Thursday, May 31, 2012

Day 42: Passport pictures done

You just cannot believe how indescribably happy I was to see the boys today!!!  My heart is so full!  It was a rushed and hectic day so I did not get to interact with them too much but just to be able to see and hug them was such a sweet gift!

We picked up Joey first and poor little guy, he was very pale and had little scabs everywhere from the chickenpox.  He looks like he had them pretty bad, I found scabs in between his fingers, in his ears, everywhere.  My heart aches so bad that he had to go through that alone...I am so crushed!  Like I said he was pale and was also more withdrawn then usual.  He was happy to see his 'cubici' but did not seem all that excited to see me.  Who can blame him, he has been through so much.  I can tell there has been a little regression and the CP is more noticeable in his legs, he had a much harder time walking and climbing stairs.  I imagine laying in a hospital bed for days on end without any natural stretching that comes from just being able to move around has his little muscles tight again.  But even with all he has been through you can still see the joy he has, he is such an absolute blessing!

Then we went to pick up Valentin.  He was whining a bit as the nurse brought him in the stroller to the car, but seemed content.  He smiled at me but was busy looking at everything around him.  My goodness even just the trip to the car was probably the farthest from his crib he has ever been!  His eyes were VERY red and I don't know why.  I pray he does not have pink eye!!!  I felt his head to see if he had a fever but he felt okay.  I am hoping I can get a better look tomorrow.

My driver was very much controlling everything today and it was all about business.  He did not let me go into the orphanage to get either one of the boys or to drop them back off.  I was made to sit in the front seat so the nurse could sit in the back with the boys.  Really the only time I got to even touch them was while we were waiting in the passport office.  But the good news is that I will be back to regular visits with them tomorrow.

So how did the long car ride and time at the passport office go????


Both of the boys did great in the car.  I worried most about Valentin because he has had the least exposure to stimuli and I wondered if the car ride would be too overwhelming.  God gave both those boys so much peace in their little hearts, it was not over whelming for either of them.  There was no motion sickness although Joey did start to look like he was not feeling well on the way back.  I am a little worried about him since he seemed so pale and fatigued so I will try to take some fruit or something for him tomorrow.  Valentin did pretty good in car, he cried and screamed just a little bit (mostly after the car had stopped and then suddenly started moving again) but for the most part I think he really enjoyed it!  He laughed a lot when the driver would go fast.  I remember a while ago when I took him for a walk at the orphanage I took him by the road and he would get so excited every time a car would go by.  Each time a car went by I would teach him the noise a car makes.  Sure enough when we started to leave the orphanage in the car he made the noise I taught him.  Smart little guy knew he was finally in a car!

Once we got to the passport office and even on the street after we parked we were quite a spectacle.  Valentin did scream and cry quite a bit at that point and it was hard to get him to calm down.  As you can imagine everyone within 50 feet of us was staring, especially inside the passport office.  Valentin did eventually calm down but spent most of the time babbling.  His babbling is loud at the orphanage but it was especially loud at the passport office.  And you know what, I was not about to try to shush him, no matter what anyone thought!  Babble away my sweet boy!

Joey for the most part just wanted to play with his 'cubici'.  But the funny thing is that since I always bring him blocks in either my bag or a little backpack I think he thinks everyones bag is fair game.  I had to work hard to keep him from going through everyones purses and bags there.  Little pickpocket.  Also, I think I have described before that he really does not know how to show affection so his way of hugging is to come behind someone and put his face or mouth on them.  He really is trying to be sweet.  He tried to do that to a man sitting next to him so I had to keep a close eye on him but he played so well with his blocks and let me hug him more then I probably should have :)  Sorry for the blurry picture.

This was the first time the boys had met so it was interesting to see how they would get along.  They ignored each other most of the car ride but at the passport office Joey was taking his blocks in and out of his backpack and Valentin wanted to take his toy in and out of it too.  Joey was having none of that but quickly let him after I asked him to share.  I think it will be harder for Joey to get used to Valentin then for Valentin to get used to Joey.  I am just so happy I finally had them both in one place!

Can you see how red Valentin's eyes are?!?!

We had to wait about a half hour at the passport office before we got into an office to take their pictures.  They did pretty well having their picture taken but the woman could not get a decent picture no matter what we tried so we just took what we could get.  They are pretty funny pictures!

I think the hardest part of the day was all the staring at the boys.  The stares don't bother me, God made up my mind long ago not to worry about what people think (as long as I am in His will of course).  But my mama instincts come out and my first reaction was to scream "they are children, created in the image of God and precious in His sight.  You are not better then them, they are not animals to be locked away" and I could go on.  But the Holy Spirit gently brought to mind the fact that this may be the first time many of those people have even seen a child with a mental or physical disability.  I have been in this country a while now and I can tell you I have not see ONE person out in public with an obvious disability.  NOT ONE.  They are so shut away in this country, banished to orphanages and mental institutions.  Have I mentioned that other then the 2 groupas that get to go outside I still have not seen one single child from the over 7 other rooms in Valentin's building?  When I say Valentin and most other children at that orphanage spend 24 hours a day in a crib, I mean 24 hours a day!  I wanted to scream but that would have been counterproductive so I smiled and I spent the time playing with the boys and showering them with hugs and kisses as I prayed that God would change hearts and minds.  I pray the light of Jesus came through and I am happy my boys got to be precious little testimonies of God's love today!

