Friday, April 30, 2010

We're at an adoption conference

I'm blogging from the Summit VI conference by the Christian Alliance for Orphans ( has been an incredible time! The praise and worship time, the fellowship with other adoptive families, and learning about practical ways any and every person can care for orphans worldwide has refreshed and encouraged us. Yes, all 11 of us went, from Mom and Dad down to Princess Bink, and we feel extremely blessed to have this opportunity.

One great reminder we have had from many speakers is how adoption is a picture of the gospel and how God has adopted believers through Jesus Christ so that we can now call the God of the universe "Father"! Thank you Jesus!

Monday, April 26, 2010

...and then there was more... paperwork!

One of the best ways to deal with the challenges of the adoption process is to realize that God uses those challenges (like all things) for our good and for His glory. Keeping this in mind helps us deal with challenges... like the mountains of paperwork that seem to multiply like the rabbits that feast on our tulips.

It helps to see the process as one of the many ways God has to sanctify us. Through this process we learn about Him, about His ways, and about ourselves. We are reminded that:

  • He is completely sovereign. Only by His miraculous intervention could a family come together across thousands of miles and seemingly unrelated circumstances through the bureacracy of two governments.

  • We are completely dependent on Him. The adoption process has a way of repeatedly demonstrating our complete lack of control over the situation.

  • We must wait on His timing. Even when we think the best plan would be for the adoption to come together quickly, our past adoptions have shown us that His timing is always best.

  • We are inherently impatient and prone to discontentment. We must be patient... with bureacracy... with paperwork... even with seemingly senseless delays. We must remember that lack of contentment with the circumstances He has allowed represents rebellion against His sovereign will.

It is with these reflections that we can joyfully celebrate the challenges we face, both in the adoption process and in our lives in general.

- Mr. Beaver

A Big Day!

Friday was a day long-awaited by Maher-shalal-hashbaaz. After patiently waiting for his baby teeth to make way for his adult chompers, Maher officially joined the Reynolds-Supporting-Orthodontists Club. This elite group is not a small one; in fact, he is the sixth Reynolds to experience braces so far. Despite physical discomfort, a trip to the orthodontist is always welcome in our family thanks to the friendly staff and our skilled orthodontist (who wears awesome Snoopy ties).

Mid-morning the rest of the family piled into Big Momma (our 15 passenger van) and trundled off to the grocery store for a special errand. After meeting up with Mom and Maher (whose shiny whites were now patriotic in red and blue braces), we did a routine grocery run- which ended up being two full carts.

After that, we got down to our original business. Invading the grocery store’s floral area, we each selected a bouquet of our choice and also picked out three fresh roses. The cashier’s eyes widened considerably as she saw us bearing down on her with 10 bundles of flowers. It would be safe to say we peaked her curiosity.

Around noon Dad arrived home and laid out adoption paperwork on the dining room table. Needless to say, all liquids were banned from the area.
He was finished in time for the arrival of our social worker. She had come for a very special purpose-to gather paperwork for our finished homestudy. Yes, that’s right, our homestudy is finished!!! She had worked diligently on the massive document, and together with Dad and Mom had gathered all the apostilles, certificates, and police clearances necessary to complete the homestudy.
In thanks for her hard work and support, we each presented the bouquet we had selected earlier to our social worker. We also gave her three roses to represent our three new siblings. We are very grateful for all she has done to help bring our siblings home! With the homestudy on the way to our international agency for translation, and our dossier well on its way to completion, we are nearing the waiting stage-which we hope will not last long. We long to bring our siblings home soon.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Startling Contrast

As my family adopts from Russia, God is leading us on an amazing journey, a journey that has had some emotionally charged moments. Two of these moments in particular have impacted me deeply. They’ve given me a deeper understanding of the brokenness of our world and that our only hope is in God, who will come to make all things new. These two impactful moments were captured by my parents on a digital video camera while visiting Russia. On this trip, they met my new siblings and spent a few days touring Moscow with a group of orphans and other prospective parents.

