Thursday, December 28, 2006

Another Snag

Well, I'm sure no one will be surprised to hear that we've hit another wall with Anastasia's adoption. Turns out the Russian govt wants our Homestudy to be approved by an agency licensed in Virginia (our state of residence and also the place where our Social Worker is licensed). I am currently trying to find someone willing to work with us and to sign the paperwork we need. Argh. This too shall pass, I know, but...well, argh!

We are still hoping to have her by Easter. Things are looking good with Rosie though. We are still planning to travel by the end of January. We are waiting for our TA (Travel Approval) from China and then we can make an appt with the consulate and then we will have our travel date. My mom just learned that she will be able to take leave while we go to China (thank you, thank you to all those who had to bend and sacrifice to give my mom leave...again!)

That means that Daniel and Alexander will come with us to China and my mom will stay here with Max and the dogs. When we go to Russia, Max will come with us and Daniel and Alexander and the dogs will stay here. We have a lot of travel in the next few months! We couldn't afford to take all the boys on both trips but Robert thinks he has it figured out that we can do it this way using award miles. What a blessing! I hate being away from any of the boys for so long, but this is the next best solution.

Thank you to everyone who prays for us and also to those who work so hard to help us. Where would we be without you all? Thank you mom for your continual sacrifice, who would I be without you? Would I even have my family?

My mom's "vacation"

Here is my mom making a carpet. On the side you can see dozens of skiens of yarn from the hats and scarves she's been knitting. It was so nice to have her here for the holidays. She just left yesterday and we miss her already. While she was here she taught herself how to make quilts and she promptly made one for each of the children. They are so awesome. She also taught the boys how to make knit hats and scarves with a little loom. We had a great time. We braved the cold one day and went ice skating and of course the boys were whizzing around in no time.

Needless to say, she didn't get much rest while she was here. Besides all the crafting, she often woke up early and took the dogs out letting Robert and I sleep in. Also, after clearing the table at night or after meals, I would go into the kitchen and it would magically be clean. How cool! I guess that is how it seems to Robert and the boys most of the time (or do they think about that). Anyway, we are once again indebted to her. We had a wonderful Christmas, full of so many blessings.

Anastasia's Quilt

My mom's first quilt. She looked at a book and cut the fabric, stitched it together and presto, a quilt. I love this bright cheery fabric. My mom only notices the tiny flaws but I think it is fabulous.

Alexander's Quilt

Alexander's quilt came out surprisingly well. We painstakingly picked each fabric and planned with my mom what he wanted where. With all the different blues and greens, I didn't think it would look good but we were all pleasantly surprised.

Max's Quilt

This quilt is too funny. You can't really tell, but some of the squares are civil war scenes and some of them are teddy bears playing tennis -- that is just so, so Max. He picked all the fabric himself. Fuzzy little animals and war games - his two favorite things.

Daniel's Quilt

This quilt is so, so cute! Daniel picked the theme print but my mom and I got to pick the rest of the fabric (hence the matching). It goes well in Dog World here!

Rosie's Quilt

This is the final quilt my mom made. She really perfected it and I love this quilt. I am going to attempt to make crib bumpers to match it - I wish I had my mom's patience and skill. I love this quilt - thanks to Judy KY and Terri F. for the inspiration on the fabric - I love it!

Friday, December 15, 2006

And Her Name Is..........

We were forced to decide because we needed to send the name into the Chinese Govt. So, after much, much, much debate, we have decided upon;

Rosemary Edith Baxter

Rosemary because we just like it and everyone of our very opinionated family members like it. Edith is in honor of my grandma and Robert's great grandma. We think it suits her very well and we are just itching to see her.

Scroll down if you haven't seen her yet. She is just beautiful!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Haikou Social Welfare Institution

We have a little bit of info on the place where our baby is living. She is in Haikou in the Hainan Province. It is a small island off the south-western coast of China. It is called the Chinese-Hawaii. We couldn't be luckier. The last group that went went to Mongolia and it was already freezing in November. From the information we've read, Haikou is between 60 and 70 degrees F during the winter and they have great beaches and beautiful water. Our boys will be thrilled.

It is apparently a big tourist destination so hopefully they will be used to foreigners and it won't be too hard to find vegetarian food (I've been a little worried about that). I've read that the big specialty is seafood so Robert will be in heaven.

The turnaround time for the travel approvals has been about 3 or 4 weeks and then after we get our TA it should be about 2 or 3 weeks before we get our consular appointment. So far we are still on schedule for end of January. Sigh. The waiting is still hard, I thought is would be easier once we got her picture.

