Thursday, December 29, 2011

Slowly, Steadily and Surely

Well, there's another snag.  Effective January 1, 2012, there is new legislation requiring a 30 day waiting period instead of a 10 day waiting period after a court date for a court's ruling becomes official.  Originally, we had planned on spending about three weeks in Russia when we went back for our court date and bringinig Roman home on that trip.  Now, we will have to fly into Russia, go back to the baby home for three days, go to court and then come home and wait a few weeks to go back to pick up our son.  I have been saying for several weeks now that, yes it is our understanding that we will get to bring Roman home when we go back for our court, but we have hesitant to say anything with certainity because it seems nothing about this adoption has gone "according to plan".  But, even as I type that out, I choose to believe that, while it has not gone according to a plan it has, in fact, gone exactly according to The Plan. 

I remember, vividly the sheer terror that rattled us to the core when we realized that we should have gotten another set of fingerprints to the FBI before we left in June.  It seemed as though the extended wait that we were forced to face would be unbearable.  And to be honest, there have been days when it felt like we didn't have the strength to continue to expose our heart. We were given good advice from many well-meaning friends who would tell us just keep putting one foot in front of the other, but more often than not, our feet have felt like they had heavy weights attached to them.  One foot in front of the other has taken all the strength we've had some days.   By God's Divine Grace, there was only one occassion both Brock and I fell apart at the same time.  Every single other time-and you can't imagine how many other times there have been-we have taken turns being the embracer and the embracee.   Both of us were convinced when we left Roman in the arms of his caregiver, we would be back in time to dress him in a Halloween costume.   We never dreamed that we would miss his second birthday.   We had already planned on having him in time to bring him to Texas for Thanksgiving.  We just knew that our home would have the magic of Christmas that only comes with a child this year.  I still battle with sorrow that this will not be the first year of creating holiday traditions with our child and that we are losing precious days with him, but there is also a peace that passes understanding.  We physically left our son in the arms of the only caregivers he has ever known with the full realization that that life was never designed to be the best life for him.  We left him in the arms of a caregiver in July and have been learning everyday how to leave him in the arms of the Great Caregiver. 

I'm at the end of me.  I have absolutely no more answers.  I am battling a weariness like I've never known.  But I still know that God is good. 

We have had a few blessings in the last few weeks.  Brock had been trying to contact Oxana for almost a week so we could get our travel visas finished.  She is the one we met in Houston and with whom we left our passports just after Thanksgiving.  Brock then remembered- miraculously if you ask me- on Tuesday that he had put her cell phone number in his cell phone and sent her a text message.  She told us that the consulate would close on Friday and not reopen until January 10th.  For those of you who don't know much about travel visas, know this:  it would be impossible for us to enter the country without one.  The judge in Russia will require us to visit Roman on January 7th, 8th and 9th.  If Brock had remembered ONE DAY LATER, obtaining a visa would have been impossible for those dates.  Also, a tourist visa allows a single entry into Russia and a business visa will allow multiple entries.  When Brock asked Oxana about obtaining a business visa since we were now required to make two trips, she told him that it was impossible as a business visa takes three days to process.  But she promised that she would try.  Brock spent Wednesday getting all of the information ready to send to Oxana and we rushed back up to Cape to overnight it to her in Houston.  She received it all on Wednesday and will be shipping it back to us on Friday.  And you guessed it.  God worked again.  She is mailing a business visa to us.  That alone has saved us approximately $750 since we will not have to get another visa when we are ready to return.  (Granted the business visa is only good for three months, so as long as we are in that window, we are good!)  I am so incredibly thankful to Oxana, but when we sent a text expressing our gratitude, she responded with,   ":) :) :) Not me, but God Almighty!!!  Thank you for the opportunity to help you!  Happy New Year!"  Blessed to be a blessing.

Of course, another trip means another round of plane fare and that will stretch an already  taut budget, but we still choose to believe that God will provide all of our needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.  (Phil 4.19)    And God really  is providing yet again!  I've been selling scarves and headbands that I've made and have been overwhelmed by the response.  (Forgive the shameless plug, but if you want to be a part of this, you can check out the designs on my facebook page!  Also, I will be scheduling as many Scentsy parties as I can for the "in between time" to finish raising airfare and, just to be quite honest, to keep me from going crazy for not having anything to do but just wait!)

I am so ready to  bring  Roman home and show him his new room.  See if he likes the wall mural I created for him.  Watch him play with all his toys.  I'm ready to rock him to sleep and see his face first thing in the morning.  God knows we are ready.  And I believe He will bring all of this to fruition in His time. There is a big part of me that is extremely nervous to see him and not be able to take him home next month.  I hate that the only thing that he is going to know of us right now is that we come to him for a few days and love on him and then we vanish.  I am praying that God will protect his little heart as well as our own. 

Our adoption story has been full of so many trials.  But the only thing I KNOW to do with the trials is to "Count it pure joy..."James 1.2  and, even in this, "Give thanks for this is the will of God for your life" (I Thes 5.18)  I am so thankful in this leg that Brock was prompted to send a text just in the nick of time.  God's timing seems very slow sometimes, but He is never late.  I am thankful for the business visa and all the implicaitons of those.  I am thankful God has allowed Brock and I to grow closer throughout this entire process.  I am thankful that we didn't know every trial we would have and that He has given us sufficient grace and strength to work our way through one trial at a time.  With the utmost reverance, I think of Habakuk 2.2 "Slowly, steadily and surely the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled"  "Slowly", yes, heaven knows yes!   "Steadily"-sure when I look back over the time as a whole.  We are a lot further than we were a year ago.  As a friend pointed out, at least now we have a name and a face.  We have a chosen one.  I am exceedingly thankful that we aren't fighting for the notion of a child, but we are fighting for a specific little boy.  A little boy whose giggle has been imprinted in my brain.  So I say, in complete confidence of my Savior that even "surely"-yes.  Surely He will finish this good work He has called us to.  Our deepest heart's vision of becoming a mommy and a daddy to a precious and wonderful little boy will. be. fulfilled. 

And I am infinitely grateful to our God Almighty.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Happy New Year!

I don't even know how to start!  I'm so excited that my hands are shaking and my mind is buzzing like crazy!  It's been too long since I've updated the blog and I have so much to that has happened.  We had to give ourselves a little bit of a mental vacation from everything though and, not unlike a actual vacation, there is so much to do now that we are "back from break".

I'll start on the Friday after Thanksgiving day.  Brock and I were visiting my parents in Rio Frio and we knew that Friday was the very last day this new judge had to respond with some information about the adoption. We were supposed to receive an email from Andrei in St. Petersburg if the judge had assigned a court date and I knew the minute I opened my eyes and saw the slumped posture of my husband beside me that we had received no such email.  Were we going to be in limbo forever?  I tried my best to push it out of my mind and enjoy my time with my neice and newphews while I could.  Brock went down to the other property so he could get an internet signal to email Irina to see if he could find out more about what was going on with this judge.  A couple hours later, he came back in the house with the wide-eyed glaze and ushered me out without explanation to anyone as to what was happening.  We both went to the property and I could tell by his silence, hard stare and controlled breathing that he was trying to find the words to tell me new information.  Our new judge needed more paperwork.  What more could we possibly send them?

Sunday, November 27th was Roman's second birthday.  My mother had made a birthday cake and our neice had colored several birthday cards for Roman and we celebrated.  We celebrated because, even he wasn't legally ours, he had already curled his little fingers around our heart and staked a claim in our souls.  He was ours in every other way.  And we celebrated.  We celebrated the time that we got to spend with him in Russia and we celebrated, preemptively, the time that we might get to have him for the rest of our life.  We celebrated the journey we have already travelled for him and the journey-even if it was just down the street to a Russian park-that we had already taken with him.  We only had the priviledge of spending about nine hours with him before his second birthday and we were so incredibly grateful of every second of those hours.  LORD willing, we will get many, many more hours and my prayer is that we would appreciate every one of them more deeply because of and in spite of the time we have lost. 

Roman's birthday did cause some legal complications, however.  Our home study said we were approved for a child under the age of two, so we would have to get an addendum to the study approving us for a child under the age of three.  Our letter from Shelter Insurance said that Brock began working with Shelter as an agent  in July 2006 and our home study said that Brock began working for Shelter in May of 2002 as an adjustor.  The judge was understandably confused by the contradiction so she wanted documentation to clear up the confusion.  She also wanted documentation explaining how Brock could own Brock Williams Agency, LLC. and not own the company of Shelter.   Also even though we had provide the required FBI background check showing we had no criminal history, she wanted a letter from local law enforcement reiterating the same information.  And finally, because she had gotten all of our documentation after our medicals had expired, we were going to have to go back to Russia to have those updated, return home and then wait for a court date.  Thankfully, since we were in Texas already, we could go to the Russian Consulate in Houston to have our visas done.  So, the Monday after Thanksgiving, we woke up at 5:45 AM to drive to Houston.

