Friday, December 31, 2010

Anya Has A Family and Rob Has His Passport!

Two awesome pieces of news today:

1. Sweet Anya has a committed family!! (And it's not us, lol). I'm so happy for this and can't wait to see who her new mommy and daddy are! Her orphanage is very good about "holding" kids who have committed families, so she shouldn't be in danger of being transferred anymore, PRAISE GOD!

2. Just a little over one week ago Rob went to the post office to renew his passport. We paid for it to be expedited and wrote a little note saying it was for an international adoption. We expected it to take about 3 weeks, with the holidays. Well, this morning the doorbell rings and it's FedEx...with his new passport!! That is RECORD time, people! Now we can get going on the paperwork that was on hold until we got his new passport number! PRAISE GOD!

Are you sensing a theme, here?? :)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


UPDATE: In the past 24 hours Ivan and Timmy have received grants of $11,250...EACH! I am in SHOCK! Someone go get these boys...if adopted together their combined grants pays for almost the entire adoption! And Anya's grant pays for all the additional expenses if adopted with Timmy and Ivan! WOW!

Oh what great news I have today! It was previously thought that Ivan was deceased (and I even posted about it here). However, we just got word that he is still ALIVE! Praise God!

Ivan, Timmy and Anya all REALLY need families. Please pray for them and consider donating to their grant funds.  I'll be honest and say that Riley having an $1100 grant fund BEFORE we committed to him was a factor in our decision. Money is the only thing keeping these beautiful children from finding their forever families.

Monday, December 27, 2010

We Are Over 25%!

Do you see what I see??

Look at that vine! ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------>>

Last week we had a very generous donor step forward who wishes to remain anonymous. We have never met, but have mutual friends and he used to go to our church. He emailed me last week just before Christmas to tell me he was sending $2000 to Riley's fund! I was astounded and am just blown away by God right now. His generous gift, plus some others that came in this week, have put us over 25% of our goal!!

I am actually starting to believe that God will fully fund our adoption. I certainly know that He is able to do so, but I tend to struggle with if he will. Oh, what a blessing it would be to have our adoption fully funded! We are prepared to take out a loan if we need to, but what if we don't!?!

Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow!

"A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed."         Proverbs 11:25
Thank you all, from the bottom of our hearts. Your gifts mean more than words can express.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Paperwork Delays and Setbacks

Well, the inevitable has happened: we've hit our first "speedbumps" on our paper chase. Not big ones, thank goodness, but manageable.

First of all, Rob's passport expires at the end of August. I noticed it months ago, but didn't think it was a big deal. I remember thinking, "Oh, we'll just renew it before we leave". Well, I found out last week from our WONDERFUL dossier prep buddy that renewing a passport means a new passport number. In fact, it's basically reapplying for a passport: new picture, full fees, etc. What that means is that EVERY document that has Rob's passport number on it will have to be redone...AFTER he gets it renewed! Needless to say, Rob went to the post office yesterday, got his new picture taken, and sent it overnight to the passport processing office and we payed for expedited processing (about $200). We hope to get it back in 2-3 weeks.

The good news is that the documents that need to be sent to Riley's country ASAP don't need our passport numbers. One of the documents had it on there, so we have to remove that and get it re-notarized, then send them all for apostilles (I'll explain those in another post). Another good thing is that our homestudy doesn't mention our passport numbers.

The bad news is that our application to US Immigration needs the passport number, plus a photocopy of the new passport. AND the fees JUST got raised, so the cashier's check I got ready in October will have to be voided and get a new one with the updated fees. PLUS I found out that I filled out the main form incorrectly. Thank GOODNESS we haven't mailed that thing yet! Lots of work to do on it still.

At least our homestudy is done :). We're now listed under "Compiling Dossier" on the RR website, hooray!

UPDATE on Timmy: Leanne has started a blog to fundraise for Timmy and Ivan (now deceased), so here is the url:

Please, please check it out and consider donating to Timmy's fund. And please pray for Timmy and Anya's families to come forward soon. Anya's grant fund is now over $7000!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Good News on the Vote!

For those of you who don't know, for the past few months Riley's country has been considering a bill that would put a moratorium on international adoptions with any country that does not already have a bilateral agreement with them (that includes the U.S.). This vote has been postponed many times and was scheduled to finally happen yesterday. We've received the official word that, not only did the vote get postponed again, but when it does happen it will ONLY be a vote about whether or not to join the Hague convention agreements, no moratorium!


