Thursday, February 27, 2014

We are coming home!

Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Settle down, it'll all be clear
Don't pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

We are coming home! The above lyrics are by Phillip Phillips in a song called "home." The song we played while driving to drop off the dossier in August, the song was played while we painted the room pink. It played while we were filing more papers, filling packages to be mailed, monogramming birthday gifts. 

I had no clue how unfamiliar the "road" would be..... But how grateful I am that we followed it. 

So, here is how it all went down today.

Today started with us doing what we do best. We waited.

At 12, our taxi came to get us, we drove to the passport office.

12:30 we call and she says it will probably be closer to 2 or 2:15 before we get the passport
12:45 arrive at passport office
1:15 passport worker calls and asks where we are, we are in the lobby she says to give her 10 minutes
1:22 passport is ready. I go in and with an extremely shaky hand, I sign two documents and we grab the passport and leave.
1:25 Elianna jumps and squeals out side the passport office and in my excitement, I try to get in the wrong car
I begin to fill out embassy forms online while in the taxi and continue until I am sitting in the medical office
1:50 we pull up at medical office
2:00 we find out that the USA worker isn't in the office, the first three workers that come by do not know anything about where she is, or when she will be back. 
2:15 still no worker. I begin to panic
2:20 she arrives, takes our passport and receipt from previous payment and closes her door. 
2:33 we get the medical packet
2:42 we are back at our car and headed to embassy, I email embassy and tell them my forms have been filed and we are on the way, they say they are waiting but we need to be there by 3
2:58 we are at the embassy. 
3:00 walking into embassy, the guards aren't sure what we are doing, I say they are expecting us, we are adopting.. They make a call, we are allowed in.
3:44 after three interviews and wait time... I'm finally handed what we need. A brown envelope and our passport with a visa! I check for mistakes, praying I can read with my tear filled eyes and shaky hands. Her name is right, her numbers are right. We have it! I try to hand it back through the window in my nerves, the lady laughs and says "that's yours now." 
3:50 I attempt to contain Elianna as we leave so she doesn't take off histerically running through the embassy... We go take the picture and get in the taxi squealing! 

And that's it. Seems so simple to type up..... Seemed so crazy to go through it. Like it was all a dream. God definitely provided today. And praise Jesus we are going HOME! 

Before most of you go to sleep tonight, we will have already begun our journey! 

We couldn't have done this without the support of many many many people..... Prayers have sustained us. To God be the glory, this is his story.... His picture to have painted.... It hasn't been an easy fairy tale... It won't be any more of a fairy tale in the future. But my heart has changed, my faith has been tested. I am not the same girl that came to this beautiful country.... I still don't understand why the 6-8 week process took us 13 weeks instead.... But God is faithful. And that hasn't changed. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Maybe, tomorrow

I was just talking to friends this morning about the fact that there are only about two words that I knew in Ukrainian before I got here. 

Може завтра

Maybe, tomorrow.

These two words have haunted me for 87 days now..... 

We heard it one more time today. 

There is at least hope for traveling Friday. We keep our eyes on Jesus. It's going to be tight... But it is not yet impossible.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Слава України


I realized it today. With tears, while riding in a marshrutka.

Prior to coming to Ukraine, I read a few posts from other adoptive families at times complaining about the process, the governments, the delays and the cities. I asked God, before I ever came to show me how to love this country. I didn't want to leave angry at the country. I am bringing a piece of this culture into my family. I want to love. I thought I was asking to enjoy Borsch and Veriniky... (And I do) To learn marshrutkas, trains and metros. 

I have now been here through this revolution. I was here on November 21 when the EU document was rejected. I was arriving with my husband and two small children (and a friend) on December 1 when the violent attacks first happened on the protestors. I was here still on December 10, 17 and January 16 when the new laws were written. I walked the streets of EuroMaidan through this... My children have had their photo taken on Maidan. We have been watching, observing and even at times wanting to be a part of it. I heard the people sing. The songs of Les Mis echoing in my head..... "We will not be slaves again." But I saw myself as an outsider, an observer. Because I am not permanently here. It is not my home, not my battle, not my fight. 

