Thursday, March 31, 2011

March 31 – Court

Justin feels much better today and made it through court just fine. We had court at 10:00 a.m. All of the court rooms were full and there was some discussion going on as to where we would have our hearing. Our facilitator and translator told us not to worry. Of course all we could think about was that our hearing would be postponed because there was no room for us. About 10 minutes later we were escorted to the second floor. We had our hearing in the chief judge’s office and it lasted about two hours. The judge and prosecutor were very thorough but not hostile or unfriendly. They mentioned a couple of times that Baby B looks like me. I don’t know if I can see the resemblance but they thought so. It is kind of funny because with Blake everyone said he look a lot like Justin. Anyway, the end result was positive. Yet another answered prayer!! Of course we still have to wait for the 10 day waiting period to pass before the decision is final. During the next 10 days anyone can come forward and appeal the decision. In the morning we will head to Ussuriysk for what we believe will be the very last time!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

March 30 reunited

Bad news first. Justin has been quite ill. We are honestly hoping it is something he ate and not something that is contagious. He can't be far from the restroom, he has chills, and cold sweats. There was no way he could make the two hour trip to Ussuriysk. He was upset to miss our visit with the Little Guy, but he was relieved to be able to stay in the hotel room.

The good news. My visit with the Little Guy was awesome. More answered prayers! I was concerned that we would have lots of tears and spend half our visit warming up to one another. Boy was I wrong! He was so happy to see me- ok - I think he was happy to see our black bag with the toys and snacks in it, but still he was happy nonetheless. He really hasn't grown much at all from what I can tell. I haven't compared the actual measurements  from trip one and today to know for sure. He was sporting lime green tights and red and blue sandals. He loves to be tickled and snuggled next to me toward the end of our two hour visit. I noticed something around his neck while he was laying in my lap. It was the sweetest little necklace made from a piece of twine. On the twine was a golden cross. I don't know how to describe metal...like a firm piece of foil perhaps. I asked about it and was told that he was baptized last week. I am hoping we get to keep the necklace. It will be a very special keepsake.

 I am also hoping that this was the last time I had to take him back to his group at the baby home. The next time we visit we want to take him with us forever.  We were pretty sure that we would get to have him with us during the 10  days after court but now we aren't for certain.  There is a 'big' meeting tomorrow that affects all of the baby home and orphanage directors so we may have to wait to see.  Sounds like no one really knows anything right now. We will focus on court and then hope for good news after that.

Speaking of court, Justin and I need to prepare for court now. Better get going. We would love if you would pray for a positive court hearing. Our hearing starts at 10 a.m. on the 31st which would be 6:00 p.m. central time on the 30th back home.

Paka paka

Monday, March 28, 2011

Arrived in Vlad

Before we left the hotel in Moscow, we grabbed breakfast in their restaurant. For those who have been in Russia, you know that most dining places play American music or music in English  at least, and it is usually very club sounding. So after a thumping beat song, we hear the following lyrics: "Light of the world, you step down into darkness. Open my eyes let me see. Here I am to worship. Here I am to bow down. Here I am to say that you're my God." and the song continued followed by another worship song that we sing at church. It was great to hear. The third song was back to seductive club music again.  It cracks me up because this is so typical of our experiences in Russia!

The eight doctor medical was much easier than I had anticipated. If any PAPs want to know more about it feel free to email or leave a comment and we'll share our experience. At one point though I thought I was going to laugh uncontrollably at my husband! In the room there was a large table with chairs around it and then chairs on the side of the room. The doctors come in the room and sit around the table. There was a couple from Italy, one from Spain, a single lady from California, Justin and I plus everyone's facilitator. One very attractive (female) doctor was at the end of the table and was taking our blood pressure. When it was Justin's turn he  was going to take off his long sleeved shirt so the blood pressure could be taken. The air was very dry and the static electricity was a problem. His t-shirt came up with his other shirt and there he was with his chest hanging out. He instantly made a joke and tried to quickly replace the t-shirt. Even the most stoic person in the room had a smirk on their face. I thought I was going to double over laughing!

The flight from Moscow and Vlad should have been good. We were assigned emergency exit row so Justin could really stretch out. I on the other hand did not enjoy the seating arrangement. The body odor and dirty feet smell was nauseating (people who know me know I can't stand feet anyway!). And to top it off the large gentleman beside me thought he needed half of my seat as well as his own!

