Friday’s Latest

Hello, friends!  We had a fun visit with our little guy today.  We are not sure if the caregivers feel sorry for us or think we are less than “bright” but they had pity on us and our same few toys in the hall each day and they gave us 3 new toys to use while we were playing!  It was tons of fun for us.  Little Parks LOVED the one that was a dump truck.  It made plenty of sounds and played music.  It was a shape sorter in which each shape went through the hole in a different part of the truck.  Let me just say, our little guy spent nearly an hour just playing intently and trying to figure out how the shapes got in and how to get them out.  He was very involved in his playing today and was not very interested in much guidance either.  By the end of that little marathon playing time, though, he definitely knew how to get them in, how to take the driver out, and sometimes he remembered how to get the shapes back out again!  It was so wonderful for us to be able to be with him, but mostly for us to watch his little brain working hard and watch him as he kept working to figure it out.  I certainly take for granted how many times I get to see Anna or Ryan work hard at learning something new.  This was the most intense learning we’ve been privileged to watch him do.  He is so adorable about the music.  His caregivers had said through the translator when we first met him, that he loves music.  Today, each time I pressed the music button on the truck, he would begin to sway his little body while he worked on firguring it out.  I also had some fun today with mirroring he moves.  He was playing with a ring from some stacking rings they loaned us, and I copied exactly what he did with the ring.  It only took him an instant to catch on to the fact that I was mirroring him, and he began to laugh out loud each time I did what he did!  He loved it.

We can hardly believe we only got to meet him for the first time one week ago today.  It feels like we have known him forever.  Really, I feel as though I have studied his face, his smile, his mannerisms so much this past week that I could recreate them all in mind simply by closing my eyes.  With that said, we are doing a little countdown each day ( just the two of us) to when we are praying he will be declared our son.  We are down to only three more days of regular visits at the orphanage.  I am already prepared to break down in tears when we actually get to take him away from the orphanage and he gets to be in our care!!!!!  On that note, Jon and I have been selecting a few favorite pictures and few favorite short videos (about 30 sec each) to post and share once he is offically ours.  Just the excitement of choosing them and setting them aside is fun.

We got to spend about 2.5 hours this morning “touring” our region and the sites.  It was incredible the history here as well as the museums.  We have seen several artifacts today during our tour that were older than our entire country!  Even though we are here in winter with snow around and cold weather, our drive stopped and showed us several large fountains that are turned on during the summer months.  I could picture how beautiful this area is during that time.  I am glad we got to tour and that I can honestly tell my son in the future a little more about his hometown.

We also got to talk to our case manager by phone today (from the USA).  She said we have blessed with getting th youngest referral from Ukraine this entire year.  She could not believe we were able to get a referral of such a young son and that things have been moving along so quickly.  She said that we should be so thankful that God has poured his blessing on our case so far.  I whole-heartedly agree, but I thought it was interesting that she would say that to us.  She sees and manages all eastern european adoptions for our agency.  For her to say that made me keenly aware that I am not sure I even realize right now how much God is blessing our process.  What a great reminder–in case I needed another one!

Thursday’s Latest

Hello, friends!  First, let me say thank you for all of the wonderful birthday wishes!  It has been unlike any birthday I have ever had!  We did get to visit with our little Parks today for almost three hours.  He was very tired today from the beginning.  It makes me a little sad that we get to see him at a set time each day, regardless of whether or not that is a good time for him to see us on a particular day.  My thoughts today kept thinking about how wonderful it will be when we can actually meet his needs accordingly rather than trying to play with him and keep him awake when he so clearly needs a nap!  I want to be able to let him sleep when he really needs it and play when he is ready.  I did not realize how difficult it would be each day to give him back to the orphanage workers when we leave.  I want to just take him with us and that feeling only gets stronger each day.  He is receiving amazing care in general at the orphanage and especially compared to some other orphanage situations we know about over here, but it is still not a family.  He is still not getting the experience of one mommy and one daddy and one forever family meeting his needs.  I am so thankful he has not gone hungry and seems to get some loving care, but he still gets workers rotating on different shifts and an overcrowded setting.  My motherly instinct is in overdrive and it is a struggle each day as I pray for God to meet his needs while we are apart from him.

Please join us in specific prayer that in court on Tuesday they will waive the 10 day bonding period and will legally decide we can be his parents.  We are so anxious to have him in our care and are praying that God allow the court to decide in our favor and that we can take him out of the orphanage on Tuesday and begin the process of going to Kiev for official requirements and then coming home!   We are earnestly clinging to God and like Jacob when he wresteld with God in Genesis 32:22-31 ( v.26) we are not willing to let go of God until he blesses our court on Tuesday.  We are trusting His provision and His will completely as we continue to stay where He has brought us!