We have pretty much decided on her name, but Robert is keeping it Top Secret. He says that every time we disclose we hear things that discourage us like, "yuk, I knew a snotty girl in High School with that name" or "that sounds like an old ladies name" or "oh, I hope she doesn't get teased too much" or "is that the full name or the nick name" etc. Anyway, we figure once we name her, no one will have the nerve to say anything negative!!

We are excited about the name though, it is a family name on both my side and Robert's side and it has special significance for us. I really can't wait to add this spirit to our family, I feel it she will add a completely new dimension to life for all of us.

God is so Good!

Friday, December 01, 2006

A little more info...

We just received a little more info from our agency. Here is the translation.....

Fu, Hong Xiang, Female, born on May 20, 2005, was admitted to our institution on July 20, 2005. Physical examination was performed at the time of admission: Weight: 2/5 kilos (that's 5.5 lbs at 2 months!). She has been healthy and regularly immunized. Her current weight is 7.5 kilos or 16.5 lbs.

Xiang is a smart and shy girl. Her personality is more introverted. Her physical development and intellectual development are normal. She is easily satisfied. She rarely cries. She likes to laugh, likes to listen to music, play with toys, and play games. She is energetic, active and quick to react. She can sit, crawl, and walk independently. She can easily pick up items with her thumbs and index fingers. She likes to take walks and she likes outdoor activities. She likes to play with children from her room or with older children. She can understand the meaning of language and command. She can respond accordingly. For example, "come back, bring this back, kiss, etc. She can stack two or three blocks. After she builds the blocks, she claps her hands. She can pick up the toys and return them to the basket with the encouragement of the nannies. She can play for a awhile by herself. She can put her hands together to simulate the meaning of "thank you". She can pint to her ears when asked. She can bring the nannies the toys or towels when asked. When she is happy, she would bring the toys to little boys. When others praise her, she claps and smiles. She can imitate to say, "Ba Ba" (daddy), "Ma Ma" (mommy), sometimes she calls the nannies "ma ma".

Xiang's attachment development is normal. She is attached to her nannies, likes adult's attention, likes to be close to people she is familiar with and is close to her nanny and her friends in the same classroom.

She has a daily routine. She eats and sleeps as scheduled. She sleeps well and has a good apetitie. She likes milk best and eats all kinds of poultry and fruit.

Wow! I can't wait to meet her! Will post more info as soon as I get it. Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers and well wishes. If you are reading this, thank you for caring about our little girl!

Our little miracle...

Oh joy! We are so overcome today. Last night around midnight, we received The Call. I hope I can explain exactly the magnitude of this miracle.

The CCAA (the Chinese Agency that reviews all adoption documents and also places the children) releases referrals around every 30 days. These referrals are completed in chronological order, determined by the date the prospective parent's dossiers are logged into the China database. This date is referred to as the LID or Log In Date. All of us in the China program are obsessed with our Log In Dates because that is how we know when we will receive our referral. Each month, towards the end of the month we all log onto the CCAA website and wait for them to announce which LID batches they finished. It has been a 14 month wait as our LID is 9/12/05. I was hoping and hoping that we would get our referral soon but was so disappointed to find that the CCAA had only finished through 9/8/05. It is just such an emotional roller coaster wondering when your date will come. I was feeling pretty distraught on Thursday night when our Agency called to tell us that they had our referral - her picture and everything. It is a total miracle because the CCAA never goes past the day they post on their website. No one can explain it but we know the truth - she is supposed to be our daughter and Heavenly Father made sure she came to the right home. How much more thrilled could a family be. The boys are so excited - they keep looking at her sweet face and wishing they had more friends here to share their good news with.

And here she is.............................

We still haven't come up with a name for her. We have several still on our "list" but it is so hard...we figure when we see her we will know.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

New Happenings

Just a few new things going on:
The new China referrals for this month came in. Judging by the speed with which the CCAA is moving, we may have our referral as early as November, but December is still the most likely. That means travelling to China in Jan, Feb, or March.....BBRRR!

Homeschooling is going great. We are really loving it. We get to do what we want, when we want, take breaks as needed, go to the bathroom as needed etc. We start the day reading a chapter from the scriptures, singing a hymn, having a prayer together and then saying the Pledge of Allegiance - it is exactly what I want for my children. We are using the curriculum from Calvert School and so far have been quite happy with it.

