Sunday, December 29, 2013

Anniversary of a death sentence...

Last year at this time, our family was all over the international news as the world cared about what was going on. Tonight, it's quiet. People have moved on and forgotten. I cannot. I will not.

I've taken this blog entry over to our Polina's Promise blog. Please take the time to go over there and read it, share it, and follow us.

If you haven't already followed us on facebook, you can find us at

Thank you.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Finding Joy in Jesus

One year ago today,

through cloudy eyes,

barely able to breathe,

I told my daughter I had to get on an airplane and fly back to America

without her

one more time.

I promised her I'd be back -

It wouldn't be long this time.

I believed that.

That promise would begin to haunt me just a few hours later.

It had been a good day.

The "Baptists" had come to play carols for the kids & give them each a hydrangea to represent hope.

To represent hope!

We were invited into the teaching and meal with the older kids. I'm sure the director would have choked if she knew.

In our discussions, we found out they weren't Baptists as the director had told us. They were actually Seventh Day Adventists. Basically, if you're not Orthodox, you're "Baptist."

(If anyone from that group happens to reads this, please, please, please contact me at

The best part of the day was when I was able to talk to a couple of the ladies about a sweet, non-verbal little princess with CP who never got attention or human interaction. I showed her how to take her out of her chair (insert more director choking) and play with her. Since the group visits four times a year, I cling to the hope that Vika has been held 4 times in the past year. I fear though, that Vika has been transferred.

Now I'm the one choking. The thoughts of what could be happening to her are too much for my heart to bear.

Moving on.

They thanked us and asked us about the impending American adoption ban and if we were sure we were going to be able to take Polina home.

We were.

We had been told as long as we passed court the next morning, we would be safe from the ban.

Christmas Eve would be our last night in Moscow for this trip. We would go to court in the morning, were confident we'd pass, and then we'd celebrate Christmas & our adoption with a gathering of both Russians and Americans.

The unspeakable happened the next morning.

Before court, our facilitator told us she had been wrong. Even if we received court approval, we may not be able to take our daughter home.

I dug deeper within myself than I'd ever dug before to find the strength to speak in that courtroom.

The judge put me through the wringer. I plead... repeatedly. Our facilitator told me I did amazing. I don't know how.

We passed, but it was somber. The judge, the representative of the Education of Ministry and the other representative all had a very bleak look in their eyes as they wished us the best. There wasn't a lot of hope in that room. It was inexplicably torturous.

I was numb. There wasn't relief in having passed court and now we had to go to a celebration where I knew the questions would fly & I'd have to admit the hardest thing of my life.

I wasn't in control and I didn't know what the outcome would be. All I could do was walk by faith and I haven't always been good at that.

We had advent & celebrated Jesus.


He came to Earth to live as man and give us hope for our futures. He taught us how to love sacrificially. He came to give us peace.

He gives us joy in the absence of happiness.

We chose Joy as Polina's middle name.

Please join me tonight in praying for joy & peace for the mommas who didn't get to bring their babies home. Pray for a God-sized miracle and that the doors will, in-fact reopen someday. Pray for safety, care & families for the orphans.

Please check out what we are doing at (and on Facebook at and let us know of any way you can help.

May your family find Joy in Jesus this Christmas!

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Visit to Ded Moroz

We are so blessed to live in Northwest Arkansas where there is always a family-friendly event going on. We took advantage of our Thanksgiving break to take Polina to several holiday events. We went to the lighting of square in Downtown Bentonville and got to watch an ice skating show at the outdoor rink. We also went to see "Ded Moroz." 

Ded Moroz, or Father Frost, is the Slavic version of Santa Claus. He is the symbol of Russian winter, New Year's and presents. It's just one bit of Polina's Russian culture we can keep alive for her. She is now convinced his last name is Santa for's Ded Moroz Santa Clause. While we make sure that our family's focus is on Jesus' birth as we celebrate Christmas, we also incorporate the cultural traditions as a "side" to the fun and celebration.

Here are a couple short videos and photos from our evening at the Pinnacle Hills Promenade. It was perfect timing - a Monday night at 7:00. No one was there and we had him all to ourselves for about 45 minutes!

He greeted her with a Russian phrase. She was so confused.

Reading "The Night Before Christmas" so she could see what his reindeer were.


Showing her his magic key he wears around his neck because we don't have a chimney. She had a dozen questions about this, including what he did with it when he sleeps.

A kiss goodbye
And then we went for a walk to look at the lights and decorations around the Promenade.

Polina and Daddy love fountains
Stopped in for a picture with the pretty tree at Pottery Barn.

