Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Friend...

I've been so lucky to have a visit from a good friend of mine from VA. She didn't stay long but it was so good to have her here. We didn't do much because we are cramming to get school done so the boys can have a little summer vacation. We did go to this wonderful outdoor museum though.

It is an open air museum where you can view and visit different styles of houses from different regions in Germany. There are also lots of little museums you can visit and see how they made cheese, or wove wool or dyed wool or made brushes etc.

Unfortunately for my poor friend, she didn't get to see much because of my sweet animal crazy kids. We found horses and baby pigs and chickens and bunnies and donkeys and goats and sheep and baby goats and sheep and baby bunnies- how fun. We had such a blast and would have anyway but it was so wonderful to see Rosie seeing these creatures for the first time. She was just dumbfounded by the horses and wanted to follow them, she couldn't stop touching the sheep and wanted to touch and feed and play with everyone. It was so fun and we can't wait to take her again or to another petting zoo.

Well, I have to say that seeing Shannon made me homesick all over again. I miss my friends in Vienna and in Virginia - boo hoo. I do have a good friend here not more than 1/2 an hour away but somehow we don't get together too often. Maybe it is because she has 4 girls under the age of 6? I am sure I will make more good friends here too, but now that I'm homeschooling and have a baby, I don't really have time for meeting folks. It is okay, but I just have so many good, spiritual friends who uplift and inspire me; wow, I am so blessed, I miss having their companionship and conversation. Good friends are spiritual gold!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Well Baby Check Up

Rosie finally went for her first check up. The doctor was impressed by her development and good health. She is still tiny, in fact we learned that she hasn't gained an ounce. She is still 19 pounds. She is almost in the 5th percentile. Yikes. But everything else checked out. She is meeting the milestones and plus she is cute as can be and smart on top of it! She fell asleep during our mini conference with the doc and then I learned she would need some more innoculations. Poor baby - she had to get 4 shots in the tops of her thighs. What a way to wake up. Alexander said, "You see? Thats why I never sleep during the day". Brother, what weird children I have.

Anyway, Rosie was very upset about the shots and I felt so bad, but as soon as it was over I picked her up and she stopped crying. She got 4 little bandaids on her legs and periodically throughout the day she would point to them and say, "ow wow wow" (her words for ouch).

She is saying lots of words now. They aren't all clear and maybe a stranger wouldn't understand, but we get most of them:

mom, dada, Maaax, Daniel, doggie, dogdog, bunbun (bunny), bottle, row, row, row, ur bow, she can sing almost all of twinkle, twinkle little star but she sings it like: ingka, ingka, ingka ingk, ingka, ingka, ingka ingk and it is so cute, diaper, hi, bye-bye, yes (that is such a nice change from shaking her head "no"), bird, mouth, head, ear, giraffe, zebra, hippo, and now instead of saying mama she says mommm; like the boys say Mom, but she really ennunciates so you can be sure to hear she is saying Mommmm and not mama.

She is so funny and has an inquisitive and outgoing personality. We are just beginning to see it as she opens up and develops her confidence. She has much less stranger fear and that is going to make her life much easier and better.

Happy Bday Daniel!

Daniel turned 11. I am just so constantly amazed by him. He does not even remotely resemble the little boy we adopted 3 years ago. We are so proud of the effort he has made and the advances he has made. We are able to give him lots of freedom now and he can handle it; something I wasn't too sure of a year or so ago. This is the little boy who had a permanent smile pasted on his face unless he was throwing a terrifying fit of screaming and banging his head against the wall. We soon learned that the smile was a bad case of nerves and the head banging was only the beginning. It was a hard first year, but we are enjoying the blessings now.

He pretty much does homeschool on his own; he is so motivated and now he only comes to me with questions or clarification. He is pleasant and smart and tries hard to please us. He knows and loves the gospel and cares deeply about others. We are so grateful for him and for each of our boys - each one is so different and so special and unique; truly a testament of God's hand in all things.

It is funny though, now, both Max and Daniel are 11 years old. It creates a lot of problems for them because people assume they are twins though they look nothing alike. They always have to explain and they don't like that, but are getting better about it. We are teaching them to be proud of their heritage and that they are adopted, but it is still a long road!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Last Day in Pokrovka

Robert flys out of Vlad on Tuesday morning. He had his last visit with Anastasia today. He said she was pretty tearful but that it was better than any of his previous visits. He had a few moments alone with her while the translator had to go take care of some paperwork. He dreaded it and didn't know what to do. Anastasia just stared at the ground the whole time. Finally, Robert said, "Let's practice your English."......."What is your name?" She just stared at the ground, finally after about two minutes she answered," My name is Nastia" Robert was so thrilled with his progress. Though she still never looked at him, it was the first time she had addressed him directly. My poor daughter! My poor husband!!

