Sunday, March 29, 2015

Photos By Harper


Give Harper a camera and she is all over it.


She's a bit of a wild child with the camera.. pushing every button and changing all the settings...

But she knows how to take pictures!

And she is definitely doing something right if she can get her Papa to pose for the camera!


At one point she put the camera down and ran over and arranged his head in the proper position!

Anyone who knows Rob and his camera issues is falling out of their chair at this point!



We think a camera for her birthday would be an excellent purchase!


Friday, March 27, 2015

Ready to Take a Chance Again

We arrived in region via train late on Tuesday, the same day we had our DAP appointment. After two quick briefings the next morning, we finally met the little girl we've been dying to meet for months.

Harper turns out to be everything we thought she'd be-- beautiful, smart and absolutely adorable.

Her command of her native language is prodigious, although she isn't reading yet. This puts us on awkward ground with her, as we know so little of her language.

We'd love to share on this blog every possible detail of Harper's adoption, just as we did with Aaron's.

Unfortunately, Harper's adoption isn't following the fairy tale script we'd hoped it would. Instead of fighting the system, this time we find ourselves fighting for the heart of a frightened little girl.

It so happens that Harper lives in a fine orphanage, one of the best in the country. Having been kicked around from place to place for most of her life, she is understandably reluctant to leave this good place, the first safe haven she's ever found. On the train ride down here, we received this unsettling news: that no matter who or what her prospective parents might be, Harper is very reluctant to leave this orphanage.

Unfortunately, the laws of this country leave this monumental decision in the hands of children even as young as Harper, who is just 7. If she is to come home with us, then she must say "yes" in the presence of a court social worker and then later a judge.

It therefore becomes our task to win her over-- to "buy her love," as our facilitator has told us over and over.

Fortunately, Harper's caretakers and friends are all on our side. They understand what Harper does not-- that no matter how much she likes her orphanage, she can no longer stay here after she comes of age. The circumstances of her birth and health mean that she has no future in this country, barring some miracle.

With God's blessing, we still hope to be that miracle. However, we understand that calculations of future prospects mean little to a frightened 7-year-old. What matters to her are feelings, and all of hers are telling her not to risk leaving the one safe haven she's known.

So for now, we are visiting Harper as much as we're allowed, praying for her, and doing all we can to win her trust. With so many people working to convince her, we have every reason to hope that she will eventually say yes. We ask all of you to pray with us, and for us, that Harper will say yes.

In light of all that's going on, we won't be able to share much about Harper until and unless she finally says yes. All the philosophical musings Julia hoped to share, and all the smart-aleck sidebars Rob hoped to add, just don't flow off the pen when one is in the fight of one's life. While this season lasts, we must focus all our energies on the job we came to do.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What Better Testimony

More about our Tuesday appointment with the Department of Adoption, or DAP:

In the oldest part of this city, down near the river, stands a hill that has housed holy places since time immemorial. At the top of this hill now stands one of this city's oldest, most honored church buildings, St. Andrew's. At the bottom of this hill stands the nondescript office building that houses DAP.

If you happen to be of above average height, then Rob advises you to mind your head as you tread the first floor of DAP-- for if you do not, then you may strike yourself senseless on its low ceilings, not once but twice.

Better fortune awaited on the second floor. On the hallway wall, just outside the office where we received Harper's referral, hang three framed posters that hold special meaning for us.

I knew these posters were there, as I've seen pictures of them. To see them with my own eyes, though, was truly memorable.

You have to look closely to see why these posters mean so much to us.

There he is.

Aaron before, and Aaron after.

All three posters honor Reece's Rainbow, the unsung ministry that has done so much to bring home so many orphans.

Standing beside Aaron in this picture are two people who also did much to bring Aaron home: Serge Zevlever and Luda Kaplina.

My favorite part was when Serge gathered the whole DAP staff in that little hallway and introduced Aaron to them. Aaron's presence provided the perfect opportunity for Serge to show the staff that all their work is not for nothing. This was a little boy who had been cast away, condemned to a miserable life in a level 4 mental institution. Now, partly through their efforts, stood a walking, talking, loving and obviously very loved little boy with a bright future. What better testimony?

Before we left, I handed each staff member a picture of Aaron to keep. When we parted company with Serge, this bear of a man tenderly kissed our son on the head.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Precious Gem

We had our Department of Adoption appointment at 10:00 this morning.