The first of these powerful moments was captured on video at the end of the trip. The group had gathered for a Q & A time between the orphans and the adults, tapping the skills of their translator to circumvent the language barrier. Initially the adults asked a few casual questions, and one of the children asked if the adults liked Moscow. However, a fourteen-year-old orphan girl quickly brought the discussion around to more weighty matters. She asked, “Do you want to see us again?” Moved by the depth of her need, the adults quickly answered, “Yes!” Then my ten-year-old brother-to-be asked, “Do you love us?” The adults again emphatically affirmed this. Then the fourteen-year-old who had started the series of questions asked, “Will you show us you love us by giving us a hug?” The prospective parents were moved to tears and responded by moving around the room, hugging their new children and also showing affection to the other children in the room.

There were many tears as the children and adults embraced. The fourteen-year-old girl who had started the more poignant questions was especially moved. This moment was the fulfillment of a dream —it symbolized that she had gained a family who would show her permanent love and affection! This strong desire had been planted in her heart when she was five years old. At that time, a worker with an orphan care agency told her the agency would find a find a family for her and her two siblings. Somehow the agency lost track of the three orphans, and the girl waited for nine long years. Finally, an American couple who had suffered infertility began examining hundreds of photos of Russian orphans, looking for the children just right for them. The couple came to the picture of the three siblings and immediately knew their search was over! After the loving responses to the two questions that had been echoing in her heart for nine years, this orphan was overcome by the gift of a family that would not forget her. I was amazed by how deeply she prized the permanent love and affection of a family, whereas I often take it for granted.

The second impactful moment was captured by a clip in which my mom was hugging one of the three orphans who did not have a host family for the trip. I had seen video clips of these children from points earlier in the trip, and their demeanors had grown more and more dejected and closed as they realized no one would be adopting them. Now, when my mom moved on to hug other children after embracing one of these orphans, the video camera caught his face with an expression of utter loneliness that cut me to the quick. That expression frightened me because I understood that after this event, no one would truly and lastingly care about what happened to him. Good or bad, no matter how great the extreme of his circumstances, no one would be there for him. I was stunned.

How do you move on from an experience like that? How do you go on and live life normally, knowing that another’s life is filled with hardship, loneliness, and misery? Unfortunately, I’ve done it all too easily. That’s why I need to stir myself to remember and pray. I need to beseech my Heavenly Father to give this orphan and countless others like him the security of knowing Jesus. I also need to beg God that He would inspire Christian families to bring orphans like this one into their homes to show the love of Jesus to them.

- Joe

Happy Birthday Princess Bink!

Brimful of life and character, Princess Bink never lets the grass grow under her feet. From the moment she rolls bleary eyed out of bed until her wiggling body is stilled in peaceful snoring at night, she never stops moving. Princess Bink cannot simply walk from point A to point B-she jumps, hops, skips, and dances her way through the day. The soon to be Ex-Baby of the family (the 5-year-old we are in the process of adopting will gain that honorary spot) also keeps us laughing with her quick sense of humor and her acting flair.

The youngest member of our second Russian trio is 8- years- old today. Some of her many hobbies include drawing, reading (congrats Mom on successful reader #9), baking, dress-up, and getting as dirty as possible while starting bug habitats for her new pet worms. And of course dancing. Our Bink-a-lope has a passion for ballet and has choreographed routines to many of her favorite classical pieces.

While we enjoy having our own Bink-sized Sparkler, we don’t take her boundless energy, irresistible giggle, or quick wit for granted. God has done a transforming work in the life of this little girl since she arrived home nearly 5 years ago. Undersized, unsure on her legs (at age 3!), and overwhelmed by the changes in her life, Princess Bink was timid, shaky, and withdrawn for the first few weeks of her new life in America. Since then we have watched her blossom beyond our greatest hopes into the strong, vibrant, joyful, and very talkative 8- year- old we are blessed to call ours.

