Saturday, March 24, 2012

We aren't Dead so God's not Done

It is 1:26 in the morning. It's been almost 36 hours since we've have the breath knocked out out of our lungs and we know it is going to be a while before deep breaths come naturally again. And that's ok. There is a season and a time for everything. And as much as I want to arch my back and dig in my heels, we are undeniably entering into a season of mourning. Of course our hearts are broken and I also know that we are not the first, nor will we be the last to have our hearts broken. I'm reminded of an illustration I heard years ago though about a breaking heart being similar to broken ice over a waterway. It's dangerous to travel through it and there is risk of damage to a vessel, but if the ice isn't broken, the boat is stuck. My inclination is to cry out to God and ask Him to quickly mend these cracks, but maybe just maybe, instead of them coming back together, grace will fill the holes and our hearts will be bigger on the other side. We can't begin to express our appreciation to each and every single one of you who prayed for us and didn't hide from us. It would have been so easy to do because our situation has to make people uncomfortable. We were supposed to have a happily ever after ending. Every single one of you wanted to believe that perseverance and determination would pay off in the long run. But our story isn't over yet. I don't understand, but I do trust Him still. The way of the cross may still seem foolish to those who do not believe, but it's the only thing that is real in our life right now. We are struggling. Undoubtedly, we feel abandoned by God and feel like we were caught in a cosmic booby trap. But those are just feelings. Fickle feelings. To some extent, I even feel shame. There is a nagging in the back of my brain that we've let everyone down who has followed our story and who has emotionally and financially invested in it. I feel shame that we couldn't do for Roman what every child deserves. And yet, I really do know that God loves that blue eyed cherub far more than we ever could and his story, as well as ours is not over yet. As long as there is breath in our lungs and a heartbeat in our chest, there are still plans for us. He knows the plans He has for us and they are plans to prosper and not to harm us. They are plans to give us a hope and a future. Jeremiah 29.11 We aren't dead, so God's not done. Over and over in my brain. We aren't dead so God is not done. Many of you have asked us to let you know if there is anything at all you can do for us. I know you mean it and I know you probably feel a little lost on what to say and what it is that we could need. The only thing we ask of you all is simple and exceedingly difficult: Do not be angry on our behalf. Anger is a toxic poison that will ruin you from the inside out and our main goal in even inviting you in to share our story has been that God would be glorified. Please don't be angry. ALL things work together for good for those who love the LORD and who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8.28 Tatiana, Nina, Irina, Denis, Oskana, Tatina the court translator, Larissa the second translator, Tatiana the speech therapist, Andre, Irina's husband, Sergei the apartment owner, Sergei the driver, Andrei, Natasha, Roman the driver and Sasha the driver have all been exceedingly kind to us while we have been in country. Irina the social worker cried for us when we were too shocked to shed tears. These people love children and they showed love to us. The agency back home, Irina has walked through this with us step by step, has prayed for us and encouraged us. I sincerely believe they all did everything they knew how to do so that we would not get dropped in the details. I'm not even angry at the judge and the prosecutors. Theirs is an extremely difficlut job that needs to be done. And while cases of child abuse to Russian children by American families has increased, there is more need than ever to be careful. I believe from the core of my being that our judge, Anna, was upset when she gave the verdict. Throughout the entire proceedings, she kept taking her glasses off, rubbing her eyes and honestly looked distraught. We said before and we still stand by our feelings that she really did like us. She even told us after the verdict was read that this was not our fault. She believed we would make good parents. It is customary for families to stand while the verdict is being read, and after she read it, she looked up with sadness in her eyes and asked us to please, please sit down. We've prayed for months now that God would do what was best for Roman. Whatever that looked like. I'm struggling with this now because I cannot believe that the best for Roman is to be in a baby home, but his story isn't over yet either. Our faith would mean nothing if we could not "Praise Him in the storms". Even when it does not make sense to us, our stories are not over yet. There will be a time to change our mourning into joy again, and even this confusing, tangled and heart wrenching chapter in our story will be used for good. It's in our very nature to defend those we care about when we see a seeming misjustice has been done. But please do not allow the toxicity of anger seep in your bones. When it starts, pray. Pray for Roman. Oh, how many tears have been shed over that little boy! An orphan is not supposed to have anyone in this world who will cry over him, and even though you may never meet our son, someday-on the other side-he will get to see the tears of those who loved him through us. Pray for us. We still want to be parents desperately but God is going to have to work in an incredible way. He is in the miracle business. One last thing to share. When we got back to the hotel yesterday afternoon, we were in shock. We did not leave our room for almost thirty hours. Brock sent a message to Tatiana asking her to join us for dinner and she responded that she would be here at 6:30. She brought the Murmansk "team". Denis, with his rich base voice and contagious smile welcomed us with his standard, "Helloooo!" and Tatiana's son who she had told us so much about. He is 10 and he is delightful. We drove to the top of a mountain to see the giant 70 foot statue of a solider over looking the city and Denis showed us in the bay below where his boat was. We took pictures and I had to take deep breaths to overcome the anxiety again. I wanted so desperately for Russia to part of our family's heritage. This is a country rich in heritage and a country of strong and beautiful people. We then went to dinner and this next part I will tell you not for the purpose of puffing ourselves up, but because it was the first time in two days we felt happy. When the bills came for the table, Brock took them both as we had decided to do before we even left our hotel. Tatiana in her Russian accent held out her hand and said, "Please, please we share." No, Tatiana, you all have done so much for our family and this is something we very much want to do for you. We left our rubbles and went to get our coats. Our waitress came rushing over to us with the change, earnestly telling us not to leave. Brock pulled out a few rubbles and gave the rest back to her. Her eyes welled up with tears and she said, "No, no". Brock waved his hand at her, smiled and turned away. The last look I saw on her face was that of a quivering chin. He had tipped her-as he always does-very generously and it had an tremendous impact. I say this not so you can see how incredible Brock is (which it just so happens that he is!) but because in that moment, we felt better than we had felt in a long time. We had the opportunity to bless someone else. My mother used to say, the best way for you to feel good yourself is to do something for someone else. Brock may have felt like he couldn't do what he needed to do to take care of his family after the outcome of the trial, but in that moment, I was so proud that the man God gave me was still one who was reaching out to bless others and in that, taking the beginning steps to lead us down the path to healing. You have been a godly daddy in every sense of the word, Brock, and now more than ever I am grateful for you and trust you as we walk down the uncertain path of our "what next."

