Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Day Three

I feel like we are on a downward spiral.  We received word today that the judge is refusing to talk to anyone representing us in this adoption.  She still has not set a court date, but she has issued letters to the 10 Russian families who refused Roman.  I pray that she is not waiting for these families to divulge the intimately personal reasons they refused a child while Roman sits in a baby home and we sit with our life on hold, yearning for our son.  Why is it so easy for some?  Why is this happening to us?  Isaiah tells me "a broken reed He will not break and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out.  In faithfulness He will bring forth justice..." Isaiah 42.3  I wasn't there when He laid the foundations of the earth.  My voice didn't speak creation into existence.  I feel so helpless and isolated right now.  No one knows what to say.  No one has any answers except the One who seems so silent.  No one can give us what we so desperately long for except the judge who is ignoring us and the God who is quiet. 

We do okay when we have the next step to take.  Come back in two weeks.  Go home for now.  But the waiting with no end in sight is terrible.  We have no recourse right now except to trust the One who will vindicate us....in His time.  I just want Roman's little head to lay on his little pillow in a room that has been ready for far too long. 


I don't mean to be so fickle.  I don't mean to trust You one minute and question Your timing in the next.  Forgive me.  Our wicks are smoldering, LORD.  Will you give us an indication that we are still on the right track?  Please continue to protect Roman.  Keep him healthy and whatever is the very best for him, please do it quickly.  Guard our hearts and minds and help us remember that we just need enough mercy to make it through one day at a time.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Day Two

We just arrived home today.  I am so weary of the recycled airplane air, handsy airport security and crowds of people.  I am tired of waiting in lines and taking off my shoes.  And I'm dreading the trip back again.  How many more times?  Today is not a day for hopeful optimism.  It's a day for physical and mental weariness.  Roman, someday when you read this, I want you to know that we never got tired of you...just the obstacles that came trying to bring you home.  We think of you everyday.  We spend most of our days thinking about you, missing you like crazy and answering a million questions about you.  We believe that, in God's perfect timing, you will get to come home and be our forever son.

You should have seen your dad on the last leg of the plane ride.  Our seats were not together and I could hear him talking three rows back.  All about you.  When the flight attendant came to pass out drinks, she smiled at me and said, "Roman is such a cute little guy.  I could just squeeze those cheeks."  Your dad is going to be one of THOSE dads.  So incredibly proud of you already.  Anytime we've thought that this was getting to difficult to continue, we remember the way you laugh and how your little fingers feel wrapped around ours.  Don't worry son, we will not let go.

So, back to the weariness.  Usually when I write I feel inspired somehow, but right now, the only thing I'm inspired to do is lay my head on a pillow.  But I promised a blog a day and so I'll push through the fog of jet lag.  Also, they say the best way to get over jet lag is to stay awake until a decent bed time so that you "force" your body back on schedule.  We are getting close. 

There are so many things I should be doing right now.  Laundry, unpacking, scheduling Scentsy parties, replying to emails, facebook posts, texts, thank you notes, more scarves, grocery store and the list goes on...but I just can't right now.  Is it any coincidence that our LORD set the example when He created the world that He rested on the seventh day?  He is a God that never sleeps and never slumbers and it's almost like He took humanity by the hand and said, "It's okay, I rested and I know you need to also."  Psalm 23:2-3 sounds like paradise to me right now.  "He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still water.  He restores my soul."  Such tender and sweet care provided by a God who knows how very fragile we can be sometimes. 

I remember hearing from someone somewhere that sometimes the most holy thing you can do is go to sleep.  Deepen your breaths and slow your heart and let your body heal from the overstressed world we live in.  Jesus said, "Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke up and you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  Matthew 11.28-30.  He knows.  Praise the LORD, He knows!

And I know this.  While I sleep, He is still working.  In is almost 7 am in Russia and He's beginning the day over there.  He is taking care of our Roman.  He is working in the mind and heart of the judge.  He knows how to give good gifts and He loves Roman far more than we ever could and I believe that in spite of  every delay, He still has Roman's best interest in His mind.   I don't have to worry about it.  I just have to rest right now.  And tomorrow I can get up, seek His face and be obedient. 

So, Good night...

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Day One

For the next three weeks I will doing a daily blog. Please know that this is more for my own "therapy" and peace of mind. My mind has been doing blackflips since the judge's second delay and I desperately want to learn all I'm supposed to in these next three weeks. I firmly believe everything happens for a specific reason, and even though this is one of the hardest things we've had to do in our married life, I know that even this works together for good...somehow. I also believe that our God is very efficient and will use every experience in our life to bring glory to Himself, if we love Him and are called according to His purpose. I will not be posting a link on Facebook everyday as this will be more for my own exploration into this season and not emotional details of what happens. When we do receive new information, I will post a separate blog that day and it will not be titled "Day 7" or something. Please feel free to read them, though. Just know that it wil be more devotional style than anything. I want to believe that God would have us come out of this short season with a bigger glimpse of who He is.

Dear LORD Jesus,

As Brock and I sit in the airport waiting for our flight back home once again, I want to pray. Before I drifted off to sleep last night-and I thank you for finally allowing me to sleep a full night! What a gift sleep can be!-my mind was spinning with all the pieces and players in this season of our life.

I want to pray for the judge. I pray specifically that You would grant her wisdom, peace, courage and compassion. Give her Your wisdom to see things very clearly. Wisdom to know the facts of this case that apply to the adoption and the wisdom to know the topics that have been discussed that are irrelevant-or it would appear irrelevant to us. Give her peace, Heavenly Father. There have been so many cases of child abuse, of the woman in Tennesse who sent her child back to Russia. I believe she feels the burden of responsiblity of her decision. Please give her a peace that Brock and I would lay down our life to protect Roman and do everything in our power to make sure that he always recieves the very best possible care we can provide. I also pray that you would give her courage to rule her courtroom and not be swayed by every whim the prosecutor has. And finally, LORD, give her your compassion. Not only for us, but for a little boy who desperately needs a home. The social worker told the courtroom on Thursday that the percentage of children who succeed after graduating from the orphanages is only 7 or 8%. Please, please, please open her eyes to see that every day that Roman spends in institutionalized care contributes to his delays.

Father God, for the prosecutor, we ask that you would still her mind. I understand that she has a job to do and I hold no anger for her. For her also, I pray that you would give her wisdom. She has requested some things that for us and for our agency have seemed extremely bizarre and I just ask, in Jesus' name that you would bind all other bizarre requests. Please, Heavenly Father.

Lord, we pray for Andre and Tatiana especailly as they visit the judge on Monday. I pray that Your grace will transcend and supercede the conversation. I ask that you would govern that entire conversation and grant understanding to both sides. I pray that the results of that meeting would bring everyone closer to Your will. I pray that you would put the right words and the right questions in Tatiana and Andre's mouth and their pleas for a conclusion to this season would not fall on deaf ears. I ask that you would set a guard over their hearts as well. Thank you, sweet Jesus for the righteous anger they have felt on behalf of our family-us and Roman. But I pray that You would protect their heart from the toxic poison that comes with harboring anger.