All in all it was a great day and it showed me that we can totally handle the train and flights home.  It won't be easy but I have complete faith that God will give the boys enough peace in their little hearts to handle it all, just as He did today!

I love that they got their first taste of freedom...soon my boys...soon your new life will begin!!!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Day 41: Lots of Paperwork

Today was the official crazy paper chase day.  And I mean crazy!  My facilitator and driver picked me up at 7:30 and we went to the court house to pick up our OFFICAL COURT DECREE stating we are the boys' parents!!!  I cannot tell you how exciting it was to see those pieces of paper!  The Judge was an hour and a half late so we sat waiting in the car for an hour and a half.  I have learned that this is the general attitude and work ethic so we get used to it.  We joke that somedays it's a wonder that anyone works at all.  What can you do but just laugh and go with the it?  All the waiting gave me an opportunity to take a picture of the courthouse since I forgot last time.

So once we had the court decree at 9:30 it was time to get Joey's birth certificate changed to his new name and stating us as parents.

***Many of you have asked about what we are naming the boys.  No they will not be Valentin and Joey.  I want so badly to share their new names with you but we have decided not to on this blog.  95 percent of the comments on here are positive and most of you would never do or say anything to harm our kids....but it's always those few that ruin it for everyone.  We have received some almost threatening comments but more then that is the fact that some very small but very hateful groups have set up their own websites and blogs and their goal seems to be to mock international adoption and spew as much hateful things as they can.  It is important to protect our kids, you never know how far these mean people will take what they say and we don't want them to know our kids by name.  Sadly that means we cannot share them here.  It makes it confusing when talking to our friends and family because they know the boys as Valentin and Joey so when we are using their 'real' names it gets confusing.  It's really sad that a few hateful people have to ruin it :(  Sorry.

To get Joey's birth certificate changed we had to travel to the village he was born in or at least the closest local administration (I do not know yet if the village we went to was where he was born but at least I know it was close if not).  It was about an hour and a half drive away.  It would have been more like a 2 or more hour drive but our do I explain our driver?  Let's just say he has a fast car that handles well and when he says he is going to get you somewhere - he's gonna get you there quickly.  Traffic, bumpy roads, it doesn't matter.  This is particularly for my husband - honey I knew we were in for a ride when they both buckled their seat belts and the driver put his glasses on!  We had a lot to squeeze in today if we were still going to make our flight that we already booked for next week so I appreciated the urgency and thank God that I am still alive :)

The drive to the village was absolutely beautiful.  And the farms and villages we passed along the way were so quant and charming.  In the States we live in the desert so seeing all the rolling hills of green here was breathtaking.  The pictures were taken at mach speed through a dirty window so they just don't do it justice.

We came across a beautiful reservoir and my facilitator said it is where the drinking water in the city I am staying in comes from.  I wouldn't know, I am not drinking the water especially after how sick I got.  But it was a beautiful lake!

After asking for directions we found the local administration office.  I had been warned by the team and other families that sometime you can drive all the way out there just to find that no one came to work or that it is closed for the day.  I prayed that it would be open and not only was it open by 4 ladies helped us and they were some of the kindest people I have worked with here.  They got the birth certificate done in probably under a half hour.  I am not much of a city girl even in the States so maybe I tend to gravitate toward more rural areas and way of living anyway, but I fell in love with this country being outside of the city.  I really struggle in the city, but today as I saw how kind people are in this village, it changed my whole thinking toward this country.  Plus I would love to have a ranch where we could farm and be fairly self-sufficient so seeing these rows of house all with their own yard garden and people walking around with their goats and cows while chickens run around was pure joy.  I guess I am more the country girl no matter what country I am in.  Anyway I was really pleasantly surprised by the village and it really had me reevaluating my opinion of this country!

Somehow I also felt closer to Joey.  Even though he hardly ever lived there I felt like I got a taste of his heritage and I tried to picture what his birth family might be like.  His sister and brother live with his grandparent in a village not far from there so I tried to picture what their lives must be like.  It is very important to Tyler and I that we leave the door open for our adopted kids to explore their birth countries and try to find their birth families if they choose to, so I am so excited by these adoptions because I can tell them about the places they are from and there is birth information and family information available to them.  With our China kiddos we sadly don't have any of that.

I am so mad at myself that I only took one picture there.  I was too busy watching all the people and looking at the animals and farms that I completely forgot to get my camera out.  I cannot tell you how mad I am at myself!  So whats the one picture I took?  I had to go potty before we made the long trip back to the city and asked for a restroom.  My facilitator said "in the yard, can you wait?"  Not an hour and a half and what do you mean by in the yard?  I have done a lot of camping so wilderness peeing doesn't bother me but certainly it would in someones yard.  Those funny things that don't translate was an outhouse in the back yard.  Like I said I am a country girl at heart so an outhouse will do, I am just happy if it has a door.  So this is what you get at the local administration office of several small villages:

And I loved it, it added to the experience of my crazy day :)

So then it was back to the city since that is where Valentin was born and they took me back to my apartment while my facilitator went to the birth certificate office here for Valentin's birth certificate change.  She said it always takes them 3 hours and I do not have to be there until the end to sign so she graciously let me stay at the apartment while she took care of it.  The driver came to pick me up about 2 hours later.  It was coming down to the wire because it was almost 5:00 and we still needed this change to Valentin's birth certificate and we needed to run and get both boys' names changed on their identification numbers (the equivalent of our social security numbers).  Finally we got Valentin's changed birth certificate at 5:30 and I was so disappointed at how rude the workers were after I had such a great time with the workers at the village office.  It really shows you the different between city and rural areas!

