Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Day Twelve: Court

Sorry no photos to share today. It was an emotionally packed day as we scurried to make calls and confirmations and learned early this morning that our problems were resolved for court. Then we went out to the institution for Randy and Holden to play with Maxim one last time and say goodbye. It was hard for all of them and me too. I knew that this place had changed their hearts and the children are forever impressed into their memories, not to be forgotten. Telling Artyom and Beautiful goodbye was especially difficult. Maxim took it all pretty well knowing Mom was going to continue coming to see him each day and that he would be coming to America soon. He's hanging on that.

We had a small break of time for lunch before we walked to court. We stood in a crowded dark hallway until we were called in to a small room. The inspector, the institution's psychologist, the prosecutor, recorder and judge met us there. The session went well and we touched that even when the inspector and psychologist spoke in the hearing they spoke well of us personally and had we had impressed their hearts with our time with Maxim. When it was over we were sent back outside to wait for the decision to be handed down and then we were called back inside. While we waited, George who doesn't meet a stranger was explaining to the others in the hallway what was taking place. We received blessings, hugs and thank you's from people I will never see again but will thank God for the encouragement at that moment. As we filed back in to the court room, I tried to keep myself strong. The weight of all of these months, the paperwork, the years of prayers for Maxim, thoughts of my kids at home, thoughts of Holden and Randy leaving only a couple of hours later....ALL OF IT was sitting on my heart and I didn't want it all to come pouring out on in a bawl like I wanted to so badly. So as she announced that Randy and Tina Kacirek are now the parents of Maxim Joseph Kacirek, I stood there with tears pouring down my face. I didn't know tears could be produced in that quantity. I turned to see the inspector and psychologist and everyone was crying. It's only right that Maxim be rejoiced over in this way. We felt a huge victory spiritually- what Satan meant to kill has been redeemed and blessed. Maxim Joseph has a mother and a father and a family!

So it felt all so anticlimactic to find ourselves in the market afterwards and then packing Randy and Holden's things into the truck to go. They take a drive to the train station then a 12 hour ride to the city. Tomorrow they go to the Embassy and hop an early flight Thursday morning. Because of the time change, they will be home thursday afternoon. Funny. My heart will feel such a leap to see them back home.

As for me, I cannot get rights to Maxim until Dec. 13th and I still need to travel to his birth city which is 3 hours away to get his birth certificate- that can't be done on the 13th so we wait until the 14th. And we need to have the birth certificate before we can attain his finalized passport so adding all that needs to be done here in region before we head up for medicals and 2 day embassy visits, we may be looking at returning to the US around Dec. 18-20th sometime.

As I waved goodbye to George, Randy and Holden, I kept repeating to myself inside, "I'm a big girl. I'm a big girl. I'm a big girl." Then thoughts of Maxim flooded my mind of all of the times he had been disappointed, left alone, scared. Then I began thinking of all that is going through his little head right now and how strong he has to be. Not knowing where he is going, no idea of what America is or how he will get there. His leap of faith is far greater than Randy and mine in going for him. Leaping in faith isn't easy. There are not guarantee's that your road is made easy. But we don't live out faith because we are "safe." Part of leaping is trusting. That's what Maxim is doing. He's leaping that even after being hurt by his birth parents, being left alone in an institution for many years, that he will trust one more time. Gosh, that leaves me speechless. I think of how many people I know who will not trust again, who will not believe the best, who feel they are forever scarred from their pasts.

Childlike faith.... Childlike faith.... I'm a big girl. I'm clinging to childlike faith.

Praising Jesus for this day, for this gift of Maxim Joseph Kacirek - a preciously loved son of mine.

Love, Tina

Monday, November 29, 2010

Day Eleven: New Sights

Today was a packed day of new events, some good some not so good. We started the day with our visit to Maxim and had so much fun with him. It's more and more a delight and it's "comfortable." Artyom joined us and "Beautiful" came in to greet us and to put a necklace on me that she had been working on all weekend. I love that girl.


We pulled out our treats and juices and what a surprise to see Maxim try so hard to slow down his drinking. Dear boy held on for the first bit but then dove in and began looking for more from me. How could I say no? :o) Towards the end of our visit, I broke away to give knitted booties that Heather made to the little one's in the bedridden room. I will share just one so you can share in their excitement. The hardest part was that we didn't have enough for everyone in the room so I am going to go looking this weekend on the open market and see if I can find some for the others.