This is the best possible news. And just in time for Christmas!

Riley, we're coming for you!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

OH!...My Heart is Breaking...

I just received some very sad news. A little boy named "Ivan" from the same orphanage as Anya has passed away. He had untreated hydrocephalus and was denied life-saving surgery. I have met this boy. Twice. He was as sweet as can be.
Ivan, 2010
At least now he is in Heaven and no longer in pain.

This hits so close to home for me. The need is real. The danger of these children dying is real. Their only hope is an international adoption.

Here's another little boy in the same group as Ivan, "Timmy":
Timmy, 2010

I have also met Timmy twice. This past summer when I visited him he was in a "laying room", just in a crib left to do Nothing. He is almost 5 and about the size of a one-year-old. When we went into the room he was clutching his head and moaning, "Mama..mama...". We didn't need our translators to understand that one. We started gently touching his arms and legs and he responded instantly by giggling and laughing. Then he told us that his head hurt. Oh, my heart.

Timmy has also been denied life-saving surgery for his hydrocephalus. He is currently blind because the pressure is affecting his eyes. He will not live much longer without surgery. It is not too late for Timmy, not yet.

Anya and Timmy could be adopted together for a very low additional cost. They need families NOW! They don't have time to wait. Their lives depend on us.

Please, please pray for Timmy and Anya. Check out Timmy's page on Reece's Rainbow and consider donating to his grant fund.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Beautiful Princess To Rescue

Meet Anya:
Anya, August 2010
Isn't she beautiful??
Anya just turned four years old. She lives at an orphanage I've been to twice, although I've never met her personally. She desperately needs a family.

God has really laid Anya on my heart the past few weeks, and Rob and I have been praying hard about whether or not we are her family. Just as He made it clear to pursue Riley, He has also made it clear not to pursue Anya. But my heart is still breaking for her.

She is not in a good situation.

The room she is in is not a good one. She is ignored by the caretakers and other children. At the age of four she still cannot walk, mostly because nobody has made the time to teach her. She is more than capable of walking. The fact that she just turned four puts her at high risk of being transferred to an institution, like the one I wrote about here.

The problem is, from what I understand, the institution where children from this orphanage are sent is a "closed" institution. That means once she is transferred she cannot be adopted. She will die. That is the painful truth.

This beautiful princess needs a family to rescue her from DEATH and bring her LIFE!

She already has a $6000 grant from Reece's Rainbow. That's about 25% of the total cost of an adoption, twice the money we have currently raised for Riley's adoption. That is a huge grant!

The travel for her adoption would be relatively easy. Her orphanage is located just an hour's drive from the capital city, so you could stay in the capital the whole time. This cuts down on travel time (no trains!) and expenses.

Please take a look at her page on Reece's Rainbow. They have a lot of information about Anya available, much more so than we have about Riley. Please pray that her family steps forward soon, before it's too late for this sweet princess.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

All I Want For Christmas... to come HOME!
Want to help?? Here is my Christmas Wish List:
  1. Two plane tickets for my daddy to come get me (he has to go home once to work): $3000
  2. One plane ticket for my mommy to come get me: $1500
  3. MY plane ticket HOME! $750
  4. My visa medical exam: $150
  5. My visa application so they let me into the U.S.! $404
  6. My passport so they let me out of my country! $600
  7. Gifts for the people who have been taking care of me until my mommy and daddy get here: $100
  8. Transportation for my mommy and daddy to come get me! $2000
  9. A place for mommy and daddy to stay while they get me: $3800 (6-7 weeks is a long time!)
  10. This last one is a lot, but I KNOW someone out there will be able to help: $9000 to pay for the lawers and translators to make it all official, plus a donation to the orphanage that has been taking care of me for FREE!
Being home with my family next year for Christmas...PRICELESS! Won't you help me come home?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Yummy Birthday Cupcakes

We had the pleasure of enjoying cupcakes made by Downtown Cupcake for Riley's birthday party! They were sooo delicious (and looked fabulous, too!).

With Riley's picture on top of the cupcake tower:

My favorite picture:

And next year, sweet Riley, you'll be blowing out these candles yourself! Although your new friends sure did enjoy helping you out this year. :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Riley, Your New Friends Are Waiting...

...they even made you some birthday cards!

This one's from Tyler:

From Dawson:

From Emma:

From Will and Noah:

Ok, Guyden didn't make you a birthday card, but he still can't wait to play with you!
 With Love, from [nlcf] Kids. =)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Birthday Party Pictures!