This is where having a well established team came in very handy, my facilitator knows the woman at the identification number office so she called her and even though it was after hours she said she would wait for us.  This is a huge blessing because if not it would have thrown us off a day and we would have to change our flights next week.  We got the names on their identification numbers changed in about an hour.

It has been a very crazy 2 days but I am thanking God that nothing has been held up and that it is really working out very well and on schedule.  I cannot tell you all how good it feels to finally be here at this stage, nearing the end.  I am so excited!

And guess what????  I GET TO SEE THE BOYS TOMORROW!  I am thrilled!  Tomorrow morning we  get to take them out of the orphanages and bring them here to the city for passport pictures.  It's going to be interesting to take them out of the orphanages and will give me my first glimpse of how they will handle new environments and changes.  I am praying they have built enough trust with me that I am able to help them.  One of the orphanage nurses will come with Valentin, just in case.  We shall see how it goes...

Monday, May 28, 2012

Day 40: I'm back...again

I am writing this through a jet lag haze so you will have to forgive me in advance for the grammar, etc...

I made it back to the boys’ country and was met at the airport by my faciliator and her husband.  They said “Hello, let’s go.”  And boy did they mean go!  I am glad I brushed my teeth and freshened up on the plane because they had me running all over the place all afternoon.  But man, when they say they are going to get something done…they get it D.O.N.E.!

A quick update on Joey – I was so sad to learn today that no one visited him while he was in the hospital.  By now we know how the orphanages are and really I did not expect that anyone would visit him but since he is in a ‘better’  (although better compared to horrendous is not saying that much) I had hoped that maybe one of his nannies would, but sadly no.  Our facilitator called the hospital and they said he would only be allowed to check out of the hospital on Fridays.  Taking him out this Friday would possibly hold up paperwork and would keep me from seeing him so my facilitator signed him out of the hospital last Friday and took him back to the orphanage.  I think this is really amazing because by signing him out she was taking all the liability upon herself.  She knew it was beter for him and for us so she did it.  I am very grateful!  So our sweet little Joey is at least back in his groupa where things are at least familiar.  He ought to be healed by now and our facilitator thought he was when she saw him so the extra time in the hospital was not benefiting anyone, especially Joey, poor guy he was probably lonely and confused.

So from the airport we threw my luggage in the trunk and drove all over the place.  We went first to some office to get documents, I have no idea who’s office or what documents.  It became very clear that on paperchase days you keep your head down, go with the flow, and sit in the car unless they call you to come.  After sitting on 4 long plane rides it was not much fun to be sitting in the car all afternoon but it felt incredible productive!

Finally everyone, we are nearing the end…they are legally our boys all we have to do is make it through all this paperwork!  So to be at this point, even as boring as it is, feels like such a relief!

Anyway after we got whatever documents we got we headed to the notary office, then the court house (which is away from the city in the same village the orphanages are in) to pick up the court decree (stating us as their parents!).  We found out the court will not release the decree until tomorrow but they did get it ready and stamped so my facilitator could take a copy to the notary.  After we left the courthouse we went to both orphanages to get another document.  I cannot tell you how hard it was to be right there in front of the orphanage and not to be able to see my boys.  Broke my heart.  It was all I could think about.  But there was a lot to be done before the end of the business day so we moved on.

We could not get a document from Joey’s orphanage so our facilitator called the lawyer for the orphanage, she was not in the village, she was in the city shopping, so we ran back to the city outside a shopping area and she had it in her purse.  Then it was back to the notary where I signed our official requests for their passports!!!  Then it was off to exchange some money, stock up at the grocery store, and to the train station to send a dossier we brought over for another family.  I finally just ate my first meal at about 7:00pm...I could stand to lose a few pounds so this is not a bad thing.

Today it feels like it is all coming together and the end feels like it is in sight now…I am a very happy mama!

Tomorrow it is all about getting the boys’ birth certificates changed and their names changed on their (what eqeals our social security) numbers.  These things have to be done in the city/village each child was born in which is not a problem for Valentin because our apartment is in his birth city, but Joey was born about a hour and a half away.  It will be a lot more car rides and sitting around, but again I am just so excited to be near the end!!!!

Sadly I will not visit the boys tomorrow either, our facilitator told us there will not be time.  But I will, Lord willing, see them on Wednesday.  I can hardly contain myself...

A few days ago I came across these pictures of Joey on the internet.  There is a group that brought gifts to his orphanage and took pictures, I could not believe it when I saw our little Joey.  These pictures were taken very shortly after he was transferred to that boarding school.  He is the one in a light and dark blue sweat shirt.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Day 38: Getting ready to go back

In 2 short days I will be returning to those precious Eastern European boys of ours for what, Lord willing, will be our last trip and the beginning of bringing them HOME!!!  Once again I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at home but once again I have missed those boys with a desperate longing to be with them.  I have been especially sad about not being able to see Joey and I pray that I will be able to see him when I return.  Making 3 trips to their country is not at all how we thought this was all going to work out.  We really thought Tyler would make 2 trips and I would stay the entire time.  Haha, that's what we get for making plans, and didn't God warn us about that..."Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow..."  