As usual, the meeting was carried on by agents and translators in a flurry of foreign words, few of which we understood. Ditto the paperwork-- a confusion of Cyrillic characters that mean plenty to them, nothing to us.

We had eyes for only one thing: the beautiful photo attached to her file, a new image we'd never seen before.

Fortunately, we had prior access to this counter-intuitive bit of adoption wisdom: that if you give the DAP a photo of the child you hope to adopt, then they will give you one in return. We produced a crisp copy of one of our other Harper photos, and received in trade this precious gem:

Fortunately, while Julia focused on the picture, Rob had the presence of mind to ask a few questions about Harper. The dark answers we received gave us just the tiniest glimpse into the kind of life our poor child may have led. These are the sorts of things we can't share on this blog, and probably never will. Suffice it to say that at best, adoption is a happy ending to a story that begins in heartbreak.

Please pray for Harper and us in the days ahead, as all of our worlds are rocked.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Looks Like We Made It

(Rob writing) We have arrived at the capital safe and sound after a long, exhausting but blessedly uneventful trip. For the record, I offer these thoughts on our journey thus far:
  • One of the sacrifices that love demands is always giving up the window seat to your little boy, no matter how much you want it for yourself. Your reward is to see the joy in his face when he turns to you just before takeoff and says, "This is going to be so fun!"

  • Does landing gear really need to make that much noise? For those of us who anticipate disaster with each takeoff, the hard thump of the landing gear snapping up serves to confirm that, alas, our worst fears have come true.

  • When I took fluid dynamics years ago, I learned of a famous physicist who had a question for God: immediately upon reaching heaven, he wanted to ask, "Why turbulence?" After this last trip, I think that this scientist must have conceived this question while on an international flight aboard an Airbus A330.

  • I happened to be looking at our flight attendant in a moment when turbulence all but lifted her and her drink cart off their feet. A seasoned professional, she looked at me with all the bored resolve of Qui-gon Jinn facing the monsters of the planet core in Phantom Menace-- as if to say, "Keep calm, there's no trouble." I looked back at her with all the alarm of Jar-Jar Binks-- as if to cry, "When-a you-sa thinking we-sa in trouble?!"

  • Have you ever tried fitting one-size-fits-most earbuds into the ears of a little boy who can't do it for himself, but is really excited to watch "Big Hero 6" on the seat-back silver screen in front of him? It isn't as easy as it sounds.

  • Although I had never seen Istanbul before, I was aware that this former capital of the Ottoman Empire must have many mosques. I was unaware, however, that it had a mosque every 100 yards. My, what a lot of mosques.

  • Julia and I had been hoping to pick out one particular mosque, the former Hagia Sophia, from the air. For those who don't know, the Hagia Sophia was the greatest cathedral of the Eastern Orthodox church until 1453, when the Ottoman Empire seized it and converted it into a mosque. Having read quite a bit about the Hagia Sophia, we thought we couldn't miss it if we came close enough. Unfortunately, the surfeit of large mosques left us with 2 or 3 candidates, uncertain which was the true Hagia Sophia. Ditto on the Hippodrome and all the other landmarks we'd hoped to pick out. Much to my shame, I just didn't know the area well enough to be certain what was what from the air.

  • If you think I don't know much R**ian or U**nian, then you should see how much Turkish I don't know. Of all the Turkish syllables I heard uttered, and there were many, the only ones I understood were "i-stan-bul." What a strange, strange language to my ears.

  • Jet Lag: I don't want to get political, but I think maybe Hillary Clinton should have answered all those questions about her private email account differently. Instead of the excuse about not wanting to carry two phones, she should have just said something like this: "Do you have any idea how many international flights I took as Secretary of State? I'm sorry, but I was so jet-lagged that I just couldn't think straight, and neither could you!" If she'd only said that, then everyone who's ever felt the way we do right now would've understood immediately, and forgiven her.
That's all for now. No appointments today, only acclimation to a time zone that's six hours out of phase with our bodies. The real adoption journey begins tomorrow. Thanks so much for your support, and we'll keep you posted!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

It Begins

The Journey Begins
I'm writing this in the Nashville airport... waiting... waiting...
Rob and Aaron will meet me at Dulles. 
We cross the ocean tonight.
God is so very good!
Thank to you everyone who is praying and cheering us on.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Happy Thoughts

If you try to ask me a question right now it may take me a few minutes to register that you are even standing there.
I'm in happy thought land.

