Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Seven Pairs of Socks

Another meltdown on Saturday night.  I am told that most soon-to-be new moms have moments like this, but I have to tell you, at the time, it felt like I was the only one in the world who felt this way.  I was in Roman's nursery-or rather what will become Roman's nursery as we still have so much to do in there-and I was looking at the baby clothes, toys and books that we have for him.  I was imagining chubby little hands pushing the buttons on the toys and dimpled little fingers turning pages in the books while big blue eyes take in all the colorful pictures.  My eyes drifted over the package of diapers we had for him.  Diapers in the house!  Not because we were having guests and not because we were babysitting over the weekend, but honest to goodness, just because we were going to need them-diapers!  That part of the evening was delightful, but the swing was coming.

All of Roman's little outfits were laid out on the bed and, as I started going through them, I was filled with more and more anxiety.  Every little shirt and each little pair of jeans were so adorable, but I think we'd still need a few more clothes to get him started.  And socks!  My baby has no socks!   We still need to raise $10,000 just to bring him home and if he were to have come home that day, he would have no socks.  What kind of mother am I?   Roman is going to depend on us for his every need and we have only a hint of an idea what that will look like.  How can we do this?  We aren't prepared for this!  In the back of my mind, I knew one quick trip to Target would resolve the sock dilemma but the emotions started spiraling from there.  Roman will be delayed in his speech as, other than the three days we were with him, he's never heard English.  How do we help him catch up?  How do we comfort him when we take him from the only home he has ever known to a strange new world where days and nights are flipped and everything smells, sounds, tastes and looks different?  I wasn't worried that it would be too much work.  All we have wanted for years was to pour our life into another little life.  I was worried though, that we were going to miss the mark for him.  I was worried that we wouldn't be enough for him.  What if we don't know how to meet his physical and emotional needs?  At that moment, I felt completely inadequate and overwhelmed.  What am I doing?   I can't bring a child into a home where he has no socks.

Usually, I am not this person.  It's not really my nature to worry too much about things that are either beyond my control or things that can easily be resolved.  Faith and fear cannot co-exist.  When we are fearful, we are basically saying that God doesn't know what we need, doesn't care what we need or we don't trust that He knows far better than we do how to provide for those needs.  Fear focuses on the problem and faith focuses on the Power.  I humbly and apologetically admit that I was focused on fear at that moment.  For those tortuous moments, I forgot for a moment that the God who has been so faithful in the past would continue to be faithful going forward.  It slipped my mind that He still has a good plan and not only would He give us wisdom if we would seek it, He also knew exactly how many threads were woven together in the socks that Roman was going to own.  He knows! I don't have to have every detail figured out yet, I just have to do what's in front of me to do today.

Yesterday, we received a load of clothes from a good friend.  Sweet little sweaters, delightful little plaid shirts and an array of other adorable items.  Included in the bag were seven pairs of socks.  In the Bible, the number seven signifies completion.  God created the world in seven days.  The Israelites walked around Jericho seven times before the walls came down.  It took Solomon seven years to build God's temple.  I don't want to over-spiritualize socks, and I know that eventually we will need more than seven pairs of socks, but at that moment it was a reminder to me that God does know better than I do what Roman needs and will provide for those needs.  I can only direct my focus in one place at a time.  On one hand, there is a mountain of money that still needs to be found, a large collection of baby items that still need to be obtained and a unknown emotional needs that need to be met.  On the other hand?  "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all of these things will be added unto you."  (Matthew 6.33)  I don't mean we   turn a blind eye to the things in front of us, I simply mean that we pray for wisdom, stay attentive to what's before us and, as my mother would say, "Proceed with confidence".  Through our friend, God not only provided the socks that triggered the silly meltdown I had two days before, but He also reminded me to "be anxious for nothing, but in all things, with prayer and petition, make your requests known to God and the peace of God, which passes all understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus." ( Phillipians 4.6) That's what I needed on Saturday.  I didn't need to worry about something as silly as socks!  I needed to pray about it and trust, whether through ourselves or someone else, God was going to provide socks.  And instead of spiraling out of control that day, I would have had a peace that didn't have to make sense that would have guarded my heart and mind from other equally ridiculous thoughts.  In a way, it's all socks to God.  He's not worried and He is all-powerful.  That's the God I serve.  The God who has my best interest at heart.  The God who has Roman's best interest at heart.  The God who looked in all the world and picked us specifically to take care of Roman.  The God who knew that Roman needed us-with all of our faults and frailties.  The God who knew that we needed Roman.   He does indeed put the solitary in families.  (Psalm 68.6)  My prayer is that this will be imprinted in my brain, carved into my heart.  Regardless of what Roman needs-something as simple as socks or something much bigger, more complicated and critical-God will provide. 