Our facilitator met up with us for lunch to give some news about our adoption. When the judge looked over the papers today she found some problems. One is that their are two different dates given for Maxim and another is that since we are only the third to adopt from here, they are not used to the US papers and needs the Embassy to send a document before tomorrow. So George, is getting up very early in the morning to drive 3 hours one way to Maxim's birth city to try and fix the problem with the birthdates and get back before court at 2pm. We also need the Embassy to send this form to the judge before court tomorrow. So if you might pray for us on this that would be great.

With this last minute work we rearranged our schedule for tomorrow and went to get Maxim at the institution this afternoon to go get his passport photo taken. While George called the director for permission, in the buzz of everything going on George forgot to tell any of the staff. We had gone in and changed him, taken him out to the vehicle and left before anyone noticed. When we returned there was all kind of excitement but not knowing a word we just stood and smiled. George explained it all to us later...and we had a good chuckle.

Anyway, it was a gift for all of us to see Maxim on his first ride in a "machine" and seeing the city. He's come so far that little guy. He was talking a mile a minute and we wished we knew all he was saying. George conveyed that he was asking lots of questions and wondering all of the details about tomorrow and when would he be leaving, who was going, who was staying, would he be to his new home before the new year? He was kissing our hands and smiling from ear to ear.



One other thing that just makes me SO happy is that he will let Randy carry him. Usually he is very scared of being picked up. None of the kids are carried or held so this was very scary for him but today when Randy carried him on the stairs he trusted him!! When we returned to the vehicle we noticed a small park behind the photo place so we snuck over there for him to have a taste of what a park is like. You would have thought we took him to Disneyland! It was priceless. Soon we had to leave and he was good about it, but for that moment it was so nice to imagine life with him outside of the mental institution. Soon!

Thank you for your prayers through tomorrow for court. We pray that all of these issues are resolved quickly and that Randy and Holden's plans to return to the US can happen as soon as possible. They really need to get home to the kids in the US. This is definitely a marathon.

Love from Eastern Europe,
Tina, Randy and Holden

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Day Ten: Getting Comfortable


Today we brought a little of this and that to try with Maxim and ended up coloring stickers and color sheets.

It wasn't long and he was asking for food again. Today we brought grapes and applesauce and enough juice for all of us to have our own box. When he eats he is first sweet to offer some to us but after that he huddles over his food like a little squirrel does and he plucks and slams those little suckers in his mouth.
He doesn't pay attention to anything going on or being said to him while food is around.


After seeing him gulp so many boxes the other days we decided to play a juice box game where we each took turns taking sips from our box, hoping he would catch on to slowing it down. It went pretty well, Mama, Holden, Papa and Maxim! He kept wanting to skip over Papa- that wait was so hard for him. When he drinks he doesn't breathe, he just sucks and sucks and sucks.... When he finished his he had to check all of our boxes to make sure that none was left.

The whole time I just kept thinking about our hunger and thirst for God. Our longing for Him. I prayed that over Maxim, that He would have a mighty hunger for Jesus.

We had many "joiners" today during our meeting. So many children longing for hugs and kisses. So many clingings to my legs and arms and clothes. It reinforced this message to my heart of being desperate for Christ. Randy and I prayed and blessed each child and told each of them that they were precious gifts. They didn't know what we were saying but I loved it when they tried repeating it. I love to see hope.

Today we took mirrors to many of the children. We planned originally to give to the younger children on their cribs and headboards but when the older orphans saw them they were so enamored and appreciative we realized these were meant for them too.
I handed Beautiful her mirror and some lip gloss. I wish I had a photo of that! She was so very excited. Oh Jesus, please find her a family.

So many children. Not one forgotten by our Father in heaven. Not one. It is his will to place the lonely in families and I am becoming more and more convinced it is not to bless the lonely as much as it is to bless the family.

In His grace and merciful love,
Tina

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Day Nine: A Quieter Day



We had a nice visit today...but it was quieter and maybe a bit heavy on my part. There are many more "Maxim's" here. We've loved being able to see the children and to bless them in very small ways but our thoughts go to how much more they could have. Here is Sveta (too old for adoption) receiving some thick pink Bugs Bunny socks she kept asking for:



Artyom has his own cell phone and even though he doesn't have feet he always meets us at the front, always takes us through the grounds and halls and I see the great purpose work has given to him. He longs for that purpose. Here he is with the guys.



