Thursday, October 27, 2011

One Year After the Judgment... We Celebrate!!

In the court room in Russia, immediately after the judge granted us our request to adopt.
Left to right: Our court translator, the orphanage director, Daria, our case social worker, Mrs. Beaver and me.

Mr. Beaver:

Today we're celebrating that 1 year ago a judge in Russia granted us the right to adopt Daria, Alexander and Oksana. We are so grateful to God!

As part of our celebration, Daria led our dinner prayer. What she said was so moving that I wanted to share it with you.  As best I can remember, this is what she prayed:

"Dear God,

Thank You for my family. Thank You for giving me each one of my siblings. Thank You for allowing me to be adopted. Thank You from bringing me out from a very dark place.

Thank You for my teachers in the orphanage who took care of us and tried to help us as much as they could. Thank You for my orphanage director who did her very best to help me grow up when I did not have a mom.

I'm asking You to help other teenage orphans who are living in Russia, Ukraine and all over the world. Please help them to know that You love them and please help them to be open to being adopted.

I'm asking You to help them to be adopted by a Christian family so they can be adopted twice, once by the people and again by You through Jesus.

Please help people not to be afraid to adopt teenagers. Maybe this is sometimes hard, because it can be hard to earn the trust of a teenager who has been living in the street or the orphanage. It can be hard for them to trust people because of their hard life. But I want them to know that You love them and once you open the heart of a teenager it's really not a lot different than having a biological teenager. And these teenagers need love and will give love too, once you break through to them.

Please help Angel (one of the girls who was with Daria in the orphanage) who needs parents.

In Jesus' Name, Amen!"

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Creating a Photographic Record

Mrs. Beaver:

On of the aspects of adopting older children that causes me real pain as a mom is that, bless their hearts, the photographic record of their lives doesn't begin until they join our family. No newborn photos. No baby pictures. No photographs that record their antics in early childhood. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

This black hole in our adoptees' lives has been one of my motivations for taking so many pictures of our children. I can't make up for the loss before they joined our family, but I can make sure their lives are recorded on film (so to speak in this digital age) from the moment a judge delcares them to be ours.

Here is Tatiana on her 14th birthday:

Monday, October 24, 2011

We're Gonna Be Grandparents!

Many of you know this already, but our oldest daughter, Anna, and her husband, Aaron, are expecting their first baby. Their little one is due in June and the parents-to-be are ecstatic. This has been their dream since the day they married.

These first-time grandparents are also filled with joy! tell the truth, we vacillate between joy and jaw-dropping disbelief that such a wonderful blessing could be taking place in our lives. Wow! God is so good!

We would, of course, be grateful for your prayers for the safety of the baby. We would also love if you would join us in praying that he or she would become an ardant, passionate follower of Christ.

(The beautiful baby in the photo is the first child of friends from church. On Saturday, Lissie and I were privileged to take pictures of three-week-old Caleb. He is certainly fearfully and wonderfully made!)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Happy Birthday, Tatiana!

Mrs. Beaver:

Today is Tatiana's 14th birthday. Her parents' present was a gift card to Maurice's (and guarunteed time alone with mom). The two of us made our outing this afternoon.

Okay...maybe those earrings are a bit ostentatious for a petite 14-year-old!

Either the boots were a bit too small or the socks were a bit too bright

After all her deliberation, the end the birthday girl settled for just a couple of pairs of earrings and a necklace. She'll be able to return to use the rest of her gift card. Tatiana and I had a spendid time being just the two of us!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Can't Believe It!

Mr. and Mrs. Beaver:

Visiting a "rare breeds" farm in England in 2008

Hard to believe but tomorrow Tatiana turns 14! Our little girl is no more. She's now fully teen. What hasn't changed about the only blond in the family is her happy outlook on life and her willingness to be down-right silly. She keeps us all laughing, and we love her for her sense of humor.

Happy birthday, Tatiana! Mom and Dad love you dearly, goldi-locks!

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Mrs. Beaver:

Tonight as I sat at the computer working on the documentation for the one-year report on our most recent adoption, Daria came in to the office. She wanted to talk about wrestling she has been doing with some choices she made while living in an orphanage that she wouldn't make now. I was able to reassure her that our God forgives. I reminded her that Christ, in His goodness, willingly bore the ugliness of our sins on the cross. This makes it possible for the Lord to give fresh starts, clean slates when we confess and turn from sin.

She smiled at me, hugged me, thanked me, told me she loved me, sighed contentedly and then said in her broken English, "Is good to have a mom."

That spontanious affirmation of my role in the life of this precious former orphan is worth any and all of the strain and drain it takes to be the adoptive mother of a teenage girl. Our God is very, very good.