Friday, March 23, 2012

Daddy says goodbye

Hello all, I am back again to attempt to get some therapy for what has been a not so great day. In this I may just totally open up and if I do let me apologize to all beforehand. I really don't know what to say but I do know that I want to get out what is inside of me right now. I feel hurt, mad, sad, betrayed, let down, overwhelmed, and about any other word you can come up with that describes feeling bad. I know that many of you have been reading Ashley's blog and she has a wonderful way with words describing how much she wants to be a mother. Well I am so sad now because I don't get to be a daddy. I am so sad that I don't get to watch Roman grow up and teach him how to be a good man like my dad taught me. I am so mad that we have been drug through the ringer just to end this way. I am so distraught that I will not get to see Roman sleep in his room. I am so at a loss that I will not get to be woken up by a cute blue eyed blond haired cutie saying he wants to watch cartoons. I hate that I will not get to see Roman giggle when he plays with Daisy's long basset hound ears. I am so at a loss. One of the things that is tearing me apart is that I can do absolutely nothing about it. As being the "man" of the household my job is to fix stuff that is wrong. I can't fix this. My job is to be the strong one. I have no strength. My job is to redirect the path of our family to get it back on course. I have no map. It is horrible to say but I am so jealous that so many get want we want. Not of the people that love being parents but of the people that could care less what happens with their children. Please hug your children tight and love them because trust me there are people out there that would do anything to be where you are. Nothing sucks more than seeing someone with a beautiful child with parents that are so consumed with themselves that they don't take care of their children. Don't be that non-parent. Take care of your kids. Raise them to be good people and while you are at it may even make you a good person along the way. I have never in my life worked so hard for something that just vanished before your eyes. I truly felt that we would keep going until we heard, Roman is yours. I feel as if nothing is worth pushing forward for right now. I know that this will pass over time. But our lives have been at a stand still for months and now it was all for nothing. All the pictures and videos we took of Roman that brought us closer and closer to him each time we looked at them only makes the heartache worse. I truly feel as if we have lost a child. Please no disrespect to anyone reading this that has held their child in their arms as they pass on. But this is the feeling of loss that I am feeling right now. We were supposed to go see Roman before court but due to an issue with getting our visas lined out we were delayed. In one respect we are glad that we didn't see him again to get that much closer to our son. But I also hate the fact that we didn't get to say goodbye to our son. Along this entire agonizing process I have told Ashley that we can't stop pushing forward because I don't want to say 20 years from now, "I wonder what ever happened to that boy Roman." Well now that is what we get to say. Since I didn't get to say it to Roman in person I am going to say it here. Goodbye my son. I love your more than you will ever get to see. Thank you for making me a daddy for a brief amount of time. Thank you for making me smile and the look of your picture and when I got to tell people how perfect your are. I am sorry that daddy couldn't get you home. Please know that we did all that we knew how to do and we still would go to the ends of the Earth for you. I love you.

