Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Instinctively, I quickly dropped to my knees to be at eye level and offered him a warm (but nervous) smile. I held out one hand to him. I heard the caregiver introduce me. I knew enough Russian to recognize, "This is your mother." Jim and I looked at her, quite shocked. What if?... But she had told him I was his mother... Then she introduced Jim as "his papa." Jim and I exchanged a nervous glance.
So many feelings and emotions........It didn't seem quite real.
But it was. Thank you, Jesus, that it was.
A year later...my son, my son! Oh how I love my son! I call him my baby boy and he just beams. Whenever I leave, upon return he will say, "Mama, I missed you!"
This scared, malnourished, parasite-filled frightened little boy that would neither laugh or cry, now giggles with joy as his daddy tickles him. He cries when he falls, knowing that he has someone to comfort him. He calls to each sibling for a hug before he goes to bed.
It has been a fabulous year! A year that has drawn Jim and I together as a couple. A year that has drawn us to our knees before The Lord. A year in which we have had the privilege of seeing someone blossom right before our eyes.
It hasn't been easy. Christian David is stubborn, curious beyound belief, defiant, and messy. He is two!!! He is also teachable, kind, affectionate, bright and helpful. Just an all around wonderful Snyder kiddo.
We are oh so thankful to have been chosen as his family. We look forward expectantly to see how God manifest Himself in Christian David's life.
We appreciate your prayers!
Friday, June 25, 2010
Taking Christian David to the Children's Museum for the first time and seeing him light up on the carousel....my eyes filled with tears as I thought of what could have been and what still remains for so many other orphans. I thought of those same walls... day after day... that same routine. No where to go.... no one to come see you.... no momma... no family.... no knowledge of a Savior...
You should have seen my smile as Bella took her brother's hand to introduce him to his play choices at Playscape...you should have seen my smile as his face lit up when the carousel music started... you should have seen my smile when he asked if we could ride the horse again and momma said, "oh yes!"... you should have seen my smile as I later opened the lunch box to give them thier lunches in the car in an effort to keep them awake before we got home for naps (ahhhh... memories of days with Caleb and Alecia)...you should have seen my smile as Jim and I took the kids to the Y and we took turns with each child as they jumped into our arms.
Good stuff... great stuff...how blessed are we?
And today, today ... today we dropped off the older 4 and then went back to the adoption agency. Not to turn in more paperwork and to write a check. We went back to say "Thank you!" Bella and Christian each held a bouquet of flowers as walked in the door to express our appreciation to the people who helped us find our son. So I introduced my sweeties to Heather and Inna and Steve. We gave flowers, a framed pic of Christian David, showed a pic of all 6 of the kids and all eight of us, took a picture of Christian David with these precious people and then we told stories and gave hugs!
Now, the little kids are sleeping and I am sorting adoption paperwork. I cry......
Oh the obstacles, the hurdles, the documents, the errands, the money, the hoops we jumped through... the growing we did. We grew as afamily and as individuals. We were blessed with family and friends that stood in the gap for us in amazing ways..
I came across a note someone shared with me. It was a small child's writing in marker that said, "I pray that the Snyder's little boy is safe." I also came across a preicosu song that Alecia wrote for her brother evern prior to receiving our referral. It is called "Our Little Sunshine". Then I found a picture of my crazy family, all dressed in tights , waiting at the airport for us (Because Christian always had tights on)
All this made me feel so many emotions...gratitude, joy, love...wow!
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
I think another reason that I haven't posted is that there is soo much to say. Wow! I have so many thoughts running through my head ... I don't know where to start ... I know that I will never do God justice!
But I will just start and do my best. Christian David is fabulous! Oh, I love that boy!!! It has been amazing to see the transformation in his eyes, his demeanor, his smile...Those sad little puppy dog eyes are full of sparkle, light, joy... and a mischievious twinkle. He is all boy- rough and tumble and exploring and testing and learning and growing and enjoying and laughing and climbing and running..... Did I make my point? He is alive and enjoying life and embracing it for all it is worth! When I go to get him each morning, he jumps up, runs to the edge of the crib and starts jumping up and down with his arms outstretched. What a great greeting for mom!
Can I tell you how crazy fun it is with he and Bella together? So cute and so busy! They have worked through some of their issues with sharing mom. They still vie for my lap but Christian David loves his other siblings too. He and Caleb, in particular, have a very special connection. The latest point of contention with the youngest is that Bella loves to kiss Christian David on the cheek. The boy wants nothing to do with that and highly values his personal space. :) But it was precious today when she got hurt and he went and gave her a hug and patted her back.
Christian David seems to have truly bonded well, tries to do most everything (quite adventurous) and is quite the parrot verbally. His verbal skills are amazing-he has surpassed the other Snyder kids at this age. Quite ironic!
I love to watch him experience daily life. I love to ask him if he wants to go outside (that little head just starts nodding). I love to give him good wholesome food (it is fun to watch him eat ice cream also). I love to watch him giggle on the swing and smile as all the siblings clamor to give him a hug when he wakes up. I can't help but want to burst with joy for him- at how his life has changed. To watch that...to participate in that transformation...what a privilege! The joy fills my heart and starts pouring out my eyes.
After the first difficult trip to Russia, I remember Jim and I feeling somewhat paralyzed. We both looked at each other, dumbfounded. We kept murmuring , "No, sorry. We can't do it. There is no way. We cannot do this 3 more times. We can't leave our 5 kids, find a place for our kids and dog, travel to this freezing, somewhat terrifying and uncomfortable place, pay these exorbinant fees... sorry- can't do this 3 more times!!!!!!!!!!"
But with God's help, we just kept going... only with His help did we continue to walk in faith..not fearless... but we walked... despite our fear.
AND LOOK AT US NOW!
Grateful.........Blessed....So glad we didn't miss it...so glad we didn't miss him
Lest I give a false impression. We are still battling uphill as a work in progress. Our little guy has some medical issues that we are working through (he'll be fine). And Christian David is a delightful handful. He is a busy 2 year old boy and all that comes with it.
Moreover, I firmly believe that when you take a stand to step out in faith and give The Lord the glory... a spiritual battle begins. When I get discouraged and frustrated with the demands on my time and energy, I have to remind myself of this battle. The Lord tells us not to look at our circumstances or we will definitely feel overwhelmed. Instead we are to look at Him and at His capabilities- He is more than able.
Thank your for sharing in our journey with Christian David. It's not over and I look forward to sharing more of it with you. Thank you for your support, your prayers, your encouragement and your love. Please celebrate with us the joyful homecoming of our son.
My prayer is that you are encouraged. If The Lord is challenging you to step out in faith in some way- He is trustworthy. He is Wise. He is loving. He can fill in the gaps. The result will be greater that you ever imagined!
Saturday, March 20, 2010
So being in church...holding this child that God lead us to... looking in his eyes... I just closed my eyes and wept silently. Sooo grateful for the call.
Then as I listened to the words of the worship songs... My Savior... My Jesus... Amazing Grace... I looked at Christian David's face. He was somber again. Watching and listening ever so intently as people around him lifted their voices in admiration to The Lord. And then The Lord reminded me, "This is so much why you adopted. So that this child could hear about me." And I looked in his beautiful little eyes and thought, "If we hadn't adopted him, would he have ever heard about the love of The Lord? Not in the orphanage... probably not in the streets of Russia..." I just hugged him tightly. This is why we brought you home. To hear the sweet message of Jesus. I kept caressing his face and rubbing his back and singing to him.
"Listen my son. This is everything...listen to hear about Jesus. This is what you need more than anything. "
And as the words of the songs washed over his soul and entered his mind...I'm speechless... I am sure he doesn't understand everything that they are saying right now. But one day he will. One day he will understand it all. And he will have an opportunity to know all about the Lord's love for him... His gift to him.
If we hadn't adopted him....
I am so glad that God is persistent.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
As for the airport greeting- hilarious! Several of our family members actually donned tights and shorts in honor of our little guy who always wore them when we visited. So funny to see them in their shorts and tights. Thank you, family, for making us laugh!!!!!!!
Christian has done so well since we got home. Can I tell you how much I love that boy? My mommy heart is so attached to this little man!!!! He is doing great- he is enjoying getting to know our home (loves the piano), his siblings, the whole nine yards....
