Thursday, October 17, 2013


We have arrived in our region! Leaving at 5 am on Wednesday morning after just 2 hours of sleep due to jet lag was difficult.  We were accompanied by our regional facilitator and a driver.  It took us about 2.5 hours driving to arrive.
I've mentioned that driving here is an experience...and it continues to be so.  I found I did we'll when my eyes were closed for this and nearly every trip.  It's not that the drivers are unsafe, they make good decisions - they just drive aggressively, which is necessary.  Also, the state of the roads causes each trip to be bouncy or jarring as pot holes are encountered or avoided.
We made it in one piece and there started a mad dash!
Immediately we went to the Inspector's office and while we waited in the car our facilitator spoke for us, introducing us and our intentions.  The Inspector has to approve you and then you meet the orphanage director or someone in charge there and then, if you pass, you meet the child.
We passed!
We were able to meet our boy.
We weren't sure what to expect.  Eric and I have done this before, met a child with the intention of making them ours but there's a sense of nervousness that I cannot describe every time. Both of us were shaking before he was brought in.
I had prayed that there would be a moment of connection for me.  I need that as the mommy. A minute to match the idea I have in my heart to what I'm seeing - and that happened.  I had prayed that the personality I had envisioned for our third eldest would be present - and it was. He is reported to be kind and helpful, caring and funny - he has not yet lost his desire to be noticed and appreciated.  He doesn't seem fearful of noises or people in general.
I'm so excited!
It seems like he is usually carried or in a stroller for most of his day and that much of his time is spent memorizing commercials on daytime television.
I'm excited to get to be the one to introduce him to Legos and the zoo and the pumpkin patch and all things that are good and need to be experienced by children...
Back to the story, though...we pulled out some rubber cars to play with and were immediately rebuked by the nanny because they were "too small"...ok...I don't really like being told what to do, but I took the neatest toy I had away and sat - the wind out of my sails...the facilitator explained to her, I don't know, what a toy is, and it was smoothed over. He could hold the toys but not take them to the room with him because of other children who might choke ---- this is an adult mental institution. Ok. Strike one for the Americans.
What I left out was that our facilitator had said to us that our son needs to verbalize that he wants to go with you have some toys??? And maybe food? Something. To bribe him with?  Yes, I was prepared to bribe him...but apparently my choice of toys was not on the approved list.  And the director, facilitator and three nannies were standing there watching to see if he fell in love with us at first sight.
Things got a little better when we just talked to him and sat with him.  When we quit trying to pull rabbits out of our hats and touched him.  Novel thought.  When the nannies quit trying to show us every trick he could perform.  Poor baby.
We had 30 minutes with us and then he had to go to breakfast.
All of a sudden the room emptied and Eric and I were alone. Starving because we had not eaten since supper the night before, physically exhausted due to no sleep and emotionally drained from this experience.
Our facilitator had so much paperwork to complete and that had to be done in the office and wee aren't allowed to just wander unattended so we were told to wait...and wait...and wait...for over 2 hours.
Then suddenly we were told to go, we need a notary.
So, off to try the 4 notaries in this town who all refused to help because we are Americans - not that they don't like us just that they don't know what to do for sure. So we drive to a town 30 minutes away and there's a notary.
We made many more stops and some repeated stops, the goal being to wrap up a weeks worth of paper-chasing in 1.5 days. And somehow our facilitator did it! We finished today!! She is great but I can tell you that all day she kept saying, "I've never seen this happen before. It's a miracle!" All the obstacles were seemingly removed. Amazing God who desires children in families.
We have seen Him move mightily throughout this process and it continues which strengthens our faith for the future.
Anyway, last night we made it to our new apartment that will be home for the next few weeks. It's very nice and the staff seem to want to help.  We are in a region that is hardly ever frequented by outsiders so we are different than they are used to.
They looked at us funny when we asked about a laundry facility so we bought a bucket and have done two "loads" in the bucket (something I never thought I'd do).
We have eaten at the restaurant here so "real" and different but good and safe - there's not that great of a risk of getting sick which we re trying to avoid at all costs.
Today we thought we would have our two daily visits with our little guy. But...never plan on anything here!  When we got to the inspectors office again a costly mistake had been found in the paperwork completed 3 years ago for our son's biological parent's rights to be revoked..the secretary had added an extra letter to this mother name.  The last instance of this took 1.5 months to be resolved as they demanded that the bio mother come back in, the investigator and even the neighbors who made the initial report....this could mean trouble for us!
Our facilitator said we had to go to the village where he was born and have the judge change the document...this task needs a driver (provided by the mayor of town where we are who is Very accommodating), the original judge, who must be working - not sick or on vacation, a secretary willing to type today, "thank you" money and a box of chocolates.  A series of miracles accomplished with relative ease and efficiency - not two things that often describe processes in this country - or ours for the matter.
And on and on and on these last two days have gone. Good days but hard because there's no way to know what to expect.
This process has been one of complete abandonment of our time, resources and everything we found stable.  We have been shaken.  At the end of our rope. Weary. And then a verse or song or devotion will perfectly fit.
