“…once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act.”
~Proverbs 24:12

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Almost Home

Derek is definitely on the mend. I suppose it was a stomach virus after all, though I think he'll probably get checked out once we're home and settled a bit. He's weak, but at least isn't vomitting. We are making it through! Thank you to everyone who has kept us in your prayers. They were most definitely felt and we are so grateful.

Just before I got online, Derek checked the statuses of our flights. It looks like, as of now we are good to go. For our long, eight hour flight, we are not sitting together. We're hoping someone may volunteer to change seats so we can sit as a faily and help each other out when needed.

When we get to the Moscow airport, we will most likely be pulled aside and asked to show every original document regarding the adoption we have... times two, since we have siblings. We are prepared for that. Also, once we land in D.C. (our first home-country stop) we will be asked to go though a special immigration screening. Yesterday, we received two sealed packets which we will be required to hand over to immigration at that time. We were reminded at least eleven times that they must remain sealed! Who knows what happens if the seal is somehow broken, but I sure don't want to find out. After the immigration officer goes through our packet and gives us the okay, he will stamp our kiddos' Russian passports with the American Visas. It is at that precise moment that they become American citizens! How exciting!!

We leave our hotel at 2:30 a.m. tomorrow (Friday) morning to catch our 5:55 a.m. flight. I'm hoping our driver can at least drive us by Red Square. We'll see.

So, today is Thursday. Of which of course, I lost track. It is also December 30. Of which, again, I lost track of. December 30. Derek and my anniversary. Five years ago today we were married in the evening at Union Station Hotel in Nashville. Whoever would have thought that exactly five years later we would be in a car with our two precious children on our way to bring them home from Russia...

Life is good. Thank you God.

Update on Derek

God is so good and faithful! Yes, Derek is still sick and slept about half the night on the bathroom floor, but God has given him strength when he needed to take care of something with the children. He gave me strength to balance taking care of my husband and my two new kiddos. He's also calmed B and C when we need it most. We could have changed our plane tickets to fly in a day earlier(today), but thank God we didn't! We are so thankful that His hand has been in our adoption the entire way through!

Derek says he's feeling a bit better. He still has pains just below his rib cage, but he brushed them off today as simply hunger pains, as he hasn't eaten in quite some time. He hasn't vomitted since the middle of the night (it's 10 a.m. here). We're hopefully optimistic that his health continues to improve and that Bennett, Celia and my health stays stable.

Unfortunately, I think we may be the only family to have adopted from Russia who never sees Red Square. Supposedly, it's only thre blocks away. But that's just a little too much for Derek at the moment, considering the bitter cold, the continuous snow and all the effort and time it takes to bundle the four of us up before going out. Oh well. We'll have to come back.

The airports in Moscow haven't had the best track recod in the last several days. One (of the five) lost all power and all flights were canceled for at least a day, due to a terrible ice storm that hit the night before we came in. Since then, the airports have faced more cancelations and many delays. We know of two couples who thought they would beable to leave yesterday that are still here. He pray that we are able to make all of our flights!

I can't wait to be home!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Remember back in elementary school when your teacher assigned you to write about the person you most admire? My answer had been for the longest time my brother, Trevor, who went through so much to change his life around and be the amazing brother, son, father and friend that he was.

I have to say, I think my answer has changed. And I think Trevor would completely understand. The people I admire most are my children.

My son's strength completely blows me away. He had never felt the love or embrace of a mother. He was never rocked to sleep by a parent. He's never had a father figure--or any male for that matter--in his life. He was recently taken from everything he ever knew by people who look, smell, talk and act different. He rode in a car and on a train, something he's never had a memory of doing. He's slept in three different beds in less than a week. He's eating foods he's not used to and being asked to eat some of which he doesn't like. (We're learning he can be a picky eater) He's taken to strange places with lots of different people, never knowing why he's there, for how long he will be there, or if he will be left there. Today, his Papa had to leave the car and ride with someone else, leaving him alone with sister and me. He had no idea if he was being abandoned again or not. B's gone through all of this--which is much more than any two-year-old should go through--and yet is so strong. Sure he cries and we've seen a tantrum or two (or three or...) But he's still able to cuddle with Mama and Papa, help console his sister (who he just met!) when she is crying, and just go on functioning like a normal two-year-old who is scared. We are thankful that our son definitely has a strong personality and can show emotions, and hasn't simply shut down as, sadly, many children who live their whole life in an orphanage do. I so admire his strength.