He always tries to take on this tougher older position as he knows his chance at adoption is over. But I still see it in his eyes as he watches us with Maxim. It's that look that says, "what if that were me?" Today before we left I grabbed him and gave him the kind of hug a Mama would give her son and I held him longer. He looked me in the eye with that misty look and then led me down a hall to show me the work he has been doing. Here it is:



As we went to go, some staff started getting on his case and I have a feeling it's because they thought he was taking us away from Maxim. I felt so bad for him... He was having such a sweet moment of encouragement. As I told him molay deitz- Good job on his work, I saw his face beam.

Then I look over and see Beautiful scooting down the hall on her knees and I broke. It feels so wrong to me that she would scoot on all four like a dog down those halls. I admit it, it's just a weaker day for me. Randy had his break lastnight so I guess we are in sync. We know God is good all the time, and we trust Him! His faithfulness to bring us through 4 and a half years to Maxim shows us the lengths he goes to.

There is more that is heavy on our hearts. God knows them all. Please do not read this as something we need relief from, as I think it is a part of loving. Part of caring, part of being moved, part of compassion is feeling broken for the things that breaks God's heart. So in this kind of way, I am thankful that my heart is tender enough to feel this sadness and grief. We are learning thankfulness at deeper levels. This helplessness, leads us to deeper prayer.

When Artyom took us down the hall to show us his work, we went by the room where Maxim was eating from a bowl on a bench. My mind couldn't register that the boy sitting there as an orphan was my son. I wanted to pluck him out. He looked at me with great sadness again. God, please let these days go fast for our boy.



A few more days until court....and then Randy and Holden leave immediately afterwards to head back to Kiev and then to America. Please pray for us leading up to court, in country travel and then on to home.

With love and thankful hearts and arms lifted high,
Tina and Randy and Holden

Friday, November 26, 2010

Day Eight- The Sun Came Out!

Today was the first time the sun came out and decided to stay so we prepared to take Maxim out for a walk. When he came in the room today he just didn't seem himself...he was missing his famous smile. The caretaker for today said he had a rough morning but we aren't sure what that means.

We know that he was very active yesterday and was bee-bopping all around the place so maybe he expended all of his energy. He was still eager to go outside but walking was more labored and we shortened it a bit.



He likes the kitties almost as much as Mom!





As we rounded back toward the door to go in I saw the serious look in his face. Here it was:


I wish I could know all that was going through his mind. His strength amazes me.



Holden opens the door for us to go back inside...



He cheered back up when we got back inside and realized he didn't have to say goodbye to us just yet. We played a few more rounds of Maxim's Ball Game.



I videotaped music time today and have included it in the movie we made on our Facebook page. I love how he relaxes and his body comes to rest so fast. That is something that took years for Grace. What a blessing. After awhile his eyes started rolling and the yawns came on...we almost had him to sleep until his caretaker came in to take him to lunch. He went better today...

I imagined I would be blogging constantly about the downloads from God...but I feel rendered in an awe state most of the time. There is much I am writing and soaking on in prayer with lots of quiet tears of hope. Watching Randy and Holden be touched moves me as well. Randy has been given an amazing gift of love to reach the brokenhearted and I see it when he is with Maxim. Holden's willingness to be gentle and softer when its needed, and to recognize when it's needed is also beautiful.

Love wins. It just does. There are times it hurts to be weak. It hurts to do the right thing. It sometimes even hurts to do what God call you to, but you are always blessed and you always have the victory in His love. If God has called you to something that feels like the impossible, that will make you a fool for him, trust me, He is setting you up for something GREAT! Our sufferings are temporary but His mercies endure forever!!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Day Seven- Play and Prayers


We took mostly video today so not many good photos to share with you, but if you can hop over to my FB page, the video is worth it. :o) Of course, atleast I think so! Mama's so proud!

Today the staff cleared out the therapy room and allowed us to play in there with Maxim all to ourselves. We have loved playing with all of the children but they are so needy and I have a very difficult time turning away from any of them. They all want a Mama and Papa as they say. So today with the exception of Leo who kept scurrying away and sneaking into our room, we had privacy.

This time together really brought out so much more today between Randy and Maxim. They played ball and I don't think you will believe me when I tell you Maxim can hit the ball like baseball, kick the ball like soccer and even pulled out the jump rope and jumped! His coordination is really incredible. He doesn't mind falling down a bit and almost sees it as part of "the deal." He's found his own way to do most things!!