Some things Robert has been able to learn about her;
  • She loves basketball and volleyball but doesn't like soccer.
  • She really enjoys going to the church she has been attending.
  • She wants to be a doctor when she grows up.
  • She really misses Max and covers her face and crys uncontrollably whenever Robert mentions him.
  • She finally put on one of the pair of pants I sent - size 12 and they fit.
  • She has a really good friend named Sasha. This is the girl pictured by her side in most of the other pictures I've posted of her.
  • She doesn't know anything about her biological father or mother
  • Her favorite subject in school is Music; she doesn't play any instruments but she loves to sing.

Nobody has really been able to figure out what is behind her morose attitude. There are the obvious things; leaving her friends and all that is familiar, her anger at us for taking so long to get her, going to a foreign place and not being able to communicate, having to adjust to a new family, new rules, restrictions etc. All of these are obvious obstacles and fears, but Robert and the translator both seem to think there is something deeper. The social worker has promised to visit her often and try to find out what is going on.

I think she is a very sensitive and emotional girl and I also think that this friend who was previously adopted has probably told her some horror stories. I wish I could find out more about that.

I don't want to "trick" her though or make any false promises. The first year is tough. Incredibly tough and I told Robert to tell her that. It is a huge adjustment but he also told her about all the benefits of having a family and having people who love her. Finally, the director came in and asked Anastasia straight out if she wanted to be adopted and she said yes. Hurray. Hopefully, her fears won't catch up with her while she is waiting for us to come back. We got phone numbers and I will try to keep in touch with her during this long wait. Mostly, we need prayers, prayers, prayers!

more visits with Anastasia...

Robert was able to visit with Anastasia on both Saturday and Sunday. It sounds like it has been depressing and exhausting. After 3 years of battle, I guess we felt such relief, maybe we secretly thought she would come running into our lives; grateful and happy to finally be with us.

It sounds like she is doing pretty well in some respects; she has lots of friends and has apparently been pretty active in an Evangelical church which is nearby the children's home. She is obviously angry/embarrassed/ overwhelmed and confused by Robert's arrival. She has yet to make eye-contact with him, address him directly or express any positive emotion. We did learn today that her 17 year old friend was adopted by Americans and she positively hated it. She was apparently suicicidal and insisted she be returned to the children's home in Russia and eventually her American parents agreed. Heaven only knows what she has told Anastasia - no wonder she is scared.

I feel confused and uncertain myself. My heart is aching for this frightened little girl who dreads leaving the only thing she knows. On the other hand, I feel awful for my poor husband who is trying so hard and getting nowhere. We are so grateful to have a good agency this time. Robert has nothing but glowing reports of all the help he is getting from the agency and the translator. This makes all the difference - it was so awful last time and it is just so much easier dealing with all the Russian ins and outs when we feel like we have people on our side.

I don't know whatelse to say or think. Anastasia has some time before she needs to decide. In about a month they will give her some paperwork to fill out and she must state that she wants to be adopted by us. She will also have to appear in court with us and tell that to the judge. We are just going to do all we can do and leave the rest in the Lord's hands. In the meantime, we sure are doing a lot of praying!

Max is a wreck over all this. It never occurred to him that she might not want to come. He is angry that dad didn't take him to Russia- he thinks that would have made all the difference - if only he could be there. We wanted to let him go but the money stuff is just so tight. Maybe he will be able to go for the second trip...who knows what can happen between now and then.

My mom leaves in the morning and we are all so sorry to see her go. She has really given me a break and I've been able to get some rest after all this crazy traveling. It has been so fun that she got to meet Rosie and get to know her a little bit. Rosie can say "grandma" now, it sounds kind of like "mra ma" but it is recognizable.

We are missing Robert like crazy (especially me) and can't wait for him to get home. Also, I forgot how tough life is without a car. Robert is pretty sure he can take this part he ordered, do some jiggling around and pray life back into our 96 Mercury Villager. I hope so too. We walked to church this morning and took the bus home. It was invigorating and good excersize, but I'd like to keep it a fun novelty!

Robert has one more visit with Anastasia tomorrow, Monday. Each day when he asks if she'd like to see him again, she always says yes so I'll take that as a good sign. Today, she was involved in an Easter production at the church she has been attending and Robert was able to go and see it. She did a dance. She loves to dance and sing and wants to be a doctor. If Robert got any good pictures, I'll post them when he gets back on Thursday.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Two Months with Rosie

It has been two months yesterday. It feels like she's been a part of our lives forever. She brings us so much joy and laughter and she has created a new softness in our home. We have all felt the angels that follow her and brighten our lives.