I cannot even put into words in such a brief note all of the lessons God has taught me in the last week and a half.  It is uncanny how much He has opened my eyes and changed my perspective.  My prayer now, is that I will continue to be as changed once I return home and return to some of my comforts and routine.

It has been a fantastic birthday full of adventure, love, mommy moments, and more sweet time with my incredible husband.  I am so blessed!

Court News and Other Odds and Ends

Hello, friends!  Well, we found out today we will have our court date on Tuesday rather than this Friday.Although we are a bit disappointed, we are sure God’s hand has guided this decision.  We are trusting that God knows which judge needs to be presiding, etc… and so Tuesday is for our benefit.  We are now going to take a few excursions on Friday for about 2 hours to tour and see this region a bit.  We hope that will be a great experience we can one day share with our son and tell him how much we enjoyed seeing his hometown.

As for our little guy, he is definitely comfortable with us now.  He loves playing games with us like crawling fast and laughing just waiting for us to stop him from reaching the door. He just giggles and giggles!  We are going to have to be VERY creative in order to keep him entertained and out of trouble the next 5 days while playing with us for 3 hours in the little hallway!

On an adventurous note, we asked our driver to drop us off at a local pizzaria tonight for dinner.  We have been eating in the hotel restaurant and in the local cafeteria where you just point to what you want, so this was going to be a whole new experience.  Of course the entire menu was in russian.  We were told we could call our facilitator and ask her to place our order by phone with our waitress, but she did not answer this time when we called, so we were out of luck with that idea!  We used the roughguide russian phrasebook and were able to order cheese and meat pizza.  We got a delicious chicken and mozzarella pizza that was great!  We were even able to ask for a chocolate dessert!  It was a whole new adventure for us.  We may go back again since we will be here for several more nights.

One other discovery for me–I finally realized why I was waking up in the middle of the night because my hands were asleep.  The mattresses here are much, much,  much firmer than the ones I am used to sleeping on:)  I realized that if I slept at all with my arm under my head, etc… my arm was getting trapped between me and the mattress and the mattress had no “give” in it so my circulation was getting cut off!  At least that solves the mystery and teaches me to sleep completely flat on my back while I am here.  I just thought I would pass along that fact in case anyone encounters something similar in their own future travels.

Have a great night and watch out for sleeping hands,

Melinda

Update from Tuesday

We wanted to send out another quick update!  Our visit today was the best yet.  He smiled when he saw us and engaged in playing with us very quickly.  He also “babbled” much more than any other day–he just says his sounds and looks at us and then smiles.  He and Jon got a little snuggle time today as well.  He is quickly learning how fun and adventurous daddy is as he got flown around the tiny room like an airplane and got several rides on Daddy’s shoulders!  The more comfortable he gets, the more adventurous he gets as well.  We spent much of our visit today chasing him as he crawled toward the door just laughing and looking for Jon to come and grab him and move him away.  He is still not at all sure about being outside.  He acts very differently when we take him outside.  We took him out again today for about 10 minutes and he just looked scared the entire time.  He did not smile and did not seem to enjoy it.  Once we got to the little hallway where we usually play, though, he was all smiles.  He has also “learned” about the few toys we brought.  He can do the stacking with the pots and seems to grow tired of them more quickly…so we introduced an empty water bottle–every child’s dream toy.  Like every other child we know, he loves it!

We signed a few more papers for the lawyer today.  We still do not know anything yet about our court date, but are praying each day that the details fall into place for a Friday court date.  We would love for you to join us in that prayer.

We watched a great teaching today on financial stewardship and it was a good reminder for us.  How blessed we are to be able to be in God’s word and hear sound teaching so far away!  We hope to listen to the sermon from WCRBC sometime tomorrow as well.

Well, we are about to watch our nightly movie here and do some laundry in the sink!  We will update again tomorrow.

Latest From the Ukraine!

We thought we should give the latest from our neck of the woods!  We had another great visit with our little Parks today.  He smiled today when his caregivers brought him out to play with us.  At one point, he also just easily crawled up into my lap!  I was so excited.  He is laughing more and even babblling a bit while he plays with us.  His brain is working so hard each visit, though.  I cannot imagine all the new things he is processing for each 3 hour visit.  Today, 30 minutes before our time with him was up, he just crawled into my lap, sucked his thumb for about 30 seconds, and then fell asleep.  Jon and I looked at each other and thought “Oh, no.  They will not be happy if he sleeps now!”  My heart, however, just wanted to watch him sleeping so peacefully right there in my lap.  The end result, however, was that one of the one of the ladies came out and saw him sleeping and took him to lay him down, which ended our visit about 30 minutes early.  Even though I know for now that was best, I almost cried that we lost the 30 minutes with him today.  I am looking forward to letting him catch a nap on me sometime in the near future when he “officially” becomes our son.

