Thursday, July 28, 2011

Three Year Post Placement

Today was our three-year post placement visit for Slav & Sergei. It's so hard to believe that it's been three years. Our court date to bring home their little brother is almost three years to the day from their 2008 court date. Today's visit went very well. These post placement visits are so important for the folks in Russia and for the future of Russian adoptions by Americans. It lets them see how well the children are doing, the majority of the children. Of course, you can read the countless number of blogs out there to see it for yourself, but these reports are official, done by social workers, signed, notarized, apostilled, etc. etc.

Since our family won't be together to celebrate "gotcha day" for Slav & Sergei, we had a nice evening out. Dinner at the mall! How exciting. Everyone gets to choose what they want. I had Thai chicken. The dude with the free sample got me. Anyway, we did a little shopping as well. The boys needed new jeans for school, which is right around the corner. We needed a new luggage set as we prepare for our upcoming trip. So we got it all done tonight.

When we got home and checked out our new suitcases, guess who decided they could fit inside and accompany us to Russia. I so wish we could take the boys! It's just not a good option for us right now. I would totally do it if the timing were better and our bank balance was a bit higher. Someday, when the boys are a bit older, I know we'll all go back to Vlad. I told Irina, our in-country coordinator, that several of us families, especially those who have adopted twice from Vlad, will all come back together one day and have a big reunion there. That would be cool.

This 53 lb. boy would never pass the weight limit at the check-in counter!

This 43 lb. boy would never stay still long enough in the suitcase.

So today three years of post placement reports come to an end. Soon, three more years will begin. We're just a little over two weeks from departure. Thank you all for your prayers, especially our beloved church members at Zion Lutheran in Staunton who have prayed for us, loved us and supported us from day one. Thanks be to God for all of you!


Joel, Clarion, Slav and Sergei

Monday, July 25, 2011

Living in a Whirlwind

Well, it's been about five days since we received the news of the August 19th court date. Life has certainly become a whirlwind of activity. Those of you who have been through this know what I mean. The day after we received our good news we had a plan in place and flights booked. Everything is coming together!

We've been all over the place with how we wanted to do this trip. A few months ago, before we went on trip one, we were very seriously considering taking both of our boys for the court trip. It's been three years since they've seen where they came from and aside from all the pictures and videos that we look at quite often, they really don't have much in the way of memories, even of our time there picking them up. Unfortunately, the timing just isn't there this time, so we're not taking the boys. Someday we'll take them all back to visit. Someday!

Here's the plan for the court trip. We leave from St. Louis on August 13th. We fly to JFK and then on to Moscow. From Moscow we take the long flight to Vlad. We arrive in Vlad on Monday the 15th. On Tuesday we have our medicals. Wednesday or Thursday we'll visit our boy along with Svetlana the social worker. Friday is court. On Saturday Clarion will fly home and I will stay on in Vlad. Clarion is a teacher. She'll be missing the first week of school for this trip. Her school counts her time away in Russia as maternity leave, so we decided it would be better for her to get back to the classroom for three more weeks. That way she'll save the bulk her maternity leave for when our little one is actually home. It didn't make too much sense for me to fly all the way home. I'm a pastor. As you know, pastors only work on Sundays. Wink. Wink. Well, Sundays are big days anyway. So if I came home during the ten days I wouldn't get there until late Saturday night. I wouldn't be worth a whole lot the next morning, less than I usually am. :-) And I'd have to start making my way back the next Saturday morning. Between that and the cost of flying home, I'm better off staying put in Vlad.

Unfortunately, I won't have my boy with me during the ten days. The Artem baby home has never gone for that as far as we know. In our last adoption, Slav stayed at the hotel with us during the ten days. He was from the orphanage in Artem City. Sergei, who was at the Artem baby home, had to stay put until the ten days were up. So, I'll be spending ten days in Vlad after court, visiting my little buddy maybe two or three times. That ten days is usually kind of a lull after court. After the ten days things get busy running here and there and then heading to Moscow. So, I hope to find myself relaxing a bit. I am, after all, using my vacation days for this adventure. But I'll probably do some work too. I have some plans to do some teaching with our school kids through Skype or FaceTime. That'll be cool. I hope to do a bit of exploring in Vlad too.

The good news is that my mom is planning on joining me in Vlad just before the ten days are up. She'll arrive on the 28th. We pick up the little one on the 30th. We'll do his doctor visit and then pick up his Russian passport. We head to Moscow on September 1st. Since Labor Day is on the horizon, the embassy will be closed on Monday the 5th. That will necessitate a little extra time in Moscow. Our agency also gives the option to have your child registered while you're in Moscow instead of sending their passport and all the paperwork in after you get home. So we'll do that while we're there as well. We leave Moscow September 9th for home. During that time we also hope to see Nadya, our exchange student from this past year. We haven't figured out all our plans for that just yet.