My daughter's joy completely blows me away. The same situations I described above for B can be said for C. Despite all that, not only does she still smile the beautiful smile she has, but her eyes completely light up with life, love and excitement. To have that joy amongst so much uncertainty is unbelievable. I so admire her joy.

Today was difficult, to say the least. Derek is still throwing up. My poor husband drug himself out of bed to make it to the Embassy appointment and sit with and care for his son (while C was glued to me). Despite throwing up twice at the Embassy, he made it through. Afterwards, he was taken to a different hotel, where the other couple who had gotten sick in St. Petersburg gave him some anti-nausea medication. I took our two kids back to our hotel by myself (and our driver who speaks very little English), which was a feat, if I do say so myself! When Derek made it back to the hotel, the kids were amazing and behaved so well. I took the time to run down the street to a market to pick up some food for myself. It was 5:30 p.m. and the first thing I had to eat all day other than half a banana was two pieces of white bread, some kind of meat and cheese. It was DELICIOUS! Or was I just beyond starving?

Friends, please pray that Derek feels better soon. Please pray that neither the kids nor I get whatever he has. Please pray we are all 100% for the long trip home. Please pray I don't lose it! Ha ha ha!

Flight Information

If all goes well, we are scheduled to fly into Munich bright and early Friday morning. From there we go to D.C. and then to Nashville. For those planning on meeting us at the airport, our flight number is UA (United Airlines) 5924.

Please Pray for Derek

Both of the kids took a morning nap today by the grace of God. Celia woke up so I took her downstairs to the lobby so she wouldn't wake Papa and Bennett.

Derek has been throwing up several times over last night and today. A couple who we befriended had the stimach virus in St. Petersburg. We don't know if it's that or Derek's gallbladder. He fears it's the latter. He's had severe gas and indigestion for the last couple days.

We have to go to the Embassy at 1, where we need to go in unaccompanied (no one fromour agency). Please pray we can keep everything together and get through it. Please pray that Derek's strength and health is returned as soon as possible. Please pray the kids aren't hurt or scared by Papa's change in disposition. Please pray Derek is better for the flights home.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

We're in Moscow!

We made it to the capital!

The train ride was a great adventure. We just barely made it in time, bourdind the train with three minutes to spare. It was sad to say goodbye to our fantastic driver and translator, but we feel confident we will see them again.

Arriving at the train ternimal, both Derek and I thought we were on our way to Hogwarts. The kids slept pretty well. We had our own 5' by 8' sleeping quarters and were rocked to sleep.

When we arrived in Moscow representatives from our agency met usin our car and helped us with our luggage. Then it was off to see the doctor, Dr. Boris was very impressed with our kiddos' health and development. What proud parents we are!

The hotel here has a very large lobby and so the kids will have more space to play. We've already met several couples also making their last stop before going home, so it looks like we'll have some play dates. We thought the hotel would have a playroom, however it does not, but we're still good! Allfour of u have become a bit more confident to venture out together.

Tomorrow we go to the Embassy to work on their Visas. I hope to check in again tomorrow!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Last Full Day in St. Petersburg

I can’t wait to be home where I can prepare my own food and actually eat when I’m hungry and finally get our kiddos on a proper routine. Today is our last full day in St. Petersburg. I love the city. I love the people. I don’t quite love the weather. But I love that this place has now been ingrained into our family history. Nevertheless, there’s no place like home.

We leave tomorrow evening to take an overnight train to Moscow, where we will go to the American Embassy to apply for their Visas. I probably won’t be able to get online tomorrow, but will do my best once we’re in Moscow.

Today was a good day. Celia is feeling better I believe. Both kids, however, are demanding more intimate, one-on-one time. This is definitely wonderful, particularly with adopted children. However it makes things a little difficult. I think because neither of them had ever had to share us with another child before we brought the siblings together, it’s another adjustment we’re going through. Add on to that the facts that they are grieving the loss of everything that was familiar to them and that this is the first time either of them have experienced parental love, and I can see why they would be so protective over the attention they receive from us. C won’t let me get two feet away from her and B isn’t a fan of either Mama or Papa giving his sister too much attention. When they’re on their own, however, they get along increasingly well. B fed his sister some Cheerios from his snack catcher. He even will share toys with her—those he associates with her, but not so much with the toys that are “his.”

