Wednesday, August 24, 2005

News on Anastasia

We have received another report from Alex. He is the journalist in Moscow who is helping us. He has made lots of phone calls to Vlad and has spoken several times with the social worker in charge of Anastasia's case. He has also spoken to the judge who decided the case for Max and Dima. He reports the following:

  • The mental hospital and the court commision have determined Anastasia's father (Oleg) to be mentally competent. They can therefore, not move forward with an attempt to terminate his parental rights as they have no grounds for it. This doesn't make sense to us since he has never, in 5 years, made any attempt to visit his children in the orphanage.
  • He was put in the mental hospital for a minor crime he commited. He had a one year sentence and was supposed to get out last spring but the hospital extended it 6 months and now he should get out in September.
  • The social services office will observe him after he gets released. They will watch to see if he makes any attempt to visit his daughter. If not, this may be grounds to try to get his parental rights terminated.
  • The ss office will also check to see if he has ever been registered as a drug or alocohol abuser. If so, this may also be grounds to request his parental rights be terminated.
  • Happily, Alex reports that the judge who decided Max's adoption case is on our side. She said she will try to help us. Unfortunately, she is in a different jurisdiction and can't try the case, but maybe she will use her influence to help us?? Also, the social worker appears to genuinely want to help us. That is a huge relief.

Please pray for us and for those small people scattered across Russia who are using whatever means they have to help bring our daughter home. And, please pray for Anastasia. She must be so confused. We continue to hope and pray that we will be able to bring her home sooner rather then later. We have no right to ask for more miracles for our family, but we need this one and so does Anastasia.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Regression pictures

We recently received this beautiful drawings from an artist, Darla Dixon, who speciallizes in pencil drawings. We were able to send her some pictures of Max and Dima and she used the features to draw baby pictures of them. The boys are so thrilled with this pictures. We will try to make copies of them at the printer so they can take them to school when they need to for the "bring in the baby picture" thing or the "lifebook" thing. Children always seem to need a baby picture. These has been so wonderful for them because they are always asking me what they were like when they were babies - or what they looked like. Thank you Darla! You really captured the spirit of our boys!

Baby Boys

This is Baby Max. It looks just like him. Darla captured his eyes and mouth perfectly. He is such a thin boy, it is funny for all of us to see him with chubby cheeks. When Max first saw his picture he said, "I really like my sweater".
Here is Baby Dima. He immediately wanted to copy this a put it on his wall. He was so excited to see a baby picture of himself. Dima spent hours and hours, the first few months he came, pouring over Alexander's baby pictures. Darla really captured his eyes and nose and hairline in this. Those features make it uniquely Dima.
Here is Baby Alexander. This one is a copy from a photo I sent Darla. It came out so beautifully though. Even Alexander likes it!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Baby Shasta snuggling up to a disinterested Hercules.

In our backyard pool - Shasta and the boys got a lot of use out of it this summer.

Our living room in Vienna. We have a really nice house here, even though it is a mess most of the time!
Baby Shasta -- see what I mean about adorable?

Alexander working on his science project for the 5th grade science show. He invented a way to enclose and insulate all the windows in the car so that dogs could be left in the car during shopping.


October 2004. Max and Dima make the decision to get baptized. We were so proud. They made this decision after lots of thought, scripture reading, and prayer. This was something they wanted to do and were ready to do on their own. This is the beautiful baptismal font in our church in Vienna, Austria.


Okay, this is about the least flattering picture imaginable, but I couldn't find another one. This is Robert after a long day at work. He loves his job and likes most of the people he is working with at the Embassy, but the summers really wipe him out.

Seems he is always alone during the summers and has quite a burden to bear. He did manage to go visit Scott, Liz, and Erin and Stewart at the beginning of the summer but he also had to do a lot of traveling for work. Not always to exotic locations either. For this reason we are all glad the summer is drawing to a close and that he will be home now more than being gone.

He loved getting to spend time with his children and was thrilled to be called grandpa and get to know his grandchildren a little bit. This has been the hardest part of being overseas-- missing out on those times, especially for him - he misses his children so much. We were able to take two long weekends this summer. One to Garmish, Germany and one to Lake Balaton, Hungary. As always we had lots of fun. All of our boys are troopers when it comes to long road trips and Robert is happy to drive 5, 6, 11 hours to go see something new.

We don't know how is able to work so hard, travel so much and still be a good husband and father. He is now worrying about 8 children (That includes Erin!)! Wow. Who would have thought? He looks pretty good for a grandpa, doesn't he??

He continues to be the spiritual leader and strength of our family and we do miss that so much when he has to travel. He is a counselor to the Bishop at church and he has been able to bless and help many people here in Vienna through his Priesthood and also just through his good heart and compassion.


This is our most recent adoption.
When my mom came to visit at Christmas we were at the mall together when we spotted this little beauty. She was only a handful then and about the sweetest thing on 4 legs. My mom and I decided that this was just the creature she needed. I hate thinking about my mom being alone all the time and coming home to an empty place every night. Unfortunately, it didn't take long for her to realize that she didn't have the heart to leave this little one all by herself for ten hours per day. Anyway, that is how we ended up with this energetic little addition.

Shasta is still a puppy but now 10 months old. She has grown a lot and is now capable of knocking over 6 year old children with a single leap. At the moment she is sort of the center of the house as she dominates most of the space. She loves to play with the boys and if they refuse, she can amuse herself by throwing her ball for herself and then running after it. She can also hold an amazing amount of items in her mouth. A stuffed animal, a shoe, a sock and a tennis ball all at once is not uncommon!

Unfortunately, with 3 boys at her beck and call she has developed some bad habits. We just started her with dog obedience lessons and hope to be able to report soon that our house is once again being run by humans!