We found the Consualte rather quickly and, with papers in hand, walked into the office.  A very pleasant woman with a big smile and a thick Russian accent told us, "Please, I am sorry but these must be filled out on the internet.  I must command you to enter them online and then come back and we can process your visa, ya?"  We explained that we were from out of state and she gave us a card of a woman name Oskana who lived nearby with a travel agency who could help us.  We drove about two miles through a neighborhood and pulled up to a modest limestone home with two doors.  There were no signs advertising her business and there were security cameras at every door.  We knocked and were greeted by a another woman with a big smile and accent.  Unfortunately, the website was down and we had to leave our passports and letter of invitation with her.  A woman we had never met before.  In a neighborhood we had never been to before.  With a check for $130 and a hope that we would see our passports again.  Which of course we did.  We arrived home on Tuesday, having spent most of the car ride calling all over the place trying to get everything lined out.  Our letter from Shelter was to arrive on Wednesday and the letters from the police were to be picked up that afternon.  Brock would go to St. Louis on Thursday to get a copy of his LLC and have everything apostilled, overnight it to Dallas and we would be set. 

Wednesday morning our letter from Shelter arrived but, the person who had notarized it had forgotten to stamp it with the notary seal.  We had another one expedited to us.  Thursday morning, Brock was lining everything out and noticed that the letters from the local law enforcement were signed in black instead of blue ink.  Our regular notary was out and we had to scramble to get the new letters made and to find another notary.  We were running out of time.  Brock HAD to be in St. Louis before 3:30 to get the homestudy from the agency there and to have everything apostilled because it HAD to be in Dallas on Friday so it could expedited to St. Petersburg where it could be translated and sent to the courthouse in Murmansk.  Our time was so tight that Andrei from the agency in St. Petersburg booked a flight from St. Petersburg to Murmansk himself so that he could hand deliver the papers to the courthouse before the deadline.  All of these people in the adoption agency, at Shelter, at the police station and our diligently prayerful loved ones were spurred by the passion that our son needs a home.  It literally felt like a mountain was moved.

This morning, December 12, 2011 I was awakened by a gentle whisper.   "The judge doesn't need any more paperwork."  I sat bolt upright in bed.  "Do we have a court date?!"  "Yes, January 12th"  The coldest time of the year and we are going to the Arctic Circle.  And my heart couldn't be anymore warm.

My sister, Merry Grace, had left me a voicemail at 7:30 am saying that today was stuffed animal day at Jake's school.  He woke up in a really good mood and told him momma that his stuffed animal was going to be the baby bear with Roman on it.  She told him that was a good idea and he said, "Because when I was dreaming last night, God told me that someone was going to decide when Roman can home today." 

Two years ago today is the day that we decided that we were ready to pursue adoption.  Never in our wildest imagination did we dream where this journey would take us.  We never would have thought that we would have been so incredibly blessed to have had a referral for a sweet and chunky little boy whose blue eyes were shaped just like his daddy's.  Never did we think that we would have been pushed to our absolute limit and then beyond.  There have been periods when it felt like God was silent.  But He has been working.  I was thinking when we got the updated picture of our son's scowling face that this is what we must have looked like, too.  If Roman has had any memory of us, then at this point, the only thing he must remember is that two people came several months ago and loved on him and promised they would be back as soon as they could to bring him to his forever home.  And then those two people vanished.  Other children got to go with their forever parents, but Roman's still weren't coming for him.  Did they forget about him?  Did they decide they didn't love him anymore?  Why had they just abandoned him?  What was happening?  He has no way of knowing right now  we are fighting with everything we have in us to get back to him.  He cannot know the number of people who have dropped what they were doing so they could carry the baton for a leg of this journey.  He has no idea the number of people who have stood on the sideline cheering and clapping for every shred of good news and who have been on their knees with us when we received another blow.  For me, it was the tiniest glimpse of what happened on a celestial level.  It felt like God might have abandoned us for a time, but we will never know until we get to heaven how He was working in ways we couldn't see the entire time.  Through every leg of this journey He has been there.  Roman, you can't possibly know all of this right now, but I promise to tell you the story as often as you want to hear it.  The story of the miracle-and I hope you know that it is nothing short of an absolute miracle-of how you became to be our son. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

New Information

We have a new judge!  This could be a double-edged sword, but I choose to believe that it is nothing short of an answer to prayer.  There is a lot of information in this blog that won't completely make sense because it doesn't make sense completely to us right now.  I suppose it doesn't have to and I'm focusing on the fact that something is moving.  We have been bottlenecked and in a choke hold for a long season and finally the water is starting to flow again.

The first judge, henceforth known as Karma, had asked for more paperwork two different times and had seemingly not been in too big of a rush to do her job as she pushed the deadlines every single time.  Brock had asked our agency on several different occassions what the repercussions would be if she did not meet her ten day deadline.  Each time Irina would tell us that it would not be in her best interest to break the law and they'd never had a judge not meet the ten day deadline.  Well, surprise surprise...just as with almost everything else in this adoption case, we got to be the guinea pigs.  Karma didn't respond in her ten day waiting period which ended Monday.  What do we do now?  We wait.  Surely Tuesday...nope...we wait. Then today, we got a call from the agency.  Our case has been assigned to another judge as Karma has been on extended leave or vacation or something (Irina didn't seem to know the answer)  Good news:  Maybe this judge will have more experience.  That's the nice word for me to use.  "Compentence" "Intelligence" and"Common Sense""almost made the cut, but I thought that would be unkind.  This new judge took the case on Monday and no, we don't know why we are just now hearing about this.   But that's okay, we don't have to know, we just have to rest in the LORD and that He seems to be positioning events for the "Let's Bring Roman Home" phase of our story.

In an effort to "Give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God for your life" (I Thess. 5.18) I am so incredibly thankful for the new judge.  It may be out of the frying pan and into the fire, but I just have a sense of peace that it is nothing short of an answer to prayer!  I am so incredibly thankful that for the first time in almost four weeks we have news and a ray of tangible hope.  I am thankful that this new judge received our paperwork on Monday so we already, unknowingly have three days under our belt.  I am thankful that this morning I prayed and asked the LORD for some sign that we were still pursuing Roman correctly and that ours would not be a tragic failed adoption story.  I told Him that I didn't have the strength to fight today if I wasn't certain that He was calling us to this fight.  I am thankful that a "bruised reed He will not break and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out." Isaiah 42.3  As I was reminded last night, "When you can't see His hand, trust His heart".

For those of you who have committed our family to your prayers, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  I believe from the core of my being that our victory will be won on our knees.  Please be in prayer that this new judge will be filled with His compassion and will have wisdom to understand all of our paperwork so maybe we won't have to rush more paperwork to Russia.  Pray also that this juge will accept the waiver that we signed for Karma for our medicals and this judge will also allow us to redo our medicals on the same trip that we go to court so that we don't have to fly back to Russia, redo our medicals and then fly back and wait for a court date.  We aren't out of the woods yet, but I can see sunlight filtering through the leaves!  Praise the LORD!

One closing thought:  Brock and I have both had several people tell us that they have been inspired by or encouraged by our faith in Jesus Christ and His goodness in spite of all of the complications in our adoption story.  We don't feel very inspired but I know that there is a treasure in the jar of clay  that is far more valuable than anything either Brock or myself can offer in our own strength.  Ultimately we both know that if someone comes to an understanding of our wonderful, merciful and all-powerful Savior because of our story, then that is far more important than Roman coming home in "our" time.  I have complete confidence that He who began this story in us will be faithful to see it through to completion and we are His instruments to point to His glory.  Some days have been much easier than others and our faith has faltered and at the same time grown.   There is nothing in our own strength or character that is remarkable, but Christ has made His mark in our hearts.  To those of you who are not Believers, our faith may seem like utter foolishness.  His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts.  If our God was small enough to be understood, He wouldn't be big enough to be worshipped.  He's heard every prayer offered and has known every tear that has been shed in this entire process.  I don't know why He hasn't made our path a little easier up until this point and I don't have to know.  Every single time we've surrended all over again, He's given us a peace that passes understanding that has guarded our hearts and minds.  I wish we had both been blameless every step of the way, but we have failed miserably so many times.  His grace is new every morning, though. 

