Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Just Keep Running

Hebrews 12:1-3
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. 3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

In the past, I've tried to be a runner. I even ran a half-marathon once and vowed that if God let me finish without dying, I would never attempt something so stupid again. I'm slow, I have terrible form, and I suck wind the entire time.  I really loved jogging for a while; it was therapeutic. But there's a difference between a jogging and running. Jogging is pretty much fast walking. If anything, I'm a jogger; I'm not a runner.

Several of my good friends are runners. I've been to marathons to cheer them on and I'm always in awe of their ability to endure the race when everything in their mind and body tells them to STOP. I've watched them around mile 23, struggling to put one foot in front of the other but somehow mustering the strength and endurance to just keep running through the pain.

A few nights ago I had a dream. It was so vivid and I've been replaying it over and over in my mind. I was running a race and I actually won. At the end of the race, I crossed the finish line and Greg was there waiting for me. We were celebrating the victory, but he told me that I couldn't get the prizes for winning the race. I had not paid the entry fee, so I wasn't qualified to win anything. The prizes were also vivid in my mind; there were clothes, money, children's items, and gift certificates to various stores. But I couldn't have any of the prizes because I was never officially entered into the race. I had to accept that I had run the race and finished in first place; but I would not be able to have any material "treasures" to show for my accomplishment of finishing first. And I was okay with this. I was reminded of Jesus and how he ran the race of life, enduring the horrible persecution of men, winning nothing here on earth, but winning everything in heaven.

I believe God gave me this dream to let me know that no matter what happens with Kirill, I am simply called to run the race. I'm not guaranteed any kind of earthly rewards. My prize is Jesus and being with him in Heaven. My race is to run to HIM. So I will keep putting one foot in front of the other despite the pain. I will keep my eyes focused on the prize and run the path that Jesus has paved for me. Because the race is won and victory is in HIM.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Brain. Is. Fried. Going on fumes...not much sleeping going on around here. So here are some of the thoughts that are keeping me up at night. It's a conglomeration. Bear with me.

  • The waiting is excruciating. I'm not some kind of super-human pillar of strength. I have bad (OK, terrible) moments. Ask Greg...he gets to see most all of my weak moments. I'm just so sad about not bring able to bring Kirill home right now. BUT...we are strong in Christ. We have God's peace and we KNOW that he knows our heart, he loves Kirill more than even us, and he hears and IS ANSWERING all the hundreds of thousands...I think probably millions by now...prayers going up for Kirill and the other children of his region. We don't know how that's going to look in the end when God is finished writing Kirill's story, but we know it will be used to spread the love of Christ. I know God is being glorified through our precious Kirill.
  • Can anyone tell me how to make a navigation bar? I want to be able to have a place at the top of my blog that will take people to Kirill's Story so that it's easy to find and share. I want to keep posting on here and I don't want that post to get buried. Contact me if you can help...there is an email me option on my profile. I'm not techie. At. All. I could figure it out I'm sure, but I don't have time right now. Someone else designed our other (family) blog and there is a navigation bar on it, but I didn't make it. :) 
  • I'm totally overwhelmed by the outpouring of love, support, prayers...totally overwhelmed. I mean, the, "Save Kirill" logos are all over my FB page, I have tons of emails coming in every day, there are lots of sweet comments on my blog, texts, random acts letting us know people are thinking of us, offers to help with Clayton while we work on our appeal, friends cleaning, doing errands, helping me respond to messages...I could go on and on. There's no way I can ever thank everyone for everything. I'm just praying that somehow God lets them know how much it means to us. We hope we can be that kind of support to others. The love of Christ's body is a truly amazing thing. 
  • Clayton is not fully aware of what's going on, so that's kind of hard. We didn't want to tell him too much. He's SO EXCITED about Kirill and until we are told "no" and have exhausted every avenue to bring him home, we are not going to tell Clayton otherwise. Right now he's sleeping with the blankie we took Kirill to the orphanage. They gave it back to us during our last trip because they thought we would be taking him home and wanted to send the things we had taken him on our first trip. I cannot hardly look at it without crying. Clayton asked if he could sleep with it so it will have someone to love it until Kirill comes home. Breaks. My. Heart.
  • Our agency thinks our appeal will be filed on Monday or Tuesday and then hopefully the Supreme Court will hear our case quickly. They are guesstimating that it may be heard sometime in the first couple of weeks in April. When we have an exact date, you can be sure I will post it on here. We will need an army of prayer warriors praying for Kirill on that day for sure!
Ok, there's more in my head but I'm going to really try to sleep tonight. I'm going back to work tomorrow for the first time since we left for Russia two weeks ago. It will be tough in some ways, but I'm also welcoming the distraction. I really love my job too, so that helps tremendously! 