It has been a busy time here at home, if you have left us a message or sent us an email, chances are they have gone unreturned.  I just cannot seem to keep up with the calls I need to return, the emails and messages I need to respond to, and sadly the thanks you's I so desperately need to say.  Please accept my sincere apology if you have not heard from me or received a thank you, I am so very sorry.  I hope to catch up soon.

And boy am I full of thank you's!  Some very kind friends did a Pampered Chef/Premier Design fund raiser for us.  I cannot thank you enough for doing the fund raiser (I know how much time and effort you put into it) and also to all those who attended and donated!  I am humbled by your heart to serve and help!!!  And the checks that show up in the have me in tears almost daily!  I want so badly to list all of you by name here and sing your praises, but once again I will leave the praises and rewards to God.  But please know each and every one of you are so loved and appreciated!!!  And the MANY nameless donors we don't even know's almost too much to take in.  I look at the total that has been donated and I am blown away...I wish I had more eloquent words but I am just simply blown away.  

We have not even once had to worry about money.  I cannot tell you how that comforts an adopting family!!!  As hard as this process has already been, the hard part has not even begun.  The hard part will be bringing them home and those days, weeks, months, and years of adjusting, testing, bonding, treating, and healing at home.  To not have to worry about paying off loans or credit cards during that time is an amazing blessing!!!!  Thank you to each and every one of you who have donated!

I will say it a million times, we could not do this without your donations and prayers!

The other day Tyler and I finally had a second to update our spreadsheet tracking how much we have spent on this adoption.  When we looked at how much we have spent and how much has been donated, can you believe the totals were within $200 of each other.  Is that God or what?!?!  Not too much and not too little...just what is needed to rescue the boys!  Brings to mind Proverbs 30:8 "...give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me."  I mean come on...within $200...

We continue to sing His praises...for setting this road before us and equipping us (as broken and miserably flawed as we are) for the work.  This has been a season of great dependance on God.  A season of failure and forgiveness, falling away and recommitment, lack and equipping, heavy doses of the Holy Spirit and a lot of growth.  We have certainly learned the difference between reading scripture and LIVING scripture!  Scripture at times has been our only source of assurance and confidence.  Never before have we clung so tightly to God's word and to His promises...and He never disappoints does He?!?!  Like I said, we know the really tough days are yet to come, but God has given us this season of dependance, growth, preparation, miracles, and promises kept to sustain us during the hard times ahead.  Do I say it enough...He is so good!  And I think I have said it before but we really do appreciate and hang on every comment you guys leave and every email or message we receive.  They too are encouraging words we can turn to when the hard days come.  Thank you for that!!!

So hopefully I will be back to daily blogging when I get back to their country.  Next week will be full of paperwork...changing their birth certificates and the equivalent of social security numbers and getting their passports.  If everything goes as our facilitator says we should have passports by the 4th and then all we will need is visas from the US Embassy which requires a medical exam and LOTS of paperwork.  Tyler will be joining me in country for the Embassy part and then Lord willing we will be bringing them home on the 7th.  We already booked flights home for the 7th (to try to get reasonable fares and to be able to get 4 seats together) so we are really hoping it will all work out.

I know it would be very easy for all of you to get tired of reading our posts and praying for us, so we thank you as we ask for continued prayers that we would be able to see Joey and for the process to work out and we could come home by the 7th.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A confession

I have a confession to make.  With each passing day since we have begun the in-country part of these adoptions I have let more and more bitterness creep into my heart.  So much so that it has blinded me to the reason we started all this in the first place.  I have become so discouraged with the local facilitation team, the negative remarks and comments we receive, and other things that have been put in our path to try to throw us off why we are doing this.  I have found myself complaining far more then I am praising God for the opportunity to serve Him.  I knew this was happening as I became less and less on fire for the work God called us to.  I am very ashamed to admit this, especially so publicly.  But by God's grace, I read a blog post from a dear friend.  She is home with a newly adopted child and a newborn plus her five other children (2 adopted in the last two years) and 2 step children.  Here is some of what she said:

This is how it is going.  It's real. It's not pretty.  Adoption isn't all rainbows and hand holding and smiles.  Nope.  Those things are there ~sometimes.  But it's work.  No, it's a work of the Lord.  We don't adopt (or continue to adopt) because it is self-fulfilling and self-gratifying.  Sure, we know what we've done and how we've changed a child's life.  That's good.  The 'goodness' of it isn't reason enough to adopt. 

We aren't doing this for a pat on the back and a 'good job' and 'you're a good person' from family, friends and strangers.  Those words could NEVER carry us through the days I described above.  It's not enough.  Words are weak and empty when measured against cleaning your carpet for the 3rd time that day while a baby and 2 or 3 toddlers scream in the background.  Words are empty and useless UNLESS they are the WORDS of God.  THIS is why we continue to grow our family.  Why we are willing to pay the fees, travel the world and bring home a child who (at first) is angry, hurt and completely unappreciative of ANY of the sacrifices we have made.  A child who demands and wants and doesn't care that we have changed the face of our family to make room for him.  Because of WORDs with power, like this.............