And the rest of the gang is doing beautifull with him. He and Bella will have their natural adjustment period- it's hard for a toddler to bring home a walking, talking, want momma 2 year old. Sometimes, Bella has woken Christian up and asked him to play with her. Other times, she struggles because they both want me and want to be held by me. So, at times, I have 2 little ones reaching their arms up and crying for me. I can carry them both for awhile but not indefinitely. So... normal transition stuff.
I will post pictures soon- thanks for your encouragement and prayers.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
As for tears, I think the first time (today J) was when I was pacing the aisles on the plane singing “Jesus Loves me” and “You are my Sunshine.” In the latter song, part of it says, “You’ll never know dear, how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away.” So all of a sudden the emotions hit as I looked into his deep, trusting eyes, I just love him sooo much…he doesn’t know how much. Then the second phrase, “Please don’t take my sunshine away…” When I birthed my other children, I prayed for their health but I was never afraid that someone would try to take them away from me. This adoption journey has been long and faith stretching. I know that God is big enough to handle all the details. However, in my flesh, there were so many times that we wondered if something would happen or a judge would not allow us to adopt him or if some Russian police officer would take him from my arms (I never claimed to be fully rational- a bit skittish in Russia)… whatever….until all the paperwork was signed, the embassy visited, the plane landed… fears would try to creep up that made me uncomfortable. So my eyes filled with tears as I sang those 2 lines, gazing at my newly adopted child.
Then landing on American soil… realizing that Christian is now an American citizen (he has dual citizenship). Little misty here.
Then we had a great guy in passport control. With a smile, he grandly welcomed Christian to America and really tried to connect with him as he looked at our adoption papers. So as he stamped Christian’s visa and passport, Momma let out a whoop and hugged Christian close again. To be in America with him- I love this place!!!!!!!
So now we have a 5 hour layover in Washington DC. It is about 3 am in our bodies and our little guy is asleep on the floor by the gate- sleeping on a few coats and daddy’s shirt.
Can I tell you we have such wonderful family and friends???????? I called my mom and was able to speak with Bella. Oh, I miss her! Brent is taking several of the kids to church for the Multicultural night (adoption ministry event). Our children are safe and loved and …another huge thank you- everyone who has prayed for them and for us and have helped in so many ways. What a beautiful, humbling example of the Body of Christ!
We look forward to seeing you all in the coming weeks. May Christian’s life forever be a testimony to His goodness.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
1. Prayer: Please pray that God will tenderly care for Christian now in Russia and soon at home as he bonds and adjust to life in our family. Pray for Caleb, Alecia, Sophia, Natalia and Isabella as they prepare for their new little brother. And pray that Christian will feel safe and loved by his family and sense the presence of The Lord in his life.
2. Support: We have experienced support of so many kinds and are thankful. Some have expressed an interest in supporting Christian’s homecoming financially, but aside from our family garage sale, we never really felt all that comfortable (pride) going there, and were clueless about how to get there anyway. We have recently discovered that there is a way for those who would like to offer financial support to do so in an anonymous and tax deductible manner. Lifesong (www.lifesongfororphans.org) has graciously established an account for us that will receive the support. Lifesong is a trusted organization administering the funds on Christian’s behalf, and the funds will be dispersed by them to directly cover adoption expenses.
Checks should be made payable to Lifesong. You can write “preference Christian Snyder Adoption” in the memo section of your check.
(*Note: In following IRS guidelines, your donation is to Lifesong which retains full discretion and control over its use.)
Mail checks to:
Lifesong for Orphans
Attn: Christian David Snyder Adoption
PO Box 40
Gridley, IL 61744
I believe Christian has realized that his eyes are bigger than his stomach. He still ate almost an entire omelette this morning, as well as a few more things. But nothing like yesterday!!
We tried to purchase a few souveniers this morning at a monastery that Jim and Kevin visited on the last trip. Moscow is so expensive and this monastery sold items Jim liked for 10% of the price in downtown Moscow. Our friend, Sasha, lent us his driver again for this excursion but the traffic was so bad that we had to turn around without reaching our destination. We were too concerned that we would be late for our appointment at the embassy. So, we aren't returning with too many souveniers ..but we have a great little boy so that is better than any old trinket! On another sweet note, our driver stopped and bought me flowers from someone on the street. Isn't that nice!
The US Embassy was a bit frightening- going through security with all the Russian police...just a bit intimidating. We were there for about an hour. The great part was being in the waiting room with about 20 other families who were adopting their children. It was fun to look around and see all the kids that are no longer orphans. They have families! Hallelujah! It was interesting to swap adoption stories and to see first hand the lives being changed.... beautiful. One particularly friendly couple was tthere for their 4th Russian adoption in about 8 years- all the kids were from different regions in Russia- wow! I can't imagine going through this process that many times. But they were so easy going, happy...quite the veterans. They spoke highly of the church support they experienced at home.
After that, we went outside and met with a secondary adoption agency that had rights in the region. That will be a story for off line discussion.
Christian then took a nap while I talked to the single mom in the process of adopting. Meanwhile, Jim hit more roadblocks trying to be souvenier/gifts- just too expensive here.
Now, Christian is helping us pack before his shower and bottle. We are packing up for the last time!!!!!!
We can't wait to come home, bond as a family, and just stay!!!!! We are due to fly in about 6:45 pm. We are so ready to see our children and introduce them to their little brother.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
After the appointment, we went downstairs to the complimentary breakfast buffet and got this little guy some good food! He ate smoked salmon, an omelet with veggies, multi vitamin juice, fruit, a banana, pancakes and cornflakes. I kept looking at him to see if he was full. Wow! That little mouth kept opening for me- just like a baby bird.
After play time in the room and a nap, we headed out to explore Moscow. We wanted to take pictures with Christian in various locations like Red Square. You should see how bundled this little guy is- hilarious! The weather is really quite mild here (around 34 degrees) but we knew we were to be out for a while. He was so good... we just kept on going. Jim did great leading us around as we went sight seeing and souvenir shopping. I just loved seeing all that Christian was taking in. Oh I wish I knew what he was thinking!!!!!!!!
Finally, we came back to the hotel for a late dinner and ate with an English woman here on business. She and Jim are in the same industry and had quite a bit to talk about. One telling moment was when Christian toppled over in his booth seat and knocked his face against a wooden edge. It left a big red mark on his cheek that looked a bit painful. Bella definitely would have cried. Christian’s face puckered up as if to cry, then he rubbed on his own little cheek and pulled himself together without making a peep. It was so indicative of his past… Jim looked at him and reassured him, “Honey, it’s ok to cry.” Then I reached over and kissed the owie on his cheek. Boy, that doctor would have scolded me!
This evening we were able to Skype and see several of the children. Christian even waved to them on the screen. So precious! I am so proud of my children. They are truly rising to the occasion and managing so well. Good job, Snyder kids! It was also fun to talk to my mom and to talk to Jim’s parents. His folks hadn’t loaded Skype yet so Jim walked them through it. We let Christian stay up REALLY late so that they could see him. It was so worth it! What a thrill to share their new grandson with them… in action.
Well, that is the crux of our day here in Moscow. Great day of loving our little guy and getting to know him better and better. We are enjoying “unwrapping The Lord’s gift”.
Thanks again for all your prayers and support…don’t stop!
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Oh, I miss my sweet children at home. I was able to talk with them last night and hear their happy voices. I know they are safe and in good care. For that I am so grateful. But it is hard to be away from them yet another time.
I am ready to be united as a family now. I can see Christian fitting in so well. He is such a great little boy. He is just like them- full of life and enthusiasm! He and Bella together are going to have such fun …and wear me out. I can’t wait to see all 6 of the children together.
Christian slept great last night. The only reason that we were up with him was because he woke us up as his “diaper exploded”. I was drifting off to sleep, and well… I heard a loud…rumbling..from the crib. All the new foods and anxiety of leaving his friends at the orphanage took a toll on his little system. J
Today, Christian and I are hanging in the hotel room, playing with toys and walking up and down the hall. I brushed his teeth again this morning- he was not real excited as this is a foreign concept. We have taught him to drink out of a sippy and also introduced him to water (he is used to juice and sweetened tea). He continues to eat everything and sat in the bed enjoying a banana and cheerios this morning. Oh no, he just found stray cheerios under the bed- gotta go!