A little girl across the ocean is calling our names.

And that is a really cool happy thought!!
My other happy thoughts include seeing these four books on a table together.  This is the first convention where we have been able to have all four books in hardback together.  Just this past week the Early Modern and Modern books became available.
How cool is that?
I may be lousy at stringing together two coherent words at this point but I am awash in happy thoughts!!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Many Adventures of Pooh

It was a BIG decision.  Should Pooh Bear stay home or cross the ocean with us.
After much thoughtful one very sweet little boy... It was determined that Pooh needed to go.
He's packed and ready even though he's not heading out until Saturday. 
We didn't want to risk leaving him behind on this most amazing adventure!
Our bags are packed.
We are ready to go.
First stop for me, Nashville, Tennessee!
Let's get this show on the road....
For those attending the Teach Them Diligently Homeschool Convention - please stop by my booth.  I can't promise I will be the least bit coherent but I will most definitely be happy to hug you!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

It's Almost Gone!!



I hope Harper likes her nutty brothers!



Both Ben and Elijah are taking college classes and so they didn't have the option of tagging along with us to meet Harper. Ben's at Liberty University and Elijah will be home holding down the fort here at home.  We've given him a crash course over the last 6 weeks on how to fill orders for BiblioPlan.  Our business is all in the family!! I'm seriously going to miss my daily dose of Elijah-style humor.  Thankfully he won't be home alone which is a huge relief.   
I'm heading out tomorrow for Nashville in the early morning hours. The Lord was so gracious in providing two wonderful ladies who will be helping me run the booth in Nashville and who will also be running my booth in Ohio in April.  They are a HUGE answer to prayer. 
Check this out!!!
It is almost gone!

We are so close to being fully funded.  God has been so so good to us!
Thank you to every single person who has given so willingly and lovingly.  What a beautiful testimony to Harper! 
God is SO Good!
P.S. - The 21 Days of Hope for Reece's Rainbow ends on Saturday.  They are half-way to their goal of raising 21,000 in 21 days. 
For every 1,000 raised, 2,100 is donated to one of these sweet treasures!  That is a Win Win all the way around! 
If it were not for Reece's Rainbow we would not be tucking our littlest in bed each night and we would not be crossing the ocean to add another little one to our family. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

His Tender Heart

We fly out on Saturday!!
I fly out on Saturday.
From Nashville to Dulles.
Then Rob and AARON and I cross the ocean together early early Sunday morning (12:30 am early).
Yes, Aaron is crossing the ocean with us.
Yes, he is excited.
Yes, he is scared.
We considered leaving him with family and considered leaving him with friends but when push came to shove... neither of us could handle the thought of being apart from our littlest for a day much less weeks and weeks.
So we are tagging him along.
We just love this little guy.

Even when he refuses to smile for the camera!!



For those who have asked about what Aaron remembers and how this trip will affect him.  When he first came home he had virtually no language. He knew about 20 words and most of them not repeatable.  When he did begin to speak, his vocabulary was limited to things that go.  Cars, trucks and trains.  It took several years before he was open to branching out past the safety of those subjects.
Since he has been home he has not mentioned nor referred to his former life except one fleeting time when he wondered about the people in white.
His last year there was hard. Emotionally and mentally hard.  There were no pleasant memories for him to want to remember, and his baby house memories were too distant in his past for him to be able to pull them up past the sorrow of his last year in that country.
Adopting Harper has given us a huge opportunity to be able to process with Aaron his story. As he has walked through and talked through the process of adopting Harper, he has begun to ask questions about his experience.  For the first time we have been able to fill in some blanks for him that he has not been brave enough or had the language to articulate.
Crossing the ocean will be for him both good and very hard.  As he watches Harper's story unfold, he is going to be confronted with the why's of his story.  The basic basic questions every orphan asks.  Why is she there?  Where is her Mama? Why was I there? Where was my Mama?
He has never asked those questions.
I pray that God gives us grace and much tenderness as we provide him answers that protect his tender, sweet heart.
We love him to pieces.  Our precious precious boy!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

My Favorite Part

My favorite part of these conventions is not this...

But this...
Loving on a Reece's Rainbow babe is my favorite part!!