on time, walked to the gate, saw our plane, prepared to board, only to find out that our pilot was missing. We waited and waited. Finally they announced that they located the pilot. Yay! We can finally leave…or so we thought.

30 minutes later, while we were sitting IN the plane, they announced over the cockpit intercom that the lost pilot simply decided to go home. Everyone began grumbling and we de-boarded.

A new pilot finally showed up, 2½ hours later. We were so grateful that we had a 4 hour layover in Chicago because there were many people in our plane that missed their connecting flights. We sprinted through Chicago O’Hare and before we knew it, we were in the air, heading to Germany.

We made it to Frankfurt with little time to spare, then it was off to St. Petersburg. After going through customs in Russia, we met our facilitators, exchanged our money, then drove to our apartment for the night.

We decided to stay inside, repack our bags and eat some the snacks we brought with us. We had plenty of time and were looking forward to a nice, relaxing evening…until the power went out. Seriously.

After about an hour, our host showed up, got our power back on and we began to repack, only to discover that our brand new luggage somehow broke on the flight. So we hovered over it for several hours before finally giving up.

We were so tired we decided to just lay down. We were given simple instructions, to be outside the next morning, with our luggage, by 7:15am sharp, so we wouldn’t be late for our doctors appointments.

By 8:30pm we both fell into a deep sleep. By 12:30am we were both wide awake. So much for getting our body clocks on schedule J

Steve and I just laid in bed, chatted for a while and tried to relax. A few hours later we both drifted back into a deep sleep. So deep, that we were awakened at 7:30am, to the sound of our doorbell ringing.

For some strange reason our alarm clock never went off! When we awoke, we were instantly in panic mode, not even realizing we had fallen back asleep.

Thankfully we showered and packed the night before, so we quickly threw our pajamas in our book bags, changed clothes, and ran our luggage downstairs all in 2 frantic minutes. Not the way we were hoping to start the morning!

As we sped through the streets of St. Petersburg, I was applying makeup and putting on deodorant J It was so crazy! We arrived at the hospital 30 minutes late, but thankfully it didn’t seem to mess anything up. The doctors were all very kind and professional.

The hospital halls were lined with doors. Each door represented a different specialist. We went from room to room, having a different doctor administer a different test.

The first one examined our x-rays to check our lungs. She asked Steve if he had been deep sea diving or mountain climbing because his lungs looked a little cloudy.

We then had our blood drawn, were interviewed by a psychologist, had our reflexes tested by a neurologist, followed by an exam of 3 doctors who asked us questions about cancer. That room was by far the most awkward, I will spare the details…

The whole process was smooth and easy. As we were leaving, I showed the main doctor the picture book of our little man, made by a good friend of mine. She immediately began to get teary, then said, “he look like Papa.” We smiled.

As we headed on our 4 hour journey to Pskov our translator told us “Next, we will go to orphanage to see your son.” What?? This was an absolute surprise. We didn’t think we would get to see him until Wednesday!

We arrived at our host’s home, dropped off our bags, and quickly jumped back in the car for a 1 hour drive to the orphanage. Our hearts were pounding. We hadn’t quite prepared ourselves to see our son today. After the craziness of the past 24 hours, I wasn’t sure how much more I could handle.

As we pulled up to the big yellow building, my heart started to bubble with giddiness. We walked up the stairs and waited in a room. Steve peeked around the door and saw him coming from a distance. I was holding the video camera while Steve was kneeling down with his arms out ready for him.

Our little man walked in and right into Steve’s embrace. He was a bit curious at first and then it was as if the memories of 4 months ago began to come back to his little mind. A smile spread across his cute little face and he pressed his cheek against Steve’s.

Then he came to me and I just held him in my arms and showered him with kisses. He was a bit taller since the last time we saw him and his hair has grown out into a nice little euro-mullet J

It was a moment that I will never forget. It seemed so surreal. All this time, with all of the ups and downs of this journey, I was finally able to enjoy this moment, knowing that this was the beginning of our final leg of the adoption process. Our translator began tearing up at our reunion.

We moved into the playroom. All it took was one lift above the head by papa and out came the laugh that we so vividly remembered. Only this time, it was even louder and full of more joy.

Steve and I took turns holding him and hugging him. We learned some new words in Russian like “I love you” and “good boy”. We kissed him all over his little cheeks.

An hour later his caretaker came into the room. She seemed very kind. In Russian she told him, “D it is time to go.” Our little man began to shake his head “No”, walked backwards, then sat down on the ground. He didn’t want to leave us.

It melted my heart. But knowing that I will see him tomorrow, I went over to him, picked him up, hugged him and said “paka paka” (goodbye), then handed him to the caregiver.

Our hearts are filled with so many emotions right now. We are so overwhelmed by the amazing surprise of getting to see our little man and to know that we will get to see him tomorrow and the next day as well.

That was such an unexpected blessing, especially for Steve since he is leaving on Friday and only thought he would get to see D once before returning several days later.

We are tired and still trying to process all of the events of the last 2 days. We are nervous about the court appointment. We’re even more nervous thinking about what it is going to be like to have full time care of our little boy. Where is the instruction manual? J

But, more than the nerves, I am so excited about finally getting to live life with our son. I can’t wait to watch him eat his first meal with us, watch him see the outside world, watch him wake up and see his face as he realizes mommy and daddy are still here. No more paka paka.