I returned to Kiev after a week in the US on January 28. I was in a taxi in Kiev on February 18, and 19 as the rumors were that the war had begun. People were being killed. I was inconvenienced by the metro shutdown. I was delayed by military roadblocks. I suddenly wanted out of here more than ever before. I realized that this American girl is a big chicken. 

 I have had comments made by people who can't comprehend our delays. We are in Kiev, it shouldn't take 13 weeks. I have looked for ways to place blame for our delays, but they are so widespread that there is no one person to blame. I have prayed for speed, for relief, for process. 

And then, I have heard the stories of Ukrainians. Those who live in this delay and corruption constantly. Those who are not shocked by the corruption I have seen. Those who's very lives deal with this often, weekly, daily. 

For the last two days I have watched from the village I call my temporary home as people in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Lviv, and other cities fought, died, celebrated and mourned. I realized that my minor inconveniences these months are nothing compared to what the people are fighting for. They dream to be free. It is so much more than simply a desire for fast process. They fight for freedom. They are heroes. 

Today I am watching as a government is being rebuilt. It hasn't been a clean process. It hasn't been easy by any stretch. People have died. Men and women, old and young. They have died to try to obtain for their children the things that I take for granted and honestly, came to expect when I arrived in Ukraine. They are dying to fight corruption. They have died for others. Many of These are not military, not trained fighters. They are moms and dads, grandfathers and grandsons. They are businessmen, doctors, students and factory workers. They have died for their freedom. 

This began in November as a general protest against a turn eastward.... But it is no longer that. It is now a protest against the corruption that has infiltrated this country. It is a protest against the mentality that has delayed my process on multiple occasions. I will be clear, It is not for me that they fight.... But I have tasted and experienced a small portion of what they are protesting. I have waited weeks and months.... They live here and battle this for years and decades. 

The people have maintained their own peace. They have captured their attackers, police, but they have not returned the torture. They have not Killed those that were captured. They have stopped them, held them.... Even arrested. But have not harmed them. I listened to speeches given to the people that from this point they should seek justice, not revenge. They clean up the fire stained square that has become a symbol of patriotism to the people. Sweeping and scrubbing to make the Maidan beautiful again. While cleaning they mourn the heroes that gave their lives for many.

The people tell stories of being captured by the police being beaten, having their mouths sewn shut and bruises across their body. They have been called names, been crucified and have had body parts cut off. They have been humiliated and stripped of clothing in sub-freezing temperatures. They stood as trained snipers picked them off from rooftops one at a time. The government then had to create roadblocks and stop trains.... Why? Not because these labeled 'terrorists' would leave, but Because they feared more people would come join the protest. They know how strong the movement is and they needed to stop more people from coming. The people were not afraid of what was happening, they were coming. The night after the snipers shot 75 people from rooftops, there were reported to be 350,000 people in the square. The people.... They came to defend their freedom. Their weapons were rocks, Molotov cocktails and burning tires. They faced high powered rifles, handguns and grenades. Yet, they came to fight.

Many of the government leaders are fleeing. They are showing cowardice in the face of having consequences for what they have done. 

So, as I examine myself, this is what has happened to me. I love the people. I am amazed by their resilience, their passion, their restraint and discipline. This is, for me, what I came for. I didn't know a revolution was coming. I didn't know the process would take 13 weeks. I only knew I was coming for my daughter. I am not searching for fame or honor. It is not my story. I am honored to have been able to experience this. I am humbled by the opportunity to take a beautiful daughter of this country into my home. I am embarrassed by my own selfishness, panic and fear when so many were running to offer their own lives. 

The people of Ukraine are strong. 

My dear Ukraine, it is a small token I know, but I am proud of you. I came wanting to love you and I do. I didn't know how much I would love you.... And you have not made my path easy, but you have taught me much and I am amazed at what you have accomplished. You have a long road in front of you. There are possibly more battles, there are definitely many choices to be made and many days of progress... But now, I believe you will take the high road. You will be stronger for what you have accomplished. I respect you and will continue to pray for you. Last night I heard you give glory to God as you thanked Him for answering your prayers. If your eyes stay on Him, you will be a shining example to the world. 

Слава України!!!! 

Friday, February 21, 2014


The tears flow freely these days. I want to go home and I want to take my daughter with me. 