We actually were able to eat between the hours of 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. today! Woot! Derek went out and picked up blinis for us. My goodness, they are DELICIOUS! Both Derek and I were expecting each one to be the size of a sushi hand roll so Derek ordered nine (thinking we’d have what was left over for dinner). We were mistaken. These yummy pancake treats we huge! We sampled the mushroom, chicken, ham and cheese, sweetened condensed milk and sweet cottage cheese and jam filled blinis. Mmmm… I wish we had tried this place sooner!

I’m off to try to get some shut eye. There’s not much of that these days! Here’s some photos from today:

To get out of the hotel room, we’ve taken to walking the halls

And looking out our favorite window

We had fun with balloons

Bennett likes to tackle Papa

They opened their new toy, which our friends bought for our kiddos for Christmas

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Santa stopped by St. Petersburg today and brought presents to our sweet babies! I’m sure they don’t understand that these presents are particularly for Christmas, as they have received many new toys to play with over the last few days, but Mama and Papa sure got a kick out of them opening their stockings.

Santa also surprised me with two presents that one of his elves snuck in a suitcase. I suppose I didn’t make it on the naughty list after all.

This morning was difficult for me. Our sweet little girl’s tummy got even worse and she had a bad case of diarrhea. I was beginning to really stress about C’s health. There was even a fleeting moment when I thought that perhaps she is in worse hands with me than with the caregivers at her baby home. Surely they would know exactly what to do and have just what she needs to make her feel better. Self-doubt is a terrible beast isn’t it?

However, when Derek had to leave for an hour and a half to pick our kiddos’ passports and our babies refused to take their afternoon naps, God certainly showed his mercy on me. I have been seriously praying over the last few days that the fear and insecurities over my job as a mother would leave me, and God is so faithful. It occurred to me as I changed poor C’s diaper four times in one sitting that I need to focus on one thing at a time. Whatever I can do in this moment, I need to do my best at that. (And Derek might have mentioned that to me once or twice…) So, I changed those diapers and then B's (just one for him—though a very full one!) and enjoyed each minute as it came with the kiddos.

Some new—but very dear—friends invited us to dinner tonight, in celebration of our Christmas. Earlier this morning I seriously doubted that we would make it. C was sick, I was showered but felt I looked awful, and we were exhausted from lack of sleep and skipping lunch three days in a row. However, God gave me the extra boost I needed while D was away. He also spoke through my children to urge me on. At one point, Bennett took his and Celia’s coats and such and took each piece, one by one, to the door. I guess we were going out! B and C later played on the stack of soft bundles.

Dinner was fabulous. Being the very first time eating out with the kiddos in a group setting, we didn’t know what to expect. But they were fabulous! Sure C got fussy a few times and B (once he got over his fear of being in a new place with a bunch of unfamiliar people) was not quiet. But they were great! It was really good to get out of the hotel—something I hadn’t done in several days. (What day of the week IS it…?) Our sweet friends and the wonderful group of friends who they introduced us to definitely made the best Christmas even better!

Merry Christmas to my friends and family at home! This is the first Christmas I will not be able to talk with my parents, which makes me a bit homesick. But I know everyone understands. Friends and family, we miss you all so very much and can’t wait to bring the whole Hunter clan home! We love you!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Christmas Eve!

Our Christmas Eve started out rough. Our poor baby girl had a bad night. We were up with her for four hours as she cried and cried. I felt terrible that I couldn’t or just didn’t know how to ease her pain or unhappiness. So much for thinking that we bypassed the staying-up-all-night stage with a little one…
I’d say Derek and I got about two hours of sleep last night, which was not made better by the kiddos refusing to take a nap at the same time. Add into that the fact that our bodies have had to adjust to completely different time zones three times in the last three weeks. I mention all this so that I will not be judged by the photos I’m about to post.

Despite the tiredness, this has been the best Christmas Eve ever. As I look at the sleeping (at the moment) miracles in the cribs next to me, I’m reminded of the miracle that took place on Christmas centuries ago. I am and will forever be completely thankful for God’s amazing miracles.

Due to exhaustion and the fact that poor C has been up crying three times already since we put her to bed two and a half hours ago, I’m going to summarize the day through pictures:

It wasn’t all bad for sweet Celia today

B likes his stroller. …and—we’ve learned—sucking his thumb

Mommy surprised the kids with their first Christmas tree!

But I think the kiddos liked the many felt ornaments and the container that held them all better.

