I will never forget the day that we said goodbye to Dima's birthplace.
We had just spent an entire month in a small town outside of St. Petersburg, Russia. We stayed with a wonderful woman, Ludmila, along with her husband the whole time we were there. She graciously cooked every meal for us, ranging from homemade borscht, blinis, and even a hamburger with fries to give us a taste of home.
We laughed together, watched the Olympics together, celebrated 2 national holidays together. She was our translator and was with us the first moment we ever met eyes with our son. She was the first person to tell Dima in his native language who we were: "mama and papa". When we brought Dima out of the orphanage, she was the one who spoke the phrase that is forever etched in our hearts, "this is the door to a new life".
Every morning, we would go visit the orphanage, we would be picked up by a wonderful man, Vladimir. For the week that I was alone in Russia, he would pick Ludmila and I up and always have a pillow in the backseat for me to rest on for the hour long drive to the orphanage. And he would always slip me 2 chocolates. One for me and one to bring up to Dima.
Our hearts were knit together by these monumental days in my life. As Ludmila and Vladimir dropped us off at the train station, to leave the quaint little town and take the overnight train ride to Moscow, Steve and I sat with our son in our little compartment and we wept.
The emotions hit us unexpectedly. We didn't anticipate sadness during this time - we thought we would be so excited to be one step closer to home. But, we were leaving Dima's birthplace, along with a piece of our hearts. As we watched out the window, our 2 dear friends slowly moved out of sight and we said, "paka", which means "goodbye."
I have a similar feeling in my heart right now. We are saying "paka."
Paka to the dream of having a daughter who shares heritage with her brother.
Paka to the place we thought we would hold our little girl.
Paka to the country God placed on our hearts at the beginning of this second adoption journey.
We look out the window as this train slowly chugs away from what we thought life would look like. And it is sad.
But in this sadness, there is also a glimmer a hope.
For two years, we prayed for God to give us wisdom as to when to start our next adoption. And we believe whole-heartedly that He was leading us to begin when we did. So I have to believe that though this ban did not come from God, He was not unaware of the timing of it all for our lives.
I have to believe that He is using this as a railroad switch. We are still on the train, just headed down a new path. Where does that path lead? We don't yet know. But we are confident that God knows...and as we put one foot in front of the other, we believe He will make His plan for our lives and our family clear, even through the confusion.
Steve spoke to our high school students this past Sunday about "strength in the storms". As he spoke about our own story and what is happening in our lives, he brought us to this truth: "God never promised to walk us around the storms, He promised to walk us through them."
That is where we can put our rest and our faith. We feel Him walking through this storm with us. We feel it in the depths of our souls. We also feel it through your encouragement. So we walk with boldness and trust that He will be with us every step of the way.
Though we are saying goodbye to Russia for our second adoption, Russia will always be a fundamental piece of our family's story. We desire to honor this country and speak of the wonderful memories we have there. It has been very easy the past few days to have so much anger toward the situation that is going on. There is a part of us that just wants to turn our backs on this country.
But then we look into the face of our sweet boy. Those big almond brown eyes and round face. And we bring our anger to God and ask Him to deal justly with the evil that goes on in this world. Then we continue to celebrate and take pride in that beautiful land, knowing full well that one government never fully represents the people of it's country.
So...where are we in the process now? Honestly, we really don't know.
There are not many answers that are available. Mostly because today is the day that Russians celebrate Christmas. So, their government is on holiday until the 9th of January. What is still fuzzy is what the implementation of the adoption ban will look like.
There are rumors that exceptions will be made for those families that have already been to court. Other rumors say the exceptions will be for families who have met their children already and still others say it may include families like us - whose paperwork has been registered in the country and are awaiting a referral.
After a long conversation today with our agency and much prayer over the past couple of weeks, we have decided to pursue an adoption from a different country. We will keep our paperwork in Russia and if for whatever reason, over the next month, something drastically changes, we can continue our adoption from there. But we want to begin the new process right away.
No matter which country we choose, we are looking at at least a year from right now before the completion of an adoption. So we want to get the ball rolling. There are 3 countries we are strongly considering and praying through. And we hope to make the decision and let you all know in the next week or so.
Thank you again for walking this rocky road with us. Despite all the setbacks my heart remains full and I am so deeply encouraged. I have received so many messages, emails, and letters in the mail with words of encouragement and prayers. I hold them tightly to my chest and use them as reminders of how God shows His love for us through His people.
Even after the announcement of the adoption ban was made, we received a check in the mail from a dear friend who is battling cancer. We received another check from a special family friend. Thank you for trusting us and believing that we WILL bring our daughter home...as soon as we find out where she is.
So we say Paka to Russia - and Hello to a new adventure.
Until next Monday,
love: Kate, Steve & Dima