In the middle of a country torn by a revolution, yes I have opinions, but no, they don't matter. I cannot help. I would, but I cannot. If I were here simply to visit, I would do what I could, but I am not. I am here to get my daughter and to reunite her with the rest of our family. I keep my eyes on that goal as I walk the streets of a revolution. 

My two at home climb into daddy's lap and ask when mommy and Elianna will be home. He can't answer. 

Elianna grabs my hand and asks when we go to america. I have no answer. 

The information is mixed. One family gets a passport, another says none have been printed in a week. One person says state offices are open, and other says they are closed. No one can tell me when or if we will have the passport. Prayers have been said, politicians called, emails sent and conversations had. And I still sit here, watching the clock tick, wondering when I will ever come home again. My heart breaks.

My heart breaks for my two precious babies and my newest tender hearted child who doesn't completely understand why the other families can go home, but we can't. How do I answer! I don't know either. I have three children then that do not understand why we aren't together..... And the reason they don't know, is because I don't know either. 

I can't figure out what lesson I should learn. I struggle with Gods timing type of answers because they seem so simple and this is just so hard. How can it be God's will for my family to be separated for so long? For my daughter to continue in limbo? For my babies to not have their mom for over 3 weeks? I know I can't earn my favor with God.... And yet I find my self asking did I pray the right words? At the right time? Did I follow the right steps? 

How can prayer after prayer be answered with "not yet?" And how long can I handle it?

I cried for hours today. I wept. My heart broken in pieces. There are comments made of courage and strength. I have none. I am afraid. I am hurting. 82 days now..... No sign of the end. And this was supposed to be the easy part. Everything is done. We have all the stamps, we have chased down every scrap of paper, we have cleared everything possible..... 

The irony that hits now, is this. For every other delay, we were wishing for a computer system that could push information quicker.... For a way to send electronic information so we didn't have to drive for hours or wait on the post office.... Now, for the first time in three months, it is a computer that we need.... And it is down. 

I had to send the email requesting to move our plane tickets. Again. That hurt. 

I have no more words. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

It was a party

I am not sure if I can get this out correctly. We will see.

We had the party tonight. The party she has wanted and I have secretly dreaded for a very long time. I had pizzas ordered, cakes, chips, and candy. We had gifts for kids and teachers. I even bought balloons, which were confiscated after one popped and the rest were close to knocking things off of shelves.  I'm notnreallynsure why I dreaded it, other than I knew it would be an emotional roller coaster..... And I hate to show emotions too often.:) 

I walked with her to the store before hand and knew that I had a happy girl. 

Tonight was about her.

The kids played games, ate the food, and generally had a good time.  Caretakers took turns telling her how wonderful she is, how they love her and how they will continue to pray for her. They told me what a blessing I am to this girl. I truly have never felt more undeserving than those moments. 

The founder of her orphanage sent a gift because he wasn't feeling well tonight. A Russian bible, a music cd, and something else that I currently have forgotten. He also sent a message to me. The lady brought the message that when Elianna first arrived back in Ukraine from the US, she told him all about this one family with two small children. She told him how she felt at home with this family and how she hoped to see us again someday. He said he began that day praying for us, that we would know if this was what God has for us...... And if so, that we would have the strength to act on what God was saying. He was overjoyed when he heard we were coming. He said he was happy that he could meet us and help us. He said, that he was so glad to have met Josiah and Lydia. What a blessing. 

She was bouncing off the walls. She made the boys do things to get their gifts... One had to do push-ups, another had to do squats. It was hilarious. There was dancing and someone found a photo of her class in about 3-4th grade. Currently the youngest photo I have seen to date.

Then the time came that I had to tell her to start gathering her things. She had already packed her suitcase and loaded it into the missionary's car earlier.... All that was left was her backpack, a couple of stuffed animals, and the gifts from the night. 

She asked me to let her sit alone in her room for a few minutes. Of course, I did. 

She then started the goodbyes. Wow. These kids are so tough, you could see the emotion exploding behind their eyes. They are so happy for her.... But this is family for them. 

She held it together until we got to the bus stop. She and I both lost it at that point for a few minutes. 

We got off the bus a little earlier than our normal stop and took some extra time walking home, she took off her headphones and held my hand. We walked silently for a while and then we talked. A little. A few private conversations. Nothing major. Yet I will always treasure that walk. We got ice cream and headed home. 

