Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Court Date!

For those of you who haven't heard, we have a court date! We leave here in the evening of the October 22nd. We will get to see our wonderful little man on the 25th and the court is on the 26th. Although I am extremely excited, I am also terrified. The family still has not signed the consent forms waiving their rights therefore giving us no worries. So, the plan is to go ahead with things as normal, pray the judge grants us custody of him, and spend the longest 10 days after that waiting and worrying the family is going to pick him up.

In his country, once a child is identified to be adopted, the officials attempt to get a hold of the extended family at a last attempt for them to come and get them. If the family does not want to take him in then he is ours. If they don't sign the papers they have 10 days to make up their minds after court. If they keep quiet then on the 11th day, he is our forever.

If you can take the time to pray for us and the family, we would appreciate it! We need all the prayers we can get! I will be keeping you all updated when possible.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Courageous in the Worst of Times.

As most of you know, or have unfortunately experienced, this adoption has not gone well. I'm actually pretty sure that no adoption goes well. Why that is, I am not sure. Why it is so difficult to adopt a child that has been left in the first place is way beyond me. But that is actually not what this post is about. Not today anyway! This is more about what I have recently learned, just over the weekend actually.

From the start, almost a year ago, Charlie and I have been killing ourselves to get this done. We just want to get it over with. I'm sure many of you that are in the same process, or have already brought your children home are/were the same way. I want that little boy in my arms, at my dinner table for dinner, in his warm clean bed at night, and even in my timeout corner...this is because I'm not completely delusional. I know that once we get him home it's not going to be all sunshine and pixie dust. I just want him home! In the beginning, it was Martin. Most of you know how that ended. If not, here is the post that explains it all. http://findingmartin.blogspot.com/2011/02/i-would-give-anything.html

We have lost sleep from pulling all nighters, I feel like I have neglected my kids at home, I put off other things I should also been working on, and Charlie and I are at each others throats and we never fight. We have been "controlling" the adoption or at least killing ourselves trying. We find ourselves pushing issues that should have been dropped, asking everyone for favors to get our paperwork done just a little faster and so on. Then we lost him. It absolutely did not make sense to me then. I didn’t search out a child to adopt. Martin just was delivered to us. Well, his picture was anyway. I just knew we were doing exactly what God wanted us to do. But now, I think I'm starting to see some answers. Maybe not all of them, but some things are falling into place. I will get into that later. We later moved on and asked to me matched up with another little boy about the same age. That is how we found Dmitri! We have been trying to take things a little more slowly. At times yes, we try to take over, but we are always set back in our place by one thing or another. Up and down, back and forth this has gone, and continues to go. Here we are, a year later, and sometimes I feel like we are no closer to him than we were back in February before we even new who this little boy was!

We finally finished up our paper work and sent it to Dima's country for a court date. In the meantime we found out from a volunteer that he is sick in the hospital and has been there with pneumonia for 2 weeks. My heart is sick with worry and so heavy with sadness. I hate picturing his tiny little body in a hospital bed all alone with no visitors. The volunteer informed me that the hospital is in a remote place and they don't get to go visit. I have often read that orphans that end up in the hospital do not get visitors. I have to believe that he is NOT alone. I think about a little prayer that I read to Haiden and Noah in 1 of their books the other day.

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Bless the bed that I lie one.
4 corners to my bed.
4 angels around my head.
1 to watch and 1 to pray.
And 2 to guide me through the day.

It makes me think of Dima, and helps me to have faith that his angels are taking care of him and loving him until we can get him home.

We also found out that 2 family members just recently found out about him. His grandmother and uncle never knew until the other day that he existed! In his country, it is the law that all the relatives are to be contacted if a child is wanted in an adoption. If they agree to the adoption, then they are to sign the guardianship papers waiving their rights to the child. If they do not agree, then they have to take on the responsibility. Why in the world the family isn't contacted before this point in the child's life is so beyond me! Why do these children waste away in an orphanage and that is completely fine, no family contacted....until someone else wants them??? Now, the family will not respond to sign the papers. They won't answer their door or return phone calls. I am completely and totally in a state of panic. I am dreading this is a Martin situation all over again. The night I found this out, I cried and cried. What were we going to do? Who could we talk to? Could we write a letter to the family? There are so many questions we ask wondering how we can fix this and control this. I think to myself, there just HAS to be a way.

Jumping back a few weeks ago, Charlie and I were at church talking about the adoption and keeping everyone is our small group informed on where we were in the process. A wonderful man and leader of our small group who we only just met a few months ago, but deeply respect a great deal told us that he was praying for us. He also told me something that has stuck with me just about everyday. In fact, I emailed him a few days ago asking him to tell me again because I was having a rough day and wanted to see the words. He said…

"We do not want to be so focused on the destination that we miss the journey. Often God's purpose is found in the journey, not just the destination. Many times God prepares us during the journey so that we will be prepared when we arrive at our destination. Many of His greatest lessons and blessings are found in the journey. Trust God's sovereignty through the process."

After hearing this, and then getting that last bit of devastating news, I decided Charlie and I need to change the way that we handle everything. I just don’t know exactly what we could do differently. Then, I received a post on Facebook from a friend...and I'm so sorry if you know who you are because I can't remember! She said that I needed to just be still and quiet, and to just wait for Him to tell me what to do next. At the time I read that post, I didn't know it yet, but that has been the BEST advice I have heard so far.

Now, I’m fast forwarding up to this past weekend in church. This Sunday was one of those Ahhh Haaa Sundays, one of those days where everything made so much sense to me. I was glued to the sermon and even took notes! Seriously I never take notes. 99% of the time we forget to even take our bible with us. The sermon was about being courageous in the worst of times. Better yet, how to be courageous in the worst of times was the point of the sermon this week. A few ways that struck me…

1) Be righteous and obedient. This, I honestly feel like I am doing. I do without a doubt feel like we are on the right path. I feel like I am obeying what He has commanded Charlie and I to do as far as being involved in this crazy world of adoption.
2) Trust Him and His sovereignty. He has our long-term best interest at heart. This one I have had some problem with. With all the issues that have set us back in our adoption journey, I have often wondered what His plan was for us, and for these children he has brought into our lives. I know that it is alright for me to question and have my doubts, but I struggle hard with disagreement in His plan.
3) Trust in His control. These 4 words did it for me over the weekend. They helped to put my mind and heart as ease. Now, I still worry there is no doubt about that. I have now been in love with Dmitri like he is my own for months now. We have gone to see him, I have held him, hugged and kissed him, and have dreamt about him night after night. I would love nothing more than to have this boy in our home as part of my family.

Is that part of His plan? I certainly hope so. I pray for it to be His will all day and all night. I know there is no bargaining or persuading. No amount of words that come from my heart and from my mouth will change anything. I just hope that if Dmitri is not meant for our family, that God will be a great comfort to us in our grief and while we move on. I know this will happen! To quote from Charles Spureon, “As sure as God puts His children into the furnace of affliction, He will be with them in it.”

So until we find out, and I hope that is soon I will just try to be still and listen to what He wants. That is so much harder said than done but I have found that I am doing a much better job than I was last week. He has our best interest at heart, He has our best interest at heart……….

“Be still,” I hear Him softly say.
“Be still, lay all aside.”
He who made the universe stoops down,
And gathers up my cares.

“Be still,” He chides again.
His work begins within my weary soul.
“Be patient. In quiet stay.
Listen to me.”

Though pressed on every side,
I clear my heart and mind.
In timid voice and heart,
I lift to Him my praise.

How quiet, His presence.
How healing, His words.
In hushed awe, I listen.
I savor each one.

My will, He bends.
My heart, He sweeps clean.
My strength, He renews.
My soul, He fills to overflowing.

He teaches through His word.
I heed what He tells me.
I stand and give Him praise.
Together we go forth to serve.

Now, I just have to remember all this if things should not go the way we pray!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Can't Really Talk About It

As usual, I have been meaning to update my blog for almost a month. I have been waiting for good news so I have something to write about. Unfortunately I have nothing good to report. I also have been instructed not to mention anything in case the wrong eyes should see what exactly is going on in Dima's country. I have been quite careful not to mention the country or anyone's name since I have noticed that I see in the stats that his country has viewed this blog.