One thing that has been a bit frustrating for me is that I just don't have many pictures to post! I think a good blog needs pictures. So I am THRILLED to finally post some pictures from Riley's birthday party last week! My dear friend Holly took these for me. I think I will space them out over the course of the week so we don't go on picture overload here. :)

To start with, during the church service I told the kids about Riley. They are so excited to meet him.
We discussed his HIV status and I was impressed that one of the kids even knew what that was. I explained what it meant and that they couldn't catch it from Riley.

Then the kids made Birthday cards for Riley.
In case you can't read that on the card, it says "I hope you learn English, love Katie".  We talked about how Riley doesn't speak English yet and so they will have to help him learn.

Here's all the kids holding the cards they made for Riley.
After church we had the potluck/party complete with cupcake tower:
And we sang "Happy Birthday" and the kids blew out the candles:
More pics to come later, stay tuned!

Friday, December 10, 2010


This is what I call a perfect example of a "win-win" situation.

About a week ago, a communications student here at VT contacted me after finding this blog and wanted to write her final article about us for her media class. I was thrilled.

For us, we get exposure that we didn't even solicit. For Lindsey, she gets to write an article about something she is passionate about.

Doesn't get much better than that, folks.

Below is the article she wrote about us. Would you please pray that perhaps this turns into something bigger? That local newspapers or television stations become interested? I know God can take our two fishes and 5 loaves of bread and multiply them. Please join me in praying for Him to multiply this exposure. The more people know about Riley's story, the better...not only for him but for the hundreds of other children like him.

Written By Lindsey Peters.

A Blacksburg couple is hoping to give an Eastern European orphan something of his very own: a family.
What Jessica St. Clair and her husband, Rob, are working around the clock to give to a two-year old boy named Riley.
Riley was born with mild cerebral palsy and is HIV positive.
Adoption was something they discussed before getting married in 2008, it was just something they thought would happen after children of their own and never of a child with special needs.
That all changed during a summer mission trip to an orphanage where Jessica worked with kids ages zero to five and fell in love with a little girl.
“I had a feeling before I went that I would want to bring home a kid,” St. Clair said. “I fell in love with a little girl named Vika and started working towards her adoption. When we found out we couldn’t adopt her right away, it led me to Reece’s Rainbow where I came upon Riley’s picture.”
Reece’s Rainbow is a website that promotes the adoption of children with Down syndrome and other special needs around the world and was started in 2004 by Andrea Roberts.
While looking through the website “I was instantly drawn to children who were HIV positive and felt it was something I could handle,” St. Clair said. “I saw Riley’s picture and kept coming back to him and it became an obsessive state. I told my husband about him, he freaked out about the HIV, and so we prayed about it, and then we decided to commit to Riley.”
Deciding to become Riley’s parents was the easy part but getting him to the United States is the real struggle.
“We are trying to raise $27, 000 to get Riley here,” St. Clair said. “We have already paid $5,000 of our own money but are hoping we can raise the rest.”
The St. Clair’s started to help with “funding, awareness, and to document the journey for others to see.”
The website has a place for people to click and donate money through pay pal as well as through a coffee fundraiser called “Just Love Coffee” where $5 from every purchase will go to the St. Clair’s for Riley’s adoption.
“We are also asking for donations and trying to get the word out as much as possible,” St. Clair said, “As well as applying for grants from local companies.”
Riley turned two Friday and though he wasn’t with them, the St. Clair’s held a special birthday fundraising party for him at their church, New Life Christian Fellowship, in Blacksburg.
“We had a cake and blew out candles,” St. Clair said. “It was a celebration, welcoming him into the church family.”
The St. Clair’s do have a few back-up plans for the money situation. “We can probably get a loan or dip into our savings,” St. Clair said. “Neither option is very desirable but we could do it if need be.  The hope is that there won’t be a need.”
Financial issues aside there is still the issue of physically getting Riley to Blacksburg.
“Riley’s country's government stops accepting Dossier’s, official translated applications, in November and won’t start accepting it again until at least February,” St. Clair said. “Once it is submitted it can take one to three months before it is approved and you can travel.”
Luckily for 27-year-old Jessica she is finishing up her PhD in math at Virginia Tech this spring and can’t travel until that’s done in May which is about the time they should be approved.
Once they are in the country the couple has to stay there for six weeks.
“The first ten days both parents have to go to court, meet the child, do paperwork and go through a three-week waiting period,” St. Clair said. “The waiting period gives the family time to spend with the child and bond or change their mind. It is also a chance for relatives to come out of the wood work and protest the adoption.”
“After the waiting period there is another court date  to finalize the adoption and then the next two weeks are spent getting the child ready to come to the United States,” St. Clair said.
Besides spending time and money to adopt there is also tons of paperwork, home studies, and online coursework that must be completed.
Jessica said this process is “like a part-time job” spending up to twenty hours a week on it.
“A lot of adoptive families refer to the process as a paper pregnancy because the whole thing can take up to ninth months and unfortunately nothing is definite until the adoption is final in court,” St. Clair said.
Adopting is a long and expensive process and “not for the faint of heart.”
“We just feel that he is meant to be our son and we will do what we have to do. Without adoption he has no future. In Riley's country there is no place in society for these kids,” St. Clair said. “When kids with disabilities are born Dr’s tell the parents they’re going to die and to put them in orphanages.”
Once Riley is with the St. Clair’s in Blacksburg Jessica will stay home with him for the first year to help him adjust.
“He will need physical therapy for his cerebral palsy and daily medications for his HIV,” St. Clair said.
Though the St. Clair’s have really good insurance to cover most of Riley’s needs, they will “keep the coffee fundraiser open indefinitely for those who want to continue their financial help.”
The St. Clair’s are aware that their adoption journey is far from over and that they are a long way off from their financial goal but they continue to keep their faith and trust that God will provide for all their needs.
Luckily the St. Clair’s have not experienced direct negativity about their choice to adopt an HIV positive child and that “when people and family members do have concerns its more about educating them.”
“You stop seeing the disability and start seeing the person,” St. Clair said.
Jessica and Rob hope to be traveling back to Blacksburg in July with Riley as their son.
For additional information about the St. Clair’s, Riley, Vika, Reece’s Rainbow or to make a donation go to or

