Monday, May 30, 2011

Moving the Mountain-Part 1

Matthew 17:19
For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you."

Since the time we received the telegram saying we had a supreme court date in Moscow, we have been begging God to move a mountain. The mountain was for us to be able to bring Kirill home without having to go back to the regional court for another hearing after the supreme court hearing. You see, we were not given any hope of being able to do that. Our adoption agency has been amazing, but they have never had a family denied an adoption in Russia. So we have all been learning about the Russian appeal process together! :) It was their understanding, as well as our facilitators here in Moscow who also work for our adoption agency, that there was absolutely no possibility of the Supreme Court being able to grant us custody of Kirill at our hearing. We were told they could "cancel" the original ruling and grant us a new hearing with a different regional judge, but that they could NOT change the ruling right then and there and grant us custody of Kirill.

So we left home on May 21st thinking this would be a quick trip--we would have our supreme court hearing and then go home--regardless of the outcome. 

The Tuesday night before we left, the members of the campus ministry at our church got together to pray for us. They asked what they could pray for. Greg told them "a miracle--and that would be that we could bring Kirill home on this trip." We've said for a long time now that the only thing we really want is for God to be glorified no matter what happened with our adoption. But that night, Greg did ask them to pray specifically for a miracle and for us to be able to adopt Kirill right then and there.

Saturday morning, we got on a plane and started our journey to Moscow. Our facilitator, Dima, and our translator for our adoption documents, Inna, picked us up at the airport. We started talking on the way to the hotel, as we usually do on these drives, about adoption business. Dima was going over our itinerary and we were discussing court. When we were near the end of our conversation, I asked, "So just to clarify what Lauren (our adoption agency social worker) told us, the supreme court judge will give us one of two answers: Yes...and we will be granted another hearing at a later date with a different judge than the one that rejected our adoption in Kirill's region, or No...and we will go home and the adoption will be over and we cannot adopt Kirill?" Dima answered that he had some different information from the lawyer and that we might be able to get Kirill right away. I'll be honest, I really didn't believe this would be a possibility. Sometimes the language barrier is very confusing. Information gets misunderstood and translated differently than what is meant in the original language. I can't tell you how many times things have been "lost in translation" in this process. So I really didn't think too much about it. It was a glimmer of hope, but we had been let down so many times that I just wouldn't let myself get too excited about it.

We went to our hotel and took a nap because we were so tired from the flight. When we woke up, we walked around Red Square and ate at an outdoor cafe. As we talked over dinner, I kept asking Greg if he really thought Dima knew what he was talking about. He kept telling me, "We'll just have to wait and talk to the lawyer tomorrow night." I was started to feel my hopes rising and I didn't want to be too disappointed. So I kept dismissing the thought when I would start feeling hopeful that Dima had the correct information. 

Sunday, I spent the day getting documents ready for our meeting with our lawyer, and ultimately, court. I wanted to make sure everything was organized and easily accessible if I needed to reference anything during court. Greg and I would both be making speeches to the judge and I wanted to cover every possible point that I could think of as to why Kirill needed to be in our home rather than in an orphanage. I finished writing my speech that afternoon and had research articles to back most of my arguments, all translated into Russian, thanks to some friends who pitched in and helped me translate them using Google Translate (there were 27 of them), in case the judge needed to see them too. 

It seemed like an eternity from the time we were picked up at the airport until Monday night when we met with our lawyer. We didn't meet until 6 p.m. {keep in mind our hearing was THE NEXT DAY...does that make anyone else nervous??? Because it almost gave me a panic attack}. We were told it would be a long meeting by our agency before we left the U.S...probably at least three hours. We met in the hotel lobby...I had tons of papers and questions. Our lawyer was very nice, but he seemed really nonchalant about everything. I was overly-chalant (is that a word?) and stressed. When we were talking, he would often answer with "I don't know" or "we will have to see" and oftentimes he would say, "it's a 50/50 chance." Talk about leaving a meeting with more questions than answers...thats EXACTLY how we felt. But the one question he DID answer was the most important...he confirmed what Dima had told us in the car ride from the airport. The judge would rule in one of three ways: 1. No and we would not be able to adopt Kirill, 2. Yes and we would be granted a new hearing in the region with a different judge, or 3. Yes and the original ruling would be overturned right then and we would be granted custody of Kirill. And what's more...we would not have to wait the typical 10-day waiting period if they overturned the ruling and granted us custody. Our lawyer informed us that we could go get him immediately upon the issuance of the court decree, which would happen within five days of the supreme court hearing. 