Good-bye sweet baby....

I will try to find the words when in reality, I have no words. After a restful night of sleep, we woke up this morning feeling very optimistic about the proceedings today. Little did we know that our walls were about to come crashing down. There was a new prosecutor this morning and I believed that to be a good sign. We were asked again to state our names, nationality, jobs, address and so on. Then, the judge asked us to again explain all the diagnosises that we were given with Roman's referral. We stated, yet again, the list that we had memorized over the last several months. She then asked specifically if we were told that Roman had a degenerative muscular or skeletar disease. We had heard no such thing and the Director of the baby home confirmed that Romnan had never been given this diagonosis. The end was near. The last time we came to court, it was delayed because the prosecutor had requested that two of the ten Russian families to whom Roman was offered be invited to court. The judge had decided to instead simply ask for a letter with information as to why they refused Roman. One of the families said it was because they noticed that he stood awkwardly and a nurse in the baby home said that he had a degenerative disease (for which they could not provide a name) and that he would be completely unable to walk by the time he was 12. The Director told the judge that first and foremost, Roman had never received this diagonosis and secondly that they only people who were authorized to talk to prospective families about a child's specific diagnosis were the Director herself and the assistant Doctor. The Director also said that it was indicative of the family's intention to adopt that they did not talk to the doctor about this, as there is always a doctor on the premsis when a prospective parent comes to visit. The judge's concern was that the law was not followed in either giving us or the other family the proper diagnosis and/or not followed because he was not properly offered to Russian families first. Because these procedures were seemingly not followed, the judge determined that she would not grant us our petition to adopt Roman Andreevich Belyaev. She made a point to tell us that she saw nothing wrong with us as adoptive parents and that her decision was based stricly on the inconsistencies. Everyone in the courtroom looked stunned. Those are the facts of the matter. We've not yet had time to process through all the emotions of the matter. The worst part, the part that makes it hard for me to breathe is that we will find a way to move on and heal. We've lost our child. We will never hold his chubby form again. We will never kiss him goodnight and help him learn and grow into the man he was destined to become. The part that hurts the worst is not knowing if there will ever be a mommy and a daddy for that precious child. Will there every be a daddy who will teach him about sports and throw ball with him in the yard? Will he ever have a mommy kiss his skinned knees and put magic band-aids on them? We- and I say this with the utmost respect-have joined the ranks of parents who have lost their children. Except there is not the shred of comfort knowing that our child is safe in the arms of Christ free from pain and sorrow. Please Jesus, provide for Roman. We asked for an answer and said we would go until we heard a no. We heard our no, but Jesus, we beg you to provide for the little boy who captured our hearts. Give him a family who knows you so that we can hold him again in heaven. Thank you for every second of every precious moment we got to spend with him. In spite of today's outcome, that was still, unmistakably a gift from you. You give and You take away. We will never understand this side of heaven. I don't understand Your plan right now and we can't see where to go next, but these are all tools for another season in our life. Roman, you will always be ours in our heart. We will pray for you every single day for the rest of our lives and we will go to our grave loving you. We don't regret even one moment of our fight for you. I hope you grow up knowing that you are precious, loved and valuable. I have to believe that God hasn't said no to you. I believe He has said yes that you will always have someone who will pray for you. That's the most we can do for you now, son. Our deepest desire is that prayers are enough to make the difference in your life. May you find a family soon and I hope the ladies with whom we've worked will tell you that you were our delight. From the bottom of our hearts, we love you and forever will.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Greetings from Murmansk