Thursday, December 9, 2010

This Was Too Good Not To RePost...

I have a link on this blog to the Reece's Rainbow blog already, but I thought this post was so good it just needed to be copied and pasted on here. I'm not trying to be a downer, but this is reality. So many people just aren't aware of what happens to these precious children if they are not adopted. Here is their future.

Why do we scream and yell and holler for the children listed on Reece's Rainbow?  Why do we raise money for them, lose sleep over them and sacrifice every waking hour advocating for them?  Why we do work so hard to get them adopted from the baby houses before they reach the age of transfer?  Why do we grieve and mourn when they are transferred to the special needs mental institutes in Eastern Europe?

Read on.  This is ONE of the reasons why.  There are HUNDREDS more. 

    We live a harried life.  Running here, there and everywhere.  We work, take our kids to this activity, then that activity, rush to meetings, juggle schedules and cook, clean and work side-jobs in our spare time.  We rarely have time to do Nothing.

     We love doing Nothing.  A day where we have no appointments, no meetings and no places where our children have to be.  An evening where we can stay at home, curl up as a family with a bowl of popcorn and watch a movie.  An afternoon where we can take a walk or play in the yard.  Nothing.  Nothing so that we can do what we find pleasurable.  Reading a book, building a puzzle, playing a game.  Nothing has warm connotations, happy thoughts.  Nothing is what we live for as a family. 

For us, in America, Nothing means Everything.

For the Lost Boys and Girls across Eastern Europe, for the ones who have been transferred -  Nothing means NOTHING.
This is what NOTHING looks like for many of the Lost Boys and Lost Girls in Eastern Europe.  Those who are transferred to the institutes.  Those who can walk.  Those who are mobile.  This is Nothing.  This is what one family witnessed just a few months ago on their journey to their son.  This is one institute out of many. 

On warm days, 20 plus boys will be led to this shed.  20 plus boys will go inside this shed.  A bench will be placed across the door so that they will not be allowed to leave.   Then, those 20 plus boys will do nothing.  They will sit inside that shed.  They will sit.  They will rock.  They will cry out.  They will moan.  They will stare at the walls.  They will hit each other.  They will hit themselves.  They will sit.  They will sit.  They will wait.  After hours of sitting they will get to leave for another shed, to eat.  They will be forced to eat quickly so that they can be led back to this shed.  To do Nothing.  In the afternoon they will be led to their rooms.  They will be made to lay down on their beds.  For hours they will lay on those beds.  Some will sleep to escape.  Others will lay and do Nothing.  Staring at the walls, ceiling - staring at Nothing.  When it is time to get up, they will go back to their shed.  Again, to do Nothing. 