Later: After Jim was successful in settling some issues with Christian’s visa (huge relief), we headed to Moscow. I couldn’t help feeling a mixture of emotions for my son as we left his region. As we got into the van to travel to Moscow, a wave of sorrow swept over me as I looked at my sweet, bewildered looking son peeking out from under all his snow gear. This place…this gray, smoky place. This is where he is from. This is where his life began and where we first met him. I felt waves of sadness for him as I am not sure he will ever be back. Despite my feelings of apprehension here and despite the fact that I see such sadness and emptiness here… I will forever have a fondness and a love for this place because it is part of my son, whom I love. There is not hope here for him…no future…no life …but it was the beginning of his life so it is dear to me.
So I held my little guy on my lap and gave him an extra big squeeze. Then I looked out the dirt covered, dingy windows as we drove, trying to capture as much as I could in my mind so that one day, I could share my memories with him.
Upon arriving in Moscow, we went exploring! Yippee! Thanks to the last trip with Kevin, Jim is much more comfortable navigating around the city. We ended up at Hard Rock Café. Can you imagine the look on Christian’s face? Not only was he out soaking up the sights and sounds of a big city , but then he saw the videos and heard the music at Hard Rock. J
Well, Snyder kids, your brother is resilient. He sat in a high chair and colored (OK, so he really tried to eat crayons) and shared fajitas with mom and dad. Kids- he is going to LOVE you guys! I think that is one thing he misses from the orphanage- other kids! When we saw his bedroom at the orphanage, we were a bit surprised by the set up. There were a few cribs in there, but then the rest were these little wooden beds. I thought of the 7 dwarfs when I saw the beds. J Anyway, he misses his buddies at the orphanage (that was his family). So he is going to be thrilled to get home and find a houseful of kids! He is going to LOVE you!!!!!!!!
Well, we I am heading back to the room. The doctor will be at our room at 7:45 am to examine Christian. Love to all and a big thank you for your love, prayers and support with EVERYTHING!
Children: Mommy and daddy love you and miss you like crazy! This is the LAST trip and then we will just be a family. I can’t wait! I pray for you all the time and can’t wait to give you a big hug!!!!!!
Monday, March 1, 2010
Karen’s Blog 3/1/10
Here we are! The day we have been waiting for! The day we are able to pick our son up at the orphanage and start his new life with us. Our son… our son…it still hits me at times and I get emotional and a bit dumbfounded. This journey, this wonderful, beautiful, difficult, faith-building journey, lead us to this precious child. I look at this beautiful little boy with big brown eyes and a mischievous, impish grin and think, “How lucky are we! What a gift!” I’d attempt a back flip, but I have no gymnastic ability whatsoever so I will just smile huge and thank The Lord.
I was trying to prepare myself that he might cry when he saw me at the orphanage. That wasn’t the reaction I wanted but one I needed to be prepared for. But no! His caregivers carried him out to me (he was wearing only a diaper and was wrapped in the big blue blanket we had given him on the first trip). So there is my little guy, swaddled in a blanket, stripped of all else, and handed to his momma. He went right into my arms without flinching. My momma heart was relieved that he didn’t start sobbing. J The moment he was in my arms, I just hugged and hugged and held on tight! This was it!!!!!!!! I held him on my lap and just sat there and kissed his little head. I put my cheek right next to his, closed my eyes, and thanked the Lord for this gift. Our son… (a few tears fell also but that’s just who I am J)
When I opened my eyes, I realized we had a small audience waiting for the moment in which I put on his new clothes- his new life. Very symbolic… The social worker, our coordinator, the translator and several caregivers all had gathered for Yarik’s special day. As I looked at them gathered around the room, they had beautiful smiles on their faces- they were so happy for our Yarik. So happy that he had a family. I’m sure it is always bitter sweet to see a child leave the orphanage but they know it represents hope for him. Then after he was dressed, the people at the orphanage said good bye to him and wished us well.
While we were preparing Yarik to leave the orphanage, another woman (a single mom) was meeting her son for the very first time. He is a precious little one year old (that looks just like her!) It was a privilege to see their first meeting as mother and son. She is affiliated with our agency back home and we knew she was traveling soon. Jim and I had hoped to travel with her as we knew she would be traveling alone. We are so glad that it worked out! After leaving the orphanage, we took her to lunch and have just served as a listening ear as she processes through all that is entailed. We answered questions for her to try to help prepare her and to clear up confusion/concern that can be all encompassing at this point.
Let me interject a side note: It is such a relief to be able to call our son by name and to use his name in our blog. For those who don’t know, his name is Christian David Snyder. J
Christian - means follower of Christ
David- means beloved
At the advice of others, we will call him Yarik Christian for awhile so that he realizes we are calling him by name. Then after awhile, we will drop “Yarik”.
Anyway, Yarik is doing fabulous!!!!!!!!! He just sat quietly in the van and looked out the windows. He looks like a total “Bob Gregory” guy, for those who remember the commercials from yesteryear. He has his tights (orphanage preference but the last time he will be wearing them J), undershirt, kackis (thank you mom), long sleeved shirt, snow pants (thank you Julie Egge), a heavy coat, hat, mittens, snow boots and a scarf. You can barely see the kid!!!!!!
I can’t believe how peaceful he is. It’s like he knows.. he understands… he feels safe. He is pretty solemn. Tatiana remarks that he is sad to leave the only family he knows, back at the orphanage. But he doesn’t cry. Not usre if that will last but I will enjoy it for now.
We went to the room because it was time for his nap. Nope! Busy, busy, busy!!!!! Too much to see and explore, mom. We gave him a little shortbread biscuit- whooeeeyy! He liked that. After he finished his biscuit, he just started carrying the box around. J
I accepted the fact that there was not way he was going to sleep, so we bundled him back up and took Linda (the adopting mom) to lunch. It was sooo fun to walk outside with Christian and watch his eyes take it all in. I am so happy to see my little boy getting some fresh air and some new sights! After we ordered, I walked Christian around inside the hotel because there was no way this busy 2 year old was going to sit quietly on my lap for long. Christian had already had lunch at the orphanage and a shortbread at the hotel so we just ordered him some bananas. Well, we quickly realized that he is going to have no trouble eating (we thought he might be so distraught with leaving the orphanage that he wouldn’t eat). He was downing the raisins (came with my tea) like they were m&m’s- he was grabbing them by the handful. (that may make for interesting diapers later). Then I introduced him to sliced bananas. At first, he wanted nothing to do with them. I insisted a bit and just got a taste in his mouth. He licked the sweetness off his lips, glanced up at me with a little grin and grabbed the fork. He then proceeded to use the fork to pierce and eat every last bite. When the banana was gone, he kept going…he scraped the fork around on the empty plate and licked the fork. Then he looked at me and patted the empty plate. Jim took pictures of the poor little guy pretending to continue to eat.
Guess I’m going to the grocery for bananas!!!!!!
We returned to the hotel room, Jim left for some errands at the orphanage, and it was my task to get Christian to sleep. It was now 2 hours past his routine nap and he didn’t look sleepy at all. But I knew he would soon fall apart if he didn’t rest. He just stood in the crib and cried (found out today that he sleeps in a toddler bed at the orphanage), so I laid down with him. I gave him his blue blanket and really forced him to lay next to me. Then I just rubbed his back, caressed his cheek, and sang “Jesus loves me.” Pretty soon, his thumb went to his mouth (I didn’t know he sucked his thumb) and he stopped squirming. By about the 4th chorus of “Jesus loves me”, Christian faded off to sleep.
HMMMMM… a full belly, a warm twin bed, momma rubbing his back and singing “Jesus loves me”….not a bad start. J
I’m so happy for my son.
I miss my big son and sweet daughters so much and can't wait to hug them. It is so hard being away from them, but we all know that this is it...we can now all be together. Thank you God.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Flights have all been changed and we now leave tonight at about 7:30 pm.
