Friday, April 29, 2011

Yard Sale Tomorrow!

For anyone who is local, please stop by our yard sale tomorrow and shop for a cause!! All proceeds will benefit our adoption fund AND the missions trip to Ukraine.

Date: Saturday, April 30
Time: 7:30am - 1:00pm
Location: 130 Jackson Street (up the stairs from Bollo's in the old Red Cross building. Just follow the signs!)

Please spread the word!!

Also...our dossier was delivered today! (According to our tracking number, anyway.) I'm still waiting to get email confirmation from our facilitators in country, but it looks like we should be submitted next Thursday AND we're getting a refund from UPS!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

UPS Woes And Name Ideas

Well, our dossier package is finally showing up on UPS tracking. Apparently it has been LOST for SIX DAYS in Roanoke and they only found it last night!!! Oh my goodness, I just can't believe it. It's now on its way and we should be submitted next week (Thursday, May 5). Oh and we ARE getting a refund...again. UPS is certainly losing money (and business) on us!

As for names, we are kind of stuck and would like some more suggestions if you have any! "Zara" is still on the table, as well as her birthname. We also like the name "Lily" but we can't think of a good middle name to go with it. Any other ideas??!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Name, Name, What's In A Name?

I've had several people ask me how to pronounce "Zara". Well, we're no experts but we've been saying it "ZAH-ra", with the "ah" sound as in "car". This isn't her real name, however, it's just the alias she was given by Reece's Rainbow. All the children on the RR website are given an alias to protect their identity. "Riley" was an alias as well, we just liked it so much we were going to keep it.

We do know Zara's birthname but we are not going to announce it until she is officially "ours". We are still undecided as to what name we are going to give her. I do like "Zara" a lot. In Arabic it means "radiance" and in Hebrew it means "flower" or "princess". However, we do like her birthname a lot too. So, until we have our court date and Zara is officially a StClair, we will keep calling her Zara here in cyberspace.

In other news, a REALLY fun package arrived at our house today: clothes for Zara from my dear friend Kristin! These are Zara's first clothes, ever. She has never had anything belong to her in her entire LIFE. I almost cried when I opened them, and of course I took pictures of every outfit!

Look at this adorable sweater dress! Now all she needs is some skinny jeans and boots and she'll be more stylish than her mommy :)

Love this hoodie!!

"Daddy's Little Girl"

Another hoodie!

"Mommy Loves Me A Bunch!"

Thank you Kristin!! :)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Please Pray For Our Dossier

Dear Friends,

We really need you to lift up our dossier in prayer. Right now our UPS tracking number is still only showing that a label was created, but never received and it hasn't been scanned anywhere at all. I mailed it on Thursday afternoon and it's now Sunday evening. The frustrating thing is that UPS "can't do anything" until it is officially late. The scheduled delivery date is Tues, 4-26, so they can't do anything until Wed, 4-27. I can't even begin to describe how frustrated I am right now.

I know that God knows where in the world (literally) our dossier is right now. It is possible that it is on its way and on time, it just keeps missing scans. My response to that is, well then what good is a tracking number?! One missed scan I can understand, but how does it keep missing them?!!? It's also possible that it got left on a truck or fell off a conveyer somewhere. That does not fill me with the greatest confidence, either. In fact, that DID happen the to the documents we mailed in January! I thought, what are the chances of that happening again?? Apparently pretty good.

I can't stress enough how important time is to us right now. Even if they find it in the truck a few days later, it is still going to be that much later arriving in country. Yes, we will get a refund if it is late (I did last time) but it is still LATE!!

Mostly I am just kicking myself for using UPS again after the mishap the first time. I do NOT recommend UPS for international shipping of small, flat packages. I think they do ok with large boxes but they can't seem to keep track of anything small. Ridiculous!

Please, please pray that everything turns out all right. I know God's timing is perfect but right now it is so hard not to worry.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Pancake Breakfast TOMORROW!