So, instead of going into a big long thing explaining what is going on and taking a chance that someone sees it that is not supposed to, I will just ask this. Please say a prayer for Dmitri and our family. We need a lot of prayers right now. This is just one more road block and a bit of bad news. One would think that we would be used to getting this kind of news by now!

I can say that our paper work is now in the right hands. We are told that it will take about 10 to translate everything. Once that is done, the judge will receive it and God willing, we will get a court date. I was so hopeful that we would have a date in September. Not happening! Then I was holding out for October. Pretty sure that will not happen by now either. That leaves us dangerously close to the holiday season in which MANY places shut down. Just need a court date so I can sleep!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Keeping ya all in the loop.

So, I have to say, that we haven't really made too much progress since last time I posted. We are still just waiting and waiting for everyone to be finished on their end. A list of things waiting to be completed....

~FBI updated background check: We are supposed to call back in 1 1/2 weeks. FYI, that will but us at 8 weeks!

~Information from our mortgage company stating how much the house is worth and other things I'm sure the court doesn't really need! This info should have been done last week but they "never received the fax".

~Updated physicals for all the kids and also for Charlie and me. I have to admit, this hang up if our fault. We just weren't thinking about blood work and how long it would take to get back. It should be done Friday...we shall see.

~This one is just the best! We need an addendum for our home study. The court wants a fresh hs to make sure there have not been any changes to our financial status and heath. The judge wants NO MORE than 2 pages. We have tried telling our social worker this over and over but she wants to redo our entire thing with a grand total of $650! No matter what we tell her the judge wants word for word even, she won't budge. Well, that is when she is returning our emails that it! Seriously thinking about biting the bullet and finding another agency for our post placements. We would lose the $1500 we already paid but at least I would have peace of mind that the right things are getting done with an honest agency. We just found out yesterday that our hs agency was almost put on the blacklist by the country we are adopting from. Not a good place to be! Especially if this happens when we are still in our process!

No matter what, we are trying to stay positive and we are trying to keep in mind that He is in control over this all. His timing is perfect and there is a reason for all of this!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Officially Exhausted...

I have had it. I can honestly say that I am officially exhausted from this adoption! It has been almost a year. I know, I know, there are so many people that have been at it for well over that amount of time, but I'm still tired. I am physically and emotionally exhausted! Just when I feel like we are maybe getting close to the end...we get pushed back. We are still trying to get together the remaining documents for our dossier. It's not going so well. Why in the world can't 1 thing just go right?!

We are waiting on our fingerprints from the FBI. They called last week saying they tried to run my credit card and it was coming back telling them that it was invalid! Makes no sense, seeing as they had just swiped it and used to charge Charlie's prints! I keep checking my account and my credit card was charged for the prints as well as FedEx...so where in the world are they!!!? We are also waiting on a letter from our mortgage company that was PROMISED would be done in 5 to 7 days or something like that. Why do I keep falling for that? Next, the part that I honestly thought was going to be the easiest of them all, are the physicals. They military keeps changing our FREAKING doctors and every time they do that, the new one wants to meet us. Not to mention that getting an appointment within the year is impossible lately. Between all of us, we have 4 different doctors. SOMEONE JUST SIGN THESE @#$%^^& PHYSICALS ALREADY!!! Let me see, I think that is it.

I feel so defeated thinking of waiting on these fricking people while my baby sits in that institution literally rotting away. Each day he is there, he loses any skills he has and not to mention more and more weight! A 5 year old that weighs 20lbs is killing me. I swore we would have him home by his birthday, but that came and went. Next I vowed he would be home by my birthday, but that day is right around the corner and we still don't even have our court dossier in yet. Day after day passes and I have one anxiety filled dream after another. Last night I had a dream that we got there to pick him up and we had nowhere to stay. All the hotels were closed and nobody would take us in! I really think that I am going to have a heart attack due to anxiety.

Sorry this is so negative, but I need to vent somewhere and this seemed like a good place since I usually get encouraging words from everyone that follows this blog. Thank you for reading and listening. Hopefully next time I post something, it will be positive!

Monday, August 1, 2011


As I have stated many times before in previous posts, I am the world's worst blogger. However, I just wanted to update everyone on our adoption. There has no been any progress and really no news to share. We are waiting on the judge to get back from vacation and that will not be until sometime in September. Ughh! We have had to update our fingerprints for both State Police and FBI. Yay...more expenses for something we have already had done! To our frustration, we got back our fingerprints from the State with mistakes that we had to correct. That alone took 3 weeks. I am hoping that we hear something soon since we submitted them again about 2 weeks ago. I run to the door every time I see a FedEx truck driving on our street.

We are just trying to stay busy so that time passes quickly. I am getting ready to order Dima's new bed since it will take about 6 weeks to get here. At least that is how long it took for Haiden's to get here. They will have matching beds! I am hoping that looking forward to the arrival of his bed and picking out sheets and a comforter will pass some time. Whatever it takes huh?!

Sorry that is about all I have. I just wanted to let everyone know that we are still alive and praying for a travel date soon.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Until We Meet Again....

Ughhh this is the hardest day...this 3rd and final vist! How did it go by so quickly? It took months and months to get to that point, and it took 3 days to end. Time is so tricky. It can stretch out for all eternity, or it can go by in the blink of an eye. Why does it always do the opposite of what we want?

We get to the orphanage earlier on the last day. I am hoping and praying that we get to stay longer than the 20-30 minutes that we were allotted the first 2 visits. The route that we take to get to Dima's building is endless on the last day. I just wanted to get to him, pick him up, kiss him, and take him outside in the sunshine and fresh air. Again, we go through the stinky check in building, a yard, an administration building, more grounds or yard, the playground, and finally his "home". The prior 2 days we had not run into any unpleasant people or rudeness of any kind. Well...not that I know of anyway. I can't understand but more than 2 or 3 words during a conversation. But this time was a little different. We were greeted by an extremely unpleasant woman in the foyer. I have no idea what she said, but I know it was bad because even our coordinator made a comment on how mean she was! I guess it's a good thing I don't speak the language! One thing I do know is that she commanded us to put on sterile booties over our shoes. So, we did as we were told and headed up the stairs to get our little boy!

There were kids EVERYWHERE! Where had they all come from?! I couldn't believe it. There were teenage age kids doing "chores". Running around with trays of food delivering them to the appropriate rooms. There were kids on the stairs, and on the common areas! All the doors were open and the rooms where filled. None of them were hidden away like before, and all the doors remained opened as were walked by. I was amazed and shocked for more than one reason. One of the reasons I'll save for a blog post all on it's own. The other, I have mentioned before. I could not believe that they were allowing us to see everything. When we got to the commons area that we had met in before, Dima was not there. I was a little disappointed. I was hoping that they would have him all ready so we could get as much time with his as possible. As we were standing there, one of the care givers told us that we could go to his group's room. This was exciting to me, I could see some of the other children in his group. I wasn't ready to it when I saw it. I had to bite my cheek to the point I could taste blood in order not to cry in front of everyone. This was so overwhelming. There was so many little ones in the room. They were all doing things that I had read about. I read about things...but I guess that I wasn't really expecting to see them in real life. Kids crawling on the floor that should not be crawling on the floor, kids rocking in the corner, kids rolling around on the floor as another means of transportation, and kids doing all kinds of different things to self stim. I just wasn't ready. I wish that I could have been a fly on the wall to see my reaction. I hope and pray that I covered up my feelings. That you could not see on the outside what I was feeling on the inside! In no way did I want to disrespect anyone there...to include these precious angels that were so crazy excited to see us. I didn't spot our little man so I continued to return hugs that I was getting at a cyclic rate! I loved it! A little nervous at first, but I loved these little boys! How in the world were Charlie and I going to pick up our baby and walk out of there without the others? But soon Dima came "walking" down the hall all bundled up for us to take him outside in the beautiful sun! I picked him up and make my way through the sea of little boys wanting just even a smile. At at time when I thought I should feel overwhelmed with joy holding my baby and taking him outside, I felt the opposite. I felt ashamed and guilty that we were only taking 1 boy. I almost couldn't look the rest of them in the eye. But I had to...I had to smile at them and let them know that they were not invisible!