Please pray for out flights back. We are hoping that we will still be able to complete all the necessary requirement in Moscow and still catch our flight home on Friday. If not, I guess we will just deal with it. There continue to be some outstanding issues as it relates to our return flights (due to changing flights today). I would cover your prayers for wisdom and Holy Intervention.
We will keep you posted as the adventure continues. God is on the Throne and that is all that matters! :)
Starting to wonder when I start looking for alternate flights. God is here; I can tell because I'm not really worried, just ready to do what he says.
Friday, February 26, 2010
Any insomniacs out there? How long do I wait for this package? I'm going to get a sleeping bag and just sleep by the front door.
Well, all seemed pretty calm until about 1 pm today (we leave tomorrow at 10: 30 am). Then we received a call from our adoption agancy that there was a visa problem related back again to issues Jim dealt with 2 weeks ago on the last trip. We have been receiving advice on our visas from the appropriate personnel in New York. Apparently this advice doesn't line up with preferences in Russia. Go figure! Why should I be surprised? The bottomline is that becaue we have "the wrong kind of visa" we have to pay a penalty when we get to our region. In addition, we have to spend an extra day in our region before they will give us our son's passport (although it is already complete). HMMMMM! So my first prayer request is that we can complete all we need to in Russia and still make our scheduled flight home on Friday (due to the delay, it will be tight). As we were making phone calls and discussing options, I got a bit discouraged and frustrated. I feel as if we are just continuing to be yanked around. He is our son already. I am ready to not have those knots in my stomach anymore, wondering of there will be any more hoops to jump through- anymore "surprises".
But you know, when life is smooth and it is all going as planned, you don't have a chance to see God "do His thing". And I wouldn't trade that for anything. As the afternoon unfolded, we were going to have more opportunities to see God take charge.
First of all, I called my sister and asked her to pray for us. She reminded me of what a spiritual battle we are fighting. Bringing a lost and lonely orphan into a home, and a Christian one at that- Wow! That is something that the enemy will try to stop. Through tears, she stressed that anytime she pictures us going to get our son and bringing hime out of the orphanage, she hears the song, "My Deliverer is Coming." Tears filled my eyes as we talked about rescuing this child out of the very hands of death. God was saving him not only from a physical death (life expectancy for a Russian child that isn't adopted is about 21 years of age) but also a spiritual one. God is pulling our son out of this institution and placing him in a Christian home. So as I think of our son's testimony... "My Deliverer is Coming." Jesus is coming, sweetie. You are not forgotten. The Creator of the Universe has heard your cry and knows your heart and He will stop at nothing. What a plan! What a Savior!
But that's just the beginning.
About an hour later, we received a call that our visas (Jim and mine) were delayed due to poor weather in Newark. Delayed? In all 4 trips, these were the only visas that didn't have to be expedited. These were the only ones that we hadn't worried about. HMMM! Jim made several more calls but was told by all parties that our visas wouldn't be here in time for us to make our morning flights. Seriously? So I prayed. I called a few and asked them to pray. Then I received a call from a wonderful woman with Fed Ex. She had just received the package in Memphis and was calling to discuss the delay with me. I assumed she knew the details of our situation and I begged her to do anything possible to get it here on time. After a few more comments she asked as to the contents of the package. When I explained that it contained the visas for my husband and I to travel to Russia to bring home our son, she just let out a sigh, "You're killing me. You're killing me!" I gently explained that we had been to Russia 3 times to meet him and that finally we were going to be able to bring him home. She exclaimed, "oh my heart! My heart! Let me see what I can do. I am getting off soon but let me talk to my supervisor and see if there is anything we can do. I can't promise anything. But I will keep you posted!"
I went back to tasks with the kids, not knowing what was to happen. I continued to pray and thought. "Well, this is another opportunity for God to move some mountains. Either He will intervene and make this happen or our plans are going to change and we are going to get another lesson in flexibility."
Over the next few hours, we received several phone calls from different Fed Ex personnel. My sister reminded me of a verse that God can change the hearts of kings. Well, let me tell you, he penetrated the hearts of the people at Fed Ex. These people found out about our adoption- they wanted us to be able to get our little guy home as planned and they bent over backwards. At about 6:15 pm, we got a call from Sophia (love ya, Fed Ex Sophia) that they had found our package, located a commercial flight heading from Memphis to Indy, purchased a plane ticket for the package (yes, apparently it has a seat on a 6:50 pm flight), it will land in Indy and they are hiring a driver to drive it to our house! (all free) It is supposed to arrive at our house a little after midnight tonight. Can you believe it!!!? Isn't that crazy wonderful!!!!!
I can't wait to tell our son how personal God is and how much He loves this little guy! Wow! I am almost speechless.
I am tired of the emotional ups and downs of the rollercoaster called adoption. But it is a privilege and a faith builder to see God work. He is The Alpha and The Omega- Ruler of All !
Coming to get you, son!
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Please pray not only for those of us traveling but also for those waiting at home. We have such special friends and family that are watching over our children, teaching our kids, taking them to their various activities.... huge stuff... huge gift to us. It takes so much pressure off to know that our children are safe and happy back at home. THANK YOU!!!!!!!
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
More than that, it is hitting me more and more each day that he will soon be part of "us". He will be sleeping upstairs, wearing his cutie pjs and running around with 4 sisters and a brother and an onery puppy. He'll be holding Snickerdoodle's leash and running around the circle with Bella. Can I tell you how excited I am for him!!!!!!!!! I am so excited for us.. for all of us... that we GET to have him in our family. But I look back at the pictures from our first trip. My heart is still pierced by the sadness and the fear that I saw in those big brown eyes. Each trip, I see a bit more life in those eyes. And that stoic face ... he still seems to fight smiling... but each time, it comes a bit easier.
So, gotta get my boy home! I want to see those eyes shine. I want to see a BIG smile and hear him giggle so hard his stomach hurts. I want to fill his belly with good, healthy food and fill his heart with the deep love of Jesus and a family that thinks he's precious. Jesus has such a heart for the weak, the marginalized and those without a voice.
We are priviledged to be able to watch The Lord give this little boy a whole new life- we get to see the trasformation in front of us . How cool is that! ? And may God be glorified every step of the way.
May our hearts forever beat differently and continue to help other orphans, just like our son.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Well, your family loves you buddy! So we are remembering. I made a cake and frosted it. The kids are going to decorate it today. Then we are going to videotape our family celebrating your birthday. We will sing happy birthday. I will probably cry a little (Sorry, buddy, that's just mom. Ask your siblings, Mommy cries over sentimental things so you better get used to it. ) Then one day when you are older, we can show you that we remembered. We were thinking of you on your birthday even though you weren't with us. Because you belong to a family now. That's what family's do. :)
In honor of his birthday, we also hope to start writing "his story" today. As a family, we want to write a book for our little guy of how God came to bring him into our family- when we first started feeling led to adopt, what the journey looked like, how we felt when we saw his referral picture, how glad we are that he is one of us... We will have the kids draw pictures, add some photos, etc. and have it laminated. Then the kids can read him his story when he is a bit older. I had a friend from our homeschool group tell me how often her 4 year old asks to hear "her story". So I got to thinking.... Hence, our birthday plan for today.
As for the rest of the week, so much to do before we leave on Saturday. We leave on Saturday!!!!!!! Our little guy's visa is to be completed 2/26. So we will leave here 2/27, arrive in Russia 2/28 and "Gotcha Day " is March 1st!!!!!!!!I can't believe we get to bring him home.
The picture that I come back to is that of holding our little guy up by the window.... and his looking and looking outside. I picture those big brown eyes with that sad gaze of longing. I want to reassuure that precious little boy , "Well, no more!!!! Mommy and Daddy are coming and we are getting you out into that big world that you are so desperate to explore. It's a beautiful world of adventure, opportunity, and love. It's also a world of change and confusion. But you will have a Mommy and a Daddy to love you..to hold you... to tickle you...to reassure you... to nurture you... and to introduce you to your gentle Savior that can meet your every need. And family...let me tell you about family. You have a wonderful big brother and 4 big sisters that can't wait to love on you. You are going to be playing soccer in the big open area in front of your house,;you are going to the park in a wagon; you are going to eat ice cream and listen to Mommy read; you are going to be in crazy shows put on by the Snyder kids; you are going to play with other kids at this place called "church"; you are going to LOTS of sporting events to see your siblings play; you are going to get messy making cookies or playing playdough....."