There is a story in my family of my sister, Merry Grace, three years old at the time, being under Mom's feet one day and my mother, laughingly looking down at her, asked, "What am I going to do with you, Merry Grace?" 
"Feed me and love me, Momma, just feed me and love me."

Roman, we will do the best job we know how to do to feed you and love you.   To the best of our ability, with God's help, we will feed your physical needs, your emotional needs and your spiritual needs.  We commit to you that we will work diligently to find out who you are-who you really are.  We will help you reinforce your gifts.  We want to know what you will be passionate about and what brings you joy.  We commit to you that we will work to help protect your vulnerabilities  and also how to help you find strength because of and in spite of those vulnerabilities .  I'm excited to see the man that God will grow you to be!

There are so many things we don't know.  So many things that we will all learn together and we will cross bridges when we get there.  God has made our path straight every step of the way and through hard work and the generousity of family, friends and even strangers, He has provided for our every need exactly when we have needed it.  When we got back from Russia, there were three donations on the PayPal button here from very generous people, checks for teddy bears, donations left at the office and a card from a woman we met one time in Florida with a generous gift.  Every dollar has been an answer to our prayers.  God is building our family and we are completely humbled by how many people have been so generous.  Thank you.  Through you, God has shown us that there is nothing too big for him.  Whether it's money, gifts or even socks, God is showing us that He will see this through. 

And it's all as simple as socks to God.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

We Will See You Soon Roman!

My heart hurt a little this morning when we woke up, knowing that this would be the last time we would see Roman for a while.  I had dreamt about him most of the night before and was now bracing myself for the inevitable.  How were we going to leave him?
Instead of playing inside, we were able to bundle Roman up and together, with the interpreter and driver, we walked to a local park.  It took a while since we let Roman walk some of it (we had left the stroller at the baby home) and it was hard work on his little legs.  He seemed much more content to walk today and maybe that was, in part, due to the sunshine.  At the park, we alternated between the swing, the slide and the see-saw.  He enjoyed the see-saw, didn't care for the slide and loved the swing.  He started to get very still in the swing and his blinks were getting longer and slower, but he'd still thrown his head back and grin when I pulled him in.  We played for about 15 minutes and noticed that he started dropping the goldfish on the way to his mouth, something he hadn't done before and we realized quickly that he was very tired.  Brock picked him up, sat on a bench and laid him back on his arm and they both just gazed at each other.  Tatiana and Denis were sitting on a bench at the end of the playground and I was thankful they were giving us these last few precious moments as a family.  Roman put his little thumb in his little mouth and curved his little finger over his little nose and with his other hand he reached up and grabbed Brock's shirt right over his heart.  Even though he was just holding the textured fabric, he was actually grasping his Daddy's heart.  I felt the sacredness of the moment as I watched Brock's eyes tear up as he stroked our son's cheek with his finger and Roman seemed to fall  asleep.  I was starting to tear up, too, realizing  that that was probably the last time we would see his blue eyes this trip, but he fluttered them open one more time, locked eyes with his Daddy and, with a sigh, drifted off to sleep. 
He giveth  and giveth and giveth again. 

We walked slowly back to the baby home taking turns carrying him on our shoulder.  He was heavy, but it was a welcome weight.  The hole in my heart was filled with the bundle of this little one in my arms.  We were Mommy and Daddy taking turns treasuring the too few moments we had left with him for a while.  Brock and I both let the other walk alone with him at different times, so we could whisper quietly in his sleeping ear.   Mine was a simple prayer I still remember from my childhood.
May the LORD bless you and keep you
May He cause His face to shine upon you
Be gracious to you
And give you peace.
We arrived at the baby home too quickly and with our hearts in our throats, we handed him back to "Judy Denche".  She cooed in his ear and smiled at us and quietly walked him upstairs.  And, just like that, it was time.  Time for us to go home and prepare the way for him to come to his forever home.  God does indeed place the solitary in families.  Halfway around the world, he prepared this little boy for us and us for this little boy for we have prayed for this child and the LORD has granted us what we have asked of Him.  (I Samuel 1.27)  And never more than now do we realize that every good and perfect gift comes from Him.

