Friday, July 30, 2010


Things we know.....

1-Last week the 4th round of adoption talks between the U.S. and Russia went well and the "text" of the actual agreement has been written but not signed. The agreement has the backing of President Obama and President Medvedev which issued a joint statement on June 24th.
2-The D.O.E. in Pskov have started processing new families and setting up "first trips" for families to meet their referrals
3- Our Judge returns to work this Monday morning! (AUGUST 2ND!)
4- Our facilitator in Russia is meeting with the Judge on Monday morning to try to push our case again as "we are her #1 priority"

Things we don't know.....

1- Is she willing to schedule Court case despite the agreement not being signed?
2- Is she willing to schedule US for court? (Case manager says "NOT to get your hopes up, BUT IF she gives the ok then we should be heard by the end of August.)

What we are certain of....

1- God is in control
2- I still feel like a nervous wreck
3- Monday CANNOT come soon enough.

We should know something by Monday afternoon, the suspense is killing me! Please keep us in your prayers that we starting moving in the right direction to bring Charlie home.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Just the messenger.....

Whenever I talk with Chad's mom on the phone, our conversation starts out all nice and fluffy and ends up in a deep philosophical conversation, lately about the adoption and God's plan throughout this valley of waiting. I spoke with her for about two hours always uplifts my spirits and restores my hope. It's nice to have someone in your life like that....She has always given me guidance and reassurance, but lately it has been all about what I feel to be my shaky faith. (She assures me I have done just fine, but I think she might be a little bias) One of the points we discussed:
I may not have told you this but it has been so important to me to continue this blog throughout the uncertainty that has swirled around us this summer. It is so important to me to show you that I serve a BIG God and I am fully relying on him to see us through this arduous journey. On July 1st I had my blog post ready to go, it was titled "vacation" I was taking an indefinite vacation from blog-land. I was giving up. I was tired of putting on a happy face and trying my best to refrain from a post solely filled with four letter words. I was ready to hit send, telling you all goodbye, when God stopped me dead in my tracks. "Who do you want to get the victory?" Plain as day. -If you quit, if you throw up your hands in disgust, who gets the victory? So I deleted it and wrote this instead. Praying for just a "Small break", something to restore a smidgen of my hope. The next day we received word that our region had begun to thaw and accept new dossiers, a sign that things were perhaps, starting to go back to back to normal.
God answers prayers.
This summer has been one of the most difficult time in my life. I have had moments of anger and bitterness. My normally peaceful spirit has felt as if it had been ripped from my body, tossed in the washing machine with boiling hot water and bleach thrown on it and sloshed around on the spin cycle. But in it all I hope you have been able to see past my faults (boy do I have a lot of them, that could be a whole separate post) and see my heart. And WHO my heart belongs to. When we do get to bring our boy home (and we will) I want you to see God's hand print all over this process. I want you to look beyond me and my restlessness and sometimes ill-tempered attitude and see God. I hope that I have been a good representative for you of his grace and steadfast love. When Charlie, Chad and I step off that airplane after this incredible journey, I want God to have that victory, not anybody else. It's His, I am just the messenger.

Monday, July 26, 2010

10 step makeover!

Step 1: Clean out office to take a slightly less embarrasing "before" picture of all of our clutter.

Step 2: Trace and cut out the road. Enter husband who asks "Are you building a super highway on our dining room table?" Tape the pattern to the office wall carefully recording the corresponding number three times for each set of vinyl stickers. Yes, it's kinda like engineering.
Step 3: Paint three coats of magnetic paint on the bottom to make the wall a giant magnet board.

Step 4: Paint two coats of green chalkboard paint. Sweet talk hubby into painting two coats of blue paint on the top of the wall and surrounding walls

Step 5: Add vinyl road stickers. Remember that you are not an engineer when you start matching up the curves. Ugh.

Step 6: Add the adorable car and street sign stickers. Thank you HappyRomi from eBay! I "heart" your vinyl stickers!

Step 7: Add the cute car and street rugs (yeah Ikea!)

Step 8: Trick you sister into coming over for "lunch" and "helping you with a few things" Hang the cool clothesline for Charlie's art work and a couple of cool license plates. Drag in all the fun stuff- blocks, growth chart, table puzzles!

Step 9: Set up all the super fun art supplies and Ikea easel (what a steal $14.99!)
Step 10: Wait for the most precious Russian angel to come home and play with all of his great stuff!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sign it already!

OK- the story below is good news, so after this how fast should it go? Are we talking a week or a month? Just sign it already, k? Charlie is waiting.....
Side note: Received confirmation that our Judge is back the first week of August. Pray that if something "official" is not yet signed she either feels comfortable enough to go ahead and schedule court in anticipation that it will be signed, or she just has a change of heart about us. We know for certain as well that things are indeed moving in Pskov, people traveling and Dossiers being registered, etc. Now we wait on pins and needles for the final word.

