Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all of you, and best wishes for a great 2009. Thank you to all of you for your support and friendship throughout the craziness of 2008, and my very best thoughts and prayers and thankfulness to those of you who have shared your journeys with me throughout the last year. To those of you who brought your kiddos home this year, my prayers for a very happy 2009 together and houses full of laughter, joy, and blessings. To those of us who are still waiting and for whom 2009 is going to be "the year", I ask for God to stay close to us on this journey, giving us encouragement and peace and the reminders day to day that this is going to happen for us. My love to all of you!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

No, I have not fallen off the planet...

Ok, it has been way too long since I caught everybody up with what is going on. I profoundly apologize, but in my defense it has been a really busy month here. In this post, I’ll try to fill you in on the Thanksgiving in NY experience. Perhaps I will be caught up with everything some time in January! Thank you to all of you who have been checking up on me...I AM ok, I am following your blogs, and I'm so glad for all of you who have brought home kiddos, especially Kim and Jackie. We're still in the game, but I'll catch you up on that stuff later.

The last post I made was about getting ready to head out for New York at Thanksgiving. Short summary—it was a really LONG trip, but it was a fun week. We met Laurel and Kirt and the girls on the way out to Buffalo (in Pocahontas, IL of all places! If you’ve never been there, make sure you visit it and have brunch at the Powhatan Restaurant.) and caravanned out there in one day.

The next morning (Wednesday) we got up and drove from Buffalo into NYC. On Thanksgiving Day we got up early and walked from the apartment we were renting down to Central Park West, where we watched the Macy’s Parade. It was very cool just being there and seeing all the people, and I understand now why they have the balloons---if you’re on the street and not in the first two or three rows, the balloons are basically all you see!

But they are HUMONGOUS!

After the parade and Santa Claus, we walked down to Times Square (after lunch at a deli where we had amazing cheesecake)

The gang near Times Square—yeah, we look like tourists!

and then explored lower Manhattan. We did Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building, Battery Park, and ended up in China Town for dinner—like in the “Christmas Story” movie.

Amber’s Pineapple Chicken---she was pretty surprised!

The next morning we were up and on our way back to Buffalo. That evening we had dinner and crashed (and Sarah and Steve worked on her guitar skills), and then got up on Saturday and fixed Thanksgiving Dinner. It was a joint effort (but mostly Laurel and Sarah, although I made the pilgrimage to the grocery store), and pretty amazing. That evening we drove up to the falls, where we basically had the whole park to ourselves. Quiet, except for the sound of all that water, and cold, but not so bad that it was uncomfortable to walk around. Very cool and peaceful, especially with the colored lights on the falls.

The “girls” at Niagara Falls

We headed back home on Sunday after going to church with Jeremiah…we were doing great until we hit really crappy traffic outside Cleveland…and when we got to Illinois around midnight decided we probably needed to stop and spend the night—so it was Monday when we made it home. Luckily, I had already told my class that I probably wouldn’t be there that night, so they got a night off and I could come home and crash. It made everyone happy--and I don't think they missed too much!

(By the way---finals went well, and I ended up with a bunch of students who had great grades for the class---I was really proud of them, and it was fun doing Russian history with them).

There’s more to tell about what’s going on with the adoption, and us, and Christmas but I’ll save that for the next post…

Best wishes for an amazing New Year for all of you--

Monday, November 24, 2008

Preparing to Head Out for the East

Hi everyone!

Just wanted to post a quick update on how things are going with us. Tomorrow morning early we are headed out for the East--yep, we're making the drive out to Buffalo, New York to see Jeremiah (and Sarah and Laurel and Kirt and Bri and Amber, who are also driving out) for Thanksgiving. The plan is to meet up in Buffalo, and then drive into NYC for Thanksgiving morning and the Macy's parade, then come back to Buffalo the next day for "dinner". I'm trying to be not uptight about all this and not giving into the worry (weather, crowds, what to pack, leaving the new kittens in the house all this time, etc.), but instead just praying that this will be an amazing time with my family.