Again, I just have to end with a big THANK YOU. We will never be able to adequately express our gratitude for your prayers and encouragement.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Kirill's Story

For those of you just joining our family's journey to adopt Kirill, I thought it might be helpful to have a summary so you don't have to go back and read this entire blog. That could take a long time since we started our adoption almost two years ago.

Two years ago; that was when Greg and I began praying for God to do whatever he wanted with our lives. We handed him a “blank check” so to speak, and told him to cash it. He opened our eyes to children with disabilities wasting away across the ocean in Eastern Europe. We joined God and started our adoption journey.

Our family is more than equipped to handle a child with special needs. I have a degree in Early Childhood Education. I am a member of the Board of Directors of Best Buddies of Alabama. I have volunteered for RISE and Eagles’ Wings. All of these organizations serve individuals with special needs. My husband I have close friends and family who have special needs and we are a big part of each other’s lives. Our wedding party included some of these special people. Our involvement with individuals with special needs led us to adopt a child with special needs; specifically, we chose Down Syndrome.

As we prayed over the faces of thousands of orphaned children with Down Syndrome, we ultimately chose a little boy named Sergey from Russia. Eight months later, as we neared the finish line of our adoption, one of Sergey’s family members in Russia stepped forward to adopt him. We were heartbroken for our loss, but God showed us that we were following him, and his ways are perfect. We knew we still wanted to adopt, so the way we saw it, two children would find homes because of our journey…Sergey went to his family and now we would choose another child to come into our family. We took great comfort in knowing that God could see this when we first committed to Sergey! We were honored to be a part of his plan.

Shortly after losing Sergey, we received a new referral with a grainy photo of a four-year-old blond-haired boy wearing pink glasses named Kirill. We were instantly in love with him. We had to re-file a lot of our paperwork because of the change in referrals and regions of Russia, but we were fast and we thought we were looking at three more months at the most until we would have Kirill home.

That was well over a year ago.

Since then so many things have happened. A tragic story of an adoptive mother sending her child back to his country alone on a plane with a note pinned to his shirt rocked our world…he was from Russia. Adoptions in Russia came to a screeching halt. Kirill’s region stopped processing adoptions for eight long months. The judge refused to accept any Amercian adoption cases until an official treaty was signed between the United States and Russia.

Even though we wouldn’t be able to finalize the adoption in court until the treaty was signed, we were allowed to go visit Kirill and sign our official petition to adopt him in August 2010. We fell more deeply in love with him. This was our son.

During that time, we found out that Kirill is the first child from his region EVER to be adopted with Down Syndrome. A birth mother keeping her child with Down Syndrome is unheard of in this area of the world. Adoptions of children with Down Syndrome just don’t happen there, these children are literally hidden away from society in orphanages and mental institutions. As our process continued, it became apparent that Kirill would be a pioneer. If our adoption was approved, it would pave the way for other children with special needs to be adopted from this region.

Then, a miracle happened around Christmas and the judge in this region suddenly changed her mind and began processing American adoptions again. We were elated.  Could this be the light at the end of a very long tunnel? I was somewhat nervous about Kirill being the first child adopted with Down Syndrome from his region, but our agency was very confident that if we got a court date, our adoption would be approved. In seventeen years, they had never had a case rejected IF the family was issued a court date. We were told not to worry, so I didn’t. After meeting the judge’s requests for several supporting court documents, we were finally granted a court date-March 17, 2011. St. Patrick’s Day…I was thrilled. This would be our new favorite holiday! Our son was coming home!

Our other son, Clayton, who had just turned three when we started this adoption process, has prayed fervently for his brother. He is now almost five. When we told him Kirill was coming home, oh my…we had an excited big brother on our hands! At one point he even went to his room, dumped out his toy cars and divided them into two stacks…one for him and one for Kirill. He will not even speak of having separate bedrooms. He wants Kirill to sleep in the same room as him and has been sleeping with a stuffed animal he is planning to give to Kirill.