We decorated our tree

Ta-da! Thank you to everyone who helped make ornaments for our tree!

Brother and sister started playing together…

Finally, Papa told the Christmas story with the help of B and C’s first Christmas presents. They were a hit!


Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Things I've Already Learned

Things I’ve learned parenting young adopted biological siblings:

  • As much as I wish I could, I can’t differentiate between their cries… yet. Are you hungry? Thirsty? Sick?

  • I can’t imagine loving any individuals more if they had come into our family any other way. What a story we have! “Jesus loved you so much, He brought your parents halfway across the world to bring you together and bring you home.”

  • Girl poop is much less messy than boy poop.

  • It’s very hard to get a one-year-old to drink when she doesn’t use a bottle and doesn’t understand the sucking needed for a sippy cup. I’m worried she’s not getting enough fluids… but we’re still going through diapers. Hopefully one of us will catch on soon.

  • Laying down face-to-face with my son and having him fall asleep looking into my eyes and grasping the charms on my necklace is heaven. Pure heaven.

  • As difficult as it may make juggling things, I secretly love the fact that when my baby girl is sick, nothing but Mommy will do.

  • Disciplining a child who has never felt the love of a mother or father, or who has never had any material thing completely belong to him is difficult.

  • Hearing our boy say “Mama” and run to me melts my heart.

  • …so does seeing how much his face lights up when his Papa returns from doing one of several hundred things that he seems to be taking care of.

  • Parenting makes me love my husband even more.

  • Doubting yourself and your parenting skills in these early stages is not helpful, though it's hard not to do so.

  • It is nearly impossible to get a good meal with young kiddos who are desperately drinking up the one-on-one attention they are finally getting—and so deserve. I honestly think B and C have ate more today than either of their parents.

  • Baby Einstein “Praise Baby Lullaby” is one of the best DVDs ever. If it were up to me, it would have won an Academy Award. Or, at least a super-duper Mommy award!

  • This is as hard as I expected. Possibly more…?

Parenthood is definitely setting in. It’s tough! But more rewarding than nearly anything I’ve ever done.

C is sick. She has some bug causing her to be congested and I believe she is also teething what must be a monster of a tooth, considering how uncomfortable she is. We have the proper medications. I just wish they would work faster—and longer! (sweet thing didn’t get much of a nap today since she was in pain).

Derek took B out to pick up lunch while I held and walked with C. Derek reported that Bennett did pretty well! He didn’t say much, as he’s not a fan of strangers—or, “dya-dya” in Russian. After they had a bite to eat, it was time to play some more. Today Bennett gave one of his stacking cups to his sister. We’re making strides!

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. I plan on putting up our “tree” and have the kids decorate. I plan to post pictures—especiallysince some of you helped make the ornaments! We have small gifts for the kiddos to open on Christmas. Three a piece—just like Jesus.
Well, Derek just got back with dinner for us. He has quite the story to tell about his journey out tonight! But I’ll let him share it later. Hee hee…

I think we lucked out last night with the kids each getting 11 hours of sleep. Poor C has been up twice already and it's only 9 p.m.

Good night friends.

Quick Note...

...just to say that Bennett is ALL boy! Whew!

And I believe Miss Celia is all girl!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


It’s “Gotcha Day!”

We began by stopping off at a Russian supermarket to buy diapers, wipes, food, juice and other items. My stomach was in knots as we made our way down the snowy roads to our baby girl’s orphanage.

As we walked up the slippery path to the main door, I paused, turned to my amazing husband and gave him a kiss. “Are you ready to be a mom?” he asked? “Yes,” I replied without even thinking about it. “Are you ready to be a dad?” “Absolutely.”

When we got up to the third floor and saw our baby girl everything seemed to happen so fast. The caregivers, who were teary-eyed at her leaving already, had dressed C in a beautiful burgundy dress with a huge white bow. It means so much to us that they care for her as much as they do.

I quickly changed C into her outfit, which we brought from home. Derek went back to her group’s room and snapped pictures so that down the road she can see where she spent the first year of her life. We left out gifts with the caregivers and they gave us some last pieces of advice: “She loves bread,” “She’s used to being spoiled,” “She’s a very smart girl,” and well wishes: “We wish you a full and happy life,” “take good care of her!” As we were heading out, the caregivers stopped us and gave us a chocolate bar and wished us “Happy New Year.” We bundled here up and we were off to get her brother!

Celia fell asleep on the car ride to B’s home.

