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Headed Home….

May 26, 2010

This is our last day in Russia!!  We are all so excited and ready to be home to begin our new life with Kristina.    Right now, we are in the hotel room watching the rain as Katia, our translator in Moscow, is filing Kristina’s papers with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  That is the last step before we can go home!  Tomorrow morning we will be begin the long trek home.  We did a little sight seeing this week…saw Red Square, visited a open air flea market, and walked around a couple of Russian malls.  I think mostly this week was about getting to know Kristina.  She has fit right in with Hanlee and Maci.  She has such a sweet spirit and loves to play and laugh.  I can’t wait for everyone to meet her as she begins her new life in America.

I copied this from a friends blog and thought she expressed well some of the challenges facing the transition time for an adoptive family, so I asked her permission to share as well:

When we get home, we know it’s going to take a while for our family to get into the swing of things and for all the our family to really jell. We are praying that God will work in the hearts of each family member to bring us all together. As with any blended family, we know there is potential for division amongst the troops, but we’re going to work through, with the Lord’s help, & encourage the kids to be family (Kristina  will need to learn what this even means).

Our top priority from an adoptive standpoint will be bonding and attachment with Kristina.  Hopefully, she developed the ability to bond as an infant/toddler. If so, this process will be much easier for us all; if not, it will be much more difficult. If you have parented an older adopted child, you probably understand what we’re talking about. If not, you might wonder why in the world would I make a big deal over this or you may even think we’re crazy (I know I might have a few years ago!). We are not asking that everyone agree with us or even understand the process we’re going through, but that as our friends and family you would trust our heart, respect our decisions and support our parenting. If you would like to understand more about this, please feel free to ask us questions or for some books that can help you understand what we’re embarking on.

So, what can you expect when we get home?

– Kristina will be very tired (maybe for a while as she adjust to her life). Please greet her warmly with a hug, but do not be offended if she does not respond. She might not hug you back or even speak to you. She will be overwhelmed with emotions and might not warm up to you easily. Please respect her boundaries.

– Keep in mind that our goal is for her to bond with us as Mama and Daddy… it’s what life will be centered around for her.  Please let us do all of the care-giving (offering food, consoling, disciplining, offering choices, helping with tasks, etc)

– Please do not give her anything she asks for without first telling her to “ask Mom or Dad” – don’t ask for her. She needs to ask! This applies to food, permission, help, anything! She is learning English and can do this herself.

– Back us up.  If we direct her to do/not do (or eat/not eat) something, please go along with us even if you would do things differently.  When she sees you respecting our words to her, she will learn from that example.

– Please do not allow the her to hang on you or cling to you.  She might want to sit in your lap, hold your hand, or just lean on you, but she must learn to cling first to Mama and Daddy.

– Gifts: if you have something to share with her, please ask us first… or ask them to “ask your Mom/Dad” if you can give her something.  It´s important that the permission always come from us.

– While she is learning to be a part of a family & follow rules and respect our authority, she will have days she is frustrated with us. We will be the ones saying “no, you can’t do that” or “I know you don’t want to go to the store, but we are all going as a family.” In times like these, she may turn to others outside our immediate family as a way of pushing us back. Please do not allow this. It might seem mean, but you need to push her back toward us! For her sake, she cannot bond with people outside of Mama and Daddy right now.

-Bearing these things in mind, please do not ask the  if Kristina she would like to go places, do things or attend events. You can ask us about these things, but do not be offended if for the next several months we don’t attend much – we will be staying home a lot! Also, Kristina will not go anywhere without us… not until she has attached to us as her Mama and Daddy. We do look forward to the day that she can attend parties and events just as other “normal” children can, but that will have to take a back-seat right now.

-Kristina is learning what it means to be part of a family, to trust and obey us as her parents, to rely on us for everything she needs (emotionally & physically), and to bond with us as her mama and daddy.

