Finally last February 2007, (16 months since we’d started our homestudy) we got frustrated that the adoption was taking so long. After much thinking and talking we decided to switch countries to Ethiopia. They had just opened up adoptions there in the last year or two and the process was comparatively short.
Skin Color, Schmin Color
At first we felt the need to have our adopted child look somewhat like us. We thought it might be one less issue he would have to deal with in life, but through the process over that last year, we came to feel that was unnecessary. God could certainly handle a simple thing like that.
Abuses In America
Also, things were getting difficult, politically, in Russia. Their government had actually halted most adoptions because they decided to go through a re-accreditation of all agencies. This was partly due to some abusive situations in America that had happened with adopted children. But there were still a few regions allowing adoptions.
The Kremlin. The Entrance to Red Square. That is Emma being silly in the blue jacket. This photo is actually from our 2nd trip when Emma went with us.
Russia had halted adoptions before, as had other countries, and we were concerned that we might get into the midst of an adoption and have it stall. We’d read nightmare stories like this where a couple met their new child and then between the first and second trip were unable to adopt because the country closed all adoptions.
Inside a Russian Orthodox church.
The Priest and women who worked with him. They were so sweet to allow us to take pictures.
A God Thing
Anyway, literally the day I was to send a final email to the US Immigration department for them to change our country to Ethiopia, we received our first referral (a picture of a child and a medical report) from Russia. Our US Immigration form had been there for 4 months as this is one of the longest processes one will go through in adoption. If I changed it now, and then had to change it back, who knows how much longer things would have taken.
The First Time We Saw His Picture
So, I’m sitting at my computer thinking “Oh, my gosh, I might be getting ready to see our new son.” I opened up the picture of Luke and my first thought was “Oh my, he is cute!” It was a visceral feeling. Kind of like when I first met my husband. Kind of an instant attraction.
I can’t believe it, but I guess I erased that first picture off my computer in a fit of cleaning things up a bit. I still have it packed away somewhere with all the documents. But just imagine his cute little face, about a month younger than this pic below. He was sitting in a high chair against a white wall.
During our first meeting with Luke.
Let’s Stay With Russia
I emailed it to my husband at work and he called me saying the same thing. Immediately I sent an email to the lady at US Immigration and said we are staying with Russia. Matthew and I talked that night and both of us felt very strongly that this little guy could easily be the next member of our family. We were ready to go and meet him. Truly, I would have been very surprised if it had not seemed right when we got there, because it seemed so right when we saw his picture.
The playroom at the orphanage. There were 9 babies all about 9-12 months old.
Should We Adopt 1 Or 2 Children?
Originally we had wanted to adopt 2 children. A girl and a boy. We’d read stories of people who ended up going back to adopt a second child and many of them wished they had just adopted two children at once. It is a mammoth undertaking. Paperwork, phone calls, driving to the state capital many times (an hour and a half away) to get all documents apostilled, not to mention the up and down of emotions as you wait out the process.
Apostilling (I did not know what this was either) is like notorizing a notary. You get your document notarized, then take it to the secretary of state at your state capitol and have them apostille it. That is a document they attach to each of your documents stating that, yes, in fact, your notary is truly a notary. Doesn’t that just wear you out?!
Two Boys It Is
So finally, after waiting a long time, we found out that finding a boy and a girl was the reason our adoption was taking so long. We did not realize that girls were much harder to adopt than boys in Russia (the opposite is true in China) and so we said ‘two boys would be fine.’ We really didn’t care. At that point everything went into high gear.
Russian Foreign Ministry. They have some serious buildings!
From The Ural Mountains To The Black Sea
So the agency ended up sending us several more referral pictures. We chose one of another cute boy. Both my husband and I felt the strongest about that first picture of Ilya (Luke), but we had it in our mind to adopt 2. These two boys were in two different orphanages in two different regions about 1000 miles from each other. Wow. I guess we would have a busy trip to Russia.
We would fly to Moscow, the next day go to Ishevsk for 2 days which is about 1000 miles east of Moscow right before the Ural Mountains, then back to Moscow for one night and then south about 1000 miles to Stavropol for a couple of days and then back to Moscow and the US.
St. Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square
Journal entry: May 24, 2007
Well, we will be seeing you precious babies in just about 2 weeks. At this moment your Daddy and I are in the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport on our way to Cancun for the wedding of Daddy’s cousin Patti. Your Daddy is actually going to walk her down the aisle. It’s Thursday today – we return home on Monday and then leave for Russia the following Saturday for 9 days.
After that we come home and then return in a month or so to bring you home. Your two older sisters and your brother are so excited to see you. We are all so excited. We want to bless you and we know you will bless us, being a part of our family. We can’t wait to watch you grow up. To help you, guide you, love you and most important to teach you all about God.
Dear Father, again I ask you to keep a hedge of protection around the children in Russia and back in Enid. Keep them all perfectly safe, healthy and loved. Thank you Father, in Jesus Name.