What an amazing new daughter I have! I am so proud of her and the way she handles herself. I know that the "real work" is beginning, and that it was never meant to be simple.... But I go back to thoughts I had months ago. Is life really supposed to be simple? Are any relationships where there is love ever going to be simple? I believe there is a reason that Corinthians has to tell us that love bears all things, hopes all things and endures all things...... It is because love will not always be easy. It will have to be in situations where endurance is tested. Love will have to hope, more than makes sense.... Etc. 

I know that there are plans of good and not of evil. I know that there are people that she will impact because of her life and her life story. I know that there are wounds that will need to heal and that there are hopes and dreams that will be realized. I know that the precious girl, with braided hair and all of her belongings in that blue suitcase will grow up to be a strong leader... Not in spite of her past and also not only because of her past, but because Jesus gives us a hope and a future. And Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted and set captives free. He gives life abundant and joy unspeakable. He gives peace when peace passes understanding. 

As I stood and watched the ones who have cared for her, give such an awesome testament to her life I was humbled to be given the chance to be called "mom" by this precious girl. 

There is an honor that has now been given to me five times..... The honor to be "mom."

Two of those babies will never know me as mom on earth, those pregnancies didn't make it full term.  two of them will always only know me as mom. This most recent addition has called someone else mom. I am not her first mom. But I will be her last mom. What an honor. 

I hope this hasn't just been a rambling.... But allows you to see what's in my heart. Not blind abandon and rose colored glasses.... But love. I guess that's how adoption starts... Love. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

The 10 days of eternity

Day 7 is almost done. 

After court in Ukraine, there is a 10 day period in which an orphan's family can appeal the judge's decision. That is where we are right now. With three days left of it, to be exact. I am not highly stressed with the possibility of an appeal although it is always in the back of my mind.... But at this point I am struggling with two things,

1. I am not good at paper work, throughout this process I have been the one pushing fundraising. My job was to come up we a variety of ways to bring in cash from various groups of people. Praise Jesus and thanks to your generosity my job was fairly easy..... At least compared to Ronnie's job. 

He has been the paperwork guy. 85 pages of dossier, filled with local, state, federal and Ukrainian documents. Paperchasing around the country, signatures, stamps, seals. This is his job. He is the details guy...... Not me. 

There is a list of required documents for the final paper chase that will begin Friday. It is a list of documents and the order in which we have to get the documents. First the court decree, the birth certificate and then the tax id... Something dealing with registration is next.... You can't get the passport until those are done, then the passport has to be ordered because it takes the longest.... Then the Medicals, but you can't get the results of those without the passport. Then two embassy visits at least 24 hours apart from each other, the second has to be after you have the Medicals and the passport in hand. And then you should have the visa to fly. Then there are papers for the customs guys in Ukraine. Papers if they decide to question us in Germany and a magic sealed envelope to give to immigration in the US where, if I have done my job well, she will pass by that desk with a stamp in her passport declaring her to be a brand new US citizen! No pressure. 

Each of these has a list of documents needed.... To be stamped, Signed, sealed, and kissed by the queen.,. Oh wait... Anyway.

There is a time frame. We start this on Friday 2/14. We have tickets on Saturday 2/22. We have 8 days to get it done. 

So there's that.

2. Tonight I couldn't be with Elianna and I am obviously far, far away from Josiah and Lydia..... While it was quiet and peaceful, and I got to watch all the Olympics that we could download.... I missed all then "fun" that usually makes up my Monday evenings.  I fixed my own dinner, read some of my book, watched speed skating.... But there are three precious (feisty, opinionated, excitable, fun) children that I am now mom to.... And I wasn't with any of them tonight.... And that felt empty. 

I realize that it is only about 12 more days until we are all back together (hopefully, prayerfully) but tonight this mom didn't have her babies..... And I cried. 

Anyway, keep us in your prayers as Elianna and I, (and our fearless leader Tatyana, and trusted advisor Halyna) try to get this finished! Tomorrow Tatyana will get some needed documentation for us. I have also begun the process of figuring out the details of school once we are home. I will begin going through my checklist to be sure I have papers in order, Ukrainian cash when needed and American cash when needed at each individual appointment. We are almost done, the party supplies are making a mess in my bedroom, she will return her schoolbooks Thursday and say her goodbyes to her friends that night (which also promises to be an emotional night... More on that later). 