As for other news and notes, I have somewhat successfully done laundry in our bathroom sink, eaten twice now at the local Ukrainian cafeteria, and can very successfully purchase water -no gas- at the supermarket on the first try!  Believe me, after a few unsuccessful purchases of seltzer water, this is quite amazing.

One other unexpected thing is all of the stray dogs here.  They are dogs just wandering around everywhere.  We hear them barking all night and see them wandering around along the streets.  For the first time in my life, I can actually better understand the Lady and the Tramp movie.  I realize that was not set in the Ukraine, but the dog issue must be very similar.

Finally, thanks to all who loaned us some dvd’s.  We have watched one each night so far.  It feels alittle like the movie Groundhog day for us after a few days with the same schedule, scenery, etc… but we are enjoying our nightly date night with a movie each night!

Once we have our court date completed, we will be free to share our exact region, our little guy’s official new name, and even some photos and videos.  Until the court declares him a part of our family, however, we are not able to share those things.  I will at least share that he has bright blue eyes like his big sister.  The two of them will be quite a pair in our family with those crystal clear blue eyes!

The Lord is My Shepherd

Psalm 23 is well known.  I can remember memorizing in VBS as a child when I was in second grade.  I remember the craft we did with Psalm 23.  I have heard that Psalm and have “known” most of my life.  Until this week, however, I have never really understood it.  I have not been around sheep and do not have much experience at all with sheep.  From what i have been told, sheep are very dumb.  Lovable, but dumb.  Sheep have no spcial talents ( guarding, herding, tricks, speed, etc) and are dumb and lovable.  I would not have described myself as dumb but lovable until this week.  Throughout the week I have been able to understand much better how much the Lord is my shepherd.  I am in a country where I do not understand the language, am unable to tell anyone where I am staying or how to get back there, am unable to read signs or listen to the PA to understnad which train is my train and where I am to go.  Literally, I am dumb, but lovable, sheep over here.  I have to be led to water, led to food, led to my hotel for rest, led to the orphanage, etc…I am simply following directions and wandering as various wonderful people are leading me everywhere I need to go.  If they leave me, though, I am completely helpless.  How true this is of me in relation to God.  I am completely helpless and need to rely solely on the Lord to lead me on his path.  I am so thankful for realizing how much of a dumb sheep I am.  I just hate that it took another country before I realized it!

Latest Update!

We just have a minute for a quick update!  Our appointment went so well yesterday.  We felt God’s complete peace about it all–although quite an experience!  We got last minute permission yesterday to travel instead of having to wait until Monday, so we hopped an overnight train ( 10 hours) to our new city and arrived this morning.  We have a full day of visiting the orphanage, socail worker, notary, etc… but we do at least have internet in our room in our new city.  We are thrilled to meet our little guy (18 months) later today.  We are fine with God making our family a family of five instead of six…for now.

What next???

Well, since receiving our SDA appointment date yesterday, our heads have been spinning.  The more we think through our travel and discuss what needs to be done, the more I realize we actually have more unknowns now than before.  Here are a few examples of some of the questions we’ve gotten since yesterday:

How long will you be there?  ( we have no true idea.  Anywhere from 13 days to 3 weeks depending on numerous factors outside of our control.  In fact, we have to book our return flight making sure we can easily change our plane tickets to accommodate a different date and possibly two additional passengers!)

Will you bring the children home when you come? ( we have no idea.  Whether or not we are able to bring the children home after this one trip depends on numerous factors outside of our control.  We may not even know for a week or longer once in the Ukraine if we will be coming home with our children this trip or not.)

Wow!  We do not know when in December we will be home.  We do not know if we will celebrate Christmas this year with four children at our house or two.  We do not know if we will have girls or boys or both from the Ukraine.  We do not have any idea how old they might be ( of course they will be between 1-4 years).  Other than the fact that we will be sitting in the SDA in Kiev on Thanksgiving morning at 9am, we just don’t know.

The more that sinks in, the more joyful I am that none of the additional details depends on me or my strength.  I cannot even imagine if the many details were on my shoulders to manage or even to decide.  How grateful I am to have a mighty, loving God who already knows the answers to every unknown that keeps coming into my mind.  I am able to peacefully (okay…somewhat peacefully:) rest and let go of any anxiety or burden I feel for the details.  God knows every answer to my many questions and has lovingly blessed us and reminded us of His power with the mere fact that we are traveling so soon and that our appointment is on Thanksgiving Day.  He is reassuring us how much He loves us and how He plans to prosper us ( in love) and not to harm us. 