My eyes fill with tears as I think of all our son will now experience. He will live... and be loved ...and belong.
As a family, I have this visual of us scaling this towering, steep wall. We have been scaling it to reach our son. There has always been a harness, in case we'd start to slip. Guess, who that is? Yep, that's The Lord. But we have been climbing, grabbing with our fingers and toes and reaching and stretching higher and higher. I feel as if we are finally at the top, hoisting ourselves over the side. And there he will be.. our son. On March 1st, we will greet him with a smile and a kiss, and pick him up , strap him to our bodies, and start going back down the wall again.... together.
Monday, February 15, 2010
We didn't buy too much. It is tricky because of sizing. His tags at the orphange are usually about 18 months. But I am not sure how quickly he will grow when he comes home. So, I will keep the receipts but went ahead and bought some things. It was so fun! I have been so good in holding off this long. One of the highlights for me was watching the kids pick out clothes. Sales were good and well... we have been waiting a long time for this! Ally chose 2 outfits that she loved. Caleb's goal was to find matching clothes for he and his brother. Very precious! We spent a LONG time trying to match clothes for a 12 year old and a 2 year old, Not an easy task. And of course, what makes it even harder is to find things that Caleb will actually wear that match his brother. :) We were successful. Caeleb wanted to buy his brother every baseball shirt or pj he could find! I smiled, set a boundary, and reminded him that this won't be the last time he gets to pick out clothes for his brother.
We left with smiles on our faces in anticipation.
Today was a bit more preparation for our little guy. (quite a feat for this homeschooling mom) A dear friend and neighbor, Julie, gave us the clothes that her son had outgrown. What a huge gift! And her son is a beautiful boy from China- so the gift has extra meaning. So now, I have some stacks going of clothes- sorted by size. I don't have a dresser or a room ready for him yet, but I needed to know what clothes I needed prior to traveling next week.
Tonight, my folks babysat so that Jim and I could go out for Valentine's Day. We spent most of the time running errands for the homecoming and for upcoming family birthdays this week. We did purchase our little guy some shoes!! We took in his little footprints (outlined on notebook paper) and bought him 2 pair- certainly one of them will fit. (We purposed to go to Shoe Carnival for the price break on the 2nd pair) As were walking to the check out, I realized that I hadn't purchased any socks yet. I can't believe that I almost forgot a basic. So we grabbed a few packages of socks- we are getting set.
I am totally nesting!!!!!!!
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
It sounds as if Kevin and Jim became quite the experts with public transportation. They rode the train and the subway. Jim says they found some good spots to buy souveniers for the kids. Jim and I had only been taken to one store in previous trips so it was great to have Kevin's leadership in scouting out other avenues. According to Jim, Kevin is quite the adventurer! He has taken Jim way outside of his comfort zone there. But I know Jim is glad and I can only imagine that Jim will be "stretching" me on our next trip. I'm pretty timid in Russia, I readily admit.
Jim did share some great news with me today! The passport office actually gave Jim a date as to when our son's passport will be ready. We didn't expect that at all. We were told that we would get a range of a few weeks. I got a little teary when Jim told me about this great news. I think it is just finally sinking in- our son is actually going to come home!!!!!!! Sometimes, you feel as if this adoption process is just going to continue indefinitely. We are just going to continue to fill out paperwork, write checks and fly to Russia occasionally to visit with this precious child. But no! It is hitting me that eventually he will just come home and be in our family! Wow!!!!!!!!!!! (Oh my, I have sooo much to do) :)
So as of today, we will leave home again in late February and pick him up in early March. We will narrowly miss bringing him home for his bday. Bummer! But, that's OK. I was prepared for that. So anyway, anything can happen... I've really come to realize that. But, with God' s help, we could have him home in around 3 1/2 weeks. I want to scream, I am so excited! Just bubbling over........
So lots of reasons to celebrate!
We so appreciate the outpouring of love, support, prayer, help with the kids, encouragement...we continue to feel blessed to have such a great community of believers as our friends. You give us strength for the journey.
As I was considering the title of this post, my mind immediately went to baseball. I see an image of us flying around 3rd base (3rd trip to Russia) and we are rounding toward home. Can't wait to bring our son across homeplate! Beautiful..................
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
The paperwork had snags...I know you're all shocked. There is some outstanding issue with my visa that I don't understand. Why don't I understand? Because our very nice translator was very careful not to give me too much info and alarm me. He doesn't realize that his concern, strange line of questions and a request to make a copy of my visa raise my "oh boy, hang on tight" antenna. I'm hoping this resolves tomorrow...please pray for that specifically.
Our son got his picture taken for his passport today...I think he's saving his smiles for momma. He did very well really. We played for ~3 hours today. It is much different without Karen here. Fortunately they allowed Kevin to come to the orphanage with me, so he got to meet our little guy.
It's hard knowing I will be leaving him here for the 3rd time, but nice to know we'll be back soon to take him home.
I'm out of words...hopefully I'll connect with Karen (having trouble connecting today) and she can relay other stuff.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
It is difficult for both Jim and I to leave the kids when we travel together to Russia. But this adoption experience had brought a whole different level of unity to our marriage. That has been a blessing! Anytime you walk togehter as a couple through such a long, spiritual experience it can be such a unifier. We are even more of a team than ever before and we have an even greater respect and love for one another. As a result of that, it was difficult for both of us to be separated on this trip. It was the right decision for me to stay home and provide a sense of normalcy for the kids. Just miss him already. After almost 15 years of marriage, it is good to feel this way. :) Could be worse!
Please pray for Jim and Kevin- for safety and a smooth road in Russia. They are applying for our son's passport and then coming home. Sounds easy but...it is amazing how long it can take. They are leaving today (Saturday) and return on Thursday afternoon.
I'll keep you posted as the details unfold!
Part 2 of this post:
Great news! I received a call earlier tonight from Jim. He called from the plane in Cincinnati- it was to take off shortly! Terrific! With all the bad weather, we weren't 100% sure that the flight would take off. Of course, I had prayed that it would but also trust God that if for some reason it wasn't the best timing or there were a safety issue, the boys would return home and reschedule the trip. If I have learned anything through this, it is to hold plans loosely and to trust The Lord that He is more than capable of handling the details.
One more precious side note: Last night, several of our children put money from their piggy bank into an envelop and gave it to Jim and I for the adoption. So precious to see their hearts. Sophia just added, "I know it isn't new money but maybe you can use it for all the airplane flights". (They have gone with us to get "new money" for our travels- that is a requirement in Russia). As I looked at the bundle of folded up bills, I was reminded of our family trip to the bank in early December. All 5 children went with us to the bank to turn in change that had been raised/donated for the adoption. When we got to the bank, the cashier gave us coin wrappers to roll the coins. So all 7 of us went over to a corner in the back of the bank, sat down on the floor, and rolled coins for quite a long time. Curious onlookers stopped us and asked what we were all doing. With a smile, we explained that this was money to bring the children's brother home from Russia. As I remember that day, my eyes well with tears and a smile comes across my lips. God is molding us and we will all be better off as He continues to leave His imprint on our hearts.
Can't wait to share these stories with our son when he gets older. A VERY much wanted part of our family....
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
We finally decided tonight that Jim will go next week. A dear friend, Kevin, has offered to go with Jim. Years ago, Kevin lived in Russia for about a year and also adopted a little boy from there as well. What a gift to have those 2 brothers in Christ sharing this next step of our journey!
So the kids and I will pray at home and I can provide some sense of normalcy for them. Meanwhile, Jim and Kevin will brave the cold winter of Russia to apply for a passport for our son. With Kevin's love for Russia and mastery of the language, I am sure they will venture much farther than Jim and I did on previous trips :) Suzy, Kevin's wife, remarked that Kevin is quite comfortable using the subway system in Russia. That is something Jim and I never used while we were there. Who knows where those two will go? No doubt these will be memories for a lifetime.
Thank you so much for your continued prayers, encouragement and support.