I also want to pray for every single person You have placed in our life who has partnered with us. We have been undone by those who have gone to great lengths to sacrifice for our physical needs right now and again we ask that You would repay them generously for caring for us. I also ask for a special blessing for those who have committed to fighting with us on their knees. I pray LORD that the time they spend in pray would be intimate and precious to them. I pray that you would give each and every one of them your indescribable peace, especially as Your answers are delayed as far as our understanding goes. I pray that You would also grant them a spirit of perseverance and the confidence that at the proper time a harvest will be reaped. Please, Jesus, impress upon their hearts that they are a vital part of what is happening in our life right now. Thank you for placing us so securely in the family of God.

LORD, we pray for Your continued watch and care over Roman. We are so incredibly thankful that he is in a safe place right now with women who seem to adore him. I pray that You would protect him and keep his heart tender towards us. Thank you, holy God for every minute of every hour that you have allowed us to spend with him. Keep our hearts turned toward gratitude for the time You have given and not the time we are losing.

And finally LORD, I pray for Brock and myself. I ask that we would be very wise in this season of waiting. At the end of this process, let it be said that we experienced You in a more real and powerful way. Continue to grant us Your traveling mercies, Your perseverance and Your goodness. We both know that, when given the choice to choose our own limited understanding, or to lean on You, we choose You. We believe You will make our path straight. Thank you for giving us enough direction to know the next step to take and we believe that at the right time, You will reveal Your next step.

In all these things we ask in Jesus' name,

Friday, January 27, 2012

We Will Persevere!

Here's what I know...

Brock shared the details of the court hearing today and the only emotion that I am feeling over the numbness is determination to see this through. As another adoptive mother put it, "Delay is not Denial". We will outlast this judge. We will meet every demand that she has and we will continue. I was so proud of my husband when he stood up with his shoulders squared and told the judge that the decision to invite the other Russian families was not in the best interest of the child. It is absurd to me that this is even an issue.
"Nothing like this has happeed to any of our families before."
We are going down in the chronicles of the agency as the family who has faced some of the most difficult delays. And we are determined to go down as one of the families who has shown the greatest strength and perseverance. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Phil. 4.13


I know you knew us the last time you saw us. We are praying that God would protect your heart right now and that you would supernaturally understand that there will be a day when we don't have to leave you. I pray that our coming and leaving you doesn't do damage to your ability to bond to us and that you won't always be waiting for us to walk out again. We are praying for the judge and the prosecutor. We are praying that the LORD would give them peace about us and our adopting you. We know that for our God, time means nothing but timing is everything. We are praying for the opportunities that we have with the women we are meeting in Russia who are helping us adopt you. We are praying that we have the opportunity to share in kind the goodness and kindness that they have shown to us. Irina told us today that she read in our paperwork that we believe in a God and that our faith seems very strong. We are praying that our faith can be real to these ladies. For now, know that we love you more and more with each passing day. We are so incredibly grateful for the 21 hours that we have gotten to spend with you in your life. We love that we already know so many things about your personality. You love music and balls. You are completely comfortable sitting quietly in my lap. We love that you stick all of your fingers in your mouth when you are placing a goldfish on your tongue. We know you, Roman. Not as well as we will know you. But even now, before a judge can rule it, we know that you are our son.

My mother asked me what our next step was. One step at a time. We go home. We pray and pray and pray and when we find out when the next court date will be, we will book our flights, come back to Russia and continue to move another slow step forward. This delay does not make sense to us, but we are called to "Trust in [our] LORD with all of our heart and lean not on our own understanding. In all of our ways we will acknowledge Him and He will make our path straight." And we can lean on Him because we believe that "He knows the plans he has for us and they are plans to prosper us and not to harm us. Plans to give us a hope and a future" Jeremiah 29.11

We are to "consider it pure joy" (yes, I said joy! More importantly, James said "joy") "when you face trials of many kinds" (I NEVER thought he would mean court trials! Because we are facing "trials of many kinds" in the court room) "because the testing of your faith develops perseverance and perseverance must complete it's work in you so that you may be mature and complete not lacking in anything."
James 1.2-4

"Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us." Romans 5.3-5

Our God is not done with our story. We are convinced now more than ever that we are in the midst of spiritual warfare. You have been so faithful to share our story as we shared our faith and we have had over 12,000 views of people who are following our story. I believe that we have an enemy who wants to see us discouraged and give up and then everyone will see that our God did not come through. "But I am confident that He who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it." Pray for us like we are involved in warfare. Pray that our enemy will be silenced and bound from the courtroom and in the minds of the judge and the prosecutor. Pray that people would see Christ in our story!

We aren't finished yet.


Hello everyone! Today you get a guest blogger. Yep it is me, Brock. I have been avoiding putting anything on this blog due to the standards that I must live up to with Ashley's writing. So please give me a little slack with what I have to share.

Well today in court was less than a pleasant experience. Ashley and I both went over what happened yesterday with the court proceedings. We really felt that court today would not last for a very long and a favorable decision seemed like a no brainer..... cue the dark music. That was not what happened. We started court today in a different courtroom. It was more like an judges chambers instead of a courtroom. The first person that was asked to speak was the inspector. The only way that I know how to describe the speech that she gave and then the follow-up questions that she responded to was perfect. You could tell by the words that came out of her mouth the passion that she has for children. With so many people in the world that do not care about the welfare of a child or what happens to them in their life the inspector in our case is not one of those people. She said the things about our case that needed to be said but to our dismay they came on deaf ears. When asked about our time with Roman and who we are as people from her experience she told the judge that she has never seen people that connected with a child so quickly. She said it seemed as if we had been trained on how to deal with children. When in all actuality we were just doing what we felt was right. The inspector also spoke of the fact that we had brought a number of items to the baby home and that was not common when families adopt. "Typically families bring things to their own child they are going to adopt, this family brought toys and clothes to the other children in the baby home." To be honest with you when she said that statement it really hit home that the little steps that we are doing that are just because we want to do them are being watched by others. After the inspector was being grilled by the judge and prosecutor for about and hour and a half the judge called for a "5" minute recess............

I now know what Ashley means by saying it was like me saying there is 5 minutes left in the game, or by her saying that it will only take her 5 minutes to be ready....... Recess started at 12:35 court began again at 1:50. So this was the longest 5 minutes of either of our lives. By this time we had changed to the original courtroom we were in. The judge started back on the inspector. The grand scheme seems to have come down to they are trying to figure out the process of adoption that happened with Roman. Some of the details are not to be given out to everyone as Ashley and I have decided to keep this private, but here is the basics. In Russia, when a child comes into the position of being adopted they first must be offered to Russian families if they are not selected by a Russian family they then after a certain amount of time are placed on the international database for adoption. So here is the deal, Roman was offered to 10 different families, of those families only 1 family came to the baby home to see Roman and they did not want him. It doesn't mean there is anything wrong with a child that is not wanted, it just means that the family has selected a different child because they were wanting a certain sex for a child, or a certain age for a child, etc. After Roman was not selected he was offered to an American family. You guessed it, Brock and Ashley Williams in Bloomfield, Missouri! When we came to Russia in July we were given the info on Roman and went to meet him at the baby home in Kandalaksha. Once we said that we wanted to start the process of adoption with Roman which was during that trip he was no longer in consideration with any other families because he was our child other than some legal stuff we needed to complete. We never guessed that the legal stuff would take many trips to get paperwork and multiple trips to Russia.

