Monday, October 30, 2017

All About Mary

It's a quiet Monday here. A bit of a respite after days upon days of going here and there. We are vehicle weary. The thought of getting in a car and driving anywhere at this point makes us want to howl. 

Little girl has spent the past few hours content on the floor, surrounded by her pile of toys and enjoying the novelty of playing without having to fight, pinch, kick or bite anyone away. We have learned quickly that she is a professional pincher. My hands and arms have learned the hard way. Her motto is my way or the highway. When her way isn't happening she is a bit like a feral cat with claws out and a snarling face.

We get it.

She doesn't know us. We don't speak her language except for a few butchered words (especially me - Rob is much better in this department and John is working hard at remembering). She's frustrated and scared and can't communicate with us what she wants or needs. The words she does know are not clear because of her speech issues.

So she fights. And snarls. And pinches. And claws.

But she also snuggles and laughs and reaches her hands out to us and is slowly slowly beginning to try to communicate to us. 

She loves to clean and help and water is her love language!

She is slowly engaging with her brothers and reaching out in small ways to them.

If you give her a pillow and tell her to whack Papa with it - she will gladly oblige and then turn and whack Mama even if we are on the same team!!

We have learned that she is pretty fearless.  We went to a petting place and little girl went right into each pen without pause and was not the least bit afraid to pet and hold and feed the animals.

She was completely nonplussed when Papa's hat was food for a certain lemur.

She has moments of joy and moments when she withdraws from us. We wonder what she is thinking when she 'disappears.' We well remember Aaron doing the same thing which gives us some peace when it happens although it is hard to watch her close us out.

She has moments when she wants only us and other times when we are around other people that she will reach out and want to be held by strangers. We have to ask kindly that they give her high fives and pats. Hugs and holding are for family only.

Her seizures happen all.the.time, but thankfully she is willing to wear her headband which has provided some protection against the whacks her head is constantly taking. It's heartbreaking to watch.

She's ours.

Every bit of her. From her adorable smiles to her blank stares to her snarling faces.  She's ours.

And we love her quite fiercely!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Does Anybody Really Know What Time it Is?

We begin this report with a public service announcement. We regret to inform you that physical scientists have misled us all. They would have us believe that jetting east overnight gives us a shorter day when we arrive. What they don't say is that this only works when we actually sleep on the jet. If we don't, then it just compresses two days into one long one-- about 41 hours long, in our case.

I'm not sure any of us has been entirely awake since that long Monday/Tuesday. It started with a full day of work and school for all four of us, followed by an 11 p.m. flight to Istanbul. From there it was a short hop to Mary's home country, where we were met by members of the Nasledie Heritage Foundation. We spent the night at the home of Camp Lela, a fantastic summer camp for orphanage kids. The same facility also houses two more Nasledie ministries: the JAM (Jesus and Me) day center for children from troubled homes, and the Joy! center for children with special needs.

We can't say enough about all the good things Nasledie is doing. One of the hardest things about adoption is meeting all the beautiful kids you can't adopt, and who may never be adopted. The heroes at Nasledie help those kids every day. In our eyes, they are shining examples of the love of Christ.

The events of the next day, Wednesday, are a story for another time.By day's end we were in Mary's town, ready to spring her out on Thursday.

This stretch of the process doesn't require a lot of thought on our part. As foreigners, we're not expected to understand anything. We just go where they tell us to go, sign where they tell us to sign, and pay what they tell us to pay. It means a lot of waiting and a little discomfort, but no worrying. Once you make it this far, the outcome is no longer in doubt.

She knew exactly what was happening. Since Mary doesn't talk much, we've wondered how much she really understands. What we saw on Thursday proved that she understands everything. She knew she was leaving that place for good, and she wasn't the least bit sorry.

A caretaker helped Julia dress Mary in the new clothes we brought, fussing to be sure she did it right. When they finished, Mary took a side trip to the room where her group plays. We thought maybe she wanted to show them her new clothes; but instead, she went to say her goodbyes. A quick "Poka," a wave, and she was off to start her new life.

Unlike our other two, Mary left with nothing. John was rich by orphanage standards. He got a special pair of shoes they'd made him, plus two stuffed animals and a backpack full of other goodies. Aaron got a denim hat that Julia won for him in trade. But poor Mary got not one memento. Maybe it's just as well, as she never should have been in awful place. How much better for her if she had stayed in her baby house, instead of being transferred?

Anyway, she's ours now. We think they're fools for giving her up; for there isn't a prettier girl in this whole country. She's such a treasure that we almost feel like we stole her. Drop seizures are a small price to pay for those huge brown eyes and that dazzling smile!

We're in the capital now, waiting for the papers we need-- passport, medical clearance and so on. Aaron and John are doing great, learning to be big brothers. We're all getting to know our new little girl, and praying that we can bring her home soon.

Monday, October 23, 2017

We are Not Trading Children!

We are on our way.