I had hoped that we would have all of our documentation done before Thanksgiving (well, I was seriously trying to get it all done--and stressing about it), but God has other plans. Again, I'm learning to listen to God and His timetable, which is frustrating because I'm just Miss Impatient, (LOL), but is also growing me through this whole experience. I am learning over and over through this whole process that God's time is not my time, and that God's timing is so much better than mine is. We had our physicals on Friday, and because of the time factor for the TB test requirment, we have to wait until after Thanksgiving for those to be finalized. Because we've both been so busy trying to get other stuff finished up to be gone, we still have one online class to complete for our homestudy. And, because the homestudy isn't quite finished (background checks that are new because our new homestudy agency is Hague compliant,along with other stuff), we're waiting on that for some of the paperwork we need to complete. But, on the positive side, so many other things are DONE--and so much more quickly than when we did them the first time for our original agency. Thank you to all of you for your help and encouragement, and to Karyn for the paperwork templates that she shared with me. I am learning that it not only takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to get them home--how amazing is our God that He can use this whole process to bring people from all over the world together who share a heart for these children?!

Please pray that we can finish these things up quickly when we get back next week, since I would really like for all of the paperwork to be "done" and sent off before Christmas. There are also so many people traveling or getting ready to travel, and I send my wish for traveling mercies out to all of you.

I'm not sure if I will be back here before next week, so please know that all of you are in my heart and prayers. A blessed Thanksgiving to all of you--and may God fill you with His grace and peace and joy.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

On the road today

Hi everybody!

It has been cold and rainy and overcast here. We have definitely turned the corner into fall with winter closer than I would like it to be! My Monday class this week was on the rise of Stalin --what perfect weather to talk about bleakness and struggle.

In an attempt to get more of our paperwork taken care of today, I'm going on the road to the state capital to get new certified copies of our marriage license (the old copies are in our dossier, which we still haven't received back) and a couple of our work letters. I don't think there will be any problems here, but prayers that things go quickly and smoothly would be appreciated.

We've completed one of the classes we need to do online for our homestudy (just 2 more to go), and got word last night that the homestudy update is proceeding, which is great. It would be great to get everything done and to Russia before the holidays begin, so keep your fingers and toes crossed that this all works out as God sees that it should.

Hope that all of you are having a great week!

Friday, November 7, 2008


"Gracie" now has a new and more appropriate name--although it is a bit geeky. We have tried several names for him, but not one of them seemed to fit him. Then one day this week he was playing with his sister, and they were close to Dinah, our older female cat. She has been more and more accepting of them, but not exactly "happy"--especially when they want to play with her. "Gracie" began to show some interest in Dinah's tale, but he sort of stopped himself, and then went out of his way to jump over her tail (jumping about a foot in the air). He then turned and looked at me for approval. I said, without really thinking about it, "Ah, you have chosen wisely, young Padawan." Steve then said, "that's it, that's who he is!" So, ladies and gentlemen, I give you.......Luke Paw-walker, young padawan cat

And his sister, Amelia Cat-heart. They're already into the books, so they should fit right in at our house!

So things are back in motion with us and the paperwork again! It has been so long since anything happened, that I have sort of forgotten how it feels to be making progress. But, we are beginning to actually get things accomplished, and that is such a good feeling--I almost feel as if I had been frozen and I am slowly starting to thaw out again.

Steve and I met Tuesday with Janis, our Social Worker. She did our original home study for the old agency, and we were finally able to get all the legal stuff taken care of so that she can do the new one, too. We have a few more hoops to jump through, but mostly the hard stuff is done. We went this morning and got our fingerprints redone, we have made appointments with the doctor to have our physicals redone in a week or so, and we're working our way through the stack of required paperwork for the homestudy redo. It has been so nice to work with someone that we know from before--much less tension about everything, and we know most of what we need to get done (or redone) this time with the paperwork. Please just pray that everything goes smoothly, and that stuff that we've had to send off for comes back quickly. We requested our old paperwork back from the original agency, but so far--nada. I'm not holding my breath. Unfortunately, that means having to get new official copies of our marriage license, etc. so all that is a work in progress at the present. I had hoped to have it all done by the end of this week...well, hopefully it will almost be all done by the end of NEXT week.