And one morning soon, we will begin our next chapter.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


The day of my last blog, Brock and I skipped town.  We went to a cabin on Kentucky Lake and kept the computer turned off.  Cell phone time was limited  Other than a few walks under the brightly colored canopies of autumn's paintbrush, we sequestered ourselves in our cabin, reading, cooking, jigsaw puzzling and of course a little Cardinal baseball!  Both of us desperately needed to just breathe and rest.  For 48 hours, we didn't have to answer any questions.  We both felt in a tangilble way the prayers that were thrusting us before the throne of God. I don't know that I have ever felt His presence more completely than I did that weekend, and all we had to do was just rest in His goodness.  Paperwork and the politics would just have to wait until Monday.  The only thing we felt like was being asked of us was to just rest and peacefully trust. 

When we came to work on Monday, we got a further clarification on what the judge was asking of us.  Our income was reported in three different documents in our dossier:  Our home study, Brock's letter from Shelter Insurance confiming his employement and our tax returns. Since Brock and I are both in sales, our annual income is approximated.  Since Brock is an employee of Shelter and his staff, including myself, are employees of Brock, Shelter pays Brock Williams Agency LLC more than what he pays personal taxes on since he has to pay his employees out of those commissions.  It works like this:  Say Shelter Insurance pays Brock $10 a year.  Of that $10, Brock pays Brooke and other office expenses and then pays us $6 a year. The home study said that we make approximately $2.75 each.  This is the part where we start panicking.  Yes, our total income is $6.00 a year, but Brock makes a lot more than I do and there's no way to prove that he and I make the same amount.  And according to the homestudy, we should only make $5.50 The agency asked us to write a letter to explain why each document had a different number.  It was easy enough to explain that the homestudy was approximated.  And it was fairly easy to explain that Shelter pays the business more than what we pay ourselves, but there was no way to prove that Brock and I make about the same amount of money.   We prayed that God would show us a way to handle this situation with integrity and honesty.  We could just write a letter adjusting everything to make it look right, but we knew that God couldn't bless dishonesty.  We hadn't caught it when the homestudy had been written and now we were worried that our oversight was going to make everything crumble before our eyes.  Brock started trying to do "forensic accounting" and called our CPA.   Then, we got a ray of hope.  When Brock and I set up the LLC, he made me 49% owner.  Which is close enough to 50%!  Praise the LORD!!!!!

Tatiana, our Russia Power of Attorney did ask the judge if she had anything against our family adopting Roman.  We were told that the judge said that she was very much pro-adoption and that the best place for any child would be in a home with a mommy and daddy who loved him instead of in an orphanage.  Her concern was that with the seeming discrepancies, the prosecution would push back when we were in court.  It is much easier to do the footwork to "prove" our stability while we are here in the States than we are in Russia.  I am so incredibly thankful that we have a more complete picture of what is happening behind the scenes now.

So, Friday the 21st, Brock and I made a mad dash to Columbia to pick up another letter from Shelter than explained why there would be a discrepancy between Shelter's commission check and Brock's personal tax information.  From there, we went to Jefferson City to have it apostilled and overnighted to Dallas so it could go out in the mail with the rest of the documents on Monday.  We set it for a 10:30 delivery time with FedEx.  Monday, though, the driver got a little ahead of the game and tried to deliver it to Buckner at 8:27 AM when Buckner opens at 8:30 AM (hence the 10:30 request time!)  Brock called and talked to three different FedEx representatives before we finally got the driver to go back and deliver the package.  As of yesterday, Monday the 31st, our paperwork is sitting in the courthouse waiting to be reviewed (or in the process of being reviewed).  The judge has until Friday the 11th to respond with either a request for more paperwork or a court date.  We are praying for the latter.  Both Brock and I had felt a tremendous sense of peace after we left the FedEx hub in Jeff City that Friday.  Maybe this would be our last trip to rush to have something overnighted before we get to see our little man again.  Hurry up and wait has been the theme of these last few months.

We cannot thank you enough for all of your prayers for us.  Just when I thought we couldn't take another step a few weeks ago, God put words into the mouth of a friend...

[You can keep doing this!]  Here is why:  a little boy in Russia needs his forever mother and father!...And he needs to know our God. When he gets older he will hear how his mom and dad fought until they couldn't fight anymore, cried out to God, and He carried them the rest of the way!  He will hear how you and an entire community stopped dead in their tracks to pray and he finally got to come home!  You will have amazing answers when he asks you how do you know God is real and that He loves me?  There will never be any doubts or questions in his mind because you have really went to the ends of the earth for him....

The community supporting us may not be a geographical community, but it has bound us up with love.  We have felt strength from your prayers and encouragement more than any of you could possibly know.  We have one simple prayer request in this chapter of our story:  Pray that God would give wisdom and compassion to the judge so that she can understand our financial situation in a culture that is completely different from hers and that she will be moved to set a court date quickly so we can bring our son home.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fear Not...

First things first.  Thank you all for your thoughts, prayers, texts and emails.  It brings tears to my eyes to think of the number of prayers lifted to our Heavenly Father yesterday afternoon on behalf of our family.  Our God is good and His timing is still perfect.  I HAVE to believe that.  If I don't have that, I don't have anything left right now.

We called the agency this morning and we were told that Tatiana had  not been able to see the judge today.  I don't know why and I don't have to know why.  I do know that Tatiana is doing everything in her power to help us bring our son home.  She is supposed to meet with the judge on Monday.  Timing is everything.  I'm not sure how we keep from losing our mind in the next 60 hours, but we will just go one minute at a time.  My sister had called some people and felt burdened for everyone to pray at 9:05 am on Saturday morning.  My first thought was that this would be too late.  Now, I see.

Last night, before we went to sleep Brock and I played the "Thankful Game".  I Thes. 5.18 says, "In all things give thanks for this is the will of God for your life."  We don't know what the days ahead hold, but we know Who holds them.  We don't know exactly what we are supposed to be doing right now, so we are starting with the basic building blocks.  Give thanks. 

I had a restless night of crazy dreams.  At one point, I woke up and I was sweating through my pajamas.  I was covered in blankets and pillows.  I had dreamed that the judge just needed me to get more covers on me.  I had two big pillows on top of me along with blankets and a quilt.  I must have been quite a sight!  The ridiculous idea that something as silly as pulling more blankets on myself would somehow win favor with a judge who has no idea who I am.  "Come to me all you who are heavy laden and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your soul.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  Matthew 18.28-30  Physically, I was heavy laden with blankets and pillows and it was suffocating me.  Spiritually, I was heavy laden with worry and uncertainity and it was suffocating me.  Last night, the only thing we needed to do was rest and trust. 

I found a few treasures before I went to sleep.

Isaiah 41.10 was shared by a precious friend yesterday and it was felt like oxygen to me. 
"Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not be dismayed for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and I will help you.
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

A few verses later in verse 13, I "found" this treasure: 

For I am the LORD your God, who takes you by your right hand
and says to you do not fear, I will help you.

In my mind's eye, I saw a father with a small, scared child.  Her Daddy bends lows, takes her hand and coos in her ear, "Don't be scared honey.  I am your Daddy and I will help you."  Right now, the only way to get Roman in the arms of his parents is for his parents to fall into the arms of their Father.

My God told me last night as clearly as He told Israel through Isaiah many, many years ago that I have nothing to fear.  He is my God.  He will give us the strength we need and He will help us.  He will take our right hand with His left so that His right hand is free to uphold us.  I never knew until a few minutes ago that the right hand signifies ominpotent, eminient power.  My God is able to save. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

We need a miracle...

We just received notice from the judge that she wants a long list of more documents.  On paper, I work for Brock Williams, Shelter Agency LLC. I hadn't started selling Scentsy at the time of the adoption, and we didn't want anything to coflict with the original paperwork.  According to this judge, it is a "conflict of interest" that Brock signed my letter of employment, even though I am, in fact an employee of Brock Williams, Shelter Agency LLC.  It is also unacceptable to her that we filed joint tax returns.  I don't know how to provide separate tax returns for 2009 and 2010.  We are now also required to provide notarized and apostilled copies of the US Poverty Guidelines as there is no point of reference for her to determine that we have the financial means to provide for Roman.

We have two options:

1.  Do our best to provide her with the information (even if it is seemingly impossible) and pray that she doesn't want anything else.
2.  Drop this case and begin again with a new referral. 

Even if we had the money to start over, neither of us want to.  We can't walk away from Roman.  God is just going to have to make a miracle happen.

This judge has been a judge for three months.  We were told that she was way too lenient in the beginning and got her hand slapped and now her pendulum has swung the other way.  Irina is dumbfounded. She doesn't even know what to tell us to do.  The staff in Russia is completely dumbfounded.  Brock and I are numb and dumbfounded.  The judge is just plain dumb.  The only one who isn't dumbfounded is God and He is silent.

Please pray for us.  Pray for a miracle.  Pray for a change of heart.  Pray that when Tatiana goes to the judge tomorrow that....I don't even know...  Just pray for a miracle.  I am weary to the bone.  I am weary of answering the same question.  I am weary of not having answers.  I am weary of not hearing any good news.  Please just pray for us.  I don't know what God is trying to teach us.  I don't know what we are supposed to be learning or be doing or thinking or feeling.  I just feel broken.  Please forgive me for not having strength to call each of you who deserves a personal phone call.  I don't know how to do this anymore.