The three of us (plus our driver/translator—have I mentioned how AWESOME he is?!) got out of the car and trekked through the snow to B’s orphanage. We stopped at the director’s office and she suggested that C not g up to B’s group because she might get sick. Derek stayed in Dr. G’s office (the baby home directors are also pediatricians) with C while I went up to get B. After he was changed into the clothes we brought him—and I was chided for not dressing him in tights—our translator took some pictures of his group’s room, we handed out gifts and said our goodbyes and we went to join the rest of the family!

Our driver opened the door to Dr. G’s office and in B and I went. I swear, C’s face lit up the second we walked through. Bennett and Celia… Alim and Nargiza… brother and sister were united at last! Celia was simply enamored with her biological brother—which truly touched my heart, because I was always so enamored with my late brother, Trevor. Bennett on the other hand must have been thinking, “Who are you and why is my Papa holding you?” Ah! I can’t wait to see how their relationship blossoms. There is something truly special about a brother/sister bond—especially one with a backstory like this one.

Before we left, Dr. G insisted we feed them a small lunch. Celia was all about it. Bennett was nervous and it took him a few minutes to come around. Soon enough we were off to head back to our hotel! The drive took a bit longer than expected due to traffic and both of our kiddos got a 45 minute nap.

When we got “home” to our hotel, we played and played and played. Bennett was into EVERTHING! We will DEFINITELY have our hands full with this two-year-old boy! We took several walks around our hotel floor and looked out windows. It still amazes me that they are seeing SO much for the first time. First boat, first line of traffic, first view of the world from 6-flights up… Bennett was looking at his photo book and saw a picture of me, pointed, and said “Mama.” He then flipped to the picture of Derek and said, “Papa.” Papa and I both teared up. B was so quiet at every visit up until this point. Now he just talks and talks! I guess his caregiver was right, aybe he was just saving all of his gab for us!

We were able to get onto Skype and talk to all the grandparents at one time. (They all met at a McDonald’s while Derek’s mom was on a work break.) There were tears all around.

After the call, we fed them dinner (I sure hope we’re feeding them enough. For an inexperienced parent, it’s hard to tell). In a word, it was MESSY! We’re still trying to figure out the best way to get them to drink. They are used to drinking out of small tea cups. Hopefully either they’ll catch on to the sippy cup or we’ll learn how to help them pour the drink into their mouths. Then it was bath time. B LOVED his bath and could have played in there for hours! C… not so much. The poor thing cried and cried. We made it through though!

After a short visit from our in-country coordinator, we got ready for bed. Derek read them part of a “Soviet” folk tale as we rocked each of our adorable and cuddly little ones. Then I popped in the “Praise Baby Lullaby” Baby Einstein DVD that a dear friend gave us. B was entranced! C enjoyed it as well. The first song that played was “Indescribable.” Listening to the words, rocking with OUR babies in our arms at last, brought tears to Derek and my eyes. I don’t think we’ll be able to hear that song again without thinking of the indescribable miracle God granted us. God loved B and C so much that he had their parents fly more than half-way across the world (three times!) just to get them. And God loves us so much that he brought us all together in the most PERFECT way.

And then, we put them to bed.

Dear friends, I say goodnight to you as a mother who feels blessed infinitely more than I deserve. I have two beautiful, smart and lovable miracles to call my own. I truly don't feel like I know what I'm doing, but--for the first time in a long time--I like that feeling. God has had his hands in this for years and years. He's got us this far, and I can't wait to see where he takes us now! We are all in the best of hands! I'm SO GRATEFUL!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Birthday Celia!

We left our hotel this morning at 9:20 a.m.—well before the sun came up. This Saint Petersburg winter day—which are usually extremely short as it is—was practically non-existent since today is the shortest day of the year. But man! We sure packed a lot into this “short” day!

After making two quick stops for paperwork, we went to the “Baby Palace,” or where we pick up our official adoption decrees and new birth certificates. After a two hour wait and several Russians asking us (I’m guessing) “Are you in line?” they called us in. Signing the documents that officially state that we are Bennett and Celia’s “Mama” and “Papa” gave me chillbumps. Derek reached for my hand and we both glowed with excitement as we got up from our chairs and said “spa-see-ba” to the women who prepared our documents. (They also commented in Russian about how “young” we are. I suppose to be adoptive parents, we are rather young…)

Side Note: As we were off to drop off some of the documents to Bennett’s baby home, “Pour Some Sugar on Me” played on the radio. One of my favorite childhood memories is of me with my late brother, Trevor, in his red Chevy Camaro just listening to rock songs, one of which was “Pour Some Sugar on Me”. To this day, the song makes me think of my brother, who passed away five years ago. It was good to have one of those “hugs” from God at a time like this.