We have just about all our paperwork ready to go to Russia. We are just waiting for 2 more things to come through. We have recently learned that we will both have to make the first trip to Russia and the second trip. It will cost more than we had anticipated, but we are so grateful this is moving forward. Thank you, thank you to everyone that has been hoping and praying along with us.

My grandfather had a very close call last week. He had a heartattack and some other medical problems. We have all been praying. He is in a very good VA hospital though and he just came out of surgery and reports have it that he is joking with the nurses already. What a blessing.

Everything is going well, we are feeling good and Robert is pretty much enjoying his new job. We love Frankfurt and all the options we have here. We are also (surprisingly) enjoying living in an apartment.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


This is a classic!

Only In China

My mom sent me an email with these pictures and I just have to post them. Since we are preparing to get our daughter from China, we need to know what some of her special skills might be! These photos are amazing.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

We are back online!

It has been such a long while since I've posted. It was an exciting summer for us. We flew into D.C. and then drove to Boston, NY, Palmyra, Independence, Nauvoo, Liberty, Carthage (Church History Tour) and that was so awesome. Then we went to Salt Lake City and on to California. We then returned to VA via an more southerly route. We did tons of stuff saw almost all our family and had a great time. We also got very fat but we are working on that now.

Here are some highlights:
  • I so much loved all the Church History, I can't tell you how wonderful it was to see all these places I've been reading about for so long - I highly recommend this to all LDS peoples!
  • We got to have a reunion with a lot of the children from the boys' orphanage - it was so weird to see them all speaking English now and looking healthy and happy. We didn't tell the boys about it but just pulled into a park and there were all these kids from their orphanage - how cool is that??
  • I got to see some family members whom I haven't seen in many, many years -- my cousin Jamie, we were so close as children and then we haven't really seen each other for about 14 years or so - wow. My little boy is 12 and her little girl is 18 and her baby is 11! It was so great to see them and spend time with them. I also got to see my Grandfather whom I haven't seen in 10 years. This trip completed a circle for me which I have been struggling with for many years. I feel so at peace after having seen all of my family (except my brothers and I'm working on that!).
  • We stayed at Duncans Mills with Nana and Ken - we got to stay in a trailor and Robert and I got our own bedroom (hey -- 2 months in hotels with 3 boys -- your own room is a big deal). California is as beautiful as ever.
  • My dad and Sandy got to spend some time with our boys. For years they have been hearing about my family and it felt so wrong that they didn't know each other. It was so great to be home - I never really feel home till I've gone to The Prop.
  • We got to see 3 out of 4 of Robert's children and he got to see all 4 of them. This is the hardest part about being overseas - he can't have the connection and contact with his children that a father should have. We miss them so much. Elizabeth is out on her own now (18 yrs old) and living in St. George, Scott is still in VA and doing great - he looks great and seems happy and he is working really hard and taking church seriously. Stewart and Erin are unbelievable. They have such a wonderful and strong marriage, 2 beautiful boys and a third one on the way. We got to hear Stewart speak in Church and Robert was just so proud. We are so proud of all his children and we miss them so much!
  • We got to see everyone of Robert's 6 siblings and spend a little time with the cousins - the boys love all of their cousins and that was the best part of the trip for them. They also loved being spoiled by Grandma and Grandpa Baxter.
  • How blessed are we that we could do a trip like this - it was just great to be all together for 2 whole months.
  • Right before we left, we spent 3 days doing an intensive therapy program with Dmitry. We learned a lot of things and we feel it really helped us to get our family pulled together and help with some bonding issues. Dmitry was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. It is no wonder, of course. His early life was miserable and he remembers all of it. He really seems to remember things from his infancy in great detail. His mother was an alcoholic and he was taken away from her by social services after he was found living on some rags on the floor. It was pretty awful. Anyway, one of the things that came out of this therapy was that we need to not talk so much about Russia with him. He has wanted to change his name to an "American name" for years now and we weren't quite on board with it, but the Therapist urged us to change his name. She said he is too sensitive to have withstood the neglect and abuse he endured and that he is now a broken little boy. So, we changed his name. He is now Daniel (named after his Old Testament Hero). We have seen a great change in him and in our family dynamics since this treatment and we are grateful we found out about it. Anyone who is interested should go to He deals with Post Institutionalized Children and has been featured on 20/20, 60 Minutes etc and has a book called Help for the Hopeless Child.
  • Alexander turned 12 years old!!! He was ordained last Sunday and is now a Deacon and holds the Priesthood. I can not say how proud I am of him that he is making good choices and that he is worthy to hold the priesthood. He will pass the Sacrament for the first time either this Sunday or next Sunday. How amazing is that? It gives me goosebumps.
  • We met Mrs. Lesley, the amazing lady that I've posted about before. She is even more wonderful in person. She took me out to lunch and we talked and she promised that her new class this year would work on helping us or helping Anastasia's orphanage. She is an overwhelmingly kind and generous person and it was a privilege to spend a little time with her.
  • We are now in Frankfurt and really like our new apartment, I will post more about it later, but we are happy and healthy and blessed far beyond what we can comprehend. We have started homeschooling and I'm shocked to say that I love it and we are having a great time with it. Life is so Good.