On rainy days, or cold days, they will stay in their buildings.  They will not leave those buildings.  They will not venture downstairs or get to visit the other boys in the other buildings or even in the other part of their building.  No.  They will stay in their section.  They will sit in the sitting room.  It is as empty as the shed.  Benches and carpets.  They will sit.  They will sit and they will do Nothing.  They will rock.  They will moan.  They will hit each other.  They will hit themselves.  They will sit.  They will wait.  They will stare at the four walls.  They will do Nothing.

Once in a while, on weekends, they will get to hear music.  The bigger boys will get to do jobs.  Some jobs that are heart-breaking.  The best behaved boys will get to kick a deflated ball sometimes.  Sometimes a stick can be found for drawing in the dirt.  Sometimes they will even let a child or two play in the sand pile that is often used as a toilet.  Sometimes.  On really rare days, when visitors come, they may even get out a hidden toy or two.  Rarely.  Most of the time, they do Nothing.

Nothing for the Lost Boys and Girls in Eastern Europe means Nothing.

Two worlds.  Our Nothing.  Their Nothing.  Can we just sit by and do Nothing?

Help us rescue the little ones who are still at the Baby Houses - donate to the Angel Tree.  Give a gift that means EVERYTHING to the "Least of These."  Every child rescued out of the Baby House is one less child who has to sit and do Nothing.  Please. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Happy Birthday Riley!

Riley, it's your birthday!
We can't WAIT to have you home next year!!

And a big THANK YOU to everyone who gave Riley a birthday present! We reached our weekly goal of $2000 raised!

To be honest, I was a bit nervous to do the One-Week Challenge. I was mostly just afraid that we wouldn't make it. But I realized I can't let fear get in the way, or I'll never get anything done! Thanks to everyone who made it happen.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Only 2 Days Left...

...of our One-Week Challenge!

So far it has been going really well. We challenged you, our friends, to give Riley a birthday gift of $20. Our goal was to get 13 people to do this by TOMORROW! So far we've got 9!! That's only 4 more to go! Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who's donated so far. But we still need 4 more of you...I know you're out there! We need you, friends.

We've got a busy weekend ahead. Tomorrow, which is Riley's 2nd birthday, we'll be selling Christmas ornaments at our church's Christmas party. On Saturday we'll be setting up/decorating for Riley's birthday party on Sunday, where we'll be taking donations and hopefully have our puzzle piece fundraiser going.

Could you please pray that this weekend is extremely fruitful in fundraising for us? The amount we need to raise is so daunting. And I hate asking people for money, I really do. I've done fundraising for the four missions trips I've been on and it was always a struggle. Sometimes I can't believe I actually signed up for this, raising $20,000. BUT! God is faithful.

Also...YOU'RE OFFICIALLY INVITED to Riley's birthday party this Sunday, Dec. 5! For those of you in the Blacksburg area, the party will be held at our church's potluck lunch, immediately following our 9:30 service (starting around 11am) at 130 Jackson Street. For directions to the location you can click here.

We hope to see you there.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I'm always shocked when I click on our vine to see how our fundraising is going and see a large jump in the amount. That happened just now: someone gave us $100!! Thank you soo much, whoever you are. I guess that counts as 5 $20 donations :). I know of one other $20 donation on the way, so that's 7 down and 6 to go!! We can do this!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Do You Love Coffee?

I think most of us do, or know another coffee-lover who needs a Christmas gift. I am pleased to announce our newest fundraiser: Just Love Coffee, Just In Time For Christmas!

Here's how it works: you go to our store and buy some coffee. It's all fair trade. We get $5 for every bag of coffee sold. That's it! So easy. You can also click on the coffee button on the sidebar to get to our store.

There are several things I love about this fundraiser:

1. Absolutely NO work for us other than to advertise! Just Love takes care of processing and shipping and mails us a check each month! It is such a great organization.

2. Because Riley has special needs (I hate using that phrase, need to come up with a better one...), we can keep our store open INDEFINITELY to help pay for his medical expenses! How great is that?!

3. You get some awesome coffee!

Please check it out and consider buying some coffee for a Christmas gift, or just for yourself! Absolutely every penny goes to help bring Riley home.

Also don't forget we are doing our One-Week Challenge until Friday, Riley's birthday. We still need 12 more people to give Riley a birthday gift of $20 to reach our goal of $2000!

Friday, November 26, 2010

One-Week Challenge

UPDATE: We made it! Thanks, Katie, Nic, April, Erin, Michaela, Becca and Anonymous!