You guys have prayed us through this far..... Don't stop now. We are on the home stretch... But we are not yet home. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

She is ours!

I will begin by saying how absolutely unbelievable the support has been this week for us. Ronnie and I counted up people across about 14 different states and 5 countries were praying. People were praying in English, in German, in Russian, and in Ukrainian. Some people posted on facebook that they prayed before they went to bed.... Others said God woke them up at 3:15, 3:45, 4:03 and they spent time praying. Others set alarm clocks, and either got on their knees in their own bedrooms or they got up and drove to church to pray together for us. 

You have no idea how humbling that is until you live it. The prayers of the body of Christ is an amazing thing to experience. Thank you. 

So, here is the story.

When we had been in court on Friday, the judge had been very cold. She did not make eye contact and was not swayed by our attempts to move court along for emotional reasons. We expected the same thing when we arrived Monday. 

We were up at 8am. Well. Ronnie and I were.... We had to wake the princess up at 10. Teen girls are the same everywhere, right? 

Showered, clothed and ready to go. Elianna asked me if she could paint her face a little like mine. I love translation talk. I helped her with a little makeup. 

Our missionary family prayed with us before we left and then drove us to the bus stop to save us the 1/4 mile walk to the bus stop. This helps so much! They have been beyond helpful and supportive in this entire thing. I simply cannot imagine going through this without their love, support and friendship. We have only known them for two and a half months and yet it feels as if we have been friends for a lifetime! 

We got off the bus and started to walk to the court house. On Friday's trip, I remember Elianna playfully holding my hand for the entire walk. Monday, she simply put her arm around me, I held her close, we walked the 1/2 mile walk in the snow without talking.... I was praying.... I think she was too. 

We got to the court at 11:30 and waited downstairs in the hot pink courthouse for the participants to arrive, our facilitator was already there when we arrived. 11:45 the worker from the orphanage arrived. 11:49 the social worker from the region. We did not know what the prosecutor looked like.... I didn't know if it was a man or woman. 

We went ahead to the corridor outside the judge's chambers. Elianna, who on Friday had been so playful and funny during the wait, was more subdued this time. She was sitting at a table and kept trying to make jokes (which seems to be her way of dealing with stress).... But she wasn't laughing at her jokes. Ronnie and I were standing. Well, I was pacing. 5 steps one way, turn, 5 steps back. There are about 6 doors on this corridor and People are constantly in and out of the different rooms. I think one is the actual court room and the others are all judges chambers. Every door that opened made my heart jump. 12:00, 12:05, 12:10. Our judge's door still shut.12:20, 12:30 we find out that they are waiting on the prosecutor. Well, I guess that means he/she is coming.... Good news? Ok. Praying, waiting, I update Facebook....... Waiting on the prosecutor. I can't even remember if I got that message posted when the door opened, the judge's assistant walked out and called our name. Here we go.

Once inside, it is a bit blurry in my head. It seemed like There were a lot of people in her office. She sat behind her desk, there are three assistants at a table to the right, the prosecutor was closest to the desk, then me, our facilitator, Elianna, the social worker, the orphanage worker, and Ronnie..... All sitting in line against the wall. 

The judge called to order, stated the case. The case was translated..... 
You want to change her name and make it so that you are the mother of Lena? 

You want to change her name and make it so that you are the father of Lena? 

You want to change your name to Elianna?

To Ronnie...... Why do you want to adopt this child? 

I wish I could have recorded his answer. Ronnie has always had a way with words. He speak in public very well.... Especially when it comes to the gospel. The gospel? Yes. That is the ground for his answer the judge. He talked first about how we met her, how we love her, how our other two love her..... And then he broke into an extremely clear presentation of the gospel to the judge. She nodded a couple times before the translation even happened. We are sure she understands more English than she lets on. He talked about James 1:27.... He talked about our adoption as sons and daughters into the family of God. He talked about Jesus' earthly father being an adoptive father..... He described the death, burial and resurrection. He made Jesus known in the courtroom. He then humbly asked for the judge to grant our request and bless us with this precious orphan and handed our photo book to the judge.