A tearful Princess Bink with Gigglebox on their last day in the orphanage

Only 18lbs when she arrived home, Princess Bink nevertheless delved into her meals with gusto

Six weeks after arriving home, we were already experiencing her intense personality.

We love you Princess Bink!

~ Lissie

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Trying Our Hand at Russian Cooking

Well, today we tried our hand at Russian pancakes. Our church is hosting an international dinner in honour of some missionary friends who are visiting. Everyone was in the kitchen at one point or another, mixing, frying, stirring, flipping, washing, emptying, filling, measuring... you get the picture. Russian pancakes are called blini and they're similar to a crepe. They look positively scrumptious!

We also took some time this afternoon to go and see the movie Letters to God. Leaving the kitchen on pause concerning the blini, we piled into The Big Momma (aka, the fifteen passenger van) and went downtown. I highly recommend that movie. I won't share anything to spoil it for those who haven't seen it, but none of us walked out with a dry eye.

Some other things we've done today? Jaynie tried her hand behind the wheel today. (Consider yourself warned, world!) From what I've heard, it was successful, thanks to one of the best driver's ed teachers out there (aka, my dad). There were also two separate trips to the grocery store, which just happens to be part of the joys of feeding a Russian horde.

Oh, and while I am posting this, all of the fire alarms are going off.... I hope you enjoyed this taste of our craziness.

Our ever-helpful Poochita, lounging in her crate....

The kitchen, only partially messy, but still in need of some major cleanup.

The finished product! Fried Blini!

Lissie, hard at work rolling the blini up to be fried.

Jaynie, making the actual blini.

Gigglebox, looking beautiful amid the skillets and flour.

Mrs. Beaver and Cassandra reading the recipe and making important executive decisions.

One of the many recipes we looked over.

~ Tessa

Friday, April 16, 2010

Conquering the Onslaught of Paperwork

Managing the adoption related paper piles became so challenging that Mr. Beaver took a day off work to tackle the intricacies of government requirements. We're pushing towards the finish line!

~Mrs. Beaver

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tentative Relief

This morning, I was awakened at 5:30 and asked to come downstairs. As we all gathered, Mom's face was sad and it scared me. She shared with all of us that the Russian government had declared a moratorium on all adoptions with the US. Right then and there, we prayed together, asking Him to lift this freeze quickly for the sake of our precious siblings in Russia. All during the rest of the morning, there were many tears and many prayers offered up to Our Heavenly Father. All of our hearts were aching.

I felt so confused! What was God doing? I knew He was in control and this was completely in His sovereign plan, but I couldn't see how it was fitting in. How could this be good? Immediately, I thought of Romans 8:28. Of course it was good, because it was from God and God works all things for good to those who love Him! I felt an incredible peace. I really clung to this song today, playing it over and over:

I left the house for awhile this afternoon. I found myself driving around town praising Him, when only this morning I had felt incapable of opening my lips in praise. God is so good! Focusing on the cross and what was accomplished there put my circumstances into perspective.

When I walked in the door, I found Mom and several of my siblings waiting for me with hope in their eyes. Mom told me, "Our agency sent us an email and has said there is no moratorium!" I was floored. All of that mourning for naught? Or maybe this information was wrong too? The relief that washed over me was incredible.

Apparently, the Russian Foreign Ministry had declared that there had been a suspension on all US adoptions, but they have no jurisdiction over adoption. The Ministry of Education is the Russian government entity that is responsible for adoptions and has said there is no freeze on adoptions at this time.

So our family is cautiously rejoicing in this news and frantically finishing paperwork on this end. We want to accomplish all that we can on this end as quickly as possible. Hopefully, a moratorium never has been issued or will be issued. And tonight we are praising our Rock whether there is a moratorium or not.

~ Tessa