We have been at the Vlad Inn for about 30 minutes. Justin is sound asleep and I don't think he is feeling well. Tomorrow we will go see our little guy! I should have time to update in the morning.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

In Moscow – on the way out

We arrived in Moscow at 11:00 a.m. on March 27th. We have already lost track of what time and day it is! Before we left home we had been up for over 24 hours so exhaustion was setting in. You would think that we would have been more organized and ready to go since we had over 3 months wait in between trips one and two. But so many things depended on having our actual departure date. After (THANKFULLY) receiving that date a week and a half ago there were a billion and one things that had to take place that we felt we couldn’t do before hand. As a reminder to myself and other PAPs here is some of what had to take place:

• Purchase airline tickets and coordinate dates and details with agency

• Verify visa were correct (this time we had a one year multi-entry business visa which is good until September 1. If this is feasible or advisable by your agency do it! We appreciated this time that we did not have to send our passports through the mail less than a week before leaving the country!)

• Coordinate the daily schedule for 3 active children for 25 days and make sure everything was covered and explained thoroughly. (so thankful for family and friends!)

• Tie up loose ends at work – not easy for Justin or I to do

• Have a couple of minor emotional breakdowns

• Meet with our small group from church to have dinner and be reminded that while it is so hard to leave, it is always rewarding when you listen to what God has put on your heart.

• Polish off the double layered frosted chocolate chip cookie cake thing that was brought to the gathering. Feel it settling in the hips and thighs with the other stress foods that have been consumed over the past 3 weeks!

• Pack and unpack and repack 4 pieces of luggage, a stroller, 3 carryon bags and a mommy purse. (We hope on the way home we will be able to leave one of the bags in Vlad and only have to deal with 3 pieces of luggage since we will have some other precious cargo with us! This is the last journey for that bag no matter what – it seems to be hanging together by a thread!) It is an art to try to get your luggage the correct weight. Leaving the country is not hard at 50 lbs or less. This is very doable. But on the Moscow to Vlad flight we can’t be over 44 or maybe it is 42 pounds. This is just not possible for us on our way out. We will have to pay an overage charge on 2 bags on our way out tomorrow. We are hoping our Moscow facilitator will help us at the check-in counter at the airport so we don’t get ‘over’ over charged. And just for my family’s reference, no it is not because of my clothes or my shoes that our luggage is overweight! Lol We actually are taking a lot less things for US this time around. The issue is with the items that we wanted to leave in Russia for various people. Since we are certain this is our last go around, we want to leave a good impression or at least attempt to. Justin and I both feel convicted that those of us with positive adoption stories have to be advocates for those children who are still waiting for forever families. The negative stories do so much harm to this process. Our photobooks that we are leaving behind weigh probably 4 or 5 pounds alone. But we both agreed to not stress out over having to pay a little extra to get everything over there. (Wow, can you tell what was a source of a lot of stress over the past couple of days!?! That is one long bullet point!)

• Deal with what we thought were just springtime allergies going around our family. In the midst of my chaos on Friday, Madison’s school called to have me pick her up since she wasn’t feeling well. Thankfully the doctor’s office has a last minute cancellation. Turns out we have strep. Got antibiotics for Maddie and Justin and I.

• Attended the Edison School Fine Arts night from 6:30-9:00 Friday night even though we were not even packed. I won’t lie, there was a part of me that came very close to letting Justin take Brady to the event while I stayed home to keep chipping away at the packing and last minute details. Thankfully I knew in my heart that being there to watch Brady and his friends was much more important than the other stuff that needed done. (At that point it became apparent that we were not going to be going to sleep at all that night before our 3:00 a.m. departure from home. Sleep is overrate anyway right?!?!? ) I am glad I went. To see all of the children fearlessly get on stage in front of their peers and perform a variety of talents was awesome. Brady did a short and sweet piano solo. And for a couple of hours I stopped thinking about leaving and enjoyed the moment.

• Putting the children to bed and saying goodnight and goodbye. This was something I dreaded very much. It is very emotional for us. Brady is growing up so fast. He did not cry but made sure that we knew that he loved us and that he was going to miss us. He is very excited to meet his little brother though and his love for life just makes us proud. He is so confident that every little thing is gonna be alright! Madison was a heartbreaker. She cried so hard. She said “You will always be in my heart mommy.” I couldn’t hold her tight enough! We both just cried and cried. But in the midst of it all, she also acknowledged so sweetly and maturely that while we were both sad right now it was going to be completely worth it to have Baby B home. She wants to see him right away on the webcam – hopefully she doesn’t have much longer to wait! We also decided that she and I would be email pals while we are away. So that gave us something to look forward to as well. Little Blake began to feel sad and nervous for the first time that night. He said he didn’t understand exactly what was going on. He doesn’t know this but we were so close to taking him with us. While selfishly I still sort of wish we had, it is best for him to be at home with Brady and Madison. Perhaps in my spare time over the next couple of weeks I will do a post about how I know that so certainly. Anyway, after being reassured that we were returning and that he would be with Brady and Maddie he felt so much better. He asked if we were returning with B and we told him that we sure were. He said in the cutest little voice “Don’t lose him ok?” We won’t lose him Blakey – we promise!