So I continue with the proceedings, the prosecutor asked that they families that had been in consideration to adopt Roman be contacted to find out why they did not want him. "WHAT???? You have got to be kidding me!" Sorry, that was my internal voice when I heard that request. The judge first asked fo my opinion of the request. I first asked the judge if I could have a moment to speak with Ashley. After a brief family moment, I stood before the judge and told her that I am not in favor of this request. I told the judge that Roman has been in a baby home for a long time and these families did not want him. We are prepared to take on the responsibility of Roman and give him a great life to the best of our ability and we feel that the request is not in the best interest of Roman but having a family that loves him is in his best interest. Then Ashley was asked and she agreed with my statement. Then to the director of the baby home she agreed. Next to the inspector and she agreed and also added that this would be a waste of time and that the longer that Roman is in the baby home the longer it will take him to overcome his speech delays that are common with children in an orphanage setting. I was then asked when our visas expire (cue flashback) I advised her that they expire in March but they are a double entry visa and this is our second entry. The judge made some comment about needing to get another visa. I then spoke up, hoping that the judge would not be offended by my comments, and told her that for us to get here for court is a VERY difficult process. Which the judge acknowledged like she understood. Judge calls a recess. As we sit in the waiting area both Ashley and I were holding our emotions in as we had a flashback to 15 days before when we were doing the exact same thing. Surely this can't be happening again? Surely the judge is going to look at the situation and use rational thought......NOPE!

The judge called us back into the court room and advised us that she is going to call the court to rest. We will continue in about 3 weeks after the other families have been contacted. And the judge rushed out of the courtroom. I then slumped over the railing as it felt as if I had been cut in half with the excitement of being able to announce on my Facebook page that I am a daddy to the sheer defeat of this process continuing. I have never been through anything in my life that has been so challenging. I know that there are many things that people go through that are much tougher than this but this has been the toughest for me. I can't imagine the feeling of a parent when they hear that their child has cancer or when a spouse finds out that they have lost their partner in life. I know that there are things that people deal with that are much worse then what we are dealing with but it feels like we are parents and our child is trapped and we can do nothing in our power to bring him home to sleep in his bed, play with his toys, or sit in his highchair. We just want to have our baby in our arms and rock him to sleep and watch him chase after a dogs tail. Why does this process have to be so hard and why does it have to pull so much out of us.

After the proceedings we walked out of the courtroom and both Ashley and I were stunned. The rest of our "support" group were still in the courtroom. I told Ashley to wait for a moment and I walked back in the courtroom and asked everyone there, "Is there anyway that someone can go ask the judge if she does not want us to have Roman. If we could have an answer we maybe could at least have some peace. This is tearing us apart and we don't know what to do." As I said these words with tears in my eyes I could tell that they are not used to seeing a man at the end of his rope with tears in his eyes.

I love this child with all that I have inside of me. I want to be not only a good man as an example for his life but I want to be a good father that he can look up to with pride. I hope and pray that when we do get to the end of this Roman can look at us and say they did everything that they could for me. So that is it, WE WILL NOT GIVE UP UNTIL WE ARE TOLD NO! I know for some of you reading this that it may make no sense why we keep putting ourselves through this. The only way that I know to put it is if someone had your child somewhere you would do everything that you know how to do to get your child home. That is what is going on with us. Roman is our child, he is our little boy. We are literally going around the world and back again and again to get him home. We do not understand all the delays involved with this but we also know that God has a plan and we pray with faith that we will not get lost in the details.

Roman, we will be back again!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

He's going to be a Music Man

We left you last time as we were about to sleep for six hours before we were to meet a driver who would take us to Kandalaksha. Sergei was a man about 40 and evidently had learned one English word a year. Brock sat in the front with him and I couldn't help but bite back chuckles as I watched these two grown men communicate in two word phrases and excessive gesturing. So many times, one or the other would nod their head in a exaggerated way as if to say, "I have no idea what you are talking about, but I appreciate the effort you are making to tell me." Then the other one would laugh and they would find a new topic to explore. They talked about the weather...."Brrrr!" They talked about fishing...."hobby not profession". They talked about skiing and snowboarding down the "Big hill, little hill". They talked about coffee...."nit!" And the climatic conversation centered on road construction. Some things are just cross cultural-including Brock's mouth.

When we arrived in Kandalaksha, we were motioned into a room with Roman and his little eyes lit up! I know that I know that he recognized us! We rolled around on the floor with him and all three of us laughed. I sure do love that little boy. At lunch, our Inspector who knows about as much English as we know Russian made a motion like she was eating and then asked, "Fish or Pig?" Gee, when you put it that way...do you have any beet, raisin and mayo salad? Oh you do! Lucky, lucky us!! In all seriousness though, she was extremely kind and we were so incredibly touched by the genuine effort that these people made to make us feel as comfortable and safe as possible.

When we met with Roman in the afternoon, we noticed that he wasn't quite as active and realized that he looked very sleepy. He did sit on the floor by me-and boy would he snap his head around if I moved-and stack up blocks. After four or five blocks, he would knock his tower over and squeal with delight as he watched them fall. And then, his chubby little fingers would begin rebuilding once again. We took a few videos of him and showed him the camera and our little man was utterly delighted to see his pictures on the screen. Brock pulled out his iPhone and let him hold it while it played music. He sat in my lap, held the phone up to his ear with his little chubby hands and swayed quietly back and forth to Mercy Me. It was a precious, precious moment.

After Roman was taken for his supper-and believe me, he was not happy about relinquishing the iPhone at all!-we were uncertain what we were to do. We had no translator, no guide and all the caregivers we knew had gone home for the day. We cautiously made our way downstairs when a strange man threw open the door and announced with a big grin and a stout finger into his chest, "Antone! Irina's husband. Come."

We followed our newest Russian friend to his car and he took us to the "produce market" so we could get something to eat for supper. Brock told him, "Irina very kind" to which he responded, "Da. Married with one daughter 11. One son 8." Even in his limited language, you could sense the pride this man had for his family. We arrived at the hotel and he pointed to the numbers on Brock's watch to indicate what time we should be ready to leave in the morning. A car with the numbers 551 would be by to pick us up at 6:15 AM to take us back to Murmanask for our court hearing,

The next morning, we were in the "lobby" of the hotel and the receptionist was watching the window for us. She called to us (I think) and made a motion that our car was outside. We'll never know how she knew that was for us. So, once again, we climbed into the car of another strange man who spoke no English. He picked up the kind inspector next and we were off on the dark and icy road to Murmasnsk.

