Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Much Anticipated Visit with Vlad and Dima

First, I want to thank all of your praying.  I feel so overwhelmed by His love with the sheer number of people He has used to bring us His peace.  I am so grateful for each and every one of you who has contacted us to let us know you’re praying.  Man, a lot of you have come out of “lurking” and stepped into real life!!! Smile It’s been quite amazing to hear from so many of you who are telling me you’ve never left a comment and never emailed, etc., but you’ve been following our journey since Chrissie…some of you even before that.  WOW!  Thanks for hanging in there through our crazy journeys! 


I apologize that I’m not able to keep up with all of your messages, but please know that I am reading each and every message I receive, I just don’t have time to respond.  Oh how I wish I could reply to each of you and thank you for praying for us, but please know that even if I never get time to reply to you personally, I am truly grateful for your prayers and support, beyond what my mere words could ever express.


Matt and Mattie’s journey to Ukraine was supposed to start at 4AM, Kiev time, so I started praying (and texting Matt) just about that same time.  I never heard back from Matt until a short while ago, about 20 hours from when their journey began!!!


Whew, the anticipation.  Waiting to hear from Matt.  Not knowing what was happening.  Did they get to see Vlad and Dima?  Were they safe?  What was the outcome?  Oh, the suspense was killing me!  I finally texted Tara in Kiev to ask if she had heard from Matt.  (Matt’s cell phone wouldn’t ring or let me leave a message, and he wasn’t responding to texts, so I wasn’t sure if he was even receiving my texts.)


Tara had talked to Matt for a very short while with a bad cell phone connection, but she promised to have Matt call me the minute he walked into her apartment.  Tara shared with me that our sweet friend, Alla (the one who escorted Vlad and Dima to Texas this past summer), had hired a driver to take Matt, Mattie, and Alla to Sumy.  (Alla would be the translator and emotional support, prayer warrior, etc. for Matt and Mattie.)  Well, the driver was late to pick up Alla, which made them late getting to Matt and Mattie, so the trip started about an hour later than planned.


The original plan was to leave Kiev at 4AM and arrive in Sumy by 9AM.  The orphanage kids were supposed to leave at 11AM to see a play, so Matt and Mattie would have from 9-11AM with Vlad and Dima.  Matt and Mattie stood outside of the Kiev apartment for about 30 minutes (in the freezing temps!) while waiting on the driver and Alla to arrive, then they saw some “shady” activity, and decided it would be safer to wait indoors.  Only the concierge didn’t hear them ringing to get back into the locked apartment building.  So they called Tara and woke her up so Tara could let them back in.  Around 4:45AM, Alla and the driver arrived and they headed off to Sumy.


About 2 hours into the commute, the driver decided he needed to turn back to Kiev because something was wrong with the wheels on his car and it wasn’t safe to continue the journey.  So, they drove another 2 hours back to Kiev, and by this time, it was already close to 9AM, when they SHOULD have already been in Sumy!


So, Alla called the orphanage director to let her know that they would be late…a lot late.  The orphanage director decided to  keep Vlad and Dima home from the play so they could visit with Matt and Mattie.  Praise God!  Matt, Mattie, and Alla took a bus/van/shuttle to Sumy and arrived around 2PMish.  (Matt said it was NOT a comfortable ride, to put it nicely.)


When they arrived at the orphanage, Vlad and Dima were napping.  The orphanage director wanted to visit with Matt before she woke the boys.  She explained that she has concerns about the aunt being able to take proper care of Vlad and Dima.  She explained that the aunt is only 22-years-old and she has 3 girls, ages 1-5.  The aunt stays home and her husband works.  The orphanage director assured Matt (with Alla translating everything) that she was in favor of Vlad and Dima being adopted into our family.  She does not want to see them go with the aunt, and she said the timing of the aunt stepping forward is purely coincidental, although Vlad most likely told the aunt (upon his return to Ukraine from Texas in August) that we were planning to adopt them.  The orphanage director explained that Vlad and Dima have no voice in whether or not they want to live with the aunt.  In Ukraine, if a relative petitions for custody, the children do not have any say so. 


Then Vlad woke up and came in to the office.  Matt said he seemed very conflicted and solemn.  Apparently, Vlad felt some responsibility because he signed an agreement to live with the aunt. Vlad didn’t realize that it really didn’t matter whether or not he signed that agreement because his desires don’t matter in this case because it’s a relative wanting custody.  After about 20 minutes, Vlad opened up and then became himself again.


Compassionate Vlad

At which time Dima comes into the room, RUNS into Matt’s arms, and embraced him for 20 minutes, never leaving Matt’s arms. Not kidding.  Matt said he bawled (Matt bawled). Dima was SOOOOOOOOOO excited to see his daddy. He wanted to leave with Matt at that very moment. He didn’t understand that he couldn’t and wouldn’t be going with Matt. Sad smile So sad.  Dima never left Matt’s lap during the entire visit, except to take photos.



Sweet Dima



Vlad still looks groggy in these pics.  Or conflicted.  Or both. Sad smile


Both boys asked about all of their Texas family members.  Dima asked if “his” 4-wheeler was fixed.  They looked through the photo album we made for them, played with the toys we brought for them, and had a wonderful visit with lots of hugs, laughter, and tears.




They all made an “agreement” (including the orphanage director) that if Vlad and Dima are abused and/or neglected with their aunt, that they will get in touch with the orphanage director.  She will step in to help them if that ever happens, and the director has our contact info in case she ever needs it.  The boys don’t get to choose where they want to go; they must go with the aunt.


They tried to say goodbye and give goodbye hugs something like five different times before they actually departed with heavy, yet satisfied, hearts.  Vlad and Dima will ALWAYS be our children in our hearts, even if they’re not in our home.


Oh how I love these boys.  LOVE.


Apparently, there’s a trial sometime this upcoming week to officially put the boys in the custody of the aunt.  I’m still praying that if it be God’s will for Vlad and Dima to be with our family, that He will intervene.  He is able, but what is His will?!?!  Who am I to decide?  God’s will be done.


PS  Matt wanted to try to visit with the aunt, but apparently no one had her address or phone number.  Apparently she doesn’t live within close proximity of the orphanage, and the director was needing to leave for her own birthday celebration.  (The director’s husband came to the orphanage and was waiting on her, so there was no time to investigate further.)  The orphanage director said she would try to locate the aunt’s contact info for Matt to have, as we always want to stay in touch with Vlad and Dima if at all possible.  The boys and the director have our contact information.  The boys also said they want to come again this summer to see us, but I have no idea if that’s even possible due to orphan hosting rules/regulations/requirements.  No clue.  I think I feel conflicted, too.  No, I DEFINITELY feel conflicted.  Sad smile  God is in control.  I am not.  I am here for a reason.  I cannot do anything but pray.  Grateful for God’s leadership, sovereignty, love, and mercy.  His grace is sufficient.

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