Last week, as we sat in the courtroom and suffered through five agonizing hours of difficult questioning, we were not prepared for anything but an approval of our case. Two doctors, two social workers, and the Minister of Children’s Services all made very strong statements on our behalf. They spoke strongly on our behalf.

But when the ruling was read, the judge said, “Your application to adopt is rejected.” The basis given was that Kirill was “not socially adaptable” due to his “medical condition” and he was better off in an institution than in a home with a family. As the judge read her ruling, she stated several times that we were a good family, that we met all the criteria to adopt a child, but that she would not approve our adoption because Kirill has Down Syndrome and he could not socially adapt to being adopted. She told us that we could adopt another child, because legally our application had no problems according to Russian adoption law. The ruling stated she would approve our adoption for a “typical” child, but not this child. The ruling also stated that he would be better served in a mental institution than in our home; an institution that does the best it can with what it has, but that has one caregiver for every 13 children, all of which have intellectual disabilities. Even though we were approved by our home study and by the USCIS to adopt a child with special needs. Even though we have so much personal experience with children with special needs AND the resources, knowledge, and community support to provide him with the therapies that he will need (and could never get in an institution) to grow and develop at his maximum potential. Even though we had two doctors (from his current and previous orphanages), two social workers (one from the region and one from the orphanage), and the Minister of Children's Services testify that Kirill would be better off in our home than he was in an institution.

It was like a terrible dream. We were so unprepared for this outcome. As we left the courthouse in a mental fog, the doctors and social workers that had testified on our behalf came to us and said, “If you appeal, we will speak again for you. Appeal this decision. Kirill belongs with your family.” Of course we were going to appeal…I could no more walk away from our biological son, Clayton, at this point. Kirill is just as much my son. WE LOVE HIM. It is absolutely heartbreaking to think about having to explain to Clayton that Kirill may not be coming home. I cry everytime I think about it. He loves his brother so much already.

So here we are, asking God to move the mountain that is standing between Kirill and us as we appeal to the Supreme Court in Moscow. Please pray with us and for us. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


WE DESPERATELY NEED THEM NOW. I will post more if/when I can, but for now, please pray for our appeal. Pray harder than you ever have. Thank you all so much...we feel the prayers and we know they are powerful. We are leaning on God and his infinite wisdom. We will follow him and praise his name no matter where he leads us.

Trusting HIM...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Happy World Down Syndrome Day!

I'll be honest. I was dreading today. World Down Syndrome Day is always on 3.21 because there are three copies of the 21st chromosome and that is what results in a person having Down Syndrome. It's a day I was hoping to celebrate as the "official" mommy of Kirill. As far as I'm concerned, I'm already his mommy, but legally...well, you know that story.

But when I woke up this morning, I wasn't hopeless. I actually felt rejuvenated and encouraged. God has granted us exactly what we've needed over the past few days. It's been really awesome to feel every moment, God just giving us what we need to make it to the next minute. It's given us clarity and focus like never before. So today, he knew we needed to work on the appeal and write and make phone calls.

Greg and I started the day with a two-hour drive each way to our state's capital to get documents apostilled for our appeal. What better way to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day that taking the steps we need to take to fight for our son's rights to a family? We Fed-Ex'd them to K's country and it was like this huge sigh of relief to know we got them headed in the right direction.

The rest of the day I've spent writing and calling everyone I can think of that might be able to help us. I've been so encouraged at the way Kirill's story is spreading. I can't keep up with all the blog posts being dedicated to him. He's been on two websites that I know of for orphan advocacy groups. It's really so incredible to think about...this tiny boy who can't even talk is being raised up to the highest place and giving a powerful testimony to the CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE. If you know of a blog or website where our story has been posted, please comment with the link. I'm trying to cross-post them all on Facebook to keep spreading the word about our son.

I'm just amazed at the story God is writing through Kirill. Comparing our plans to God's plans are like comparing cheap paperback novels to fine literature. His stories are so much better than anything we could ever come up with on our own.

So Happy World Down Syndrome everyone! We hope that you will spend some time in prayer for our Kirill and our adoption. Our story is still being isn't over yet!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

How to Pray

I've been praying so much lately, and in my small feeble mind, I see no other way to pray except, "GOD, please bring Kirill home." But he is so much bigger than my tiny mind. I've stopped praying for safety, for comfort, for what "I" think should happen. What I'm praying, and I ask you to join me, is that GOD is glorified. That's it. Plain and simple. There is no other reason we are here on this earth other than to bring glory to God. If I have to suffer the pain of waiting longer or the suffering of loss, I will do it and I will find joy in the journey through God, somehow.