It's challenging to live "better is one day in Your courts, better is one day in Your house" daily business. But we will not make it otherwise. Today one of the verses from the packet from my sister was about the flaming arrows of the Evil and many days it is fear.  That is a battle we constantly fight.  Fear. And it's one that quietly settles into your thought process until you are immobilized. So, identifying it is important and pray against it is a must.
We are excited for tomorrow because as far as we know we will have two full visits with our son...hopefully without interruptions. Time to get to know each other.  Tonight we are at peace.  FaceTimed our kids, today and everyday and that helps so much!  To see them acting normally - silly and normal.  Praying for the next two weeks to pass quickly and hopefully have a firm plan of timing next week even! So thankful!!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Days 1,2 and 3

Here we are in country.
Because we are not doing a private page, I will not refer directly to the name of this country but, trust me, it's very near the end of the world.
We took off from Wichita on Saturday. Our kids did so well! I had been able to take off work for the past week and had tried to prepare things with them and make a few memories. It was a special week but marked by a cloud of anticipation. Each day taking us closer to leaving.  Living a dichotomous emotional life of happy and made me more ready than ever to finally begin this portion of the journey.  But waving five times at the kids as we went through security was not easy.
They have fun things planned each day and, of course, schoolwork to complete with the grandmas.
When you suddenly find yourself without three little beings to take care of, life becomes boring and uneventful.
So, our connections were made and schedule kept despite a 2 hour delay in Chicago. The pilot had several stories, each one a little worse than the previous one, from illness to government shutdown as to why we were not leaving yet.  Glad when we landed safely.
We arrived in our country and were met by a translator/driver holding a sign that had our last name printed on it.  He was one of at least 8 people holding similar signs.
We drove to our apartment near the center of the city. Now, this city is very unfamiliar and the people speak a language that I can't hope to begin to understand. And they park on the sidewalk, drive on the sidewalk and appear to follow only the barest of driving etiquette.  Alarming.
As we are walking up to this standard apartment building-looking place, the translator says: don't be alarmed, the apartment is much better  than this. We are buzzed into the building and are assailed with darkness, dingy, peeling painted walls And the unmistakeable smell of cats.  The lighting is spotty at best in the hallways and there are no seasonal welcome mats or door decorations to cheer the place up. Standard utilitarian grade metal doors, no adornment.
We are not in Kansas anymore. I have 3 welcome signs at our house - just in case you miss one and don't feel appropriately welcomed- and 2 are autumn themed...along with 4 cheery pumpkins and a seasonal flag.
We were pleasantly surprised to have the apartment door opened by a housekeeper who was washing our sheets as we stood there.
The washing a machine is so should really only hold 4 pieces of clothing at a time but we are thankful for it.
Our translator instructed us to put our luggage down and he would take us to buy food and exchange money.  The little market is across the take your life in your hands to get there...and is well stocked.  A little nerve wracking to change money without flashing your stash and then trust that no one follows you to your apartment building to relieve you of imagination has runs way with me a few times here.
We survived, however, and returned to our apartment.
I forgot an essential piece of the experience. The elevator. Circa 19-whenever the building was built. It will fit three grown people if one rear touches the back and another persons nose touches the front. Standing in a line with luggage crammed beside. The cats got to it a long time ago too. This country has not yet implemented safety features such as sensors in elevator doors so you have to rush in and out as fast as possible, nearly leaving behind your largest piece of luggage to be crushed in the panic. You cannot stick your arm in the door to hold the elevator. It's every man for himself here.
That seems to be the general culture.  No one smiles at you. Well, they did at the GAP but no where else.  When we were in line at customs it was eerily quiet. There were 8 lines of people and little talking, no smiling.  If we left the tiniest space between us and the person in front of us, someone squeezed in front of us and filled it.  No apology, just an understanding that you weren't moving fast enough and your space was taken. You learn quickly here or you wont make it.  There is obvious commentary on that to be discussed a a later time.
The toilet paper here is exactly like crepe paper streamers, just a little wider, no Charmin extra soft quality and no options to buy a "better" brand.  Interesting. Limited market.
Today we had our appointment to see our child's file.  A facilitator accompanied us and translated who we are, what we do for a living and why we have chosen to do this.  The file was interesting. A more recent picture was included.  He had been transferred last year and his state appears dire.  Grim. A year without sunshine can really make its mark. Enough said.
We spent the rest of the day resting, recuperating and then FaceTimed the kids at home. Say what you will about apple, we would be lost right now without this amazing connectivity and technology.  We can text them instantly and FaceTime everyday!!!!!
We found McDonald's for supper.  It's the same here as there. Familiarity is good.  Each packet of sauce costs $.35 ... And get your table fast, we didn't move fast enough And had two tables taken from us in a flash!  It's a challenging culture for me being from the Midwest where we are very considerate.  This makes venturing out generally stressful and we are glad to be doing this together, Eric and I.
Tomorrows have the day free until 4 when we will get our referral for the orphanage approval letter. We leave for our specific region Wednesday morning. It's a two hour drive.  We have hotel arrangements made there for us and are praying for wifi.  Plan to stay at least two days and then determine based on wifi and court date issued whether we stay there or in a larger town 30 minutes away. We Are continuing to pray for a fast court date and wisdom regrading staying in country or coming home to wait...
I will update as soon as I can. Thank you for praying with us.