We took Dmitri outside to play on the old warn out playground equipment like we had done the day before. Shortly, about 5 boys from his group were coming out to play as well! The caregiver tries to get them outside as often as she can. There are 15 of them and 1 or her. She tells our coordinator that she brings out a couple children at a time so she can play with them and keep an eye on them. At first she didn't want them to interfere with us and Dmitri's time but I kept playing with them so I think that she relaxed a little and let them play. They just wanted to be boys and play! Twenty minutes or so passed and I started to get worried that we were going to have to go in and leave our little boy that we had come so far to see. But nothing was said, so we continued to play with him and watch him play. I loved to just watch him watching the other play and take everything in that was going on around him. He loved throwing the ball but his favorite thing was giving us kisses!

Soon, about 1 1/2 hours later, we were instructed to bring him inside. It was time for them to eat and time for their naps. What a sick feeling I had in my stomach. This time I didn't notice anything around me while walking back to his room. I just hurt all over. His caregiver could tell that we were hurting and heartbroken and she felt bad for us. While I was holding Dima, giving him my last kiss I started to tear up. I had done so good not crying this whole time. I think his caregiver was scolding me a little and telling me not to cry in front of him. She urged me to go into the bathroom and dry my face! I'm glad that she did cause I got to stand in that little bathroom and have myself a good quick cry. I gave him a billion more kisses and hugs before I handed him over.

The rest is a blur and the rest of the trip is really not important. I just wanted to sleep so we could pass time and get back to him. I think this would be easier to endure if I new that we didn't have to wait so long to see him again. There is a lot of vacation to be had in his country apparently so court dates won't be assigned until everyone involved comes back to work. I wish that I could go on vacation and take a break from all of this! Better yet, I wish those boys could take a vacation from their life. Just get away from it all for a little bit. Unfortunately, their life is all that they know and they have no other happiness to compare it to. Maybe that is a good thing...or this is something that I tell myself so I can stop feeling guilty about not being able to bring more than one of them home at a time.

So sweet Dima...my little beautiful man...please know that I am thinking of you all day every single day. I still dream about you since that is the only way I can see you. Please feel our love baby and know without a doubt that we are coming back to get you. It's just going to be a little longer than we had hoped. We pray that you stay healthy and safe and you can feel our arms around you until we meet again.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

1 Trip Down...2 To Go! Day 2....

The second day was a long one. This is only because we didn't get to see him until 3 in the afternoon! Seeing as jet lag was kicking full force Charlie and I got up for the day around 4 in the AM! Again...that made for a long day.

We went through the same stinky check in building but thankfully this time the cat's dinner had been cleaned up, or eaten. Just as long as I didn't have to see the animal pieces dragged all over the floor! We went by to grab the doctor and we were on our way to see our baby! This time I noticed something a little different. There were more kiddos in the hallways. There were a few more doors open and better yet, they weren't being closed before we came upon them. I was able to quickly sneak peek as we hurried by. I was scared of getting caught and getting in trouble so it was a quick glance. I just peeked long enough to see that there were indeed kids in there! I was rather shocked that the doors remained open.

Then there we were! Waiting to see Dima come out of his room. He came around the corner walking...with help...looking cuter then ever. He was wearing the same Spiderman tights and little red sweatshirt with the broken zipper. He can sport those tights though! We asked if we could take him outside where the air was fresh and the weather was beautiful. The sun was shining and it was a wonderful 65 degrees. I really wasn't expecting a yes...but a yes was what we got! The care givers got him all bundled up and ready to go out. Charlie and I found that quite entertaining. It gets so unbelievably cold there, but for some reason when it was in the 60s everyone was bundled up in their coats and even scarves! Little Dima was dressed in all his layers and we headed outside.

We made a beeline over to the merry-go-round that I spotted earlier on the way in! I sat him down and Charlie started to spin him at a painfully slow pace. I am pretty sure that he was bored but I was terrified that he would fall off. So I decided to get on and plop him on my lap so Charlie could pick it up a notch. He was much more entertained! We took him to all the little stations they had for the kids to play with. We also brought him a ball. Let me tell you...that boy can throw! I couldn't believe it. He is so tiny but he can throw like Haiden. He loved the ball so we left it there. We didn't see it the next day but I'm really choosing to believe that others were enjoying it! We had enough time to sing some Itsy Bitsy Spider and I'm a Little Teapot before we had to bring him in and leave him again. Ughh, just writing that out makes my heart and stomach hurt.

Handing him over to his care givers was so hard. It all happened so fast...like ripping off a band aid. But handing him back in a hurry...it didn't make it hurt any less. I also couldn't help but feeling like I was getting cheated out of time with him. We had come all that way and we had only spent a total of maybe 45 minutes with him in 2 days! I felt like I couldn't complain though....because I couldn't. We left there feeling good about the bond we were building but so bad about leaving him. We only had one day left and I was praying that we got to spend more time with him than what we had the past 2 days. The drive back was awful both days. The traffic is miserable and that only means more time to think about the things that I saw and the conditions I was leaving my son behind to live in and how the following day was going to be the last day we would see Dmitri for months! Thank goodness for cameras and my iTouch! I watched my videos and looked at the pictures all the way home! I love you Dmitri James House and hugs until next time my baby. XOXOXO

Saturday, June 25, 2011

1 Visit Down...2 to Go! Day one....

Let me first convey to everyone how sorry I am for taking so long to write an update. I think I am the world's worst blogger! That along with a touch of depression from leaving my baby behind has made it somewhat of a challenge getting this out. But, I owe it Dmitri and everyone asking me for an update to get something out there! So our first journey to see our Dimitri goes like this...

If any of you know me...you know that I have amazing bad luck. The kind of luck that would make someone on the outside looking in say "someone has got to give this girl a break". It runs in my family and I am a firm believer that like hair color or the color of your eyes...bad luck is genetic. Therefore, I was a little nervous about starting this trip. But seriously, I was not expecting something to go wrong right from the ticket counter while checking in! Thankfully, it was just a small misunderstanding that was straightened out after my short bout of acid reflux and the triggering of what I'm pretty sure was a very minor heart attack. We were in the air and off by 6:30 the evening of the 13th leaving Haiden and Noah behind with my savior of a sister for 5 days.

We arrived safely at the airport extremely exhausted but so overwhelmed that we hardly noticed! We found our driver who thankfully spoke some English because we were so out of our element. We have both traveled to foreign countries many, many times so I'm not quite sure why it felt so different this time. I think the anxiety of meeting Dmitri was getting to us. Also, we were getting ready to crash in on a family that had never met us before, but was amazing enough to take us in during our stay. Amazingly enough our stay with you guys (Brian and Kristina) was wonderful and we will never be able to repay you or tell you how incredibly grateful we are and will forever be. This wonderful family took us in as a favor to a friend (gotta love the military community and how they look out for and take care of each other). They had a number of family members visiting from out of town already and still allowed us to take up a room in their home. They also fed us wonderful home cooked meals every single day! The amount of money we saved because of their generosity has enabled us to put money towards plane tickets and the endless amount of fees that are piling up around us. We also got to meet their 2 unbelievably cute boys who I hope that we get to see again in the not too distant future! Thank you guys from the bottom of our hearts!

The next morning we were picked up by our coordinator bright and early. Thankfully the excitement of the day that lay ahead over shadowed the jet lag that we were already feeling. I will be completely honest when I say that really don't remember what took place on this day up until we met our Little D. Everything is kind of a blur. By the time we got to the orphanage...I was a big ball of nerves. I was terrified because we were told that they didn't even want us there in the first place. We were told they were too busy. I was also scared because we were told that this institution had never adopted out a child before. I was hopeful since we had made it as far as the front door without being turned away. I do remember pulling up the the building and getting out of the van and pretty much everything after that. We had to first go check in. This took place in a tiny little building just inside the big gates containing the institution and all it's inhabitants. I wish that I was able to get pictures because I'm pretty sure I won't be able to describe this little place. Even if I could describe it, I would never be able to describe the smell. Thankfully we weren't there that long. I was also relieved beyond all belief once I figured out that the check in building was not a building where any of the children were living. For some reason, an image that I can't get out of my head was the dinner that belonged to the cat that apparently lived there. I looked down at my feet to see 2 wings, a head, a torso, and a beak shredded. That image paired with the smell will haunt me forever. That was obviously before I made it further through the day.