So this is has been a week of getting stuff organized and lists made, phone calls, email contacts, etc. On top of that, I've been trying to prepare for class, and to draw up book order lists for next semester. Throw in some stuff at church, both choirs, playing with new kittens, and family stuff, plus just doing laundry and cleaning, and it has been busy.

Not much else to share that's all that interesting. I DID become sort of domestic this evening and made a pot of soup. It was my attempt to re-create the potato soup at Olive Garden, and I must admit that it turned out better than expected. It was COLD here this evening, and soup sounded really good. Now I'm seriously thinking about putting on snuggly pajamas and curling up with one of the books I have to read for next semester!

Best wishes that you all have a great weekend.

Friday, October 31, 2008


I took the new kittens to the vet this morning for their first shots and exam. They're all fine, but it turns out that Gracie is a boy! Even the vet said, "how can you tell with all this fur?" LOL
Anyway, now he needs a new name--and perhaps that's why he's been hiding under the dishwasher.

Other things here are good. Trying to do some cleaning out of closets now that I have time to do so (and it's also incentive to lose some weight!) and getting paperwork updated. We meet with our social worker on Tuesday to go over what needs to be taken care of for the home study update, and then I think we have all the information we need to get everything switched over. There are a few more hoops to jump through, but we've jumped through them before, so.....

Hope everyone has a Happy and safe Halloween! Much love!

Friday, October 24, 2008

I was blog tagged!

I think about three different people (Rachel, Nancy, and Michelle) have blog-tagged me in the last few weeks. For those of you who don't know what this is, this is a game that has gone around the blogs where you tag someone who has a blog and they are supposed to share deep dark secrets about themselves (well....perhaps not deep and dark, but I think the idea is that they get to know you better and that you share things about yourself that you wouldn't share in an ordinary blog post).

So, here are my 6 things. They're pretty random, but I'm gonna post them anyway.

1. I know the lyrics to every Partridge Family song, most Barry Manilow songs, the soundtrack to Disney's Peter Pan and Jungle Book, and can name all of the Jackson 5, Charlie's Angels, and all of the Osmond Brothers (and their wives). At one point I wanted to marry Donny Osmond, but eventually abandoned that dream (sigh). I am a child of 1970s and early 80s television and pop culture. I cannot usually remember, however, where I parked my car at the mall unless I am working really hard at it.

2. The nails on my baby toes are weird. Enough said.

3. I LOVE books. My dream job, if I had to stop teaching history, would be to own the bookstore that Meg Ryan runs in "You've Got Mail." I would also love to work at Barnes and Noble (even in the coffee shop part). I love the way that books smell, feel, and even how they look on the shelf.

4. I'm NOT a morning person. I have tried to be and it just doesn't work for me.

5. My favorite indulgence is Starbucks---a decaf latte. I’m not a big fan of the flavors, but sometimes I’ll really indulge and have them make it a mocha.

6. I'd secretly love to live in Key West and commune with the muse of Hemingway at Sloppy Joe's Bar on Duval St. We could wander back to his house and pet his cats and read his new novel. And enjoy the sunshine and the ocean. It’s a big dream for a girl from small-town Missouri.

Ok, now how the game goes is that I’m supposed to tag 6 other people. But almost everyone I know has already been tagged. SO, if you’re reading this and nobody has tagged you, please consider yourself tagged by ME. And keep playing, since this is really fun.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

kitten pictures! UPDATED

Just wanted to update everyone who has asked about names. We decided last night (Tuesday). The gray one's name is Gracie (she just kinda looks like a Gracie, and she's a little shy and timid). The tortoise-shell one is Amelia--like Amelia Earhart--because she doesn't seem to be afraid of anything--including our big girl cat--and she's an explorer.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ok, ok, ok....