He played so hard today like a monkey- which was fitting since we brought him bananas and he chomped down THREE big ones FAST! LOL! He gets very excited while playing and plays hard too but when I told him it was time to be done he was good about crawling over to us. We pulled out the worship music and he laid across his daddy and looked into my face. His bottom lip started quivering and tears welling as he listened to Misty Edwards sing Fling Wide. As he saw my eyes welling to, he tried to busy himself on the phone...to avoid a cry. in fact, he hasn't cried in front of us yet. It's okay, we want him to know he is safe to do that.

Soon after one of the caretakers came in for him and he seemed even more reluctant this time to going. I think these days stringing together are becoming more painful for him. In the beginning he couldn't wait for these visits, but now I sense he's finding it more difficult to let us go. But he obeyed and I watched him walk down that dark hallway holding on to his caregivers hand as she led him to lunch.

I went in with the bedridden children for a visit for a while afterwards so about 45 minutes later we were readying to leave the institution. We started heading down the stairs when Maxim came barreling out of his room and flying down the hallway to us hollering Mama, Papa. It broke my heart. He grabbed us and hugged us and soon a lady was after him to take him back.

I can't say thank you enough to all of you who donated into our adoption and to making this possible. We praise God and we thank him for you and pray you are so blessed for what you have done in your love for Jesus.

This has not been without great challenge and many tears but God holds them all so dear and he loves us oh so much. We feel that love.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A girl named Beautiful

I have to share with you the story of a young girl at the institution. I have given her the name of Beautiful for this story because everyday and often she says "Beautiful!" after she nods her head in this sort of I dream of Jeannie blink and nod. It's adorable and we mimic her in love in our days between the three of us. We all love Beautiful.
Here she is:



I wanted to tell her story because her life is precious and she is a gift God has given the world. A gift that needs to be shared. She brings the light of Jesus and hope to many where she lives.

Beautiful has cerebral palsey and cannot walk so she scoots everywhere she goes. She cares for the children younger than her and has taken on a teacher role with them. Like Artyom, she seeks purpose and I see her goal is to bring love to others. In Ukraine, orphans with special needs who are given specific diagnoses are sent to institutions for their life because there is no other place for them to go. Beautiful will not know another place.

She is 16 and will turn 17 (to old for adoption) in a matter of a few months. This has burdened my heart greatly. She is a wise young girl in matters of the heart. Will you please just pray about whether your home and heart might be stretched for children like Maxim and Beautiful? Time is ticking. Please do not read my plea wrong or take anything I say with guilt but these children need voices and I can at the very least be that voice. So today, as you go to sleep, will you please just ask God if adoption is in your future and will you consider giving God your yes, your willingness to go where He sends you?

I had a surprise waiting for Beautiful today. I found a purse and filled it with socks, juice, tissues, juice, fingernail polish and soap. I knew she would be so happy and I longed to see that joy in her face. But wouldn't you know it was Beautiful to surprise me FIRST. She had worked since yesterday putting little beads together into a bracelet for me and tied it on my wrist when I arrived. She then took her bracelet off her own wrist with Jesus on it and placed it on mine. She asked me to please keep it as a reminder of her. Oh if she only knew that I could not forget her. She's been imprinted as a carrier or Christ's love upon my heart. So after her presentation to me, I gave her my gift. Her thankfulness was so beautiful, Randy had it videotaped and we had to share with you. Once again, you need to see it on FB.

Can you be thankful in your circumstances? This is what Beautiful's life forces you to ask yourself. Do you see beauty where you are? Do you take the love God has given to you and do you give it away freely?

Day Six: Puzzle and Kisses

Maxim is catching on to the routine. First thing he wanted today was food and guess who forgot to bring it? GULP! Thank goodness we did have with us a green grape juice box which was gone in NO TIME! He forgave us. ;o)



Lastnight in the market I found a little foam puzzle of Tom and Jerry and remembered he had seen that cartoon once and loved it. We brought it with us today thinking he'd be thrilled, but soon realized that puzzles aren't his thing. I don't think he's ever done a puzzle before so we took it slow. He didn't pay attention to the pictures on each piece, he was focusing on the slots to put together. After we put together and took a part several times, he began catching on and we celebrated when he began doing it all by himself. There are many things he may not know but he catches on quickly!





George, our facilitator went back to Kiev to submit our documents to SDA which means we are without a translator! YIKES! We have a cell phone to reach him if we need and we are making it just fine but these family visits are a bit more challenging as I know Maxim is asking questions and we are not responding exactly as he may want. He's talking and talking more and more and we just want to know all that he is saying!! Soon and in time.


