Friday, September 30, 2005

Max's Sister

It was such an emotional night last night. I wanted to share Max's story because I hope that the more we reach out with his story, the more likely that we will find a solution. Perhaps it will be through inspiration, through the prayers of others who read this story, or perhaps it will just help me to organize my thoughts so I can figure out what I am supposed to do to fix that which is not right.

Robert was out last night attending to church business so I thought the boys and I would have a quiet dinner and get to bed early. I put on a new cd that I just received. It is gospel music and so relaxing and pretty! Dima and Alexander were telling me of the weird dreams they have been having recently. Max started to tell me about a dream he had about Anastasia but before he could get the first sentence out he started crying uncontrollably.

I couldn't calm him down and eventually he gave up on dinner and laid on the couch until he could stop sobbing. We joined together for our evening scripture study and Max said he would like to talk to me privately at bedtime. His breath was still catching and with each word he sounded like he would break into tears again.

Later, as I tucked him in, he said that the calm music had made him relax for a minute (this made me wonder how wound up his mind must be if he actually made this connection) and he remembered something really bad that had happened at the orphanage nearly three years ago when he was 7 yrs old.

They had a beat up old bicycle at the orphanage, it was an adult sized one, but all the children could use it as they wished. Anastasia could ride it a little and she took Max out for a ride. He was sitting on the seat and she was standing up pedalling.

Both Max and Dima have told us many stories of the drunken men who would hang out around the orphanage, especially around the playground. The children were all terrified of these men who apparently were always threatening to steal the orphans. We heard a story about one of these men even breaking into the orphanage in a drunken stupor and trying to get into the boy's room late at night. We don't know if these are accurate memories because they don't make much sense but both boys are adament about it. It occurs to us that perhaps these men wanted children to work as their "slaves" (like with cooking, cleaning etc) or perhaps they even had children in the orphanage that they wanted to get back. Who knows? It is also possible that the orphanage workers played these stories up to encourage the kids not to leave the premises.

In any case, as Anastasia and Max were careening down the road, one of these drunken men walked into their path. Anastasia was not very skilled with the bike and didn't know how to stop, Max anticipated what would happen and he jumped off the bike. He said he was terrified that the drunken man would get him and he ran back to the orphanage and ran inside as fast as he could. He saw his sister fall, nearly at the feet of the drunk and he saw that she was hurt, crying and scared. He kept looking back but was so scared himself he could only run away.

He said that when he bacame a Baxter and started to learn about God, he knew that he should have helped his sister that day. He said the thought wouldn't go away from him. He asked me if Heavenly Father knew about the incident with Anastasia and the bicycle and I said that yes, Heavenly Father knows everything and he said, but you promised that when I got baptized Heavenly Father would forget all the bad things that I did before. I assured him that Heavenly Father remembered that incident not because He is mad at Max but because He is sad that Max was scared and sad that Max felt bad about not helping his sister.

He just kept saying over and over, "I should have helped her", "What if I never get to tell her I'm sorry?", "What if I never get to help her?". It was hard to console him because I was torn between my own tears and wanting to lash out at all the imbiciles out there who would hurt children and all the injustices that our keeping our daughter away from our family.

Through his tears though, the ever ingenious Max developed a plan. He wants to write a letter to Ty. Ty is his favorite person because he helps people and he doesn't care about money or anything, he just wants to help people. Ty is a t.v. guy, he is on the show, Extreme Home MakeOvers -- the favorite show of all three of our boys. If you haven't seen this show it is great. They find worthy recipients (truly worthy) and makeover their home in 7 days. Recently, we watched a double header where Ty and his team totally built a new home (in 7 days) for a family whose 8 yr. old daughter had cancer. We all cried through the whole 2 hour show. Robert came home from a basketball game to find us all sniffling and all three boys still up at 9:00 pm!

I tried to explain to Max that Ty is a carpenter not an adoption attorney, but to no avail. He is insistant, so even though we don't even own a home, or even live in the states right now, I guess I will be helping Max write a letter to Ty this weekend! Maybe next time you tune in you will be seeing a team of American carpenters rebuilding the Russian courthouses. Anything to get our daughter home!

Thank you all for your prayers. It is what we need and it keeps me afloat through evenings like last night.

Monday, September 12, 2005

A Tiny Ray of Hope...

We got a bit of news last night that Anastasia's father has been released from the mental institution. The social worker who is trying to help us has made contact with him and so far he has not agreed to sign the release form.

She will continue working with him and hope she can find a way to get him to agree. I am going to send her some pictures of our life here and hope that can help her to persuade him. We are praying and praying that he will sign the papers - this would be our best option. If he agrees to sign, we can get back on track with the process and could have her home in just a few short months. Keep her in your prayers.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Alexander's story

My amazing son Alexander has written a story for his 6th grade English Lit. class. This is just the rough draft but I was so thrilled with his creativity (okay genius) that I had to put it up for you to read.

