Archive for May, 2010

So, as we expected, we have already had some minor delays in getting our dossier completed.  The dossier is no easy task to begin with.  Add in a few user errors and inevitable road blocks and before you know it a one month process turns into a 6-8 month process.  So we began our dossier making great timing.  We busted our tails to get everything completed and doled out to the designated people who needed to help us.  We planned to collect all the documents then take them downtown to get a county seal then drive the same day to Nashville to get an apostille on everything.  Drew suggested we take everything by our case worker at Bethany to have it checked before we pay for the county seals.  Much to my dismay I took the extra time to drag the kids to the adoption agency and have her look everything over.  24 hours later we discovered a multitude of mistakes.  Thank goodness we let her check it!  It took at least another week to get things corrected.  Once we did, we went by the agency one last time for a triple check and our case worker advised us that the agency’s South Africa liason had been in meeting all week in South Africa concerning international adoption from there.  She advised us to hold onto our documents until further notice in case anything changed.  We received a call a couple of days later notifying us that in deed some things would be changing as we waited for our affiliate agency in South Africa to get accreditation.  Because South Africa has never adopted children internationally before, none of their agencies are affiliated.  This process was expected to take until June.  Therefore the agency would not accept our paperwork until June, at the earliest.  This was a bit of a disappointment until we remembered that this would allow us a little more time to gather our funds for the upcoming fees.  Before we knew it we received a call from our case worker that we should go ahead and finish our stamp and seals and get our paper work sent off.  That is where we are right now.  We are getting the last few time sensitive items together to get everything county sealed this week.  Woo Hoo!

Now, for a belated update on our Ukrainian visitor!  Nastya was with us for two and a half weeks when she finally arrived in Knoxville.  There was a slight delay due to the swine flu in Ukraine and illness among the orphans as well as some governmental trials.  The Ukrainian govt decided to halt all international flights leaving Ukraine for a short period.  Nastya finally arrived in Knoxville Christmas Eve.  We picked up Nastya around 2:00pm and with plans to attend the Christmas Eve services at church we only had a few short hours to get acquainted.  We decided not to take Nastya shopping immediately.  We also decided to have her attend service with us in the clothes she came in.  It was very important to us that Nastya feel welcome.  We did not want to make her feel like she wasn’t good enough by making her clean up and shower before taking her to church.  Due to the holidays we decided to take the risk that it would be a few days before we could get some clothes for her.  The Lord blessed us with an overwhelming response from our church.  Westlake provided our family as well as the entire group of host families with suitcases, boxes and boxes of clothing, gift cards, and cash.  Our families were very gracious to Nastya matching our own children’s gifts with gifts for Nastya of both clothing and toys.  We realized very quickly how challenging the coming weeks would be with the incredible language barrier.  Nastya did not seem to mind that we did not understand a syllable.  She continued babbling in Russian as if we were fluent.  For some reason it did not occur to us that the Russian language would not only be difficult to learn, but illegible as, unlike Spanish and French, it has completely different characters that make foreign sounds.  We quickly discovered a free online translator that would allow us to type in english and translate it to Russian then would provide Nastya with a Russian keyboard to type us messages on.  This certainly made communication easier, but you overestimate the knowledge of an eleven year old orphan.  As Nastya would type, if her words were misspelled they would not translate.  More times than not her messages to us would include one english word in the middle of a long sentence of broken Russian.  She would spend 3o minutes or more trying to convey one simple message to us, nevermind that as the days passed her messages grew more and more obstinate and argumentative in nature.  We had an independent, rebellious teenager on our hands.  The first sign of trouble was trying to get Nastya into the shower for the first time.  The discussion began with a typed message of “You need to get in the shower and get some pajamas on to get ready for bed.”  Upon reading our message Nastya replied with a long strand of incomprehensible Russian.  We quickly figured out that showering was not in her plans at any point in her visit to America.  A couple of hours later, we finally got Nastya showered and decided this may be a battle only fought when necessary.  The first night in our home, Nastya slept wonderfully.  We awoke her Christmas morning and literally drug her downstairs to discover her gifts.  She was delighted and blessed to see that someone would care this much for her.  We were very intentional in telling her that our love for the Lord had led us to bless her the way he had blessed us.  The next of our frequent battles started Christmas evening.  We had received some very pertinent wisdom about these children before their arrival that setting them up in a room to themselves might feel more like a tomb to them than a sanctuary as many of them had never spent a single night in a room alone, rather a room filled with beds and other children.  With that in mind and having two boys, we decided to set Nastya up on an extra twin mattress beside of our bed.  Nastya’s second night with us she decided this was not ideal for her.  She persistently requested to sleep in our bed with us.  Mind you she is and 11-year-old girl.  We continued to insist that she had to sleep in her mattress on the floor.  (Hers was actually a real twin mattress and not a blow-up mattress) She complained that her bed was hurting her back and she needed to sleep with us :).  We informed her that her mattress was the same as ours and we would not be buying her story.  She continued for the next week and a half to wake me every hour on the hour to let me know how uncomfortable she was.  You cannot imagine my frustration when I would finally nod off (for the hour) only to be awakened moments later by a Ukrainian poking my shoulder with her finger saying “Broooooke, Broooooke”  Finally after 8 nights or so with only minutes of continuous sleep at a time, I was falling apart.  We gave Nastya an ultimatum.  I told her if she woke me up even one time I would make her sleep in the guest bedroom because I HAD to have more sleep.  That seemed to do it.  Steve, the coordinator of the Kharkov to Knoxville project offered to take Nastya for a day and give us a short break.  We obliged.  After 45 minutes of chasing her around our home and receiving a few blows from her, Steve managed to convince Nastya that he would be bringing her back to our house at the end of the day.  She finally agreed to go with him.  He pulled into the driveway of the translator and Nastya proclaimed in perfect Russian “Finally, someone who speaks Russian!”  We made several trips to the gym with Nastya to swim in the pool.  She thought that was fantastic!  We finally took her shopping a few days after Christmas.  If you have ever shopped with an opinionated teenage girl, you have our empathy!  That was an adventure in itself.  During her stay in America Nastya experienced all the finer things: ice skating at the Icearium (thank you to the women in my bible study whose gracious daughters agreed to meet us!); A group-wide visit to Dollywood; A fun annual New Years Eve party at our dear friends home; A game night at our house; A group wide movie night in Russian; a visit to Morristown including a quick trip to my uncle Otis’ farm to see the miniature cows, the horses, and most importantly his dog.  To sum it up in a long sentence:  We were truly blessed to have the opportunity to host Nastya for two and a half fruit-eating, dog visiting, teenage tantrums, come-to-jesus-meeting, ear-piercing (yes I said ear-piercing, we had no idea she did it!!!!!), gift-giving, most meaningful and memorable weeks.  God showed us the true faith and acceptance of a child as we watched our children love her in a way that was even difficult for us.  We watched her reject them and their love time and again and time and again they returned to her loving her in a way only a child and our heavenly father can fathom.  It sounds like a mess, but I am not lying when I say we were blessed beyond measure by this experience and have every intention of trying it again after a short hiatus to obtain our next child from South Africa.  Thank you Jesus for the opportunity to see your children the way you do and share your love for us with Nastya!


Read Full Post »