• After the kids were asleep we set up the ‘advent’ calendar for them. We got this idea around Christmas time. We took our wooden advent calendar that counts down the days to Christmas and made it a countdown to day 25 when we return home. Some days there is a note on cute paper that reminds them of certain things (do homework; be respectful; practice piano; brush teeth, etc…) and lets them know how much we love them. On other days there are notes that give clues to where a little surprise is hidden (candy, game, new DVD for them to watch together, bubbles, ect..). We did all of the prep work early so the only thing we had to do was hide the little surprises.

Wow, this entry is getting long. It is funny how this brings back memories from our trip with Blake. Justin would be sleeping (he stays up late – I get up early) and I would be typing away on the blog entry because I had NOTHING else to do! I think we will both feel better having caught up on some of the sleep that was lost. Tomorrow we will check out of the hotel at noon (this is the same hotel we will stay at on our return – good to have a visual so we know what to expect) and head to our medical evaluation. This is new to the process since the last time we went through it. Our agency has us do it in Moscow. Some agencies have you complete the process in Vladivostok. We will then leave the medical appointment and head to the airport for our evening departure to Vladivostok.

As a note to self (and perhaps other PAPs), we learned today that as of April 1 the process at the US Embassy is changing slightly. Because the number of adoptions being processed is declining, there are some changes (I believe in staffing) that are going to take place. Our facilitator here has told us not to worry. He will have between April 1 and our return on April 14th to figure everything out. As long as it doesn’t extend the time needed to process the Visa then we will be fine! Chances are, had they not mentioned it we wouldn’t even notice the change – so we hope.
I feel like I have so much more to say! Better stop typing now. The next entry will likely be from Vladivostok!!! Paka, Paka (Bye Bye)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Leaving soon

Sorry I haven't had time to update the blog. It is 9:15 p.m. we leave at 3:00 a.m.  We are not even completely packed.  Managed to pick up strep throat too - yikes.  Thankfully the antibiotics got started today!  So excited to see Little Guy soon.  So sad to be leaving home.  Hope to have more time to update while we are away.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The burning question…

The question that seems to be haunting us right now is “How can we leave our children for 25 days?” Let me draw some parallels for you. For those that have given birth, the hours leading up to delivery and in the midst of delivery (and for c-sections the recovery from delivery) you vow never again to put yourself in that kind of pain. You hold your baby and in the weeks that follow you completely forget the pain you went through. Then you find yourself wanting to do it again. And then you dread the actual delivery part. You know now that things will be ok and that you will survive, but you still have apprehension about the process and the pain. For those that have adopted, as you work through the process and the paperwork and the paperwork and the paperwork and the waiting, you vow never again to put yourself through such torment again. You then meet your child and get home and begin to function as a new family and completely forget the pain you went through. Then you find yourself wanting to do it again. And then you’re in the midst of the process and you remember all of the reasons you said you would NEVER put yourself though this process again. And one of those big reasons for us for not wanting to feel this pain again is leaving our children behind for 25 days. It is sooo hard!

There are some people who ask “How can you leave your children for 25 days?” who are concerned for our emotional wellbeing. Others ask the question because they wonder about the logistics of it. And still others ask the question in a tone that is accusatory and try to make us feel like the most awful parents ever. We are so fortunate to have family and friends who are excited to help out. Brady, Madison, and Blake will get to sleep in their own beds and keep their ‘normal’ routine for the most part. They are excited for all of the fun things that they will get to do when their boring parents aren’t around – lol. They can’t wait for the first time they can see the Little Guy via webcam. So logistically things all work out. It doesn’t mean that it isn’t so very hard on all of us. I think about the military service men and women. They and their families make such a sacrifice for our country. They are gone for many more than 25 days at a time. Then of course there are folks that have to travel a couple days a week for their job. That puts them away from home at least sixty or seventy days out of the year. So I guess one way of looking at our situation is ‘it could be worse’. We have to believe that God would not send us on this journey if He wasn’t going to bless the process. That doesn’t mean there won’t be trials and tribulations, but He has a plan and we are grateful to be a part of it.