We're here. We're safe. We're tired. Other than not sleeping much at all in the last 30 hours, and our snag at the airport in St. Louis, our flight was blessedly uneventful. Praise the LORD! When we landed in St. Petersburg and were met by Natasha from the agency to shuttle us to the domestic airport, she told us that St. Petersburg was one of the few regions in Russia who has issued a moratorium on US adoptions until the bilateral agreement is ratified. As of this moment, there is no such moratorium in Murmansk, but things can change quickly. Our appeal was heard this morning and Tatiana was present. She said the proceedings were overseen by three judges and took a total of 10 minutes. It was denied as the municipalities had not been prepared with the information the judge and prosecutor had been requesting in our previous hearings. According to Tatiana, the judges did not seem particularly antagonistic toward us, and for that, we are grateful. Right now, we are exhausted and anxious about court tomorrow. But, as Tatiana reminded our weary brains, we can't do a thing about court tomorrow right now, but we CAN take a hot shower, get a good night sleep and face tomorrow's challenges when tomorrow gets here. I know you are already praying and, until I heard about the moratorium, I had complete peace that we would get a positive answer on this trip. I blame the anxiety on weariness and will gladly accept the invitation to rest. Here's what I DO know: God is good and He is mighty to save. To everything there is a season and a time for everything under the heaven. No weapon forged against us can stay the Almighty's power. He is able to do exceedingly more than what we can imagine. And maybe, just maybe, he is setting the stage so that He can reveal His glory in a way that leaves no question in our minds that truly, truly, "If God be for us, who can be against us"! Pray for our rest tonight and that God's power will be revealed in that courtroom tomorrow. Love to you all-Goodnight.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Comical.... It's just comical at this point

Another day, another delay. This was supposed to be the smoothing sailing (or rather flying) day! We got up and atta 'em early this morning ready to begin our fourth trip to Mother Russia. As you know, our passports and visas were scheduled to be delivered in St. Louis this morning before 8 AM . The first thing Brock did this morning was roll over and check the tracking number on the package. It was signed for by a B SMith at 7:30 in the morning. I had a brief moment of panic as we have a B Smith -as in the ever dependable, wouldn't be able to have been able to do everything we've needed to do,Brooke Smith in BLOOMFIELD! Thankfully, she is not the only B Smith in the world and our passports were safe and ready to be picked up. Once we got going, we realized we were actually about an hour and a half early that what we normally are when we travel. When we got to the arirport, and tried to check in, our reservations were not found. Deep breaths. An US Airways agent came over and gave us a veiled look of pity for the customers who obviously had no idea how to use a kiosk and then we heard her give a puzzled "hmmm". She took our passports to her computer and after several keystrokes and a short eternity, she told us that we didn't have any flights. US Airways had cancelled them on the 18th because Lufthansa never sent them the ticket confirmations. We were going to have to call Lufthansa. Praise God for cell phones and computers! Brock talked for an hour and 40 minutes to a Luthansa rep named Kim, the Austrailian resident of Canada, who was not going to get off the phone until it was straightened out or until our flight left whichever came first. Across the counter was Kathleen, who also was not going anywhere until we were on our way. She told us that her shift ended at 2 but, she would stay until it was finishied. But she did have to be at the hospital by 3:30. Turns out, our newest friend Kathleen S. is battling breast cancer. She is doing well and is in good spirits, but stilll needs prayer. Also, miraculously, Kathleen decided to do a quick check to see how many seats were left on the flight to Charlotte. You guessed it...there were two. She reserved them so no one else could snag them and the three of us watied patiently for Kim from Lufthansa to work her magic. It was no one's fault, just a computer glitch and we were exceedlingly thankful for the gracious ladies who were doing their very best to make things right for us. Remember that as your deal with the people whose jobs are to provide a service for you. It's so much easier for them to want to help you when you are pleasant with them. At 12:17, Kathleen told Kim that she was going to have to let us get to our gate if we were going to make our flight. She had secured our seats on the flight from St. Louis to Charlotte. We raced through security and through the terminal to be two of the last people to get on board. As of this moment, I am flying in the air (although I won't be able to publish this until we get on the ground) with our passports, our bags checked through to St. Petersburg, two more boarding passes for Brock to Munich and St. Petersburg and still only one for me. As soon as we hit the ground in Charlotte, we have to race to the Lufthansa counter and pray that Kim was able to rebook my cancelled flight. Truth be told, I am praying right now. If you remember, I am memorizing the book of James to occupy my thoughts when I start getting anxious. The irony of verse two of this exercise is not lost on me. "Consider it pure joy my brothers when you face trials of many kinds because you know 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." Right out of the starting gate... Nevertheless, I am extremely optimistic about this trip. In faith, I packed a coat, snow bibs and snowboots for Roman in case we do get to bring him home. In faith, we've brought all of the paperwork necessary to get Roman's passport and visa at the embassy. It is not my desire at all to be presumptous, but simply prepared to receive a miracle if God so chooses to bless us this way. For this moment though, I'm awaiting His provision in Charlotte.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Provision for a Change

