We flew back to Moscow from Izhevsk and arrived in the evening. The next day we had about 8 hours to sight-see before we flew south to Stavropol to meet Ilya. (Luke 10 months old) This is Matt in front of the subway entrance.
June 2, 2007 We Flew To Moscow
I was somewhat incredulous that we were flying all the way to the other side of the world to adopt a child, since we had many irons in the fire in the United States. Adopting a baby from our own hometown would have been just fine with us. But God apparently wanted us to go to Russia, because none of these other things worked out.
We Arrived In Moscow At 10am
A driver and an interpreter picked us up at the airport and dropped us at our hotel an hour later They would be back tomorrow to take us to a smaller airport for our flight to Izhevsk.
I Need Sleep, Please
Although we just wanted to go to sleep, as it was about 2am our time, they say when you fly overseas you must stay awake until bedtime in your new time zone or you will have a much harder time acclimating. So we headed to Red Square, the Kremlin and St. Basil’s Cathedral.
It was spectacular, but my memory is that I just wanted to lie down somewhere. We stayed awake until about 4pm and then couldn’t stave off sleep any longer. We woke at 2am and slowly got ready for the trip to Izhevsk.
Izhevsk Is A Small Industrial Sort Of Town
It was a 2 hour small plane ride strait east of Moscow, right before hitting the Ural Mountains.
Matthew’s Journal Entry: June 4, 2007
The flight was fine. We were in a TY 134 like a small DC-9. Izhevsk is wooded with some fields. The grassland looks like Oklahoma, but the soil is pitch black. The airport looked like Ponca city’s – small, but there were a good number of jets.
There is Matt in the lower left corner.
An interpreter met us and got us to our hotel. It is set in an old apartment, but the entry is an added-on building they renovated.
Our hotel, or motel, or whatever it was is behind us.
There are tons of these 8-10 story apartment blocks. They are awful and no one mows the grass. To us it looks like the slums, but we walk around and feel perfectly safe.
We have been working on speaking Russian. The locals appreciate it and light up when we speak it. We’ve been into town on two trips. The first was to a church to the west of Udmurt University.
What a ceiling!
Allison got the priest to let us take photos.
I lit a candle for the boys.
Wow. It is a green church. What a use of color!
Women had to wear head coverings so I used my sweater. Nice.
Next trip we went to the town square or rather town center. We got there late and had to leave because I thought the sun was setting – oops – it goes down about midnight. A very nice town center. Don’t know if we get to see Alexander today. We have to be interviewed by the Minister of Education at 2pm. It is all very “go with the flow.” Lots of waiting.
The next day a driver/interpreter picked us up at our small motel. First we had to go do some paperwork at the agency.
Ok…Looks like the beginning of a scary movie. These are the hallways to the agency office. It did get better.
Then our guide drove us (like a maniac I might add) 45 minutes to a smaller town north of Izhevsk called Votkinsk. We were literally out in the middle of rural Russia far from any known reality, completely dependent on our driver. What a deal. What an experience. What the heck are we doing?
The orphanage at Votkinsk
We pull up to a very rundown building and are told to go through “that” door. Ok, whatever you say.
We sort of tentatively walk in and someone points to another door. We walk in that door and are greeted by the director, the interpreter, and the social worker. We are all crowded in a tiny office and they proceed to ask us questions and interview us. Then we ask a few questions.
Finally they bring Alexander, 15 months old, to us. He is a darling little boy. We play with him for maybe 30 minutes in the directors office. We ask a few more questions and then it’s time to go.
The Ride Back To Izhevsk
I sit in the back seat and cover my eyes as this guy drives. Matt is in the front seat. (I feel sorry for him.) We didn’t have time to talk. Cars are honking constantly, inches from each other, going 70 miles an hour, swerving in, out and around. We are each thinking separately about what we just experienced and praying that we make it back to our motel alive.