A Couple of "Low Lights" of our trip:

  • There was a lot of anti-Mormon propoganda which cast a darkness on me. I was stunned as we drove into Nauvoo, Illinois and I saw giant billboards with anti-Mormon propoganda. It is so sad to me - Let people worship how they may. Who are we hurting?
  • We got so fat. Robert and I each gained 10 pounds and poor Alexander put on 20 pounds.
  • It was hard being away from our dogs for so long. We really missed them and it was so good to see them again. They are doing fine and we are grateful to have had such a nice person looking after them.
  • It was very difficult to say good-bye to family, knowing we probably won't see them again for a long while.
  • Gas was about $3.00 per gallon average - that is totally crazy!

Well, that is my short update. I hope to be writing more and sharing some pictures from our trip very soon.

Friday, September 01, 2006


With all the excitement with Anastasia, we haven't forgotten our little baby from China! The wait seems to never end due to complications in China. We are now being told we should have our referral by Christmas time and plan to travel in January or February. Of course, this will probably coincide with our trip to Russia to get Anastasia!

I don't care! I'm just thinking PINK! Robert won't let me buy a thing until we get our referral and find out how old our daughter is, but I plan to sneak out and buy some socks...or tights...or little shoes...aaaahhh. I just can't wait!

There is no way we can take the boys with us to China and Russia so we are still trying to figure out what to do. They are now saying that if they can only make one trip with us they would rather come to Russia to pick Nastia up. I guess that makes sense since she is older.

If anyone has any contacts with the airlines....!

Orphanage Drive Information

We are going to forge ahead with the Orphanage Drive. We will just use PayPal and anyone who would like to can send in a donation. We have about 6 months to collect funds. This money will be used to do something to help the children; food, cleaning supplies, school supplies etc.

No need to think big here folks. If everyone I know chipped in $5, I'd probably be able to remodel the place!

I have a link to Anastasia's orphanage:

If you go to this website you can see pictures and learn a little more about the orphanage. I tried to add this address to my links but it didn't work. I'll keep working on it.

If you would like to donate to the Orphanage Drive you can email me the money through PayPal. My email address is:

  • You can copy and past my email address,
  • Then click on the Orphanage Drive link on the right -
  • That will take you to PayPal,
  • Select "Send Money"
  • In the recipients box you can paste my email address.

You will need a PayPal account to do this but it is easy to sign up. Just follow the directions for "New User". You can have the funds come from your credit card or from your bank account.

If you are unable to contribute, your prayers and well wishes are most welcome!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Orphanage in Pokrovka

Pokrovka is about 3 hours outside of Vladivostok or 1 hour from Ussuriisk. It is a very small village out in the middle of nowhere, right on the Chinese border. The orphanage is not really an orphanage, in Russian they call it an internatz. It is a "home for children without parents" and is quite different from usual Russian orphanages.

The children at Pokrovka range in age from 8 to 17. It is a pretty big building, half of which is a school and half of which is housing. We ate lunch there and were quite impressed by the food. It wasn't gourmet but the children got a decent portion, especially compared to the orphanage where Dima was and where Max and Nastia were previously.

The children spend about 4 hours per day in classes and then have free time to get into lots of trouble. Some of the children seem to be able to come and go as they wish, though there isn't much to go to in Pokrovka. In the summer, the home closes down and the children are farmed out to private families whom I assume receive some sort of stipend.

We spent a couple of weeks there in Feb. 2003 when we adopted Max and Dima. It was an experience which we still treasure. We both felt that those few hours we spent with the children each day were some of the times when we felt closest to The Savior and to His work.