If you are worrying or stressing about the unknowns in your life, no matter how great or small, I encourage you to get into God’s word and remember How mighty He is and remember His provision–you will be blessed as you remember who God is in your life!

How will I answer?

*Warning:  God is at work on my ungrateful heart.  Reading this post might open your eyes to how God might be working on yours, too!*

 I have given some thought over the past several months to how I might answer my children when, one day, he or she asks why they were an orphan in the Ukraine.  Thinking about that eminent question has caused me to realize like never before that God alone is the answer to the question as to why I was allowed to be born as a little girl in America to an affluent (compared to the world’s population) family who loved me and treated me well.  I had no choice in that matter and nothing in my own strength allowed me the privilege to be born in the United State to a loving family.  I could have born with the exact same talents and could have been given the same gifts and been born in China as a little girl.  My life would likely look very different than it does now.  I could have just as easily been born in the Ukraine to a mother who gave me up as an orphan to live in a state run orphanage.  The only difference is God. 

 I am not sure I will ever know or my children will ever know why God chose us to be born into different circumstances (at least we won’t know this side of heaven, and we probably won’t care once we’re in heaven!).  I am so honored, humbled, and grateful, however, that because I was born into this country into a loving family with all of the rights and privileges including schooling, nourishment, and spiritual development that go along with my upbringing, that I will be able to answer my child that at least one part of God’s plan for me being born into my circumstances have allowed me to answer his or her questions about why he was born into his.

Choosing not to see

I have chosen to sin for much of the day today.  And my sin not only separates my from my holy and loving God, but He detests it.  My sin has been my ingratitude, ungratefulness, and lack of  joy!  Let me share with you my short day so far:

Ryan woke me up around 3:30am and proceeded to have trouble getting settled back until I finally returned to bed around 5:40am.  Instead of singing God’s praises that I have a healthy son who still considers my singing and rocking to be his source of comfort, I quietly grumbled to myself and out loud grumbled to Jon about how tired I was.

Anna, who has been fighting a fever and vomiting for a couple of days, came skipping into my room around 7:00am–earlier than normal.  She was so clearly feeling much better and was over the worst of her sickness.  Instead of praising God for answering my prayer to heal her completely and quickly, I grumbled about how early it was, how energetic she was, and how tired I was (my grumbling was internal, but likely showed on my countenance).

After praying and waving goodbye to Jon as he took our dossier docs to be apostilled downtown, I continued to live in a state of mentally thinking about how tired I was.  Jon called around 9:00am or so to tell me that of our 23 docs taken for apostille, they rejected 14 of them for a minor wording issue by our notary.  Instead of rejoicing that we live in Raleigh and have the opportunity to take them again later today or tomorrow once corrected, I grumbled about how hard we had worked, how much time we had spent getting them “just right” and how much we needed them done quickly in order for our travel plans not to be impacted.

Suddenly, I began rushing around trying to print out new copies of the docs so we can fill them out, began trying to get the children ready to be gone for most-if not all, of the morning, began trying to carefully reread the directions again, began trying to contact our case manager at our agency to seek advice, and began trying to squelch my frustration with the whole situation.

By 10am we are on the road headed to meet Jon, fill out new forms, contact a notary, and get the forms notarized again.  Instead of pulling together for this, Jon and I both allowed some of our frustration about the entire situation to seep onto each other.

By 1:15pm, after an entire morning in the car and several phone calls and errands, Jon calls me to let me know he just dropped off the docs again for apostilling at the Secretary of State’s office downtown.  I sighed a breath of relief and continued driving for home to get the kids down for their rest time–since I was also exhausted!

By 2:30pm, the Holy Spirit had so convicted me of my attitude that I spent time in God’s word and realized how foolish, ungrateful, and quick to choose to sin I had been all day long. 

Thank you, Lord, for opening my eyes and allowing me to see myself and You as You see me.  Thank you, Lord, that we have the privilege of adopting..thank you, Lord that your will is perfect and your timing is perfect, thank you, Lord, that you allowed so many miraculous things to happen all morning for us to even be able to get our docs turned in again today..thank you, Lord, for allowing me to see my selfishness and ingratitude, thank you, Lord for loving me and dying on the cross for my ugly, sinful heart.

Yes, Lord, I believe Your word is true.  I believe you are who you say you are, I believe in your love for me and your desire for my life to glorify You and You alone. 

I give thanks to all who have lifted us up today and our docs up today as well.  I will rest in God’s perfect timing and God’s perfect will for my life.  And I will sing praise to God despite the circumstances.