How Long, oh LORD?

My thoughts feel fractured.  I can't concentrate and I can't sleep tonight.  It is 3:12 in the morning and my brain is in overdrive.  It is a little after noon in Russia.  Is the judge eating her lunch?  Why should she eat when I can't sleep?  Why do we still know nothing?  We asked our agency what the repercussions would be if she doesn't respond within the two weeks and were met with an very unsettling, "There's not really much we can do."  I know that I'm not supposed to know all the answers and I know that this season won't last forever.  But our heads and our hearts think very differently sometimes.  I feel forgotten.  I feel unheard.  Our family's future is reduced to a pile of papers that is sitting on a the desk of a woman who has no idea who we are while every single day we wake up hoping for a miracle and every single night we go to bed wondering how much longer this season must last.

When we were trying to get pregnant, every month came with the crushing single line on a stick.  I'd cry for a day or two and then try to fix everything in my life that could possibly be wrong so that maybe God would see how good we were being and bless us with a child.  I know that's a ridiculous notion.  But right now, it feels like the agony of each of those days in all of those months have been heaped into a huge pile and is overwhelming me.  How long, LORD?  Everyday there are babies taken from homes where they have been abused or neglected.  How long will mine sit in an orphanage?  I don't understand, God.  You have the power to change hearts and move mountains. Why does it feel like You are being still right now?  How much longer do we have to answer every question with, "I. don't. know."?  Our agency keeps telling us that we are so close and while we know this is true, it feels like Roman is slipping farther away.  I want to trust You, I really do, but it's taking strength that I don't feel like I have right now.  I'm crying out to You, LORD.  My emotions are raw.  Nothing about what I'm feeling right now is pretty, but it's honest.  You are still the same good, loving, patient and kind God as You have always been. But, You feel a million miles away right now.  Roman feels a million miles away.  Please God, take pity on us.  Put me back together.  Put our family together.

"Have mercy on me, LORD, for I am faint;
heal me, LORD,  for my bones are in agony.
My soul is in deep anguish.
How long, LORD, how long?"
Psalm 6.2-3

There is nothing new to humankind about what I am feeling right now.  David felt it.  Habakkuk felt it. Countless other souls have felt it throughout history.  How long?  You know exactly how long.  You are still in control. And that's why You are God. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Still Waiting...

I don't really want to blog today.  Still no news from the judge.  She has eleven more days to respond.  Praise God there is a legal cap on this part of the waiting season.  Waiting is hard.  Waiting for something you so desperately want is harder.  Waiting without knowing how much longer you must wait seems to be the hardest. 

There are a lot of things we don't know right now.  We don't know when we will see our son again.  We don't know how much he has grown in the last three months.  We don't know what we are supposed to be doing while we are waiting.  We don't know how much milk to buy when we go to the grocery store.   We don't know how to plan for a trip to see my family for the holidays.  I don't know how to plan Scentsy activities and since that is the only way I'm bringing any income into the house, it's a little nerve-wracking.  We don't know how to answer the countless questions we get asked every day.  We don't mind the questions because we are so grateful that people care, but we just don't know how to answer all of them.  It's easy to get bogged down in the "don't knows", but it's easier to positive and thankful in the "here's what I knows".

We know that time after time God has performed nothing short of miracles in His timing, His provision and His strength.  There  are so many people  who tell us daily that they are  praying for us in this season and we can't tell you what that means to us.  We know that this season cannot last forever and that there is a specific purpose to it.  We know that God does not delight in making us miserable, but He does delight in developing our character.  We know that He knows.  We know that His ways are not our ways and that His ways are higher.  We know that this delay is not the result of God being incapable or negligent.  He is able and He has a purpose for season.  We know that we can trust Him, that is is faithful and He is able to do abundantly more than we could ask or even imagine.

I've been thinking a lot about the Israelites' journey to the promise land.  God could have just "teleported" the entire Israelite nation into the promise land.  After all,  in Acts 8.38, it says, "...the Spirit snatched Peter away and the eunuch no longer saw him..."  But He walked them through the wilderness.  He performed miracle after miracle.  He led them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.  But they just kept complaining and God kept letting them wander.  I think I understand why they were complaining.  They ate the same food every day.  They wore the same shoes and the same tunics every day.  Once, for three days they had no water and then when they finally found water it was bitter.  I would love to picture myself being more spiritually mature than they were and tell myself that I would be amazed everyday by the provision of manna.  I would like to say that I would rejoice over the fact that my shoes and tunic never wore out, but I don't know.  And here we are, faced with our own opportunity to choose. God has lovingly and faithfully called us out of our Egypt of childlessness and into the promiseland of parenthood and we have had to walk through the wilderness to get there.  I am not equating childlessness to slavery, but I am saying that both Brock and I have felt very much so that there was something more for us in this life.  We have wanted to be parents for so long and finally, we have been chosen to go.  I also know that parenthood will not be all milk and honey.  There were battles the Israelites had to fight in the promise land, too.  I don't want to focus on all of the inconveniences and hiccups.  I want to stay focused on all of the ways that God has proven Himself faithful.  We can't turn away now.  Not when we need Him the most. 

So, yes, waiting is hard.  But God is faithful.  We don't have to have all of the answers today.  We just have to trust the One who does.  He knows exactly how many seconds we have before we can see our son again.  I believe that with my whole heart.  Until then, LORD, protect him and keep him.  May You cause Your face to shine upon him, be gracious to him and give him peace.  Tell him we love him and that we will be a united family soon.  Please move quickly, LORD.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

If God be for us, who can be against us?

There are so many people who have told me that they are awaiting updates.  I usually have to feel like I'm in "the mood" to write and that isn't the case today, but my heart IS overflowing with everything that has happened in the last few days and I know that I have the joyful obligation to share what the LORD has done through your prayers!  Yesterday morning, I woke up with unrelenting certainity that we will be parents very soon and it was wonderful.  All of the groaning and uncertainity was lifted and replaced by a perfect and indescribable peace.  God has moved mountains in the last week. 

A week ago today, was a stormy day.  And in this past week, a whirlwind of activity has propelled us closer to Roman.  I just want today's blog to be a list of praises for all that God has done in the last seven days.  Brock is on his way to St. Louis right now to go to the Secretary of State's office for, Lord willing, the very last time before we hold Roman again.  He will then go to DHL and expedite everything to Russia.  It should arrive on Monday and then we wait for our court date.

Last Wednesday, Dr. Dahlbeck told us that the earliest appointment he could squeeze us in would be toward the end of October.  When Brock called the next morning, it just so happened that someone had cancelled their 1:00 appointment. I kinda think an angel held that spot until we could get to it!  I believe from the core of my being that God knew the moment that person reserved that time, it was never meant for him or her.  I believe God knew we needed it and knew what day we would need it and knew what time that patient would call to cancel so that it was cancelled just before Brock called.  No one else got to have that time slot.  For me, it will always be another miracle in an already incredible journey. Dr. Dahlbeck said he would also work through lunch so that he could devote the required one hour to each of us.  Monday afternoon he had our reports ready and he donated his time writing them!  What should have been a $500 bill was only $200!  Praise the LORD!  If God be for us, who can be against us?

When Brock called GMAC Mortgage on Wednesday, he was told that the letter they had initially sent out was the letter approved by the legal department and they had no idea how long it would take to have a new letter drafted, approved and sent.  If you don't remember, the ONLY problem with the letter was that it didn't have the job title of the person who signed the letter.  The person with whom Brock spoke made it sound like they didn't know what they could legally include that would authenticate that employee.  Friday afternoon, GMAC contacted Brock and said they pushed it through and they were OVERNIGHTING the letter to us.  It was in our hands on Monday.  Why in the big, huge conglomerate of GMAC should Brock and Lara Ashley Williams matter?  I believe God allowed the right information to get into the hands of the right person who had compassion on us and our son and was moved to act quickly!  Praise the LORD!  If God be for us, who can be against us?

The GMAC letter had to be apostilled in Iowa.  The letter has to be sent to the Secretary of State's office where the notary is authenticated and a seal then makes the document legal as an international document.  Brock just happens to have a friend who has a step-mother who happens to live in Des Moines who happened to be off on Tuesday who happened to be happy to let us overnight our letter to her.  She walked it in the the Secretary of State's office, overnighted it back and Brock is picking it up at the Fed-Ex hub today because on Monday, the Fed Ex employee happened to mention that we could get it more quickly if we picked it up instead of waiting for it to be deliever. By the way, if you don't know,  Cape Girardeau happens to be on the way to St. Louis so he can ship it with all the other paper work we have.  I just "happen" to think that God sent the right people at the right time with the right schedule.  Praise the LORD!  If God be for us, who can be against us?

