Friday, January 21, 2011

From Russia TO Love

Baby picture long before we knew her.

Ten years ago this month we were on a journey like no other we had ever taken before.  Many months previous to this we had come to a decision that would change our lives forever.  

We had four children.  Three precious boys and one precious girl.  

My husband had traveled to Russia a couple times both for business and for a couple missions trips with our church.  I had been trying to convince my best friend who had three sons that they should adopt a little girl from Russia.  I wanted so much for her to experience the joy of having a daughter like I.  

On a ski trip with our high school youth in which she and I were along to be cooks, we lay in bed one night.  She was sound asleep.  I was awake in a prednisone induced insomnia.  I felt as though God was saying, "adopt a little girl from Russia".  I kind of giggled at the idea that God was talking to me because He NEEDED to talk to my friend.  But he was talking to me. 

The idea began to grow in my heart since I had always thought I would love to be an adoptive parent since I myself am adopted.  Convincing my husband, though, seemed like a more monumental task.  

After much prayer and soul searching, I approached the subject with him.  Of course, I had jokingly told him before his trips to Russia that year to bring home a little cutie with him.  Little did I know how simplistic that request was in contrast to the bureaucratic nightmare that that would have been.  He was actually quite open to the idea of adoption and we explored the many details that would be involved in such an endeavor.

When we felt like the green light was given we started doing paperwork with an agency that I had "happened" to read about in two books that I had read that year.  
List of documents to be apostilled.

The paperwork for adopting internationally is daunting.  But I am a methodical person and I took one paper at a time. Over the next 8- 10 months I filled out paperwork, got apostilles from our secretary of state's office 90 miles away countless times, we got homestudied, had our fingerprints taken by the FBI and every other stinking little detail that needed to be accomplished got accomplished.

In February of 2001 we got an email from our contact person at Bethany Christian Services with some info on the child that had been referred to us in January.   It was a forward from our facilitator's secretary.  Our contact person, Janie, wrote "Linda here is the little sweetie.....Janie"  It gave all the information they had on the child, Anna.  It was only about half a page of information.  Vital statistics though very little was known.  Birthday: January 21, 1998.

After months and months of paperwork and delays we ultimately had to switch agencies in order to work with our facilitator in Russia.  Finally, the day had arrived to go meet our new daughter.  We went in July instead of February so the coat that was good to 30 below 0 degrees was no longer of use to me.  It was HOT in Russia.  

We met our little Anna and she was a giggly, smiling, friendly little girl. We fell in love.  We only got to spend a little bit of time with her and then we had to say goodbye and we'll be back to get you soon.  THAT was one of  the hardest things I have ever done in my life.  

A month later we returned to Russia to pick up Anna and bring her HOME.
Our flight schedule.

Schedule for the grandparents.

"Take picture packets"  Oh, my mom is amazing to do this for me.
Our flight schedule and the kids at home daily schedule look rather overwhelming now but we did it somehow.  They even started at a NEW school while we were gone.  All of the grandparents were amazing for helping us as well as our best friends.

Coming home with a 3 year old who had never seen an airplane let alone flown was exhausting!  She didn't sleep the whole time until right before we landed in Kansas on our last leg.  She couldn't speak English and we spoke only a few Russian words essential for eating, sleeping, and toileting.
Having a snack at the market in Russia.

Getting Americanized on the plane ride home.
On a swing in Russia.

The ride from the orphanage to our apartment.

Playing with a Barbie on the long flight.
Dancing in our hotel room in Russia.
Eating an apple in the Paris airport while waiting for our connecting flight home.

So. That is my "baby story" for my youngest child whose 13th birthday is today.

Happy Birthday Anna!  Life isn't always easy, but we love you!


  1. Thanks for sharing this, Linda. Anna is a very lucky little girl. :)

  2. Oh wow! This was great, I loved each word and of course I love that Anna! Man, she's so lucky but so are you!

  3. What an amazing story, Linda! Thanks for sharing. She's darling!!