12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.  Colossians 3:12-15

14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.   Phillippians 2:14-16

Adopting has brought new meaning to putting on tender mercies, kindness, meekness, longsuffering and bearing with one another.  I'm learning not to complain in the midst of difficulties.  I'm learning what it means to be poured out ~because at the end of the day....I'm done and there is nothing left.  I've gotten to talk to my bigs about what it is to glory in tribulations and the growth that comes from it and where their hope lies and how they stand in GRACE.  So many good things.  

In today's world, we run from suffering.  We avoid it because it's painful.  The Word of God says differently.  We are saved through suffering.  Our salvation cost Jesus.  There was a price to be paid and pain to be experienced.  Why should the adoption of our son be any different?  It costs us and it's painful.  But there is beauty rising from these ashes........

So, THIS is where we are at.  Pray for us.  Pray for our son.  Don't pity us or feel sorry for us.  We are right where we should be.  We won't be here forever.  But for now, we trust our Creator for the things we which pain us, knowing it's a worthy battle we fight.  The life of a child who was lost in an orphanage......that life has new meaning, new value and a fresh start.  

Powerful words from a powerful woman of God.  A dear friend I respect tremendously!  She is digging deep and finding the grace I so casually let slip away.  Her post struck me to the core, it convicted me big time, then it encouraged me, then it led us to hit our knees once again asking for forgiveness.  Tyler and I have been praying all day for forgiveness and for a renewed vigor to not only work to rescue these boys but also to do it with loving hearts towards everyone we encounter.

So I sincerely apologize for the bitterness and complaining I have let creep into these blog posts.  We move forward in the joy of serving the Lord and in the opportunity to shine His light in dark places.

Friday, May 18, 2012


Valentin and Joey are officially our boys!!!!

Our facilitator and driver picked us up at about 1:00 and we went to pick up the Prosecutor.  It was funny to think that I was sitting next to the Prosecutor in our case as if she were prosecuting us, but her job was just to testify that the birthparents had relinquished their parental rights.  We arrived at the local courthouse near the boys' orphanages and were joined in the courtroom by the local social worker, two lawyers one from each orphanage, the Judge and his assistant, and two local men from the town that I think were serving as jury type positions.  It was a lot more informal then we thought it would be.

The judge read over some paperwork while our facilitator translated for us.  He then asked us some questions like "Names, birthdate, address, what we did for a living, about our kids at home, why we wanted to adopt from that specific country, and why we wanted to adopt these two boys in particular."  He asked the lawyers for the orphanages, the social worker, and the prosecutor if they all agreed to the adoptions and each agreed.

Then he read through all the court documents, at least 100 of them.  We learned that Valentin's birthparents surrendered their parental rights at his birth.  Joey was taken away from his birth mom by the state and the authorities removed her parental rights.  Sadly she died in March so he had her death certificate too.  Joey has an aunt, uncle, older brother, and older sister all of whom recently signed a statement releasing their rights to him.  All of this saddened us.  Hearing one rejection after another just absolutely broke our hearts.  We could not help but get emotional as the judge read that "no one has ever visited either boy and that no one has ever shown interest in them" and therefore they were available for international adoption.  That right there...the abandonment...the lack of care and concern...the desperate plight of these young children...that right there is why we adopt.  It's not for us or about us, it is ALL for them.  No one deserves to have those words written about them.  Could you imagine that being true of your life?  My heart was so broken for my boys!  


The judge asked us to stand up and state what we were asking of the court.  "We are asking the court to grant us permission to adopt our boys!"  After a 5 minute recess he came back to read the court decree.  We held our breath as he read that the boys names could be changed to our last name and new birth certificates could be issued.  PRAISE GOD, they are ours!

Never again will they be abandoned.  Never again will there be no interest in them.  Never again will they spend long days and night in orphanages.  Never again will they be called orphans.

We never hit the official part of an adoption without remembering and understanding more fully our adoption or the ransom paid for it by Jesus Christ.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the kind intention of his will , to the praise of the glory of his grace, which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace which he lavished on us.”  Ephesians 1:3-8a

So what is the process from here?  There is a 10 day mandatory waiting period in which anyone in attendance at the court can protest the ruling.  No one will but the law is what the law is and so we have to wait 10 days...11 really because the official court decree will not be ready until the 11th day.  We have decided to both go home during the 10 day wait.  Especially because Joey has chicken pox (which was confirmed to us) and we are not allowed to visit him and also because Valentin seems to be doing so well even after I left last time.  It was not an easy decision but one that just made sense because our kids at home need us so much.  And really it won't be long until we can take them out of the orphanages forever and as a sweet friend said bonding will neither be forged or lost in just 45 minute visits over 10 days.

I will be returning to the country on the 28th and will be busy getting documents done like birth certificate changes and passports.  Hopefully by then I will be able to visit Joey.  Tyler will come back the next week to help me with the U.S. Embassy appointments and to bring the boys home!!!!  If all goes well we should take custody of the boys on June 4th and fly home June 7th!

 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you."  John 14:18

"But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand.  The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helperof the fatherless.  You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror."  Psalm 10:14, 17-18

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Day 30: Missing Joey, Celebrating Valentin

It was another wonderful visit with Valentin again!  He amazes us more each day!  I was not let into his room again but I stood outside the door and they brought him in the stroller to me. The first thing we did was get him out of the stroller, he did not like it and started moaning and crying but with a little sternness and us not giving into it we got him on the couch. Once there he realized 'oh, this isn't so bad'. We just keep thinking of how incredibly stressful and crazy it is going to be for him when we take him out of the orphanage. The orphanage, and to be honest really only his crib and room, are the only things that are familiar to him. He is going to be so freaked out and traumatized by all the changes that we are trying to get him a little more out of his comfort zone every day. Today he tolerated a lot as we both sat close to him and he would lean on one of us and then the other. We tried to make a lot of touch contact with him so that he learns we are safe.