Our Third Meeting with Roman

The third meeting with Roman was on the afternoon of the second day in Kandalaksha.  After we held him while he slept that morning, he was taken so he could eat some lunch and we were dismissed so we could eat our lunch.  We spent the next few hours walking around the town trying to get a feel for the place that would always be Roman's first home. 
Kandalaksha is an old town and it didn't take much imagination to know that communism had once reigned there.  Tatiana told us that several towns that size had been affected significantly when communism fell as there was very little reason to travel to these areas once companies had some choice in where to obtain their resources.  She told us of large hotels that were once full now sat empty which made it difficult to find funds for repairs and updates.  We were told that we were extremely fortunate to have running water in our room and not have to share a communal bathroom on each floor of the hotel.  The hotel we stayed in was, in fact quite dated, but it was clean and had a fridge-a welcome amenity!  It was not the most luxurious place we have ever stayed in, but it had a lot of charm and felt safe. 
We took a few walks while we were there.  We walked down the hill from our hotel to the White Sea only to realize that we couldn't access any part of the beach courtesy of the razor wire fences of the military.  Still, it felt good to get outside and stretch our legs.  We passed women on the sidewalk with heads covered , thick stockings with sensible shoes.  We also saw many military trucks manned by gunned men.  It was a little unnerving, but overall we felt very safe.  Later that night at 1:30 AM, Brock would take a walk in bright daylight up the hill from our hotel to capture some photos of the tank in the park and a statue of Lenin.  I watched him from the window of the hotel trying to decide what I would do if I saw anything happen to him.  Thankfully, I never had to reach a decision.  There were several men drinking in the park across the street, although they didn't seem rowdy.  As I would have been the only woman on the streets, I was glad I opted to stay inside.

After our walk to the Sea-or rather, as close to the Sea as we could get-we had some lunch and then went back to the baby home.  We were led up past the big sunny room and into a small office that we later learned was the doctor's office.  The doctor was a petite woman with big glasses circa 1970.   She had a large file on Roman and, as anxious as we were about that meeting, it actually served more than anything to calm our fears.  We discovered that he had consistent check-ups and was in overall very good health.    That meeting lasted about 45 minutes and we were told that we would get a copy of all his medical records once we adopted him.
After the doctor, we were taken back into the big sunny room and Roman was brought back into us.  I think I saw that he recognized us right away this time and came to us very quickly.  Since it had finally stopped raining, we bundled him up in even more layers and took him outside.  We had a stroller with us, but decided to let him walk.  He was not happy about that.  Holding onto Brock's finger with one hand, he whimpered and reached for the stroller with the other.  We put him in it and he seemed content, although he had a white knuckled grip on the tray.  He giggled and kicked his feet and seemed very happy until we reached the merry-go-round.