Two little boys. One wheelchair, eight suitcases, and one purse all packed with our stuff, Mary's stuff and a ton of maternity clothes, children's winter clothes, coats, blankets, gifts and more to giveaway.  We are again looking to hire a camel or two!!

I believe in packing light but if we have an opportunity to bless.... then bring it on!!

I want to personally thank the Truth and Hope Ladies who made all this possible!!!

Your loving gifts are going to bless so many people!

And I want to again thank each and every one of you who have prayed and encouraged and given so freely to help us bring our little one home.  We have been so richly blessed on so many levels!!

Before we see her this week we are going to take a very special side trip.  Even though I am not sharing right now where we are going, I ask for you to pray hard for this side trip that the Lord would move in hearts and open doors that have been so stubbornly stuck shut for years.  It is our heart's desire!

Pray too for our little boys. Adoption is hard. The stress and upheaval over the past few months has definitely affected them. We have had to spend many hours in the trenches with both of them. We are hoping that taking them with us on this trip will allow them to work through some of their fears and anxieties. We are not trading children. One little boy in particular needs to experience and understand this. We are flying over together and we are ALL flying home. Little sister safely nestled between her two big brothers. Please pray for them.

In a few short days... our family of  boys and men is going to be completely upended.

I'm going to laugh myself silly watching her wrap each and every one of them around her little bossy finger!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Aren't You Scared

He had just finished reading the litany of diagnoses. Mental delay, severe epilepsy, severe speech delay, hyperactivity.  He had just finished reading about her abandonment. He had just finished making it clear for the court record that no one, not one person, had visited or called or made contact with her since she had been left at the hospital. No one.

It was grim.

Aren't You Scared?

He motioned for Rob to stand up and answer the question.

Yes. I thought as I looked at the judge. Absolutely.  I am terrified.  I am not naïve. I've done this before. I know what is coming.  I've spent hours and days and weeks and months in the trenches with my other two boys.

Rob stood and cleared his throat.  He then, in words that were beautiful and eloquent, shared with the judge about meeting Aaron for the first time. He was a severely disabled boy in a Level 4 mental institute who couldn't talk, barely walked, couldn't feed himself, couldn't take care of himself.  He had been put away. But now. Now Aaron can run. He never stops talking. He feeds himself. He can do so many things for himself. He is in school and can read and write and is so very smart. We know that Mary has great potential.  We know we can help her just like we have helped our other boys.

It was perfect and right and in every way the truth.

But it doesn't mean we aren't scared.

We are so not naïve.

We have seen every one of her diagnoses. They are not incorrect. 

She was abandoned at a time in her life when she needed her Mama the most. She went from hospital to an orphanage. Just last May she was transferred to a Level 3 special needs orphanage. Right after transfer she was taken to a "camp" where she spent the summer months. She knows starvation, she knows abandonment, she knows that to survive you have to fight. She knows that grownups can hurt her. She knows.

Aren't You Scared.


We are.

But she needs us. She needs family. She needs advocates. She needs a home. She needs love.  She needs a Mama and a Papa who are committed to stay the course with her.  She needs the Lord.  And He is the One who called us to cross the ocean for her.

We are leaving on Monday night and I have already packed the bags.

Our bags are packed.

I travel all the time and I never pack until right before I leave but not this time.

We're ready.

We're ready to bring home a little girl who has had to learn to fight to survive.

We are bringing home a little girl who shuts down verbally when she is upset.

We are bringing home a little girl who has seizures that are dangerous and unpredictable.

We are bringing home a little girl who is adorable and who has already wrapped us around her little finger.

We are scared.

I won't lie.

We know that in the coming months we are going to go deep into the trenches. We know that we will spend thousands of hours in hospitals and doctor's offices. We know she is developmentally and emotionally delayed. We know that we are bringing home a hurting little girl on every level.

But we know the One who called us.

And we are counting the hours to go get our little one and bring her home.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Missing our Girl and Grieving

We've been wandering around the last few days a bit lost.

Our little one is officially ours but still on the other side of the ocean.

Legally in her country you have to wait 10 days after court before you can start the paperchase to get her out. So we are home and again counting the days.

But that's not the only reason we are feeling lost.

Last Saturday night, while we were flying across the ocean, our faithful friend breathed her last. She was eleven years old and her time had come but it is hard. It is so so hard.

I'm lost without her.

She loved our family and faithfully cared for each one of us. I've spent the last many years with her keeping me company while I worked in my office.  Rob called her our rug on the floor because she would plod down right in our paths.  She wanted to make sure she was in the middle of whatever we were doing.

She always always hung out with the little boys outside while they played.

She LOVED to go on walks with Elijah but was too silly to go with him because she kept running in the road so every single day when he headed out for his mile long walks... he would always have to turn around and bring her back and put her in the house.

She LOVED Ben. She just loved him.  As soon as he was home she was up against him and nuzzling him.

And even though she lived here - she adopted my dad as her own. He came over every day to care for her and feed her. He lost his dog a number of years ago and caring for Summer was one of his life's pleasures.

She was our dog and we loved her and there is a huge hole in our family now that she is gone.