Close Up

A magical Mommy-Daughter moment

Pretty Girl in front of the big tree


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Christmas Miracle...

(Note: This started as a quick "I've got to show them this miracle" post, but apparently God had something else in mind. Hang with me. I think it's worth it!)

There is so much going on in our house right now. I can barely fight the tears as I write this. Our family has been through so very much in the past year. Christmas is a time of miracles for sure!

Heartfelt Advent

This is the first week of advent. You've probably heard of it, but may not know what it means. This year, I understand it. I can feel it like never before.

Advent is the four weeks leading up to Christmas and literally means "coming." Advent is a time of remembering & preparing our family to celebrate the birth of Jesus. The first week of advent is the week of hope as Jesus is our hope in life. God sent his one and only son to live as man on Earth in order that He may die for our redemption so that we can have eternal life in Heaven.

Likewise, I went for my daughter so that she could know the love of a family. For many of us, the love of Christ is difficult to accept. For Polina, the love of a family has been difficult to accept. Adoption has put me on the other side of redemption.

This time last year

In 2012 we were given the miracle of a court date on Christmas Eve. We were honored to celebrate Christmas with wonderful Christians living in Moscow....including a couple that adopted a special needs child. We were clinging to our belief in God's ability to perform miracles in order to keep our hope that Polina would come home! We had told her we were coming. And yet, we were separate and might remain separate from her forever.

Experiencing that separation was the most painful feeling I've ever had. In fact, I wrote that death would be better. In those times, I came to better understand the sacrifice God made for us - to be separate from His son so that we no longer had to be separate from Him.

The journey to today

It's now been 10 months since Polina arrived on American soil. We've shared moments of joy with you here and on Facebook. But have you ever wondered why I don't blog more often?

Truth is, it hasn't all been peechy-keen. It's been exhausting - spiritually, emotionally, mentally and financially. Even the days of fun and excitement ended in an exhausted me, too drained to share with you. There have been lots of tears. There have been times I've wondered what I'd done and if I could continue. There have been times I've understood some of the horrible things adoptive parents have been accused of. In those times, I often prayed and told God that I'd be okay if he chose to return to Earth that day.

Through it all, there were two things I never doubted.

We are told in Romans 8:28 that all things work together for the good of those called according to his purpose. I knew adopting Polina was His calling for us.

I also knew I loved her and Jesus had set my example of love by laying down His life for me. I knew I wasn't going to have to die for Polina, but I was going to have to lay down what I knew as my life for her.

Those moments of joy we have shared with you have been God's reminder of Deuteronomy, Hebrews and Joshua - that He will not leave us or forsake us.

The familiar feelings of reactive attachment disorder

There. I said it. The words I've avoided for ten months. Fact is, Polina isn't simply strong willed. She struggles with attachment because of her past, just as I've struggled with God because of mine.

I know how dirty, broken and hopeless I was before I found Christ. I understand the emotional pain my daughter was feeling that caused her to self-mutilate because I realize I've done a lot of self-mutilation in my life. It just looked different. Seeing her lack of trust and fear of abandonment has brought me terms with feelings I let consume me for two decades. I understand her difficulty in admitting wrongdoing and apologizing genuinely. When she is corrected and responds with "you don't love me," it brings to light my own perfectionism and rejection of God's grace and mercy.

As I fight for my daughter to earn her trust and to get her to receive grace, I'm reminded of how hard Christ fought for me. And I have hope.

Where we are now

Thanks for sticking with me. I've finally made it to the Christmas Miracle part...the warm, fuzzy, get-out-your-Kleenex part. The "I'm posting a video of me in my pajamas and rag-a-muffin hair" to show you there is hope part. 

This is the end of a conversation Polina and I had Sunday morning. It was about attachment, what it means to be loved unconditionally and to never be abandoned again. The video quality is LOW, but turn up your volume, it's what is said that is truly important. (You'll have to access the blog via computer to see the video).

And just to top that off, today, when I asked her if she trusted Mommy, she told me she will always trust me. It felt so good to hear that, that I asked her later in the evening and she responded, "Don't you remember what I told you today? I will ALWAYS trust you."

That's hope for the journey.

Do you still have Kleenex handy? Because after we decorated the Christmas tree tonight, Polina recorded a little "Merry Christmas" for us all!

May everyone who reads this find a little hope in what Christmas is all about!

PS: I promise some fun, lighter-hearted posts with "First Christmas" celebrations soon!

To find out more about what our family is doing to help special needs orphans in Russia, check out Polina's Promise. You can also "like" the Polina's Promise  Facebook page for updates.