Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Christmas Card

I really wish I had more time to blog about our Christmas memories we created this year. We are very busy trying to get the Little Guy’s room completed and various other house projects done while I am off work this week. I did manage to upload some pictures to our family blog. I thought I would share the present with you that brought tears to my eyes on Christmas morning. There was a beautifully wrapped present with a card attached that read “Mama” on the outside. When I opened the card this is what I saw…. (you can click on the pictures to enlarge them – I colored out his name of course!)

I started to cry a bit – mainly tears of joy. Of course there was sadness that the Little Guy wasn’t there, but really I felt overwhelmed with how lucky we are to be chosen to be his parents.

Inside the wrapping was a framed picture that I can’t really describe but the caption reads “Faith doesn’t get us around adversity. It gets us through it.” And then underneath that is Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Such a perfect gift given to me on behalf of our Little Guy!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Pass it on!

We are looking for pictures! If you can help us out we would greatly appreciate it. Also, please pass this post on to anyone else that you may know that would like to participate. We would like to put together some photo albums to deliver when we return to Vladivostok. Specifically we are looking for pictures of children who:

*Were adopted from Artem Baby Home
*Were adopted from Ussuriysk Baby Home
*Completed the adoption with Irina and Lana (CHI or World Links)

UPDATE: we are including pictures of children adopted from an baby home or orphanage in the Vlad region.

Our plan is to take a “That was Then – This is Now” album to our agency reps as well as the Artem and Ussuriysk baby homes. In addition, we thought we could combine the pictures and give one to the MOE. We believe that given how uncertain everything is with Russian adoptions, it couldn’t hurt to remind those involved of how blessed we all are by our children.

If you are interested in helping out, please email us a picture of your son/daughter before your adoption was final and a picture of him/her now. Please include the full name, date of your adoption, and the baby home he/she was from. Please make note also if Irina and Lana were part of your journey as well. We would like to have all of the pictures compiled by January 15, 2011.

We greatly appreciate any help you (or someone you know) can give us in making these projects come together. We truly believe that we need to keep reminding everyone that the trials and tribulations of the adoption process are completely worth it in the end!

Thank you again,

Justin and Heather Overstreet

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Blessings

We have so much to be grateful year around, but Christmas time is just a little extra special. We are geared up to celebrate the Jesus’ birthday, and my favorite thing about that is getting together with our families. We will be a little sad by the fact that Little Guy is not with us, but we will also rejoice knowing that we have met him and that he continues to grow in our hearts.

The to-do list remains long even though we have taken some things off the list (no Christmas cards will be sent; no baking and Christmas cookies delivered). But no matter what does or doesn’t get done on the list the one thing I am sure will happen is that we will have a great time with our family and celebrating the birth of Christ!

Merry Christmas to each of you!

(Here are the best Christmas presents a girl could ask for!)

Monday, December 20, 2010

The ticker…

I put the ticker at the top of the blog so that we could easily see how long it has been since we saw the Little Guy. I can’t decide if it is a good thing to see the days go by or not. On one hand, every day that goes by is a day closer to getting to hold him again. But with each day that goes by is another day that he has to forget our smell, our touch, our yummy treats, and our fun toys! We are using his name around our house all of the time now so it is hard for me to remember to call him Little Guy on the blog. I am not going to be surprised if I don’t slip one of these days. After school on Friday, Justin and I took the kids to finish up some shopping. We were in a department store having Brady try on a couple of pairs of jeans (the boy won’t stop growing!) and Madison and I found our way over to the infant/toddler section. We decided, given all of the measurements, that Little Guy is in 12 month clothing right now so we will buy 18 month items. The next thing I know all 5 of us are picking up various things saying “Ahhh look at how cute this is!” “He’s just gotta have this!” After looking at all of the items that were gathered, I came to my senses and told everyone that we could choose 3 things. We have several weeks to get through while we wait, and I have a feeling part of our therapy is going to be shopping for items for Little Guy. So after some negotiation we narrowed down our choices. I cannot wait for the first night we can cuddle with him in his new fuzzy jammies!

Just for a little sneak peak…take a look at that button nose and precious little hand. This is a tiny portion of one of my favorite pictures – the one that is my computer backdrop at work. He is so stinkin’ cute- even if I am a little biased!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

When do you go back?

If I had a dollar for every time we have been asked that question in the past four days, I could get some more Christmas shopping done! It is very hard for people to understand (Justin and I included) how we can’t possibly know when we will return. We have to wait until we have a court date. We would love to be back in February. That would be the earliest we can expect. With Blake, we waited for four months and that was nearly impossible. Some people have been waiting for several months to return to court because their region is not back up and running from the April “return to sender” fiasco. And very sadly, I found out this week that a single lady who was waiting for court had her referral officially pulled by the MOE despite all of her efforts to be reunited with the little boy she had fallen in love with. So there are way too many variables to truly predict when we will return. I am doing my very best not to get my heart set on any one date.