When we would walk into the place, we would immediately be swarmed by children. Even the 15, 16 and 17 year olds were not hesitant to approach us. We did bring food for the children each day so that was part of the appeal. They would take the stuff and then run off like little squirrels to they rooms to store it for later. Then, they would come back and visit with us.

If I sat on the couch I would immediately be surrounded by girls - mostly Nastia's friends - and they would stroke my hair and snuggle up to me, hold my hand and give me hugs. Even now it brings me to tears to think about it. Even though these girls were teenagers, their needs were still the same as the toddler's needs. They needed a mama. Oh, how we wish we could have given a family to more of them.

The boys would surround Robert and Alexander. They figured Robert was a basketball player (he's 6'6") and so they would talk to him about sports even though he couldn't understand a word. Some of the lighter ones would ask for Robert to put them up on his shoulders - 10 and 13 year olds, they had just never had a chance to do that before. Alexander was interesting too, but they wanted to know about his gameboy, his clothes, his school and life in America for a child.

We were the first people to adopt from Pokrovka. It is basically a home for children, to prepare them to go out into the world. At 16 they are supposed to leave, though I know there were 1 or 2 there who were 17 years old.

There is a girl who is in almost every picture with Nastia. We are going to try to find out about her and maybe find someone who is looking for a beautiful girl to add to their family.

I will publish pictures as soon as I can. The hotel we are staying in has very limited internet and it is hard to do anything.

Orphanage Drive

I have posted here many times about the amazing people I've met through our adoptions. Many of them have been in "the field", but most of them have been adoptive parents and some have even been strangers with big hearts. We have been overwhelmed by the number of people who have asked if they could help in some way. In fact, the only reason we've been able to keep in touch with what is going on with Anastasia is through the help of a friend (Mary Kirkpatrick) who has organized all this for us.

The man, Alex, who has been making these runs to Vlad for us had an interesting experience when he went to visit Anastasia this time. The director asked that he buy laundry detergent and food before he was allowed to talk to Anastasia. Apparently the orphanage is in dire need. Mary has suggested that we start a drive to see if we can raise money for the orphanage. My thought is that before we leave we will buy a lot of school supplies (this is what Anastasia always asks for) and then when we get there, we could use the bulk of the money for food, detergent and maybe even some clothes depending upon how much we raise.

I will post more details as soon as I figure out how we will organize this. In the meantime, I've met a wonderful friend, Kristen Fudge, who has a website of her own which she started to help pay for her adoption. She has agreed to put aside 1/2 of her proceeds to Anastasia's fund. Isn't that wonderful? There are some amazing people out there. Kristen sells clothes, Christmas decorations, and lavender and other satchels all with a vintage theme - many of them Russian vintage. Check out her site and you will be helping 2 families if you decide to buy!
Kristens website is:

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Anastasia's pictures

In most of the pictures she looks sad or pensive but he managed to get a little smile out of her in some of them. She has some bruises on her head and on her arm which Max noticed right away and is now really concerned about. My poor babies!!

Here are some of the photos we got from Alex's last trip to Pokrovka:

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Big News!!

Okay, I only have the prelim. report from Alex (we sent him to Pokrovka again to see what is going on and bring some things to Anastasia).

THE PARENTAL RIGHTS HAVE BEEN DENIED. ANASTASIA IS FREE FOR ADOPTION. She is already on the database and will be free in 6 months. We are beside ourselves -- really, we are so excited. We just found out 10 minutes ago and I couldn't wait to post the news. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

First thing tomorrow I need to find an agency and get going again. Please keep praying for us, it works! Thank you all my dear friends for keeping Anastasia in your prayers. Thank you Leslie for feeding the little fire of hope that flickers in my heart.

I can't wait till morning when I can tell Max!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Alexander waiting for the President

This is on a field trip at the end of 3rd grade. The boys went to a museum which celebrates Mozart. It is the 200th birthday of Mozart so everything in Vienna is all about Mozart. The boys got to put on costumes and make up and practice on musical instruments - it was lots of fun.
Here is Max in full Drag! This is at the museum too. They had boys costumes as well, but Max was already dressed like this when I found him. Yes, they need a sister!
This is just a cute picture of Dima - he is so photogenic. We are so grateful he got those brown, rotten teeth pulled because before that, he would never smile in photos and he was always so self- concious. Now just look at that grin!

Alexander's photos

A Two Headed Deer? Alexander took this photo on our
4th of July trip to Hohe Wand - a national park about 2 hours from Vienna.
Alexander with Ms. Rice

President Bush

These are the vineyards behind our home. This is the view looking down into Vienna. My two friends and I walk along this path every morning from 6am to 7am. It is a great way to start the day. We are going to miss this beauty so much - it is breathtaking!

