Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"Where were you when you heard?"

Dear Roman,

Someone asked me yesterday where I was when I got the news that you were going to be our son.  How did I know that you were the baby for us?  What happened in the days between getting your referral and when we actually decided that you were the one for us?   I realized that I needed to write these things down, get them on paper because they are part of your story.  Time has a funny way of fuzzing up details that you swear you'd never forget.  I will never have an ultrasound picture to show you, or footprints of your tiny newborn baby feet.  I'll never have a studio photo session from the first few weeks you were alive, but I will always have that moment when I saw your little face and I knew that I knew that you were the son designed for us.  This story is what we do have for you and we will tell it to you as often as you want to hear it.  Your birth mother brought you into the world by God's design and that same design brought you into our family.  You were meant for us.  She didn't give you up because she didn't love you.  She wasn't in a place where she could have taken care of any child.  We are forever indebted to her that she carried you and was the vessel that God used to bring you into our life.  All the while you were growing in her womb, God was growing you in our hearts.  You were born two weeks before we decided to adopt you.  And I so wish that we had those first 20 months with you, but in the same respect, I am so grateful that we will have the rest of a lifetime with you.  However many days God has numbered for us.

In a strange way, your referral story starts a few weeks before we got your email.  Your dad had talked to Irina who is in charge of the Russian program of Buckner and Dillon.  We both were so frustrated because you were still just in the paper stage.  Dad told her that he just wanted to feel like there was a light at the end of the tunnel.  She told him that she was going to send a referral for a little boy that they had just gotten.  We waited and waited and the next time we talked to her, she told us that she was so incredibly sorry but that boy had been referred to another family first.  In a strange way, we had peace.  For some reason, neither of us felt particularly excited about that child.  We couldn't explain it.  We didn't have a picture or medical background, but there was just a catch in our spirit that something didn't feel right.  We had prayed that if that wasn't the right child for us that the LORD would make that abundantly clear to us.  The agency has been wonderful about explaining that some families pass on referrals for a myraid of reasons and they completely understand.  I had told your father that I was worried because I didn't know if I could say no to a referral-all these children need homes and how could we not accept one of them?   So the way we see it, God took care of it for us.  He knew you were coming.

On Friday, May 13th (that's right! Friday the 13th) I was in the basement working out with P90X.  It was kicking my booty and I sat down for a minute to catch my breath.  I had my phone with me and decided that checking my email would provide enough distraction when I saw Irina's email.  "Referral"!  I jumped out of the seat and my shaking fingers couldn't open the email fast enough.  I kept repeating, "don't look at the picture, don't look at the picture" because we were told to read the medical information first before we were to look at a picture.  But there your photo was.  Blue eyes glowing.  Now, by now, you will probably know that I have absolutely no knack whatsoever for seeing similiarities in people.  I usually just smile politely when someone says, "Doesn't he look like his dad?" or "She has her mother's eyes".  In this, I am not gifted unless I study someone for a long time and, well, let's face it, that's just kinda creepy.  However, the first picture I saw of you, all I could see was that you had your Dad's eyes.  Now, I know that genetically, that's really not possible.  But I do know this.  God knew you were supposed to be ours and I happen to think that he pasted Dad's eyeballs on your sweet, little face.  I called your father and apparently I used a voice that only dogs could understand.  I had to repeat myself three or four times before I finally managed to speak intelligbly enough for him to understand.  "We got a referral!  For a baby!  And he is beautiful!  I didn't mean to look, but he is beautiful!  He has your eyes!  He looks like our baby!"