I had made a shutterfly book showing our home, our family, our neighborhood, church, schools and time spent with Lena before we left the states. Apparently the judge liked this. 

The judge then asked me the same question. I really have no idea what I said. I could not think of anything to add to his answer. I said I agreed with him.... We love her... She loves us... I was stumbling with words. I fully had my answer prepared before I walked in... But now I was getting emotional! 

It didn't matter, the judge wasn't listening to me, she was too busy showing photos to the prosecutor. They apparently thought Lydia was adorable and really like the picture of Josiah playing his little guitar. She was smiling. Yep, smiling, as she flipped through the book..... 

She closed the book and looked at Lena..... Do you want to be adopted by this family?



Her answer was awesome. At least it was to me. She described how we met, how she was asked by her director when she got back if there was one family she connected with and we were the only family she could really think of that she would want to live with.... and how the next day, someone came and asked her if she wanted to be adopted by us. She said she was so happy to say yes! 

The judge asked her how long she had been at her orphanage. She answered.

She asked her if she knew how she got there. The answer, not meant to be public information, broke my heart. She knows. I am not sure what would be harder.... Growing up and not knowing how you ended up in an orphanage..... Or actually knowing how you got there and who brought you there.... 

The judge asked her a few more questions about how she would live with us. If she would be a good girl. If she would love her new brother and sister. 

The judge asked the prosecutor if she had any questions, and she had none. She was still looking at the picture book. She asked the orphanage worker if she had other questions, she had none, she was smiling. She asked the social worker if she had questions. She had none.

She asked me and Ronnie if we still wanted to change her name to our name and be her parents after what she had just told us...... I wanted to scream...yes! Even MORE because of what she just told us. But, I politely said "yes."

We all walked out of the room to wait for the decision. 

Elianna was jumping off the walls. We had to calm her down several times during the waiting time. She was happy. But we wanted to hear the decision before we celebrated. It wasn't long until we were called back in. We stood. The judge read the courts decision. 

Julia will be the mother
Ronnie will be the father
Her name will be changed
Her birthdate will stay the same.
You can pick up the official document on 2/14. Valentines day. Awesome! 

We came out celebrating, it was hard to get her to be still for a photo! She asked to go eat..... And then to go shopping.... Of course, we went! 

We love his child so much and simply cannot imagine our family without her anymore. She is our daughter. 

For the next portion, I will have to wait until 2/14 to get the court decree and then I will go to start the final paper chase here in Ukraine, there will be more in the states.... But, well, I'm just ready to go home. She will get a Ukrainian passport here wih a Us visa.... But will gain citizenship as soon as she crosses through customs in the US. 

I have already emailed the embassy to start setting up appointments! :) praise Jesus..... There is one less orphan today than yesterday! 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

I believe.... Help my unbelief.

When talking with Jesus, a man, hoping that his son would be healed was asked if he believed that Jesus could do it. 

His response.

"I believe, help my unbelief."

That is what I feel today. The day before what is, by all definitions, likely our last chance.

Tomorrow at 12 we go back to court. We are out of time. I have been here 63 days now. Ronnie is out of work days that he can miss. If the judge says no. Well. I haven't thought that far because I am afraid of it. It will not be easy. 

Last night, while walking around a mall. I got a sense of dread, fear, panic. I know this is not from God. It can't be. God is not the God of fear. He is God of peace, love, courage. He is God of miracles.

I know and believe this all in my head. I have known it my whole life. 

I believe with my head.

Today, though, my prayer is to believe with my heart and this is proving to be extremely complicated. I would love to be able to stand and boldly say that I know God will do this. But I feel that would be a lie. I want God to do it. I feel that we were called by God to this journey and cannot even comprehend getting this far and being turned away. I cannot understand why we are still here, why my orphaned daughter has been put through so many extra weeks of life in an orphanage, why my biological children have been put through weeks of mom being gone. I know there seem to be so many textbook answers. 

God's timing
adoption always costs a lot (emotions, time and money)
There is a reason, but we may never know
Bonding time
Etc. Etc. 

We have thought these things, been told these things, had these things said to us via text, fb, etc.

We know it is true. Yet.

It is hard. It is hard that my biological kids are without their mom for this length of time. 