You may have heard that President Bush came to visit us in Vienna. Here are a few good shots that Max took during the visit. My camera isn't working but as soon as I get it up and running, I've also got some good shots of all 3 boys shaking hands with the President.
It was lots of fun.
Max and Mrs. Bush -- that is Robert off to the right.

Monday, July 03, 2006


Leaving Vienna...........

We have packed our last box. Everything left on the truck on Friday evening and our house is clean and empty. On Saturday we spent the day cleaning because on Monday morning, the Embassy comes to inspect the condition of the house and of the furniture etc. We need to have everything looking well.

As I have been cleaning, I have been overwhelmed with a feeling of sadness but also one of immense gratitude for the experience we have had here in Vienna. Our home is so beautiful. I want to describe it so I never forget -- we have had so many blessings and miracles.

We live on a corner in a series of 10 houses that look exactly like ours. On the main level is a fenced in yard, come in the front door and we have a kitchen, dining room, living room, bathroom and a guestroom (my mom's room) with bathroom. Up one level are 4 bedrooms - master bedroom, Max's room, Dima's room and Anastasia's room. Up another level and there is a huge, huge room which we turned into Alexander's bedroom - go out on his balcony and there is a perfect view of Vienna straight ahead and the Vienna Forest (WienerWald) behind. There is also another room up there which we used for Storage.
Down to the basement we have a giant laundry room, 2 big storage rooms, the Ping Pong Table room, The Game Cube room and the boy's dressing room where I keep their dressers and clothes. You can walk out to the garage from the basement. What luxury! The school is right across the street. It has just been one blessing after another!

At church yesterday I stood up at the podium and gave a short talk (my testimony) and was able to look out at all the faces of the people I've come to love so much. My heart was ripping in two. It can be so difficult to leave friends and move on. I have made such good friends here - they are more than friends, they are my sisters and I know that relationship is eternal and that is what makes it okay for me. It was no coincidence that we came to Vienna. We just love it here - the beauty, the friends, the opportunities, our beautiful home, our ward (congregation).

But, we still look forward to our nice vacation at home and that is where I keep trying to point my children and myself too. Though it will be difficult to serve another overseas assignment and be away from family for another 2 or 3 years, it is also another blessing that we won't be far from these wonderful friends!

This is the boy's school, American International School of Vienna. It is such a great school and it's right across the street!

Saturday, June 17, 2006


Well, there is not so much to report, but I haven't written in so long....
The boys are out of school - it has been three days and they are already asking to go here and there. We are packing out on June 28,29, and 30th so there won't be so many activities before then. We are just very busy getting things ready and also doing things "for the last time". We are going to miss Vienna so very much. We love it here, it is so beautiful and we have made so many good friends.

When I picked the boys up from school on Tuesday, all the kids were sobbing as they came out of their classrooms. How different than from when I was a child. All I could think about was, yeah! 3 months no school! But here, children come and go and best friends get left behind and things change drastically at the end of the year. It was so sad. Even the boys were sobbing.

The church in Vienna is awesome. I have made friendships here that will last into eternity - how often can someone say that? It has been fabulous. I hope there will be plenty of good works for us to do in Frankfurt. That is the best way to heal a lonely heart.

We made a decision about homeschooling next year. We are going to use Calvert School which is a homeschooling program/curriculum with online support from teachers. I think it will be very good for me as a first year homeschool teacher to have that extra support. The curriculum looks very traditional. The boys all had to take a placement test and I guess it will take some time to get the results back.

I am excited to re-learn all the things I've forgotten. I know it will be a huge challenge, but I think there will be so many rewards too.

No news on Anastasia. We are still waiting in limbo. It just feel so surrealistic now. She seems so far away and sometimes the boys forget her name and it is just so sad. We continue to hope and pray and know that somehow, though it may be beyond our ability, we will have her as part of our family.

Our baby: Well, things in China have really slowed down now. We should have had her by now, but we don't even have our referral yet. Sigh. Well, as of now, we are expecting to have her before Christmas. We have finally decided on a name...............drumroll please..........Grace. We had been thinking all along that we would name her Judy Rose, Judy after my mom and Rose, just because it is such a pretty and dainty name and we felt it would suit a chinese girl. But, then Grace popped into our heads and wouldn't go away. Anyway, I think it is settled now.