He's very affectionate with me and quickly warming to Holden but today I would say was the first real obvious day that he is warming to his Papa. He went over to Randy and asked for music. He knew the phone had music on it. So he pulled out some worship music and Maxim laid across Randy's lap while Daddy gently rubbed his back. The smile on his face told it all. He was at peace...in his daddy's arms.

I have another video- again on Facebook only.

Thank you for the comments and encouragement and love. We love hearing from home.

Love you,
Tina

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Day Five: Grapes and Fishes

Each day gets a little sweeter! He came running to me with a big welcoming smile today. He was ready to play.



We found a magnetic fishing set. I wasn't sure how Maxim would take to it and if it would hold his attention for long but we played the same thing for nearly an hour.





One of the things that amazes us about this little boy is that he is so concerned about being fair. Holden had been sitting back and pretty soon he called Holden's name and handed the toy to him. After a while he said, Mama and then later Papa. he wanted everyone to have the same fun he was having. He grips your heart I tell ya.

We took a break after a long time fishing and we surprised him with a tray of green grapes all for himself!



Watching him eat was so comforting for ME!



He had them down in no time but at one point he realized how fast he was pushing them in and stopped himself and then handed each of us our own cluster of grapes to join him.



Then to top it off we pulled out his first ever juice box! It was down in 10 seconds and we didn't even get a photo! LOL It wasn't too long that he stood up and rushed off and when i called his name he didn't stop. He took a crash hitting his face to the ground and then was up and ducked into one of the rooms. When I found him I realized he had to go to the bathroom. Perhaps these new treats for him brought with it some other gifts.

As soon as he was done he came out and went running down the hall back down to where we had been playing and once again BOOM he hit the floor. He really does need a walker and help walking so we will look into that RIGHT AWAY as Mama is about to have a heart attack! The palms/wrists of his hands have developed these large protruding knots from having fallen over and over. It appears he has learned different styles of falling and goes into a roll quite often but he's got a large scabbed over knot on the back of his head I would like to see go away. The one thing I have learned about Maxim is that he will not be held back.

He is such a trooper with saying goodbye each day. I know he is anxious for us to take him with us but he smiles big and waves and goes when he is called. I usually just find myself lost in stares at him...praying and dreaming of him for so many years. This time is here. It's come. God has been so faithful. All of my quiet desires, silent prayers, rolling tears, aching desires have resulted in me here.

My faith is greater than ever. It does not mean we are without trial, but I have seen the goodness of the Lord and his LOVE wrecks me. Such great beauty in the weak.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Day Four: DISCOVERY

We called this "Discovery Day" for Maxim! We bought him new warm pants, fuzzy thick socks, new shoes, and a shirt and then bundled him up for play time outside. That sounds fun enough but if I told you that he has been outside a hand full of times, you might understand why this was an extra special day for him.




He wanted to walk all by himself with no stroller and what a trooper he is! So determined and joyful.


We didn't go far but I realized just how little he knew of the place he has lived since he was 4 years old. Just outside and feet away he began asking questions of Artyom about the buildings and surroundings he was seeing.




He heard the engine of a car and said, "Machine!" The way he said it made me want to cry really. That he found that sound new and exciting impressed me with how little he has experienced. So discovering we did! He found all of the pigeons quite exciting!



As we made our way around the grounds there was a place to sit and rest for a bit....so we surprised him with his first OREO cookie! Ssshhh! He just about shoved the whole thing in! But he was a good boy and after two he didn't even ask for more. He was just thankful for what he was given. He tried water from a bottle for the first time too and thought that was pretty neat.



Then Dad pulled out the bubbles and he must have thought he was in heaven!



Here he's blowing at the bubbles in the air.



This was such a special day for him! He's such a joy and we are overwhelmed at watching him discover the world. He is so thankful! He humbles me! Here's one more picture of my boys- but missing one of them back home! (We love you Liam!)



SO! Here's the drumroll! We have a COURT DATE! YES! November 30th at 2pm! This is almost a week earlier than we expected although it is exactly what we prayed for! Thank you Jesus!

We love you! Our hearts are FULL!

Day Three: I am so LOVED!

