Saturday, June 27, 2009

Falling Asleep In The Arms Of Jesus

Last night was one of those nights where Vika was heavily on my mind. When I closed my eyes I could feel her soft warm face on Mama's shoulder. This painful longing in my heart consumed me in my desire to hold her in my arms and tell her I love her for always. All those fears rushed in on me last night about getting the financial portion together, the big scary dossier done, being able to fly over alone on my first trip, and then staying alone in Russia after court. Duane will be returning to our children in the USA after court. I tossed and turned all night long getting maybe three or four hours of sleep.

It is so difficult to describe all the insecurities that a potential adoptive parent (PAP) has when going into this process. You sweat bullets getting paperwork done in a timely fashion and hope the judge doesn't torture you by asking for you to retrieve documents from America when you are half way around the world!!! I think this worries me more than anything else!!! The cost of gathering papers while in Russia is costly and time consuming.

The PAP really needs someone who can obtain documents if this should happen....Good Lord forbid such a nightmare. Remember the old USSR movies where the "polichka" come up to the trembling person on the train and gruffly ask "Are your documents in order?" with a quivering response, the victim replies with shaky voice "Da...Da...Da" and then hands them over? The police sift through their passport and travel documents while "evil-eyeing" the sweating victim periodically.

Well, this process of wracking your nerves begins when you land in Russia and it's your turn to walk up to the passport window. One just never knows. This is how it happened to us in May 2005. It is the officer's option to look everything over, then just stamp your passport, allowing you to smoothly sail through the gate, and YOUR IN Russia!!!! However, on one occasion, we were asked questions about our entry declaration. That sweat wrenching process, in a hot as heck room (they don't really use much air conditioning), goes a lot like this....

Officer: "You have declared US currency???"
Victim: "Yes...I am holding $XXXX.XX" as on the declaration"
Officer: "Wait...stoiy...da"
Victim: "Why? It's all on the declaration"
Officer: "Wait" said more sternly!!!

Then he or she turn their back on you inside their glass inspectors booth and picks up a phone. You can see your passport information and your picture on their computer screen...vaguely...but, you know they have your info before them. They call over security and security asks if you are traveling with anyone?

Then they want you to follow them, into a plain tiny room, with a metal desk and chair. There is a chair, maybe two, on the other side of the desk, for you to sit in for your "questioning". First they ask you to empty the contents of all your carry on bags, purses, etc.... If there is any loose change in the wallet or small amounts of money they want that placed in a pile. Then they look at you sternly...."is this all the money you have?"

Victim: "No I have on a money belt."
Officer: "Then remove it and empty the money into the pile with this money from your wallet."

You nervously open your pants and remove the money belt and take out a pile of your life's work in crisp new currency. You see, the Russians won't take US currency with any marks, bend creases, defacement, dirty, or torn. It must be in pristine condition even though their Rubbles make you want to wear gloves to touch it...LOL!!!

It takes weeks of going from bank to bank and explaining your adoption plan and that you need as much pristine money as possible. I have even resorted to ironing wrinkled US bills that would otherwise be in good shape. I stand over my ironing board with a mildly damp wash cloth and try to clean it up and then iron it out to a crisp clean state. Is that laundering??? Hmmm.

Anyway...back to the interview...

Officer: "You have declared $XXXX.XX...count it all for me." So, you dive into counting the bank bundles first. At the end you smile and say....
Victim: "Here is what I declared"
Officer "Do you understand that I can keep your money if it does not match you declaration?"

You wonder at that point if the officer means "him personally" or "The Russian Federation" but, you don't dare look like a smart mouth and ask for clarification. You just sweat bullets and say something to the effect of....

Victim: "Officer, it is all here."
Officer: He stands up over the top of you and says...."And what about this $5.67 in cash. Did you declare that? Do you have any Rubble on you that you haven't claimed as well or currency from other countries???"