It was amazing to watch him sitting up a lot. Previously when I would put him on the couch he would slowly sink down until he was just about laying down. He did not show a lot of interest in using his muscles. Today though he made his way to the edge of the couch so he could hang his legs over the edge and he sat up for a long time. It was so wonderful to see that he was building some core strength!!!  It's like he is a new kid everyday. If you would have asked me in those first few days of meeting him if I though he would do some of the things he is doing even now I would have said it will take a lot of time. And some things may take a lot of time. But he is really surprising me already with the gains he has made!  I can't wait to watch him once we get home and he can explore on nice soft carpeting and have freedom outside a crib. We will get therapy of course but I think he will make great strides all on his own just given the independence and opportunity to do so!!!  He mimicked the ASL sign for 'ball' as well as attempts to say it. He also clapped when he saw us clapping.  We have only had 45 minutes (an hour now) of time with him daily and already he is doing things he was TERRIFIED of just weeks ago. Imagine what he can do given more time out of the crib and in a loving home!  

Today he was not a big fan of the 'paparazzi'

Tomorrow May 18th, we have court at 2:00pm (that's 5:00 am MST for those of you at home). Please join us in praying that the judge will rule in favor of the boys joining our family. Really it all comes down to this. 

Hopefully we will learn more about Joey and his condition after court when our facilitator (who is back in town) meets with the orphanage director to find out details and especially when we can get him out of the hospital. Right now it does not look like he will get out before June 4th. That is not a problem and does not delay our process too much as long as we can find a way to get his passport picture taken in the hospital. Not sure if that is possible. If we have to wait until the 4th to get his passport picture the that will delay us at least another week and would put us here into the Euro soccer games...yikes...that would mean more expensive airfare, expensive lodging, and crazy traffic!  Hopefully our facilitator can help clarify what our options are tomorrow.

One thing is for sure...okay two, Valentin is one amazing kid and two, we sure do miss Joey!  I mean terribly miss him!!!!

Day 29: We're back

It was so hard to say goodbye to our kids at home again...ugh, it never gets easier.  As we watched our kids get further and further away at the airport we tried to turn around and focus on the boys we would be seeing.  Have I said it enough, I can't wait until all our kids are HOME!!!

We made it here safe and without any delays...yay!  We got in very early in the morning and had to wait all day to go see the boys at 4:00, it was a LONG wait!

Finally we were in the car and off to see Valentin.  When we got to the orphanage I decided I was going to try my hand at getting in his room again.  Today I was not shooed away!  I walked in and the smell hit me along with the sorrow of seeing the condition of the other kids in his room.  I am going to have to save that for another post.  I saw our Valentin laying in his too-small crib.  He was just waking up and we locked eyes and he grinned from ear to ear...don't you know I could have melted.  What a beautiful sight! The nannies got him out of the crib and changed his diaper which was like a towel shoved inside a disposable diaper.  It appears they reuse the disposable diapers so they line them with towels...sad.  It also appears that they do not wipe the kids after #2.  TMI I know but just sharing the reality.  Both times that I have seen them change Valentin they have had to scramble for something to wipe him with, which ends up being a kitchen sponge so that tells me they usually do not wipe them well other then with the towel inside the diaper.  Anyway, he was very tolerant of moaning or crying at all...he just kept his eyes locked on me with a huge smile.  Praise God!  I knew in that moment God had answered all our prayers to prepare his heart for his mom and dad!

When they got him dressed and lifted him up I did not want them putting him in the stroller so I just reached over and grabbed him and held him.  I have learned by now it's easier to do something and get scolded then to ask and be told no.  God is helping me be brave!  The best part of all is that he did not cry at all, he let me carry him and hold him!!!!  Can you see the joy in the pictures?!?!

I think I could have held him forever!  But it was daddy's turn to play since he had not seen him in a while.

It really was a wonderful visit, like we had never left!  I struggled so much with the decision to leave him and today was confirmation that it is all okay!  He did not cry or get agitated at all.  I cannot tell you how much hope that gives us that maybe he is truly bonding with us and it gives us hope that we can handle all the plane rides home!  It's hard to leave him every time we visit but today it was especially hard.

We got back in the car to visit Joey and as we walked up to the door of his building a woman stopped us and started talking to our driver.  It was not sounding good.  We have had some concerns from the beginning about being able to adopt Joey.  There are family members in the picture that seem to care for Joey, not enough to adopt him themselves, but we are concerned they may prolong the process.  It also seems that our facilitation team is not giving us the whole story.  Anyway, all that is going through my head while they are talking and it was as if she was blocking our way into the building.  The longer the conversation went on the more concerned we got and I was sick over the thought that we might not be able to adopt Joey.