Court today was a big blur. I felt complete peace as I was asked to present my speech first. The judge smiled at both of us several times and with each minute, I felt more and more relaxed. She asked about discipline, how we felt about the rumors that Americans adopt Russian children and are violent with them. I told her that all children deserve to be protected and it is a horrible thing when any child of any nationality is not safe. She did ask about religion and if going to church and learning the Bible was mandatory in America. I told her it was not but that we were very involved in our church and while Roman is young, he will be going with us but when he gets older, he will make that decision for himself. I told her that I believed the Bible and taught in a class about the Bible and Jesus. She asked if our religion had rules for discipling and other things like fasting. I told her no we do not have to fast and discipline was a decision made by each individual family. She asked me if I thought after such a short time I could have a maternal love for Roman even though I didn't know him very well. I told her that I loved him the best way I knew how to at this time and I was confident that that love would grow as we spent more time with him as a family. I told her that I imagined that what I feel for Roman was like what a pregnant woman felt the first time she knew she was expecting. "I don't know what it is like to love a child as it grows in my womb, but I know that he has grown in my heart." And parents who live with their biological children learn every day how to love their child more as they grow together. I know I have a lot to learn about Roman, and I'm confident that what I feel for him now is only a brief glimpse to how I will feel about him in years to come. She seemed very satisfied with that answer. She asked some questions about our infertility and if we would continue to try to get pregnant. I told her no.
"Why not?"
"Because every month," and I had to bite back tears again, "that was not successful getting pregnant was heartbreaking. It's not a healthy way for us to live." I saw deep compassion in her eyes.

She also asked me why it was that I started crying at the end of the last court proceedings. I told her that ever since we met Roman in July, I think about him constantly, dream about him and I know that two weeks was a short time, but it just meant another delay and I am so ready to have him home as our son. She nodded as though she understood that.

Thankfully the court prosecutor had only two questions for me:
"Do you know that this is a favorable decision that you will have to register his birth certificate and new passport before you can bring him home?"
"Are you aware that Russia requires follow-up interviews after you bring your child home with an agency and are you prepared for those appointments?"

That was easy!

Brock spoke next and answered all of her questions about his income and our money. The judge asked him how he felt about our life changing so that his wife couldn't pay as much attention to him since there would be a child . (I've seen Brock around children and I think he's gonna be juuusst fine!) He was also asked how he was going to help Roman become a man. His answer stirred my heart and made me appreciate the man God has given me for a husband and my future children for a father.

"There is no greater privilege I have than to help my son grow up to be a man of integrity. I take this responsibility very seriously even though I've never done this before I know the importance of what it means to raise him to be a good man."

The judge seemed very pleased with us as potential parents and then she moved on to ask questions of the Director, the Inspector, the Social Worker and the Speech Therapist. They were all asked to give their impressions of us and our interactions with Roman.

"They were very affectionate with Roman and he responded well and was affectionate in kind."
"They acted like they have known Roman for years and he was very receptive to them. No, Roman is not receptive to all adults. It takes him a while most of the time."

"I believe they will make very good parents to Roman."

"I think Roman even looks like Brock, his dad."

"I've never met a couple I'd recommend more strongly for adoption." Aww, shucks, now I'm blushing!

Then, each of the ladies was asked in detail about Roman's birth mother. Why did she relinquish her rights? Why does she not want Roman? Each lady gave very good answers (in my inexperienced opinion) and the reasons aren't necessarily things I want to share publicly. Those are part of Roman's story and Brock and I want to protect those details for him at this time.

After the four ladies were interviewed, the judge abruptly announced that we would take a recess until tomorrow morning at 10:30. So, that's all we know right now. We have to wait again, but thankfully not as long this time. For now, we rest.

Brock and I both feel an amazing amount of peace right now. At 9:30 tomorrow morning, Tatiana will meet us at our apartment to walk us the half a mile to court. That's the part I'm nervous about! It is so cold here right now that if you breath through your nose, you can literally feel your nostrils freeze together for a split second. Other than that, we still have that peace that passes understanding.

We are still going to ask, in the case of a favorable decision if the judge would waive the 30 day waiting period in Roman's best interest and hope for the best. We appreciate the prayers and I hope tomorrow's blog is short, sweet and to the point we ALL are waiting to hear! I'm so ready to know that emotionally AND legally Roman will be our son.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

We Get to See Roman tomorrow!!

We have just arrived in Murmansk after a very uneventful but extremely long day of travel. It is 11 PM on Tuesday night here and, aside from brief snippets of naps here and there, we haven't slept very much in the last 36 hours. But we are doing just fine!

When we arrived at the airport, our ever faithful Tatiana and Dennis were waiting with big smiles and open arms. It's beginning to feel like we have a family over here, too! Her eyes grew wide at the two big suitcases we packed and I quickly explained that one of the bags was full of clothes and diapers for the baby home. Our plan was to send the items with the Director after court on Thursday since we had not planned to go back to Kandalaksha on this trip. She then told us that this morning the secretary of the court had contacted her this morning to make sure we were still coming and that she was "sure we would want to spend more time with Roman before court." Tatiana, the quick thinker that she is, said that we were extremely disappointed that we were having to arrive so close to the court date but flights to Russia are very expensive and it usually takes three or four weeks to book one. She said we had had trouble finding a flight, but that, even with just one day between court and our arrival we were still trying to find a way to see Roman. Then, Tatiana spent a lot of time (from what I inferred, she did not act the martyr) finding the least expensive route to Kandalaksha, arranged for a driver down and then we will ride back with the ladies going to court with us on Thursday. We leave at 6:30 AM. Not enough time to sleep, but I am so incredibly grateful that we get to see our son again!!! Tatiana apologized several times, but why should she be sorry for something that is so wonderful? So, tomorrow we leave with just a driver who does not know English to go to a baby home where a few of the caregivers know minimal English, to spend time with a baby who has captured our heart and then leave Kandalaksha on Thursday morning at 6:30 AM to arrive to court by 10 AM. Oh, the places we'll go!

Remember to keep us in your prayers. Pray that somehow, in spite of the language barriers, we will be able to communicate everything we need to in the next two days. Pray that God would bless our too few hours of sleep with deep and restful slumber and pray that our time with that sweet little boy would crawl by so we can enjoy every single minute to the fullest.

So, for now, goodnight and our next blog will posted after court on Thursday as we will not have internet access in Kandalaksha....which is just fine with us. More time to rest our weary heads.

One final thought: Thank you again to the people God used to provide for the trip. When we were told the cost to have the driver take us back down to Kandalaksha, we weren't worried about extra cost, but so incredibly grateful that our God had already provided.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Prayer Guide

Prayer Requests:

We are extremely thankful for all who are praying!!  Here's our schedule and some ways you can be praying for us while we are gone.

Monday, January 23rd
Travel Day.  Pray that we will be able to rest on the plane and God would protect us as we travel.  Please also pray that there would be no delays during our layovers.  Seems silly, I know, but it sure would make our life easier!

Tuesday, January 24th
We arrive in Russia around 8PM.  Pray that our bags will make it the same time we do!  (again, it's the little things!!) and that we would be able to rest well that night.

Wednesday, January 25th
Day of rest.  Pray that we will have a peace that passes understanding as we mentally prep ourselves for court.  Also, please pray that the LORD would soften the judge's heart.