Our driver let us out and said he would pick us up at 8am to go back to the orphanage for a second visit. Oh, ok. Well, that is good. We can see him again. When we finally got to talk, we both were a little unsure. It was all very intense. The orphanage was dark and depressing. We didn’t talk much about it though because we knew we were going back tomorrow and we would get a better idea and then really talk.
Journal Entry that night:
Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house; with deepest awe I will worship at your temple. Lead me in the right path O Lord… Tell me clearly what to do and show me which way to turn. Psalm 5:7-8.
The next morning we head back to Votkinsk. Another hair-raising drive. This time they take us to another room with a few toys and then bring Alexander to us. We spend about 30 minutes with him. Again he is a precious boy, but I can sense that both of us feel there is something not right about this.
Finally, We Leave The Orphanage
We had spoken to our agency back in Texas the night before and Doris could tell we were unsure. She told us to go ahead and tell them yes and take our time to think about it and then we could, as she said, “deny the referrel” later, but if we said no now, it would be difficult to change our minds later. Ok. We are just going with the flow here.
So we tell the orphanage that we are interested and our agency would work out the details. We get back into the car for the final (thank you God) 45-minute trip back to Izhevsk. Both Matt and I are in a strange space. Again, we can’t talk now, but must sit with our thoughts alone during the drive back. Probably a good thing.
Something Is Not Right
By the time we get back we both say to each other “this is not right.” We aren’t sure why. We just know we are not meant to adopt this boy. It is breaking my heart to leave this child here, but we’ve just got to be obedient to the leaning of the Holy Spirit.
Journal Entry that night:
We have prayed deeply and we believe You, Father, have not called us to bring Alexander home with us. We absolutely believe if we sense Your will like we do, that his (Alexander’s) forever family is soon coming. We must be obedient, even if it is difficult. We will continue to pray for him. Please bless him Jesus.
Stay Tuned For Part 5
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.
Stay Tuned For Part 4
Meeting Luke in the orphanage. Stavropol, Russia.
So, about a year after Henry (our 3rd) was born, we knew we wanted another child. At the same time, the idea of letting God plan our children (i.e. when and if we would have more) was taking hold in me. I mean if I’m going to trust God in every other area of my life, I guess I’d better trust Him in that area too, right? If I didn’t, would that not be hypocritical? But I was 43. Good gracious. This is a fine time to be thinking about that.
The World Says…..
The world tells us we should stop having babies in our 40’s because of a host of medical problems for mother and child. But isn’t God bigger than that? And if we are still having cycles into our 40’s but are fearful about becoming pregnant, then we have to start talking about birth control. Yikes. We could talk about that for days. Are we preventing God from bringing someone into the world by using birth control?
Suffice it to say, after much research (my middle name) and talking to other women older than me, we decided to just leave it all up to God. We believed whatever God would bring would be a blessing to our family and our small minds could really not comprehend what He could possibly have in store for us. You might be saying “Boy that sure isn’t wisdom with all the technology we have in the world today. A little too much Pollyanna for me.” Maybe. Maybe not.
Finally, after making that decision, my monthly cycles became erratic. OK, Lord, what are you saying to us? Then sometimes they didn’t come and finally they stopped all together. God obviously had other plans. He had to get my mind wrapped around more children while approaching my mid-40’s and at the same time was refining those rough edges in preparation for those other plans.
The Desires Of My Heart
Since we still had a desire for another child, we took this as a clear sign that He wanted us to adopt or else, I believe, my cycles would have continued as normal. I believe this because if we are obedient, He says he will give us the desires of our heart. Well, another child was the desire of both our hearts. So we started the adoption process in November 2005.
But What About…..?
As we were making this final decision to adopt, many questions coursed through my mind. What about my other children? Will it take away from them to add another child? Will I love this child like I love my biological children? Will he be healthy? Will he be normal? What is normal?