In other praiseworthy news:  We were told if we didn't make the October 5th deadline, (three months from the first medicals we had) we would have to fly back to Russia, redo our $1600 medicals and then fly back home and await another court date.  Guess what happened next?  Our judge had us fill out a contract saying that we would redo our medicals in the SAME TRIP AS OUR COURT DATE if we couldn't make it by October 5th.  Praise God, that saved us the cost of another round trip flight.  AND!  The results of our bloodwork in Russia are vaild for six months, so we don't have to redo that.  Not a big deal except that it takes the price of a medical from $1600 to $300!!

So, here is where we stand right now.  The papers that the judge needed are being expedited to St. Petersburg today and should arrive on Monday.  There, the translators will attach the translations (which, by the grace of God they allowed us to email over first so they could start working on them) and then mail that to Murmansk where our translator will take it to the judge.  If they overnight it (we haven't been told clearly if they will or not) the judge will have it in her hands on Tuesday and she can set a court date after she approves it.  It takes four days to get a visa and we have to have a court date to get a visa for this trip.  And then we go.  Brock had figured out last night that we have all the money we should need for the visas, the flight, the medicals and the court and orphange costs.  We still need to raise the last bit for our accomadations, but why would God drop us in the details now?

Keep praying for us.  Pray that the all in the information Dr. Dahlbeck included would be sufficient for the judge and our deed and letter from GMAC would convince her we do own our home.  Pray that nothing gets lost in the mail (and that's another miracle that nothing has so far!)  We have felt the power of your prayers already!  We are so close!  Before we know it, our biggest stressors will be potty-training and pacifiers.  We won't have to think of apostilles and expediting except to remember that God moved mightily in the midst of eveything.  We won't have to worry about paperwork and processes and courtdates and visas deadlines and timelines...

Until we are ready to adopt the little girl who keeps appearing in my dreams.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Providence and Power

Our God is an awesome God!

The last time I left you, I was dressed in red shoes and lipstick in a terrbile thunderstorm and crushed on the inside.  We needed a psychological evaluation and further proof that we owned our home to satisfy the judge.   Brock had placed several calls to different psychologists.  One doctor, Dr. Dahlbeck, in particular was highly recommended, but the first time we called we didn't get to speak with him.  We have a very special friend who is also in the process of adopting and works in a place that deals quite a bit with psychologists.  She called on our behalf and was put right through.  After explaining our situation to him, he said that he would be willing to help us.  So, when we called back, we were put right through.  Our network of friends has been completely amazing!  Dr. Dahlbeck  told us he was willing to conduct evaluation, but the earliest appointment he open was at the end of October and suggested that we call back in the morning to schedule an appointment.  In the meantime, we were still looking. 

The next morning, Brock called me on the way to a meeting in Cape Girardeau to tell me that I had a noon appointment with Dr. Dahlabeck and he would see him at 1:00.  I believe it was Divine Providence.  Just before Brock had called that morning, a patient we will never know, but to whom we will be eternally grateful, called to cancel their 1:00 appointment.  The receptionist had asked Brock to hold a moment while she asked Dr. Dahlbeck a question.  Coming back on the phone, she told him that the doctor was willing to work through lunch to squeeze me into the noon hour.  Twenty-two hours after we were told that we needed to jump through more hoops, we had at least half of requirments in motion. 
Twenty-two hours.  1320 minutes.  It is amazing.

Another small miracle.  God overwhelmed my inadequacies and provided when I didn't even know I needed provision.  Brock called me on my way to my appointment and the conversation went like this:

"Are you there yet, Ashley?"
"Not yet, I got caught at the office, but I'll be there.  I still have eleven minutes."
"Where are you?"
"I'm on 25"
"Please don't.  You are stressing me out.  I meant to be there by now, but I just didn't get away in time."
"Okay, then I'm going to get off the phone so I don't stress you out further.  Just be careful and hurry"
"I know, I know.  I love you and I'll see you in a bit"
"Love you, too. Bye"

I ALMOST hung up the phone but felt an overwhelming urge to say one more thing...

"Why are you panicking?  I have plenty of time to get to Dexter before noon."
"Ashley, the appointment is in Sikeston."

I knew his office was in the Ferguson Medical Group, but something was said the day before that made me think that the appointment was in Dexter (a ten minute drive) not Sikeston (a twenty minute drive).  My heart skipped a beat at the thought of how close I had come to ruining everything.  I called the doctor's office and let them know that I would be a little late.  Said a quick prayer for a safe trip and drove at least 85 the rest of the way.  I hate  As a teenager, that was a different story, but now that I am oh-so-much wiser  I'm actually one of those nerds who believes that the speed limits are there to keep us safe and I always get caught, but not that day.  Praise the LORD!  I knew I had a dozen stoplights to get through in Sikeston, but, would you believe that all but one of them were green!  I flew into the office and a lone woman was coming up a deserted hallway.  I stopped her and asked where Dr. Dahlbeck's office was and she led me through what felt like a  maze of hallways and told me to go downstairs and to the right.  I thank God that He sent her down that hallway at that exact moment.  I apologized profusely to Dr. Dahlbeck and told him what had happened.  He told me it was completley okay and he was just as shocked as I was that he could get us in the day after we called.

"That just never happens."

Thankfully, Brock's story was far less dramatic and we couldn't be more pleased with Dr. Dahlbeck's help!  He told us that he should have the report done by the beginning of next week and it should be in Russia by Thursday.   We also realized that we needed to be extremely grateful because, apparently, Russian judges ALWAYS want additional paperwork.  The fact that these were the only two things that she needed from us is such an incredible blessing.  Although, evidently, we should have had these evaluations done from the beginning, but that information wasn't passed on to us.  Agencies make mistakes and employees make mistakes and soon-to-be mommies make mistakes.  And God's grace and provision covers it all.

I want to tell you all what an incredible blessing you have been to us!  I have never felt the evidence of God answering prayers so strongly!  We are still trying to finish our 100 for 100 list and we still have some pledges for which we are waiting. God has been so faithful through His people and I know He will continue to provide!

A couple of quick stories that touched my heart before I sign off:

At the end of last month, I was trying to make a mad attempt to hit my Scentsy goal of selling $2,000 so I could get the extra bonus.  With school starting, it was a tight month for most customers.  I called my mom just to see if she wanted to stock up on a few Christmas presents and she ordered some warmers and wax.  This morning she called and said that she had finally had a few minutes to open the Scentsy box and decided that she wanted to keep all the warmers for herself.  "These are Roman's Candles, Ashley."  She wanted to put them all over their small house so that everytime she saw their light of smelled their fragrance, she would be reminded of her grandson. 
Thank you, Mom.

Almost two weeks ago now, I got a card in the mail from a person I have never even met but who had read the blog thanks to a mutual friend's suggestion.  She and her husband had wanted to play a part in helping bring our son home.  They had already sent one 100 for 100 and in this card was another $100 check.  Her note simply said, "We decided that Roman needs his parents way more than we need a couple extra calorie-laden restaurant meals.  Hope this helps a little." 
My heart lept to my throat and I began to tear up.  These precious, precious people sacrificed for our son.  So many people have offered sacrficies of their time, their prayers and their money.  I know that every one of you who have given any amount could have spent that same money on something else.  For some of it may have been a fun date night with your spouse.  For some of you it may have been even more essential.  Our deepest prayer is that God will repay you abundantly for your sacrifices.

"Give, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over will be poured into your lap" Luke 6.38a

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Just when Brock and I feel like it's emotionally safe to envision details of Roman's homecoming, our world spirals again, and we have to tuck our chins and lean into another adoption storm. 

I came into the office yesterday afternoon after an extremely busy morning of Scentsy appointments and errands with energy from being productive and efficient.  Brock was on the phone and I could tell from his shaking leg and furrowed brow that something wasn't right.  Then the words that plummeted my heart into my stomach and made me naseous came from his mouth and everything else just became a tumbled blur. 

"Does this mean that we might not make the October 5th deadline?  We might have to go back and do our medicals again?"