Thursday, January 26th
Court!  We will be at the courthouse at 10 AM local time or 12 midnight CST on Thursday morning.  If you are awake, we would deeply appreciate the prayers.  Please pray that we say nothing more and nothing less than what we are supposed to say.  Pray that God would give us gracious words that would reveal His character and ours.  Pray that the judge's heart would be softened and that she would find favor with us.  Pray that we would be sensitive the the Holy Spirit and that we would hear the answers that we are supposed to give.  And also, please pray for the translator that she would have wisdom and peace.  We will also ask, at the end of court, in the best interest of Roman for the judge to waive the 30 day waiting period.  You all know we desperately want Roman to be home and we really do believe that it is in his best interest so that he can start getting the speech therapy and health care he needs.   It would truly be a miracle if she allowed it and we know that only God could make this happen!!

Friday, January 27th
Either the 2nd day of court or another rest day
If it's another court date, we will need all the requests from above plus an extra helping of peace!
If court has already issued a verdict, please pray that we will  give God the Glory no matter what happened in court.   We are trusting the Lord for the best, but His timing hasn't been our timing so far!  We'd be delighted if we could put this season of the adoption behind us, but we are trusting His will will be done.

Saturday, January 28th

Either we will be starting our travel home, or, hopefully, we will be starting the necessary steps to get Roman's new birth certificate, passport, visa etc.  So, pray for either safe travels, or pray for smooth paperwork processes. 

Thank you all so much for your prayers already!  We truly believe that this battle will be won on our knees.  God is good and no matter what, we know that He causes all things to work together for His good to those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose!

To Him who is able to keep us from falling and present us before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy.  Jude 1.24

In closing, I am so incredibly humbled by the opportunity that this delay has afforded us.  It has given us the privilege of knowing even more deeply how wonderful the community of people is in which God has placed us.  We have been exceedingly blessed by so many friends and family this last week.  Some of you have blessed us indescribably.  Roman will know who each of you are.  We are also so thankful for the "come to Jesus meetin'" as Brock calls it, that we had last Friday night.  We got to experience an even bigger glimpse of who our God is and how much He loves us.  And that would not have been possible if we hadn't been in such desperate need.  We have the opportunity to walk back into that courtroom and be bold about our faith.  That might not have happened in the state of mind we were in last week.  We don't have to wonder for the rest of our life if we missed an opportunity to share Christ and His grace to our new precious Russian friends.  We thought that this delay was terrible news but we are more and more confident every single day that passes that this too was part of a perfectly orchestrated plan. 

Keep posted...udpates to follow!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

That Dark Friday

It has been almost a week since our last full day in Russia and I'm still trying to organize my thoughts.  Words and phrases keep tumbling around in my mind begging to be released, but then they skip and dance into the corners when I sit down at the computer.  We went through the entire spectrum of emotions on that Friday in Murmansk and I'm not convinced I'm going to be able to capture it all with words, but I will try.

We woke up after a fitful night of sleep on Friday-the day after court-and my first thought was, "That was all a bad dream.  There certainly is not a delay that will be this costly."  But I knew, as I slipped into the conscious world, that yes, it was true.  We, once again were in uncharted territory.  "Nothing like this has happened to one of our families before."

For those of you who weren't aware, there was a single woman in Tennesse who, almost two years ago, put her 7 year old Russian adopted son on a flight by himself with a note pinned to the inside of his coat that said she no longer wished to parent this child.  She arranged for someone to pick him up at the airport and escort him to the Ministry of Education.  When this happened, there was an initiative that came through all the courts in Russia to be particularly careful granting international adoptions and especially strict on Americans adopting.  Our hearts were absolutely broken by yet another delay to bring our son home, but I cannot blame the prosecuter or the judge.  Their job is to protect the orphans of their homeland.  Yes, it is terribly inconvenient and very costly to make yet another trip to Russia, but I want to believe in my heart of hearts that the motive behind the decision was to protect another child from going through what that 7 year old boy went through.  Those two ladies don't know us at all.  They cannot know the tears we've cried and the grief we've endured while we've waited to hold that little boy we love again.  Theirs was just a job to be done.

At 10 AM, Tatiana came bustling into our apartment with borscht (a delicious Russian beet soup-no, it's not an oxymoron!) our driver had made for us, cakes her mom had made for us and a rice and meat dish from her.  She also had books that other American families had left with her.  It was so precious the way these people were reaching out to minister to us.  She had spent quite a bit of time Thursday afternoon when she left us gathering information about how to get us back to Kandalaksha since we had originally thought we would stay in Russia.  She had pages of bus and train information and hotel accomadations.  We were quickly realizing the implications of the judge's decision were much larger than what we originally anticipated.  Then, she said something that rattled me to the core and, for the life of me, I cannot remember the conversation preceding or following this comment.  The comment stood completely independent and utterly destructive to the shred of emotional well-being I was holding on to at that time.

"The judge said one of you answered the question, 'How do you know that Roman is the child you want to adopt' by saying that you have fallen in love with him.  In Russia it takes months to fall in love with someone and you have only spent 18 hours with this child.  How can they know they already love this child when they've hardly even know him?"

That was my answer. 
This is my fault.
I caused this judge not to trust us.

Every time I tried to type what I was feeling that day...tried to capture the emotions, I would crumble.  I managed one message to one friend who had no answers before gut-wrenching, uncontrollable sobbing overtook me again.  I couldn't catch my breath, my stomach turned loose.  This was my fault.  Brock many times grabbed my face with both of his hands and begged me to stop.  I know it was killing him to watch me grieve and not be able to do anything pull me back.  And I wanted so desperately to be able to ease his mind and let him know that I would be okay, but I just couldn't at that moment.

Now, with a much more peace-filled mind, I know that my answer was not wrong.  True, to fall in love takes time.  When I fell in love with Brock, it grew over years of learning to trust and appreciate him.  I fell in love with him, in part because I enjoyed spending time with him.  Because he made me laugh and made me feel safe.  I knew he would always do the best he could to protect me and provide for me.  I fell in love with him, in part, for what he could add to my life.  But a mother's love is something entirely different.  From the first moment most women know they are pregnant, they love their unborn child.  From the first moment she feels the fluttering in her womb, she knows she would die to protect her child.  A mother's love sacrifices and endures.  There is nothing about her love that looks to receive anything from her child save the opportunity to pour her life into something bigger...and someone smaller.  My body may not be capable of carrying my child in my womb, but my heart and soul, as a woman, are capable of loving a child with a mother's love.  Getting pregnant is biology.  Becoming a mother is supernatural. If I were to be offered 100 children from which to choose one to take home and raise now, I'd still stay in the fight for Roman.  I did not perjure myself.  I have fallen completely and hopelessly in love with our Roman and I would answer the same question the same way all over again. 

When we had arrived in Murmansk, Tatiana gave me an outline for a speech that we were to prepare before we went to court.  It would prepare us and also would give the translator a head start on translating for us.  It included things like how Brock and I met, how we decided to adopt, what kind of therapies we would provide for Roman's special needs and the like.  She told us that the court would ask us about religion and that we should be very careful how we answered these questions.  The judge wants to make sure that we do not belong to a cult where we have to go to church every week, give money to the church and do things like drink (even symbolic) blood.  She recommended that we tell the judge that we believe in a god or higher power that helps us make good decisions and that we go to a church on special occassions.  So, that's what I wrote in our speech.  God knows our heart and I will say whatever it takes to bring Roman home. 