Finally our driver turned to us and said "it is okay", obviously he could see the terror on our faces.  He told us "it is okay, Joey is in the hospital."  What?!?!  How is that okay?  But we understood his point.  He said "He has sick.  Sick you get one time and not again.  You get...(and he pointed to different places on his body)."  We took this to mean chicken pox.  We hope it is just chicken pox.  Since our facilitator is still not in the country, this explanation is as good as we are going to get for now.  We get conflicted information on when our facilitator is supposed to be back in the country, but our driver said she should be back late tonight so I am hoping she can call the orphanage and get a detailed explanation.  Another facilitator called us tonight and we inquired about what happened today.  She called our driver and called us back to tell us he would not be out of the hospital until June 4th.  This is not good news because we were hoping to be able to take the boys home that week.

So we are left here not being able to visit Joey and having tons of questions, still unanswered.  We really need our facilitator to help us figure this all out.  We are really hoping she will be here soon because we have court in 2 days and have no idea what we are supposed to do for that.

For our prayer warriors, please pray for our little Joey.  How awful to be in a hospital all alone.  Picturing our poor boy all alone in the hospital probably wondering what the heck is going on and with all that itching...just breaks my heart!!!

We want to ask if we can visit him, does anyone out there know much about chicken pox?  Tyler and I have both had it so we are not worried about us, but could we spread it to Valentin?

Hopefully we will know more tomorrow...

Saturday, May 12, 2012

We have a court date

We have court on the 18th!!!!  We were told we had to be in country 2 days early so that we can have 2 supervised visits before court.  We have received confusing explanations about why we have to have these supervised visits.  I asked because I have never heard of that before and wondered if there was an issue.  From on person I was told a court representative had to watch us with Valentin since Valentin cannot give verbal confirmation that he wants to be adopted and that this court representative could 'testify' on his behalf.  That actually makes a lot of sense.  But by one of the in-country facilitators I was told that an orphanage representative would have to testify at court and therefore needed to see us interact with Valentin.  This one frustrates me a bit because what was the orphanage representative doing the 3 weeks I was visiting Valentin every day?

Regardless, we have to be in country on Wednesday so we leave on Monday.  Leaving is so bitter sweet, just thinking about leaving the kids at home again brings me to tears, but I am sooooo looking forward to seeing the boys.  I am very ready to have all the kids under one roof!  Even after court the process still takes a while but hopefully we can bring the boys home some time around the first or second week of June.

And...ummmm...have you seen the total to the right????  We have been enjoying our time together at home and had not been thinking too much about the money and had not been watching how much came in.  A friend texted me and asked how the fundraising was going so I went to check...oh my goodness!  I am sitting here with my fingers on the keyboard trying to find words to express how we feel and to appropriately say thank you.  How many times now have I tried to express how grateful we are for every donation?  I don't want to say it too much and it start to get annoying but I also feel the need to express with every post just how amazed we are at the kindness and generosity we have been shown.  It has been very easy for us to fall so in love with Valentin and Joey and want to bring them into our family, God gave us that love supernaturally.  How much sweeter to see others love them as much as we do and to work just as hard to help bring them home.  So thank you for loving our boys and ensuring that we are able to bring them home!  We continue to praise God for His provision, we know that ultimately it all comes from Him!

I do want to mention really quick an answer to people asking us what we will do with the money if we have some left over at the end.  Right now we are looking like we will not have much if any left over, especially if I come home again during the mandatory 10 day wait after court.  But if we have money left over we have been confused about whether to use it for the medical, therapy, and specialized equipment we will no doubt have to pay for or to donate it to another family towards their adoption.  Most people have told us to keep the money for the boys' medical and equipment costs but we also know that other families are struggling to raise money.  We pray that God will put the correct answer right in front of us.

Hopefully I will be back to daily blogging when we get to the boys' country, but I have to admit it has been nice to go off the grid for almost a week.  None of us have been able to get much rest, it has been a busy 6 days but I have enjoyed every minute of being home!  It was so worth it to come home, even for such a short time!  The timing worked out perfectly too so that I could make it to my cousin Lindsey's wedding.  I love weddings and it was extra sweet to see her get married!  My boys were her ring bearers and I am so happy I got to be there to see it.  We had so much fun seeing family and celebrating.  I realized it had been far too long since Tyler and I had danced so much!

My wonderful parents with the kids (notice my mom is oxygen tank free, praise God!)

My boys love "God's Not Dead" by Newsboys and wanted to share their rendition with the world...

I had to share the video below of my little boys dancing...too cute!  Can you believe our little guy from China has Spina Bifida?  When we finally got to him in China he had a sac on his back with his spinal cord coming out his vertebra into the sac.  His toes were curled under from a tethered spinal cord which would have only become worse as he grew and left alone would have been extremely debilitation and ultimately fatal.  With a little love and one surgery look at him now...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Day 21: Home!

I AM HOME!!!  I AM RELIEVED!!!  I AM THRILLED!!!  You can imagine my emotions as I saw 3 little kiddos running towards me at the airport and swallowed me up in hugs and kisses!  It's like a thousand pounds have been lifted off my shoulders and now I can relax and enjoy my family until we have to go back.

My sweet kids are being soooo loving.  They are generally pretty loving kids but today they are so in love with their mama and I am soaking up every minute of it.  I can tell just how much they missed me and so desperately needed me home.  We made the right decision to come home.  As much as my heart aches for the boys, we did the right thing.  And soon enough the boys will finally be home and will have years and years of love ahead of them.

Thank you everyone for praying for us and helping us!!!  I think I will go off the grid for a while but will be blogging again when we go back.  Which might be mid next week.  Until then...