Of course we will continue to BEG God to allow Kirill to be our son here on Earth. But if he never is allowed to be a part of our family, I will be able to hold him again in Heaven. And somehow, even if that is the outcome, God will be glorified. I can't see how right now. I can't understand. But that doesn't matter. Because we trust God and his infinite wisdom that is so much greater than us or our plans. Glory to him. Thank you for letting us be your servants Lord.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Our Worst Fears

Were confirmed on Thursday, March 17th, at 3:30 p.m. in a courtroom in K's region. "Rejected" were the words of the judge. Our application to adopt Kirill was rejected after a five hour court hearing. I'm sorry I haven't posted but honestly, I'm just now emotionally able to type this post. Please be in prayer for our judge and the prosecutor who deliberated and made the decision. We are appealing to the Supreme Court in Moscow. It will take about two weeks for us to find out the result of our appeal. We just need prayers now. To say we are devastated would be an understatement. Our hearts are broken into a million pieces and we are grieved to our core. But we will appeal and we will do everything we can to bring our son home. I don't want to do ANYTHING that could jeopardize K coming home, so what I post will be selective. I want to keep this blog public because I know many people are praying for us and for Kirill. Please keep your comments kind; we do not want to be critical of the country that we love where our son lives...we have so much love for the people there...ALL of them. I want to keep the blog public but I cannot if there are negative comments left because we just need to pray for everyone involved, not criticize them.

James 1:2-4

 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Forefinger ≠ Four Fingers

First off, I just have to say it is really good to be back in K's country. I really missed it and I have really developed a huge love for this country. This trip has been a much easier trip as far as feeling comfortable with our surroundings and not being so unsure of ourselves with the local people. We feel that they are really very friendly if you try to talk with them; especially younger people who enjoy practicing English and having a few laughs as you try to speak Russian words/phrases.

So much to catch up on here, but first I have to tell you all about the 8 medical specialist exam. I got in trouble with Greg for posting about my hoo-hah fears in my previous post. Chalk it up to fatigue, nerves, and...well, who am I kidding? I could make excuses but it's just who I am...I often speak before I think...or type. Needless to say, I was VERY RELIEVED that there was no checking of anything below the belt.

However, I did manage to make a complete fool of myself anyway. We had been to see one specialist, the psychiatrist, and the translator told us that he was very easy and friendly. He asked us four or five questions and that was it. It was so easy. But then came the neurologist. The facilitator told us she was more thorough and that she sometimes seemed very serious, but not to worry, just to answer her questions. Greg and I were seen together for all of the exams, but I always went first because I like to get things over with...especially unpleasant or nerve-wrecking experiences!

So here we are in the neurologist's office. She asks a few questions about our health and then asks us to do a few tests. We have to do the normal reflex stuff, just like American doctors. No big deal, everything is going well, I'm still VERY nervous though. She asks me to stand up with my feet together and arms out. Then she asks me to close my eyes and, as our interpreter said, "touch your nose with your four fingers." So I'm standing there, eyes closed, trying to get all four of my fingers on my nose. I start hearing Greg snicker, then the translator, then the doctor. They are all belly-laughing at me! I'm standing there thinking, "What? Did I do it wrong? Ohmygoodness! We're not going to be able to adopt K because I can't get all four fingers on my nose!" Seriously, it was sheer exhaustion plus nerves because any fool would know that she meant "touch your nose with your forefinger." Hello? Same test we do here in the U.S. But I seriously couldn't hear anything except "touch your nose with four fingers," or, in my really tired state, "get all four fingers on your nose!"

So yeah, it was awesome. The translator and Greg didn't stop laughing about it for the rest of the day. I'm sure the neurologist wrote that I was neurologically fine but just not that smart. Oh well...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

We're Here!!!

We made it to Moscow for the first leg of our second trip! So far things have gone so smoothly. I hesitated to type that at first, but I really have no fear because our God is faithful. No matter what happens, good or bad, we will be joyful.

We are off to get some sleep. Tomorrow we will go through an 8 medical specialist examination. Sounds fun, right? I hope they don't have to look at my hoo-ha.