We dropped off the official documents to both baby homes so that they could take them to the local police station and have our kiddos legally released from the orphanage. After making both stops, I looked out the car window and pleasantly watched a mother pull her young son on a sled through the snow. At that moment, I wished for a little sled with which we could play with B and C this week, but realized that trekking through on a stroller would be adventure enough.

And then it hit me.

The stroller!

We left the stroller at the airport yesterday. Completely forgot about it! Not a single thought. Nothing until that very minute. Oy!

“Not to worry,” our amazing and laid back driver/translator told us. He took us by the airport—which, luckily, was a short drive away from the baby homes—and we picked up the stroller. It may have taken us filling out several pages of customs documents for unaccompanied luggage, waiting and hour and 15 minutes and paying two Euros per kilo (thank goodness this sucker was relatively light!) and a “service and handling” fee, but we got it! This was just Mommy Mistake #1 of what I’m sure is going to be a long list of “oops!”

We then got to swing by Celia’s baby home for a quick visit and to sing “Happy Birthday” to the birthday girl. Perhaps she could feel that I was a bit frazzled after the craziness that turned out to be our day, because she was particularly taken with Papa today—something I know he absolutely didn’t mind! I wanted to do more for our C’s birthday like bring a cake and celebrate a bit more, but the day didn’t allow for that. I told her I’d make it up to her when we got home.

After several other quick stops we went to file for B and C’s passports. Derek and our driver/translator took care of everything after waiting just 20-30 minutes. The Russian passports should be ready Saturday, which is a day earlier than was first estimated. That could put us home as early as the 30. However, since we already had tickets booked and it would cost us a minimum of $600 to change them, we’re sticking with our original plan and coming home on the 31st.

To those who would like to meet us at the airport (and we would LOVE to see you!), we will land at 6:20 p.m. if the weather cooperates and everything goes as planned. I hope you fall in love with our kiddos at first glance, just as we did!

We will head out tomorrow morning at 9:15 and make a stop at a store to pick up diapers, wipes, food and a scarf (for me, since I lost my nice black cashmere scarf somewhere along the way…). At about 10:30 we’ll be at Celia’s baby home, saying goodbye and THANK YOU to her caregivers, dressing her in her first outfit that 100% belongs to her, and take her from the orphanage. The three (plus our driver/translator) of us will then be off to pick up Bennett and do the same with him. Our babies will meet for the first time in their life, and the brother-sister-bond will start, something that is near and dear to my heart. We should be back in our hotel room tomorrow in time to feed them lunch!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Running on Fumes

Well, we made it! We got in to St. Petersburg--but barely! If we would have traveled through Frankfurt, as we usually do, chances are our flight would have been severely delayed (70% of flights out of Frankfurt were either canceled or greatly delayed today). And if we would have come in through Dusseldorf yesterday as we did today, we would have been stranded, as all flights were canceled out of that airport just yesterday. Praise God we made it!

Our driver let us swing by Bennett's baby home for about 30 minutes. Of course it was well worth it! His face lit up as soon as he saw us. He was all giggles and non-stop play for the full 30 minutes. He even started saying more words than we have heard him say before. We are not sure if they are Russian words or just sounds, but either way it was beautiful to our ears.

As I, Derek, finish writing Kat's blog because I think that she just passed out in her Borsht, (Traditional Russian Soup made with beets), we thank you for continuing to follow our journey. In less than 48 hours, the children will be with us forever.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


My wise, loving, comforting and very protective husband pointed out one of the top 10 tweets of 2010 to me today after--I suppose--I needed to hear it:

Most re-tweeted tweet #2: We always ignore the ones who adore us, and adore the ones who ignore us.

Several friends on several different occasions acted so very sweet to me today and did some special things. Some people who I don't even know well took the time to genuinely express how excited they were about our adoption, which they had heard about from a friend of a friend... People I'm not even aware of are praying for our family.

Yet, what do I focus on? I'm guilty of letting some very negative things take centerstage.


After I looked up the whole list of top 10 re-tweeted tweets, to be honest... I think #10 applies just as well, despite the language.