It is imperative that she learn to seek all permission, affection, guidance, attention, provision (for every basic need), affirmation & acceptance from us first. Only after she has truly bonded with us as her parents will she ever be able to develop healthy relationships in the future. Right now, think of Kristina as in the “infant” stage – she has just come home to our family. Only with her, she NEEDS to LEARN to rely completely on us just as an infant relies on her mother. This is not something that will be instinctual for her. Our desire is for her to come to know God’s love and to develop into a healthy adult who has healthy relationships with her spouse, children, friends and family. Thank you for supporting us in this! It will help us all transition smoothly as we become a family.

We love you all and are thankful for each one of you!!!

Christy

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Happy Homecoming and Birthday

May 20, 2010

Well…today was the day we have been planning for and dreaming of since last October when we finally said yes to God.  I will never forgot that night that Rodney and I laid in the bed and talked back and forth about “Was this really God?  What if…?”  and finally landed on…Just call and start the process.  Well, we did and this year has been a whirlwind since.   This journey started for us last summer with Hanlee befriending a little orphan girl from Russia and asking her to come over to play…today we picked up that little girl and she is no longer an orphan but part of a huge family who is absolutely in love with her.  And, on top of that, today is Hanlee’s  birthday…what better day?? God is so cool!!  Hanlee has had the birthday of a lifetime and Kristina has a forever family.  After our court trip, I have spent to many hours fretting over how she was going to be, but those were all unwarrented.  She was waiting at the door for us.  We had a great afternoon.  She had gifts to give out to her favorite teachers, who told me once again what a good artist she was and urged me to get her art lessons in the states and a tea party to say goodbye to her friends.  They all stood up and gave her a “toast” to wish her well and to please not forget them.  I again was saddened by how much they would all love to have what Kristina does.  After she said all her goodbyes and we gathered all her things, we headed out…she was hand in hand with her new sisters.

When Oksana left the hotel, Kristina hugged her and I could tell she was a little nervous.  But once she got to the room, she has been fine.  The girls have laughed, aggravated, and played all night.  We skyped home with the boys and all talked “as a family”.  I am amazed at how well she is doing…and I am reminded once again how little faith I have.  With all the  bumps along the way, I knew God called us to be Kristina’s family.  Maybe someday I will get to the point when I will trust what I know in spite of my fears and the circumstances that come.

I so much more to share, but for right now, I am going to hang with my girls…all 3 of them.

Thanks again for sharing this journey with us!!

Christy

Waiting and more waiting

May 18, 2010

We arrived in Russia safely, after several hours of waiting. Waiting to board our next flight, waiting for our plane to land, waiting for our translator to pick us up, waiting until we arrived at the hotel, etc. When waiting for something to happen or someone to show up, we are left with a choice to make. We can either become upset and unapproachable, or, we can make the best of our time, to stop and think, to give our time to God. Several times while waiting for our plane, or during a layover, I would find myself becoming impatient. Before I left home, I got on my knees to be in God’s presence, but I found that I didn’t know what to pray for. I felt bad praying that he keep me safe, knowing that that is not God’s goal for me, but I didn’t want to ask him to put me in danger either. So I told him that no matter what, whether it took a plane crash or mile long lines to wait in, that my heart’s desire was for him to reveal himself to me and bring me closer to him. He reminded me of this several times when I was forced to wait in a line. Yesterday we went to the Passport Office to apply for Kristina’s passport. We waited in a line for 3 hours, with no one to talk to, nothing to do, but just stand there. There have been several instances where we have been faced with no choice but to wait. I took this time to pray and ask God to bring me closer to him so that when Kristina gets here, she will know that she belongs to a family who loves Jesus and wants the same for her. After all, that is God’s purpose for her coming to us, is it not? Yes, she does need a family, but she needs Christ more. If we are not bringing Christ to her, we are doing her no good.