(Now back to planning, packing, and hang out with our little people!)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Crazy and Excited

Lots going on in the Overstreet household!  We have are smiling from ear to ear, have our tickets book, visas are good, working on kids' schedules, making plans, and smiling from ear to ear!  We are heading out to Brady's State Swim Meet today and tomorrow.  Go Dolphins Go!  Lots to do and to be be thankful for.  For family and friends that are interested and for future adopting families this is what our schedule looks like (IFFFF all goes according to the plan).

March 26th – Leave from airport very early to head to Moscow

March 27th – arrival in Moscow

March 28th – medical evaluation (Yuck!) + fly to Vladivostok late at night

March 29th – arrival in Vladivostok

March 30th – go to the baby house to see our little guy.  (Praise the Lord!!)

March 31st – 10:00 am – court hearing (Yikes!!!)

April 1st – April 11th – waiting period in Vlad (Have to wait 10 days for the court decision to be official.)

April 12th – in Vlad: sign forms to get adoption documents

April 13th – receive adoption documents + go through medical evaluation for the Little Guy

April 14th – Leave Vlad + arrive in Moscow

April 15th - in Moscow: sign paperwork and take it to the Embassy

April 16th & 17th – Saturday & Sunday – days off

April 18th – interview at the Embassy

April 19th - fly home sweet home!!!  (Praise the Lord!!!)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Answered Prayers! We have a date!

Much to our surprise we woke up to an email stating we received our court date of March 31st! You can imagine the celebration that took place. We had some amazing people very intentionally praying for the judge. One person was praying she would feel well rested from her day off and have the energy to set the date. Others were praying for a softened heart and a sense of urgency. We are VERY grateful for answered prayers. Now let the rat race begin. In a few days when I am complaining about being stressed about packing and so sad about leaving Brady, Madison, and Blake, just remember that it will be a cheerful complaining!!! A little ironic that we got the date today – the same day we are completing Blake’s two year post placement report.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dear Judge,

(If you or a representative is reading this, please know that we are sincere when we say we are praying for you).

Six times now you have stated that you would set our date ‘tomorrow’. And with each passing tomorrow you were too busy. Then today your calendar was clear of meetings so you thought for sure you would have time today. But today came and you took the day off work despite telling Irina today would be the day. We have been praying for your busyness and for God to soften your heart for our case. You see, one of God’s blessings is also a curse for us. He has blessed us with the ability to begin to love and attach to a little boy half way across the world that we only meet a few days. He has allowed that little boy to already become a part of our family. Our children wonder everyday why we haven’t left to get their little brother. We keep explaining that you are very busy and have a lot of official business to take care of, but it is getting harder and harder for all of us to understand. We are a family of believers, and we believe that God’s timing in all of this will be perfect. We just wonder how many hurdles we will have to overcome. A few weeks ago I was so full of despair and fear. The particular circumstances that brought me to my knees seemed unbearable. But I must say that now you are helping to build my character and strength. There are verses in Romans that read, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” So through all of this persevering, I have to believe that I am growing in my character (although I find myself guarding my hope).

Through my tears of disappointment, anxiety, frustration, and heartache I will continue to pray for you. Please know that we miss our son so very much and you play a vital role in reuniting us with him.

In Christ’s Love,
Heather

Monday, March 14, 2011

Our Last Tomorrow?

I am making a promise right now to never put my children through broken promises of tomorrows that never come. We are experiencing first hand how disappointing those are. If they ask "Mom, can we go to the park?" I will either say yes or no, but never promise 'tomorrow' as I don't know what tomorrow will bring.

Today, I am praying that this is the last we will hear, "We promise you will hear something tomorrow!"

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Nothing

No word came from Russia today.  Our agency rep is calling tonight to see why not. 

Mark 11: 23-24 "I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Just a little while longer....

No date set today but there was a promise for a call with a date tomorrow.  Hopefully that promise is kept!   We are feeling hopeful. 

As always we so appreciate your prayers on our behalf!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Don’t stop now!

Please keep the prayers/positive thoughts/good vibes coming! They are working so far. Justin is encouraging me to get my hopes up and have faith that God has our family’s best interest at heart. I am still fighting the urge to say “Yeah but” or “What if”. But he won’t hear any of it. He just knows that good news is coming our way this week. I am praying with every ounce of my being that he is right.

This morning we got a pleasant unexpected email. It looks like the judge has looked at our documents and is not requesting that any be redone! She stated she will set a court date after the holidays. I know March 8th is a holiday in Russia. I have no idea now if that means a date will be set on the 9th or later in the week or next week. But the fact that she has LOOKED at our documents is an answered prayer. My biggest fear for this week was that on the 9th we would hear something like “Oh, I’m sorry, I haven’t even had a chance to look over the documents yet.” I would have lost my mind if that would have been the case. So this is such great news!