Sisters...and Friends

Mrs. Beaver:

On our vacation in Minnesota, I spied Tatiana (13) and Daria (16) plopped on the ground chatting as teenage friends do. When they spotted me with the camera, they paused in their conversation to give me their best smiles.

This photo one of my all-time favorites from our family's first year together (our anniversary will be in late November). This photograph helps me to take stock of just how far the Lord has taken us in such a short time. A year ago, these girls hadn't even met one another. Now their bond is sweet and tight. While they have moments of annoyance, the overall tenor of their relationship is supportive. The natural barrier teenagers tend to have when introduced to a stranger has been torn down and replaced by trust and love. Our God is very, very big.

PS. I was an English major in college so I find myself amused at the connection in this photo between the "hardware" in my teens' mouths with all the "hardware" behind them. English majors are easily amused.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Twelve and Under, Part One

Mrs. Beaver:

While we were on vacation on Lake Superior's shore, I took advantage of the beautiful scenery and the amazing early autumn weather to take a bunch of pictures of our children whom we currently label our "12-and-under" crowd (taking the term from restaurant menus).

Mr. Beaver and I can't believe we have only four kiddos left who aren't yet teens. We're saddened a bit because we love parenting little ones. While a young child will most likely be the first to cause a major spill, he'll also be the one to say something so cute that the whole family gets a rejuvenating laugh. While a young child is the one who has to be retrained for the 1,000th time how to neatly make a bed, she's also the first to do something so silly that your day is graced with mirth. Young children are such a gift from God! They still see the world with awe and their wonder is contagious.

Mr. Beaver and I have heard people say they're relieved to be empty nesters. Although the two of us are the right age to have an empty nest, we feel just the opposite. We're happy to still have our home filled with the lively energy and laughter of little ones.

Some of the shoots here were very purposeful, like the one directly below, and a few are just snapshots of the fun we had during our North Shore "photo shoot."

Although 7-year-old Oksana (right) never uttered a word of complaint as I took hundreds of pictures (one of the secrets of getting a few good shots), this photo speaks volumes! Bless her heart, she stayed good-natured through the whole session (as did the other three kiddos).

After we'd already taken plenty of pictures we came upon a lawn game, set up near the hotel's lobby. Getting to play this was a fun reward for these patient kiddos.

A benefit I enjoy when I photograph our kids is being reminded in a tangible way just how blessed I am as a mother. It is a very good, generous Father who has given me the privilege of parenting these four former orphans who make up our precious "12-and-under" crowd. I am forever grateful to my God.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Birthday Blast!

Mrs. Beaver:

The Nordstroms' children stayed with us again last night (see most recent post). This meant that this morning the large group had the blessing of wishing FIVE year-old Peaches, "Happy birthday!" over and over. Each time any of us did so, she'd get a shy smile, look down and quietly say, "Thank You."

We took Peaches to the Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor in Le Mars for lunch. The former orphan glowed with happiness as she was bathed in attention. A year ago she was living in an orphanage in eastern Ethiopia, near the Sudanese border. Today was probably the first time anyone has ever celebrated the birthday of this precious child who was created in God's image.

Peaches with her friend and fellow former orphan, Daria. The two were adopted about six months apart from two different continents into the families of close friends.

Amy and Peaches heading up the grand staircase in the parlor to find the older girls.

When we located them, the girls insisted Peaches take center stage on a sofa on that second level. She seemed to like her lap-top throne.

Soon the boys, who'd been in a second car and run an errand, joined us. Then party began in earnest!

When we sat down at the booths, Peaches was eager to learn Wells' Dairy history.

Soon though, it was time to order lunch ice cream. Understandably, the menu mystified Peaches...

...but Lissie helped her. Peaches choice on her fifth birthday??? "Dirt and Worms!"

The wait for the ice cream wasn't long considering there were 20 of us. (The two families were joined by visiting CollegePlus! friends Robbie and Megan, as well as my niece Amanda.)

When the server brought Peaches' candle-topped dish...

...the surprised little girl...

...blew out the flame before the rest of us could jump up to sing her happy birthday.

When we began that tune, the face of this child, whose short life has already been marked by such hardship and pain, took on a far-away wistfulness that was inexplicable to those watching.

The look deepened as the song continued.

However, when the singing finished, Peaches was ready to grab the candle...

...thrust it to the table...
...and get on with eating her "Dirt and Worms," while sitting in her sister's lap.

Whatever the reason for the cloud that crossed the birthday girl's face, her fun was dampened for just minutes, and then she was beaming again.

I'm so happy to report than Peaches' mom was released from the hospital late this afternoon. The family was then reunited for the rest of Peaches' first birthday as part of a family. Our God is so good!