I know this entry was long, but we thank you for journeying with us. We need your prayers now more than ever, because we truly feel that the enemy is doing whatever he can to distract and discourage us from this adoption.

But, we believe God is going before us and preparing the way, even amidst all the obstacles. We covet your prayers and are grateful to know we have such a strong support of people in our lives who are counting down the days until the Garcia FAMILY comes home for good!

Updates:

  • for daily updates follow us on: twitter.com/goingtorussia

Prayer Requests:

  • For another good day with D tomorrow
  • For a good nights sleep
  • For our court appointment on Thursday, that we would find favor in the judge’s eyes.

Until next Monday, love Kate & Steve

Well, this isn’t the type of blog that I thought I would be writing today. This past week has been a very frustrating one, to say the least. In last week’s blog, I wrote a line in my facebook status that read – “Where is the visa invitation? What if it never comes?” Well, it never came.

It’s truly difficult to try to explain the complicated nature of the world of visas and international travel, especially when it comes to adoptions. In fact, I don’t even understand it fully myself and I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around it for the last week. What we do know is that in order to adopt from Russia, you need a special invitation, which we never received.

How does that affect us? Well, Steve and I are still both going to leave for Russia on February 6th. We still have our court hearing on February 11th. That’s the good news. The bad news is that on February 12th, Steve is going to travel back to the U.S. by himself, in order to obtain the documents we need to bring our little man home.

Assuming our invitation comes, Steve will then turn around and come back to Russia a few days later with the new documents we need. Again, this is very much simplifying the actual scenario, but to not bore you or overwhelm you with details, we are keeping this explanation as simple as possible.

We have researched a thousand other options that didn’t require Steve to have to return to the U.S. But after a lot of work and energy, we have come to accept this new plan as our only option. In the end, there was nothing we could have done to prevent this and nothing we can do to change it. It just is.

It’s been very difficult for Steve and I to come to terms with this. For one thing, this “bump” in the journey is costing us about an extra $2000 that we did not originally budget for. But, even more than the finances, our dreams of what this month was going to look like have been significantly changed.

Although we are still absolutely grateful and excited that we will be bringing our little man home at the beginning of March, our hearts ache over the fact that while I am visiting our little guy in the orphanage during the 10 days of waiting after court, Steve will be on an airplane, coming back home, waiting on paperwork, only to get back on the airplane and come back to Russia.

We are still trying to understand why it had to be this way. My prayer for all of last week was “God, you can move mountains, I believe You can also move paperwork.” And I still believe that. But sometimes His plans don’t always look like the way I picture them. “His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts.”

So, we are approaching this Saturday with mixed emotions. On one hand, we are so excited. This is the day we have been anticipating for 2 years – the day when we are finally reunited with our son. The day that I will be able to look into my little man’s eyes and say, “I’m not going to have to leave you anymore.”

On the other hand, Steve is going to have to leave him one more time. And that breaks our hearts. We know the end is in sight, but through this ordeal, we have been reminded that there are no guarantees on this journey. There are still many details and significant steps left in the process, including our medical exam, pleading our case before a judge, waiting 10 days, and completing paperwork in Moscow.

Although what happened this week is considered a “fluke”, we have been reminded of how out of control we truly are in this process. So we ask you to join us on our knees, as we cry out to God to protect us, to protect the rest of this process and to protect our little man.

We truly covet your prayers and your encouragement. We are tired, weary, and completely at the end of ourselves. We are asking God to revive our hearts and souls, to give us the perseverance to keep holding on, and to give us the strength to face any more obstacles that may come our way. Ultimately, our hope is that God would receive all glory on that joyous day when we walk out of the orphanage with our son in our arms.

This is our story. This is our song. This is our journey of following God’s leading in our lives to a big, yellow building in a small village in Russia. A yellow building that holds countless children who live their lives each day not knowing the love of a mommy or daddy. A yellow building that holds the one we call our son.

Thank you for your prayers. We need them now more than ever. We hope to keep you updated through TWITTER and our blog.

Updates (Here is our tentative schedule):

  • Feb. 6th: leave for Russia
  • Feb. 7th: arrive in St. Petersburg
  • Feb. 8th: medical exams in St. Petersburg
  • Feb. 9th: travel to our region
  • Feb. 10th: see our little man for the first time
  • Feb. 11th: court
  • Feb. 12th: Steve will travel back to the US. I will stay in Russia
  • Feb. 13-21st: I will visit our little man on the weekdays. Steve will hopefully be retreving the documents needed to bring our little man home
  • Feb. 21st: Steve will come back to Russia
  • Feb. 22nd: Our little man will say goodbye to his friends and caretakers and hello to a whole new world
  • Feb. 23-25: We will stay in our region, finishing up paperwork
  • Feb. 25th (evening): travel to Moscow
  • Feb. 26-March 3: paperwork at the US Embassy
  • March 4th: The Garcia FAMILY comes home

This is the general breakdown. As you pray, ask for protection and no more snags in the process. We are praying for confidence, strength and wisdom.

Hope to update again next Monday…from Russia. Love, Kate & Steve