I started to get my hopes up then. I just couldn't help it. I KNEW that we had so many people praying for us and I KNEW that God didn't want Kirill to be an orphan. I prayed and prayed that night. I had to get some sleep but it wouldn't come very easily. I finally got on my knees and begged God to grant me rest and peace. And he did.

With our lawyer, Alexander, after the hearing

With Natasha, our sweet court translator, after the hearing

Speaking of's late here and I need to go to bed! But, I will tell you the rest of the supreme court story very soon! The Cannells still need money for their adoption. We have raised about 30% of the goal for the Chip-In. Now, I'm going to tell Kirill's story, of course, regardless of the outcome of the Chip In! I wouldn't really keep it a secret. But I really would love to see the goal reached before we bring our boy home. Let's get to 60% and I'll finish up the part about the supreme court hearing, deal? Just click on the chip in to's super-duper easy.

For those of you praying for us...please pray that our court decree is issued tomorrow. We want so badly to go get Kirill! HE HAS ALREADY BEEN DISCHARGED FROM THE ORPHANAGE AND THEY ARE HOLDING HIM THERE FOR US UNTIL WE ARRIVE. can't stop smiling when I think about the fact that he's no longer an orphan. If we don't get the court decree tomorrow morning, we won't be able to leave Moscow tomorrow evening. So please pray that it is ready tomorrow morning so we can get on the overnight train to Pskov tomorrow night and pick him up on Wednesday morning! We need to be out of Russia by the 10th because our visas expire then. So we really, really, really need to pick him up and start getting his paperwork processed to come home! Thank you all for praying!!! Seriously, do you understand how powerful those prayers have been? I don't think you can unless you've been in our's amazing and I will never be able to thank you all enough.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


We have raised 30% of what the Cannells need for their adoption. Well on our way! I will post tonight about the first part of our trip to Kirill! Keep those donations coming and share, share, share! We're getting there fast! Right now, we are off to try to find gifts for the orphanage and orphanage workers. I can't wait to get a post up with pictures of our sweet boy! We found out yesterday that he was OFFICIALLY DISCHARGED from the orphanage. WOO HOO! That makes this mommy SO HAPPY. They are holding him there for us, but he's no longer a resident! YIPEEEEEE!

I would love for you to be praying for our friends, the Dixons, as they have court in Ethiopia today to try to adopt precious Selah. They have been told to expect not to pass court, but we know that God can work miracles, right??? So let's all PRAY! They are on their way to court as I type this. I will update on them later tonight as well.

Psalm 68:6
God places the lonely in families!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Kirill's Miracle Story

Last night, I was sitting up thinking about how I wanted to tell the story of Kirill becoming our son. I just have so many things to tell you guys about the MIRACLE that has taken place over the last week. It's hard to believe that just one week ago, we were on a plane, heading to Moscow, with NO IDEA that we would be bringing Kirill home. I didn't post this on the blog, but the best hope we were given was that the Supreme Court would cancel the judge's original ruling and grant us another hearing in our region. This was our understanding of the court system here in Russia, as well as our agency's understanding after talking with our lawyer in Moscow. We were told that this trip was strictly for the supreme court hearing, that we would come back to the U.S. as soon as it was over and IF we were granted a new hearing in K's region by the supreme court, we would have to wait for anywhere from 1-3 months OR MORE for a new hearing in the region. But there wasn't an official timeline so even that time estimate was uncertain; we were told it could be longer or it could be shorter.



But as I was thinking about where to begin, I kept thinking about my friend Karrie Cannell, who is in the process of adopting two brothers from Eastern Europe. Their story kept interrupting my thoughts and made me pray hard for them. Karrie and her husband Donnie originally committed to one of the boys, Carson, and started the process to adopt him. Well, as the process moved forward, they found out Carson had a biological brother in another orphanage! So what did they do? They committed to adopt BOTH BOYS. 