We left that building to meet a few other people in another building to take care of paperwork and more paperwork before meeting with the head doctor. I couldn't help but notice that this building smelled much better and it appeared that there were quite a bit of repairs taking place along with painting of the facility going on. I felt a little hopeful seeing this. Maybe there was progress being made around us. We were led to a small sterile looking room to wait for the doctor. This woman was so intimidating! No smiling, no chit chat, just business. After about 30 minutes of a Q&A round she led us off to meet our little boy. We had to go in and out of a series of different buildings up stairs, and through halls. I couldn't help but notice there were no kids out and about. I also couldn't help but notice that if doors happened to be opened, they were closed before we had the chance to see inside them. Actually, not a surprise considering all my reading on the orphanages that I had done up to this point. Everything seemed right on track with all the books.

We made it up to a little common area that contained a couch and some plants scattered throughout the room. I noticed a child on the couch with a caregiver and Charlie and I looked at each other both thinking "oh my gosh, look at that little baby"! All of a sudden everyone leading us to Dimitri stopped and looked at us with an expectant gaze. I was a little confused until our coordinator leaned over and told us that the little baby was in fact Dmitri. I walked over and picked him up and searched his little face for resemblance of the picture that I had been looking at every day over the past months. At first I thought no way...this is a mistake...they are trying to give us a different child. Our child is going to be 5 in July. This little boy can't be more than a year old! But he looked back and me and tilted his head back in just a way that looked just like the picture I had of him from more than 3 years ago...and I new it was him! My reaction was no where near what I thought it was going to be. I played out a different scenario in my head nearly every day since we committed to him. I always thought that I would cry. Surprisingly I didn't! Neither of us did. I was afraid of scaring him off! After a couple minutes of keeping our distance I scooped him up and put him on my lap. He felt just like he was supposed to be there!

We pulled out the family photo album I had made for him so show him pictures. He seemed more interested in the pictures of Charlie and me than the pictures of the kids which surprised us. We took pictures and video of him which he seemed to love. He had a smile all ready for the camera as soon as I pulled it out. It's so funny how he knew how to work it in front of the camera! The care workers around seemed to warm up to us along with the doctor. We were very fortunate to meet the social worker who was unbelievably nice! Unfortunately, we arrived at an inconvenient time...right before lunch and nap. We were only there 20 minutes before they told us that it was time for us to go. We all exchanged hugs and kisses before our little man waved goodbye to us and was on his way to eat. We would see him again the next afternoon, but leaving him was heartbreaking!

Monday, June 6, 2011

So...This Is Finally Happening!

I know that it has been a long time since I have posted anything new. I have been waiting for something to post about and it's been weeks since we have had anything post worthy. Well...finally...we have something! After waiting almost 5 long weeks after submitting our registration, we got a travel date assigned! We are going to meet our baby! We will be leaving on the 13th and heading back home on the 19th. We have so much to do this upcoming week but I'm glad that we got the date late notice. That way I don't have too much time to worry and stress. We were told that this orphanage has never adopted a child out before. So of course I have all kinds of "what if's" going through my mind. But mostly I have so many different scenarios going through my mind about this little boy that we are about to finally meet. How weird to think about actually touching him. For months all we have had is 1 out of date and blurry picture. What if he doesn't like us? What if we get denied? What if we are missing some document that freezes this whole thing yet again? But I know that I can't think like that. I just have to keep telling myself to give it ALL to Him. He has gotten us this far, He will get us the rest of the way!

Sorry about the extremely short update! We have so much paperwork to finish and so many phone calls and emails to make. I will try and do a better job posting. Especially while we are gone. Hopefully pictures to come soon!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Dear Anonymous Donor~

Dear Anonymous Donor~

To say thank you and that my family appreciates your donation to Paul’s fund would be one giant understatement. I keep searching my brain to find the words that would best fit how I feel, but I come up short. All I can think of is thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Yesterday was quite an emotional day for me. I think most of us, if not all of us, have had one of those days. The kind that starts off awful from the very beginning and just snowballs until you are about ready to crawl into bed for the remainder. Yesterday was one of those for me. I woke up to an email from our adoption coordinator. I used to think that those emails were the best until February. She usually had something helpful to send me, or something exciting dealing with the adoption. In February I got a phone call from her that traumatized me most likely for life. I don’t know how much of my story you know, but to make it short, we lost the first little boy we were trying to adopt. That heartbreaking news on the other end of the phone line sometimes causes me to cringe when I see anything from our agency. To my coordinator, if you are reading this, I love you and please don’t take that personally! So, I read that email and my heart sank. It was yet again news from Paul’s country that would delay us bringing him home. This time I have no idea for how long. If we are lucky, we will get our first visit this summer. As for the remaining two visits, I am not expecting anything until the fall. I started feeling like this is never going to happen. The adopting families I know get news like this all the time. It’s one step forward and two steps back. It makes me wonder what’s in store for us next. On top of that, the weather was gloomy and cold, I think I’m getting sick, and the short little men in my life were driving me crazy with their fighting!

Bedtime came for the boys and I was getting ready to pick up my laptop so I could take it to the couch, collapse for the evening, and make my “rounds” for the night. That consists of sitting down to my “control center” and monitor things dealing with Paul’s adoption for the evening. I first check my Facebook account to make sure I have posted all the fundraisers that are going on for Paul. Then I post our link so people hopefully donate to his account. Next, I check my email to see if I have anything from our agency, RR, or anyone hopefully responding to my requests to have a fundraiser at their place of business. Of course I had one from RR stating we had an anonymous donor contribute to Paul. Okay, so I have to admit, I had really high hopes. A friend of mine once told me that she had an anonymous donor contribute $1,000! As I clicked on the link to see how much the account had gone up I had all sorts of figures dancing around in my head! Maybe it would be $200, $500, maybe just maybe $1,000! Never…ever…would the amount of $5,000 ever have popped into my head.

I saw the total on the computer screen and then of course completely forgot what the total had been last time I looked. I knew that it was nowhere near what I was looking at, at that moment. After doing a quick calculation I had to ask Charlie do double check and then triple check what I had seen. Then came the tears again. This time they were tears of joy, happiness, excitement, hope, love, and restored faith in humanity.

I know that everyone knows the saying “money can’t buy happiness” but let me tell you, last night, it sure did. Your donation, along with the generosity of everyone else that had donated, or said a prayer, or forwarded Paul’s link, has carried us so far. We are so close to being fully funded that I can actually see a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. That is a light we have yet to see until last night. Our original goal for the fundraising was set at $21,000. That was because there was no way in the world Charlie and I could see us raising even that much money towards our adoption. Once we hit $19,000 I decided to raise it to $25,000. I raised it yesterday. The very day you took us right to it!

So, I want to take this time to tell you again thank you from the bottom of my heart and soul. Because of you and all the other donors we will not have to keep Paul waiting any longer than he has been. We will have all the money that is required of us. We will bring him home and love him like we love our other boys. We will love him the way that all children should be loved. I am also looking forward to having the chance to pay it forward. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I can’t say it enough!

The House Family

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Not So Patiently Waiting

Today marks 1 week from when our dossier was supposedly submitted. I say supposedly because I have not been told one way or the other if it was turned over to the committee who is supposed to be assigning a travel date for our family. I didn't think that I would survive this week, but I somehow have. Staying busy doing fundraisers is a good way to pass time until I hear something! This adoption has taught me so many things. One of them being patience....sort of. Multiple times a day I feel myself getting pulled towards the computer so I can send our adoption agency a quick email...just a quick one liner...asking if there is any news. Of course there is no news! Our agency wouldn't be sitting on that information, but I can't help it. Thankfully, I don't email or call her like I want to...need to. Instead, I just sit here and stare at my phone and check my inbox what seems to be about 1-2 million times a day, depending on my anxiety level on any given day.

