Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Faith Fumes


That's how I feel.  One thing after another, after another, after another, after another.  At this point, Brock and I feel like it has been 6 months of uphill battle and we are bone weary.  But, we did say that we would keep our go until "No" and we still haven't run into a brick wall yet.  We have trudged through waist deep mud, but for every single step, we have had the provisions we have needed at the time.  I don't just mean financial provisions, but emotional provisions.  Some days have been excrutiating, but my heart is keeping perfect rhythm to...
Trust in the LORD....with all of your heart....and lean not on your own understanding....In all of your ways....acknowledge Him....and He.Will.Direct.Your.Path....

We have no idea how much longer.  We have no idea what our outcome will be.  But we will go until we hear a definitive, "No" or we will go until Roman is home where we still believe he is supposed to be.  When I look back over the now almost year since we received Roman's referral, I can't help but believe that every event has been perfectly orchestrated.  We still believe that the pictures hanging all over our house of a happy and chunky little boy are the pictures of our son.  The son we will teach how to speak English and how to honor his own Russian heritage.  The son to whom we will instill a spirit of perseverance because you don't leave behind what you believe God has called you to until you have exhausted every single avenue.  The son who will someday grow up and have his own wife and children and will know how to love and protect them because it was modeled for him by his Father and his daddy.  He will love because he was first loved.  We've held you, Roman. We've already fallen in love with you.  And, by the sheer grace and power of God, we will not give up on you.  We will do for today what we have been called to do today and we will wait for new mercies tomorrow. 

I know there are some who are so tired of hearing our seemingly never-ending "We don't know anything new" because we are so tired of knowing nothing new.  The deadline for the appeal from our new Russian attorney expired yesterday and Andrei finally, after two full days of calling, was able to speak with someone who had some information.  The appeal had been documented as received, but has seemingly vanished.  No one in the courthouse knew where it was.  And they can't respond to an appeal that they do not have.  Within a few hours, we are told, our lawyer was working up a second appeal to present to the head of the judges in the Murmansk region.  I still believe that "all things work together for good for those who love God and who are called according to His purpose", but if I am completely honest and vunerable, I feel like we are running on faith fumes right now.  It seems that everything that could have caused delays has.  So once again, we wait.

"Those who wait on the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles..."and if don't have what they need to soar, "...they will run and not grow weary..." and if they don't have the strength to run, "...they will walk and not grow faint..."  I think there could have been one more phrase in this well known source of comfort because when you don't even have the stamina to place one foot in front of the other to walk, you can crawl and not poop out. 

So, what do we do while we wait?  We trust God for the breathe to fill our lungs each morning before we even put our feet on the floor.  I've been running again.   I'm up to 3 miles a day because I know the very best mommy for Roman will be the healthiest mommy I can be.  And I think there's some comfort in knowing that, while I can't control a confusing and complicated judge, I can control the quality of food and exercise I get.   My physical heart gets stronger every day and, at the same time, my emotional heart is learning more and more to trust.  I've also been memorizing the book of James.  I'm halfway through the second chapter.  When my thoughts turn dark and I begin to worry, I can focus on each of James' precious exhortations and occupy my mind, enabling me to think on "whatever is true, whatever is noble whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things."  Phillipians 4.8.   We all must learn to take our thoughts captive.   And I've been creating because that's what I was created to do.  I took some fabric I had been saving for a special occassion and gutted our tired throw pillow to make new bright and colorful ones.  I've painted.  I've baked.  I've rearranged and I'm crocheting my first ever afgan.  In the ten plus years I've known how to crochet, I've never done an afgan because I thought it would take too much time, but it seems now we have nothing but time.  I want fresh and new because I want to walk into a rearranged house and be reminded that nothing in life has to stay stagnant.  This season isn't over yet, but someday, this too shall pass.  It may sound silly, but repurposing a table or repositioning a couch or redoing some throw pillows reminds me in the tiniest ways that life changes and moves.  Fresh and new breathes new life into my heart right now.  And those fumes that I seem to be running on will be fanned into flames again.  "A smoldering wick He will not snuff out..." (Isaiah 42.3)

I don't know when this season will end, but I am very grateful we have all the provisions we need to endure it.  Please, please, please keep praying for us and thank you to all of you who have been an example of perseverance and patience as you have have walked along side of us and encouraged us in this season. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Day Sometime...

