mcdonalds

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.

Heading to the Moscow subway.

We need this break. We are emotionally spent right now. To be so keyed up, traveling across the world and ending up in some rural place in God knows where, at an orphanage with all these poor, precious children and then feeling this isn’t right. Lord, what in the world are we doing here so far from home. Why in the world did you bring us here?

Matt trying to get directions for which subway we should get on. How ’bout those chandeliers!

Matt trying to get directions for which subway we should get on. The technique is you just look around for someone who looks like they might speak english and you ask them. They usually shrug or are very helpful. This is one of my favorite pics.

Matt and I talked about this a lot. We were now to the point of “Well, maybe we were just supposed to come to Russia for some other reason entirely. Maybe we aren’t supposed to adopt at all. Or at least not from Russia. We need to be prepared for the same thing in Stavropol. So over the course of that day, we had talked ourselves into the fact that this whole trip may very well end up with no adoption at all and we had to be ok with that.

Moscow University

Moscow University

But… at the end of that day, as we were on the plane flying now to Stavropol, I looked down on my wrist. I had brought with me about 20 rubber bracelets for each of the orphanage workers at the two orphanages. I got them at our local Christian bookstore. They had words like Joy, Hope, Love, etc and then an appropriate verse on each one.

orphanage workers

I kept one for myself before we left the US and had been wearing it this whole time, but in the flurry of preparing for the trip, I had not yet paid attention to what it said. I looked at it on the plane and it said “Faith.” The verse on the back said “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Oh my.  That is one of my favorite verses.  Hmmm.

I looked at Matt and said, “Where is our faith?

Look at this bracelet. It says faith is the substance of things hoped for. Aren’t we hoping that God is bringing us a child?” Yes, he said. “Well, we had a really challenging experience back there, but we still have to have faith, don’t we.”  Yes, we do, he said.   So in that moment, we got turned back around and re-aligned with God.  Bless you God. You are always there at the right moment.

Andrei – A Good Sign

We got off the plane and our driver/interpreter Andrei met us. We immediately liked him a lot and I thought this was a good sign. It was about 10pm and we were tired. He took us to a nice 4-story hotel with restaurant and very pretty outdoor patio. Our bedroom had these cute toddler-like twin beds, a couple of chairs for a little sitting area, a desk and windows that opened onto the courtyard below. No screens. Just open air.

Stavropol is a beautiful city. Well-cared for, set in hills, probably about the size of Wichita, Kansas.  Here are a few pictures near our hotel.

Stavropol

War memorial in a city park.

War memorial in a city park

This reminded me of some old sci-fi movie that I can’t recall. It might have been Star Trek!

This reminded me of some old sci-fi movie that I can't recall.

Time To Go

The next morning Andrei was on time and very professional. There was no waiting around. We went to the Minister of Education for our interview.  In the last city, this was a slightly nerve-wracking interview.  It’s a little like you are on trial trying to calmly convince the Russian government that you are reasonable people that simply want to be loving parents.

Another Good Sign

Andrei walked in and left us in the car at first. They were busy and asked him if we were “good” people. He said yes, we are very good people and they said ok, forget the interview, go on to the orphanage.  Andrei is well-connected and people trust him.  All right! Things are looking good.

Almost There

Next we drove up to the orphanage. Again, it is an old run-down building but something about it seems more right than the other one.   I was starting to have a good sense about things.

Exterior of Orphanage in Stavropol

Exterior of Orphanage in Stavropol

We walk in, talk to the Orphanage Director first, a very nice woman, answer a few questions while Andrei fills out paperwork, and then we are led to Ilya’s area.  This orphanage had 53 children, 5 years old and younger.

The Orphanage Director and our guide and translator, Andrei. Matt and I still text message with him!

The Orphanage Director and our guide and translator, Andrei (Matt and I still text message with him!)

When I reread this next part, I still feel my breath taken away.

We walked into the playroom. The 9 babies in this section were just waking up in the next door crib room.

cribs

We sat down on the couch next to the changing table. Our interpreter was with us.

This sweet caretaker, who I later found out had been there 4 or 5 years, brought Luke out to us naked and ready to be changed.  That prayer was answered –  that he had the same caretaker his entire life.

Orphanage caretaker

I felt as if the doctor was bringing me my naked baby that I had just birthed. He was squirming all around. She laid him on the changing table. Our interpreter comically said in his Russian accent, “See, everything intact.”

I Was Spellbound By Him

So was Matt. She handed him to me and the moment I held him and smelled his sweet head, I said to Matt, “I think he is ‘the one’.”

Ahhh, a baby.

Ahhh, a baby.

I knew it immediately and completely felt the same about him as when any of our other three had been born and then put into my arms. All I can say is it is just God and another prayer was answered – that we’d know him when we saw him and that the first picture we received would be “the one.”

Luke 10 months old

We were able to visit Luke 3 times over the course of 2 days for about an hour each time.

Mommy and Luke

Tears In The Middle Of The Street

I still had Alexander on my mind while we were in Stavropol seeing Luke.

In fact, one day Matt and I were walking down the street by our hotel. It was late afternoon and all of sudden I just burst into tears. Who knows what all the people on the street were thinking. Matt hugged me and we just stood there. Me crying. Him hugging. In the middle of the sidewalk with people walking on either side of us.

The thought of leaving any of these children in these ophanages was, once again, heartbreaking. But what do we (all people) do? It’s an enormous thought.

After that we headed back home to Oklahoma, knowing that God was in control. It was time for more paperwork and prayer that our 2nd trip and court date would come soon.

Stay Tuned for Part 6

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