Most re-tweeted tweet #10: Don't focus on the one guy who hates you. You don't go to the park and set your picnic down next to the only pile of dog (poop).

Why do I allow myself to pick the worst spots to set up my picnic?

I have a feeling that two weeks from now, I'll look back at today and simply laugh. God is SO good and SO faithful. How silly it is to focus on anything else at times like these!

Ha! Ha, ha! I say! :-)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Trip #3 Plans

While we've only been home for about a day, people have expressed interest in our trip #3 timeline. Here's the run-down:
12/19/10 - Leave Nashville for St. Petersburg
12/20/10 - Arrive in St. Petersburg at about 3:30 p.m.
12/21/10 - (Celia's birthday!!) Receive the official adoption decree and begin the paperwork for Bennett and Celia's Russian passports, see the kiddos and celebrate Celia's first birthday!
12/22/10 - Take our babies from their baby homes and bring them "home" to our hotel so that brother and sister can meet each other for the very first time!
12/25/10 - Celebrate our first Christmas together as a family of four in our hotel room!
12/27/10 - Take the overnight train to Moscow, arriving on the 28th
12/28/10 - Visit the US Embassy and begin the paperwork for Bennett and Celia's Visas
12/31/10 - COME HOME! Our flight is scheduled to arrive at 6:21 p.m.

Anyone who would like to meet our kiddos is invited to welcome us at the airport. However, once we arrive at our house that evening, we ask that you give us time to continue to bond with our children and limit visiting for a couple of weeks. It is best for our family to have this time together--just the four of us--to strengthen attachment and help teach our children what a "Mama" and "Papa" actually are.

Thank you all for your love, support and understanding. Bennett and Celia are so blessed to have such an amazing extended family that loves them so much!

Hit the Ground Running

We arrived home safe and sound (and without any flight delays--thank you for your prayers!) yesterday early evening. Despite traveling for 20+ hours straight and getting about five hours of sleep in a 48-hour time span, we stopped to run some errands on the way home from the airport. Bennett really needed more clothes and of course Celia could always use another pink something-or-other, so we stopped at Old Navy. However, the frugal gal in me struggled with paying $20 for a tiny sweater. Grandma and Grandpa had no problem with it though...

Today we got a lot accomplished as well. We installed the video monitor (having to build our own mounting platform); sorted through some toys and organized them in their bedroom, the playroom and our upstairs bonus area; put away clothes (mostly Celia's as the large majority of clothing donated to us by our generous friends are for a girl); installed a new shower head for their bathroom; bought the second car seat; and more! There's still much on our to-do list before the kiddos get here, but we'll get the main stuff done!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

It’s Official! I’m a Mommy!

Just after 12:30 St. Petersburg time today, Thursday, December 09, 2010, a Russian judge formally approved our petition to be parents to Bennett Alim Trevor and Celia Rose Nargiza. With nine other people in the cramped, hot courtroom, Derek and I began a new chapter in our lives. One we have been waiting for for quite some time, and one that could only begin with the two children God preordained to be ours—our “B” an “C.”

Without further ado—and because it’s been a very long and very emotional day, and we have a flight to catch early tomorrow morning as long as the snow doesn’t get in the way—I’m going to cut this post short and introduce the world to our two little blessings.

Introducing the strong-willed and completely lovable Bennett Alim:

…and introducing the very popular and totally smooch-able Celia Rose:

PLEASE NOTE: I do not plan on posting photos of our babies on facebook until we are safely home.

As the judge was reading her verdict, I lost it and began to cry tears of joy immediately after I heard the judge say (via our translator), “I grant your petition…” I didn’t even pay attention to the rest! Good thing Derek kept his wits about him. He informed me as we left the courtroom that we are able to pick up our children as early as the 21st—Celia’s first birthday! Hooray! If all goes according to plan—which our agency representatives here in Russia believe that its should—we will be able to have all paperwork ready by the evening of the 21st, pick each of them up from their baby home on the 22nd (the day brother and sister will meet for the very first time!), and make it home by the evening of the 31st! We should begin the new year with our babies safely home!

Thank you all for your prayers and well-wishes. I feel I’m getting greedy, but if you think of it, pray for our travels home. Currently St. Petersburg is getting a lot—and I mean A LOT—of snow, and flights at our first layover destination have been canceled and postponed for the last day or so… There is so much yet to do at home and I am anxiously hoping and praying to make it back to get things accomplished this weekend.




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