On Friday, we received a very generous gift in the mail. The Garber family generously gave us rubles that they had left from their trip. It was extremely sweet of them and we look forward to paying it forward when we return home as well. So now we have our visas AND money in our pockets and are ready to roll!

We received the sweetest birthday gift for the little guy from a dear friend of ours. It is an adorable frame that says ‘Brothers’ on it. I of course accepted it with tears in my eyes. I can’t wait to get a picture of the boys together to put in it!

On Saturday, I was rocking out (lol) to Chris Tomlin’s song “Our God”. I love the lyrics and the empowering feeling I get from it. Justin joined in on the karaoke session as well. I told him it would be so awesome if they played that song at church on Sunday although I may be a bit too emotional to enjoy it. Wouldn’t you know it… during the first worship set at church we sang this song. Gave me chills!

So as you can see good things are happening. As tempted as I am to be fearful, anxious, and worry, I can’t ignore all of the great things that are happening around me. I just know that it is because we have so many people lifting us up in prayer. So whatever you do, please don’t stop! We are getting so close.

For my your listening pleasure…

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Happy 2nd Birthday!

Dear B-----,

Daddy, Brady, Maddie, Blake, and I wish we were celebrating with you today. And while we are not in Russia right now, we are still celebrating your birthday. We are celebrating that God is going to entrust you, one of his precious children, to us to care for and to love for the rest of our lives. You are already loved so much!

Since the day our plane left Vladivostok in December I have been envisioning your makeshift birthday party in the White Rabbit room at the Vlad Inn. I had such high hopes that we would be back in time to have you in our arms on this very day. I pictured inviting all of the other adopting families staying at the hotel to join us for cake and ice cream (little people can’t have cold stuff – I almost forgot!). I pictured walking behind you and daddy down the hallway to our room with your little hand in his and him smiling down at you with such joy and pride. I pictured you and I cuddling up on the pink floral bedspread in our room with your head on my chest as you fell asleep – just like you are in my favorite picture of the two of us. And while we are very sad that we will not have these moments today, we cling to the hope that we will have those moments in the very near future and for many years to come.

I love you so much little one!
With all of my heart,
~Mommy

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Keep them coming!

Thank you so much for the prayers, scripture references, and words of encouragement. They are helping. I feel some relief from the despair, hopelessness, uncertainty, fear, worry, anxiety, and faithlessness that was consuming me. And while those feelings are just under the surface, I have found some peace as well. Maybe when everything is all said and done I will be able to share all of the details of our story with you. I feel like if I could share the details I could also share the ways in which God is working in our lives. I knew a week ago God was trying to teach me a new lesson. Not a lesson on patience and waiting. This felt completely different. And now that I know what it is that He is trying to get through to me, I feel I can embrace this situation and grow from it. The growing pains can be a lot to deal with, but the reward is always worth it in the end. If you would, I am begging that you continue to pray for our situation and God’s perfect timing. Those prayers will (and already are!!) making a difference!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Transparent

It has been very difficult for me to put things into words. I am not for sure how this entry will turn out, but I figured I should try to explain how things are going. It usually helps me feel better after writing my thoughts down, and I know that it can help other PAPs in the future. So here it goes….

It is hard for me to write when I cannot be completely honest and open. But for the sake of protecting our journey/process/family there are times when I can’t be as transparent as I would like on this blog. I can say that March 9th is very important for us. We need to have great news from the judge that day. I don’t just mean ‘need’ as in there is a family that really misses their son and they want to go back as soon as possible. That of course is true. But there is another reason that we just HAVE to have good news on the 9th. That is all I can say about that. And as a result of the impending news here is what has been created…

a person with a split personality!!!

I am a mess. I am an emotional basket case. I cannot focus. My emotions are high and intense. One minute I have an overwhelming sense of peace. I know that God’s timing is going to be perfect for our family. I know that He is going to use our journey and our story to make a positive impact on our lives and the lives of others. I even allow myself to get my hopes up that on March 9th we are going to get our court date and be heading out very soon. THEN the other ‘me’ takes over. I get angry at myself for getting my hopes up. I tell myself to prepare for no news or ‘bad’ news on the 9th. I get consumed with sadness and worry. Then I get upset at my apparent lack of faith that God has this situation under control. And then I get a sense of peace that He has plans to prosper us and not harm us. And then cycle continues.

I am tired. I am stressed. I am sick of being focused on my worries. I am sick of saying I!!! Ugh! I need to choose joy. I need to choose and attitude of gratitude. I need to be thankful for the amazing blessings in my life. I need to be celebrating that there are many families that are being united with their children and starting forever families….