For anyone who's local: Please come to our Pancake Breakfast fundraiser tomorrow morning (Sat. 4-23) starting at 6am and ending at 1pm!!!
I know what you're thinking...."Wow, that is a LONG time to be making pancakes!" Well, here's why:
  1. Relay For Life at Virginia Tech begins tonight from 6pm - 6am. There's not very many places (if any) open that early for breakfast so come on over for some tasty pancakes!!!
  2. The Spring Game begins at 2pm. You want to get on campus early. Why not stop by for breakfast before you head over to eat a turkey leg and cheer on the Hokies?!!
The Details:
Time: 6am-1pm
Date: Sat, 4-23
Location: The BCM building next to VT campus (307 Washington Street)
Cost: $5 per adult, $2 per child

All proceeds benefit the missions trip to Ukraine (which is the whole reason we're on this adoption journey in the first place) AND our adoption fund. Please spread the word and invite your friends! If you're going to the Relay, please tell anyone and everyone while you're there! 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Our Dossier Is On Its Way!

Today I mailed our dossier (doss-ee-ay) to That Far Away Land!!

Here is all the paperwork laid out on our kitchen table:

Here is me kissing it goodbye:
I prayed over it and then off it went! The scheduled delivery date is Tues, 4-26-11. Please join me in praying that it DOES in fact arrive on Tuesday. Also, it would take a miracle for this to happen, but God is in the miracle business....pray that our dossier gets submitted on Thurs, 4-28-11. That only gives our facilitators one day to translate the whole thing (so probably not gonna happen) BUT we can always ask God, right???? Right!!!!

I have told a few people that I feel like I am entering the "third trimester" of paper-pregnancy. I am SO ready for this to be over. I just want to go get my girl. If I have to send one more piece of paper off to get apostilled I will throw up (or at least throw something). Right now I am thinking "NEVER, EVER AGAIN" as far as adoption goes. I'm sure once we meet her and get home and get settled my mind will change, but right now....ahh, paper-pregnancy hormones!!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How Did We Choose?

Several people have asked me this question. I'm not sure I have a good answer, but I'm going to try my best. The short answer is, God chose. The long answer is what follows. :)

The day we found out we lost Riley I came up with a "short list" of eleven children that were heavily on my heart at the time. This was easy for me to do because I look at the children on Reece's Rainbow obsessively. Certain children come to my attention here and there. A few stay on my heart for much longer than others. I listed out the ones that had lasted for a while and the ones that recently caught my attention.

Like any good wife (ha!) I emailed the list to Rob, who was at work, thinking that he would have an opinion and would help narrow it down. But Rob just couldn't. He wanted them all. (We still want them all).

The next day I found out one of the boys we had been considering had a committed family, so that narrowed it down to ten. For the next few days I poured over the pictures, begging God to speak out of the clouds or maybe the fire in our firepit. Just for the record, He didn't. It got to the point where I couldn't look at any of the children without feeling sick to my stomach. How in the world could I make this decision?

We sought counsel from some friends and decided to let it "simmer" for a few days. This was the few days before I defended my dissertation, and we agreed not to discuss it until that event was over. At this point we had it narrowed down to four children, all with different special needs. I was the most drawn to Zara but Rob was hesitant about Down syndrome.

I had dreams about Zara. I looked at her and felt like I was looking at my daughter. I could actually picture myself holding her, playing with her. But, I tried to choose a child without DS because of how Rob was feeling at the time.

Rob was feeling particularly drawn to this little boy, Joel:

Joel has arthrogryposis. I researched the condition and explained to Rob all the treatments that would be required. While we were certainly capable of doing all of it, something didn't feel right. But when we looked at his picture, it felt like his eyes were staring right into our soul (someone please rescue him!).

The weekend after my defense we didn't talk much more about it. I still felt the most drawn to Zara, but I didn't know what to do. Finally I decided to fast on Sunday and ask for prayer from the people in the RR Yahoo group.

Ten minutes later I found out that one of the boys we were really considering had found his family. I told this to Rob, who said, "Ok, Zara or ______?". I said Zara. He said OK.

It felt sooooo good to say "Yes" to Zara, but it also meant saying "No" to many, many other deserving children. It breaks my heart that we had to say "No" to Joel, Andrey, Nathaniel and Meade. WILL SOMEONE PLEASE RESCUE THEM?! It will put my hurting heart somewhat at ease.