Carson and John have EB, or Epidermolysis BullosaEB is a genetic skin condition that causes painful blisters to form anywhere the skin is exposed to friction. The skin is so fragile that even the slightest touch can cause painful blisters that are prone to infection. Many children do not live for very long with this condition because of the high risk of infection. There are many precautions that have to be taken to care for the sores and prevent new blisters from forming. It is painful to see the photos of these boys because I know what orphanage conditions are like and I know that these boys do not get good care for such a fragile condition. Honestly, I'm surprised they are still alive because orphanages are not the cleanest places and they certainly aren't the most medically attentive places. THEY NEED TO COME HOME SOON.

These boys are in different orphanages in different regions because John is older and had already been transferred to an older children's orphanage. This means Donnie and Karrie have to come up with about twice as much money to adopt the two boys because they have to do it separately, and they have to have the money before they can travel to pick up their sons. They are submitted and just waiting on "the call" to go get their sons. How much do they need? Right now, about $20,000...which may sound like a lot, but really it's NOT. God can do that in no time at all!

Remember the 7-Day Blitz for Kirill?

So here's a breakdown of what the Cannells still need, taken from Karrie's blog:

$13,415 is what we have on Reeces Rainbow.
$1,000 deposit,~ if you will~ that we get back from RR.
$1,052 is what we have in Paypal.
$645 money on hand.
Total: $16,113
We still need: $21,155 to fully fund the adoption,
Donnie is going to be gone from his job for 8 weeks, and he doesn't get vacation pay for his time away. The reality of it is, we have to cover his time away. That is another $10K ....that one is hard to swallow....we are going to cut things down and out of our monthly expenses while we are gone. So that will help. Praying the funds will go over and beyond t
o cover Donnies time away from his job. Thanking God for giving him such a great job that he will still have a job when we gets back. Some that go over to get there kiddos, have job issues when they return. We will keep them all in our prayers. It is hard to ask for money, it is almost embarrassing, but there is no way that we could fulfill God's calling without help. We make plenty of money to take care of our kids, and our two new sons. It's getting them here that puts us in a pickle ;) So please help us...Donate~Pray~ and share our story......thank you from the bottom of our hearts ♥

And here's where you come in...

I'm going to tell Kirill's miracle story, but not until the Cannell's are fully funded. As I was trying to type up K's miracle story last night, I just couldn't get Carson and John off my mind. I cannot imagine how this family must feel facing such expenses, BUT MONEY AIN'T NO THANG TO GOD! I have received almost 5,000 hits daily on this blog for a while. If each one of those people who visit donates $4, we could raise this amount in NO TIME AT ALL. If you think it's not your responsibility to help, then stop reading this blog. Because God COMMANDS us to care for orphans. That's not a "calling" that's a command...there's a BIG, HUGE DIFFERENCE. So, I'm asking all of Kirill's army to please give a little or a lot, however God leads you to give. Pray first, then ask God to tell you what he wants you to give. Don't dismiss this post and say, "I'll do it later." Go to the chip-in NOW and donate. 

As soon as they're fully funded, I'm going to share the miracle of Kirill's story. But until then, I just can't do it because I keep trying and I can't get the Cannell boys out of my mind when I try to write. I know it's God telling me to advocate for them. So what are you waiting for??? Click on the Chip In below and DONATE. Let's get these boys HOME!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011





Friday, May 20, 2011

Going with God

We leave in less than 24 hours. God is with us. We are going with him. We are taking peace, hope, and the understanding that HE is writing this story. We covet your prayers. We humbly ask for you to especially pray on May 24th beginning at 6:10 a.m. CST. This is the exact time we will be standing before the supreme court judge. Pray for him. Pray for our lawyer. Pray for Kirill. But above all else, pray that Christ is seen by everyone who hears Kirill's story. THANK YOU ALL! I will update here as soon as we know the supreme court ruling.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Easter, Kirill's Birthday, & Mother's Day...(and throw in a tornado)

The last three weeks have probably been some of the hardest to endure since we returned from Russia. I thought it couldn't get any harder, but with important dates come tidal waves of emotion for which I cannot prepare my heart.