Maxim has been talking about a cell phone constantly since we came. He dreamt of his own play cell phone. We took it to and all of the other little boys became very excited about it too, so we promised to bring more back for them all to play together with. Here is a photo of Maxim with one of his buddies excited about their new find!
Day three was also a special day because it marked the first day that Maxim came running into my arms and wanted me to rock him and cuddle him. I whispered I love you in Russian in his ears and we rocked for a long time. He loved playing with my hair and saying over and over, Mama, Mama. Once again he asked about when he could leave the institution and come home with us. He is getting anxious.

My heart gets bigger each day.... I have prayed for a way to convey the things we see and experience here. Pictures, video's just cannot convey. I love being here. I absolutely feel Jesus here. If God is the father to the fatherless, most certainly I am in my Father's house where they dwell. Purity, innocence, zest for life, hope all exist here. I thought I would have oh so much time on my hands to blog and write yet I find the day just flies by and when I fall to bed it is fast and hard. I want to end with this video of the first time Maxim came over and crawled into my arms to cuddle but Blogger is not accepting the upload so if you want to see it you will need to go to my FB page. I'm so thankful to have it recorded. Thank you for the love and prayers....we feel them.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Day Two

We took cars and a playmat and he loved them of course. Some good boy time with Daddy and Holden and his friend. I was a happy mommy looking on!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

First Meeting



We traveled by train 12 hours to region and then another 2 hours to city before we met the inspector. Looking rather ragged, we were in good spirits and a bit of adrenaline rush to get to our boy. The inspector was so nice and really liked us as well so within 30 minutes she joined us to go out to the institution. She had to observe Maxim and our interactions with eachother to make a favorable approval to begin the adoption process locally.

As we were ushered down several hallways, many faces came and went and I wondered when I would see him. We came into a room to find him sitting there on a couch by himself. His eyes were wide, like a deer in headlights. Not long before we arrived, he was told his Mama and Papa were coming for him. Being the third family to adopt here in it's over 50 year existence, children are not expecting to hear this kind of news.


After the meeting, the inspector came to us and said she was amazed to see such a boy as Maxim in this institution. She had tears in her eyes and began working in her free time to gather all of the necessary papers so we can go to the judge hopefully as soon as Monday.




Maxim is doing better than we could even imagine. He is TINY for 9 1/2 years but he is not weak. Some of the questions he had for us was if we had a refrigerator and food at our house. He particularly wants green grapes. Do we have a car? Cats, dogs? He was overjoyed to hear we had pets! AND, we presented the photo album to him of his new family and at the front I had some pictures from when I first met him. He just stared at them then kissed them and then told our translator that he remembered. It was a most beautiful first meeting although overwhelming for him for sure. He hugged each of us calling us Mama, Papa and brother. Perhaps his one struggle is a few close friends there one in particular he is close to. He is 17, no feet and cleft palate but he does EVERYTHING include teach and care Maxim. He is pictured below with Holden and Maxim. It's hard to believe he is 17.



Thank you for your prayers! We appreciate them oh so much! Love you, Tina, Randy and Holden

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

We're Here!

I'm sorry for the long delay in posting an update. We arrived safe and sound and really not one hitch along the way. Many of you know that from the very beginning of our first adoption to Grace it was one snag after another and I was reminder to becareful not to focus on that but on what God is doing. We've been anticipating blessings and thankful for whatever God shows us each moment and our hearts are full.

We sat next to the Russian hockey team coming over from the US and got a "taste" of the culture we were arriving to. Holden enjoyed that I think. There was one woman from the states on our international flight who just happened to be heading over to Lithuania to adopt two boys so we enjoyed exchanging stories and tears.

A great surprise came at the in country airport. The last few times I was interrogated fairly extensively about our luggage. This time we literally breezed through- basically unspoken to. It was incredible. As we slipped out of security and out to the main area I saw Sveta standing with our names on a sign and a long stem beautiful red rose waiting for me. As we greeted she hugged me and I knew God had arranged the perfect team to care for us.

As we arrived to our apartment in downtown, George our facilitator awaited for us. He was warm and jovial, hugging us and laughing. I just thanked God one more time for providing us not only with capable people, but people with hearts, joy and love of God. To be honest, nothing is the same this time as it was with our first adoption. Granted, we are only a few days in and we know we have a ways to go but it seems to only get better.