She has made lots of advances too. She no longer holds her arms out for balance and she is not a bit afraid of the dogs anymore. She helps me do everything. She can get the dishwasher soap out and put it in the dishwasher. If I drip water on the floor she will get something to wipe it up with. If I brush my teeth, she brushes her teeth. She learns everything so quickly and it is so much fun to show her how to do things. She loves books and that is a love I will nurture. We read lots to her. She can also entertain herself quite well which is great especially when I need to help the other children with school, she will just follow me around and get into their stuff as I help each one of them.

She loves music too and when we sing hymns she conducts with great feeling. She seems to understand everything. When we say "time to say a prayer" she bows her head and folds her arms and she already knows everything she is supposed to do in church. What a little genius!

We all love her so much. The other day Alexander said, "Sometimes I just like to sit and look at her." I couldn't agree more. Look at this picture, it just melts my heart. I miss Robert so much and can't wait till he gets home.

Rosie and Daddy taking a nap

First Contact

Robert had his first meeting with Anastasia. I was sad but not too surprised to learn it didn't go too well.

Robert waited for her in the director's small office. Someone went to get her and brought her in (she didn't know what was going on) where she saw Robert, the director, the assistant director, our translator, the social worker and I don't know who else. She was pretty overwhelmed I guess.

I had sent some photos with him. Photos of all the kids, the house, the dogs etc. She didn't even recognize Max and said he looked so big and different. We made a little video for Robert to show her but he said she only got about 1/2 way through it and then just put her hands over her face and started to sob. She didn't make eye contact with him and just cried for the rest of the visit. I guess the social worker asked her if she still wanted to come live with us and she said she didn't know.

On the plus side the social worker said that in the past she has always been positive about coming to live with us and Robert's take on it is that she was just so overwhelmed and seeing Max on the video; speaking English, being grown up and obviously so totally a part of this family- it was just too much for her and she felt so alienated. I just felt my heart breaking as I was talking to him. My poor little girl. I should have been there. If there were anyway I could have been.....but I have all these kids here who need me. I hope she understands and can get past all the pain.

Robert is meeting with her again tomorrow - Saturday. He is going to take her out to lunch and out for ice cream or something like that. It will just be him and the translator and Anastasia. There will be much less pressure on her and hopefully he will get to talk to her this time. He said he didn't get to talk to her at all today because the social worker was holding her and talking to her and trying to comfort her the whole time. My poor husband.

This wasn't totally unexpected. In fact, it was a lot like our last visit three years ago. She was depressed and teary and didn't communicate much with us; especially when we were in the "visiting room". Once we got out and she was around her friends and away from the director's office she did loosen up a little. We could use lots of positive thoughts and prayers going Robert and Anastasia's way. I can't wait for my whole family to be all together.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


Rosie ate a piece of old, chewed gum she found on the airport floor. I just about lost it - how gross is that? Yuck. I just stopped paying attention for a second because a lady asked me where Rosie was from. Yuck. No more airports thats for sure.

It all started about 2 weeks ago. Robert and I found out we needed to go to Moscow to finish up some paperwork. I had to drive to Bonn twice to get our Russian visas. I came home with them Friday the 30th and that evening our car took its final puff and died. It has been very traumatic not to mention inconvenient for us. My mom came Friday night so she could watch the boys and dogs. Robert and I flew to Moscow on Monday (with Rosie) and Rosie and I flew back home on Wednesday night.

It really feels like we are getting close now. It was tough going through all the travel stuff alone with Rosie - she is definately doing the "independant 2's" thing now and she made several great escapes from me at Security, Customs and other crucial places. Exhausting! Anyway, totally worth it because we are getting close now.

Robert continued on to Vladivostok where he is finishing up some more paperwork and formalities we need before we can get a court date. He gets to go visit Anastasia tomorrow (Friday) - I sent a bunch of clothes, school supplies and candy with him so hopefully he will be well received. He is so nervous about the initial meeting - will she be angry with us for taking so long? Will she be her indifferent 12 year old self? Will she be curious? We just don't know what to expect after so long. Max is going nuts wishing he could be there but we just couldn't afford it. Everything is SO expensive we have to be really careful. Now that our car died we are praying for another miracle to direct us.....

Thank you everyone for your prayers and love - it works!

I will write tomorrow after Robert's visit with Anastasia.