Friday, January 29, 2010
As the judge left, all was a buzz in the court room. Our coordinator, the orphanage doctor and the social worker all began to talk and to make phone calls. Of course, all this banter was in Russian. Jim and I stood there and looked at each other, dumbfounded. No one was talking to us and explaining the situation. They were just talking to each other. We later found out, this was to serve us well.
Our hotel was full so we had to find a new one. We had a non refundable room waiting for us in Moscow (tried unsuccessfully to get our money back) and the great possibility of missing our flights back home. We paid our old hotel for permission to sit on a coach and use their wireless access (our new hotel had no access) and started making calls. We talked to friends and family- asking for prayer. And looked for airline alternatives for the next day because it was unlikely that we would make our flight. All in all, our “Plan B” best case scenario was to go out on Saturday, a day late and pay about an extra thousand dollars for the change.
A call was made to a local Infectious Disease Doctor. We were to be at her office at 8 am (with our blood test results from America). If we could meet with her for 15 minutes and then race to the judge (15 minutes away), the judge had agreed to meet us at 8:30 am. If we could then get out of court by around 9 am…we might make our flight. The flight took registration until 11:30 am and flew at 12:10 pm.
All this time that I prayed, I kept hearing that song “…He can move the mountains…my God is mighty to save, He is mighty to save…” The mountains were about to move.
At 7:30 am, Jim and I were waiting to be picked up- nervous and prayerful that God was going to make this happen. But also asking for peace if we had to wait another day. We sat in the van outside the doctor’s office until it opened. Then five of us rushed upstairs. The next few moments were the beginning of seeing God make it happen. Jim and I sat quietly in chairs while 6 wonderful women- two doctors, a receptionist and our adoption contact people, typed and copied and stamped and signed. Quickly. Quickly. Did I mention that we are in Russia and typically efficiency and speed are not a strength here? Jim and I sat in awe. These people were doing this for us. Doing this for our son. “He can move the mountains…” played in my head.
We raced to the court. It was 8:31 am. We all ran in. The judge, prosecutor, typist, social worker, orphanage doctor, translator….all there. People spoke and then the judge walked out to make a decision. We waited……..
When she returned, she stood and read her decision. HE IS OURS! An orphan no more! My eyes, as in court, fill as I type this. There is one less orphan in the world. With a smile, she said that he is OUR son and wished us well. From the look on her face, I could tell that she knows we will love him and care for him well. Hallelujah!!!!!!!!!!!
Wiping my eyes, Jim and I hugged and I let out a cheer. Words escape me.. what if feels like to have that verdict read…….never in my life…Beautiful.
But we had no time to celebrate as we were told to race to the van. It was about 9:15 am. It would be close. Only those who have been to a place like Russia can understand the traffic there. It can be so difficult… traffic can be stopped for hours. So again , I asked for the mountains to move and peace and acceptance if they didn’t.
As we neared the airport at 11:25 am (we can register for the flight until 11:30 am), our coordinator kept crossing herself- countless times. She asked if we had prayed and we assured her that we had. We dropped off Jim and our translator to race upstairs and to tell them that “the lady is coming” and can we please register? The coordinator and I followed behind quickly, carrying the rest of the luggage. It was like a movie. As they started processing our information, they said we must hurry because the plane was already loading. With a wave and a smile to our translator and coordinator, we ran to passport control and then on to security,. Our gate was on the far end of the airport, of course, so we raced. Totally like a movie. I ran and laughed. God was doing His thing!
So now, I sit here in Seat 26 D. Jim is asleep on one side of me and a pretty blond Russian woman on the other. I pull out the pictures of this little guy that I met in a Russian orphanage about a month ago. Sweet boy… beautiful brown eyes and the hint of a dimple in his right cheek. Our son.
Thank you, Lord for giving us the privilege of allowing us to see you do your work. He can move the mountains. He is mighty to save.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Today, he continued to want to be held. He continued to want to gaze out the window. But he was throwing things and rolling on the floor and testing boundaries...not knowing what to do with this new found freedom he had. I am definitely going to be talking to my dear friends that have gone before me. Friends-need some counsel when I get home as it relates to bringing him home. I want him to feel safe and secure and treasured. Given his past, he needs to be loved on in an extra special way and my little mercy heart has no problem with that. That's easy for me. But I don't want to be a permissive parent that I get him in bad habits. Two is a tough age with any child (living it already with Miss Bella) in that it is an important time for boundaries and to show that Momma is still in charge! :) -kids try to take over at this age and are constantly testing. HMMMM! I will need to sit down with some "veterans" and discuss how to find a balance of compassion for the sake of bonding and still setting appropriate boundaries like any other child. Not worried - it is just becoming more of a reality that eventually this little guy WILL come home and WILL be my forever son. Good stuff!
It seems as if each day we find out... well, things are not quite the way you think they are. Every day seems to contain "a littls surprise" that we have to accept. Today is was our travel plans. Ever since we found out that we had 4 trips, we have planned that Jim would come for the 3rd trip alone (to apply for the child's passport) and that I would come (perhaps with a friend) for the fourth trip (to bring our son home). We planned it this way so that Jim could not take so much time from work, so that we weren't both leaving the children at home so much, and so that we could save some money. We have discussed this plan multiple times with our agency at home as well as our contacts here in Russia. Well, today we were told that it wouldn't work. We were told that whoever applies for the passport for the child also has to pick it up when is is processed. We had planned to send documents signing over power of attorney to make this all work. But alas, no! And it was a very firm no! Hence , we need to pray and rethink our travel plans for the next 2 trips. Bummer...but what are you going to do? No control...yet again. I guess we should be getting used to it.
Next is court. We covet your prayers. I will post again after court.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
It is more than a little intimidating, sitting there on a wooden bench right in front of a judge. It was, of course, very formal. Just another new life experience- both Jim and I were quiet, solemn and nervous. As each document is reviewed, you wonder if it acceptable or if something is going to come up. All of our references from friends and church representatives were read aloud for all to hear. AHHHH! I have never been in court before as the one being examined and evaluated. As I sat there sweating a bit, I thought of Judgment Day- when God, Himself, will be reviewing events from my life and choices that I have made. I pictured myself, sitting there… sweating profusely.. cringing at what He would have to report. It reminded me of how glad I am to have a Savior who has stood in my place and has taken the punishment that I so deserve.
After court, we went back to our hotel to change and to take a break. I had a great talk with my parents (sorry again about that- Jim forgot it was 1 am in the morning when he called). Then Jim and I bundled up and took a walk. We so much needed to get out and stretch our legs!!!! But did I mention it was cold here? BRRR! It was below zero so we didn’t last too long. But we walked a few blocks down the street to a pedestrian walkway. We found some lunch, some cookies (both of us were craving chocolate) and just enjoyed being out a bit. As we were rushing back to the hotel, Jim laughed and said, “If our son ever wonders if he would have been happier living here, I am bringing him back to Russia in the winter. He will run back home!”
Next, we were able to return to the orphanage to see our little guy. We played with him for about 2 hours. For the first time, he cried when he saw us. Not quite the reaction I was hoping for… but I can’t imagine how hard this is for him. With the help of our translator, we were able to calm him down pretty quickly. He’s a brave little boy- truly.
It actually turned out to be probably our best visit with him yet. He started to get more comfortable with us. He started talking more (actually I don’t know if it is toddler babble or if he is speaking Russian- I can’t tell the difference). And I started to see a sparkle in his eye. For the first time, a little sparkle. He has always had beautiful eyes. But puppy dog, sad eyes. I started to see a shine in those eyes that was new. And he laughed. Really belly laughed for the first time. He let me tickle him and hold him outside down… he started to tease and giggle just like any other child. It was…..BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!!
At dinner time, I carried him down to his room where all the other children were seated quietly at a little table, waiting to eat. When I left, he had a smile on his face. It was a contented smile…
We just came back from dinner and IT WAS GOOD! Whoopee! Jim and I are not the most adventurous with meals, plus with all that is going on…well it doesn’t give you a huge appetite, period. But we shared a great meal that we both enjoyed. Plus, they were having some sort of a reception in the room we were eating, so a musician had been hired to play the keyboard. So we ate and listened to a little music….What a bonus for our special day!