Speaking of fundraisers, we had one over the weekend. To me, it was a flop. To other optimistic people in my life, they would say it was more than what we had before. I was really, really aiming for double what we brought in. We had a yard sale Saturday. For anyone that has not done one...ughh...it's so much work. We were up so late getting things ready and then up so early setting them up. The turn out was less than impressive. I can't believe how cheap some people are! I understand that it's a yard sale. So...come on...things are already dirt cheap. Even after telling the "customers" why were having the sale in the first place, most of them still tried to bargain with me. Of course I had to work with them because some was better than nothing. I then thought to myself...well maybe after haggling over the price, they will donate to our cause. After all, we had the big, bright, yellow box sitting right there in front of their faces! Not the case at all! One lady asked how much I was selling a paperback romance novel. I told her $2 and she was quite but out. She said quite loudly, for everyone to hear, "$2 for a book?!" Really lady, if you can't afford 2 bucks for a paperback book, you need to go back home and search the classifieds for a job. Done venting..and moving on.

Our next fundraiser is going to be an attempt at a charity golf event. So, if any of you know anything about golf, or have any suggestions for me, or want to help, that would be more than appreciated. I have never golfed in my life. The closest I came was in high school during P.E. We had a week of golf and I hated every second of it. I couldn't hit that little ball to save my life, so I spent the whole time throwing it in the direction it was supposed to go. So, with that said, I need some help. I am hoping that the course that I end up going with helps me out a great deal. When I say helps me out...I'm actually meaning does the whole thing for me and I just have to get the people there and advertise! Again, any suggestions would be much appreciated.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

You Guys Get It

It has been so long since I posted any updates, I thought that I should take the time to do so now while the little lads are sleeping! Yesterday was the big day. One of many big days we have coming up anyway. Our dossier, along with another family's was submitted to The Committee! Neither of us have heard anything, but I am going with the old saying that no news is good news. The last time we were submitted, we got a call right away...and not a good call. I think we all know that story! Now, we just wait for news on our first travel date. The one when we will meet our little boy for the first time. We will finally be able to hold him and hug him, instead of just kissing and touching the single picture that we have of him!

I am so grateful that another family is going through the exact same thing, at the exact same time. I have come to love and rely on the support that everyone from the adoption community has to offer. I love having someone that actually understands what it's all about. I am so grateful for the group that was created for our region by a wonderful woman that has gone before us to bring her beautiful little girl home! Without all of these wonderful families, I would have no idea where to turn to for answers and encouragement. My family and friends thankfully are supportive of the idea of adopting...thank you Jesus...because I know that many of you have not had the same support. But this support from our fellow families who are adopting, is so different and so needed. There is a difference in understanding, and understandably so. It hasn't been that long since I, myself didn't understand. Just like everything else in life, unless you walk the same path, the level of understanding is just so different. Nobody else gets it...I mean...really gets it.

I know that when I need to vent about how hard it is to get a psych report done on my kids at home that my fellow parents truly understand how hard it is. You all know how much time I spent on the phone just to find a psychologist that didn't have a wait time of 6 months to get us in. You understand the pain of paying for yet this one more thing that was added, because now that is just that much more money you are going to have to raise, money that wasn't accounted for already. Then there are the phone calls after phone calls to follow up, and the notarizing and please let's not forget the endless charges to the credit card to over night all of this paperwork.

I know that when I ask a question over and over again, you don't care. To ask what kind of time line I'm looking at before I get to see my baby, and to know that you guys understand that the anxiety and excited feelings at the same time is enough to make a person go crazy...that is a comfort to me!

I know that when I post the picture of my baby asking for donations and prayers without judgment is also greatly appreciated. I can count on you to re-post and you know what it actually means to me to see that someone cared enough to take the time to do so. I know that you don't get tired of seeing my advocacy for adoption on a daily basis just as I would never get tired of seeing yours. In fact, I look forward to seeing the progress that everyone is making.

I know that when I state my fears of not knowing what institution my baby is in...you get it. You understand the laying in bed at night wondering if he's just laying in a crib withering away, and every once in a while getting brown slop pushed off as food crammed down him in hurry. You know what it means to work as fast as you possibly can day and night to get your baby out of a horrid place like that before it's too late. To watch a Dateline special or read a book and wonder if that is happening to your baby at that moment...you understand. Your heart breaks into a million pieces when you see a post on Facebook that yet another orphaned child has passed because you truly understand what that meant. That beautiful angel died not knowing the warmth of the arms of mama and papa, something you are trying to avoid for you child just like I am mine.

So, although I know that I don't need to say thank you, I am anyway. Thank you to all of you out there that support our family, and thank you for being there and understanding. That's all any of us want...just to be understood.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Sad Reality, Part Two

Again...thank you Julia for letting me post your story for hopefully everyone to read! xoxo

The Sad Reality, Part Two
A few weeks ago I wrote a post called The Sad Reality (you can link to it HERE if you missed it). Writing that post drained me. I needed nearly two months to find the courage to write it. Then I needed over a week to write it, and several days to come out of the deep funk that writing it caused. We saw a lot of ugly things at the institute where Aaron lived. Some we will never share publicly. We chose to share The Sad Reality because there are too many children who have no voice with which to tell the world of their suffering, and we have a responsibility to be their voice, as Proverbs 31: 8-9 demands:

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy."

There is more to the story of The Sad Reality. I didn't want to write it, and just by thinking about it, I am already slipping into a funk that only God can heal. But the story needs telling. So here it is: The Sad Reality, Part Two.

We walked the mile to and from Aaron's institute sixty-five times before we were finally allowed to cart him away to freedom. Sixty-five times we entered those shoddy gates and trod those uneven walks. Sixty-five times we struggled to accept the sights, sounds and smells of a hidden world that shook us to the core. Sixty-five times we walked, watched and grieved.

It is difficult to describe the despair I felt every day as we passed a shed filled with boys who had absolutely nothing to do. It filled me with grief when some of them cried out, "Mama!" hoping that I could offer them the same escape I was offering Aaron. It was hard to process this world, in which survival of the fittest reigned and played out every day between boys of widely varying sizes and ages-- a world in which hitting, fighting and abuse is normal and goes largely unchecked. Beyond that, how could we face the reality of the hidden boys, the ones we only glimpsed, the ones whom we knew lay behind closed doors in their cribs-- silent, lonely, attention-starved, stiff, far beyond any hope of release-- dying?

We couldn't. We just walked back and forth to and from the institute, holding hands, supporting each other, joking about anything we could find, scheming about our blog posts, biding our time until the wheels of bureaucracy turned far enough to allow us to go back to our safe, predictable world with Aaron in tow.

Aaron's institute housed older boys from a wide area of his country. So far as we know, only a few had any family in town, and only about two or three of these had any visits during our time there. Because of this, his institute wasn't well set up for visitors. There were no indoor visiting rooms at all, and for outdoor visits there was only one designated area: a painted steel gazebo with rotting wooden benches, situated just outside the administration office's door.

Aaron quickly got tired of this gazebo. After a year of confinement, he was ready to explore, and we were his passport to freedom. For our part, we preferred the gazebo. It was our assigned visiting area, the only place anyone ever really gave us permission to be. We were safe there. No dogs bothered us there, and no one shooed us away there. Each time we followed our wandering fugitive out of that gazebo, we knew that we were setting ourselves up for trouble. And we did get into trouble, more than once.

We finally reached a compromise with Aaron. We gravitated toward a neutral spot at the center of the institute, a sort of crossroads from which we could see nearly everything that was happening there. We could see the main gate, so we wouldn't miss the arrivals and departures of the institute's vehicles-- in Aaron's opinion the most important events of any day. We could see the dining sheds in which the boys took meals and snacks (picture below, at Rob's back). And we were on the paths by which all three groups of outdoor boys reached these sheds, so we could watch and join their parades to and from meals. Just down the path (to Rob's right) was the shed filled with the moaning boys, the lowest-functioning of the outdoor boys. Beside us was the building in which they slept. We didn't really like being there, but Aaron was happy there, and at least when we were there no one could accuse us of spying.