Friday, we woke up around 3 AM.

"How are you feeling?"  It doesn't matter who said what.
"Tired, angry.  How much longer are we supposed to keep doing this?"
"I don't know.  I'm tired of people telling us they are praying when prayers don't seem like they are being answered."
"When did we get off track?"

Brock picked up his Bible and read Job 1.6-12

One the day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them.  The LORD said to Satan, "Where have you come from?"
Satan answered the LORD, "From got to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.  And the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil?  Then Satan answered the LORD and said, "Does Job fear God for no reason?  Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side?  You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.  But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curese you to your face.  And the LORD said to Satan, "Behold, all that he has is in your hand.  Only against him do not stretch out your hand.  So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.

I, like almost every other person raised in church, am familiar with this story.  I know that Satan proceeds to destroy everything of Job's and Job will not curse God.  I know that God allows Satan to strike Job with boils and Job will not curse God.  I know that everyone in Job's life, even his wife advised him to repent of some imagined sin, or curse God and die and Job remains faithful.  And, at the end of the story, God restores and gives back more than what was taken.  But that's not the part that stuck out to me this time.  Job was a "blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil".  I know that our life is abundantly rich because of God's unmerited blessing.  We have a home, a strong marriage, success in our businesses because of God.  But, I've looked into the cespool of my heart and know my own depravity.  I know that I have a long way to go before I could be described as "blameless and upright."  Sometimes God has given me the ability to make the good decisions, but more often than I want to admit, I make bad ones.  Praise God He's not done with me yet!  And He owes me nothing, but He has given us so much already.

Brock and I took turns praying.  I told God that, on one hand, it felt very real to our senses that He dropped us in the details.  That He was giving us more than we could handle.  It very much felt like He had abandoned us and neglected to finish what He started.  But, on the other hand, I know that Scripture promises us that He will never leave us nor forsake us.  That He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.  That He knows the plans He has for us and they are plans to prosper and not to harm us and to give us a hope and a future.  At that present moment, we were presented with two very different realities and we had to choose.  "Whatever contradicts the truth of God's word, we are to regard as the Devil's lie, not because it may not in itself be a very real fact to our senses, but because God has stated a greater fact before which the other must eventually yield." (Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Life)  We chose, at that moment, for the 100th time and for the first time all over again, to believe that we were only getting a glimpse of a very incomplete picture. We put our faith not in what felt real, but what we believe has proven time and time again to BE real.  This chapter of our story has not been finished yet. 

"How great is our God" will never have the same meaning again.

Brock and I were sitting Indian style in the middle of our bed and he took my hands and told me that he was not comfortable downplaying our faith to appease the judge.  We were not going to be scared anymore.  We were going to approach with confidence that "If God be for us, who can be against us!"  I don't mean Bible's blazing.  I just mean in complete knowledge of who we are and Who He is.  There is no way possible that we could have made it to this point without Him and we can't ask Him to sit outside the courtroom and wait for us to finish this up.  I don't know what this will look like on that day, but I believe that we will have the right answers at the right time.  We will not be ashamed of our God.  We are praying ferverently for wisdom to say nothing more and nothing less than what we are supposed to say.  Now, in doing this, we have the full realization of two things:  #1.  All of us in that courtroom are ulitmately under His authority.  We are praying that the judge will find favor with us and see that anything good in us comes from a God who loves us completely.  His will be done.  #2.  There is a chance that if we have to stand up for our faith boldly, she will give us a negative decision.  All over the world people are persecuted for their faith and I pray that we will not have to go through that, but if so, so be it.  My mind keeps drifting to the story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22.1-12.  I trust that all things work together for good for those who love the LORD and who are called according to His purpose.  I trust that He knows the plans He has for all three of us.   I love Roman enough even now that I would lay my life down for him.  But I love my God enough that I would lay my entire family at his feet.  We have no control.  We don't even have the illusion of control anymore.  We are simply trusting in a God who knows how to give good gifts to His children.  And with that, comes a peace that passes understanding that guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

The absolute very last thing I want to do is paint a picture of a God who wants to take everything from us.  The story in Genesis 22.1-12 is hard for our brains to comprehend.  God loves us with an indescribable and perfect love.  He doesn't ask us to give these things over to Him so that He can destroy the competition for our affections.  He asks us to give things to Him because we weren't meant to burdened with worry.  He can take care of everything far better than we can anyway.  We are just turning our control over to Him who is able to keep us from falling.

For the first time in 36 hours, we felt peace.  Snow  had started falling heavily outside and we decided that we would venture out to it.  Nevermind it was 3:30 in the morning.  Never mind we were leaving in less than four hours.  We wanted to walk.  We needed to move.  We needed to leave the apartment and not be fear-filled. 

By the time we bundled up, the snow had stopped, but thanks to the extremely cold temperatures, the water in the snow had frozen and it looked liked miles and miles of diamonds covering the ground.  I was reminded of the joke about the rich man who wanted to take his gold with him to heaven and when St. Peter opened the man's suitcase at the pearly gates, he asked, "Why have you packed pavement?"  The "diamonds" were just a reminder that this extra plane trip, visas, and who knows what else is coming to this "nothing like this has happened before" family was all just pocket change to Jesus.  Prayers are not futile.  Our God is real and able!

I am confident that at the end of this story, we will look back and say "to you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD is God; there is no other besides him." deut 4: 35

A Note of Thanks

I have been scurrying around like crazy trying to answer messages, figure finances and catch up on sleep.  Jet lag creates the most bone wearying exhaustion.  So,  I am extremely belated in updating our story.  So much so that I think it will take two entries to catch up. 

When we came home, we were completely at the end of our resources. We had utterly and completely exhausted all our avenues at that time.  When Brock and I decided to adopt over two years ago, we had no idea the journey on which we were about to embark.  We very much felt that this was God's will for us and that has been affirmed and reaffirmed to us countless times.  We also knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt that God had all the money we needed to do what He has called us to do and that we could finish this adoption process without incurring any debt.  Up until this last speed bump, God has has provided in plenty of time for what we needed.  But those of us who know God and know His M.O.,  know that when He waits, it usually means that He is setting the stage for something huge. 

We were told that a Russian adoption costs between $40,000-$60,000 depending on whether it's one child or a sibling group that receives a home.  Now, I want to momentarily address the conspriacy theorists out there who think this is just a money grab.  This price includes two round-trip tickets to Russia.  It includes accomodations and food while a couple is in-country.  It includes a generous amount that goes to the severely underfunded baby home to take care of the children who have not yet or who may never find a forever family.  And it includes inadequate fees that pay the salaries of the agency employees who have dedicated their lives to helping children all over the world find a home.  When we came home in July, after we were certain that we would not be adopting a sibling group, we financially built our budget around the $40,000 mark.  We had no idea, at that time, the additional trips to the Secretary of State's office for all the "one last documents" required by the courts and the costs of expediting those.  We weren't aware that the one trip back would mulitply into four with additional visas.  The business visas we were so grateful to receive around the first of the year is good for only two trips into the country.  It's a miracle we received those visas or this second trip to go back to court would have been a whole lot trickier.  I don't mind saying that this adoption has cost us close to $70,000 and our savings account doesn't hold those kind of zeroes today.  But, I also learned a long time ago that money alone is never, ever enough reason to abandon what God has called you to do.  It's the very thing we tend to focus on the most, but my God will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4.19)  We focus on the money because the end of our bank account represents the end of us.  And, after much prayer and many requests for wisdom, we still are convinced that we must press on.