Monday, May 7, 2012

Day 20: The importance of fellowship

First, if you have sent me an email or FaceBook message please know that I have read it and am so grateful!!!  I just have not had time to respond but I will get back to you.

I am at the airport waiting for one of my many flights home and I am weeping over the comments to my last post and the emails and messages.  You all FLOOR me!  Thank you for the encouragement and your prayers...have I said that enough?

I am filled with joy and anticipation at seeing my family!!!  But I cannot help but be so sad over leaving the boys.  I have not been away from them that long and already my heart hurts...literally aches.  I know some wonder if you can love your adopted kids with the same love you would have for biological kids, the answer is a resounding yes!  I can't explain it, it's a God thing.  I don't know that I would truly understand just how much the Father loves me, being adopted into His family, if I had not experienced the supernatural love I have for these little once strangers now beloved children God puts in our lives.

Now that I am out of the country and have had some time to separate from the trials there and get some fresh perspective, I want to write about so many things, but one thing strikes me especially hard today as I read comment after comment and email after email.  And that is that I have taken the body of Christ for granted for way too long.  I never put a whole lot of thought into how important it is to have brothers and sisters in Christ to meet with, talk to, and pray with.  In the U.S. we take church for granted don't we?

Today it is such a joy to be the Father's adopted daughter and be among so many brothers and sisters.  My thoughts are all over the place and words fail me to describe the lesson I have learned about the importance of having fellow believers to fellowship with (even over email and blogs).  God knew we would need each other, and boy, do we ever need each other?!?!  I remember there was a video going around about something like 'why I hate organized religion, but love Jesus'.  I have to admit I did not watch it so I cannot say for sure what the young man meant.  But I get the point that it is about faith in Jesus Christ, not faith in faith or faith in religion.  It is about a personal relationship with Christ, yes, but where I disagree on the "religion" thing is that it is also about fellowship.  God's design was for us to have that personal relationship with Him and then to stand shoulder to shoulder with each other, encouraging, helping, and building each other up as we, as one body, go out into the world and share the gospel.  Each a different member of the body, each having our role and maybe even particular ministry, each gifted with unique spiritual gifts, but ultimately working together to reach the lost.  Isn't that so true and shown in such wonder with the adoption of Valentin and Joey?  We are doing our part and you are doing your part and together we all are rescuing two precious little creations of God.

My husband and I are proof that one CANNOT walk the road of faith and attempt to do acts of faith alone.  I don't think God designed it that way.  Could I have survived those dark days in the boys' country or the heartache of leaving them now with just my relationship with God, of course.  But how much sweeter that God gives us each other.  Am I making sense?  We need each other, we need the church, we need the gathering together in fellowship to encourage and lift each other up (even if it is over email).  I NEED my home church, I need my fellow brothers and sisters even if we have never met you in person.  I am told that our brothers and sisters at our home church are in such deep and faithful prayer for us, and don't you know that means more to us then we could describe?  Whether you are a familiar face to us or we have never met, we need you, Valentin and Joey need you.

I have seen how spiritually dead a country (2 countries now) can get when it forgets God and stops coming together in fellowship.  It's awful, I don't know how else to describe it.  So I am so very grateful for the trials and the loneliness, without which I would not have learned just how important continued faith and continued fellowship is!

I met a wonderful missionary friend right before I left.  She and her husband have committed to at least 3 years in that country spreading the gospel to, trust me, a very lost people in need of the hope of Jesus Christ.  They offered to keep our luggage for us at their apartment as I travel home so we don't have to drag all our stuff back and forth.  It seemed like such a little thing to her, to come get our luggage and store it for us, but to me it was such a great blessing.  More then just keeping our luggage, it showed me that in the midst of very depressed, hard, and hurting people that surrounded me in that country, here was this bright ray of light bringing help to me.  She also brought me homemade muffins, again a small thing for her, but what a tremendous blessing to me, more to my soul then my tummy!  And there was another pastor and his wife who were currently in another city but were willing to have their brother-in-law come get our luggage and hold it until they got back and they would keep it.  Even in that dark country and in the midst of deep sorrow God provided two great representations of Himself in fellow believers.

So, because we have been blessed beyond measure with the prayers, support, and encouragement of fellow believers, I am renewing my commitment to pray for you.  I wish I could bless each one of you the way you have blessed us.  It's hard to receive so much and feel so helpless to do much in return.  However, one thing we can do is pray.  We will continue to pray for all of you, we don't know a lot of you, and most we don't even know by name, but we will pray for you and even when we don't know your needs or struggles, God does.  For those of you, our friends and family, that we know your specific needs, we commit to continue in prayer for those specific needs and struggles.  And of course if there is a specific prayer need, please write it in a comment and I absolutely will not publish it.  But we certainly will pray.  Let's do that for each other, isn't it the least we can do?  I am convicted in a huge way that I don't do it enough.  

I hope I am making some sort of sense, forgive me for being so 'long-winded', I am just jaw-to-the-floor in awe of my Father...all of this...the coming together, the prayer, the faith lessons, the love...for two precious boys that the world would have shoved aside.  Without the efforts, prayers, and donations of many brothers and sisters in Christ those boys would be held captive...but because we are all doing as God had designed from the beginning they are being set free.  And all the trials, hard lessons, heartache, and hours spent in prayer, and is worth that!