When we had our homestudy last December, the case worker assigned to us determined that we did not need a psychological evaluation.  According to our first dossier, that decision could be left to the discernment of our case worker.  Now, the judge says that we do have to have it.  That we have had to have it all along.  Additionally, the letter that we sent from GMAC stating that we own our home and aren't in jeopardy of losing it, isn't sufficient because it does not have the job title of the person who signed the letter.  The words "Account Specialist" or "Loan Officer" or whatever they call their qualified letter writers are throwing a huge wrench in things.  It took a month and a half to get that half-page letter.  According to our agency, the judge is concerned that they letter might have been written by the one who cleans the toilets.  What's even more disheartening is when we asked what more we could do to prove that we own our home, as we had sent the letter from GMAC detailing our equity and sent documentation from the county determining that we reside at and pay taxes for our property, our agency had no response.  Tatiana, our Russian translator, can go before the judge to ask for futher details on Mondays only.  And so, our dream of having a court date this week is snuffed out.  And another week is added on to the already lenghty process.  Another week of Roman not knowing Mommy and Daddy.  Another week of answering questions and another week of listening to the comments of well-meaning people, "Don't you have that baby by now?  Isn't he going to be driving by the time you bring him home?"

Listening to Brock's end of the conversation, I felt my world spinning out of control again.  I couldn't breathe.  I had to get out of there and  so I walked out.  I came home, curled up in the fetal position and cried for an hour.  I couldn't even form words to pray.  There was an elephant on my chest and a boulder in my belly.  How much longer can we keep doing this?  I quit.  I can't.  It hurts too bad.  I closed the door to Roman's room and sobbed in mine.  With every fiber of my being, I wanted to run away.  But I knew that I couldn't leave Brock and  heap more grief and worry on his heavy laden shoulders.  And I knew that we couldn't quit because I know the face of our son.  And from some untapped resource in the recesses of our soul, we had to find strength to keep fighting for our Roman.   There was a boy and a man who needed something from me right at that moment and I didn't have the power to give. 
God would have to do it in me.

I called the office again and asked Brock to clarify what was so murky to him.  He sounded as numb as I felt broken.  Ok, then, what's our first step?  He didn't know.  We both knew we couldn't wait until next Monday for the agency to tell us what to do.  He got a copy of our deed and we pray that this will, by a miracle from the LORD, satisfy the judge.  We called a psychologist and found one who would try his best to fit us in for $100 an hour estimating it would take about five hours.  Another $500 on top of all the other final fees that we don't completely have.  I know God will provide, but it just feels like we are hemorrhaging.  We are financially, emotionally and physically spent. 

"Tell me Brock, what do you need me to do right now?"

"I don't know, Ashley....just don't fall apart on me right now, okay?"  I could hear the tears in his voice.  Okay.  I can't fall apart.  Brock needs his wife and Roman needs his Mommy.  
And we all need the LORD.

I got up, washed my face and fixed my hair and makeup.  I put on my red shoes and my jewelry.  If you aren't a woman, this might not make sense to you.  But I knew that if I looked put together on the outside, I'd feel a little less fragile on the inside.  My mother used to call it her "magic lipstick".  I can face so much more with my magic lipstick.  We called for the psychologist, we called GMAC and we went to church and played with babies in the nursery.  We talked to our friends and joked with them.  For a few hours, we had just a little bit of normalcy  before we had to wake up again and face another day of apostilles and notaries and fundraising.  We were rebalancing.

There is a poem by Rudyard Kipling that I memorized when I was a little girl.  My father instilled a deep love for poetry and words in us.  I attribute any skill I have in writing to the countless hours he spent quoting poetry and explaining that verbs were the heart of a sentence.  I fondly remember many evenings sitting on the back porch, watching the rain come in and singing old hymns or listening to him quote lines from poetry that he had mentally collected throughout his life time.  One of my favorites and one of the first ones I memorized was Rudyard Kipling's If.  One of the stanzas seems completely appropriate now to a depth I never understood before. 

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
to serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on 'til there is nothing in you
Expect the will which says to them: "Hold on!"

We can't fall apart.  We can't give up.  There's not  a sane parent who would walk away from their child, no matter the challenge.  I don't know why all this is happening when so many other parents have had such an easy time.  But I do know this:  These experiences aren't for nothing.   God's just weaving another layer into our story.  There may be an elephant on my chest, but there is a firm foundation under my feet.  One of them will have to move and this, too, I know:  My Foundation is unshakable.

 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock."  Matthew 7.24-25

I don't welcome the storms, but I do know that God will use these experiences for His glory.  He has promised not to give us more than we can handle.  Like so many other people who have walked through even hotter fires than this, I guess I just feel like God has more confidence in us than we do in ourselves.  But His ways are higher and His grace is sufficient.  And His power is made perfect in our weakness.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Songs, Sentiments and Such

Dear Roman,

It was a full day today.  It's 12:30 in the morning and I am wide awake.  My brain is humming a mile a minute.  Across the world, you are getting ready to go down for your morning nap and I can't help but wonder if you remember the man who held you in his arms and rocked you to sleep two months ago.  Hopefully, before we all know it, he can rock you to sleep again very soon.

Your aunt Lizzie sent me a text message Sunday morning.  She said that she had asked Joshua if he remembered meeting her for the first time.  Lizzie has had the delightful privilege of loving and being a step mom to Joshua for a little over a year now.  She said that he looked confused and said, "No".  To Joshua, Liz has always been a part of his life.  She encouraged me that it will be the same for you.  You will never remember a time when we weren't part of your life.  But believe me, right now I feel very acutely every day that you are not part of ours.

We did get our first good news in a long time today.  We had a call from a man at the FBI saying that he had received a message from our Congresswoman, Jo Ann Emerson's office requesting that our background checks be expedited.  He asked if we would feel comfortable with overnighting new prints to his attenition as ours still were not in the system.  He was worried we would be upset about the second $36 dollar fee!  Your dad and I both got three sets each, just in case one wasn't readable and he said that, provided there was nothing in our background, we might get them back within the week.  That would be a miracle because Dad called his buddy in DC to see if we could overnight the background check to him to be apostilled (a word that I never want to hear again...or at least until we decide we are ready for you to have a sibling!) and we found out that he could take them on the 15th only.  I am sure there are other days later than that, too, but it was either the 9th or 15th and I don't think there is anyway at all-with today being the 6th-that we would have the completed checks to him by the 9th.  That means if we are holding them in our hands next Wednesday at the latest, we could overnight them to him and he could overnight them back and we would be done with the paperwork we've been given.  All of these hoops to jump through just because we misread the directions for the second dossier.  We are also holding our breath and waiting to see if maybe, by another miracle, the judge in Russia will be compassionate and give us a court date without these papers allowing us to bring them with us.  We are praying hard.  There's so much to coordinate and so many things that have to work out just right at all the right moments or we may loose precious time with you.  It's interesting that I keep thinking of the phrase "God will 'orchestrate' everything perfectly".  I don't know if you will have a passion for music or not, but if you think of an orchestra, different instruments are playing different notes at different times.  Some instruments are required to be silent for measures and others dominate different parts of the piece.  Yet, it all comes together to make beautiful music.  This is your song Roman.  It is a passionate and moving piece that swells and flows and by God's grace will crescendo at the perfectly appointed time. 

Speaking of music, other than the Chili's "I want my baby back, baby back, baby back" song, I keep humming the tune to tune to Mighty to Save.  I have faith that we will see Him move some mountains in the coming days. 

I am sure that you will have heard the story of how your father proposed to me a million times, but I'm going to tell you here.  I was expecting him and his parents to fly down on a Friday in February so our families could meet.  Little did I realize that he had actually booked his flight into San Antonion on a Wednesday, rented a car and drove down to Rio Frio where he officially asked your Bammie and Papa's permission to marry me.  Then on Thursday, he met with my roommate, got a key to our house and when I got home from work, I was surprised by a trail of rose petals.  He sang "Bless the Broken Road"  and got down on one knee and for the very first time told me that he loved me.  That song has been the theme in our marriage and, as I write this, I know that it is the theme in your homecoming, too.  Especially the chorus:

Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart, they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true

That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you.

I realize that this is a love song, but stretch your imagination with me for a minute.  By now you know that we tried for several years to bring you into our family biologically.  And each year that passed that we didn't have your smile in our life we were broken hearted, but God was builiding a different road for us.  One that we would never have imagined that we would have had enough strength to complete.  And finally, God showed us that you, our first born son,  were never meant to be born from my belly, but you were always designed to be born from our heart.  Born across the world, and yet God built the road that led us straight to you.  It hasn't been an easy road at all, but there has been enough grace and peace for every obstacle we have encountered.  All the while, God is developing our character so we can be the parents  you so desperately deserve.  That broken road will bring us wholeness.  Bringing you home has been the most extraordinary thing we have ever been a part of.  It was always you we wanted, Roman.  We didn't always have a name and a face on our deepest desire, but it was always you.  We didn't know the story God would write in bringing you into our family, but it was always you.

I can't wait for you to know what it feels like to have a Mommy and a Daddy with you every day.  I can't wait for you to finally and rightfully know the feeling of being in a home where your parents would lay their life down for you.  Your father has called the FBI and Jo Ann's office every working day since we found out about our "due date".  He is persistent.  His persistence is the reason I am his wife.  It took him two and a half years to convince me to come visit him.  And it's his persistence that will have you home sooner rather than later. I'm so glad that God put that "bulldog" in him.  He is doing it because he is already so in love with you. 