Jim and I would sincerely appreciate your prayers for court tomorrow. The second day is what they call "The Speaking Day." It is the day in which Jim and I, individually, stand before the judge and answer questions. I am told that each of us will be questioned for about 30- 45 minutes. Can you imagine? Standing in front of a Russian judge while someone translates and the judge asks you question after question? I can't imagine! But... I guess I will experience it first hand tomorrow. Did I mention that I was nervous??? But I have prayed and will continue to pray for just the right words and for the judge to see our hearts. I know My Heavenly Father will be right beside us and that nothing can block His Will from coming into fruition. In my weakness, He is strong...right!! Perfect time for me to see this. As Jim has often prayed, "Lord, be my legs so I can stand and accomplish Your Will." Friends and family- thanks for standing in the gap.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
But I paced and prayed and pulled myself together and just took it one doctor at a time. The first was the most uncomfortable- I won’t explain- the rest were not a big deal. It took us a full 4 hours to see the 8 specialists. But I must tell you about the last doctor- a psychiatrist. After asking us a few questions, she just smiled and said, “I want to thank you for what you are doing. There are so many without a family. It is wonderful what you are doing.” She thanked us!!!!!! Then she went on to say that she could tell just in our eyes that we were OK and that we would take good care of him. She did not need to ask us any more questions. Furthermore, as we went back to the waiting room, an assistant pulled us aside. She had escorted us to all the doctors and served as a translator. She looked at both of us closely and said, “From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you for what you are doing. It is such a good thing.” She looked as if she were going to cry when she talked to us. Jim and I were taken back by the outpouring of appreciation from these 2 people. What a gift! God gives encouragement right when you need it to show that you are right in His Will. What an amazing way to end an amazing day.
We then left to go to our hotel. What was supposed to be a 3 hour ride turned into a five hour ride , due to traffic. Five hours in a van without heat in winter in Russia…hmmm…next time I will wear a bit more layers for the long drive. Jim and I huddled close and marveled at the lessons we were learning.
About 11:30 pm, we arrived at our hotel. We were able to talk to the kids via skype! Hurrah! I can’t tell you how thankful we are for friends and family who are taking such good care of our children at home. Jim and I have both talked about the fact that we couldn’t and wouldn’t be here with out the support and friendship of these people. HUGE THANK YOU! We know they are safe and loved and that takes a huge burden from us.
But let’s get to the good part- we finally saw our little guy today (Tuesday). That’s the good stuff. That’s the highlight! He was appropriately tentative at the beginning. We hadn’t seen him in a month. But that cautiousness didn’t last long. He warmed up quite quickly. He has such a sweet disposition and he is so affectionate. That boy likes to be held. OH I love that! He would run to me and just place his little body in my arms. He is curious- he and Caleb are so similar. He kept trying to figure out how to work the camera. He so much reminds me of Caleb. He has a precious smile and an easy way about him. And God has placed a love in Mommy for this little guy that I just can’t explain. I sure prayed for that to happen- it is amazing to see it come to fruition. I feel so drawn to this child. Both of us just want to bring him home to join the gang. I can already picture him, sitting at the kitchen table eating ice cream and listening to Mommy read stories. That is a very Snyder tradition. I want to bring him home and pull he and Bella in the wagon to the park…I just want him home with our family, being a Snyder!
I must tell you, one of the visuals that stayed with me after we left the orphanage was that of our little guy (can’t give you a name) looking out the window. Whenever we meet with him, we play in this small area that is basically a hallway between rooms. In the room, is a window that looks out to a small playground used by the older orphans. Each time we visit, he wants to spend a great deal of time being held and looking out the window. So we pull aside the curtains and we hold him and we look. You should see his eyes! Such a longing. Such a deep longing to get outside. It is like he imagines something better, looking eagerly at the world beyond this place. Jim or I will hold him for awhile and he points at things and we talk about what we see …but it never seems to be enough time for him. He wants to continue to gaze. It is like he is hoping and dreaming and wondering what is beyond the walls that hold him inside. . So today, I stood at the window with my son and told him all the things we would do together.. I told him that I would pull he and Bella in the wagon when the weather was warm, and that he and all the kids and Papa would go to the park. I told him that I would hold him on my lap and go down the snow-covered hill on a sled. I told him that he would play soccer in the grass with Caleb, Alecia, Sophia, Natalia and Bella. I explained these things that he has to look forward to, because as my Caleb once said to me, “ Mom, a boy’s got to run!”
Monday, January 25, 2010
I was a bit nervous the night we left when a good friend of ours (Kevin) asked if we were bringing our own needles for the blood tests. Years prior, he had lived in Russia for a year. At that time, he had been told to bring his own needles for blood work because the Russians reuse needles. You should have seen our faces!!Well, it was the night before we flew out so really too late to get needles. So we asked our coordinator here if it was a concern. He said it is a good hospital and not to worry. So what to you do? I said a quick prayer for protection and just accepted the process. You had better believe I was watching the phlebotomist prepare to take my blood, though . :)
The gentlemen that drives us around transports us in an old, smelly van. It's ok- just old and smelly. He needs a new belt of some sort for the van. Hence, they dropped us off at the hotel while they went to get the belt replaced. Jim is working a bit- I am blogging- then we plan to go and explore Moscow for an hour until our next doctor's appointment. Just be glad I am not calling any of you right now (we found a way to call internationally using our computer- $5/ month). I want to skype with my parents and the kids but is is around 2 am so I am doing this instead. :)
Lots of waiting. Lots of patience. So much of this doesn't make any sense at all. So much of the process. But these are the times that I go back and remember why I am on this "detour" from my nornal, familiar life. I recall who first knocked on our hearts about adoption and called us to do what we are doing. It doesn't have to make sense. We just have to be obedient. I cling to the fact that He has gone before us, behind us and is right next to us. I need my Savior every day. But feel so helpless here- it is a beautiful opportunity to realize how totally dependent that I really am. And then to simply trust.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
We are exhausted and needing to rest. You never sleep well on a plane. Plus we are so "nerved up" with the week ahead. But we are torn because this is really our only opportunity to see Moscow. I don't want to miss this chance. Therefore, we did a little bit of this and a little bit of that. We laid down for about an hour and tried to sleep this afternoon. As always, I slept more than Jim.
Then we connected with our friend, Sasha, that I spoke about in my last blog. Wow! Was he wonderful!!! I can't say enough wonderful things about Sasha. I jokingly asked if he would hang with us the rest of our trip. He took us to Red Square- beautiful at night! It was really important to me that we capture some of our son's heritage while we are here. It was freezing outside- oh so cold! It was about -6 degrees. But we saw some of the government buildings, went into a church service (quite formal- the minister was reading the Bible while people just stood there listening, holding candles- lovely church that looked somewhat Catholic with its architecture and beautiful paintings). We saw the building that Lenin's body is in, a beautiful basilica....They even had a brightly painted building that was temporarily set up or ice skating. After awhile, we went to a small cafe to get some hot tea because we were FREEZING! Sasha laughed that the only people at Red Square are tourists. Russian people don't bother going to these places.
Sasha needed to get back to his family so we were trying to be respectful of his time. However, he then took us to a grocery store to purchase some needed "gifts" for the adoption process as well as a few items for ourselves. Everything is really expensive in Moscow so we were extremely selective with our purchases. We decided to buy water, yogurt and fruit for dinner to avoid paying for a restaurant. Sasha helped us locate what we needed and read labels for us. Then, in an unexpected demonstration of generosity, he insisted on buying our groceries. Due to the "gifts" we were buying, it was about $120 worth of stuff. He said that he thought it was wonderful that we were adopting a Russian child. He agrees that there are so many orphans in his country! And he feels bad that his country has made it so hard for people to do something that is so nice. Hence, he wanted to pay. Definite God thing!
Again, having a friend that knows the country- the ins and outs -and knows the language and speaks fluent English... what a treat! As we talked, I was able to ask questions about the Russian culture, traditions and laws that helped us understand life here in Russia. So much of what he said made me so sad for the people that live here. We talked about how serious the Russian people are- rarely a smile. He even laughed that if you have a big smile, they actually call it "an American smile".
Everything is harder here. For instance, he wanted to go into the hotel with us for a minute. We drove around the block twice but there were no parking spots. Hence, he decided to go into the hotel parking garage. That alone entailed a long talk with a parking security man who then stood in front of the car to block it while he filled out paperwork. He proceeded to write detailed information about the vehicle and check in the trunk before he let us into the garage. Wow! Just to get into a parking garage.