A special blog has been set up to help raise funds for Nathaniel. Please check it out here. Donate if you can. This sweet boy needs surgery so, so badly it breaks my heart.

Meade (HIV):
Meade is so stinkin' cute I just can't believe he hasn't found a family yet!
And of course through all of this we miss Riley. It seems crazy because we never even met him, but we miss him. His little picture is everywhere. He will always be our son in our hearts. We will always pray for him, that he would be loved by his relatives, get the medication he needs, and most importantly, come to know Jesus when he is older.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How About This...

...for the new blog title: "A Life Redeemed"

It just came to my mind out of nowhere this evening. I like it.

Definition: Redeem
    ~~~Of a person: To restore the honor or worth of.

Sounds about right for our little Zara.

Oh, and the name "Zara" is REALLY growing on me....  :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Pictures Of Our Girl

This one was taken in March, 2011:
Isn't she lovely?!?!

These two were taken earlier this year:
I love how she's holding her leg in this one:

Now for a few questions of ya'll....
  1. From looking at these pictures, does anyone have any guesses as to what size clothing she's wearing? Obviously she will grow a lot once we get her home, but we do have to bring clothes to "spring" her from the orphanage.
  2. Does anyone else think she has blue eyes?? I do :)
  3. We have not even begun to think of a name for her. Any suggestions?!?!  "Zara" is not her real name, of course. We found out her birthname but we can't share it on here until she is officially "ours". It would make a nice middle name. "Zara" is kind of growing on me...I looked it up and it's an Arabic name that means "radiance".
  4. We are getting a blog makeover...any ideas for a new name for the blog???
And now some answers to YOUR questions!
  1. Zara will be two years old in May.
  2. She has Down syndrome and had heart surgery late last year.
  3. We will get her grant money ($2690), that's why our "vine" grew so much recently :)
We still miss Riley an awful lot. That's one of the reasons I want to change the blog design. This design is HIS, and always will be. He will always be our son in our hearts. We will always love him and pray for him.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Dear Bloggy Friends,

Some of you have written to me, publicly or privately, about this boy Vanya:

I know you mean well.

The fact is, we are not paper-ready to adopt Vanya. He is eight years old. Our homestudy and USCIS approval (aka, "Golden Ticket") are for children up to six years old.

We, too, are praying for a family for him. But, it's not us. God has a plan as only He can reveal.
"Dear Lord, we pray for You to send a family for Vanya. We know You have a plan and we trust in Your faithfulness. You set the lonely in families. You care about Vanya more than we can even imagine, and You are with him. Please, Lord, let Your glory be revealed in the miracle of finding a family for Vanya before it is too late. Amen."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Just Call Me...

...Dr. StClair!!!

Actually, please don't :). Just wanted to share with my bloggy friends that I PASSED my dissertation defense this morning! Everything went great. The audience was small (I did this on purpose): just my committee (four people), Rob and Alexis. I talked for about 35 minutes, a few questions were asked that I answered with no problem, then I was sent out of the room for about 10 minutes while my committee deliberated. Didn't take them long!

Boy am I glad that's over.

I think it's going to take awhile for it to really sink in that I am DONE with school. I have been in school my whole life so this is a big change for me. I'm going to have to be careful to remember that what I do doesn't define me. Being a student has defined me for so long, but no longer!

*Happy dance*

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Carrington: Before and After

March 15:
April 12:
Love that sweet tummy! Carrington is scheduled for surgery tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ruslan Walks!

I first met Ruslan, who has cerebral palsy, in June 2009 when he was living in an orphanage in Vorzel, then saw him again last summer in July 2010:
Ruslan with Jeanette in 2010
Ruslan was adopted late last year and now lives in VIRGINIA of all places! Best of all, he has learned to walk! Check out this video:

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Do You Ever Feel Like Giving Up?

Right now, I do. I just want to quit. Rob doesn't, and we aren't going to, that's just how I'm feeling right now.

