Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Boy Time!!

We have spent the last few days visiting with the boys twice a day. Our new town is much smaller and so an easy routine has developed already. After we wake up, we walk about 30 min to their orphanage, visit outside for around an hour or sometimes longer (depends on what time they tell us to be "home" with the boys) walk back to the hotel, stopping at a pizza place for coffee (the menu is in English!). Around 4 we set out again and then visit for a while in a "waiting room". After this visit, we again stop at the pizza place for dinner, then go home to read and try to stay awake long enough to Skype with the girls when naptime at home is over.

I miss my girls so much now and just can not wait to go home. Last night baby girl was giving me kisses on Skype over and over until I thought my heart might actually burst! Being away form them is the hardest part of this process. Many things are very challenging, but not being able to hold and kiss my girls is just terrible.

Getting to know the boys is very interesting. The language barrier is very hard. Unlike our times with Heidi who is very much still like a baby, these boys have a LOT to tell us, and I cannot understand anything. They jabber on and on, and it feels so sad to not know the things on their hearts in these very early times together. I can't tell them we are coming back in the afternoon, be gentle with the ipad, share the toy with your brother, I love you. Instead, everything must be expressed with body language! It is amazing just how much I can understand, though. That they are VERY proud to have a "Mama and Papa" (they tell everyone they see), that they are trying to figure out what we will be like, that they are sinners, that they are adorable and funny, that they are ALL BOY!!

The first few visits were all just about fun, I actually think I wanted to impress them with how cool and wonderful I was. Now we are getting into the real stuff. What are they to think? Here we show up saying we are their mother and father, and they have no idea what that even means! Being a family is about love and learning. They have no concept for this, but they do know that what feels good is to find their boundaries, push them, and win. Our job will be to show them that love means us teaching them how to become godly men. This is going to be a privilege, and a challenge. We are so thankful to be given the opportunity to have these boys in our home, and we also know that it will not be easy. Yes, they are VERY cute. Yes, they are affectionate and lovable! And yes, most of all, they need a savior. How great our joy will be to teach them about the One who redeems, rescues, and truly loves. What we are doing with them now is not real life. It is strange and hard and I simply cannot wait for real family time to begin!

And let me tell you, I LOVE BOYS!! How great is it that even ones who grow up in an orphanage in Eastern Europe know that burping is awesome and smashing and kicking and running is the best? Fun times are ahead!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Falling for Heidi

We have had the joy of visiting with Heidi (yes, that will be her name!) several times over the last few days. She is a little doll and we have had such fun getting to know her. She is sweet, quick to laugh, spunky, and curious. I have wondered what she must think of these strangers that have suddenly become a part of her life. The first night, she was happy and enjoyed our play time very much. She would quickly go from staring at us, to a full out laugh when she got tickled. The next morning when we entered the room in her group, she smiled when she saw us and came right to me. We told the nanny that we wanted to go outside, so they dressed her up in a snowsuit (good thing, it is freezing!) and brought her out to us. We were not all ready with our coats on, so the nanny took Heidi's hat off. She was VERY disappointed and instantly burst into tears until we put the hat back on and started for outside! The video below is from that first outing.

We have been able to visit twice a day, and this morning was our best time so far. We spent an hour outside, pushing her in the stroller and letting her explore. Every once in a while, she will look back to make sure we are still around and even motions with her hand for us to follow. When we went in, I gave her the slinky which she loves! She has no interest in "girly" toys, but loves to throw everything- and she has quite an arm! She is very, very small, and does not seem to be talking at all. She is serious much of the time, but if we tickle her, or do something amazing with a toy (like throwing a ball really high) she will just start to really laugh. I love the way her face lights up when she laughs.

When we walked into the room this morning, another of the children in the room saw us and said "Mama! Ludvaba Mama!" (Ludvaba is her given name) It really breaks my heart that she is the only one in the room with a mama. I wish there was someone coming for each of them! The children are very well-behaved, sweet and smiling whenever we see them. The nannies are kind, but how much better would it be to know that it was your mama coming through the door? I am so grateful to God that he has brought us here for her.

I hope you enjoy the videos! We have one more time with her tonight, then we move to the town where the boys live. We will stay there until we find out about our court date. I hate that we may not see Heidi again for a long time! I am excited to get to know the boys better, and I am praying that our court date is soon and we can get these little ones home where they belong!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Meeting Our Sons

We had the most wonderful day. As you might tell in this picture, I am just a tad bit happy!! These two beautiful boys will, Lord willing, soon be our sons.

Neither of us slept much last night, knowing what was to come today, and all that hung in the balance. I did not sleep at all, but during the night decided to pray for all my little ones- the missed girls at home, and the children yet to meet. There was definitely enough adrenaline to keep me going today! Our regional facilitator (who is wonderful!) picked us up before 7 and we drove about 1.5 hours out to the town where our boys live. It seemed to take forever and once we got to town, with every building I saw, I kept thinking "Is that the orphanage?" We finally arrived after picking up a lady who was some kind of official and accompanied us during our visit.