And so the crossroads became our new home at the institute. By accident or design, we received an unspoken, tenuous permission to spend three hours every day at the center of a secretive facility. We saw nothing of what went on behind closed doors, but everything that happened in the open, we saw. That's how we came to see the second part of our sad reality.

In that lowest functioning group of outdoor boys, there were three older ones whom we got to know. They had a job carrying things back and forth from their shed area to their building, strange benches with multiple holes, so we saw them every day. All three were precious. One laughed and called out to Aaron and to us with glee every time he passed. His vocabulary was limited, but he always spoke with gusto. His legs were bent at odd angles, and one was much longer than the other, so he hobbled up and down the path each day; but he always laughed and clapped his hands, filled with joy. The second was silent, lost in his own world. He stared at us from a distance and gave us crooked smiles. The third was a sweet angel with Down Syndrome. He was short, bowlegged and as gentle as can be. Alone of the three, this one would wander over to spend time with us. He gently handled and played with Aaron's toys. He spoke to us softly. He was a perfect gentleman in his behavior. Unfortunately, in his person he was anything but gentlemanly. His smell was overpowering, and when he offered his hand for us to shake, we could see why: his hands were stained with excrement.

At first we assumed that he simply didn't know how to take care of himself. We also assumed that the caretakers gave older boys like him much less help in taking care of themselves than they gave the younger ones. It wasn't really surprising that a boy of his age and in his condition would need a bath.

But later, we began to understand that all three of these boys were dirty every day. And we knew that Aaron's institute had a good staff that wouldn't put up with filth. One day, every boy at that institute got new clothes in preparation for a visit from a psychiatric professional, but these three boys were still dirty. It took us forever to understand, finally, what was happening: The mysterious things the boys were carrying every day were potty benches. These boys were washing out potty chairs every day and moving the benches back and forth from the building to the shed. They were responsible for cleaning up after 20 boys every day, probably twice per day. They were the boys from "the picture," all grown up and graduated to the next logical step in their sad existence.

We already knew that the older boys performed essential jobs there. Aaron's institute was poor, and needed every available resource. They had to put the boys to work. We had seen some carrying water from the outside well, carrying laundry and setting tables in the sheds before meals. The luckiest ones worked with the hired caretakers on the grounds, bringing in food or keeping things neat. The unluckiest, our three friends, scrubbed the potty chairs. They did their job with an innocent willingness that brought tears to our eyes. And they carried the marks of their job everywhere they went, in the form of filth that in their circumstances was just too hard to remove.

Why do I share this? Why is poop so important? Because of the indignity of their situation. There is nothing wrong with requiring the boys to work; in fact, it is probably a benefit for most. But for these three sweet boys to end up in this sad situation, doomed to hold the least desirable job at the institute for who knows how long, is just deeply sad. It lowers them to subhuman status. As we said before, their plight is a result of poverty, not of neglect. Those caretakers do the best they can with what they have, and they work hard. Where there are no plumbing facilities for so many boys, someone must scrub potty chairs. The only practical way to solve the problem would be to remove these boys from their untenable situation. They simply shoudn't be there in the first place. If so many boys were not cast off at birth, doomed for life to impoverished institutions, then no one would have to scrub potty chairs for 20 boys at a time. If more people in their country and ours would open their homes to these children who have been orphaned through no fault of their own, then no one would have to suffer degradation like this. If the nutty bureaucracies of their country and ours didn't set up so many hurdles in the adoption track, then more of these poor kids could find homes and families of their own.

Nearly every child in the Eastern European orphanages (baby houses) who has a mental or physical disability is transferred to an institution like Aaron's by the age of four, five or six. All are stowed away in these underfunded institutes, in villages far off the beaten path. They receive no education and no therapy, so they make no progress. They will live and die at these places or the even worse adult institutions that await them. They have little to no hope of ever leaving. It is their sad reality.

And as long as they live in such places, the unlucky ones will get demeaning jobs like these. When we finally realized what was going on, our next thought was that this would probably be Brady's fate. He fits the profile. If no one rescues Brady, then he may very well spend his days scrubbing potty chairs and carting benches-- when he could be doing so much more. Poor Brady. How sad to have so little hope for the future when you're only six.

That's why we're still shouting about all of this months down the road. It's why we often find ourselves discussing, agonizing, praying and struggling with our memories and stories. It's why we want the church to march into these places. Where the church has entered, there have been life-giving changes for the boys and girls inside these institutions. We have no idea how it will happen, or when. We are two very small people with a bit of knowledge and little else. We don't know where to turn. We cry out again and again for God to send families for Brady and Heath. We can't believe that God would open those gates for us, leave us there far longer than need be, show us all of this hurt and then leave the situation forever unchanged.

All we know to do is pray, advocate, yell, holler, scream and shout. It takes a lot of time, and it's exhausting. Sometimes it seems pointless and fruitless. But those poor boys need a voice. They need someone to cry out for them. The Lost Boys need to be found.

The Sad Reality

Since I haven't had time to post anything new and exciting of my own lately, I got permission to post this insightful blog post the other day. I stumbled upon this post after searching Google for only God knows what and came across this. If there was any doubt that we were supposed to adopt, this post rid me of it. So for that Julia, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I encourage everyone to read this. It's long and heartbreaking but please don't let that be the cause in turning your head. It's sinful what happens to these innocent beautiful children, but even more sinful to know this is going on and to turn your head the other way just because it's uncomfortable or hard to read. Awareness is the first step to solving a problem. And although I know that this most likely will never be solved, we can still try. So if this story can just reach that 1 person like it did me...then it will all be worth it.

The Sad Reality
Many of you have seen this picture. It was taken back in 2006 at a special needs institute in Eastern Europe. It's a shocking picture that appears to speak of abuse and neglect. Soon after we committed to Aaron, I saw it on the internet. It stopped my heart. I could hardly look at it. It horrified me, because I knew that Aaron had been transferred to a special needs institute just like these poor boys. At that time, I had little idea what that meant. My one consolation was that the picture wasn't taken in Aaron's country.

Our first days at Aaron's institute were overwhelming-- the chaos and craziness, the unnerving sights, sounds and smells. We could hardly take it all in. We wanted to run and hide, play with Aaron separately in some safe corner away from all of the disquiet. But Aaron delighted in his new-found freedom, and he wanted to roam the grounds. Although he had lived at his institute for an entire year, he had seen only a small part of it. So he set out to explore, with the three of us in tow. It made us uncomfortable. We weren't sure the staff wanted us spying out their secrets, and we were embarrassed by some of the things we saw. So we tried to contain Aaron, keep him in our assigned gazebo up by the gate. But Aaron's legs could not be contained, and we had no parental authority with him as yet, so we walked.

His favorite new route took us past the shed where the lowest-functioning boys spent their summer days. They had absolutely nothing to do but wait for the next snack or mealtime. They all sat on their groundcloths, staring, moaning, crying. At first, we could hardly bear to look.

Around the corner was a large building which, we were told, used to house Aaron's group. It was crumbling, but the caretakers still used parts of it. On the far end was a shed for the institute's tractor and wagon. The near end contained what we thought were broken-down bathroom stalls with rows of potty chairs. Because it was doorless and dilapidated, we assumed that it was being used for storage. For several days, as we walked that way so that Aaron could see the tractor, we walked right by that shed full of boys and right by those filthy bathroom stalls with their rows of potty chairs without ever connecting the two. We thought we were seeing a junk pile. Our minds couldn't grasp what we were seeing.

Aaron also wanted us to see his friends from his group, the highest group. He wanted us to see his world, and he wanted his friends to see and share his new toys. We tried to stop him, but in the end we always went along. Because of Aaron's persistence, we were forced to face the uncomfortable sights, sounds and smells of his world all through those first weeks. The caretakers were uncomfortable with our presence, embarrassed by what we might see, but they didn't stop us.