How much do you usually spend on a birthday gift for a friend, niece, nephew, cousin, sister, brother, or child? $20? Or more?

In just one week Riley will turn two years old. He won't get any birthday gifts this year. He won't have a party, he may not even know it's his birthday. I've been at orphanages when a child has a birthday and it's just another day for them. The nurses may tell him it's his birthday but there will be no celebration. If he's lucky, a relative might come for a visit that day and bring him some candy.

So I want to challenge you, friends, to give Riley a birthday gift of $20 or more between now and his birthday on Dec. 3. I am calling it the One-Week Challenge. We're about $260 short of having $2000 raised. That means we need just 13 people to give $20. I know there are at least 13 people reading this blog that have considered giving. Now is the time, friends!

To give some perspective, $2000 will fully fund Riley's plane ticket home, his medical exam, visa, passport, and a donation to the orphanage. Not bad.

Please leave a comment or send me an email if you are up for the challenge. That way I can keep a running total on how many people have donated, how many more to go, and update this post with that information.

We can't do this without you.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just a quick note to say Happy Thanksgiving! We are so thankful for everyone who reads this blog, prays for Riley, and has donated to help bring Riley home. We couldn't do this without you. We are very much looking forward to next year, when we'll have Riley with us to celebrate this wonderful holiday. And, God willing, we'd love to have Vika  in our arms by then, too.

Enjoy this day with your family and treasure them!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What's With The "The"?

I've gotten a lot of questions lately about "Ukraine" versus "the Ukraine": which is it?

I don't know why everyone seems to naturally refer to "the Ukraine", but I catch myself doing it, too. Grammatically, it's incorrect. Ukraine is a proper name, just like Russia or China. You wouldn't say, "I'm going to the Russia", would you? No, you would say, "I'm going to Russia". Same thing for Ukraine.

We do say "the United States" because it's referring to a plural, a collection of states. But Ukraine is a single country, so no "the"!

There you go, your grammar lesson for the day. :)
Map of Ukraine

Friday, November 19, 2010

My Favorite Kind of Update...

As a brand-new blogger I have been having a lot of fun and really enjoy posting. But my FAVORITE thing to do is update our vine as donations come in! Thanks to our generous friend, Melissa, we now have close to $2000 raised! This will cover Riley's airfare, visa and passport.

We still have a long way to go but I am going to celebrate every little victory! Thank you so much for your donations, they are soooo encouraging!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What Are You Thankful For?

This is the time of year when we stop to count our blessings. There's many things we are all thankful for, and I'm willing to bet that everyone reading this would say they are thankful for their family. I am, too.

But what if you didn't have a family? No one, none at all?

That's the reality for Riley, and hundreds of other orphans like him. And if you think he's too young to understand, think again.

I'd like to introduce you to my friend, Larisa.
Larisa came with us on our missions trip to Vorzel this past summer. She was adopted from that orphanage and this was her first time returning. She had a powerful experience and I'd like to share with you some of her own words as she recalls being in the orphanage:

I vividly remember when I was 3 years old in my orphanage, and most everything that had happened from then on. One of my early memories from those days in Ukraine was not knowing what love was, or how it felt to be loved. Being so little and knowing that the only person I had in my life to depend on was myself is something a child should never have to think about. Coming to America and meeting my new family was a dramatic change for me. It took me awhile to understand that I had this wonderful family that was there to love me and support me. As I got older, I began to more deeply appreciate what my adopted parents have given me, how much they have changed my life, and the opportunities they have given me that I would never have been given had I remained in Ukraine. I used to ask myself when I was little, “why is it that all these bad things are happening to me, and I feel like no one’s there to help me?” When in reality God has always been there. 
You can read her full story here.

So this Thanksgiving, when you think about your family, please consider donating to help give Riley a family. He most certainly understands that he doesn't have a family, no mommy or daddy. And as much as the nurses there can love him, as one told me this summer, "Nothing compares to a mother's love". What better birthday gift for a child than the gift of a family!

We are so thankful for all that have already donated to help bring Riley home. Thank you, friends.

Monday, November 15, 2010

To Answer Some Questions...

Yesterday Rob and I spoke at our church, nlcf, at all three services and talked about adopting Riley. It all went very well, but I was really nervous even though I've spoken/sang in church plenty of times before. We are really excited to start getting the word out and it was wonderful to introduce Riley to our church family. I found myself answering a lot of the same questions from people (which is fine!), so I thought I'd put some of the "Frequently Asked Questions" up here :).