"Russia and the United States have agreed on the text of a deal on child adoptions that has been under discussion since April, the Russian Education and Science Ministry said Friday.

A Russian-American working group held the fourth round of talks on the issue in Moscow on July 21-23.
"During thorough work on the document, we reached an agreement on its text," the ministry said. "Now the draft will be submitted to each country for interdepartmental consideration."

MOSCOW, July 23 (RIA Novosti)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

U.S. Delegation's Discussions Continue on Inter-Country Adoption

Published: July 20, 2010

An expert-level U.S. delegation will leave for Moscow today to begin a fourth round of discussions on inter-country adoption. During the bilateral talks, which are scheduled for July 21-23, the delegation will pursue an agreement that provides greater safeguards for children and families in the adoption process between the two countries.
The United States looks forward to building on the progress achieved during the last round of discussions, held in June in Washington. Working with their Russian counterparts, the delegation will review the latest draft of the adoption agreement, making every effort to ensure that it addresses the legal and policy concerns of both countries.
The U.S. team is headed by Mary Ellen Hickey, Managing Director of the Office of Overseas Citizens Services, and includes representatives from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the State Department's Legal Adviser's Office and Bureaus of Consular and European Affairs.

Good News (but not THE news)

We received word today that another Pskov family is making their first trip in a few weeks. We are taking this as a good sign for us and of course, GREAT news for them! We are so thrilled for their sweet family. We are happy that things appear to be moving again..... Come on Court date......
P.S. Our boy is 28 months old today....

Monday, July 19, 2010

Bittersweet Sunday....

Yesterday we received more pictures of our little man from our dear translator, Anna. She made me promise before opening them that I would not cry all day like I did last time. So I didn't. We noticed the nuances of his many smiles caught in photographs (Some are confused smiles, like why am I being singled out and photographed? Some are caught when he is busy with his hands and show more of a determined grin. Just a few capture genuine moments of joy. In our favorite one he is standing at the top of a metal side, and looking off to the side at the caregiver obviously holding onto him for dear life. I can hear her saying "Stas! You need to sit down or you'll fall down the slide! Que mischievous grin.) These pictures are a doubled edged sword. We cherish them because it gives us a glimpse into his daily life. Somehow that if we study them close enough they hold the key to all of our answers. Has he had enough to eat? Is he in good health? Is he happy? clean? safe? We study his clothes, his new scrapes, his hands, his feet. All of these things are after found after we stopped starring at the obvious. His HORRIBLE new haircut. I wonder if it was his first..... Buzz cut with a reverse mullet. (Party in the front, business in the back) Yikes. The pictures were all taken outside on the playground. We are so use to seeing him all bundled up, we were shocked to see him without a shirt on! And gasp....NO HAT! (Except one where he is riding a rusty bike and a backwards red ball cap.)
But we are happy that he looks happy. We are so thankful for the wonderful, kind, ladies looking after him. We pray that he doesn't need to wait for us too much longer or keeping growing up without his mama and papa. You keep praying too, ok?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Mom and Daughter Weekend

Last weekend while Chad and my dad were on the youth mission trip to Johnstown Pennsylvania, mom and I went on a girls weekend to the North Georgia Mountains. We stayed at the Castle Inn in Helen, Georgia. We always stopped here on our family vacations when we were small- it was always a magical place! When mom and I were there it had changed quite a bit, it seemed really touristy now! But we ate some really yummy German food and had a great time shopping and seeing what was around. Then of course, we had to go to Babyland, the hospital where cabbage patch kids are born. It was in this tiny cottage in Cleveland, GA. Now it is in a giant plantation!
The cabbage patch kids are moving on up I suppose. It was a beautiful new facility, but the old place did have a lot of charm. This picture came from my phone, so it's tiny, but it says "adoption fee $49.99" Russia should really follow the lead of the folks at Babyland.
Then we drove to the Dillard House. It's a restaurant, inn, farm, and just hodge podge of classic southern charm wrapped up in the foothills of the Georgia mountains. When you walk in there is a menu listed on the wall with 5 different meats and about 20 vegetables. We assumed it was a buffet- NOPE! They bring it all to your table. ALL of it. Oh, and salads, fresh fruit, biscuits, cornbread, yeast rolls, fresh peach cobbler and ice cream for desert. Insane! We visited several fun toy stores that specialize in handmade toys like Elf Made Toys in the Santee River Valley. Check them out here. We also visited Jolly's Toys, a favorite of mine when I was little! Needless to say, Charlie is the only person in the family that made out like a bandit this weekend. I got a jar of local honey. ;0) and a wonderful weekend with my best friend, my mom.....