We had decided not to tell anyone until we could talk to a doctor and decipher what all the strange medical terms we got on your referral meant.  Even wikapedia didn't help us!  We asked a friend who was very familiar with medical terms and he gave us a very grim report.  "He probably has XYZ caused by ABC"  He did say though that the report was worded very strangely, though.  We were  scared.  That night, I had fitful sleep and your dad didn't sleep much at all.  He emailed a woman, Janet, with whom he had been sharing our story at 8:15 that night.  He didn't tell me because he wanted to know what she had to say first.  She had also adopted her son from Russia and had gotten a terrible diagnosis which turned out to be bogus.  You see, Roman, from what we've read and studied the Russian goverment doesn't want to adopt their healthy children outside the country.  The doctors in these orphanages know this, but they also know the chances that an orphan has growing up in an orphanage and what is likely to happen when they are released from the orphanage.  So these doctors will create a false diagnosis and word it a certain way so that other doctors who know the way the system works can decipher it.   It all seems so spy-like and double agent-y.  Janet responded about 11:30 and it wasn't until 2 am that Brock read her response.  He woke me up to read it to me.  She told us not to worry about it yet.  That our concerns were completely understandable but that we needed to talk to a peditrician who has experience with Eastern European children.  "Let me guess" she said.  "They told you that he had XYZ that was caused by ABC.  That's what they say on all of them."  She gave us the name of her doctor and we faxed up a copy of the referral and he responded within a few hours that, other than being a premie, he didn't see anything alarming.  And even though you were born at 32 weeks, your height and weight looked very good.  I guess you needed that extra insulation since you lived above the Arctic Circle.  My poor boy.  I'm afraid you are going to melt when you get to Southeast Missouri.

So now, after five trips to the Secretary of State office so they could apostille 44 documents (apostille: verb  the process by which the government charges you $10 a document to notarize a notary.  I guess the great state of Missouri wants their piece of the Gorby Fund too!)  countless phone calls to several agency representatives (Irinia was in Russia during this time) and one near disater at Fed Ex (the fed-ex guy put our documents in another guy's envelope and at the last second decided he needed to double check it!), we have nothing to do but wait for a travel date.  Well, that and get your room ready.  And raise $20,000.  But thankfully, we are dealing with "God-conomics".  It's more obedience based than anything else.  He's the one who fed 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish.  I can't wait to tell you the stories of the people who are playing a part in your life!  You have been one celebrated little man!  And every time there has been a hiccup or a situation that has caused any frustration, we both take a deep breath and turn our phones on.  Your picture is both of our screen savers.  We see those little dimples and your pudgy little wristcles and all is right again.  We're coming for you, buddy. 

I love you to the sun and down again.  Around the moon and down again.  And all the way to Russia and back again.  And back to Russia again and back again...again.

You are our miracle,

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Roman "Gorby" Williams

The very first picture I saw of our sweet son took my breath away.  He had the clearest blue eyes and all I could think was that they had the same shape as Brock's.  The next picture I saw of him, he was smiling his little turtleneck had his shirtsleeves carefully rolled up to reveal fat little hands with dimples at each knuckle.  Wristcles, Brock calls them.   They are like cankles for your arms!  Not desirable for adults, but the cutest thing ever on babies!  This was far more than we had dared dreamed.  Wristcles meant that our son was getting enough to eat and smiles meant that he hadn't emotionally checked out.  Praise the LORD who is able to do abundantly more than what we asked!!

Our report showed that Roman (which is his Russian name and will be his Williams name, too) lives in Murmansk and then later we found out, a little more accurately, Apatity.  Suffice it to say that he lives near the border of Finland, very close to the artic circle.  Poor baby is going to melt when we bring him home!! The good thing about Apatity is that it is a fairly affluent town, by Russian standards.  The orphanage is newer and very well maintained.  We also found out that his mother was "socially disadvantaged" which is the main reason that so many children are in orphanges over there. 

In order to get to him, we will have to take about an 18 hour plane ride to St. Petersburg and then a 29 hour train ride to Murmansk and then Apatity is another 185 Kilometers south of Murmansk.  When we go the second time to pick him up, we have to go to Moscow to appear before the judge and that trip will be a 40 hour train ride!  We could fly, but the cost difference is several hundred dollars and this will give us an opportunity to see the country side which we hear is absolutely breathtaking.  In the next few days, we should know when we will travel the first time to go meet him.  It should be sometime in July and then about six to eight weeks later, we will travel back so that we can bring him home.  I know it's been 18 months in the making, but it feels like we are in fast forward right now!