Never in this process have I felt like giving up. Tired, yes....frustrated, yes....not even when we lost Vika did I want to quit. Right now I don't think I ever want to go through an adoption again.

Rob is too stubborn to give up so thankfully God made us a team. He's keeping us going right now, not me.

We are struggling to choose another child. All I want right now is Riley. How can I choose from the hundreds of waiting children? How did we ever choose Riley in the first place? I can hardly remember now, it just seems like Riley was always our beacon guiding the way.

Please don't suggest children for us right now, it's just not helpful. We want to save them all, and yet we only want Riley back. Just pray that God would speak to us in a way He has never done before about what our next step is.

Thank you.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Answers To Your Questions

Thank you all for your prayers, we are definitely feeling lifted up by them. I've had a few questions that I thought would be good to answer here on the blog, especially for future reference to other adopting families. Make no mistake, this WILL happen again to someone. I hope our experience can help these other families in the future.

Q: Are you still adopting? Do you have to start the process over?
A: Yes, we are still adopting. No, we do not have to start over. In fact we hope to maintain about the same timeline as originally planned. It was never a question for us of whether or not to continue, just a question of who does God have planned for us to adopt. I am confident that God used Riley to get us to the point we are now.

Q: Is it possible for Riley to become available for adoption again? Can you get any more information about his family?
A: We know nothing about his family and cannot legally find out anything about them. Nor do we wish to. We are comforted that it was his relatives that took him in, that is actually a good sign of progress for their culture to accept these children. We trust that God, who cares more about Riley than we do, has a plan for Riley's life. Of course it is always a possibility that they will bring him back to the orphanage, and that he may or may not be available for adoption in the future. If God brings him back into our life then we will take that step when it comes.

Q: What happens to the money in Riley's grant fund?
A: Before we committed to Riley he had $1,100 in his child grant. Now that he is no longer legally available for adoption that grant money will transfer to the child we choose to adopt and combine with any existing grants that child may already have.

Q: What happens to the money in your family grant fund?
A: It stays with us and will go towards the adoption of our new child. Please keep donating and spreading the word, we aren't fully funded yet!!

Things that have been helpful: Your comments expressing condolences and prayers have been extremely comforting.

Things that have NOT been helpful: Any comment or email saying something like, "I'm sorry about Riley, pick __________!" I know you all mean well and I am not singling anyone out, this is just a general statement that I hope will be helpful for future families going through this. Please realize that we have just lost our SON! We are quite aware of all the children who need families and God will lead us to the right one.

Thank you all, so very very much, in this unexpected and difficult time.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

We Lost Riley...

I knew.

Somehow, someway, God was preparing me for this. I'd even thought about what to post on this blog if it happened. But now that's it's here, I can't remember what I had planned to say.

We lost Riley.

He was taken into foster care by relatives. The good news is that he DOES have a home now, kind of. At least he has family that cares about him enough not to leave him in an orphanage. But he was not meant to be Our Son.

This has always been a possibility, nothing is ever certain until your court date. Even if we had been in country and met Riley, any member of his family could have come forward to claim him up until our court date.

I just have to remind myself that this is not a surprise to God. He knew this was coming and He has a plan.

Please pray for Rob and I as we try to figure out what to do next. We still plan to adopt but we'll need to choose a different child. Right now there's about 15 different kids I want to scoop up, so how do I choose??

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Waiting Wednesday

Today I want to dedicate this post to three special orphans who are Waiting. Waiting for a family, Waiting for love, Waiting for life-saving surgery.

Meet Andrey:
Andrey has Down Syndrome and a heart condition that needs surgery. He is four years old but can barely sit up by himself or stand, even with help. He is very neglected at his orphanage and is regressing fast. There is $4555.00 in his grant fund!

Meet Turner:
Turner also has Down Syndrome and DESPERATELY needs heart surgery. His caretakers have decided that it would be best for him to have surgery here in the U.S. where he can recover properly. Turner is only 8 months old! He has $189.00 in his grant fund!

This adorable little guy has hydrocephaly (excess spinal fluid collecting around his brain) and needs a shunt NOW to drain the fluid and save his life! He is only seven months old! Both Nathaniel and Turner are in the same orphanage and could be adopted together for a very low additional cost. He has $100.00 in his grant fund!