Once again, much of what we saw didn't register. It was too chaotic to grasp at first glance. So the first time we rounded the corner and found Aaron's group all sitting on little chairs around the grounds, we didn't immediately understand. Our minds could only absorb it in small pieces. It took us a while to realize that we were seeing "The Picture," the one at the top of this post, in real life. It was a sad reality, shocking because we knew that our boy had lived this way for a year, but also softened because we knew the hearts of the caretakers.

I've prayed and considered how best to tell this part of our story. I don't want to sensationalize our experience, and I don't want to horrify anyone. I am not interested in raising an uproar, even if I could. I only want people to know about the plight of the children who aren't adopted from the baby houses and end up being transferred.

When you first see this picture you probably think, as I did, that it speaks of abuse and neglect. And so it may, in the place where it was taken. But neglect is not necessarily the norm in all such institutes. We have to understand that these Eastern European mental institutes are simply poor, extremely poor. These countries are poor, and most of their citizens are poor. We were told that a college-educated teacher might expect to make only about $3000 US per year. It is not surprising that in such impoverished countries, the poorest citizens-- orphans committed to mental institutions-- have to endure conditions that most of us find shocking. These institutions depend entirely upon money allotted to them by the government, and they're not high on the budget priority list. They rarely receive private donations-- those go to the baby houses-- and the church seems to be most interested in putting shiny brass roofs on all of its neglected buildings.

At Aaron's institute, the staff works hard to make ends meet. They feed the boys as well as they can, and although none of them are emaciated (unlike the picture), they do not have an overabundance of food. It is just enough. The staff is small, too small. The caretakers are overworked and grossly underpaid in their thankless, highly depressing jobs. Their caretaking chores include all of the cleaning and laundry for over 100 boys. They are also commissioned to weed the flower beds and sweep the sidewalks and yards. Many of the buildings don't have indoor plumbing, and even if they do, they are not equipped to handle large volumes.

Thus, the potty chairs. It is a very sad reality. The only way so few caretakers can manage the daily bodily functions of so many boys is to sit them all down on their potty chairs at the same time, several times each day. When you see cute little toddlers sitting on the potty, you get one picture; but walking in on about 20 older boys, all sitting undressed on tiny potty chairs, is a whole different image. It's an image I will never forget. In this case it speaks not of abuse, but of poverty. It speaks not of neglect, but of desperation. The exhausted caretakers at Aaron's institute love their boys, but need forces them to treat them like products on an assembly line. As time passed and we learned to know and love the individual boys, the indignity of their situation saddened us all the more.

Why do I share this? Because I have a duty to speak out for the helpless and the voiceless. We need to pray. We need to pray that God will inspire his church, in both that country and our own, to get its hands dirty, go into these forgotten institutes and minister to the Lost Boys and Girls. They need so much. Their caretakers are weary and overburdened.

At Aaron's institute, we have to send a powerful message that these boys are wanted. Aaron's adoption is not enough. Brady and Heath also desperately need families so that the authorities can see that there is hope for all the rest of the Lost Boys. They cannot be forgotten. I pray that God will show us how to open up Aaron's institute so that the church can go marching inside. I desire with all my heart to see His light and His love offered to those precious boys and their weary caretakers.

I have more images to share from our time there, but those are for other times and other posts.

For now, we ask you to pray, please. Please help us advocate for Brady and Heath. I am well aware that the Angel Tree is in full swing. We are praying for Gavin. My heart longs to see those baby house children snatched up before they are transferred to the places of no return. Each time one is transferred now I want to scream, because I know better than ever what "transfer" means. So I'm screaming for the Angel Tree now, because the babies need families now, before transfer. But we must not forget Heath and Brady during the coming season. I've shouted it out already: their time is short. Their institute's director is weary and skeptical, and she may close the door on them at any time. They need families. Please join me in praying and advocating for them.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I can't stop imagining what it's going to be like!

Yesterday was a giant leap for us! We turned in the last two...then what became the last three...pieces of paper that was required from us in order for our Russian coordinator to turn in our dossier to the committee! The first was a Child Specific form that will guide them toward the direction of Paul since everything is a "secret", the other was the insane psychological evaluation report done on the kids to make sure they don't turn on Paul once he is here, and the last was an updated committment form from our home study agency. That was turning out to be harder to get our hands on than the psych report. Let me tell you, that thing was almost impossible to acquire right up until the time I was supposed to pick it up...and then some!

Yesterday, Charlie and I drove to Richmond to get all of those apostilled...or super notarized! Last time we got something notarized to took about 3 hours to wait, which I thought was great. Yesterday, Charlie dropped me off at the door while he parked and by the time he got into the building, she was almost done! We walked a couple of blocks to FedEx, made our copies, then sent it overnight to our agency in Tucson! It should be there by 10:30 this morning! Can you tell my all the exclamation marks that I'm excited about this?! After she looks over everything she will send it off to Russia to meet our other documents that are just waiting to be submitted. Unfortunately, they only can submit dossiers every 2nd and 4th Monday and we just missed the point for the first one, so it will get submitted on the 25th. So everyone please pray that our papers are what they need to be and that they find themselves on the committee's lap with no problems, and that within 10 days they make a decision on a court date.

I am at the point where this all is starting to feel real again! Like it might actually happen after all. Of course I have my doubts and fears that I will get another phone call saying he is not available, or worse, we will get there and meet him and they won't let us bring him home. After this latest horrible situation in Russia in which "they" won't let wonderful parents bring home their son, I have worries they will do the same thing to us. That is every parents worse nightmare. For somebody to tell a parent that they can't bring home their child, I can't imagine!

I have been doing a lot of reading lately. I just finished up a book called The Boy in Baby House 10 about a boy in Moscow in the horrid conditions he was brought up in. He was bounced around from baby house to mental institution for years before being adopted by an American woman. The book did not hold back when describing baby house and institution. I was horrified when reading about the baby house. I quickly forgot about that after he was transferred. The conditions where more than terrible. This all took place in the mid to late 90's! I just pray that things have changed because my dear sweet boy is sitting in once of those places as I write this. I pray and pray that he knows that we are coming and that God has his arms wrapped tightly around him until we get there. I pray that once we meet him and he knows he has a papa and a mama his spirits will be lifted and he can make it until we come back on our final trip to bring him home.

I think about two days all the time. First, is the day that we meet him for the first time. What is it going to be like? How are we going to react? How is he going to react? All I can imagine is scooping him up and squeezing him and kissing him. Of course I don't want to scare the poor little boy to death! Second, is the day we get on that plane and head back here to his new home! I have thought about this so many times! I love looking at my fellow adoptive parents and their pictures, and blogs, and Facebook posts! Putting myself in their shoes gives me hope that this will soon be Charlie and me.

I heard the song I Can Only Imagine by Mercy Me yesterday and thought about Paul and thought about how fitting it was for our situation...along with the situation of so many others like us.

I can only imagine
What it will be like
When I walk
By your side

I can only imagine
What my eyes will see
When your face
Is before me
I can only imagine

Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine

I can only imagine
When that day comes
And I find myself
Standing in the Son

I can only imagine
When all I will do
Is forever
Forever worship You
I can only imagine

I can only imagine
When all I will do
Is forever, forever worship you

So until I have my sweet boy in my arms, I will just think of this song and imagine!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

You just broke your child...congratulations...

You just broke your child. Congratulations by Dan Pearce

October 6, 2010 by Scott Hammond
Filed under Family, Fathering

You just broke your child. Congratulations.
Dads. Stop breaking your children. Please.

I feel a need to write this post after what I witnessed at Costco yesterday. Forgive me for another post written in desperation and anger. Please read all the way to the end. I know it’s long, but this is something that needs to be said. It’s something that needs to be heard. It’s something that needs to be shared.

As Noah and I stood in line to make a return, I watched as a little boy (he couldn’t have been older than six) looked up at his dad and asked very timidly if they could buy some ice cream when they were done. The father glared him down, and through clenched teeth, growled at the boy to “leave him alone and be quiet”. The boy quickly cowered to the wall where he stood motionless and hurt for some time.