Journey of Love

Part One

It was 5:00 in the morning. I was sleeping. I completely forgot to set my alarm clock to five. It was a Friday so I knew that I only had about an hour until I had to start my morning affairs.

“Wake up” my father boomed.

“Oh man, what time is it?” I asked blankly.

“Its 5:15” he replied “and we’re running late.”

It was then that I remembered that we were going to Russia. I threw my cloths on, brushed my teeth, gulped down some cereal, and ran outside to the airport-van. I was tiered, but having what I was about to get was worth it.

It was about 6:00 by the time we got to the airport. I could smell all the food at the bakery and restraints. I was hungry, and wanted to eat. But there was so much to choose from. There was pizza, Burger King, McDonalds, and anything else a tiered and hungry person could want.

“Mom, I’m hungry.” I whined.

“Well, lets check these bags in and then we can go and get something to eat” she replied.

I wanted something to eat really badly, and I was about to complain, but I stopped myself. I knew that it was trouble to mess with mom in the morning. So, I waited patently for our father to check in the bags.

It seemed like an hour before he got back.

“Now can we go get some food?” I whined.

When we finally got some food it was 7:30. We were all ready to get on the plane. We got some breadsticks from pizza hut.

“How much more longer until we go?” I complained.

“You sure are whiney. Why don’t you take a nap?” offered dad.

I considered it, but quickly decided that I would not want to miss a second of any action.

When we got onto the plane (at 8:00) I wanted to play game boy. Mom had got me to new games, and I wanted to play them. Nether the less I waited an extra 15 minutes for the flight attendant to do her little presentation, for the plane to take off, and for the plane to get to a high enough altitude.

“Would you like anything to drink?” asked the flight attendant.

I took advantage of sitting in front of my mom, instead of right next to her

“I’ll have some sprite please.”

After I drank my sprite, I was able to play my Game Boy. It had been 4 hours before I asked how long it would be before we got there. I knew I shouldn’t wake mom up, but I did so any way. “At least 4 more hours.” Said mom.

I didn’t want to run out of batteries on my Game Boy, so I listened to music and fell asleep.

When I woke up we had landed in Moscow. Now was the long flight. But we had some time to kill so we got some lunch. By the time we had eaten and got to our terminal, it was time to get on the plane.

I fell asleep as soon as we got on the plane. When I woke up we still had 7 hours left on the plane. So I watched a movie, listened to some music and played some game boy. We only had 2 hours left, so I figured I’d take a nap.

When I woke from my second nap of the (long) day, we had landed. We picked up our luggage, took at took a taxi to our hotel, and went to bed. But we couldn’t sleep in to long, because we had to take a taxi to visit the orphanage where Dima was.

I was excited because I hadn’t seen Dima for over a year and a half when we saw them in California (but that’s a different story). So after we ate breakfast and crammed in the car. It took 2 ours to get there (did I mention that it was in the middle of winter, and winter in Russia is so cold it feels like Knifes stabbing you in the face whenever the wind blows). When we got there it was heartbreaking. We were greeted by the director (who had pink hair), who led us in and told us to sit down on the bench while she went to get Dima. As we waited for Dima we heard these little voices.

“Is that my mommy? Is that my mommy?” chimed little orphans.

“Nyet. No Edo, Edo (No. Now go) she snapped.

“What are they saying?” I whispered.

“They’re saying, “Is that my mommy?”” whispered mom (she could speak Russian).

“How sad,” added in Dad.

“Own thama (he’s in there).”

“Let’s go,” said Mom.

Once we were in the room we saw Dima. He was a lot smaller than I remembered him. We hugged and kissed for a couple of minutes. Then the director left.

I got out some toy cars to play with. Dima acted as if they were the most precious things he had ever got (they where). I played and played and played with him for hours. But then he said one of the only English words he knew. It gave my dad a nervous look.

“Shoulders daddy, shoulders!” he yelled.

Dad was about to deny the little orphan his wish when Mom gave him a strong look. Half-heartedly he lifted him up and onto his shoulders. Dima kept on covering Dad’s eyes. Dad said, “I can’t see” and then Dima said, “I can’t see” mimicking him. This continued for a long time.

Unfortunately, we had to leave. But it wasn’t so bad. We told him we’d come back. But tomorrow, we were going to visit max, because we would se his sister, Nastia (her real name was Anastasia.).

The next day we crammed into the taxi. I was extra excited, because of how well yesterday went. I fell asleep the second the car moved though. My mom woke me up when we got there. I ran inside, with my parent’s right behind me. But then I stopped dead in my tracks.

“What’s wrong?” asked mom.

“They're old.” I whispered.

“Well what did you expect?” she asked.

“Well I didn’t expect them to be old.” I said

It wasn’t so bad when I got used to it. We waited for 10 minutes again. Then we got to see max and Anastasia. I was so happy to see her. I got out a Barbie, but she was too old. So then I got out a coloring book, which seemed to interest both her and max. So I colored with them for a couple of minutes.
But then Mom said that we were going to eat lunch, with the director. The director here seemed a lot more mean then the one at Dima’s orphanage. But never the less I ate lunch with her. The food wasn’t so bad, but everybody staring at us was.
We then went to get Max’s passport picture taken. As soon as we got back we found all the kids crowding around my mom. So we played with them for an hour.
But we had to go eventually, so we did. But like Dima, we assured them that we would come back.