So yes, I have been gone far too long. Lots of stuff has happened, and I haven't felt like I've had time to sit down and process it all, much less actually put it on paper (or on the screen!)

Let's see...the biggest news since my last post way back when is that we have been accepted a new agency--CSS--and we're in the process of getting our home study switched over and getting our dossier redone. It has taken longer than it probably should have, since we're still trying to figure out how to keep our old social worker (we really like her) and have her just redo things for us. But, we're moving forward, and hopefully all that stuff will soon be done and our new dossier will be on its way to Russia! I have to admit that all this seems a bit unreal. It is very different to have some hope about things, and it's almost frightening to feel excited about it. So, I'm fighting against my old feelings of just trying to be numb to everything and trying to enjoy the expectancy again.

Other news...our boy kitty passed away a couple of weeks ago. It was so very sad--he had cancer in his mouth, and he got to where he couldn't eat or drink. Steve and I both agreed that it was time to let him go, but it was still hard. He was such a great, loving cat--even when he couldn't eat, he would come and sit next to us and just want to be petted and fact, even more so than normal. We buried him in the yard, with a pink peony bush planted over him. He loved flowers, although he usually didn't smell them, he'd eat them!

Following up on that---this afternoon, Chris, the lady who is the custodian at the church, called and said that someone had dumped a momma cat and 3 kittens at her house. She asked if we would be interested in taking one of them. Long story short--we took TWO of the kittens and the church secretary took the other one. They are incredibly cute, but they were also terribly dirty. They've been bathed and are now holed up in the laundry room in the carrier until they're a little less scared (and our girl cat is a bit more friendly!) I'll post some pictures as soon as I can get them to pose!

Other things are going class has been amazing. I just finished grading their first papers over "Nicholas and Alexandra" (another reason why I haven't had time to write) and they all did really well. It's so much fun to have non-traditional students. They actually read the books and think about the assignments. They love to discuss things, and so our classes have been really interesting. One of my students decided to study the process of collectivization in the Ukraine under Stalin for her research paper, since her family is from Ukraine. It turns out, when she called to talk to her father, that he had lived through that period in Ukraine and told her his perspective of what had happened---she had never known that about her family. How cool is that?

I also totally remember that I have been blog tagged--I promise to do that asap. Please know that I am still here, and I'm still going to post, but it has just taken my mind a few weeks to readjust with the change from our old agency and no action to our new agency and so much support. I am SOOO grateful to all of you who were part of that process...those of you who prayed for us, those of you who gave us advice and suggestions, and those of you who encouraged us to make the jump. Thank you all so much--I don't think I have enough thank yous and gratitude to even come close to being adequate.

I think that is enough for tonight. I hope that all of you are well, and I promise to be better in the future!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Take a deep breath...and move on...

Just wanted to bring everyone up to date about what is going on with the adoption. After many prayers, emails with lots and lots of very helpful people (some of whom are new friends—isn’t that just like God, bringing blessings out of a crazy sad situation?), phone calls to various adoption agencies and more prayers, we are moving on. Thank all of you so very, very much for your prayers and good wishes—we KNOW they have carried us through this whole situation.

We have applied and been accepted to a new agency, CSS, and we are very happy with this decision. This agency has a great reputation, they are small, and they are honestly head and shoulders above our old agency in terms of information they are able to give us just over the phone in two conversations. They also have some significant experience in working with people who have left our agency. We have learned in this process that, like everything else, there are some good agencies out there, there are some not so good ones, and there are agencies that were good in the past but are having serious problems now. When you’re dealing with Russia, like my friend Mike says, it is almost always about “who” you know, and whether or not they know you and trust you. We feel like we have that now where we didn’t with our old agency. I’m not going to use this space to bash our old agency here, and, quite frankly, I’m ready to let all of that negative energy just go now so that we can move forward positively. If any of you have questions, though, about this process, I am glad to answer them.