I sat on the merry-go-round and pulled him out of his stroller.  He hollered in protest and within seconds had big crocodile tears running down his fat cheeks.  He had had several mosquito bites on his forehead when we first saw them, so we jokingly said that he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder from the bites.  Once we got him back in the stroller, he was fine again so we continued our walk until we all decided the mosquitoes were too much and we back inside to play.
Once inside and his little shoes were off and his toes flexed and stretched, he was quite happy to play with the ball, train and big green tractor (Grandpa Rudy is going to love the tractor-even if it is green!)  He kept tripping over the hem of his too big cargo pants, so Tatiana pulled them off and he spent the rest of the time running around in his tights.  They are very big on tights in Russia.  I think they are scared to death to get cold, so while Brock and I are sweating and sticky, Roman was bundled up in two shirts, a fleece jacket, tights and pants.  At our first visit, we asked if we could remove his tights to look at his toes and you would have thought that we asked for them to uncover a government secret.  They did pull them off though for a moment, long enough to get a little video and count his toes before the stockings went right back on. 
During this visit, his one of his caretakesr came in to meet with us.  We were told Olga was his favorite as Roman was hers and when we had asked to talk to her, we were told that she was on vacation.  Since she was in the area, she came in and for that we are extremely grateful.  She gave us a little more insight into his personality and told us, with tears in her eyes, that she was so glad that he would have a family.  What a selfless love she had for our son!
We were, in fact, impressed about everything we learned about the baby home.  There were 50 children there, not all of them available for adoption.  Roman had no siblings available at this time and our agency is very strict on making sure that sibling groups means actual, biological sibling groups.  On one hand, we were a little disappointed because we were emotionally prepared for two, on another, grateful that our agency had a commitment to integrity and honesty.   We had read books and gotten other information that prepared us for the worst and yet both of us felt like we couldn't have asked for a better experience.  It reminded me of a time when I was engaged to Brock.  I had moved to Missouri and in with my soon-to-be in-laws.  Brock and I had prayed about our decision to get married and I really felt peace about the decisions we were making.  Yet, in the back of my mind, I always had an "escape route".  If this didn't work out, I knew exactly what I needed to do.   I remember sitting at Pam and Rudy's dining room table working on reception invitations and being delighted by how well they had turned out and it hit me like a ton of bricks.  By concentrating so much on my "escape route", I was missing so many of the blessings of that season.  That was the same feeling that I got when we were with Roman.  I think it was important for us to be aware of the potential issues we could face, but if our focus stayed too much on that, we would miss the blessings of this season.  It's a hard season, wanting so badly for our son to be home, but it's a necessary season.  My sister told me it was like getting an ultrasound.  We got to measure him, check him out and, since we haven't felt him kicking and tumbling in me, we got to feel him-nine months worth concentrated into nine hours.   We cherish those nine hours and know that God has His hands on him.  He's no safer there than he would be here.  And even though it feels like the six weeks or so until we get to travel again will never get here, we know that we are doing what we are supposed to do and, with God on our side, we will bring him home. 

Friday, July 8, 2011


Okay, day four...We met with the Ministry of Education this morning and all went uneventfully perfect!  But you don't want to hear about that, so without futher ado..the post you have all been waiting for....

After we checked into the hotel, we grabbed a quick bite to eat, picked up the inspector (the equivalent of our social worker)  and  we went to the baby home.  The inspector was a petite blonde with a sweet smile and an obvious heart for children.  The baby home was tucked off the road a little bit in a very old, run down building.  The grounds surrounding the home were overgrown as was much of the town.  We were greeted at the door by a sweet, grandmotherly woman who had the sweetest lilt in her voice.  Her eyes sparkled and her laugh came easily.   She looked a little bit like Judy Dench.  I liked her immediately.  Brock, Tatiana (the translator), the inspector and I walked down a very dark hallway to a room with a small table and eight small chairs.  We were told this was where the speech therapist worked with the children three times a week.  We were invited to sit down and the inspector told us everything she knew of Roman's birth mother.  Her name is Ekaterina (Katy in English).  Born December 20, 1986, she too had been an orphan when her mother passed away.  The inspector said that she didn't know how to have a family as it hadn't been modeled to her.  Since Roman's mother did not have a job and no reliable income when he was born, he was left in the baby home's care and has been in that baby home all but two days of his young life.  There is nothing known about Roman's father.  She relinquished her parental rights in Oct 2010 and the Russian law requires that Russians have exclusive adoption opportunities for the first six months after parents relinquish their rights and then children can be placed on the international waiting list. We were also told that she doesn't drink (praise the LORD-an answer to prayer!) and has no serious medical problems. 

During this meeting, the door opened and we saw "Judy Denche" walk in, walking slowly and bent at the waist.  She was mummering softly.  Tatiana shifted in her seat and we saw our son.  I don't know exactly what I expected to feel when I saw him for the first time and I don't think I can articulate what I did feel.  He cut his eyes back and forth to all the eyes in the room and everyone held a collective breath.  Thankfully, all eyes were on him.  I didn't want this precious moment to be analyzed.  He was guided to the table and lifted into one of the child-sized chairs directly opposite of us.  "Judy" placed a few toys in front of him and he knew exactly what do.  With a death grip on the cookie in his left hand, he began manipulating the toys with his right.  We were all quiet and smiling, waiting on him to set the pace of this sacred meeting.  He would place a ring on the tower and cut his eyes to Brock and myself like he was trying to figure out who we were.  After a few moments, I moved to the other side of the table beside him and he let me "help" him with the toys.  Tatina and the inspector continued to visit by themselves in Russian, leaving the Williams family to figure each other out.