I know, I know.  I promised a blog a day and then I fell off the face of the earth.  I just couldn't think about it for a spell.  I needed a break from "performing" for a few days.  After Day Four, it was beginning to feel like I was continuing to pick at an sore over and over.  Reliving every emotional detail at the end of the day was more than what I was ready to do.  So, Brock and I went into somewhat of a survival mode.  We woke up every morning only to lunge at our phones with the hope that maybe somewhere in Russia, while we slept, something was moving in this seemingly bottlenecked process.  Every phone call throughout the day started with, "Hi-have you heard anything?  Have you talked to anyone?"  We prayed every night that somehow the next day would bring some sort of news.  Some encouragement.  Something that would tell us we were still on the right path.  We've said that we would go until we heard, "no" and we still mean it, but how long were we supposed to go with no information? 

Saturday night, Brock and I decided we would celebrate Valentine's Day.  Just before the previews started rolling, I checked to make sure my phone was turned off and saw that I had missed a text message.  "Hey...saw USA today news.   Don't know all the details and u don't have to tell me.  Just want u to know we're praying  love you all" 

I felt all the breath leave my lungs.  What happened?  I did a quick google search for USA Today and searched Russian adoptions.  Praying against all reason that the search would yeild no results. 

Russia to halt U.S. adoptions amid domestic violence claims. 

As my eyes scanned the article, the words blurred together and my hands started shaking so badly I almost dropped my phone.  A single woman in Pennslyvania who, after "disciplining" her adopted Russian four year old had been sentenced to 18 months in jail for burning the face and body of the little girl.  The little girl had been hosptialized and the mother had received such a light sentence that Russia's Ministry  of Foreign asked that Russian adoptions be suspended by US Nationals.  I wanted to vomit.  I wanted to tie a concrete block around that "mother's" neck and throw her in the ocean.  I wanted to scream at the US judge who handed down such a light sentence.  "Don't you know that you are supposed to protect that little girl?  Make this woman pay for such evil!  Where is the justice for this child?"  Children are miracles.  Each and every one of them are a precious gift and they deserve to be protected.  And the actions of this woman and those like her and the woman from Tennesse who put her 7 year old on a plane to send him back to Russia ripple down and affect everyone.  They affect us and Roman and all the other couples who are trying to adopt.  They affect the rest of the lives of these little children.  And in a land that is abundant with therapists and aid, how does this happen?  I get the parents don't always make the right decisions.  But to purposefully and willfully burn your child or to make the concious decision to put him on a plane by himself and ship him back is wretched. 

I spent Sunday in tears.  "What about...?"  "What will happen...?"  "Why did God....?"  The questions tumbled around and around.  And a verse kept coming to mind over and over and over and over.  "Trust in the LORD with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all of your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight."  Ok, LORD.  You bind up the broken hearted.  You will walk us through this.  But, LORD, Roman needs a home.  He needs a mommy and a daddy who adore him.  Please, please, please Father, provide that for him.  Even if it is not us, give him that.  Don't let him grow up to the be one of the millions of orphans who take their own life when they are released from the orphange.  Protect him from drugs, crime, prostitution.  You love him more than we do.  Please, LORD, our hearts will break, but save him.

On Monday morning we received an email from Andrei saying that, while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can recommend a moratorium on US adoptions, there's is not the organization to actually implement it.  As of right now, we are still just waiting.  Officials in Russia are quite understandably upset concerning the news of these stories.  In the meantime, we still have heard nothing from our judge and as of right now, she is still refusing to talk to anyone from the agency regarding Roman's adoption.

