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.