In the next two hours that followed, we colored and made "music".  He liked to bang the rattle rings and crayons.  He was adorable.  He let us hold him and rock him.  We counted ten fingers and ten toes touched every dimple at every knuckle.  We also found that he was ticklish and loved to be held closed and nuzzled.  At one point, Brock held him and Roman grabbed his daddy's finger and sat very still as if he were trying to figure things out.  I know he can't possibly know how his life is going to change, but it certainly seemed he could sense a change coming.

The next day, we were led upstairs to a big, sunny room.  There were five children in the room and when we came in, the caregivers ushered the other four out.  We were left alone with Roman, Tatiana and the speech therapist.  She smiled as she shared her observations of our son.  It seems our sweet son knows how to charm his way into hearts.  He knows which caregivers will allow him to get away with more and he uses it to his full advantage.  She also said that he is a very determined little guy with a very healthy appetite.  He usually likes being in the group and, without bullying, seems to get his way quite often.  He plays well with the other children and, according to her, has some strong leadership qualities among his peers.  We spent the precious little time we had that morning playing with a ball and a train.  At one point, he was sitting in Brock's lap and when Brock reached back to get the camera, I clapped and held my hands out to him and he lunged for me.  My heart lunged for him and it was that moment that I knew.  When Brock took him back and nestled him in the crook of his arm, Roman popped his thumb in his mouth and gazed up at Brock.  He reached his fat little hands up and stroked the whiskers on Brock's chin and started giving him the long stare of a sleepy boy.  Brock laid him back and within minutes, he had quietly drifted off to sleep, opening his eyes every so often to make sure that Daddy was still there.  When he woke, it was lunch time and he was carried off to another room.

Everything we discovered about the baby home impressed us deeply.  It seems they do an excellent job of caring for their children, providing them with massage therapy, speech therapy, music therapy and routine, extensive check-ups.  While a baby home is never ideal, we couldn't have asked for better care under the circumstances.  We are blessed.

I will share the next two meetings in the next blog.

Day Three-Medicals, Tours and Travel

Today was our last day in St. Petersburg before we meet Roman!  Both Brock and I were way too excited to sleep and were awake by 3:45.  It was still pretty bright outside and we watched the ships go through the canal from the window in our room.  At 7:00 AM we were packed, dressed and downstairs to meet our translator, Natasha for our "medicals". Both of us were a little nervous about being inspected by foreign doctors, but all our fears were completely unfounded!  We met with an oncologist, a dermatologist,  general practitioner, cardiologist, pulmonologist and a psychologist.  We had X-Rays, blood drawn and an EKG.  And the entire experience was actually as pleasant as it could be!  Every doctor was very kind, although I did tell our translator that I had no idea so many Russians were going to see us without our shirts on! 

When we finished with that, Natasha took us to a resturaunt so we could experience some authentic Russian food and it was yummy!  We have had meat pie, salmon pie, beet soup, and creamed chicken in a honey pot!  We have since found out that a lot of Russian food has dill, garlic and mayo.  They put mayo on their pizza!!!  I couldn't bring myself to try that one out!!  Up until then, we had eaten from the breakfast buffet, peanut butter sandwiches and McDonalds. (we say it was because of the free Wi-Fi, but it had  more to do with the picture menu!!)
After lunch, we went to two different cathedrals and found out a lot more (more than than the nothing we really knew before!) about the history of Russia and quite a bit about the Russian Orthodox church.  It was all fascinating and we were so glad to get to know more about Roman's birth-land.   
After our whirlwind tour, we were taken to the very hot airport where Natasha waited with us until we could get our boarding passes before she had to leave us.  As luck would have it, I set off the security alarm-a little overwhelming in a foreign country! So, I got the "pat down".  It was less invasive than the doctors that morning, but still, it was a lot for one day!
Waiting in the airport was surreal for us.  Keep in mind that we had had two hours of sleep in the past 24 hours for the second time in a three day window, add to that all the announcements were in Russian and take it one step further by giving us a delay on our flight.  Granted it was only a 15 minute delay, but we had no idea why.  We just knew that our flight had disappeared from the schedule.  Brock, who is naturally less anxious than I am, kept telling me not to worry but I could tell he was starting to get a little antsy, too.  When they did start boarding, we had to exit a sliding glass door, get on a shuttle and be driven across the tarmac to the plane.  I fell asleep before we left the ground.