It is just as hard every.single.time. We have to take her back to the orphanage. Again, this is a good orphanage that she is in, yet it is still an orphanage. She still does not want to go back. She cries. I wonder if she cries because she is unsure if we will be there again, or if it is because she now feels somewhat excluded from her friends there, or if there are other reasons. 

She has asked us 50 times today if court is tomorrow. Yes. It is. 

We now try to go to sleep. 

Praying that this is her last night as an orphan. 

Praying that the battle in the heavens will be won tomorrow.

Praying that the judge sees our heart.... That she sees in our eyes and hears in our words that we love this girl with all our heart.... But more than all of that.... That the judge sees Jesus. Our prayer since June 26, when this started, was that everyone who heard our story, saw our papers, signed off on our process would see Jesus. So, we pray that regardless of the outcome, that we are able to show her Jesus. 

So..... I say.... I know this whole process is a miracle. Just as birth is a miracle. And I do believe in miracles.... Lord, help my unbelief. 

We know that our God is able, but even if He should choose not to, we will praise Him. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Before I finish my coffee

Blogging before I complete my morning coffee is probably not a good idea. But here we go. 

We met for court yesterday and were told that we need to come back Monday. We have, in the process, met several delays.... Delayed sda approval. Delayed paperwork retrieval, delayed sda approval again, and now court delay. A total of 9 weeks of delay...... And 8 of those we have actually been in country. 7 of those weeks we were all together as a family here, but now the two smallest are in Alabama. 

Many have asked what the problem is, but the truth is that we can't point to one place. It has been across the board. It might be easier to pinpoint the problem if we fully understood what happened when we went into meetings and such, but we rely on translations. It might also be easier to pinpoint the problem if this portion of the process were standardized. If there was one place to go to for the rules. But there is not. Each region works differently. Each judge is different, each orphanage is different. There is a standardized process before you get here, and a standardized process for the last days of preparing papers when you are getting ready to leave, but in country, we are at the mercy of those who decide to help, delay, or stop us at any point in the process, for whatever reason...

We are thankful, that to this point. No one has decided to stop our process..... But we also feel that everyone has chosen to delay! Seriously! Everything has taken longer than expected. The whole process here is estimated to be 6-8 weeks.... We are now at 9 weeks with at least 3 to go. 

Last night, I posted that we are looking to see if anyone has any travel miles. Due to the delay in court yesterday, we will be having to change everyone's return tickets..... And, due to the fact that we had used a travel agent, but had also had to to change our own tickets at the last minute without the travel agent because our flight was cancelled coming over here.... Neither we, nor our travel agent, can edit our tickets.... So even though we bought my ticket and Lena's ticket as humanitarian to be sure we could fly together going home..... We will not make that date now, and will likely have to buy new tickets.

The response has been absolutely overwhelming and completely humbling. I woke up this morning to tons of people donating to help us with Lena's plane ticket home! We have had thousands of miles given and should now almost have enough to get one ticket with skymiles and vouchers, and the other ticket is well in the process.... Donations by tons of people! Many of which we don't even know. As complex as it is to be constantly delayed and denied by people here..... It is also completely overwhelming to see this kinda of generous response from you. We know that you aren't doing it for our sake, nor are you really doing it for Lena..... But you are doing it for Christ. And that is awesome. It is a rare gift to be on the receiving end of people giving their gifts to those in need. Yet, We have seen it so many times through this process. Without you and your generosity we couldn't be here at all..... 

She is such a fun girl. When we get stressed and overwhelmed, she is laughing, wanting to sing, dance, cook and shop! She talks about Josiah and Lydia often and asks us when we can leave for America. She understands the process.... And the delays.... As well as we do, if not better, for she understands the conversations happening around her. She has watched friends come and go to families. 

Yesterday after court, we went to eat, she was sad like we were at first. In court she and I hugged and cried. On the way to the bus she fussed and complained like we did. But when we got to eat, she had changed her spirit. She was ready to focus on eating, and shopping and talking. She asked for some new earrings, we got a few groceries, we wandered and looked at the whole store, slowly. It was fun. It was good bonding. When our hearts were hurting, she was the one pulling us along to look at everything in the store. 

Anyway, I need more coffee..... Thank you for your friendship and support and help and prayers. They help more than you can imagine.