1. "So when do you get to bring Riley home?"
We only have a best guess as to when that might happen. Riley isn't "cleared" for international adoption until February 2011, so that would be the absolutely earliest he could leave the country. However, Riley's government shuts down between the months of November and February, so they stop accepting adoptive family "Dossiers" (your official translated application to Riley's government) this month. There's no way our dossier will be ready this month, so the earliest we can submit is February. Once we submit it could take several months to get official approval. In addition to that, Rob and I can't travel until May because I have to defend my thesis in either March or April, and the adoption process is a 5-6 week in-country stay. So we HOPE to travel in May, and bring him home in June.

2. "What would happen to Riley if he wasn't adopted?"
Riley has no future in his country. Children like him are considered a "burden to society" and often sent away to mental institutions at the age of 5 where most die within a few years. He will always live with the stigmas of "orphan" and "HIV+", meaning he wouldn't be able to get a job. Unlike in the US, where legally you are not obligated to tell anyone about your HIV status, in his country he would have to disclose that information to potential employers.

3. "Do you have the money to adopt him?"
No, we don't. This is a leap of faith and we need all the help we can get. We have enough to cover to up-front expenses (about $5000); the rest of the expenses (about $20,000) will come when it's time to travel in May. So we have some time to fundraise, but not an infinite amount of time. The sooner we raise the money the better.

4. "How can I help?"
PRAY pray pray! And please, consider giving Riley a birthday gift. He'll be two years old on Dec. 3 and we are having a birthday party for him. This is the best gift you could ever give a child: the gift of a family of his own. This money isn't for us, it's ALL for him. If you want to help fundraise, we'd love to hear from you. We've got some fundraisers planned and we'll announce them as they begin, but the reality is that those can only do so much. We are praying for God to move in a few people's hearts to donate a large amount. If you feel called to do this, please send me an email so I can tell you the best way to donate a large sum (to avoid PayPal fees).

Thanks so much for your prayers and support! They mean the world to us and to Riley.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A New Picture!....kinda.

Yesterday we got the full-size picture of Riley! It's really the same picture but you can see more of him. For some reason I am just captivated by it!
I don't know what it is about being able to see him head to toe, but I just want to snatch him up and cuddle him! It's also given us a clue about his cerebral palsy symptoms. Up until now all we knew what that he has "mild cerebral palsy but is able to stand on his own". From the picture it looks like his right leg is affected in some way but his left leg looks ok. It's not a lot to go on, but we'll take anything we can get at this point!

We purchased some books on children with CP and I started reading through them a few weeks ago. To be honest I started to freak out a little bit and had to stop reading. There's just so many different forms of CP, and we have no idea what Riley's specific symptoms are, but reading about all the possibilities is just overwhelming. Hopefully we can get his medical records soon.

A homestudy update: Rob and I have both had our physicals and are healthy! Not much of a surprise, but still nice to know and very important for Riley's country to know. I'm getting ready to send in a boat load of papers to Forever Families, then we need to finish our online coursework, and then I think we'll be basically done with the homestudy! Yippee!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pray Without Ceasing...

Got some bad news today: Riley's government is trying to pass a law that would suspend all intercountry adoptions with the U.S. That includes kids with special needs and adoptions that are already in progress. It could be passed as early as the end of this year.

Here's the official announcement

I know from talking with Vika's orphanage facilitator that bills like this have tried to be passed before and not succeeded. Ultimately God is in control of the situation. Please please please pray, pray without ceasing...

The lives of hundreds of precious children are at stake.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Homestudy Interviews Completed!

We have reached a milestone in our homestudy process today: Our home inspection and interviews are done! Our wonderful social worker Clair, from Forever Families, drove down yesterday and met us at our house, took a tour, and did our couples interview. Normally there is a three-week waiting period between the home visit and the individual interviews, and for the individual interviews we would have to travel up to Warrenton, VA to the FF office. However, because we're doing an independent adoption, we don't have the waiting period normally required by adoption agencies. So today Rob and I drove up to meet Clair near her hotel in Roanoke (there were NO rooms to be had in Blacksburg last night due to the VT/GT game!) and we met at a Panera. We took turns with her for the individual interviews and they went really well. I of course talked a lot more than Rob so my interview took longer :).

Our next step is to get alllll the remaining paperwork sent in! We have a lot done already, so that's good. We also have some online adoption coursework to complete. Then Clair will send us a draft of the homestudy report so we can check it over, then the draft will go to Reece's Rainbow for inspection, and THEN our homestudy will be done! Which means THEN we can apply to U.S. Immigration for official government approval to bring Riley home!