So things are hoppin' here on this end. Flights are booked. We already have visas since we did 12-month multi-entry ones. That was definitely smart! Clarion and I are both scrambling to get work stuff in order. I have guest preachers covering for me. Clarion is getting her classroom and yearly planning all in order. This past weekend we were fortunate to have the opportunity for a weekend getaway. My student pastor intern (we call them vicars in the Lutheran church) was ordained and installed as pastor of a church in Iowa. On the way there we decided a short stop in Macomb, IL was in order. One of our fellow adoptive families, the Overstreets, live there. After about three years or so, it was great to finally meet them face to face. It was awesome, in fact! One of the greatest things about adoption is those you meet along the way! Saturday we drove into Iowa to see some college friends of mine in Cedar Rapids. That was awesome too. Nothing like hanging out wit old friends and watching your children play together. Very cool. We went to church with them Sunday morning. Then in the afternoon I had the privilege of participating in the ordination of a my dear brother in Christ, Sam Beltz. Today we made the five hour journey back home. Back to the grind tomorrow.

Anyway, that's where we're at. We have a few documents to get together, have notarized, apostilled and take to court with us. Those are coming together nicely. We'll probably do our chest X-rays this week too. Fun, fun! Clarion's folks will arrive a couple days before we leave. They'll be staying with the boys and getting them through their first couple of days of school until Clarion gets home. All is well here. The Lord is good. Everything is coming together.

For those of you who are waiting, know that we pray for you. May Christ be with you. May God give you patience and strength for the wait. All things will happen in His good time, which is rarely what we would ever choose as the right time. I'm speaking from experience you know. The Lord of heaven and earth knows what He's doing. Entrust yourselves and your little ones to His gracious care and keeping. Psalm 46 comes to mind: "Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress (46:10-11). God bless you all.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Court Date!!!

Hey Everybody....

August 19 it is!!!! We leave in about 3 weeks to go to court. We are busy trying to get everything organized. We praise God that we are a step closer to having our little one home but completely nuts trying to make plans. Thank you for all of your prayers on our behalf. We are still praying for all families involved in the adoption process. May God bless you!

Joel and Clarion

Monday, July 11, 2011

Documents Submitted!

It's been a crazy day, but a good one. We received some very good news today! Our agency informed us that our documents were submitted to the court today. They won't officially be registered until tomorrow because new cases are only registered on Tuesdays. We remembered that one from the last time we did this.

What happens now? It usually takes at least a week for the judge to be assigned. Once the judge is assigned, she has 60 days to review our case before setting a court date. Thankfully, it does not usually take 60 days, more like a week or two. So, we might be receiving news of a court date by the end of the month. She may or may not request more documentation from us. We hope she doesn't. For now, more waiting. More praying. Thank you for your prayers!

We even received another picture of our little guy today along with the good news. Here's what we can share:

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Saturday Surprise!

Greetings and salutations. We received a nice surprise in our inbox this morning. Nope, not a court date or any news of such. Still hoping and praying for that! What we did receive was a nice new picture of our little boy. Thank you, Lana! He was having some fun playing outside with a beach ball. Of course, the picture we received has his face on it. :-) We're just not allowed to post that part yet, not until he's "officially" ours. Please keep praying that that day will come soon! Happy Saturday!


Joel & Clarion

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Two Months!

As you can see from the boys' silly faces, we are going NUTS waiting for our little one to join us. It has been two months since we have returned from Russia. Two months since we have held our littlest boy. Two months since we saw that smile we worked so hard to earn from him. Two months praying that court will come quickly. Two months worrying that something might go wrong with the adoption.

We are getting closer to the end though. We can feel it. Our interpreter is translating our documents and preparing them to submit to court. We don't know when that will be but we are confident that God has the best timing all worked out. We will be packed and ready to go whenever we get the good news!

In the meantime, we have all been very busy. Joel has had several funerals this summer and a wedding along with Vacation Bible School, a church picnic, and regular services on Saturdays and Sundays. Clarion had fun running the music for Vacation Bible School, helping with the funeral lunches, and preparing for the coming school year. She has also been enjoying the extra time with her boys. Slav and Sergei have had fun swimming, working on their reading, math, and writing, watching movies, riding bikes, and playing DSI and Wii. All in all it has been a GREAT summer. We are just missing one little thing.......

We're praying that God will bring us back to him soon. Blessings to all waiting families who know what we're feeling. You're all in our prayers.


Joel & Clarion