When we arrived in Murmansk, we were shuttled to the very old airport and we were met by Tatiana and Dennis, the translator and driver.  She told us that the adoption agency had emailed her that our plane was about 15 minutes late taking off.  It was a really good feeling to know, even when we didn't know it, we were being watched.  In a good-not so "Big Brother" kind of way :)  We made it to the hotel and crashed hard for the night.  We were to meet Tatiana and Dennis at 9 AM to go to the Ministry of Education and then we'd be off to Kandalaksha to meet Roman!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Day Two in Russia

Brock and I slept very well last night, waking only for a few minutes at midnight to twilight.  The sun doesn't set in St. Petersburg until about 11 PM and rises around 3:30 AM.   We ate breakfast in the hotel and our choices on the buffet included "macaroni" (spaghetti noodles), porridge (runny oatmeal) eggs, a colorful array of cheeses and lunch meat and cupcakes among other pastries.  After breakfast, we found a bank and exchanged our $200 for five thousand plus in roubles.  We rode the subway downtown and spent the morning walking and exploring.  This is a beautiful city and we will post pictures of the buildings when we can find our cord!  We did notice that the people don't seem to be as expressive here unless you get busted for taking pictures in restricted areas!  We aren't positive that's what happened because we weren't certain on the rules, but based on the hand-waving and gesturing, we presumed we had broken the rules.  Oops!  The subway ride was surreal.  We paid our tokens and got on an escalator that was at least 15 stories tall and full.  In spite of all the people, it was oddly quiet.  And it was the same on the train.  No one spoke, no one smiled.  If I found someone looking at me, they would simply keep looking for another few seconds, unabashedly, and when I would smile at them, they would then, without smiling, turn their head.  It didn't seem rude, just a different custom.  It did, however, make me wonder if Russians were a lonely people as a whole.  We smile-or at least I do J to strangers politely, and I think we do it to connect.

When we emerged back up the 15 story escalator, we were on one of the main roads in St. Petersburg.  To get our bearings, we took pictures of the block and were amused that the subway was located in the "Pepsi" building on a street that we think was named COK and a letter that looked like π.  But as the day wore on, we think that meant "bus stop".  We walked across the street to what we later found out was the Kazan Cathedral.  It was old and in need of repair, but majestic at the same time.  We went in to look around and were awe-struck .  It was divinely ornate with granite floors and columns.  There were murals and stained-glass windows all illuminated by countless candles.  There was a trio singing from a balcony above in angelic, celestial voices.  The entire experience was ethereal.  The women all had their heads covered and some of the people prostrated themselves on the cold stone floor.  Their reverence was palpable. 

From there, we wandered down the busy, albeit quiet, street to a lovely park and sat for a few minutes to read our map and get our bearings.  Across the road was the Hermitage-an expansive and ornate green and gold building.  We walked around the courtyard taking it all in.  From there we meandered back to the subway, stopping in a few shops and bookstores. 

We got back to the hotel around 2 after another quiet ride on the subway, ate a nutella and jelly sandwich and took a much desired nap.  Jet-lag is tough!  I felt terrible about craving a nap so badly but it literally hurt to keep my eyes open!  When we woke up, we went back to McDonald's-free wi-fi!  (We were a little timid about going into a restaurant that didn't have picture menus until we could go with a translator)  We walked around our "neighborhood" for a while and then came back up and tried to sleep.  Tomorrow starts early.  Our translator will pick us up at the hotel at 7 AM for our medical examinations and then tonight we will fly to Murmansk.  On Wednesday, we will meet before the Ministry of Education in the morning and then will be driven to Kandalaksha where we will meet our son!  It's hard to believe the time has finally come! 