Another instance when I was given the opportunity to wait was today on the trolley. We had to wait for the trolley to get there, and we also had to wait on the trolley to get to our next stop. On the trolley I began to feel hot, unnaturally hot. My insides felt as if they were on fire. My throat was closing up and I was struggling for breath. I couldn’t talk due to my lack of breath, so I tried to breath harder to get Hanlee’s attention. She looked at me with a smile saying “Really Maci? Really? Chill out” If you know me, you know that I am quite dramatic about pain. I was trying my hardest to not cause a scene. Hanlee was laughing at me so I turned my attention towards mom and Oksana to get their attention. By this point, I was losing my ability to see. Mom noticed and asked “Are you okay?” “No”, I said, “I can’t see”. After that I do not remember anything. From what they told me happened, I fainted on Mom’s shoulder for a few minutes, and an older lady gave up her seat so I could sit down. I woke up with someone massaging my back. I looked up at mom, and I could tell she was frazzled. They all had looks on there faces asking “Are you okay?” We got of the trolley at the next stop and went to a park bench to sit down.. After I was calmed down, we continued on our tour of Nevsky Street, which consisted of going to an open air market, eating at subway, and going to The Church of the Spilt Blood. All in all, it was a long and hectic day, but I was thankful for the opportunity to experience what Kristina has lived in her whole life.

by: Maci McCart



Doing hard things

May 16, 2010

I took my girls to the airport this afternoon.  i hadn’t thought about how hard it would be to let go of them for 2 weeks.  it doesn’t sound like a long time until you see them turn the next corner towards security and you know you cant go with them.  so me and the boys and Elyott are praying tonight.  praying for their safe and expedient travel.  praying for time to pass quickly and for success in st. petersburg and moscow.

thanks to all of you who have prayed and continue to pray.  we’ve needed your prayers and we’ve witnessed the results of them.  now its my turn to pray for my girls.  i am so used to being the one who goes, but now im behind, waiting and praying.  the house seems so weird with so much of “us” not here.

now i am looking forward to my newest girl making her way home.  cant wait to see them all!!

rodney

One More Thing…

April 28, 2010

In our last post, we forgot to  say exactly what happens next.  In Russia, there is a 10 day waiting period after the court decision before the final paperwork can begin.  We have to be back in Russia on May 12 or after to begin that process.  After much prayer and discussion, Rodney and I have decided that I will come back and bring Maci and Hanlee with me.  I am quite nervous about coming without Rodney, but believe this is the best for everyone.  The girls are so excited about being able to be a part of Kristina coming home and, after this visit, I think it will be easier for Kristina as well.  We will stay in St. Petersburg for 5-7 days waiting on birth certificates and passports.  We will pick Kristina up toward the end that week and then we have to spend 3-5 days in Moscow completing paperwork for the American Embassy there.  When all that is done, we finally all come home.

Charis

April 28, 2010

Today was court day.  The day we’ve been anticipating since we first saw Kristina and felt God’s leading to make her our own.

After spending the day at the orphanage yesterday, our feelings were mixed at best.  Not that backing out was an option, but the reality of it all was staring us in the face.

Its kind of like the day before you get married.  You know there will never be another chance to turn back, however, turning back is not an option (I’m not speaking here about my marriage – just in a general sense!).  There is a point where there is no turning back.  We had passed that long ago – this wouldn’t be about whether to send back the wedding gifts, or pay for a reception that would never happen, or even the heart break that would be caused by such doubt – no this was about something much bigger.  This is about a child with no mother, no father, no grandmother to hold her, no one to make sure she has a future, no one to deliver hope to her.  We couldn’t possibly give up now – not ever!

It was the rejection we felt by Kristina that brought on this storm of emotions in each of us when we were at the orphanage yesterday.  Even our translator seemed overly concerned with Kristina’s mindset.  As we walked with her from the orphanage down to the coast of the Gulf of Finland, she allowed us to peek inside her heart through a small crack.    Her fears were dominating her actions and responses to us.  In a matter of 3 years she has lost her mother, been deserted by her father, disowned by her grandmother and moved from the familiar home she had to a shelter and then to the orphanage and now – suddenly – once again her world is being torn from her to be replaced with a whole new world.