I have to go now and cut the boys' hair - they all look like shaggy dogs, I have just been so busy.
We will still have our computer up until the time we leave (July 12) so I will post again. We are so excited about our vacation plans.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Oprah -- Please answer the children!

During our adoption processes we have unfortunately met with horrible dishonesty, beauracracy, and downright abuse. It has been disturbing and sad to us. But, we have also met the most wonderful people. People who love children and people who will help total strangers. We have met dozens of them along the way and they uplift and inspire us.

I just heard the most wonderful story through a letter my grandma wrote me. I read it last night and it brought tears of joy and also the great wonderment that comes of recognizing another's pure heart and intent of charity.

My grandparents spend their lives travelling around the U.S. in their beautiful little home on wheels. They have made it into the home that grandmas always have - comfy, cozy, smelling of bread or some other goodie you can't wait to try. He keeps busy working on the truck or the home and she keeps busy making the inside cozy and meeting people and befriending them at every little R.V. park they pull into. They both keep very busy picking up odd and sometimes really strenuous jobs at the Parks they stay at. One summer they worked in a restaurant in Utah and most recently they worked raking leaves and selling memberships at a little place in Northern California. (And they aren't Spring Chickens you know!) Somehow, they have time to meet amazing people along the way and within very short amounts of time, they can form lasting friendships.

Apparently, my grandma has made one such friend named Leslie. I don't know anything about her except she is my grandma's friend, she is a kindergarten teacher and as my grandma's friend she has probably been subjected to sitting down with a bagel and a cold drink while my grandparents brag about their grandchildren. Apparently, this included reading portions of this blog to her.

She sounds like an extemely kind hearted person and she took Anastasia's story to heart. Grandma says that she isn't the type of lady to sit on her laurels -she has done many things like raising money for the needy and I think she even got a school built in Africa - wow. Anyway, she wanted to help Anastasia so she printed off some of Anastasia's pictures and took them to school with her. She and her children then wrote a letter to Oprah Winfrey pleading with her to help us get Anastasia. They now keep Anastasia's picture up in their classroom. I am so thrilled to learn of such a wonderful teacher who can inspire the littlest of God's children to care about another. She should be teacher of the year!

Unfortunately, Oprah hasn't written back to them and the children are now worried because it is getting close to the end of the year. I am sure that their positive thoughts and actions are going to go a long way to helping us to get Anastasia, we are so blessed just to know about a teacher and little students like them - what a great example they are!

Leslie, if you are reading this, please pass a message on to your students.

Dear Children,
We have not and will not ever give up the fight to get our daughter home. She is not just our daughter but she is also Max's sister and he misses her so much -- we will keep fighting until we find a way to bring her home. Even if Oprah can't help, that is okay, someone, somewhere will help us get her. It is because of people like you who took the time out to care for a stranger; you are the people who make things change and who make good things happen in the world. We thank you with all of our hearts and I feel certain that even though Oprah hasn't written back to you yet, that if she has read that letter, she is thinking about Anastasia and maybe even praying for her too - so maybe she will be able to help us afterall! Please keep loving and serving strangers and your lives will be blessed and one day you will make a difference that you can see, but for now, you have made a difference you can't see, but one that the Baxter family can feel.
Have a wonderful summer and consider yourselves very lucky to have a teacher like Ms. Leslie!
With much love,
Robert, Holly, Alexander, Max and Dmitry


It has become so difficult to talk about her. It just saddens me so much, yet I want to keep her name and her spirit alive in our house. How else will we keep fighting for her?

Our latest information is that the whole parental termination process halted in January. Unbeknownst to us, the father was arrested again -- for murder this time and thrown into jail. The government won't allow the state to terminate his rights while he is in prison. That is about all the information we have and that was recently supplied by the every vigilant Alex - thank goodness for him.

We have no idea how we will proceed from here. Do we have the right to keep asking for Miracles? We need another one though. We have spoken with some agencies but no one wants to help us - it is just too messy and complicated. We recently got the name of a high powered adoption lawyer who has helped people in similar situations. I have emailed her but haven't heard back yet. If she doesn't help us, we don't know where we will go from here.

The most positive outcome would be that somehow, through a Miracle, the father's rights get terminated. Still, even with this scenario, that would mean at least a year before we can get her: six months waiting for the termination to be contested and six months waiting for her on the Russian database allowing Russian families a fair shot at adopting her.

We are praying and praying and we thank all of you who continue to remember Anastasia and think about her or pray for her. You keep us going...