We do have to redo our paperwork, but not all of it (thank you, God!) Our social worker can update our original homestudy, and we already have our immigration approval, so it is just a matter of getting things redone and up to speed. We will have to redo our fingerprints, but we would have had to do that anyway as much of our original paperwork is now coming up on being nearly a year old. I’m focused on being much more active and proactive this time, on keeping better track of things, and on being in better contact with people who have been through this process recently.

So---we have hope, which is a very good thing. On a similar note, my Drury class is going really well. Only 11 students (compared with like 130 last semester at MSU and in my online class), and it’s Russian History! On top of that, they’re non-traditional students—they actually read the books, they come with questions, they have good topics for the research paper—what more can I ask for here. The only real problem now is that I feel like I should be doing more, since I do have a bunch of time where I’m not all that busy. With more expenses down the road, I’m seriously considering a part-time job doing something—not teaching, perhaps, but I’m open at this point. Please keep me in your prayers about wisdom in making a decision here.

One sad note—our male kitty, Asher, is very sick. We’ve been treating his a sore in his mouth with antibiotics for about 2 weeks, but a trip to the vet yesterday revealed ours and our vet’s worst fears—he has cancer. It’s not going to get any better, and so we’re sadly telling him goodbye.

Again, thank you all for all of your prayers and support---I’m looking forward to October being a much better month than September was!!

Much love

Friday, September 26, 2008

There is light at the end of the tunnel

Just wanted to let you all know that there is, in fact, light at the end of this tunnel and that God is good. We're in the process of making some big changes, but we can't exactly share details yet. I promise to let you know just as soon as everything is official. Much love to all of you, thank you so much for your prayers and support--you cannot imagine how important they have been. My best wishes for a great weekend for all of you!

Much love!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Stress does some weird things....

Ok, so here's the crazy part of the week--last Tuesday I went to the doctor with this wonky rash on the right side of my chest and arm...guess what? I had shingles! The Doctor asked if I had been under any stress, since that can trigger them. I said, "you have no idea...."

Luckily, we caught it quickly and the antiviral stuff has worked (although made my stomach funky). I have learned that I probably need to deal better with my stress level, and that I probably also needed the weekend of sleeping a bunch.

No specific news right now, but we will keep you posted and let you know as soon as we know something...
Much love!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Please keep us in your prayers...

Hi Everybody.

Just wanted to let you know that there have been some setbacks here with the adoption. We're in the process of re-evaluating what we are going to do, but we would ask for your prayers as we make some serious decisions about where we go from here. We're not giving up, but we are changing directions. Please know that we appreciate all of your support, and that you are so very important to us.

God's blessings and peace

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ok, this is just silly!

Apparently, Russian banking giant "Sberbank" is doing a new promotional drive for the bank in hopes to inspire confidence and "cutsify" the bank. They're using little creatures they call, get this, "Sberbies"---or maybe they could spell it "Sburbees"? Most people who saw these on the website just thought they were kinda creepy. I have to agree....What do you guys think?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Review of the summer---Mission Trip to Moscow 2008

Members of the Russian and the American leadership team for the camp at Lesnoi Gorodok, just outside Moscow...I miss all these people so much!
Americans in Russia--we dressed up for "International Night" at the camp--Kevin and Jen are into the spirit, here!

Some of the camp kids singing at the dedication of the Vnukovo United Methodist Church

Last night at the camp worship--a picture of the stage--these were tealights that they lit as part of the worship service

The new Vnukovo sanctuary--isn't it beautiful? And we got to be part of the dedication!

Mike, our fearless leader, accepting bread and salt at "International Night" from Anastasia, one of the Russian leaders at the camp.

In the Kremlin on a Sunday---Irina hangs out with the Americans!

Ok, this was in the Kremlin, and they couldn't resist channeling John, Paul, Ringo and George...we really want t-shirts with this picture on them!

The Kremlin from the river as the sun is setting---wow!

After our trip to the souvenir market--it was a "hat" kind of day!

Hi Everybody! So sorry that it has been so long since I have posted anything. It has been a wild and crazy summer.

