Friday, August 31, 2012

Our Adoption: We Met Our Kids!!!

Mrs. Beaver:

We're not allowed to post pictures of the kids' faces
until after they're legally our children.
We're too tired to share the story tonight, but we got to spend about one-and-a-half hours with the
Fab Four late this afternoon after attendning to several official steps in the adoption.

The introduction to the kids went wonderfully. Thanks for your prayers!

Children in Russia begin school tomorrow (yes--on a Saturday). We were told that the first day is a shortened time of celebration. That arrangement will allow us to return to the orphanage to see the kiddos again in the afternoon, Lord willing. Your prayers for that meeting would be welcome, especially that our daughter-to-be would feel comfortable with our attention. She was a bit shy today, nothing concerning though. All three of her older brothers were warm and welcoming and happy, happy, happy!

To God be the glory!

Our Adoption - Arrival in Russia

Mrs. Beaver:

A quick update before the four kiddos arrive at our hotel.

The chaos of JFK--Glad someone knows where all these planes are supposed to be!

After my prescription snafu, we left JFK without any further glitches. The flight to Moscow was flawless. To our surprise after flying here so many times in the other three Russian adoptions we've done, we landed at terminal we didn't know existed.

We learned from our driver that the building is about five years old. The architecture was stunning--much of the structure is glass. I didn't get any good photos, however; our focus was on retrieving our luggage (all of which arrived), then going through immigration and customs. We said a prayer of thanksgiving when we were able to navigate each of these steps successfully.

The next step was to get our massive amount of luggage to fit in our driver's car.
While Mr. Beaver and the driver took the bags in and out in an effort to get them to fit, I took photos of the little I could see from the parking garage.

Eventually the luggage was wedged into the vehicle like a jigsaw puzzle...
...we were the final piece of the puzzle.
We then went to a hotel for about four hours, just long enough for a lovely nap followed by showers before being picked up to go the train station. Across the street from our hotel was a lovely Anglican church. Our facilitator told us that during the Soviet era the building was used for non-religious purposes by the goverment but now is functioning as a church again.

After an overnight ride on the Trans-Siberian Railway, we were taken to the hotel that will be our "headquarters" during the two days were here to see the Fab Four.

Here is the view from our hotel room:

Gotta go--just got called to meeting with government official!!! Next step: meet the kids!!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Packing Mistake

Mrs. Beaver:

A nearly empty Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport very early this morning

We've arrived at the JFK airport. One leg down. One to go on our journey to Moscow.

This morning when we arrived at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport, we sailed through check-in and security. Then we went on the hunt for coffee and breakfast. As you can see in the picture above, 4:45 is too early for Caribou Coffee, even at a major airport. Another early-morning traveler saw the look of longing on our faces and told us that StarBucks was open on the other end of the long "mall" of shops and restaurants that stretches between concourses. I watched our carry-ons while Mr. Beaver and Lissie got us each a bracing cup of "Joe."

We headed out to our gate and discovered our first travel challenge. Following my surgery in late June my blood pressure skyrocketed to a level that now has me taking daily medications. We took this development seriously because my dad's mother died of a stroke at age 46. Before the numbers began to fall to a safe range I was placed on five prescriptions.

Last night I carefully sorted my medications to make sure I would be taking all that was critical. This morning at a drinking fountain near our gate. I searched and searched the toiletries bag in which I'd placed the meds. Getting rather frantic, I realized I had only one of the five prescriptions with me.

Then my hero went into action. Without a word of irritation or complaint, Mr. Beaver began googling pharmacy locations near JFK. Once he'd located one, he called a close friend who is a physician. It was still only about 6:15 in the central time zone, but our friend patiently listened to our dilemna. Our flight left at 7 am, but by the time we landed here on Long Island, our friend had called in the crucial prescriptions. Mr. Beaver settled Lissie and me in a comfortable spot and left the airport grounds in a taxi to travel to the pharmacy and back.

I have to admit I feel terrible about all the trouble I've caused. I've also been tempted to feel frustrated with the situation. However, when I texted a friend about my goof, she wisely pointed out what a blessing it was that I discovered the missing meds while still in America. She was praising God while I was pouting.

My friend's response reminded me of a critical learning for Mr. Beaver and me between our first and second Russian adoptions. We found the two trips to rural Russia necessary for our first adoption hard. We allowed ourselves to get more and more miserable over the inconveniences of the travel. We complained to each other a lot.

During the 14 months it took to pass through the adoption process that eventually made Tatiana, Natasha and Amy our daughters, we both read The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Puritan Jeremiah Burroughs. Burroughs shares wisdom that we both found to be life changing! Although the book has many worthwhile points, we were most impacted by the author's insistence that Christians must look for what he calls God's mercies (we'd probably use the word blessings) in every situation.