Yesterday I alluded to another delay.  Today it has been confirmed.  Yesterday morning, we had a very excited Oksana (who has been an God-send for us!!) call us from Houston.  She has been our contact with the Russian Consulate to aide in us getting our visas.  Back in December when we were told that we were going to have to make a trip to Russia to redo our medicals, we "swung" by Houston on our way home from visiting my family.  There is a Russian Consulate in Houston who processes all visas.  As we have to be invited to come into Russia, we are required to have a visa each time we travel there.  Long story short, if you do not remember (or haven't been following our story very long) we were directed to Oksana-a Russian native-who helped us process our visas to take to the Consulate and she has been our contact ever since.  She has been extremely efficient and has gone out of her way to help us with as much as she could.  As I said before-a complete God-send. 

As soon as we knew our court date, we started preparing the papers on our end and overnighted those and our passports to Oksana.  At that point, we had not yet received a formal invitation from the court, which is necessary to complete the process, but emailed it directly to Oksana as soon as we received it last Tuesday.  We asked again for a business visa which will allow us to make two trips into Russia.  We are assuming that if the judge rules with a favorable decision on Friday, she will more than likely not waive the 30 day waiting period which means we will be making at least two more trips back to Artic Circle.  Oksana called yesterday extremely excited for us because she got the elusive business visas for us and she thought they would be ready on Tuesday.  Her enthusiasm came to a screeching halt when Brock sheepishly told her that our flights were booked for Tuesday.  When we asked what it would take to get a single entry visa, we were told it would cost us an additional $750 since that was the processing fee and this business visa had been processed already.  So we had to decide to drive to Houston to be able to pick up our passports and visas on Tuesday and fly from Houston or change our flight to Wednesday.  Since the trip is about 30 hours from start to finish, we eliminated the stress of adding an additional 13 hours of hard driving from the equation and opted to change our flights out of St. Louis from Tuesday to Wednesday.  This means that we will not have the opportunity to see Roman before we go to court and we will, if everything moves smoothly be arriving in Murmansk about eleven hours before we have to be at the courthouse.  I hope that nerves and jet lag can be staved off at least long enough to get us through court. 

As most of you know, it is never cheap to change a flight, and especially an international one so on such short notice.  Yesterday, when we got the first inkling we would have to change flights, it was going to cost $250 a person plus the difference in flights.  And of course, the flights had jumped.  Last night Brock told me that we had to go by the church before noon because they had called and said they had something someone had left for us.  I was thinking it might have been more baby clothes for us to take to the orphange.  Today, when we went by, I was handed a thick envelope that some had anonomously left with $500 in it!  AND, when we called to change the flights, the prices were back down to what we had paid originally, so the total cost to change the flights was $250 a person, flat.  Tell me that our God isn't in this!!  He knows our needs before we do!  "And my God shall supply all of your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus."  Phillippians 4.19. 