You sweat blood now as he holds your life savings, retirement, and what you have managed to save, in order to accomplish removing one little orphan child from Russia and take them to a better life. Is he wonder??? Why does $5.67 matter when the bulk has been declared??? Who thinks to dig through their pocket, purse, carry on bag for insignificant change??? Because, to the the security officer, it is not insignificant's "THE DECLARATION" which must be exact in order for your documents to be "IN ORDER".

Then he turns to my dear spouse and says...

Officer: "How much do you have on this declaration in my hand?"
Victim: "I have $XXXX.XX and I did not declare my pocket money!!! I didn't think about counting that, too!!!"
Officer: "Pocket money??? Is this pocket money real currency?"
Victim: "Yes. I'm sorry, I ...uh...we did not realize that we should include this travel change in the currency declaration. Can we change our declaration? Maybe include it now that we realize we have undeclared money??? It was an accident!!!"
Officer: "NO...It is already filled out by you and your wife. Wait here. Put your things, except for your money, back into your bags."

He then leaves the room and an eternity later returns with another officer with whom he communicates about the situation in very fast, loud, urgent Russian. I can only pick up words here and there as they discuss this horrible crime of $5.67 that is undeclared. We wish they would stop breathing "hot" air into the room as we melt in our clothes.

The new officer asks: "What is your business here in Russia with such large amounts of money? Your Visa says tourism."

We look at each other for a moment. Then we decide to listen to our adoption agency and not mention our intentions to adopt a child from their Russian orphanage. A child like the other approximately, 500,000 children, that they have abandoned or removed from horrible environments of abuse and/or neglect.

Duane responds with: "We are touring the Great Russian Federation."
The officer asks: "And who is sponsoring you here?"

More sweat drops off our brows. Duane and I look at each other again....

I say: "We are with a Russian travel agency (the one who booked our flights and obtained our entry Visa) called XYZ Agency.
Officer: "Are they waiting for you out there?"

To which we emphatically reply "DA" and we both secretly hope our adoption agency reps, who are waiting in the foyer, can handle things from there if they pursue this. We agree that surely they can and this is why they charge thousands of dollars for their services.

Officer: "Wait. Put away your money!!!"

Whew!!! We begin to gather our money and replace our belts. They leave the sweltering hot tiny white room with all it's plain and simple furnishings. After another eternity...they return and tell us....

Officer: "Is your all your money put away? Remember to declare ALL currency when entering the Russian Federation. This will be noted on our computers with your passport and Visa numbers for future reference."

We both walk out of the little office as the white metal door is slammed shut behind us by one of the officers. In a travel dazed foggy mind from traveling for the last thirty hours, and was further blasted by the power of the Russian Federation, we are weak in the knees. We make our way in this daze to the luggage retrieval and our bags are revolving alone while all other bags have long gone!!! We yank our bags off the luggage run and head for the doors. Doors to the wonderful outside and find our party with a card saying "GARTNER". What a beautiful sight!!!!

This experience happened to us in 2005 when we adopted Annie Kate. It was hellish to say the least. It wasn't bundles of money sitting in the hands of the was bundles of our little girl!!! Pray for me when the time comes for me to travel alone on the first trip to our darling Vika. Oh...what I will do for that little girl's hug and a couple of days with her. Then back on that big bird to America to wait for the next stressful process. A legal adoption hearing before a Judge of the Russian Federation who holds all the final power to bless us or curse us and Vika, too.

So, I rolled and tossed in bed last night. It wasn't visions of sugar cookies dancing in my head, that's for sure!!! I began to pray and stress for all these things to falls into place for us and Vika. For the dossier, I prayed a lot, for the adoption hearing I prayed even more, and the 10-day post court wait, the unexpected stresses that always pop up, and my weakness, I prayed some more. I prayed for all the orphans of the world to have a home and loving family. For Jesus to forgive me for being such a coward and my lack of trust and faith. You know what Jesus finally did for me???