Like I said... we are wandering around and feeling a bit lost right now.

Missing our little one and grieving our faithful friend.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Make Me Smile

Have you ever looked at someone and said to yourself, "That has got to be the dullest job on Earth. If I had to do that, my heart would stop beating out of sheer boredom. How does he get through the day without banging his head against his desk?"

This afternoon, we are praising God for people like that. For there are times when boring is better than exciting. Take adoption court, for example. You don't want a lot of excitement there. Far better if no one objects to anything, and the judge just reads out all the reasons why this adoption is in the best interests of the child-- over, and over, and over again.

How you own your home, have a steady job and a good income. How you have adopted from this country twice before, with positive outcomes for the children. How this child was abandoned by her parents, and has never seen them since. How no one from this country has shown any interest in this child. How you own your home, have a steady job and a good income. How you are well prepared to meet the special needs of this child. Did I mention that you own your home, have a steady job and a good income?

Why yes, your honor, I think you did mention that. Sometime when you were reading our entire dossier into the court record-- all 200-plus pages of it! At least you had the grace to read quickly. Our poor translator was often just spitting out the page number when you moved on, and that was just fine.

Yes, boring was just fine today. For when the reading was done, your honor also did a bit of writing. What came out of that Cyrillic word processor was a court decree that gave us our new daughter: Mary Alexandra Nalle!

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!
Praise Him all creatures here below!
Praise Him above ye heavenly host!
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Camel for Hire?


I crammed all of our clothes PLUS a whole ton of handmade baby gifts for the missionaries to give away, a pile of new toy cars for the little ones in Mary's group, 2 beautiful handmade blankets to give away, a massive amount of gently used clothes to give away, gifts for our judge (after he says YES) and gifts for the missionary's kids in TWO suitcases under the 50 lb weight limit!! 

Woo hoo..

Bag number one comes in at a whopping 49 1/2 lbs and bag number two at a measly 48 lbs.

And just in case those 2 mammoth bags get lost, I put all of our court clothes in their own bag. I stuffed our WINTER COATS in there too because rumor has it is it COLD over there!! 

Rounding out our pile of stuff is my nifty backpack purse and our computer bag which will house both our computers, a couple of books we will probably never ever open and a ton of snack food that we know we will eat.

Thank the Lord my husband is coming!!

Otherwise I would need to hire a camel.

We are only going to be gone for 6 days!!

We can't wait!!

We get to see this precious treasure!

Little girl... Mama and Papa are coming soon!!

Court is on Tuesday!!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Lord is Going Before Us

A week ago we wondered... waited... prayed... despair weighing down our hearts...

Hague issues... corrupt ministry officials... lost interpols... an agency in uproar... missed court... and a little girl waiting for her Mama.

The darkness was swirling around us. The mountains seemed so high and we felt so small.

And then the mountains began caving in around us.  We stared in awe and wonder. In just a matter of hours we watched as one section after another started crashing down.

Crashing mountains are awesome to behold!

The thundering crashes and billowing dust had us gasping for breath. We continued to wait and wonder and pray but despair was no longer weighing down our hearts.

As the dust settled, the skies started clearing on Friday and today... today...

We have committee approval!

We have a new court date.

We have plane tickets.

We have a new Hague agency to oversee our process.

We are making schedules.  We are arranging babysitting. We are mentally packing our suitcases.


Little one... Mama and Papa are coming!!

It's just a short trip.

We fly over and back in a matter of days.

We get to see our little one for only a few visits. We will stand in court and petition the judge to be her Mama and Papa.  After court we will fly home and wait for 10 days.

Of course we have to pass court.

And we still need a signature on our approval papers.

But we just saw some mighty huge mountains crash down around us, so we know that the Lord is going before us.

And there is great peace in that knowledge.

Stay tuned.... soon we are going to be introducing the newest member of the Nalle family!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Clearing Skies

The dust is settling.

On Thursday we looked around at the mess and wondered when we would ever get to cross the ocean again.

On Friday we started seeing a few clear skies.

Clear skies are good.

We will take every one we can get.

The families who were frantically waiting for their approvals to be signed so they could have court next week breathed a huge sigh of relief on Friday when an official was approved to sign their papers.

We breathed a huge sigh of relief right along with them.

If their approvals were signed then once we receive approval, ours will be signed too.

That was a HUGE answer to prayer.

Sunlight is shining through the dust clouds.

Hope is beginning to fill our hearts as we see those rays bursting through.

With clear skies appearing we can now start anticipating the walk to her orphanage.

When the skies are clear and the sun is shining, the walk to her orphanage is quite beautiful.

We are waiting on approval from the committee.

We are praying HARD that they will review our dossier tomorrow.

If they do and it is approved then we just need an approval signature and a new court date.

So on this Sunday we are praying.

For more clearing skies.

For dossiers to be reviewed. For approvals to be signed. For a kind judge to give us a court date as soon as possible.

We want to see the flowers again.

But more importantly... we want to see our favorite little girl in the whole wide world!!