When we got to the orphanage, we were shown to a room where the orphanage doctor (she is the lady in the picture) and a lawyer interviewed us and began giving us the boys' histories. They were rather intense, detailed accounts of their lives, me taking furious notes while our facilitator translated. I did not want to miss a single thing. This was the one time we would hear everything that is known about them. At one point I tried to ask a question, and was told to wait until the end - obviously annoying the doctor with my faux pas. Yikes! 

She told us everything, some of what we learned was so sad to my mama's heart and there were some surprises. After I was able to ask questions, they began to ask us things about ourselves. Were we a good family for these boys? They were not so sure. Right then I decided to pull out the photo book we made of our family and shyly asked her if she would like to see it. Things in the room changed instantly and I realized that she was so hard because she loves these boys and was going to miss them like crazy! Seeing our family, all those sweet happy girls, put her heart at ease and she began to cry and tell us sweet things about the boys. I did not expect this! To see how much they have been loved, what charmers they are, was just amazing.

Next we were interviewed by the director of the orphanage. We were asked why we were doing this? Did our government help people with such large families? (HAHA.) Why were we here? She cares a great deal about these kids and really wanted to know things would be good with us. We were touched and honored with their consent.

Then it was happening! We followed our facilitator up some stairs, through a hallway, into a door and there they were. Sitting with the sweet doctor, were the two sweetest little things. I could not believe it. I just wanted to grab them and start kissing them! Instead, we knelt on the floor in front of the couch they were on, and fumbled in the bag we brought for some cookies and a toy. We brought them miniature Magna Doodles which they loved. The younger boy was very shy (he was in the doctor's arms the whole time) and they both smiled and smiled. I got out the matchbox cars next and drove them up their legs, a tiny touch, me longing to take them into my arms. They loved the cars. At this point, things seemed to be going well (the boy's feelings are very respected and everyone was waiting to see if they would like us!) and many teachers had gathered to see how things were going. The meeting had to be short (it seemed like only a few moments!) because we had to race back to the capitol with paperwork to try to get a referral appointment for Lucy. Too soon we had to leave.

We followed the boys to their classroom (they were proud to show it to us). The younger boy kept sneaking peeks at me while he walked, and the older boy told me I was beautiful and that he loved me. It had just begun snowing, the first of the year, and this was a great excitement as well. We saw their room, told them we would come again soon, and they said they would be waiting, then it was over. The director asked us if we liked them. LIKED THEM??? We are totally in love and can't believe they could be ours. I almost started crying when she asked that! They are perfect gifts from God, and should he allow them into our family, we will be more blessed than we could ever express.

We rode for the next two hours or so in a cloud of disbelief and joy while we did more paperwork then high-tailed it back (160 km per hour in the snow!) We were dropped off at our apartment and a few minutes later told to start walking to the adoption authority for our appointment for Lucy! (I can barely believe all this as I am typing it!) We walked right in (the back door for some reason), sat down and got her file. No problems at all. A few minutes later we were on our way to a notary for, you guessed it, more paperwork! We are not sure when we will get to see her, or when we will see the boys again. No one has tried to do this whole 2 different orphanages in different cities as one adoption instead of two, so things are a bit, shall I say, fluid? Haha! This has been a crazy ride so far, and yet, God has directed our every step. We are so grateful for the amazing grace and blessing he has poured on us today!

Nothing here is certain in any way until after you have court and a 10 day waiting period. At any time, they could be declared ineligible for many reasons, even horribly corrupt ones. We must trust our hearts to the One who is love, is good, and is trustworthy. He will sustain us, no matter what happens. For now, on this glorious day of answered prayer, we rejoice. Did I mention my sons are the cutest, sweetest, most charming, smartest boys that ever were?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Big Appointment Day, Prayers NEEDED!!

Today was the big appointment at the adoption authority. Our facilitator met us there (one of his nice drivers picked us up) and after a bit of a wait, we went into a small room where lots of women were rushing around looking frazzled. No one looked at us, or seemed to notice we were there! The women began looking through huge plastic three-ring-binders trying to find our boys. No luck, they shrugged their shoulders. Nothing is on a computer, just plastic pages with papers and pictures inside. It was a worrisome wait. Our facilitator took matters into his own hands and began to look in the books, eventually finding them both. If you can't find their files, they don't even exist to the government, apparently! We got a few pictures of them when they were younger, which was wonderful (I brought some pictures I had printed out from their Reece's Rainbow profiles and we were able to swap them.)

Then things got bad. Since Lucy is in another orphanage, they said we needed a separate appointment for her. Yes, we were already there, and all the files were on the desks, but we would have to come back. Problem is one of our papers will be dated a year old on Jan 11th, and you have to have an appointment one month before that paper has its first birthday. Our facilitator tried to get them to accept the nice updated paper we had brought, but they would not relent because the other one is still valid. Yes, I know this makes no sense.