I *heart* Melissa and Doug

Charlie's newest gifties from his Grandma.....
So cute....I LOVE wooden toys from Melissa and Doug!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Third Trimester

Before this post, here are some blog posts of days gone by that you may enjoy for a walk down memory lane...
Our First Trimester
Our Second Trimester
And now.... onto the third.
So here we are, 300 posts into this journey. And STILL WAITING. But, I think we are on the home stretch. Though I've often felt when it comes to adoption but you should think of the "worst case scenario" and then add two months. We thought worst case scenario we would be back in Russia by June. Now, four months after meeting the love of our lives, we are trying to wait with grace. It's a difficult road, that's for sure. I never imagined that this part of our journey would be like having your heart ripped from your chest and leaving it in a foreign country, walking around outside your body. It has not only been a mental challenge, but a physical and spiritual challenge as well. I would like to think I could have handled this all a lot better if it weren't for the particular circumstances that we have run up against with the friction and uncertainty set into motion by this adoption crisis.
So, here we are. Our third trimester. Hopefully, in August (when our Judge returns from vacation) we'll just go ahead and put this incredibly long paper pregnancy to rest. We are LONG overdue.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

He said...She said....

Chad and I were hanging out in Toys-R-Us on Saturday (I know.....we just can't help ourselves) We were planning on getting Charlie the BBQ grill left on our registry, but then we saw the RETRO DINER! Groovy, right? The best part was it was 50% off and then you got an additional 25% off all clearance items. And that's when the "discussion" started.
He said:  Do boys play with kitchens?
She said:  First, it's not a kitchen, it is a DINER and there is a difference. Then I reminded him of all the great chefs on TV, most of which are MEN. 
He said: I didn't have a kitchen.
Then he said: It's $27 more than the grill.
BUT then she said: Well I made a lot of money making cookies this week (my side biz). AND it comes with 25 pieces of food, where if we bought the grill (the sad tiny little grill) it only comes with 10 pieces of food and we would end up spending just as much on extra food. (And that cute little chefs hat)
He said: It looks big. Where are we going to put it?
She said: I'll find a place.
He said: ok, fine, lets get it
She said: You don't want it. Let's not get it.
He said: I DO want it because you want it, so lets get it.
She said: I can tell you don't want it.
She said: ITS A DINER.
So we left the store. No grill, no diner. Chad had some work to do at the church so he dropped me off, diner-less at the house. I was cooking dinner (in the KITCHEN) and in comes Chad with the diner.
He said: I wanted to get you and Charlie the kitchen because I knew it would make both of you happy.
She said: Its a diner, and WE LOVE IT!
So after a lovely meal we assembled the diner complete with sizzling stove top, bubbling coffee pot, working jukebox, and a service bell. And they lived happily ever after....

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A different kind of 4th....

Chad and I spent the day reminiscing about 4th of July's gone by:
Like the 4th I was walking our dog Alex and his leash sliced into my leg and I spent the evening laying face down on the carpet with my leg all wrapped up, howling in agony. Or the year we Vacationed in Rhode Island at some family friends home right on the water, going to the oldest parade in America (Bristol, RI) and eating fresh lobster rolls and absorbing the American spirit in a totally different way we ever had before.

Re-wind to 4th of July 2008. A very young, very brave Lithuanian girl traveled to a tiny village and gave us an incredible gift. A gift we had no idea we would be receiving over two years later. As Chad and I were shooting fireworks with friends on a neighborhood baseball diamond, a complete stranger was taking the first step in making our family a reality. Charlie, a little over 3 months old, experienced a very different independence day that day two years ago. On that day two years ago, we celebrated the sacrifice of men and women that made our homeland great. She experienced a day filled with sadness, but one of bravery and self-sacrifice unknowing that the lives of two strangers would be forever intertwined in her story.  
This year our 4th of July felt different. Along with my freedom, I added to my list a new thing to be thankful for. I still don't know her name, but I celebrated her gift of sacrifice. I prayed for her today. I thanked her for giving our son life and allowing us to see him through the rest.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Small break

Last night I prayed a small prayer. Not my regular "miracle" prayers (a.k.a. may the Judge feel so sad about not hearing our case before she left on vay-k, that she returns guilt ridden to grant our adoption.....) but just a small prayer. It went like this "God, we just need a small break. One that starts us moving in the right direction, just a tiny break" I was too exhausted to plead, bargain, and scheme in the fashion my prayer life has been heading lately. Well, God answered my prayer today.
We received an e-mail from our case manager. Good news! It appears that our region is now beginning to thaw! They have begun accept new families and are registering Dossiers again. Our case manager said that now we just wait for the Judge's return (we think at the end of this month) and then plead our case to be heard again, which in theory should work because if you are taking new cases and registering new dossiers, you would have some serious back log if you weren't processing some people through. (People like us!)
Hallelujah! Not only is our God the God of miracles, He is the God of small breaks too....

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hello July....

Maybe you'll let us catch a break this month. Maybe our Judge will return from vacation and be so rested and relaxed that she'll forget that an official agreement hasn't been signed. So here's to you July. May you pave the way for a happy August.