So, I throw open the door to our personal life not so you can pity us, or be amzed by us-you must know that our strength comes from the LORD.  Left to our own devices, we would be a sniffling and shriveling mess in the corner locked in the fetal position.  We are nothing without Christ.  Even our faith in Him is a gift from Him.  I deeply appreciate the sentiment behind every statement telling us you are amazed by our strength, but please, please, please know that if our strength doesn't reveal Christ's character to you, then it is for nothing.  Please stop being amazed by us!  Be amazed, strengthened and encouraged by Christ in us!  And this is the same God who loves you, too.  

When our plane touched down in St. Louis on Saturday night at 11 PM, we knew that we had about a week to find between $6,000-$8,000 for this unexpected leg.  And, it took more time out of equation we had figured for us to come home and finish raising the money for the last leg.  We simply did not have it ourselves.  There are adoption loans and grants, but most of those take 6-8 weeks to process.  We couldn't take a regular loan because, if we were asked to produce more paperwork with our finances to the courts, it could set  our timeline back considerably.  We knew absolutely nothing except that somehow God was going to have to provide.  And, boy has He started!!

We have been deeply thankful for the prayers of God's people, especially over the last six months.  And we still are thankful, but these are not the people I want to address right now.  I want to thank the people who have put feet to their faith and sacrificed for our family.  You are the people who have seen our need, been moved to compassion and have quite literally been Christ's provision for us.  Brock had figured out how to buy the plane tickets from St. Louis to St. Petersburg which were climbing in price rapidly.  Then he said, "I have no idea how it's going to happen yet, but we need $700 to fly from St. Petersburg to Murmansk."  Within two hours, our first paypal donation of this season came in for $700.  I was overwhelmed and almost dropped the bowl of cornbread batter I was making for supper.  I'm not convinced that God wasn't waiting on us to commit to faith by buying the flight to St. Petersburg, but I do know at that point, there was no turning back. We are so incredibly moved by the people who have given what they could and rallied others to do the same.  You were our voice.  There were three ladies who contacted us yesterday and asked if we would be okay with them spearheading fundraising projects and one that just decided to go rouge and plan one herself!  Every single gift, be it $10 (which is enough to feed us for a day in Russia) or $1,000 (which is enough to buy our trip to St. Petersburg and the other $1,000 gift will get us home!) has made an eternal impact in Roman's life! To the ladies and gentlemen who have sacrificed their date night this week or money they had set back for something special: you have "give[n] and it will be given to you, a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be poured into your lap" (Luke 6.38)  To the precious children who have felt inspired by their mommy and daddy to dig in their piggy banks to bring Roman home, I can only pray that you will spend the rest of your lives reaping the benefits of your generosity!   Donations have tumbled in faster than we can send out thank you notes and we are only halfway to our financial goal!  I'm trying desperately to keep up, so please know that you have our deepest and most profound gratitude.  Again, you are the ones who have literally been the hands and feet of Christ Jesus to us!  We came home on Saturday night completely at peace, but completely ignorant of how God was going to provide for us and just four days later, my breath is taken away by what He has done through you.  Every single time we think of what's happening, we are praying for you all as a whole.  That God would allow your tires to run longer and your cars to keep going.  That He would keep you healthy and out of the doctor's offices.  That He would make your leftovers stretch further and that you would spend the rest of your life reaping the benefits of your generosity. 

God knew exactly what would happen when we stepped foot in that courtroom on January 12, 2012.  He knew, to the penny what it would cost so that we could go back and finish what He called us to do.  He knew we were at the end of our resources.  Maybe He was waiting for that moment to show off for all of us.  This has been the most humbling experience receiving help from so many people, and if it were for anything other than our son, I don't know that I could do it.  But to bring Roman home, we'd do whatever we could.  And the point is that Brock and I can do no more.  God is, through His people carrying us across what I believe is the upcoming finish line.  You are part of our miracle.  I hope each of you receives a disproportionately large blessing for blessing us-for literally caring for the orphan we so desperately love.  You have revealed your heart to us and someday Roman will know, too. 

One more thing:  Brock and I were talking about the possiblity of more coming in than what we would need.  As I said before, we are only are about halfway where we think we need to be, but if for some reason we end up with excess, we will donate all we have left in gifts to another family adopting.  We are merely stewards of the money that God has put on your heart to provide a family for an orphan and I'm certain no one would mind if our cup were filled and the excess lapped into the life of another child. 

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans....in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world:  James 1.27

Friday, January 13, 2012

we are coming home

We need advice. We are at the absolute end of ourselves. We don't have the money to stay in Russia. Brock tried to call the airline and after the prematurely disconnected $80 call, the only new information we have is flights can be changed for $280 per person plus the difference in the flight. And that was just one leg of the journey home. We simply don't have that plus the money to stay plus the money to fly back to get Roman. And the money is only the smallest part of this. Every single step we have taken in the last six months has left us battered and scarred. We desperately believe in the essence of adoption. We want our story to have a happy ending, but how much more? Does God have a better life for Roman that doesn't include us?
We are coming home. Without answers about what next. We will come back for court in two weeks. Beyond that, we don't know. We are so tired of being a charity case. Of being pitied. the only thing we, the only constant heartbeat of ours has been that we want a child. And for the last six months, we have wanted a very specific child. We have been abandoned, We have emotionally, financially and psychologically bled out. We just want to go home and let our broken hearts start to heal. I'm sorry. I'm sorry to everyone who has read this and kept up with it that we can't finish this in our natural strength. And I know some of you will say that God will provide His Supernatural strength, but in our tired and frail minds, even that doesn't seem possible. And I am so incredibly sorry, Roman that I am even entertaining the thought of walking away. My faith is weak and I am broken. I am sorry, Lord, that I don't know how to hear you right now. I feel like a miserable failure.
Where are you, God? Tell us what to do! Are we so far off course that You can't reach us anymore?

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Where do I even begin? It almost feels like this adoption is a big cosmic joke. Every single time we feel like we are rounding a corner, there is another delay. We, who have never once ran out of gas in our collective lives, ran out of gas on the way to the airport. We were cruising along, felt the car lurch a little, exited and died at a stop light in St. Louis with no gas stations around. Thankfully, our "phone a friend" lifeline hadn't expired so we were saved! Then, in St. Petersburg, after twenty hours of traveling and not sleeping, the monitor with our flight information went red and started flashing. We had no idea what was happening except there were some very red-faced and angry Russians. It was intimidating to say the least. After using our deductive reasoning skills we found out two things: (1) Russians do not like you putting your feet up on a chair in front of you no matter how tired your feet are and (2) our flight was delayed for six hours. I am thankful that the delay came on the very last leg of the journey and we didn't have to adjust other flights. Just another speed bump on Roman's Road Home.