Poor Robert's Leg May 9th

Robert is in surgery now. He is having the metal plate removed from his leg. It has been bothering him and the screws are working their way loose so the doctor recommended the removal.

He should be out of surgery this afternoon and able to come home tomorrow. We will both be so happy to get all this hospital stuff behind us. The hope is that he will experience much less soreness and stiffness after the metal is out of his leg.

I can't wait for him to be home again!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

I hope I'm back now....

I doubt anyone is reading this anymore, I've been so negligent in keeping up with it. I will give the short version of my busy life lately...
Last I posted, Alex was going to Vladivostok to visit with Anastasia he did do that and had a good visit with her. Unfortunately, we also learned at that time that it would be a year before we could even start the process with her. We would have to wait for the trial to be ended to have the father's rights terminated, then a six month wait before she goes on the database and then another six month wait to give the Russians a chance to adopt her - then we can try.

I'm afraid that this sent me into a depression - it just hit me really hard. I think it was exaccerbated because it was the first Christmas that my mom couldn't make it here to be with us. She came for a visit at the beginning of Dec. but still, it wasn't the same.

After that, it was just really hard to post. On Jan 2nd, Robert broke his leg. He was in the hospital a week, followed by crutches for 2 months! I was a maniac driving him around and I was just so exhausted all the time. Then, my mom got medivac-ed to Vienna from her post in Tripoli. She was having severe shoulder problems and ended up in emergency surgery. She was here for 2 months and in and out of the hospital much of the time. This also overlapped with Robert's cast, and his doctors appointments. It was great to have her here though. Now, she is back safe and sound (hah!) in Tripoli.

Anyway, at the end of all that, I asked the Bishop to release me from my calling as Primary President (in charge of the children's sunday school program) so that I can start getting ready for our big move in July. Whew. As I said, I've been busy. Of course, interspersed in there were lots of winter illnesses with the three boys. I believe that for about 5 or 6 weeks one of them was home from school everyday. There was a point where two of them were home together.

So, life is back to normal now, I can finally start concentrating on getting my house in order and ready to come back to the States. We were all excited about it and then Robert came home from work last night with the news--the State Department is sending us to Frankfurt (Germany - not Kentucky!) instead of back to the States. We are okay with it. We really feel like if we are living right that we will end up in the place we are supposed to be. It will also help us and put off having to buy a house for another 2 years. That is a good thing because the prices in VA are outrageous right now!

The Chinese adoption is progressing -- I guess. When we started this process we were told it would take about 6 months from the time we submitted our paperwork. Of course, that has now changed to 10-12 months. We are hoping to get her in Sept or Oct ??? Hopefully!

The other big news is that we've decided to homeschool next year. There are a thousand reasons for this, but I think my children need a chance to bond and meld together as a family. Especially since the boys are so much older than their sister. This will give us a chance to be home all together and work together - much as I think the early Americans lived. I am nervous about it but also excited. Next year Alexander will be in 7th grade, Max and Dima will be in 4th grade, but I am thinking about doing 3rd grade again for Max - he just had such a hard time this year. However, he is now starting to read and that is making a huge difference. Both boys speak pretty much without an accent. It is truly a miracle.

The name debate for the baby still goes on around here, the top choices currently are:
Edith (my grandma)
Judy Rose
We pretty much love all these names but feel so strongly that we are getting this child the same way we got our other ones - through God's grace. We are constantly stunned by the blessings He has given us. We should spend so much more time each day on our knees in gratitude. We also feel this new job assignment is another of God's miracles for us.

As excited as we were to come home, there were a few things that have really been stressing us out. Like, how to spend another glop of money on the Chinese adoption, get Anastasia's adoption restarted, buy a house (yikes!) which will accomodate, gulp, 5 children! And we were also very stressed about our home leave. We are planning a 6 week road trip across the U.S - so we can visit all of our family all over the place and show our children the beauty of our great country in which they have spent so little time. Anyway, the stressful part of this was our two dogs - I always worry about them. Our plan was to drag them along on the trip, but it is so hot in the summer time and we wouldn't be able to leave them in the car much etc etc. Anyway, this is now solved. We have a wonderful, wonderful lady here who watches them from time to time. We can just leave them here and then leave our car here, fly back to Vienna, and then drive them to Frankfurt. This is such a huge relief for me. How beautiful that our prayers have been answered and in ways we didn't even imagine. That shows what we know!

Well, that is the nutshell of the last few months. I will try to be better about posting again.