Just a few days after we got back from camp, I was headed out the door for Russia! Unfortunately, this wasn't for the adoption, but it was for an amazing mission trip with the people from LaCroix United Methodist Church in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

We were in Moscow for more than two weeks--the first week was spent working on the Vnukovo United Methodist Church's new sanctuary and existing building, and then the second week we did the second installment of the youth and young adult church camp at Lesnoi Gorodok. Finally, the last full day we were there, the new sancutary at Vnukovo was dedicated in an amazing ceremony with music and food and prayers and fun.

What can I say? Amazing group of people on the American team, amazing friends old and new in Russia, and God just moving and working and pulling all of this together. If anyone has questions, we also spent a couple of days just seeing Moscow: Red Square and that area, the ballet, a boat trip down the Moscow River, walking down Arbat Street, the souvenir market at Izmailovsky (we stayed at the hotel near the market, so it was literally right outside the door!), exploring the metro, eating at McDonalds, ordering pizza for delivery online from Pizza Hut (go figure!), and wandering through GUM and the Kremlin. We also flew in and out of Domodedovo (a new experience, and a great improvement over SVO, but it was still pretty crowded when we were there--but, no luggage lost, and nobody held up in customs) on the new American flight out of Chicago. Again, an improvement over the trip two years ago, but it is still such a LONG flight to Moscow (that's really the only BAD part of the trip!)

We also spent lots of time getting to know (again) the people and youth at the church, and the kids at the camp. The worship and teaching times at the camp were so Spirit-filled, we had such a great time, and even the food was better this time---sadly, though, I had no REAL pelmeni (just those at the hotel). I miss those kiddos already--thank goodness for facebook, and for the fact that it is keeping some of us in touch now that we're home!

I wish that I had time and space to tell you everything that happened--I will post just some of the pictures, so that you can get some sense of what an amazing experience these few weeks we were there. If anybody has any questions, I am more than happy to answer--

Monday, July 14, 2008

Church Camp was just amazing!

A huge big thank you to those of you who were praying for us--I am so very positive that those prayers were heard. We were 62 strong this last week at camp--50 kids and 12 adult staff--and we had just an amazing experience. The curriculum that Steve wrote was all about how we have been "Entrusted" by God to care for the world, for each other, for our families, our friends and churches, our selves, and also for the message of the gospel and it's spreading to the world. On Friday night, when they asked the kids to either rededicate their lives to Christ, or to give them to Him for the first time, not one kid held back--and it was a truly awesome experience. We also had a whole lot of fun--capture the flag in the dark, camping out, swimming, doing music and drama, the talent show (have I said already what an amazing group of kids we have???) and just enjoying being with each other.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Church Camp!

So, tomorrow we head out into the "Wilderness" for a week with junior and senior high youthies. It should be a blast and a blessing--we always manage to see God at work there--it's my mountaintop, and the best place I know to be to see God at work. Please keep all of these kiddos (and us too, please) in your prayers. Even though they come, from the most part, from loving families, almost all of them have some serious baggage that they need to leave in God's hands. I can tell you that it breaks my heart to hear many of their stories. I will try to post at least once while I'm there (yeah, who would have thought--camp with wireless internet service!) and keep you all posted on what's going on. In the meantime, I hope that all of you have a blessed week, and enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend. For those of you traveling (to Russia or wherever), traveling mercies to all of you. I hold all of you in my heart and prayers!


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Some pictures of the family:

Hi everyone! I thought that I would share a couple of pictures of our family, so that you can see the whole bunch of us! The top two pictures are from Father's Day weekend--Sarah and Jeremiah drove down for the weekend so that they could be with their dad, and it was a great weekend. They drove in Friday night, and then they, Steve, and Asher the cat proceeded to fall asleep in front of "Return of the Jedi"! Unfortunately, the flash woke everyone up but Sarah! The next picture is of us, outside of the church on Sunday morning. We were all dressed up, and it had been awhile since we had our picture taken together, so....