Now, from our perspective, we can’t possibly know the terrors that are running through her mind.  As we walked and talked we learned of a 19 year old girl that has suddenly taken a serious interest in Kristina and causing her to rethink whether adoption is best for her.  This older girl has given Kristina a phone and she calls her often.  The best we can gather is that Kristina is wondering whether life would be safer to seek care from this young lady or if she is better with us.  Of course we know the answer, and we spent all afternoon reinforcing our love for her and reminding her that she has a hope and a future with our family and she cannot imagine how much her life will improve when she has a forever family.  It is also suspected that the recent negative news about Americans treating Russian orphans badly was retold to Kristina on more than one account.

Kristina is simply a scared little girl.  Latching on to the only familiar things she has in life – but sadly those things are not stable, and her future would be forever changing for her as she grows older and hits that slippery slope that all Russian orphans face when they are forced out on their own at 16.

(As I write, I wonder if this is what God sees when He looks at our lives and the hopeless things we often cling to because we choose fear over faith.  He has promised us so much more – yet we often cling to the sideline of life scared to jump in for fear of the unknown.)

anxious before court begins

Court has now come and gone and Kristina has a new name – Kristina Charis McCart – Charis is the Greek word for grace.  In a few days she will have a new birth certificate with us as her documented parents – never to be changed.

And our personal fears were overcome by a reassurance of our purpose as we went through the court procedures today.  We had  knelt before God this morning in the hotel room before our driver was to be here.  We were honest with Him about our own reservations and the withdrawn response from Kristina that had pierced our hearts as we visited with her yesterday.  And then we asked God to reaffirm His call in a very clear way that we are doing the right thing and that He is indeed leading the way.  And He did.  No less than 5 times was Kristina’s past repeated to the court.  Thankfully she was out in the hall at this time but we were shattered over and over as each court official had to read aloud their own report and reasons for supporting our adoption.  In each and every report all who were present would hear that Kristina’s mom died in a fire.  Her father rejected the right to care for her and has never been a part of her life.  Her grandmother was visited by the social workers and refused to open the door each time as she rejected any responsibility for Kristina.  How they posted her picture on public boards in the social offices with ads asking for someone to step up and take care of this child – and no one ever did.  We heard that over and over and over.  I don’t think our request for His affirmation could be any clearer than this.

In sort of a comical way all the fears of how we would get here through the volcano clouds and whether the courts would even allow us to continue our process seem like such trivial matters in light of what Kristina is undergoing.  She has her own volcano of emotions clouding her view and her own fears of what the court – today – has decided for her.  What a turn of events…….  We simply wish we could wipe away those uncertainties and show her the bright blue sky that is waiting for her to look up and discover.  But soon enough she will fly home with us to her forever home and family!!

So we pray all the more for Kristina Charis.  That she will trust us and not those who are so jealous of her that they tell her lies and attempt to scare her from leaving here.  We pray that her new name will become a reality in her life – that by a leap of faith she will find herself immersed in God’s grace, that endless ocean of love that He has in store for all who find Him.

rodney

Reality

April 27, 2010

We got up and met Oksana to take paperwork to the notary this morning.  We finally got to the orphanage around 2:00.  It was weird that it felt familiar.  When we walked in the door, there were several girls who remembered us from last time and came up to say “Hi” and hug us before we ever saw Kristina.  We went for along walk through a local park and talked some.  She was very quiet today…quiet even for her.  She  did ask questions about court…what she would wear, who would be there, how would she get there, etc.  She also talked about being scared …scared she would miss her friends, scared she wouldn’t learn English, scared she wouldn’t have friends in America, scared of all the snakes and lizards (LOL).  I think the reality that she will be leaving everything she has ever known is hitting her.  I tried to tell her that I understood. I promised her that even though it would be hard in the beginning, no matter what happened or how long it took, we were her family and we were committed to her and we would love her and work through whatever it takes.  I think she is trying to believe that, but it must be hard.  I can’t even imagine how hard it must be for her and scary the next step must seem.  I am praying that my own fears won’t be felt by her, that the Lord will give her a peace that she does not understand about her future, and she will feel our love for her even if she can’t understand our words.

Christy