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