Yesterday, we met up with George at a restaurant and began discussing the institution where our son is at. He told us stories of how the director has been working hard to help this place and we were overjoyed as the conditions I knew of first hand were absolutely heartbreaking. So we are just excited to arrive and see for ourselves. During our conversation at the restaurant, the director called to our facilitator and once again we were met with a big welcome. They are anticipating our arrival! (Although our boy knows nothing about our coming.) It feels so good to be welcomed and to be trusted as often that isn't the case. We see blessings and favor.



Here we are waiting outside our appointment.

This morning while most of you were sleeping, we had our appointment with the psychologists to go over our son's profile and to ask us many questions. We brought with us before and after photos of Grace and as always people here are amazed at what time and love can do for a child. We had a much more extensive questioning than we had expected as they do not understand why we would want to add stress to our lives by adding a child with problems. As we described the joy and blessings of our family I could see a softening and smile. The local prosecutor has spread rumors that international adopting families live in mansions and decide to adopt so they can come clean and be slaves in our homes so it has caused lots of questioning of prospective adoptive parents. We were happy to visit with them and it was a pleasant exchange.

Here we are with sweet George. He is just precious. His cup is full of thanks.

I think we had prepared to hear that our son was orphaned at birth of his special needs. In fact we had hoped that we might even be able to find his birth parents later to thank them for the gift of his life. We weren't really ready to hear his difficult first year of life and all that he has endured at their hands. We do not plan to look for them now. I cannot shared details in this venue but please continue prayers over him as the enemy must be screaming at what is happening to free him. With the hustle and bustle and body adjustments I know it hasn't full hit me the words I heard today and I suppose many tears and prayers are to follow in this regard but it reinforces to Randy and I the plan God has. I am not only filled up in thanks about becoming his mother but I feel a real sense of honor to be entrusted with his beautiful life. I will become a faucet as I begin to imagine the years to follow for him...

I will share details of his life with friends not to "out" him but because of the testimony he holds. (There is power in testimony!) At this time however, because this is a public venue we will be keeping many things private.

Tomorrow we receive the official referral and make our way to his region by train, not bus now...first to the inspectors office for permission to visit him and then we go! It will most likely be Friday before we see him. While time has flown incredibly fast it seems to tinker slowly as I wait to see him. This anticipating is getting intense the closer we get. I suppose it is like when labor with Rainan got to the time to push. I now await that rush of tears as I laid my eyes on her for that very first time. There is no joy greater in a mommy's heart than to see the face of her baby. Randy and I really feel very much the same way. Randy said to me a bit ago- "I'm about to meet my son! Can you believe that?" WOW!

Many of you have been asking about Holden! He is having a blast! I wondered how he would handle the constant walking and hurry up and wait and errand running but he has been perfect. He found a local "Papa John's" to eat at and declared it the very best pizza ever and we located McDonald's today for lunch. I am trying to prepare him that where we are going will be quite different...no Mc D's around. He's like a sponge learning about the history and culture of this place. We are just a block from beautiful cathedrals and Independence Square. His only assignment on this trip is to journal what he sees and learns each day to document his trip for a life long memory. He's taken to making movies in his spare time- comedy appears to be the genre he is shooting for. He is a joy for Randy and I to have with us. To watch him learn is so special but its what he will learn spiritually in a few days and it is the way his heart will be touched that excites Randy and I the most. We know God has big things on this trip for Holden.


George showing us around


Holden discovers the market!


Holden and I at the pizza joint





Please pray for our health, our rest, and our travels to region. We also are very hopeful to continue having internet access so we can skype with the kids back home. Please pray for Randy's mom who has the challenge of caring for Grace. While she has a sweet spirit, she does have special needs that require constant supervision and that can be a stretch for anyone. Liam desperately wishes he was with us and we pray for his love tank to be filled. Rainan has been a doll we hear and that she is just goin' with the flow.

We still pinch ourselves as we look at what miracles God has done from beginning in the summer of 2006 to now. Watching our adoption funds pour in at the last minute was like balm to us and a reminder that God does not leave us.

Some practical tips for those traveling soon....

We packed with us tons of bags of oatmeal and hot chocolate packets that travels quite nicely to save on cost of breakfast (and in our case perhaps even dinner).

For ladies, the new dry shampoo's are INCREDIBLE and a lifesaver when you cannot shower.

FLUSHABLE WET WIPES- that's all I am saying. :o)

We love you and pray for each of you! We can't wait to share with you our next update AFTER we meet our boy! We'd love to hear from "home" so comment when you can.

Tina, Randy and Holden

To our babies back home, WE LOVE YOU and can't wait to see you! XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOX