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.