I don't know if we will have internet access in these areas as it is more remote, but we will keep you updated the best we can!  Thank you for your thoughts and prayers!!  We have felt them!  Keep watching for updates…rumor has it there will be a guest blogger some time in the near future! J

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Helllllooooo St. Petersburg!

We have arrived.  Wait, let me try that again...We have arrived!! Our plane touched down in St. Petersburg at 1:30 local time.  With the exception of not being able to sleep, our trip was a dream!  Ha Ha :).  The only dream we had was the trip itself.  Whew-my sense of humor is even more... whatever it is with 24 hours of no sleep!  And we have three more hours to go to stave off as much jet lag as possible.  Brock is laying on his twin bed bouncing his legs around to keep himself awake.  We will head around the block to explore in a little while, for a little while.

I couldn't settle enough to sleep from NYC to Frankfurt, but I did manage to watch three movies, eat two meals ("breakfast" was really more of a half meal) and crochet a hat and a half J  When we got to Frankfurt, we had to go through security again and let me tell you, our TSA could learn a thing or two.  I'm not taking a political stand because I understand  why our procedures are in place, but Germany lived up to the "Security with a Smile" motto they had posted all over the terminal.  The first man greeted me in German and I managed something intelligible-as in a few steps above, "huh?" and then in perfect English, he greeted with a robust good morning and "I'll help you get through this".    I had a water bottle in my bag that I had put in there during the first flight that I had forgotten about which of course led to an understandable bag search.  When she pulled the bottle out and told me I couldn't carry that through I told her that I was so sorry and I had forgotten it was in there.  Her response?  "Oh, that's no problem, but I do need to go ahead a take it."  Wow!  Brock tried to get a factory sealed Gatorade through in Florida and you would have thought he brought an atomic bomb.  We caught our next flight with no problems and we noticed that there were several Russian women on the plane who were gorgeous!!  Tall, long -legged knock outs.  And then my sweet husband looked lovingly at my twenty hour travel weary hair and face and told me that I don't keep very well when I travel!  So this is love J   To his defense, my hair was poking out in all directions.   All three bags found their way across the world and our translator, Natasha-another beautiful lady-was standing front and center with a huge "Mr. and Mrs. Williams" sign.  She and her driver, Sasha, drove us to the Hotel Moscow and then walked us around the block pointing out the market, McDonald's, the subway and a cemetery.  Evidently, we are staying right across the street from some very royal, very famous very dead people.  Oh!  and a monastery!  We were told their singing is breathtaking and so we think we may sit in on an Orthodox Russian service to see what we see.  We went to the market to buy some water, nutella, bread and jelly  and spent almost 500 rubbles! We spent about an hour walking up and down the aisles looking for things that were semi-familiar.  We found some Heinz Ketchup, Cheetos, Corn Pops…there was a lot of English on the products and a lot of English in the songs in the store.  And I think this is the only place I've ever been where the Tide Laundry soap is cheaper than what I presume is generic laundry soap.  
Our room is on the penthouse level-as in seventh floor of a seven floor building.  I think we walked down the longest hallway ever!   The room reminds me of my college dorm room with two twin beds and that all too familiar scent.  The view, however overlooks the canal and is actually quite lovely!  We saw a big boat fly by on skis not too long ago!  In America, we just float the boats J  Thankfully, our room does have a mini-fridge, a safe (directions in English) and a TV that gets a few English channels.  We couldn't ask for more!
All in all, it was an extremely easy trip-Praise God for the small blessings!!  And now that we will be a Russian-American family, we want to come back when we aren't trying to buy a Russian.  We have a rest and recovery day tomorrow and the plan to do some independent sight-seeing.  For the moment we are trying to stay awake and off our feet-Brock is cheating right now with a 30 minute power nap! (I authorized said nap)  I'm trying my the darndest to stay awake for the next 2 hours and 53 minutes  so I can go to bed at 8 PM.  We will seeeee….zzzzzzzz J

Love to you all and we will keep you updated!

Friday, July 1, 2011

From "No!" to "Go!" in Two Years Flat

It just hit me.

Another shred of evidence of the Sovereign Plan orchestrating our adoption. 