We will send over a batch of documents next week so that they can be translated. That way when we have the medical and psychological information in January, over half of the papers will already be ready to submit. We will get blood drawn about two weeks before our doctor’s appointments so that the results will be back. I will have all of the forms on a flash drive so all the doctor has to do is type in the information and print it on their letterhead. I will also get a copy of the license that day. I have no intentions on leaving the office (after all I am sure we will have to pay for FIVE physicals) without our paperwork in hand.

Ok Justin is reminding me how many things we need to do and for some reason blogging doesn’t make the top of his list! Gotta go!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

We're Home and are working to get back ASAP

We made it home a little after midnight last night and finally went to sleep at about 2:30 a.m. It was so good to see Brady, Madison, and Blake and our bed! We got up and went to church this morning and about part way through the service Justin and I realized just how tired we really are.

When going through the mail, I found that we received both our state and FBI clearances in the mail so those will be good for another 6 months. We plan to get almost every piece of paperwork over to Russia for translation in the next couple of weeks. The doctors’ appointments are made for January. Their reports are only good for 3 months. Between the holidays and the wait for the database clearance letter to arrive from Moscow we think it is better to just wait a bit or else we would be paying for the medicals evaluations at least twice. We will be doing everything we can to get back to Russia ASAP and bring our little guy home!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

So hard to say Paka Paka (Bye-Bye)

Today’s visit started out the exact same as yesterday. Little Guy cried and cried. He would stop crying if I stood up and held him, but if I sat down at all he would cry. Eventually my back started to hurt so I decided it was time to show him who was boss :o) I sat on a bench by the window and he began to whimper. I let him whimper for awhile and finally he must have decided I wasn’t giving in. He pushed himself out of my lap and grabbed the little bowl of treats we had set out. From that moment on, we had such a great visit. He even showed us his sense of humor. Our visit lasted for about 2.5 hours. About two minutes before we had to leave he really warmed up and started to play with us instead of the toys. He would slide off a chair into my lap and smoosh his little face against mine. Then we discovered he loved to be lifted into the air. It was wonderful to play with him like this, but just as we were really enjoying ourselves we were told it was time for him to eat lunch and time for us to leave. We walked him back to his group and gave him two photobooks of our family and a stuffed bear. We left the other toys for the whole group to play with. I then bent down and said his Russian name and put my arms out. He came to me with the biggest smile and gave me a huge hug. At that moment I felt my heart starting to break. Then Justin did the same thing. He has taken a little longer to warm up to Justin since they never see any men around the baby home. Then he put a smile on his face again and gave Justin a goodbye hug. My heart could barely take it. The tears began to pool in my eyes so we turned to leave so that we didn’t upset him.

On one hand it is even harder to leave him than it was with Blake because we know how excruciating the next few months will be. Plus he is so little that we will miss out on many things that he will hopefully learn in that time. But on another hand because he is younger, we don’t think he fully understands that we will be his parents like Blake did. We felt by leaving Blake we were betraying him, and it is different this time. We can tell Little Guy is one of the favorite in his group and is well taken care of. We will have to take comfort in that as we wait to return on trip two.

God has answered so many prayers on this trip and I almost feel selfish asking for more of Him. I will be praying ever day for Little Guy’s well being and for a court date to come before his second birthday!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

December 8, 2010 – petition signed

Little Guy is not feeling well. His head and chest seem very congested. The visit today started out rough. He did not want to do anything. He just cried and cried. Various caregivers came in and tried to console him. What was sweet though was that he never once tried to go with the caregiver. He stayed right by my side. About 30 minutes into the visit he fell asleep in my arms. While I wish he was feeling better, it was so precious to have him laying his head on my chest and resting his tired little body. He stayed asleep for about 40 minutes or so until I had to stand up because it was time to go. When we returned him to his caregiver he started crying again. Poor thing! We gave the blankets to the director today. She seemed appreciative of them.

From the orphanage we headed to downtown Vladivostok to go to the notary. At the notary we signed the petition that states we would officially like to adopt the Little Guy. From there, we headed back to the hotel to thaw out our feet, have a late lunch, and take a nap. Justin is not feeling well either. He is feverish. But on a happy note, we celebrated tonight by partaking in our item that we gave up. In other words, I ate chocolate! This is the first time since March 21, 2010. I had my favorite Hershey’s Raspberry Bliss chocolate and then a couple bites of a chocolate temptation dessert. Yum!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Visit number 2

The 2+ hour drive to get to the baby home is grating on our nerves some. I think the biggest reason is that we (especially our feet) freeze the entire time. Justin says the cars aren’t insulated or undercoated or something like ours are. It took me hours after returning to the hotel to get the chill out of my body. I am sure by the time we return home we will be good and sick. Now I am done complaining!

Little Guy took more time to warm up to us today. It may have been because there were so many people in and out of the visiting room at first. He and Justin were trying to play while I spoke with the orphanage doctor through the interpreter of course. (We haven’t heard that he is allergic to red kiwi yet though –lol) He is not potty trained. So it looks like we are back to the diaper stage. YIKES! Then other caregivers walked in and out. The orphanage director, Tatiana, was in today and she came and spoke with us as well. As people came and went Little Guy was a bit agitated. It wasn’t until everyone left the three of us alone that he began to stop crying and settle in to play. Just like Blake, he has two favorite things. One is the little measuring tape that we brought. He loves to extend it and then push the button to watch it zip back in. And the second thing is the picture book we have brought to leave with him. It is so cute to watch him go through it over and over. Since he is so little it is just one of those squishy photo books which has 7 pictures I think. But the way he looks at those 7 pictures over and over is very endearing.

At the end of our visit, he is ready to return to his group. It is cute to see this little body walk so independently back to his room and knock on the door. Tatiana invited us in to see his group mates. We were told we could not take any pictures but that she would allow us in. We were very happy about this. Often times visitors are only allowed in the visiting room. Of course as soon as we walk in we see some of the most adorable faces staring back at us. But unlike in Blake’s group (he was a year older) none of them came and surrounded us. They just stared at us. Except there was one little girl who was closer than any of the others. She was an adorable little thing. She kind of looked like an Eskimo with gorgeous dark eyes and dark braids. She took to Justin right away. I so wish I could have taken some pictures. I wanted to watch the two of them interact, but I was drawn to watching Little Guy. It is obvious he is loved by the caregivers. He was so sweet to the other children too. He began to play ball with the caregiver who had a frail looking little girl on her lap. He seemed to be so sweet to the little girl. It was lunch time and we could see the meals on little plates ready to be served. It appeared to be mashed potatoes and stew of some sort and it seemed to be warmed up. It brings some relief to know that although the orphanage is struggling to have everything they need to take care of the children, they really seem to be doing their best with what they have.

Here are a few attempts to take some photos on the way to the baby home. I am taking them from the back seat and looking through the windshield since all of the side windows were frosted over!

We have seen a lot of this.

and a lot of this....

Self portraits

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Little Guy

It is 2:15 a.m. on Tuesday. Yesterday we woke up at 2:30 a.m. and were ready to start our day. The restaurant doesn’t open for breakfast until 7:30 so we were very thankful for the apple rings the Godard’s gave us! We left the hotel at 8:45 to head to downtown Vladivostok to go to the Ministry of Education. Traffic was bad as usual. When we arrived at the MOE, we met with Tatiana. She gave us a huge smile when we showed her a picture of Blake. She was kind to us, but told us to be prepared for court. We should expect several questions about finances in court because 4 children are a lot to raise. We were thankful for the advice and signed the book to go meet the little guy. We then headed back to the hotel and grabbed some soup for lunch with Irina and Lana. We had about an hour to wait before heading out because he wouldn’t get up from his nap until 3:00. Typically the drive to Baby Home 3 is 1.5 hours. The roads are very icy and so it took us 2.5 hours to get there and another 2.5 to get back. We finally arrived back at the Vlad Inn around 7 p.m. I was so tired from being up so early and the emotion of the day. We grabbed a quick dinner and then were off to bed.

Below is a two part entry. The first part was started before we left home. The second part is my reflection from yesterday.

Entry written before meeting the Little Guy

Back in August, before we were registered, we were sent pictures of an adorable little boy. At that time we were nervous about a few items in his medical evaluation and needed more information. We learned that we were not registered yet and couldn’t get more information. We basically set the thought aside that this might be our son and began the wait to get registered. When we blogged about that little boy in August, a blogger friend Liz (known in our house as sunflowerjax) left a comment on our blog stating that we should take comfort in praying for him because we may be the only people who have ever prayed for him specifically. I vowed to keep him in my prayers. I never really prayed that he would be OURS. I just prayed for his well being and for his future family. Over the past couple of months I have felt a twinge in my heart toward him. Then once we were registered I began to really get intentional with my prayer - that God would let us know in our hearts exactly what we were supposed to do. Our agency mentioned having another referral and I found myself thinking "but what about the little guy?". Then Justin and I thought we should make sure that before we went forward at all we should see if he was even still available for adoption. We sent an email to our agency at 11:00 at night asking if he was still available for us to meet. I then realized how disappointed I would be if we couldn't go meet him. The next day when we got the reply that he was still available. I was so relieved and excited. Because of those reactions, I knew that God intended for us to meet him. Let me tell you what, I love the boy that is in that picture and in my heart right now. I am praying that we don't meet a totally different little guy while we are there and that God will allow him to be the best fit for our family.

Entry on December 6, 2010 – meeting little guy

I am sick to my stomach over the thought of how close we were to not coming to meet the little guy. He is so precious, sweet, and smart! He is walking and saying words like give, take, and knock knock :o) He loved the Gerber Puff snacks and very quickly figured out how to open the container. He could hammer shapes in the holes of the toy work bench and track objects with his eyes. He reacted to sounds and even began to sing (in an infant sort of way) a song while he was playing. All of the things that we wanted to see if he was developmentally capable of doing, he completely blew us away and showed us that he was more than capable. Another fear we had was that even if he was cognitively ok that emotionally he would not be. Well guess what, he removed all of those fears as well. He cried when the caregiver left the room (good sign for attachment); he was nervous at first to play with us (knew we were odd!); he cried real tears; he laughed at the squeaky giraffe we brought; he smiled at himself in the mirror; he cried again when the caregiver passed through the room; he gave us big hugs at the end of our visit and waved paka paka (bye bye).
God is so good and we are thankful that He never allowed our fears to change the path He intended for us to take!

(For those new to this process, we won’t be able to share his photo or name until the court decree is final on trip number two.)

We do have one big problem though. Our hearts are going to break in half when we have to say goodbye to him on Thursday!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

We’ve arrived!

I really wish I were sleeping now as I feel a bit delirious from our travels. It is only 4:30 p.m. in Vlad though and Justin and I think we should at least try to wait until it is dark to go to sleep. I highly doubt I make it. If this entry skips all over consider it an indication of the effect jet lag is having on us.

To document our travels:

-We left for St. Louis on Thursday night at 9:00 p.m. and arrived at the hotel around 1:00 a.m.

-Flew out of St. Louis at 10:40 a.m. on a two hour flight to New York

-We had less than a two hour layover and then flew on a 10 hour flight from New York to Moscow. It was Saturday at 11:00 a.m. when we arrived.

-We had an 8 hour layover so we walked to a nearby hotel. You can rent a room for 6 hours. It was nice to get a shower, sleep for a bit, and there was free internet in the lobby so we were able to do a brief update on Facebook

-At 8:20 p.m. we flew on an 8 hour flight from Moscow to Vlad.

-We arrived in Vlad a little after noon on Sunday, December 5th.

It felt surprisingly comfortable to be checking to the Vlad Inn. Many of the same faces from two years ago are still here. We got to see one of our two favorite Russian faces today. It was so good to see Irina and catch up with each other a bit. We can’t wait to see Lana tomorrow.

We are very excited for tomorrow. At times the excitement is dampened with nerves and anxiety. We head out at 9 a.m. to see Tatiana at the Ministry of Education in downtown Vladivostok. She will give us permission to visit the little guy and we will be off to meet him. The roads are icy and there is more snow expected tomorrow so travel will be slow. We are not looking forward to that part at all.

We are grateful to be back in Russia and we feel God is still guiding the way for us. We miss Brady, Maddie, and Blake already, but we know they are in good hands.

Paka Paka

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Random thoughts

I have blogged about an interesting conversation with Blake on our private family blog. For those that have asked, we have been still blogging over there as time allows. Also a few months after our adoption is finalized we will end this blog and just keep blogging on the private one. I don’t mind sharing it with anyone that is interested in reading our day to day happenings (not sure it is that exciting). Just send me an email at and I will set it up for you.

I bet Justin and I could have made some money selling video of the two of us stuffing the blankets we plan to take in the Packmate our friend Jennifer let us borrow. If you don’t know what a Packmate is, it is like a package that you can vacuum seal without the vacuum. So we used the largest one and both of us were lying on top of it and smooshing the air out of it. We could only imagine what we must have looked like. It felt good to laugh.
Brady said to us the other night, “If this little guy is half as cool as Blake then he will be just fine.” I love that kid! He is getting so big and has a love for life like nothing I have never seen before.
Madison is excited but she is getting very emotional about us leaving. She and I cried at bedtime Monday night. She said she is happy for our family but she really wishes she could come with us. She wants us to take a netbook into the orphanage with us so she can see the little guy on the webcam. Oh, how I wish it were possible!

Blake is getting a little squirrelly with all of the excitement that is going on. He is so excited to have his Nana come and stay with him. And he can’t wait to be a big brother. Even though we have been telling him over and over, I don’t think he understands that we are not going to be bringing him home with us this trip. I think when we show up empty handed he is going to be very disappointed (of course we will be too)!