I would seriously scoop all three of these little guys up if I could. Please help me find families for them before it's too late! If you are interested in any of these precious boys and have questions please feel free to ask me. I will do everything I can to find these boys a family. Send me an email or leave a comment.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Things I am thankful for today:
  • Our grant fund is nearly at $11,000 (anyone want to donate to push us over that??). I cannot believe we have raised that much money! I know we still need quite a bit more but today I am just reflecting in awe over what God has done so far.
  • My Tuesday morning prayer group. Although 5am comes awfully early it is so refreshing to start the day off with friends and prayer.
  • GYRO (Get Your Run On!) gals, especially those who are willing to stick with a slowpoke like me and walk with me when I need to. I wouldn't be running right now without you.
  • My friend, Dianne, who is taking our sick cats to the vet for us today so that Rob can work and I can prepare for my defense. It was actually hard for me to accept her offer of help last night but I know that's something I need to work on, and what a blessing it has been!
  • The friends I have met through the Reece's Rainbow yahoo group. I'm bummed that I missed the chat last night but I will be there next Monday!
What are you thankful for today?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Adoption Is Redemption

My friend Kati shared this quote with me last week:
"My friends, adoption is redemption. It’s costly, exhausting, expensive, and outrageous. Buying back lives costs so much. When God set out to redeem us, it killed Him. And when He redeems us, we can’t even really appreciate or comprehend it, just like Dimitri will never comprehend or fully appreciate what is about to happen to him … but … he will live in the fruit of it. As his Daddy, I will never expect him to understand all of this or even to thank me. I just want to watch him live in the benefits of my love and experience the joys of being an heir in my family. This is how our heavenly “Papa” feels towards us. Today, settle your busy heart down and rest in the benefits of redemption. Enjoy the fruits of His goodness, and stop trying to “pay Him back”. You’ll never get close you goofy little kid.” - Derek Loux

Saturday, April 2, 2011

My Journey of the Heart-Part Two

Go here to read the full post. Here's an excerpt:
"I ended Part One by telling you how God prepared me to take on the challenge of adopting an HIV+ child. I have not yet told you how my husband, Rob, reacted when I showed him Riley's picture. I don't recall his exact words but it was something to the effect of, "He's really cute but I don't think I can handle HIV". I asked him why not. I asked him to pray about it. He did.

One of the reasons Rob was reluctant at first is that he thought Riley having HIV meant we would be watching our son die before we did. I gently explained to him that this is not true, and that children with HIV have normal life expectancies! He'll have to explain in his own words sometime about how God changed his heart, but it certainly did change. Soon after that we committed to adopting Riley.

The story isn't over, however. I began to follow other families' adoption journeys. I read with fascination about how well Masha, one of the girls I had met this past summer who has Down syndrome, was adapting to her new adoptive family. I saw other children I had met being adopted: Angela (also with Down syndrome) and Ruslan (cerebral palsy), and I followed their journeys. All three are doing SO well in their new families, and yesterday I had the privilege of seeing a video of Ruslan WALKING with his new walker! Oh what joy that brought to my heart! It was during this time that God was really teaching me the impact a loving family can have on a child, how amazing their recovery is, and watching them literally come alive."

Friday, April 1, 2011

And The Winner Is....

Congratulations to Henry Monti!!!!!!

I will be emailing you directly :)

Thank you to EVERYONE who participated in this fundraiser and made it such a success!!
And a very big Thank-You to Melissa Lew for donating this beautiful necklace!

108 Pages!!!

That's the length of my dissertation that I JUST SENT TO MY COMMITTEE!!! I am so happy I could cry and so full of adrenaline I could run a marathon! (Ok, maybe not the last part, lol).

Next up: Fix any corrections my committee gives me (you could pray that they are all SMALL things, if any!) and work on my presentation....but not today! I'm taking the weekend off!

I'm sorry we haven't drawn the winner for the necklace yet, I've been a little preoccupied :). That's next on my list of things to do today and I'll post again later who the winner is!