It is 12:45 AM and we leave for Russia today.  At 3:30 PM we will board an AirBus 380, the largest commercial plane in the world.  We have been in New York since June 23rd and have been counting the days until July 2, 2011.  I was thinking about everything that we have been through in the last 19 months when we officially decided that we were ready to adopt.  It was two weeks after Roman was born, but we didn't know that at the time.  Really and truly our die was cast several months before that.  July 2, 2009 to be exact.  Two years ago to the day and if I close my eyes, I can still vividly remember that day.  As with anyone who has tried to get pregnant, my morning started with a stick and a smiley face.  We had been using an ovulation kit for about a month and a smiley face meant that it was time to call the doctor.  I went to work for a half day of work that was crazy as only a bank can be the day before the July 4th holiday.  At the last possible minute, Brock and I left for Cape so Brock could get to a lab and I could get to my doctor.  We were having an intrauterine insemination and both of us were feeling excited, scared, anxious and hopeful.  I will spare the details, except to say that as I was in the room, I suddenly felt an indescribable heartache.  I knew in a tangible way that this is not where we were supposed to be.  I had never had and still don't have a problem with medical intervention for fertility issues, but I KNEW this wasn't right for us.  And my heart shattered.

At the time, I had mistaken that ache as an indication that we weren't supposed to have children.  How could God take the oldest desire of my heart and deny it?  We knew children were a gift from God and that being entrusted with caring for one of His was the greatest blessing He could give.  Why not us?  Had we done something wrong?  Was there an unconfessed sin or unrealized disobedience?  Month after month was the same story of hormones, calendars, sticks, thermometers, and negative pregnancy tests . I had lost one baby and I hated that term.  Lost like I had misplaced a child as though I wasn't constantly mindful of those too few days that I had life in me.  It was heartbreaking.  It was wearing on our relationship.  It was gnawing at our friendships.  Infertility was a beast that was sinking it's talons into every aspect of our life.  We'd read articles on food we should eat, clothes we should wear, supplements we should take and even thoughts we should think.  Baby showers were heartwrenching for me.  Movies could bring me to tears.  Getting "the call" from friends made me feel like I was being suffocated.   And as I was on the table in that doctor's office, I heard, or rather felt, a resounding, "No."  Why not us, LORD?  Did you forget us?

When we got the tests back a few weeks later that the IUI was not successful, I was a mess.  I knew I had already had my answer, but there was a tiny ray of hope that was snuffed out that day.  I had told Brock through tears and hiccups that I had to stop.  "Please, give me until December.  I need to not think about this for a few months.  Please, let's stop until December."   And in those four months, I began to believe that we would never be parents.

In December, we had another week of hope.  The tests weren't confirming anything, but something was happening physically.  On the other side of the world, a woman we will probably never know had just given birth to a child.  Born at 32 weeks, Roman was tiny.  We thought we were pregnant, but physically I simply was under a lot of stress.  Maybe metaphysically, I felt our son had come into the world.   And then finally, at the exact right moment for us and for Roman, we decided to adopt.

Now, today, two years to the day later we are boarding a plane that will take us to see our son.   I now know that God wasn't just saying "No!" to us two years ago today.  He was also saying "Wait!" and two years later, He is saying "Go!"  The God who is sovereign over all time and space knew that even though we waited in the doctor's office one year, we would be waiting in an airport two years later.  Roman, He knew you were coming.  At the very moment we were trying to create a life that day, He was knitting you together in the second trimester of your life.  The Bible tells me that every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of Lights and you are our good gift, Roman.

I am so thankful that we know the other side of the "No" that day.  If we had had our way, we never would have had the awesome privilege of being your parents. We don't always get to see what's on the other side of a no, but we do always know that He has a plan that will bring us good. (Jeremiah 29.11)  I hope someday that we will be able to give you siblings, but for now, you complete this season.  This entire process has been more than we thought we could do, but, by God's grace alone, here we are.  It was so much paperwork and fundraising and running and pushing us out of every comfort zone we've had and it has been worth every minute.  Sure, it would have been easier for an IUI to work, but we would have missed so much.  You, Roman, have enriched our life already and made us stronger and braver than we thought we could be.  You have already brought us joy and a sense of purpose.  We know love more powerfully because you've been placed in our life.

And this is just the beginning.