Sure enough, when we made subsequent required trips to the same region in Russia, the journeys were marked again by hurdles, bumps, twists and turns. But now we were focused on God's goodness to us rather than our circumstances. To our amazement, instead of getting worn and wearied by the challenges we faced, joy was our traveling companion.

Since I started this post, my hero has returned from his drug store hunt with the medicines I need to keep my blood pressure in the safe zone. This unusual start to the trip has brought with it the important reminder that we need to be on the hunt at every stage of this trip. God is with us, and the blessings of his Fatherly care will be evident at each stage if we're just on the look out.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Our Adoption: Last Day of Trip Preps

Red Square -- October 2010

Mrs. Beaver:

Mr. Beaver, Lissie and I must be at the airport by 4 am tomorrow as we begin our journey to Russia and beyond. That puts a great deal of pressure on today. We would be grateful for your prayers:

  • that we would keep our eyes on Christ today! Jesus is worth it!
  • for clear thinking with the myriad of details to which we still need to bring closure.
  • for wisdom about what to purchase as orphanage donations.
  • for wisdom about what to take to the Fab Four. We'll take them each child a gift. We'll also take along toys to play with them during the two days we spend with them (this can be challenging since we don't share the same language!). We also are required to take all clothing, coats (it's been much cooler there) and shoes for them for the two days we'll be together. (The clothing then becomes orphanage donations.) Not surprisingly, we don't know their sizes, but God can  provide the wisdom we need!
  • for strength for our children who will be remaining here. It's hard to have your parents travel overseas for more than a week!
  • for strength for our children as they say goodbye to their beloved Lissie for several months.
Thanks, friends! We'll be taking you with us in our hearts!!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

A GROUP Photo!

Mrs. Beaver:

Here are the CollegePlus! friends (and some siblings) who've been gathered the past few days in Minnesota.

We've missed those of you who haven't been able to be here!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Shakespeare Lied

Mrs. Beaver:

In one of his plays William Shakespeare crafted the line we've all heard many times, "Parting is such sweet sorrow." What sounds great in poetry just isn't true to life in this case. Parting is just plain hard. This morning Amy was grieveing the impending departure of her sister, Lissie, to the other side of the world. Lissie held her but, of course, couldn't sweep away the reason for our 10-year-old's pain.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Adoption Update: Another Hurdle Cleared

Mrs. Beaver:

Today Mr. Beaver and I are thanking God for two tremendous blessings.

The first is that our visas to enter Russia next week so that we can meet the four kiddos we're adopting have arrived.

The second is the opportunity we have this weekend to spend time with our granddaughter.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Adoption Update: "First Trip" Journey Begins

Mrs. Beaver:

A couple of months ago we asked for prayer that we would be allowed to visit the four siblings we're adopting in Russia on our way to help Lissie get settled in her new home in Central Asia.

To those of you who lifted up this request to God, thank you! He has graciously granted the desire of our hearts! After an intense three weeks of preparation for the multi-leg trip, we're on our way. We get to spend the last day in August and the first in September with the Fab Four.

The first stop on our two-and-a-half-week journey is the home of our friends, Gary and Amanda. They're hosting a five-day CollegePlus! gathering for about 30 students and a number of their siblings. Our family made plans about a year ago to help our dear friends with the enormous undertaking of hosting such a crowd, and our ever-faithful God orchestrated the timing perfectly. Mr. Beaver, Lissie and I will be able to leave from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport next week. In addition, Gary and Amanda have kindly and generously offered to watch our youngest nine children while we're gone. Our oldest son, John, will be holding down the fort at home. Since graduating through CollegePlus! with a business degree, he's been hired for a marketing position by Wells Enterprises (maker of Blue Bunny Ice Cream).

One of the sweet benefits of starting our adoption trip at this gathering of young adults and older teens is that our daughter, Anna, and her husband, Aaron, are among those gathered. Aaron and Anna met through CollegePlus! and many of their dear friends are CollegePlus! students or alumni. Aaron and Anna's attendance has offered us the opportunity to see our granddaughter, Brielle, again. Our whole family has been counting the days to seeing this baby who is so precious to us!

The blue-eyed wonder was remarkably patient yesterday about being passed from person to person on her first day with the crowd.

Brielle in the arms of Gary and Amanda's oldest daughter, Elizabeth

I couldn't resist trying to capture the beautiful lashes of both Brielle and Elizabeth.

Studying the world from the vantage point of Mommy's shoulder...

...and getting a bonus kiss as well.

Held by friend Kali--kissed by her Auntie Lissie
 Yesterday when the group gathered to pray before eating lunch when I saw this embrace. Each of these friends are adoptive siblings. Although they live 1,000 miles apart, modern technology has made it possible for them to offer one another empathy, support and encouragement as each family has ridden the roller coaster that adoption often is, trying the emotions and testing one's faith.
I have many more photos to share but want to get these few posted for those who weren't able to join us in Minnesota.

