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!")