I'm ready to sleep now.  Good night, Roman.  We will see you soon.



Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Waiting Game

We keep waiting and waiting and waiting.  Nothing new has happened yet, but Brock and I both feel to our bones that something is brewing.  They say a watched pot never boils, but that isn't true.  It's excruciatingly slow, but eventually the water will boil. 

I woke up in the middle of the night on Thursday thinking about P90X with Tony Horton.  For those of you who are not familiar with the program, it is a DVD workout series that is designed to make every fiber in your body ache.  So much fun!  There is one particular exercise on the PlyoX routine called the Airborne Heisman.  I'll explain.  In this exercise, you have to stand on your right leg while pulling your left knee into your chest.  You must hold that position for a second or two and then leap off your right leg to balance on your left leg while simultaneously pulling your right knee into your chest where you hold that position for a second or two and then switch again.   During the exercise, Tony gives instructions to fine tune your movement so that you are working your muscles to their highest potential.  It was his comments that kept repeating in my brain when I woke up.  "You've gotta hold the Heisman.    That hold is important.  Hold.  That's where the magic is.  Stop and then Go."  The object is not to stay in the "hold" position for the duration of the exercise.  If that were the case, I could "hold" on the couch in front of the television.  The hold is an important part of working the leg muscles, but it is only a part.  Right this moment, for this season, we are in a "Hold" position with Roman.  And I felt like God was telling me that this hold is important.  "All things work together for good for those who love the LORD and who are called according to His purpose."  ALL things.  I may never understand why this last leg of the journey had to be so challenging, but I do understand to the best of my ability that God has not forgotten about us and that, even in this, the path He has orchestrated for us is deliberate and beneficial.  In the physical exercise of holding, the muscle is built and balance is perfected.  In the spiritual exercise of holding, (waiting) faith is built and a different kind of balance is being perfected.  This hold is important.  This is where the magic is.  It's in the hold.  God already knows the day, hour and minute that we will see our son again.  For this moment, I'm okay not knowing and not understanding why.  I have a God who is still in control.  And He loves me enough to give my faith a workout so it can grow.  Brock and I have such a peace that we will be in front of a judge before October 5th-the day our medicals will expire.  We believe that God will work it all out for our family.  But even if He does not, He is still God and He still knows what is best.

We are also learning that, for us, waiting is not a passive activity.  Waiting passively is laziness.  Waiting purposefully develops patience.  It makes me chuckle now to think of how many times we caution each other against praying for patience.  It is a hard lesson to learn, but oh so necessary if we want our character to more closely resemble that of Christ's.  So, for us today, waiting purposefully means we still prepare for the child we so strongly believe that God has given us.  We read books that give us ideas as to how we can help him develop emotional bonds with us.  We research activites and games that might help him developementally catch up to where he "should" be.  We pray for him constantly.  And we take opportunities to appreciate things that are so common to us now but will change drastically when he gets here.

Yesterday I was at the store picking up a few things when a woman stopped me and asked if we had our son home yet.  She told me that she prayed for us everyday.   I was completely humbled.  I recognized her face, but at the moment I couldn't think of her name and yet she prays for us every day.  Brock and I made the conscious decision to be very public about this adoption from the beginning because we believed that it would give us an incredible opportunity to witness and minister to other people.  Never in our wildest dreams did we imagine how many people God would bring to minister to us through this process.  We have made new, precious friends, deepened other relationships and built bonds that will last a lifetime.  There have been times when it has been hard to be in the public eye when we have experienced something deeply and painfully personal, but more often than not, we are so grateful that God has put such an extensive community around us that has literally wept with us, rejoiced for us and prayed over us.  And it has forever changed us.

I want to close with just a few words about our "100 for 100".  Each contribution has been an answer to prayer.  People I have never met before have contributed.  People Brock has never met before have contributed.  Even people neither one of us have met have contributed.   Life-long friends have contributed.  People we've met one time have contributed.  People who haven't been able to give an entire 100 have contributed what they could.  People have contributed for more than one slot.  There are millions of orphans in this world.  Babies without mommies and daddies.  Children who are dressed in rags and don't get enough to eat.  Children who can't go to school because they must work to survive.  Little ones who don't know what it feels like to be told that they are loved and precious everyday.  But they are loved.  They are precious.  These children are God's treasures and I know His heart is crushed over every single underpriviledged child.  Brock and I have been called for this season to take one of those orphans out of that equation.  We may be priviledged enough to get to do it again in another season.  Your $100 may not make a difference in the world of orphans, but it is making a world of difference in the life of one.  From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for partnering with us to change Roman's legacy.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Roller Coasters

It's time for a little more therapy.  The last two days have been an emotional roller coaster.  I am weary beyond belief and all I want to do is just hold our son again.  We will start with the facts of the situation thus far. 

First the jerky and uncomforable ride to the top of the roller coaster.  Yesterday, Brock called the FBI to ask about our background checks.  We need two separate checks and one of them is on it's way to Russia right now.  The other, we were told takes a minimum of 8 weeks to process.  October 1st by that math.  We mailed it three weeks ago and, as of yesterday, it's not in the system.  They assured Brock that this was not unusual, but the most basic and primal part of me feels like it is unbearable.  I keep having nightmares that Roman is an 18 year old teenager when we get him and doesn't need us anymore.  Five more weeks, possibly.  35 days.  840 hours.  50,400 minutes.  3,024,000 more breaths to take. (and that's not counting the hypervenilating breaths)  Five weeks isn't terribly long, I know this in my head, but my heart just hurts.  Maybe it would be easier if I didn't know how his little fingers felt wrapped around mine or the joy of  seeing him look up into his daddy's eyes and offer a slow smile.  But then again, it's that memory that gives me strength to push forward one more step.  A marathon is completed one step at a time. 

Then the downhill thrill of the roller coaster.  Brock called Jo Ann Emerson's office this morning-our Congresswoman-and asked if there was anything they could do to help us get these documents more quickly.  We are more in a rush because we misread some infomation on our instructions from the agency and now we are frantically trying to make up for lost time.  Brock said that the woman with whom he spoke was so incredibly kind and told us that they absolutely could help.  I was astounded.  Of all of the issues that office deals with on a day to day basis, a little family in a little town in Southeast Missouri shouldn't be a high priority, but not only did they act like it they could help, we were treated like it would be their honor to help.  What an incredible blessing! The woman with whom Brock spoke couldn't have offered us any more grace and compassion than she did this morning.  We weren't just nameless people who were needing something to add to her likely already full day.  We were a couple who was desperate to bring their son home and she was excited that she could play a part in helping us fulfill our dream.  I was thinking about that on a deeper level, too.  How often do we hesitate to call  out to God for the "insignificant" things because He has so much more going on in the world that needs His attention?  And yet,  He "longs to be gracious to us.  He rises to show us compassion"  (Isaiah 30.18)  I've always gotten a picture of that verse of the Sovereign Creator of the Universe sitting on the edge of His throne, waiting and ready to come to the aid of anyone who will call on His name.  If it's big enough to touch our heart, then we can be sure that it's big enough to concern Him no matter how small it may seem in the grand scheme of things  "Cast your cares on Him for He cares for you".  Lord, my concern is that it will be a long time still before we can hold our son.  My concern is that my heart will break in the waiting.  My concern is that our window of opportunity will run out and we will have to start all over. You know these concerns and You know that to us, it doesn't feel trivial.  I trust that You have goverened every step of our process and you aren't going to drop us in the details.  A friend reminded me last night of the old hymn "He didn't teach us to swim to watch us drown."  And as we look over our 100 for 100 list below, we are AMAZED by the outpouring of generousity of friends and loved ones.  And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that every excited "YES!" that we have gotten in response to this has been evidence of God's provision.  These people are the fingerprints of God in our story.  And if we can have faith in the things that we can so plainly see, why shouldn't we have faith in the ways that God is working behind the scenes to either protect us, protect Roman or just create a dramatic finish so that He alone can get the glory for authoring the story of our life? 