As most of you know, this has been the most exhausting and heart-wrenching journey that Brock and I have ever embarked upon.  And just when we think that we can't possibly take another step, something falls into place in a powerful way and we are reminded, once again, that our story is not over yet.  Earlier this week, I tossed and turned as I felt fear and dread creeping through my bones.  Dark whispers in the still of the night kept repeating, "this isn't going to happen.  Give up while you have your sanity.  How much more of this can you take?  How much more are you going to watch Brock suffer through?"  I was too paralyzed and spent to cry, except to cry out to God to have mercy on us and just show us what He wants.  If we aren't supposed to bring Roman home, end this season so that he can be available to the family who IS supposed to be his forever family.  Please LORD, give us a shred of indication somehow!  The next morning, I got this text at 8:40 AM

I dreamed of Roman this morning!  You had posted a video on FB saying how you are still "in hiding" but wanted to share this clip.  It was Roman with a basket of Easter eggs, and she was happily exclaiming "Eh-uh eggg" as he threw them around.  It gave me hope for you, and I can't wait to see the real thing.

I don't know if it was a prophetic dream or not, but I felt with a rock solid certainity that this message's timing was not at all a coincidence.  I just pray that it was this Easter and not  next....

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Just Drips in Our Cup...

One thing.  Just one thing go right, please.  Or maybe God is saving the one thing going right for Roman coming home?   Can you not see that we are serious about pursuing this until the very end?  We will not and cannot give up.  Another hiccup...another hurdle.  And when I take the stress out of it, it is simply comical at this point.  I am not tempting the fates to, "Bring it" but I will say with the utmost confidence that my God is bigger and our story isn't over yet.

I'm reticent to explain too much here until we know more about what is happening behind the scenes, but I am creating a draft that explains it all in more detail that will be in the book!  haha!!  Suffice it to say for now that we desperately need your prayers with regard to timing and once again provisions.  We might have to make a trip to Texas before we leave on Tuesday and with our flights already booked, it could be an extremely expensive change of plans.   We also found out that our apartment away from home in Russia is not available so instead of an inexpensive, albiet humble shelter, we will have to stay in a hotel at almost four times the cost.  In addition, as we will not have access to a kitchen or a microwave, our food costs will go up dramatically since we will have to eat most meals in resturaunts.  Please don't misunderstand, I love Russian food, but the thought of every single meal being a battle in translation makes my brain hurt right now.  So, I guess I just won't think about it until it's time to think about it.  Thankfully and praise the LORD, I believe we have everything we need financially for all these latest hiccups.  It just goes to show that these hiccups didn't surprise Jesus.  As we have said before though, any money we have left over will be dontated to another family who is in the process of adopting.  It does make me a little sad to think that all these extra costs means less money to bless another family who is walking along this journey. 

In closing, a few logistics to clear up:

While it would be an absolute and utterly delightful miracle to bring Roman home after this trip, we aren't expecting it.  If the judge makes a positive decision, there will more than likely still be a 30 day waiting period for that decision to go into effect.  She does have the authority to waive the waiting period, but we aren't expecting that.  We would be ecstatic just to have a decision made and this season of uncertaintity completed.

Our court date is March 23 at 10 in the morning in Murmansk, Russia.  We would love to see Roman before we go to court, but that is it all contingient upon when we will be able to leave the States.  Roman lives in Kandalaksha which is about a three hour drive (unless Sergei is driving in which case it is only two and a half hours)   We might have an opportunity to go after court, so we will just have to wait and see.  We want more than anything to hold him again...
If you'd like to pray for us while we are in court, (and we would love it if you would!!) set your alarm for 1 AM on Friday morning and talk to Jesus for us. 

Also, if you want to add even more to your prayer list, we sure could use some sleep.  Evidently, my mind thinks that when my head hits the pillow that's the perfect opportunity to practice everything I should say when we're in court.  Then, I'm allowed to fall asleep for a brief intermission until I wake up thinking about everything and anything else that could go wrong.  I'm usually a glass half full kinda girl, but the absurdity of the last few months has me a little wary.  I'm also not usually a sleep aid kinda girl, but I'm about to the point of thinking Tylenol PM may become a good friend of mine for the next few nights. 