Jeremiah graduated in May with a Masters Degree in Engineering, and is moving off to New York state next month to begin a new stage in his life--it will be hard to have him so far away, but we're really excited for him, too. Sarah is working on finishing up her degree in diatetics this year (Miz-zou!), and we're very proud of her, too. She went to the Regionals in track this year, and was ranked 80th in the nation in the hammer throw.

Finally, the other "children" in the house are our two cats, Asher and Dinah. For those of you who have cats, you will agree with us that you don't really "own" cats--you just act as staff for them!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Just some pictures....

This was on the Russia mission trip two summers ago (2006) on the overnight train from Moscow to St. Petersburg. It was a bit tight, but comfortable, and a fun experience!

My small group at the Russian youth camp two summers ago. Only 2 Americans here--the rest are Russians, almost all from the area around Moscow. Several of the kids (or should I say young adults) here were young people who had "aged out"of the orphanage system. They were all amazingly cool.

The American mission team to Russia from two summers ago. We're celebrating "International Night" at the youth camp that we helped organize outside Moscow. We taught the Russians the "Hokey Pokey." They taught us much cooler stuff!

The missions group on my first Russian mission trip, 2002. We're inside the Kremlin, in front of the world's largest bell! This was in October, for those of you curious about the weather in Russia. We had snow a couple of the days we were there!

Our Church Camp Staff in Missouri, July 2007. Can you tell that it had been a tough week???? Actually, it was a really great week, but you don't get much sleep. Perhaps this is practice for adoption?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Where we've been so far

We wanted to catch some of you up with how things have started in this adoption process, and some of the very clear signs that this is what God wants us to do. I know that for those of us in the process (and probably for those of you who have already completed the process), this whole “Russia adoption” thing is just unexplainably frightening because we have absolutely no control over it. Russia changes its requirements almost daily it seems (ok, I’m exaggerating, but it feels that way), new paperwork needs to be submitted, hoops need to be jumped through, and everyone’s experience is somewhat different. On top of that, you’re ½ way around the world from your child, the language is craaazee, the culture is different, and then there’s this whole history that we have of Cold War conflict. All of this adds up to an experience that is difficult in any country, but seemingly more of a struggle because it is Russia.

So why did we decide we wanted to put ourselves through this? Good question. Steve and I have felt a calling to add more children to our family for a very long time. Once I finished my graduate work in 2000, we got more serious about the situation. After a couple of years with no results, we consulted a fertility specialist. After a whole bunch of tests, he basically told us that there were no real physical problems, we were just biologically old and the odds weren’t as good as they could be at this point. At this point, we had a choice between investing a huge amount of money into in-vitro procedures or adoption. We decided, after much soul searching, to pursue adoption. Since I have felt a really strong tie to Russia since taking beginning Russian language as a freshman in college (this is a whole different story that I’ll share later), and since I had been on a couple of mission trips where I had worked with kids who had aged out of the orphanage system and had felt a very strong connection to them, along with having good friends in our church who had adopted a little boy from Russia, we decided that we would pursue a Russia adoption. That was in late November 2005.

We began the process toward adoption in early 2006, began to assemble our paperwork, and then found out that Steve was being moved because of his job. Our agency told us that it would be best for us to start over once we were settled in our new home. We moved in June 2006, and that’s when the whole system began to shut down. In retrospect, this was probably best for us, since at this point I was still grieving the whole infertility situation. Setting up a new house, getting settled in a new church, looking for a job—along with the fact that Russia adoptions were just not really moving—really was a wall for us. We didn’t really get restarted until Spring of 2007. At that point we decided to step out on faith that adoptions in Russia would re-open, and that we needed to be ready for that to happen. We again began to assemble our paperwork.

In July last year, we went to church camp. Steve has been leading this same camp for the past 22 years, and the kids who come (7th-12th graders) have become family to us—many of our counselors are former campers. On the second night of camp, we asked for prayers for healing—I shared with one of our senior girls who was worried because she had been accepted to Notre Dame, but had no idea how she would pay for school. I (Carolynn) shared with her about our adoption, and how I was frustrated that nothing had happened. We prayed together, cried together, and just held each other that evening. That next morning she got a call from her mother that she had received a full-ride ROTC scholarship. That afternoon when I checked the news I learned that Russia had begun to re-accredit adoption agencies. Isn’t that just like God??