OK, now I’m feeling less in control than ever. Who knows how this is going to turn out. I stepped up to some more serious prayer. I began praying for everything I could think of.
That the birth mother was healthy.
And her womb was healthy.
And the birth was perfect.
And the baby had loving, caring caretakers.
That the caretakers were always the same ones so he could attach to someone.
That I would know him when I saw him.
That he would be the first referral we received.
That he would be healthy.
That he would be uncircumcised like our other son so they would be the same.
That I would love him like I love our other children.
That our other children would welcome him and love him.
And the list went on.
I wrote these things in my journal because I have found, when I not only pray something, but specifically write it down and also thank God that these things are already done, it is the most effective. In fact, God says in this verse “write the vision and make it plain…” -Habakkuk 2:2.
So, we had our home study done, filled out tons of paperwork and then began what turned into a long wait.
Stay Tuned for Part 3
And God Bless You Today!
Luke at St. Basil’s Cathedral. Moscow, Russia.
This is the story of our adoption journey to Russia for our fourth child, Luke.
To be fruitful and multiply
Let me say first that deep down Matthew and I wanted another child. We did not adopt just because it was the right thing to do or out of some kind of feeling of obligation. I knew that would ultimately not result in a happy home or happy childhood for a child. I knew my gut level motivation had to be a sincere desire to increase our family size. To have another baby. To procreate. To be fruitful and multiply.
I wouldn’t change my last name
For 11 years I have watched myself change from a driven, ambitious, career-woman, semi-feminist who wouldn’t change my last name to my husband’s until we’d been married 7 years to a very content, stay-at-home wife, homeschooling mom and Jesus-seeker whose fervent desire is to clearly knows God’s will for me at all times. I now see that my most joyful life, my absolute happiest is living my life as God had planned from the beginning. It’s that fruitful and multiply thing and I didn’t “get it” until I was 40.
In an orphanage for a year
There is no doubt in my mind that God had a plan for Luke and that it started way before he was even conceived. That it included him living in an orphanage for a year, us doing 2 years of paperwork, waiting, finding him, and traveling to the other side of the world twice to get him.
The baby He had for us
When I sit here and rationally think, it is a little unfathomable that we were supposed to go to those lengths. That we weren’t just supposed to adopt a child in our city or state or even domestically, especially with my husband being a lawyer and being connected to babies up for adoption quite often. But as I look back over the process, I can say, this is exactly where God lead us. We had irons in the fire in many areas – through local lawyers in 2 cities, through Catholic Charity adoptions, through a private domestic agency, and through DHS – Department of Human Services in our hometown. But for some reason, God kept leading us back to Russia. I believe to find the baby He had for us. In the process there were battles to fight.
I was 37 when our first daughter, Emma, was born. 40 with Meg and 42 with Henry. I’m 48 now.
The world would love to say:
You are crazy. You are too old.
Take care of my orphans.
The world says:
You won’t have the energy to take care of these small children.
I will bless you if you obey.
The world says:
How can you give each of these children the attention they need.
Blessed is the man that has a full quiver.
I say; my heart says:
I want another baby. I want many arrows in our quiver. Mostly, just lead the way God.
Matthew and I had talked about adoption our whole marriage. Actually, he had talked about it, but it wasn’t really on my radar screen during the time we were having babies. Then about a year after Henry was born, we knew we wanted another child. At the same time, the idea of letting God plan our children (i.e. when and if we would have more) was taking hold in me. I mean if I’m going to trust God in every other area of my life, I guess I’d better trust Him in that area too, right? If I didn’t, would that not be hypocritical?
STAY TUNED FOR PART 2
So glad you stopped by! My name is Allison and I’m a blogger in Small Town, Oklahoma. I love social media, (used to be a tv producer in LA before kids) finding chemical-free answers for everything in life, building businesses with my hubby of 22 years and loving on my 5 babes ages 8-20. I’m mostly into social media video, so find me on facebook, instagram and lately, snapchat!