I also want to say thank you to ALL the people who have helped make things a little easier on us.  Last night at church, I saw a sweet friend who had helped with the "Lettuce Bring Roman Home" salad luncheon (which was an incredibly HUGE success!!  Thank you so much to the ladies at First General Baptist Church for all of their hard work, and to every sweet lady who made a salad and every single person who made their lunch money count that day!)  I told my friend that I was working on getting her bowls back to her and she told me that Ms. So-and-So (not her words!) had already brought them back.  It was such a small thing, but I had to swallow the lump in my throat.  Remember you guys as you go throughout your day, that even the smallest acts of kindness can make a world of difference to someone whose plate is running over.  It's sort of funny when your plate is full you have too much going on, but when your cup runneth over, your blessings are numerous!  My plate is definitely full right now, but my cup is running over even more.  So, a shout out to all the "drips" in our life that makes our cup run over!

Monday, March 12, 2012

One day closer

Last Tuesday was a really bad day, emotionally speaking.  Brock and I felt fractured, like we were on the brink of losing our minds.  Neither of us could focus on anything and  both of us felt utterly abandoned.  There are times when your brain knows something is true but it has trouble convincing your heart.  Our brains knew we had a God who would never leave us nor forsake us, but our hearts felt like we had been dropped in the process.  Our brains knew that to everything there is a season and a time for everything under the heavens, but our hearts felt like there was no end in sight.  Our brains knew that we had to keep moving and living forward, but every sinew in our bodies wanted to give up.  We were desperate and hurting like we hadn't hurt before.  Everything in our life was in absolute limbo.  As for me, I'd get panicky when I would think of Roman sitting in an orphange getting further and further behind other children his age.  Every day that he is in there makes it a little bit harder on his tender soul to learn what healthy relationships are and how bond with other people.  He's not getting the help with his speech delays that he needs.  He's not getting the opportunity that every child should have in knowing a Mommy and a Daddy who adore him.  He's not getting held every night before he goes to sleep and he's not getting the unconditional love that every single child on this planet deserves.  I can't help every child out there but what's even more gut wrenching, we can't get to the child we so desperately want to call our own.

Wednesday morning, Brock reached for his phone as he does every morning, hoping against all hope that we will have heard something, anything that will move us out of this black hole. A few days before, we had received word that, while Tatiana was siting in the courthouse ready to file the second appeal,she received a phone call from the judge saying the first appeal had been found and that there would be a hearing for that appeal on March 22.  At that point, our understanding was that nothing else would move forward until the appeal was either approved or denied.  Then, last Monday, Irina told us that we could still receive another court date any day now.  That didn't seem likely since it would appear that no one in charge seems to be in any particular hurry to let us bring Roman home.  But still, it was a shred of hope.

Wednesday morning, we got an email from Osxana who works with Andrei in St. Petersburg.  A new court date had been set for March 23rd.  We are cautiously ecstatic!  This has left us with less than two weeks to arrange for a visa, book flights and make our travel plans. We also found out that our lawyer has apparently vanished.  Andrei has been trying to get in touch with her and she is, at this time, not returning phone calls.  As of right now, we are proceding as though we will go to court lawyer-less.  It all seems very odd and I'm trying not to let my mind get too carried away...
So, for now we are praying feverently that this will be the final court date.  I have no idea how to convince a judge with whom we've only spent a few hours that we will be the best parents we know how to be to Roman.  I am certain we will make mistakes along the way, of course, but I am also certain that we will do the best job we know how to do for our son.  We covet your prayers right now.  Will you be praying for us and for the judge and the prosecutor in the days leading up to and the day of the hearing?  When you look at your children, will you pray for ours?

Please, LORD, open the judge's eyes to see this.  Still the prosecutor's mind to objections and further delays.  Protect us and give us wisdom.  Put our hearts and minds at Your perfect peace so that in the next eleven days, we won't fret about every "what if".  Nothing about this process has seemed particularly easy and yet, I know that You have been teaching us along the way.  You have protected us in ways that we can't possibly know this side of heaven.  You've used us and used our story.  You tell us that we have not because we ask not, so we are asking, LORD, please allow us to receive a favorable decision.  Please grant us favor before the judge and the prosecutor.  Please use us as Roman's parents soon.  Every child is a gift and a blessing from You and we are humbly asking for this richest of blessings.  We are not asking to be blessed in porportion to our merit, but in porportion to Your grace and lovingkindness. 

In Christ's name