We came home from camp, believing that God had shown us that He was in this adoption. We made contact with our social worker and completed our Home Study by October. We started assembling our dossier, I (Carolynn) started a new part-time job at MO State teaching World History, and finally, by mid December, when finals were over, we had time to journey to KC to apply for INS approval. We were there on what would have been Steve’s Mom’s birthday, December 13.

Our agency told us that we probably wouldn’t hear anything from INS (I know, now it has another name!) until mid-February. We received our approval in the mail on the day before Christmas—talk about a Merry Christmas present! I had told Steve earlier that the only thing I really wanted for Christmas was for our adoption to move forward! God sure answered that one!

Finally, all of our documents were apostilled and off to our agency in late January. They arrived in Russia around the first week of March, and we sent off some additional paperwork for the region we had been assigned to (Izhevsk) in April. Now we wait. Our agency can only register one family at a time in our region, and we’re waiting in line behind something like 8-9 other families at this point. So really, we technically haven’t been officially Paperwork Pregnant all that long—it has taken us a long time to get here, though!

We will save the rest for later, since this is already pretty long. We just wanted to let you know not only where we are (and have been) in the process, but how God has walked every step of the way with us. Our prayers for all of you, and blessings for a great rest of the week!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Welcome to our blog!

Hi everyone, and welcome to the Burbee Baby Blog!

We thought that we would start this blog to keep everyone up to date on how the adoption process is going. I have been doing that on my myspace page, but after having read so many other adoptive parents' blogs, and followed on their amazing journeys, I'm looking forward to having a space just to focus on the adoption. Yeah, I know, that means I may not have as much time for myspace, but here I can post pictures and do some fun stuff that I can't do there--plus we can connect with some of the non-myspace people.

For those of you who are new to our journey, we're Carolynn and Steve. We've been married almost 17 years (Holy Cow!) and have two adult children who are amazingly wonderful and talented (and one of them is now graduated from college and employed while the other has only one year left to go! yay!) We have decided that we too young to be empty nesters, and have felt called by God to pursue a Russia adoption. We started this process back in November 2005, but have only gotten all of our documents submitted and in Russia as of about February 2008. Our agency has assigned us to the Izhevsk region (home of Tchaikovsky, the composer, and Kalashnikov, the AK-47 guy.) We're now at the point where what we're doing is waiting...and waiting...and get the picture. We've been told that we probably won't hear anything until after the summer is over, so we're hoping to have our referral some time in the fall.

In the meantime, there is lots of other stuff going on--thankfully, God is keeping us busy so we don't have lots of time to dwell on how the wait is going. Steve is a Methodist pastor, and is busy this coming week with Annual Conference here in Missouri. He volunteered to be in charge of the logistics for ordination this year, and will be really really glad when that is over this weekend. Carolynn is just glad that school is over (I taught basic world history classes at Missouri State and an online class at Drury Universiy this last semester, and finals were just nuts!). No summer school! Yay! In the fall, I'll be teaching Russian history at Drury on Monday nights. Also, I'm going to Russia in July for 2 weeks with the group from LaCroix again. They're doing the youth camp--again, and hopefully dedicating the sanctuary outside Moscow. They have graciously asked me to go with them again, and I said of course!

So, that should get caught up with sort of where we are---I'll try to fill in the gaps in the next couple of weeks or so. And post some pictures.

I should probably explain the title, too. One of our dear friends, and youthies at the church, told us that since our last name sounds like Barbie, we should name our baby "Malibu". While there is no way we're going to do that (lol), it has been fun to refer to her that way. So, we're going to be following God's lead to our Malibu in Russia. And I'm so grateful to have all of you along for the trip!

Radost'! (that's Russian for "joy!")