Another jerking and slow climb to the top of another part of the ride.  Brock talked to Irina this morning and she told him that the medicals that we had done in Russia were only valid for three months.  They will expire October 5.  If we do not have a court date before October 5th, we will be required to fly back to Russia for another set of medicals ($1600 not including air fare and hotel costs) and then fly home and wait again for a court date.  And money is only part of it.  The more heartbreaking part is that it will be that much longer until we get Roman home.  I just want my baby home.  I know he is well cared for where he is, but I don't want someone else tucking him in at night anymore.  I don't want someone else putting his socks on his chubby little feet.  I don't want him to wake up as one of 50 children in a home and have to wait his turn to taken out of his crib and fed.  I just want to take care of the son that we so strongly feel like God has given to us.  I miss him so much right now that it hurts to breathe.  And yet, there is a rock solid foundation that I am standing on that tells me that God knows what is happening and He already has the days of this painful season numbered.  "Those who wait on the LORD will soar on wings like eagles"  I have faith that we will soar over the ocean-not physically on eagle's wings, but on an airplane. "...they will run and not grow weary"  This is the race has been laid out for us so clearly and He has given and will continue to give strength to finish it. "...they will walk and not grow faint"  When we simply cannot run another day, He will provide the strength to just...take...another...step.

I just want our son home.  I want to stop feeling like I am going to burst into tears everytime someone asks, "Where's that baby?"  or "How much longer?"  They are exicted with us and I am so glad that we have a strong community supporting us and are ready to celebrate his homecoming.  But the truth is, I don't know.  And every question reminds me that even a month and a half after having met our Roman, we still don't know.  We covet your prayers.  I want to believe that God is setting circumstances so that at the end of this, there will be no other way to know that it came to fruition other than to know that only God could have moved the mountains and the paper and the agencies.  Our original thought when we left Russia was that we would be traveling back around Sept 1st.  Now, we are praying feverently that it will be before October 1st.   

Now that I'm in my 30's roller coasters do a lot more than they  used to.  They make me tired and sore.  That's how I feel right now.  My mind is so tired from thinking about bringing him home. Thinking about how to get him home faster.  Tired of wondering if there is anything we are missing or anything we should have done differently.  (not misreading those documents would have helped!)  And my heart is sore.  I am learning more deeply what it means to just "cast our cares on Him because He cares for us"  How could I doubt that.  God knows what our desire is?  He loves Roman more than we do. And He wants what's best for all of us.

This I know:  God is still good.  He still causes all things to work together for those who love the Lord and who are called according to His purpose.  And He who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it.

I'm sure glad I don't have to govern the universe!  And I'm thankful that I can lay my concerns down at His throne and know that they will be far better cared for than we could do on our own.  I'm so thankful for you Jesus.  You will see us through.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

100 for 100

It has been 33 days since we have seen our son.  Thirty-three days since the morning in the park that we pushed him in a swing and held him on the see-saw.  Thirty-three days since he curled his little fist under his little chin and put his sleepy head on our shoulders while we carried him back to the orphanage.   Thirty-three days since we kissed his sweet cheek and told him we loved him.   Thirty- three days since he heard our voice promise him that we would be back as soon as we could to bring him to the family that God designed for him.   And every day since then has been nothing more than one step closer to bringing our son home. 
I have gone to sleep every night thinking about Roman.  I have woken up every morning thinking about Roman.  I can't wait for the day I can read the same book five times in a row before he will go to sleep.  I crave being woken up in the middle of the night to a child who needs nothing more than for me to pull him in my arms and rock him until he feels safe enough to fall asleep.  I look forward to shampoo beards and mohawks.  I'm excited to have every pot and pan pulled out in the kitchen for a makeshift drum set.  I even long for grocery store trips to be nothing short of an adventure.  I want my life to be governed by parks and coloring books and sippy cups and toy trucks.  And we are closer than we have ever been to having all of this.   I married my very best friend and I love him more every single day, but there is still a void for both of us in our little family.  And God is filling that hole with a precious blue-eyed baby who is more than we could have asked for.  He gives so generously.
Today we received in the mail the form that we needed from Homeland Security approving our petition to adopt.  This form was supposed to take four to six weeks and it only took eight days.  Praise the LORD!  Provided everything else goes as smoothly, we should  be travelling back to Russia get Roman around the first part of September.  We have been so blessed in this entire process and we are continually being astounded every single day.  There is only one more obstacle to overcome.  It is a huge mountain to us, but we also know that it is, at the heart of the matter, nothing more than an opportunity to watch the LORD work and grow our faith even more.    Roman's referral came at the exact right moment it was supposed to come, but, nevertheless, it came about four months earlier than what we expected and consequently, what we had budgeted for.  We need to raise $10,000 for the orphanage fees, court costs, travel arrangements and hotel bills.   $10,000 is a big mountain to climb, but we have just descended the  $35,000 mountain God built on Scentsy, teddy bears, "Ride for the Russian", "Change a Life" and the  books, clothes and other items we have sold.  There have been so many of you who have kept up with our story and who have been so incredibly generous with us through this entire process.  And I don't just mean the amount that you have given, but rather the sacrifice that you have made to give.  Brock and I are completely humbled by this.  When we started this adoption process, we wanted it to be debt free with it.  God always has all the money you need to do what He has called you to do.  And time after time, so many of you have been the fingerprints of God to us to provide for us.  But not just for us.  You have provided for an innocent child, halfway around the world.  A baby whose birthmother-an orphan herself- didn't know how to have a family so she placed her sweet son in the only environment that she herself had ever known.  We were told that is the vicious cycle of so many orphans.  But through your prayers, encouragement and support, you are breaking that chain for Roman's generation.   We cannot thank you enough.  Even though we are the ones who were called to be his parents, you have been the ones who have helped change his life. 
We have one final fundraising campaign.  100 for 100.  We are asking for God to call 100 people who would be willing to donate $100 so we can bring Roman home.  Would you be willing?  I know $100 is a lot of money (and believe me, we won't turn away a partial $100 gift either!) but $100 brings Roman closer to his forever home.  Below is a list that we are excited to watch God fill up.  If you give, you can either choose to have us list your name or, if you are more comfortable, you can give us a special message for Roman for your number.   Email me at if you want to participate.  So many of you have already done so much and we are so incredibly and unbelievably grateful.  You have allowed God to work through you in ways that that are indescribable.  Pray about this opportunity to be a part of changing Roman's life.  And if you cannot give, please send us a message letting us know that you are praying for us in this final stage. One more mile and our family will be complete for this season.   
1.  Rick and Frances
2.  Anonymous -trwf
3. "We love you, Roman and are excited to play a part of building the bridge to your new home"  Bammie & Papa
4.  Anonymous-bpf

5.  "We thought Roman needed his mommy and daddy more than we needed a couple calorie-laden meals out to eat"  Anonymous

6 Anonymous gg

7  Anonymous

8  Anonymous

9  Anonymous

10  Anonymous

11.  Anonymous-mk

12.  Anonymous-wcm

13.  Anonymous-2

14.  "Roman, I can't wait to touch you!" Grandma MO
15. Anonymous
16. Anonymous
17. Anonymous
18. Anonymous
19. Anonymous
20. Janet & Gene
21. Anonymous-twf
22. "Welcome Home, Roman"  Mary Ann & Travis
23. "We can't wait to meet you Roman!!"  Baba E, Uncle Dave, Joshua & Isaac
24."We are so excited about you!"  The Newman Family
25. Advance Assisted Living

26  Holly Ruser
27. Eddy & Paula Eubanks
28  TBWF
29.  Love, Nanny
30.  Roman, you are such a blessing by God's design. You have wonderful parents and we can't wait to spend time with you! Kunze Family
31.  Jerrod & Beth Murphy
32.  Anonymous-talf
33.  Anonymous CDB
34  Anonymous CEF
35  Anonymous DTH
36.  Leslie Stephens, Shelter Insurance, Ironton, MO
37.  Merissa Madden, Shelter Insurance,
38.  Uncle Cheerios
39.  "We can't wait for you to come stay at our house, Roman!"  Renae Holzem
40  Anonymous-LTBC
41  Anonymous-CDB
42.  "Uncle" Kevin Block
43.  Anonymous bcf
44.  Anonymous YCB
45.  "Come be a TIGER with us at a game.  Welcome to TIGER Country Roman!  Love, Harper and Reid"
46.  Anonymous-csf
47.  Anonymous KRF
48.   Anonymous psc
49.  Anonymous-vg
50.  Jim Eubanks

51.  Anonymous-cg
52.  Anonymous-v2

53.  Anonymous v2
54  anonymous cn
55.  Anonymous-pjg
56.  Anonymous-THF
57. Anonymous ltw
58. Anonymous-bdf
59.  Anonymous-jw
60.  Anonymous-jec
61.  Anonymous-kra
62.  Anonymous-mdsw
63.  Anonymous kf
64.  Anonymous
65.  Anonymous
66.  Anonymous
67.  Anonymous
68  Anonymous JHF
69  Anonymous maba
70.  Anonymous cjh
71.  Anonymous msl
72.  Anonymous sbl
73.  WWC Church
74.  Anonymous
75. Anonymous
76.  Anonymous
77.  Anonymous
78.  Anonymous caf
79.  Anonymous 1/2-s  Anonymous wcm
80  Anonymous sce