Next after that is putting together what's called our "Dossier" to send over to Riley's country for THEIR approval! Phew...I'm tired just thinking about it. One step at a time...eyes on the prize...saving the life of a beautiful child.

On a completely unrelated note, here's a pic of the day:
Neko waking up from a nap on my lap this afternoon :)
This week I have been napping like it's my job because of a sinus infection. I even took the whole day off Tuesday to rest. Luckily I always have one or two kittens to keep me company. I hope Riley is a good napper!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


What's in a name?

On RR they often give the children an alias to protect their identity. "Riley" is most definitely an alias for our little guy. My favorite reaction to his name was when I told my translator friend, Masha, about Riley and she said: "Riley- what a strange name!". Yes, Masha, that's not his real name.

What is his real name? We don't know. I'm sure we'll find out at some point (anyone who's been through the adoption process before have any insight on that?), but he will come home to the name Riley. We just can't imagine calling him anything else! It fits his cute little face perfectly.

Once we do learn his real name we won't be able to share it with you on here. But his American name will be Riley Eugene. He'll be the third StClair to share the initials RES: his daddy is Robert Eugene and his grandpa is Reginald Eugene. We're so excited to pass on the tradition. I'm not sure "Riley" is ever a name I would have picked out myself, but for him I love it. Riley Eugene, we can't wait to meet you!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

New Blog Design and Button

So excited to have this new blog design from Penny Lane Designs! We also now have a "button" which you can put on your own blog to help spread the word. Please consider doing this if you can! It will mean so much to us and to Riley.

On another note, we have our home inspection coming up tomorrow followed by interviews on Friday for our home study. I don't know why but I'm nervous about it. More so about the interviews than anything else. I don't think there's any reason to be worried about it but I am just a worrier by nature. :) Please pray that all goes smoothly!

Speaking of home inspection, guess it's time to clean the bathrooms... :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

National Adoption Month

I found out yesterday that November is National Adoption Month!
This is such perfect timing as we get started fundraising for Riley's adoption!

You don't have to adopt to participate in raising adoption awareness. Here are some things you can do:
  • Tell your friends and family about Riley!
  • If you have a blog, put a link to this webpage on it or add our button (coming soon...).
  • Post a link to this page on Facebook!
  • Give Riley a birthday gift: He will turn two years old on Dec. 3 and we are having a party!
  • Have an idea for a fundraiser? Please let me know: JessicaLStClair at gmail dot com.
We truly believe that an adoption is a community effort. God never meant for this to be done by two people alone, but rather by a community coming together to bring in a needy child. We wouldn't be adopting if we didn't feel we have the love and support from our community and church family at nlcf.

Absolutely all funds raised for Riley will go to his adoption expenses when it comes time to pick him up. If for whatever reason we are unable to adopt Riley, all the money we raise will stay with him through Reece's Rainbow as a grant to help the next family adopt him.

Will you prayerfully consider giving Riley a birthday gift this month? Even the smallest amount helps (American dollars go a lot farther in Riley's country!). Thanks!

Friday, October 29, 2010


Well it seems we are officially committed to Riley! Our bio information showed up on RR last Sunday (much to my surprise) and today we mailed off the last piece of paperwork. I didn't expect to see our name up there so soon since we still had one last thing to submit. It has been encouraging to already have so many people praying for Riley that have left comments on here and started following the blog. Now I need to figure out how to be a blogger :). I'm a newbie so please bear with me. A new blog design is coming soon, as well as a "button" that you can add to your own blog.

It is really starting to sink in that we are getting a kid. A little bit scary, which I think is perfectly natural, but also SOOO exciting! We can't wait for Riley to get here. Unfortunately we have to wait until May to travel to get him because I am finishing my PhD this spring. If it were any other semester I probably could have made it work: take a grading assignment, no classes, talk to my advisor via email, etc. But this is my last semester and I have to defend in March or April. There is just no way. Riley isn't cleared for adoption until February so at least he'll only have to wait a few extra months. We're coming, Riley!!

Speaking of being in graduate school, I have 40 students' tests to go grade now. Please leave a comment, it encourages us so much!

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Thanks for stopping by! We are just getting started on our adoption journey and so glad you decided to join us. The primary purpose of this blog is to raise money for the adoption and to share the adventure with you. To donate please click here! More to come....