So, we are stuck. If we cant get another appointment by Friday, we don't get to adopt Lucy. It is as simple and as stupid as that. Our amazing facilitator is trying to get that to happen, but I have no idea how likely it is. It will be a stressful couple of days, running to meet the boys and get paperwork from their orphanage and moving closer to them (somewhere in another city about 100 km from here, and no, I don't know what its called or how far 100 km is.)

 Everyone said to be prepared to know nothing that is going on and to just follow people around and do what they tell you, but it's crazy in reality. In my real life, I can make decisions, make things happen, know what is up. Here, I am like a child: "Sign here. Sit here. I am picking you at at 9. I will tell you later.) It feels very helpless and terrible. Especially because we are the ones who care about Lucy and want her. But we can't do anything.

I think that this would all make me depressed if it were not for the fact that I understand reality. Reality is that God has a plan that will be accomplished and that he is in total control. I have nothing to fear, nothing to worry about, no reason to fret. I am actually a child, a beloved one, and my father cares, knows, loves, and works. He knows Lucy too. If he intends for her to be in our family, it will happen.

So we really have no idea when we will be coming home, and what is going to happen. We "may know more tomorrow" or may not. This is a good time for us all to pray. Pray that we can rescue her! And pray that the boys will welcome us into their hearts and bond with us. We will see them on Thursday morning, and we can't wait. I am rather nervous, and hope they will like me. I bought extra toys, just in case! Thank you all who are still giving to help us, and to all of you who are faithfully praying for us and these precious little ones!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Initial Ramblings

We are in Europe! It is still hard to believe. The trip went really well with no mishaps. We are settled into an apartment near downtown and trying to acclimate to the new time zone. Instead of a long post, I thought I would share random thoughts in no particular order:
- Losing a night was very strange. We got on a flight in the afternoon and began flying over the ocean. They fed us dinner, showed a movie, then like 2 hours later, fed us breakfast. A little while later, we arrived and it was morning. What?? The night just disappeared. I tried just staying awake until it was bedtime, but so far, that has not worked and I have no idea when this will feel anything but wrong!
- Qualifications for working at the airport in Germany must include looks. There is no way the people there are a true representation of German people, right? Are they all beautiful?
- Bad decorating is everywhere. Someone needs to do something.
- I miss the smell and feel of my squishy baby. Oh, so much.
- Starbucks via is really awesome.
- Traveling makes me want to eat constantly. So does the bread here. Maybe I should have packed my scale after all...
-I am so thankful to be here doing this, and I am going to be so glad when it is over and we are all home together at last.
- Our facilitation team has been amazing! They have been so kind, welcoming and helpful and we are so thankful for them.
- It's time to workout. Stair sprints and burpies for today, I hope it helps!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Leaving on a Jet Plane...

Last night was hard. I spent the day loving on my girls, touching as much as possible, staying close. They all knew the evening was coming too fast when their grandparents would pick them up. I could see them suddenly remember and they would come to get a kiss, play with my hair, sit by my knees. We have prayed for this day for 9 years. To participate in God's work to rescue those who have been forgotten by the world- who are undesirable because they are broken or vulnerable. The girls have been praying for their siblings lost across the world, helping us raise money to go, and loving them even though. Even though they are scared! Even though they have no idea how their lives will change.

And yet, last night, they grieved. Everett and I are their security- their whole world. To see us leave, not knowing exactly when we will return rocks them. What if we are different when we get back? What if our family is not the same? Truly these are profound questions because we will in fact, not be the same. This journey that God has us on will change us all forever. We will, Lord willing, have more compassion, more understanding of the needs of those around us, more love, more people! We pray for this change. Because the more you understand the gospel, the more you will change. My purpose in life is to glorify God and to serve him in any way he calls. And he has called us to care to the needy, especially for the orphan. God has not forgotten their cries- he has seen their tears. And he is sending us. HE IS SENDING US!! I am so humbled to be used. The magnitude of this privilege overwhelmes me.

To think of how sad it was for my five beloved daughters to say goodbye to me for a short time brings into stark relief the terrible grief of a child with no one to miss. No one to care. No one to hope for. That is why we are going friends. If God so plans, in a few days Google translate will tell three children that I am their mother. That I love them. That I am taking them home.

To say our plans are fluid is an understatement. We have no idea how this process might go. We have been told that what we are doing (3 with these particular special needs) has not been done before and we might not have a judge that looks upon us favorably. We do not know when we will get a court date, when they will actually get home. Please pray with us. God has moved thus far and we are asking him that we could bring them home this year. That we would get a court date soon, that a judge would rule in our favor, and that the "mandatory" 10 day wait would be waived. Have these things happened before? No. But God's plans will be accomplished and he tells us to ask. Please pray with us. But if none of those things happen, God is good in all his ways and in complete control of this entire process. After all, adoption is his idea! Thank you all for your support both financially and prayerfully. We are amazed at the work he has done in this and excited to see what he has for us in the next few weeks. On to Kiev, and then?