We spent the last three days with Roman and he was absolutely perfect. He is a little more active, a little taller and a little chunkier. When he first came into the room, I wasn't sure he recognized us. He had just woken up from a nap and was not in a good mood at all. We didn't want to force ourselves on him, so we tried to let the Director, Nina (who is an absolute angel!) comfort him until she motioned for me to come and take him. He is not used to men, so Brock reluctantly stayed back. Roman let me cradle him in my lap and seemed to settle down as I whispered in his little ear. He put his little forehead on my neck and melted in my arms and every trip to the Secretary of State's office, every document, every delay faded into a distant memory and suddenly I was exceedingly grateful for every prayer of strength that carried us to that moment. We'd walk to the ends of the earth for you, Roman. Over and over again.

It didn't take very long for him to warm up to us though and before long he was laughing and pointing to us. The caregivers brought a plate of cookies and a glass mug of warm milk for his snack and we see how our little polar bear keeps his figure. Both of us were shocked when he clenched the handle of the mug in one hand and the side of the mug with the other hand and lifted the mug to his lips to slurp down all of his milk. He'd pause every so often to take a deep and very vocal breath without lowering the mug and then begin slurping again. Our nine hours with Roman went way too fast and before we knew it, it was time to go back to Murmansk to get ready for court. We received one ray of hope before we left. Tatiana told us that the Inspector (like our social worker) and the Director, Nina (the angel!) both agreed that we should petition the court to waive the 30 day waiting period in the best interest of the child. They reccommended that we mention how beneficial it would be for Roman to get into speech therapy as quickly as possible and out of these extreme climatic conditions even faster. For the first time in months, we were encouraged.

This morning we woke up feeling peace-filled and ready to put the formality of court behind us. Cue the dark and ominous music. We arrived at the court and not too long the smiling faces of our friends the Director and the Inspector entered the building, Not too long after that, our court translator, Tatiana the second (the first Tatiana could not translate for us as it is a conflict of interest since she is also our Power of Attorney) came in brushing the snow off her hat and coat. She asked us if we were nervous and we told her right then we were doing okay, we were just ready to be done with this. Brock asked her how long she had been translating for adoptions and she replied that it had been four years. I asked her if she was nervous on her first trial. She smiled and said she still gets nervous. Evidently, our tender hearted Russian translator hadn't slept well the night before because she knew that 'the entire happiness of our family rests on her shoulders". What a precious person God put in our life.

The first thirty minutes of court went deceptively smooth. We were asked to state our names, place of birth, country of citizenship and why we wanted to adopt Roman. Brock answered, rather hoarsely, "Because he is perfect." And my answer? Simply, "We have fallen in love with this little boy." The judge then directed questions to the Director and the Inspector about Roman's history. The Inspector told the Judge that, although Roman's mother lives in a settlement outside Kandalaksha, she has not made an effort to see her son since October of 2010. She has signed papers twice relinquishing her rights as Roman's mother and has been told that the implications of doing so would probably result in an international adoption. The Prosecutor in the courtroom petitioned the court to invite Roman's biological mother. The Judge then asked Brock and I individually if we would accept the court's decision to invite the birth mother to court. Of course. What else could we say? Both of us respectfully pointed out that she had made no effort to see her son and that speaks volumes about the attitude she has toward him. The Director was asked the same question and gave a similar answer and then the Inspector was given the same question. She voiced the opinion we were feeling. She did not think it would matter if we invited the birth mother or not. It was her opinion that Roman's mother had had nothing to do with him, had told her that she was very glad that he was getting family and hadn't shown up to any of the committee meetings to discuss her son. Taking time to invite her to court would only waste precious time. The Judge asked us all to step out of the room while she deliberated...

Ten minutes later we were called back in the courtroom and were all told to stand. The Judge very calmly said that she had decided she would invite the birthmother and the speech therapist from the baby home to come to court and that we would reconvene on January 26, 2011 at 10:00 AM. Just like that. The Judge said that we could use the time to make 100% sure that we really wanted to adopt this baby and I had to grab the handrail in front of me to keep my knees from buckling. The room was swirling and the Translator grabbed my arm and urgently whispered, "Don't cry. Please don't cry now." I have never felt so defeated. So helpless. All the air suddenly was sucked out of the room. "And," the Judge said with a slight smile, "You know you can withdraw your petition to adopt this child at any time."
Twenty minutes later, we saw the Prosecutor put on her fur coat and hat and walk out the door. Maybe to go home for the day? To be with her family? To run to the grocery store where she could read the labels and decide what she could make for supper. Just like that.

Brock paced the floor outside the courtroom practicing deep controlled breaths that I knew were his way of controlling the torrent of emotions inside of him while the Translator, the Inspector and the Director surrounded me to console the broken hearted mother. I simply wanted to fall into Brock's arms and weep. Weep for another two weeks lost. Weep for another speed bump. Weep for the depleted resources, emotions and energy. And, at the same time, I was so incredibly grateful for the sisterhood of women who were placed around me who knew our heartbreak. Each of them took turns saying we said everything correctly and we were very well prepared and, as we have heard so many times, nothing like this has happened before. Tatiana later told us that in their feverent Russian tongue, they were lamenting the circumstances that were preventing Roman coming home to a family like ours. "Please don't be angry. Please don't give up." They were pleading with me. "I'm not angry at anyone. I understand that Roman's birthmother should know where her son is going. I'm not angry. My heart is just broken."

As I later sat on a bench, numb and weary and watched these beautiful Russian ladies with their brows furrowed and their tones urgent and solemn, I was grateful that we are not in this alone. Not by any means. We have a team here who is fighting for us when we don't know how to fight. We have a team back home who is fighting for us on their knees. We are surrounded and for that, we are blessed.

We walked back to the apartment where we are staying and even though it was -9 degrees Celcius, we weren't cold. Snowflakes clung to "our nose and our lashes" and we felt nothing. One step closer to home. I believe we will stay in Russia for the next two weeks because it will be cheaper than flying home, flying back for court, and then flying back again to bring Roman home. Unless they want something else. Sergei, the owner of the small and spartan apartment in which we are staying-or "resort" as he called it with a twinkle- met us this evening to help us hook up the internet. He too was sympathetic. We have a roof over our head, a kitchen and a small market within walking distance. However, It is exhausting to "layer-up" to face the cold. It is exhausting trying to find food we are familiar with to eat (we ate cornflakes with yougrt the first two mornings because we can't tell the difference between yougrt and milk). It is exhausting trying to communicate with people who speak a beautiful and unfamiliar language. It is exhausting waiting and waiting for your dream to come true only to find that it feels like we keep approaching a mirage in the desert. I don't know what God is doing anymore. I don't understand. But, we keep pushing forward because those precious moments when Roman presses his little forehead into my neck may only last a few minutes every six months, but they are worth it. We love that little boy more than we hate this process. So we will keep pushing forward. God will have to place an impenetrable wall in front of us to show us to stop. Until then, even though He seems silent, we will proceed in the direction we felt called to go over two years ago.