Hercules -- my little old man. He is doing pretty well. He has finally adjusted to life with Shasta - it was quite an adjustment for him. As he ages, his back legs get weaker and that has been really hard for him. His mind is still that of a puppy's but his body just can't keep up. Still, he continues to play and pick up a tennis ball from time to time. He can't hop up on the bed anymore but sometimes Robert will put him up there and he is so happy. He is such a character and like no other dog I've known. He has a special place in this family and in this home and we all love him so much.


Anastasia. This picture is from our visit in February of 2004 to the orphanage in Vladivostok. Anastasia is Max's sister. They were in the orphange together since the time she was 4 and he was 3. They were very, very close. When we adopted Max, Anastasia was not yet available. Russia has lots of complicated laws and we were assured it was just a matter of paperwork and beauracracy until she would be available. Anastasia made the decision to let Max go while we waited for the paperwork to be complete so we could go get her. It has now been 18 months since we last saw her.

It has been a fight the whole 18 months and it has just been one thing after another. Her father has been discovered in a mental institution and he refuses to give his permission for her adoption. Aparently he grew up in an orphanage and it was good enough for him so it is good enough for his daughter. We are currently trying to get the courts to declare him mentally incapable, but it has been a long battle and we still aren't there yet. Our greatest weapon at this time has been prayer and fasting and we are now resolved to do even more fasting with prayer. We have recently found a secret weapon named Mary Kirkpatrick, she runs an organization called Russian Family Finders and she has good contacts in Russia. She has been helping us and that is how we have the little information that we do have.

We have been able to contact Anastasia a few times but she cries the whole time and can not understand anything about judges and government regulations etc. She only understands that we promised we would be back and we haven't been back. Even now as I write this, my stomach is contracting and I feel ill with anger and frustration. It is our prayer that all of these complications will fall away and we will have our daughter, our son's sister, home with us soon.

Anastasia is going to be 11 on September 20th. She is one month younger than Alexander. A friend just pointed out to me that we will have 4 children in high school, going on missions and going to college all at the same time. We are going to need lots of blessings and miracles. I have asked Max what Anastasia likes to do, what her favorite color is, what kinds of things she likes, but he doesn't know. He just says she loves to eat. How I wish she were home with us now.


Dmitry (we call him Dima, pronounced Deema) dressed as a "Russian". Last year the children had an international day at school and one of the Russian families lent him a costume from Russia. However, since that time he has tried harder and harder to distance himself from his Russian heritage. We can understand this and just want to go with whatever feels most comfortable to him right now. Dima has a perfect memory of his early childhood and remembers lots of sad and disturbing things so we understand his need for distance.

He has grown so much the last 18 months that he barely resembles the little, screaming, self-harming, angry little boy we brought home.

He is a rather obsessive child but this has really paid off for him in school. In one year he went from not knowing a word of English to being at the top of his class in reading. He loves to read and can often be found with a book under his nose. He also loves electronics, which we try to limit or keep him away from altogether!

Dima loves to swim and Alexander has taught both him and Max how to swim quite well. Dima also loves church and has absorbed the gospel like a sponge. He has an astonishing memory for scripture stories and details and an amazing ability to understand the deeper meaning behind those stories. We are so proud of how far he has come socially. It is very difficult for him to keep his emotions in check, but he is so smart that he is aware of this and with the help of a little medication, he can catch himself much of the time, take a deep breath and stop before he spins too far out of control. He wants to be just like any other American boy and that is what he constantly strives for. He refuses to admit he speaks Russian and claims he can't understand it at all. Again, we think this will pass.


Max will be 10 in October. We are stunned at the progress he has made the last 18 months since we brought him home. His English is now wonderful. He is still exploring to find what his talents and hobbies are. He gets bored easily and is always busy looking for new things to get into. He spent a lot of time this summer helping me around the house. He is a good worker and seems to have limitless energy.

He is finally starting to grow. We really worried the first year as his growth was minimal but he has added about 3 inches now and almost 20 pounds! He is full of charm, humor and .....mischief. You can see it in his big, blue eyes. His great love is dogs and the two we have don't seem to be enough to keep him busy. He continues to miss his sister and worrys that he won't be able to speak Russian to her by the time we finally get her home. Max continues to struggle with reading but we had him working with a tutor this summer and are excited to get him started with a computer program which the school recommends. He enters 3rd grade on Wednesday and he, of all the boys, is the most excited to get back to work and play. He has been bored this summer and needs constant structure or he ends up in trouble. He has really shown a natural ability toward music and can pound out lovely tunes on the keyboard even though he has had no lessons. He is a sweet and cuddly little boy and we have been so proud of how hard he works.


Here is Alexander -- looking tan and happy! We didn't get much sun this summer but somehow the boys managed to absorb the rays that peeked out. Alexander is doing well. He is as tall as my shoulder now. He just turned 11 on August 12. He will start middle school on Wednesday -- yikes. Just a few minutes ago I was holding him in my arms and rocking him to sleep.

He continues to amaze us with his insight and perception - so uncommon at his age (um and with his gender!). He is such a good big brother. He spends lots of time teaching new things to his little brothers and he is a very patient teacher. He has his days when he doesn't want to see them at all, but for the most part they get along well.

Alexander was really doing well with the flute last year but he took a break this summer - hopefully he will be back at it this year. The sixth grade! It came so fast. Alexander has really shown growth this year and we are so proud of the mature young man he has become.

The Baxters Online!

Well, here we are, finally on the www. We can't seem to keep up with correspondence anymore but wanted to share our beautiful family with everyone.

This is our first try with a blog...we'll see how it goes!