I didn't know He was doing anything for me last night. I drifted off while in my state of stressing and praying. When I woke this morning....I felt courageous and ready to move forward. He let me fall asleep last night in His strong arms of peace and love. I woke in His arms this morning and I am blessed. Pray with me "as where there are three or more gathered in His name...the request we ask of Him shall be fulfilled." AMEN and many blessings....Trisha

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Home Study News

Well, it seems that things are finally coming together. Our home study will be complete next week and we can pick it up!!! I am getting these visions of the look on Vika's face when I walk through the doors of the Murmansk Orphanage. I am working on losing about 20 pounds before I go so my presence will meet or exceed her expectations from her own memory. Often when we love someone and don't see them for a while, our memory makes the person more sweet in dreams. I want Vika to be proud and satisfied when we meet again. From the looks of things, that may be sooner than I had anticipated. Things are finally beginning to move now. YIPEEE!!! Mama's coming, sweet girl...hang in there!!! Pray for our finances and for a speedy dossier composition. Many blessings...Trisha (Vika's Mama)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Snail's Pace

To those who know me....waiting is not my best virtue;-). I am now hoping to get some grant applications going. After adopting one child after another since 2002...we must have some grant help. If we could manage to get just a $5,000 grant we would be on the road to Murmansk!!! It's just I have never done this before and don't know where to go for them. I'm praying for God to lead me in the right direction. I am going to add a little donation button to this blog so that if anyone should feel inclined to help would be tax deductible and safe.

The kids are out of school now and so I have more free time on my hands to deal with paperwork. Our SW has made several visits and we are approved. So now we wait for her to write the report and we can take this to the next level. It gives me butterflies in my tummy to think of going through this process again. After Katie's adoption I was simply beat to the bone exhausted and stressed to the utter limit. So, one might ask "Why do it to myself again?"

In reply...It is the powerful and vivid memory of Vika in Russia. The way she followed us into the playroom and laid her head on my shoulder during our visit with Katie Aunna. Vika sweetly whispered into my ear that "Aunna's (Katie) mama is so pretty and how much she wants to come home with us." She said "she was smelling me and saving the smell of a real mama in her heart forever and would we please take her home." She then promised "to be a very good girl if we would just love her, too." Then the translator ushered her out of the room. Vika looked back over her shoulder as she was pushed from the room with such love mingled with a look in her eyes which screamed..."Wait...I'll be good...choose me, too!!!"

This vision in our minds just won't go away from Duane and I and leave us in peace. Katie Aunna saw everything that happened and heard most of what Vika said to me. Then Katie has reminded us about Vika on an almost daily basis with questions and remarks like "Is she alright Mommy?" "Vika is so kind and loves all of us!!!" "Vika's leg is hurt and she needs our wonderful home in America. I love it here, Mommy!!!" Vika needs our doctor to help her leg. She limps and is in pain everyday!!!" "It's too cold for Vika's leg in Russia, Mommy. We have to hurry cause it's warm now!!!" "Vika has no home or family like me....I feel sad, Mommy:-(((" Katie has said all of these things and many others that have brought me to my knees in prayer. So here I am...on my knees, and praying for financing, dossier energy, and good health to undergo this harsh process...just once more!!! Thanks for your support and prayers....Keep 'em coming!!! Many blessings....Trisha

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Baby Steps...

Well, we are now taking baby steps to get to our little girl home. I know she has been so heavy hearted lately as she thinks it is taking us too long to come get her and/or we might be changing our minds about getting her home...LOL!!! Like that's not going to happen. Oh yes, she is coming home!!! It seems that June is the month for the process to begin moving forward. Our HS will be completed soon and we can begin to apply for grants which we must be awarded in order to get her home. If anyone is interested in making a donation to her I could set up another "chip-in" account which is tax deductible for the donner. We want Vika/Lexi home quickly as her heart is hurting for us to come and make her dream come true!!!! She is such a darling and I live for the day I walk into that orphanage and hold her closely and profess my love and devotion to her. It will be in that moment that I become her MAMA!!! Pray for Lexi and I to be united quickly!!! Many blessings...Trisha