Roman was born on 11-27-2009 which is about two weeks before we decided to adopt.  I had thought that we were pregnant and when we found out that we weren't I, of course, was devestated.  Brock told me that he couldn't watch my heart break like that anymore and if I was ready to adopt, then he was, too.  Little did we know that a child WAS in exisistence, just not in the traditional "grow your family" kind of way.  As we've said for months now:  We finally realized that God wasn't saying "no" to us, but "YES!" to a child on the other side of the world who had next to nothing.  I still can't wrap my brain around the fact that we are the vessels being used to bring this child, who was on the track to being on the streets when he turned 17, to America where he will enjoy all of the freedoms that so many of us take for granted.  Because the LORD chose us, Roman will have the opportunity to get an education, have a warm bed to sleep in every night and parents that would lay down their lives for him.  He will have the opportunity to learn to read and chances to develop whatever talents that God has given him.  He will get to go to the library and the park and Cardinal baseball games (he already has the outfit!) and Mizzou football games (again another outfit)  He will have the chance to learn to drive a tractor from Grandpa Rudy and maybe even help Grandma Pam in the garden.  He will get to vacation in Texas and play hard with his cousins there.  He can build forts and "float the Frio" and have his Papa teach him how to swing a hammer.  His Bammie will help him color and feed his imagination.   He can decorate Christmas cookies and his daddy will teach him how to throw a baseball (his mommy sure can't!)  He will get to go on campouts and fishin' trips and the children's museum.  He will get to go to the ocean and the mountains and hopefully even Hawaii!  (okay that's just as much about us!)   He will get to go to church and learn songs and stories that tell him that he is a precious treasure and He is dearly loved by His heavenly Father.   And when he is 17, he can worry about prom and earning gas money for Friday night and not have to worry about where his next meal is coming from and if he will be able to find a warm place to stay  at night.  And even through all of this, even though we are being used to dramatically alter the course of his life, we feel like the lucky ones.  WE are the ones who feel blessed beyond our wildest dreams.  It is our greatest privilege.

Many of you have asked what we need in the coming months.  We are still needing to raise some more money. We have raised over $25,000 through Scentsy, my handmade jewelry and generous gifts given by family and friends.  It's actually been really fun to see how God has provided everything we've needed at the exact time that we have needed it!  We will be doing some more fundraisers in the coming months.  If you would like to partner with us in getting Roman "Gorby" home, there are several ways you can help:

**Consider buying your Christmas presents in June this year with Scentsy.  They make wonderful gifts for your loved ones and can be shipped right to you.  And you can take a huge load of stress of yourself during the holiday times this year!  Go to https://ashleywilliams.scentsy.us/ to check out all of our warmers and wax. 

**We are getting some teddy bears with custom shirts that read "I helped bring Roman "Gorby" Williams home!"  and are selling them for a minimum donation of $20.  They are plush and super cute!!  We will let you know more details.

**Also, "Change a Life".  I have several baby bottles that were donated that we are giving to people to throw their spare change into for 40 days.  If you live in this area, you can just bring the bottle by at the end of your 40 days and we will roll it.  I think you would be amazed at what God can do with your pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters.  And this makes a much bigger impact than sitting it sitting in the console of your car! :)

**Pray with us that God will continue to stir people's hearts to want to be a part of changing our son's life forever!  More than anything, we need your prayers!

I believe we will do another motorcycle ride "Ride for the Russian" before too long, selling Krispy Kreme donuts and maybe even another "Picture a Blessing"!  We will keep your updated!

Our contact information is:

Brock and Ashley Williams
PO Box 86
Bloomfield MO 63825

Phone # 573-568-9875
puddinwilliams77@yahoo.com (Ashley)
puxicobrock@hotmail.com   (Brock)

I want to close with this: We have been completely overwhelmed by the excitement that our family and friends have shown us.  Many of you have said that you were moved to tears when you saw Roman's picture.  We are so grateful to be part of such a community, not just geographically , of people who have rejoiced when we rejoiced!  Each of you have served us by accentuating our gratitude.  Every emotion that we have felt in regard to this adoption has been so acute and this is no exception!
Thank you all!