We are now back at the hotel hoping to skype with the kids. I think Jim is going to work and then we are hoping to join everyone in watching the Colts game! I think Jim is quite surprised that no one out here seems to care about American football. :) But he things he has found access to the game over the internet. So we will be watching tonight- about 11 pm out here. GO COLTS!
Again, we appreciate your prayers and support. We truly sense His presence and look forward to what tomorrow brings. I am NOT looking forward to going to the doctor tomorrow but I hope we get to see our little guy afterward.
We are here and safe and ready to go! It was so much of a simpler trip than last time. One stop in New York - no big deal!
At one point, we thought one of our bags had been mistakenly taken by someone else at baggage claim. That was an anxious time. But then we found that it was in the inside of the baggage area- inside the conveyor belt. Apparently it had fallen off into the middle. Once we discovered it, Jim kissed the bag. :)
Today we are going to get settled and actually connect with an old Russian friend. One of our Indy friends hosted a Russian foreign exchange student about 13 years ago. Sasha has offered to show us around this afternoon. Isn't that cool? Jim and he actually were exchanging text messages on Saturday to make the plan. So it is a last minute bonus!
We are hoping Sasha can show us some sights, help us do some shopping and then we are going to go out to dinner. Then Jim wants to get settled in and try to find the Colts game so we can watch it. We both have our jerseys and hope to skype with the kids during the game. He wants to feel like he is watching it with the kids. :)
Thanks for your prayers and support. We will keep you posted as the adventure continues to unfold.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Well, we have been following the tracking number of our needed Fed Ex package. At 2 am it was still in Tennessee so Jim called a customer service number. They assured him that it will be here in time. We will pick it up this morning.
Some have asked about our itinerary. So this is all I know:
Saturday- Leave at 1 pm for Moscow (1 stop in New York)
Sunday- Arrive in Moscow around 10 am (2 am Indiana time)
Hang out at the hotel and do some sight seeing (High of 5 Low of -11 so lots of layers)
Monday- Jim and I spend half a day at the hospital getting tests run. Then go to region where our son is.
Tuesday- See our little guy and run errands as told by coordinator
Wednesday and Thursday- Court for several hours each day and hopefully a visit with our son also. As of the final proceedings of Thursday, he is ours!!!!!
Friday- Fly home arrive home about 10 pm
Not sure what will happen besides all these nuts and bolts. I am sure we will have lots of stories to share.
I so appreciate your prayers not only for Jim and I, but for the precious Fabulous Five we have at home.
So hard to leave them. Lots of tears......
Thursday, January 21, 2010
About 10:30 pm tonight, we received a text from our adoption agency. There was still some outstanding items that the local judge had to approve of. According to the text, there just remains one final internal document that should arrive Monday but the judge has agreed to see us.
Wow! Jim and I kind of looked at each other. Is this real? Could it be? Is something going to come along and mess this up? I am an optimistic person with a deep sense of God's faithfulness. But this is international adoption- it's a crazy journey of complications and surprises. So you are never 100% confident of basically anything- except Jesus.
So .. are we excited ? YES!!! Are surprised? YES!!!! Did God move those mountains in a miraculous way that just screams the Almighty? YES!!!!
Celebrate and worship Him with us.
Now---- can't wait to see our little guy again.
Thank you for your support and prayers. They mean SO much!
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
I always... always... look back later and am so grateful that He didn't follow my script. His plan is always better. Always wiser.
You'd think that one day I would learn that lesson. Once and for all. :)
We have been on the Potter's Wheel for a long time now as we have traveled this adoption journey. And so little has gone as we expected. It has taken longer. Been more expensive. More complicated. More emotionally exhausting. More spiritually stretching.
But as Jim said this week, "Those are life lessons that you can't buy at the store."
Like so many trials in life, we wouldn't trade it.
We started this journey with a heart to obey a calling we felt by God. We have felt so blessed in our lives with our 5 children...we felt it was the least we could do- to open up our home to give another child a family and a sense of home and security. But this journey is about so much more. There is so much more that we have learned. So many ways that we have grown in our dependence and faith in The Creator- ways we have grown closer as a married couple-- numerous opportunities to teach our children about the needs beyond our safe little world-- our hearts have been expanded for things of Him. It has made us hunger for more of that.
So, I continue to sit as the gray "thing" on His wheel as it turns. We are supposed to go to court next week to adopt our little guy. But there is still one outstanding piece that keeps us from being able to do so. So despite the fact that hotel reservations have been made and flight arrangements made and visas in the mail... we may not go. Bummer. Don't understand why that is best. But it must be for some reason. The door is not totally closed for next week but quickly approaching. And if that happens... well, must be best.. and we will be shaped a little more.
Friday, January 15, 2010
We also found out that there is further paperwok from our Secretary of State that will be taken to the region on Monday. The judge may or may not approve of the document.
Meanwhile, flight prices are rising and time is ticking away if we are going to leave the 23rd.
We have done so well with just praying and working as hard as possible. Jim and I have both had a really good attitude, with His help.
We are feeling pretty discouraged now. The chances of going to court this month are dwindling. If we lose this court date, it could put us back another month or so.
Sometimes the unknown is the most unsettling.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
At the encouragement of our adoption agency and the FBI itself, we are asking for the help of one of our state representatives to get our fingerprints expedited. You are reading the blog of a person that doesn't like to inconvenience people. Now we are contacting our government officials for help. But apparently, this is pretty standard. Fortunately, my parents are friends with a state representative. So hence, the phone calls and emails to her started today. I expect her to call me at home tomorrow.
I called my sister- in-law tonight just to have someone laugh with me. Jim and I needed passport pics for our visa applications that Jim planned to Fed Ex out after kids' activities tonight. I called Meijer (near dance class) to see if they could take a passport picture. Jim and I met there, 25 minutes before we needed to pick up girls at dance. After a lot of fussing and taking 2 photos, the young man told us that the machine was broken. So Jim called the Walmart across the street. After more confusion, they finally told him that they could take our passport pic. So we tromped over there (right across the street mind you). Upon arrival, a stunned young man told us that the only one person who knows how to take those pictures left 5 minutes prior. We said that surely there must be someone at the store that can take our picture (as I stood gazing at the banner proclaiming "Get your passport pic taken at Walmart") We were told a big "no". Now mind you, we had called both of these places first to make sure they could do this. Already late to pick up the girls, we finally called a FedEx store. I ran and got the girls from dance, another friend generously took one of our other girls home from basketball and we went to the next destination. While I finally awaited in front of the backdrop, the young lady paused and said that the battery on the camera was dying. I paused... and laughed. What do you do? Good news, though, the camera lasted and Visa applications are on their way.
It is a good lesson in continuing to laugh. Just pray and laugh- what a combination! Oh, speaking of laughter, wait until you find out what "gifts" I am supposed to bring to Russia. Ask me!
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
On my last blog, I was very honest about my weaknesses and fears. I talked about how many planes we have to get on and off of, the mounting bills, etc. Stuff that I can trust God with but am struggling to face.
Huge praise! As we looked at the dates we might travel next, the flights had gone down significantly. Actually the cost to fly at the end of this month is almost half of what it cost last month. Almost half! And this same flight has only 1 stop! We had to change planes 3 times last trip- just going to Russia alone. Moreover, Jim found a different hotel with a comparable price with more wireless access (so we can skype with the kids for free instead of buying phonecards)and is supposed to have more people that speak English working there. I am all up for an adventure and all but there are so many adventures packed into an international adoption that an English speaking person here and there is kind of nice. :)
Much is still up in the air. I called the FBI to get the status of our fingerprints and it could still be weeks. Moreover, there are a few more new tricky paperwork requirements that they have insisted upon. We hope to go back to Russia the last week of the month but it is obvious that only He can make that happen.
The children's prayers are more and more fervent as they have seen more pictures and now video of their little brother. Bella was watching the video today and told my mom, "He's coming to my house!" And she smiled so big!
I so appreciate your prayers and encouragement. Trying not to cling to anything but so hopeful and encouraged. Yippee!!!