Friday, August 17, 2012

He's Right...and Yet So Wrong

Mr. and Mrs. Beaver:

Our Oksana (adopted from Russia 2010) and friend, Meddie Grace (adopted from Ethiopia 2011)

The two of us haven't composed a post together for some time, but today we both feel called to speak out. Pat Robertson has done it again...

He has spoken out against "taking on the problems of others" through adoption. His reason? Robertson says there is too much risk of getting kids that are "damaged."

What's our take on this after eleven years of parenting older-child adoptees?

This may surprise you, but we'd say he's right. We'd also argue that Roberston is terribly, sadly wrong!

Pat Robertson is right that orphaned children are damaged. Many of them have been damaged by the sinful actions of their biological parents. Some have been damaged by the death of their biological parents. All have been terribly hurt by living through tragic circumstances of some kind.

However, Robertson strays from biblical Christianity when he says we don't have to take on the problems of those who hurt. Christ calls us not to avoid the pain of others, but to move right into their hurt, dying to self in ministering to them. We are called to care for the vulnerable, including orphans--even to the point of our own hurt. God doesn't call us to do easy things in following Him. He calls us to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23). And Christ modeled this all the way to the cross.

We are all damaged goods. We are sinners living in a fallen world, inevitably damaged by our sin and the sins of others. But fortunately, God's plan all along was to rescue, not avoid, His damaged children. Imagine our lives if Christ had looked at us and said "I don't have to take on their problems", as Pat Robertson says of orphans. We would be doomed to an eternity of separation from God and suffering for our sin.

So let us be like Christ and answer the call to care for the damaged for the glory of God. Let us move into their pain, not because it's easy, but because it's right. And let us move into their pain not with the misguided idea that we can "handle it" ourselves, but with full dependence on God to provide the grace we need to do amazingly, crazy-hard things in following Him.

Oksana's older sister, Amy, adopted from Russia 2005

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Picture Perfect Practice

Mrs. Beaver:

Today I started reading a newly-published photography book. I didn't read much while I was waiting to be released from the emergency room following a reaction I had to dye injected during an MRI (too long a story to tell here--but, by God's grace, I'm doing great). However, one of the first statements I did read caught my attention right away. Author Roberto Valenzuelo says,
"If you are holding this book in your hands, the title must have spoken to you: Picture Perfect Practice...For me, practice has been a lifestyle. I practice everything I want to learn. I am relentless about it, and it has paid off." (introduction, viii)
As I sat on the gurney in the ER, I had the quiet and solitude (rare for a mother of 12!) to acknowledge to myself that I haven't been practicing picture taking relentlessly. So when I returned home, I grabbed our camera. I had no plan for what I'd photograph as I descended the steps from our bedroom.

Just then Lissie started practicing her violin...

I remember when her music was so simple...
Twinkle, Twinkle times without number! her music ringings with complexity as her hand sweeps between scroll and bridge...
...which requires deep concentration.

As I reached for the camera this afternoon, little did I suspect that the Lord would grant me a tremendous gift.
In a couple of weeks, Lissie will be moving to the far side of the world. When she leaves, she will take with her the instrument she's lovingly practiced since she was six. Those who live near her in the Central Asian country will be blessed. I'm happy beyond measure that the many violin lessons and her numberless hours of practice will allow her, in His name, to share something exquisite.

Still, I'll miss the beauty of her practices here in our home. I'm learning to let go of all that Lissie is to me, that she might GO and share her love of God in a distant land. This releasing of a mama's natural grip on a beloved child is hard at times. Now at least, I have these photos to help me remember a picture perfect practice. Thank you, Lord!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

In Her Father's Arms

Mrs. Beaver:

Today after church Oksana crawled into her daddy's lap while we waited for lunch to finish cooking. He was sleepy. She was happy.

Lord. I thank you for giving this precious girl an earthly father.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Sister Silliness

Mrs. Beaver:

Four years ago our family was exceedingly blessed to travel to England, getting the chance to revisit places that had become dear to us when we lived in Great Britian in the late 1990s. One evening at sunset, our oldest girls engaged in some giggly goofiness as I tried to photography the pair as we walked along the Thames River. We all got to laughing so hard I'm surprised these pictures are in focus!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Powerful Posts

Mrs. Beaver:

The back of Tatiana and Natasha's orphanage -- April 2005

Below are links to two remarkable posts that shine light on God at work in lives of orphaned children. I was moved, challenged  and encouraged by the love each story depicts.

We Got Our Kids

Never Once...Has He Ever Let Her Go