We have one small glimmer of hope however.  On Thursday, February 9, Andrei met with an international adoption lawyer in St. Petersburg and after explaining our case to her, she believed that we had grounds to file an appeal regarding the lastest delay on the grounds that talking to the families who had refused Roman's referral had no bearing on this case.  She mailed the appeal on Monday, and by God's Divine Grace, Monday was the last day the appeal could have been submitted.  Since it was postmarked on Monday, we are told that it counts.  This lawyer, also Irina (that makes three with whom we are connected!) will accompany us to the next court hearing in Murmansk.  The judge has ten days to respond to the appeal. 

That's all we know for now.  In the meantime, we keep talking about Roman, dreaming about Roman, praying for Roman and planning for Roman.  And every day we remind ourselves to just keep moving.  My sister said it so beautifully.  "Just remember, Ashley, you don't have to be strong.  You just have to be dependent on the LORD."  I will trust Him still. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Day Five

Today started out kind of rough.  Brock and I went on a tirade this morning of all the things that we are so tired of.  There is a part of me that wants to list these things so that, when this season is over, I can remember every emotion of this season.  And another, stronger pull in me realizes how incredibly petty most of our complaints were.  So, I will not post them for the world to read, not because you don't need to see our frailites but because there are still words said within the walls of our home that are our own private discourse.  We had no idea when we started a blog and announced to the world that we were adopting that we would have such a following.  There have been so many of you who have been an incredible blessing  to us, especially over these last four months.  But in being so public with the adoption, there have been a few people who feel like we should throw open the curtains in our living room and reveal everything happening in our life.  To those very few, I'd like to gently remind you that this is all very real and very emotional for us.  We are not actors in a elaborate show.  Please remember too that when Roman finally comes home, we will be going into "hiding" for a few weeks.  His little world will be turned inside out, upside down and backwards and he needs some time to get used to us and his place in our home.  We would love nothing more than to hold him up in the air on our front porch and announce to the world that our son has come home, but we believe it's in his best interest to keep things quiet for a little while.  We will keep the blog updated as much as we can to let you know how he's doing, especially at first, but we are asking people to be patient with us while we all figure each other out.

One of our issues this morning was wondering if we had missed God somehow in this process and maybe we weren't the best for Roman.  I literally laid face down in the floor asking for some kind of sign and heard absolutely nothing.  Then this evening as we were driving home, we got a notification from PayPal for another donation.  It was from a complete stranger who had written a very sweet note attached to it.  It was suddenly crystal clear to me that even though God might not be talking, He is providing.   For now, that's enough for now.  We will keep moving forward.

I just need to practice being still a little longer and listening a little more carefully.

One final note: thank you to the friends who talked to us today us off the proverbial ledge today.  You were there at the right time with the right words.  Love you all.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Day Four

Nothing new.  No new emotions...no new news.  I can't even begin to explain the level of frustration at the uncertainity.

We did find out from Andrei in St. Petersburg that the judge and the prosecutor are  working completely within the parameters of the laws of the Russian Federation.  Logically, I know that these two ladies have a job to do in making sure that we will be good parents to this little Russian boy.  Emotionally, I feel run over.  I'm not mad at Russia.  In fact, we have found Russia to be a beautiful country with a rich heritage that we will be proud to tell Roman about as he grows older.  The Russians we have met have been some of the kindest and most compassionate people we have ever met-considering the relatively small (but growing) amount of time we have been around them.  We are just ready for this process to be over.  We are ready to have our little boy home. 

I have begun praying a little differently today.  We are still asking God to work in the hearts of the judge and the prosecutor.  But my more feverent prayer right now is that God would do whatever is best for the little boy He loves more than I can even imagine.  We want so much to have him home.  But at the root of it, it's not about us.  Roman needs a family.  The social worker at the baby home told the court that 7% of children who graduate from the orphanages make it.  That's 93% who turn to crime, suicide, prostitution, drugs.  Every day that Roman wakes up in a baby home (even one that provides the exceptional care that Roman is receiving) he falls further and further behind.  Language delays.  Emotional delays.  Delays in bonding.  I know what the Bible says about God's heart towards orphans.  So, we are praying that God does what is best for Roman and peace while He is doing it.