The line slowly progressed and the child eventually shuffled back to his father as he quietly hummed a childish tune, seemingly having forgotten the anger his father had just shown. The father again turned and scolded the boy for making too much noise. The boy again shrunk back and cowered against the wall, wilted.

I was agitated. I was confused. How could this man not see what I see? How could this man not see what a beautiful spirit stood in his shadow? How could this man be so quick to stub out all happiness in his own boy? How could this man not cherish the only time he’ll ever have to be everything to this boy? To be the person that matters most to this boy?

We were three from the front now, and the boy started to come towards his dad yet again. His dad immediately stepped out of the line, jammed his fingers into his son’s collar bones until he winced in pain, and threatened him. “If you so much as make a sound or come off of that wall again, I promise you’re going to get it when we get home.” The boy again cowered against the wall. This time, he didn’t move. He didn’t make a sound. His beautiful face pointed down, locked to the floor and expressionless. He had been broken. And that’s how his father wanted it. He didn’t want to deal with him, and breaking him was the easiest way.

And we wonder why so many of our kids grow up to be screwed up.

I’m going to be blunt. People see my relationship with Noah, and quite often put me up on a pedestal or sing my praises for loving him more than most dads love their own kids.

Damn it. I don’t understand that, and I’ll never understand that. Loving my son, building my son, touching my son, playing with my son, being with my son… these aren’t tasks that only super dads can perform. These are tasks that every dad should perform. Always. Without fail. There is nothing special about me. I am a dad who loves his son and would literally do anything for his well-being, safety, and health. I would gladly take a rake in the face or a jackhammer to my feet before I cut my own son down or make him feel small.

[sigh] I am far from a perfect dad. And I always will be. But I’m a damn good dad, and my son will always feel bigger than anything life can throw at him. Why? Because I get it. I get the power a dad has in a child’s life, and in a child’s level of self-belief. I get that everything I ever do and ever say to my son will be absorbed, for good or for bad. What I don’t get is how some dads don’t get it.

Dads. Do your faces light up when you first see your child in the morning or when you come home from work? Do you not understand that a child’s entire sense of value can revolve around what they see in your face when you first see them?

Dads. Do you not realize that a child is what you tell them they are? That people almost always become what they are labeled? Was whatever your child just did really the “dumbest thing you’ve ever seen somebody do”? Was it really the “most ridiculous thing they ever could have done”? Do you really believe that your child is an idiot? Because she now does. Think about that. Because you said it, she now believes it. Bravo.

Dads. Do you honestly expect anybody to believe that you can’t find 20 minutes to step away from your computer or turn off the television to play with your child? It has to happen every single day. Do you not understand that children will hinge their entire facet of trust on whether or not their dad plays with them and how involved he is when he plays with them? Do you know the damage you do by not playing with your children every day?

Dads. Should anybody buy into this silly notion that anger is sometimes or often necessary? Do you not understand that anger is almost always an emotion for people who wish to control others while simultaneously failing to control themselves? Do you not know that there are incredible books and courses that can teach you better methods? Most importantly, do you not see the speed at which a child is crushed or becomes completely defiant when anger rules the roost? Are you that desensitized to the luminosity of your child’s spirit that it doesn’t crush you completely when they flinch or cower in your presence? Is that really what you want your child to do? To fear you?

Dads. Do you not realize that your child needs to feel your skin on his? Do you not realize the incredible and powerful bond that skin on skin contact with your daughter will give you? Do you not understand the permanent mental connections that are made when you stroke your son’s bare back or rub your daughter’s bare tummy while you tell bedtime stories? And if any idiot says anything about that being inappropriate, you’re gonna get kicked in the face, first by me, and then by every other good dad out there. Touching your child is your duty as a father.

Dads. Wake up! These precious souls that have been put into your care are unique and so very sensitive. Everything you say or don’t say will impact their ability, success, and happiness throughout their entire lives.

Do you not realize that your kids are going to make mistakes, and a lot of them? Do you not realize the damage you do when you push your son’s nose into his mishaps or make your daughter feel worthless because she bumped or spilled something? Do you have any idea how easy it is to make your child feel abject? It’s as simple as letting out the words, “why would you do that!?” or “how many times have I told you…”

Let me ask you this. Have you ever looked into the swollen eyes of a parent who’s child has just died?

I have.

Have you ever cried through a child’s funeral?

I have.

Have you ever touched a wooden box with a child inside? A permanent tomb from which another laugh or giggle will never sound?

I have.

If you want the motivation to be the best parent on earth, do that just one time. I pray you never have to.

Dads. It’s time to tell our kids that we love them. Constantly. It’s time to show our kids that we love them. Constantly. It’s time to take joy in their twenty-thousand daily questions and their inability to do things as quickly as we’d like. It’s time to take joy in their quirks and their ticks. It’s time to take joy in their facial expressions and their mispronounced words. It’s time to take joy in everything that our kids are.

It’s time to stand up and ask what we can do to be better dads. It’s time to get our priorities straight. It’s time to come home and actually be a dad.

Dads. It’s time to show our sons how to properly treat a woman. It’s time to show our daughters how a girl should expect be treated. It’s time to show forgiveness and compassion. It’s time to show our children empathy. It’s time to break social norms and teach a healthier way of life! It’s time to teach good gender roles and to ditch the unnecessary ones. Does it really matter if your son likes the color pink? Is it going to hurt anybody? Do you not see the damage it inflicts to tell a boy that there is something wrong with him because he likes a certain color? Do we not see the damage we do in labeling our girls “tom boys” or our boys “feminine” just because they have their own likes and opinions on things? Things that really don’t matter?

Dads. Speak softly to your sons. Speak calmly to your daughters. Who do you want your child to be? Do you want him to be the kid at school that sits by himself with absolutely no friends or self esteem? Or do you want him to be the kid running for class office and feeling like he deserves to win it? Do we not see that we have the power to give that to our children? Do we not see that we have the power to teach our children the tools of societal survival?

Dads. Do we not see the influence we have when we say we believe in one thing, but our children see us living something else? Do we not realize how little we encourage our children to actually decide what they believe, declare what they believe, and then live by it? Whether it’s religion, politics, sports, or societal norms. It is not our place to tell our kids what to think. It is our place to teach our kids to think correctly. If we do this, we need have no fear of what they will decide for themselves and how strongly they’ll stand behind it. A man will follow his own convictions to his death, but he’ll only follow another man’s convictions until he steps in manure.

Damn it, Dads. Every child has the innate right to ask for ice cream without being belittled and broken. Every child has the innate right to do so without being made to cower in the corner because the man who is supposed to be his hero is actually a small, small man altogether. Every child has the innate right to be happy, and giggle, and laugh, and play. Why aren’t you letting them? Every child on earth has the right to a dad who thinks before he speaks; a dad who understands the great power that has been given to him to ultimately shape another human being’s life; a dad who loves his child more than he loves his television shows or sports games; a dad who loves his child more than his material junk; a dad who loves his child more than his time. Every child deserves a superhero dad.

Maybe the truth is that a lot of dads don’t deserve their kids.

Maybe the truth is that a lot of dads aren’t really dads at all.

I apologize for the heatedness of my post. I believe a part of me feels like a coward for not saying something to the man in front of me at Costco. Consider this post to be my penance. Perhaps a part of me feels that if even one person reads this and decides to be a better dad, it was worth every second that I spent typing it. If one child has a better life because something in my words stirred their father to step up their game, then it was worth every ounce of begging and pleading with you to share this with others, of which I am inevitably going to be guilty.

Dads. Children are gifts. They are not ours for the breaking. They are ours for the making. So stand up with me and show the world that there are a lot of good dads around.

To the men and women who read this post… married or not… parent or not… share this post on Facebook and Twitter, even if it doesn’t apply to you because you’re already all these things. If you’ve ever seen a father break his child, share it. You never know what child might get his superhero dad back. You never know what tiny spirit might feel just a little more loved because Dad took the time to tuck her in tonight.

All because you were willing to paste one link and ask others to read it.

Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing Pleading