I'm a therapist.

I know about dates and the significance they play in the grieving process.

Only we cannot grieve.

We are stuck.

We're in this weird suspension between the best and worst case scenarios. It's such a difficult place to be. If I knew that Kirill was never coming home, I could fully grieve the loss and move forward through the pain. Or, if I knew for sure he was coming home, I could wait in joyful expectation. However, I know nothing of what the future holds. Only God knows. And while that thought comforts, it doesn't take away the pain of the here and now. And while we are suspended, life moves forward... came...and it was harder than I thought. I had decorated for Easter right around Valentine's Day. You know how when you decorate for a holiday and before you know it, the holiday is over and it seems like no time as passed until you're taking down the decorations? Well, I wanted to get my Easter decorations up as early as possible for that reason...because by the time it was time to take them down, I thought Kirill would be home! I love Easter for so many reasons. Of course I love it because of Christ's resurrection. I also love it because of the symbolism of new life and new creation. I love the spring. I love renewal. All of these things were going to be even more meaningful because of Kirill.

Then court happened.

I thought I could handle Easter. I thought I was ready for the tidal wave. I bought Easter treats for Clayton. I made plans for Easter lunch and an egg hunt. I was going to celebrate Jesus' resurrection despite our sadness. But I couldn't. And I didn't. Instead, we sent Clayton to church with friends and I spent the day in my closet floor, clinging to Greg, crying out to God and letting all of the pent up emotion out. It wasn't pretty. But it was necessary.

But the dates kept coming. The very next Sunday would be Kirill's 5th birthday. Greg and I prayed in preparation for the date. We knew it would be HARD. Harder than Easter. We prayed for strength. We prayed for distraction. We prayed for it to be a better day than Easter Sunday.

Clayton's birthday is also in May, just 11 days after Kirill's. He had asked to have his party on Kirill's birthday. In his 5-year-old mind, he and Kirill are "twins". He keeps saying that they are twins because they are both born in May and they are "just my same age" as he says. It's so cute how he says it..."We are adopting a brother and he's going to be just my same age!" So I couldn't say no to him when he asked to have his party on May 1st! We decided we would turn a day of sadness into a day of celebration.

Then the tornadoes hit. April 27th. I was in my office, which was approximately 200 yards from some of the worst devastation. I saw things I cannot unsee and heard things I cannot unhear. Physically and materially, we lost nothing...except cable and Internet for a few days...but our city was forever changed. Many people were without the most basic of needs. We busied ourselves with caring for others. May 1st was the Sunday after the tornado, so we called off the birthday party. We spent the day with a family who lost everything. Literally. They couldn't even find a piece of paper with an address to prove their residence in the debris that was their home. It put everything into perspective for us.

Life is unpredictable.

It can be gone in a second.

We will trust God. We will live for him alone. We will trust not in our own understanding.

And a week later, as Mother's Day approached, I did not dread it. I had a fantastic day. I know that God is sitll God. I know that I am going to be the mother of Kirill one way or another. I will see him in Heaven no matter what happens on this Earth. Whether or not he comes to be a part of our earthly family, he's a part of our family for eternity. I thanked God yesterday for his birth mother, who we learned so much about in our court proceedings. I prayed for her and the hole that she must have in her heart after giving up a child. I prayed for her to have peace and for her to know in her heart that Kirill is loved more than he will ever know. That he is being pursued by a family who wants him so badly and who has the ability to give him a wonderful life. That we will not give up until we have exhausted all of the avenues afforded to us by his country to adopt him.

We have made it through some tough dates lately. We also know that there will be more. Namely, May 24th when we appear before the Supreme Court in Moscow. I humbly ask you to pray for us as we make our final preparations for court.

Isaiah 43:2
  When you go through deep waters,
      I will be with you.
   When you go through rivers of difficulty,
      you will not drown.
   When you walk through the fire of oppression,
      you will not be burned up;
      the flames will not consume you.

Joshua 1:9
 This is my command—be strong and courageous!
     Do not be afraid or discouraged.
     For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Mother's Day 2011
Wishing Kirill was here to complete our family photo; hoping he will be here soon!