We continued visiting the orphanages for when we could, but when we couldn’t we would drive around town and find something to do like go the aquarium, or go to a museum, or walk on the on the frozen ocean. This continued for about two weeks, but then we got our court date.
I could hardly sleep the night before the court date. I stayed up until 2 in the morning reading. Then I finally fell asleep.
We woke up nervous, but excided. We got ready in silence. We drove to the court in silence. We went to court in silence. But after an hour of debating, the judge asked us to step out side. We did so in silence.
I hoped and prayed for the answer I wanted. And then, They asked us to step inside. They told us the answer, and It was ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… YES!!!!!!!!!!
We ran outside, crying with joy. And, we got to pick Max and Dima up tomorrow. It was a happy day for the Baxter family.

Part Two

I woke up the next morning bright and early, but mom and dad were already up. I poured my self some cereal, thinking that this would be the last breakfast I would have as an only child. When I finished, we set off.
First we had to get some cakes for all the people that were in this adoption (don’t ask me why, but I think its Russian custom). Like the social workers, the directors, and all those other people. So we did, and then we went to get them.
We got Max first. He was really happy to go, but someone else felt pain. It was his sister. He never wanted to come with us unless Anastasia was coming with him. But he changed his mind when she told him she would be alright. When he left she was crying and holding on to him. When she finally let go of him she stormed off, with her friends behind her.
Then we got Dima. It wasn’t as hard on him to leave as it was on Max. while we were giving the director her cake we told Dima to go and get anything he wanted to take with him. He came back with a rubber ball. Oh well, like they say “One mans garbage is another mans treasure.”.
It was a long car ride home, but Max and Dima found stuff to do. Dima played game boy and max listened to The Beach Boys.
I wish we could say we lived happily ever after, but we didn’t. We encountered unexpected difficulties. For example, temper tantrums, misbehavior, waking us up at nighttime. It was like they were 2 year olds in an 8 year old body. But we survived, and with every tantrum we learned how to counter it.
About 2 days latter we were boarding a plain back home. Max and Dima had never been on an airplane of course. Dima stayed in his seat with his game boy. But max was allover the place. He was talking to people, sitting on there lap, shining flashlights in other people’s eyes, that kind of stuff. But we got him under control.
When we got home we got a taxi back home. Max was more excited than Dima was about having a dog. When we picked our dog up he was also excited to see to new boys.
It was funny to see the boys saying it was summer when it was winter! Apparently our winter feels like there summer.
Well this is my brothers' story.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Our newest big news!

Nope, I'm not pregnant. Well, actually, I kind of am.....

Last year the boys were home from school on a holiday and we all were vegging out watching Oprah. It happened to be a show about adoption of all things. We followed Lisa Ling to China as we watched American families adopt these precious babies. They also had a segment on the orphanages. This struck my boys very deeply. They showed inside the orphanages and they also showed some footage of the so called "dying rooms" where the sick babies are left alone until they leave this world.

This struck us all heavily, especially Max and Dima. All three boys wanted to leave for China and bring all those unwanted babies home. Sigh. If only we could save the world.

The boys didn't drop it though. They kept hounding us - for months. Of course, we already don't know where the money is going to come from for Anastasia's adoption so we can't afford another one, can we? Children don't understand about money though - they told us it would work out somehow. Robert and I even started to talk about it since it was quite unusual that all three of our boys could keep on track for that long!

Eventually I felt compelled to pray about it. It is not like I was ever opposed to the idea it just seemed so impossible financially. I felt very good about it though after my prayer and then I started to bug Robert about it too. Finally, he prayed about it too and was comforted and felt assured that it is the right thing for us to do. We still haven't figured out all the financial aspects of it (I may start a mail order chocolate cookie business - place your orders now!), but we know it is the right thing for us, for our family, for God, and also, most definately for that little girl who will be spoiled rotten by her doting siblings.

We have submitted our paperwork and will know soon if we are approved. We are so excited, the boys are all thinking of names and every time we see an Asian baby or toddler, everyone asks, "OOoo is that what our sister is going to look like?". What a wonderful family we have. I can think of no greater gift than to have righteous children who want to help other children.

I'm getting a little girl!!!!!!!!!!! Yiipppeeee!!

Here is our "short list" for names - I've provided the meaning too:

Carmen: means crimson

Celeste: gentle and heavenly

Sylvia or Sylvy: girl of the forest

Ruth: loyal friend

Rose: rose, blushing

Judy: woman worthy of praise

Grace: graceful

Stephanie: regal

Olivia: flourishing

Rachael: peaceful as a lamb

Edith: a blessed girl who is a gift to mankind

Ivy: easy going

Eva: life

Cast your votes now and THINK PINK. We are sooo excited.