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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

GOTCHA DAY!!! She's Ours FOREVER: )

What a wonderfully BLESSED day!!! Elizabeth Joy Rector is forever ours and we NEVER have to leave her again!! Today around 2:45pm, we went to the orphanage and busted her out: )


As we rounded the corner, the nannies knew immediately why we were there and one of them picked her up and laid her down on the changing table. She asked us to get out the clothes we brought. Oh, tears began to flow as I remembered Pastor David Shiflet recounting the moment when they took off the orphanage clothes and put their son's new clothes on and how symbolic it is as Christ does the same for us when we become His children!! That's what kept running through my mind as the nanny took off her clothes and we began dressing her in her new clothes. I had to keep from weeping and just kept smiling at her as she looked at us and we said over and over again that mommy and daddy are here now and she is going HOME!! 

Taking off the old...
and putting on the new!
Such a little cutie: )

As I held her on our car ride back to our apartment, I thought about all that it took to get here and how she is so worth all of the hard work it took to get us to this point!! I looked down and she had fallen asleep: ) 
Sleeping so peacefully!

We came back to the apartment and she continued her nap for a while. After she woke up and ate, we went to get some dinner. I put her in my sling and she looked so content all snuggled up. I have to say, it's quite a cute sight to see that precious little head sticking out and looking around! After we got back from dinner, she played and cooed for a bit. 


Then we decided it was bath time and thought she might not like it so we prepared for a quick bath with lots of protesting. But, much to our surprise, she loved her bath! I got her dressed for bed and gave her a mini-massage with some lotion. She smells pretty and clean now and looks quite adorable: )

I think she might be getting tired of seeing this camera in her face all the time which I think is why she's giving us her silly face: p
Ready for bed!


She's sleeping now and we're getting our bags packed to head to Kiev tomorrow for the first of our 2 day embassy appointment. We will board a small plane early tomorrow morning and will arrive in Kiev around 9am. Then our driver will head straight to the embassy for our appointment at 10am. We are supposed to have our medical exam, so please pray for a quick visit with the doctor's approval for us to leave the country on Saturday! We will then go back to the embassy to pick up her visa on Friday afternoon and Lord-willing, fly out early Saturday morning to come home!! 


 We are so thankful for our newest daughter and look forward to being reunited with our other children at home! She is so loved by so many and we are thankful beyond words for the love and support you all have shown our family while we worked to bring her home!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Birth Certificate...Check!

It's been such a great day with much to celebrate! We started this morning with Violetta, our facilitator (and friend; )) picking us up and going to get the decision of the court. We must have that to get a new birth certificate and other paper work needed to finalize the adoption. After we picked this up, we headed to the Regional Registry office where our baby girl was registered so that we could apply for a new birth certificate, naming us as her parents along with her new name, Elizabeth Joy Rector.

There were some circumstances surrounding our situation that would make it difficult for us to get it today and possibly have to wait which would delay us getting home. We've already booked our plane tickets home, we miss our other kids at home like crazy, and we just want to get home and start our life as a complete family, so needless to say, we were very hopeful that today would be the day! God truly worked in our situation and answered our prayers as it says in Proverb 21:1 "The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lordhe turns it wherever he will."We were able to pick it up at 4pm today!! We are SO thankful for His mercy and kindness! Because of getting this today, we were able to go and get her tax ID number (much like our social security number in the States) and start the passport process as well as book our flights back to Kiev for Thursday for the embassy appointment. 


Tomorrow we will get her passport and have one other task before we GO GET HER out of the orphanage!! We will never have to turn around and leave her again: ) Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow!! Tomorrow is GOTCHA day! I can't begin to explain the emotions that I feel when I think about this. Joy, thankfulness, relief, awe, amazement...these are just a few. We haven't been able to see our girl this trip so we are VERY excited to see her tomorrow and overjoyed to know we will have her in our arms for good! 

We will make sure to post lots of pictures tomorrow! Please continue to pray as we have to have our embassy visit with a medical exam that she has to pass before we can be released to go back home. We don't anticipate anything major, but know there have been some families delayed from this appointment. We're very much hoping to be home on Saturday and be reunited with our family and friends!

Now to try and get some sleep!! Aaahhh, I don't think I can sleep...too much excitement to think about for tomorrow: )

Monday, April 23, 2012

Back Again!

We arrived in Libby's region around 7pm and quickly got settled in our apartment. It feels like a distant dream that we were here just over a week ago. We already went to our favorite little pizza place for dinner and made a quick trip to the supermarket to get some eggs for breakfast along with the oh-so-yummy yogurt here and a few other things. We talked to our kiddos back home and can't wait to finally be together as a family of 7!

We are about to head to bed as we have a long day filled with uncertainty ahead of us tomorrow. PLEASE pray for favor with the regional office and officials as they decide tomorrow whether we can get her birth certificate in one day which will help us get home this weekend! If we are able to get it tomorrow then gotcha day will be WEDNESDAY!! Oh, the joy in my heart from just thinking about it: ) To know that we are so close to having her with us, I can't even put it into words. Thank you for your prayers for her, for us, for our children back home...we are so thankful for faithful friends lifting us up continually in prayer! 



Saturday, April 21, 2012

It's about that time...

Our bags are packed and in about 12 hours we will be getting ready to head back to a certain Eastern European country to finish up the paperwork needed to bring our baby girl HOME!! Finally, after months of blood, sweat, and tears we are so close to having her in our arms and NEVER having to turn around and leave her. I can't tell you how happy that makes me to think about!

If all goes according to plan, she only has 4 more nights in the orphanage and then she will never be alone again! She might just be wishing for some peace and quiet after she meets her brothers and sister: ) She is already so loved by so many, even those who've never met her in person. We're so thankful to everyone who has walked with us, prayed for us, and lovingly supported us as we've worked to bring her home. We love you and can't wait for you to meet our beautifully precious Libby girl! Please continue to pray for us as we finish up in country so we can get her home!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

WE'RE HOME (for a week)!!!

Daddy and Mommy with Libby before court

We are now officially the parents of Elizabeth Joy Rector as of April 13, 2012!! We had a smooth court proceeding and our judge was very kind! We were nervous, but our facilitator, Violetta, is AMAZING and she did a great job preparing us! The judge was very curious as to why we, being so young, wanted to add another child to our family especially one that has Down syndrome. We explained that ALL children are a precious blessing and we are excited to add our baby girl to our family. She smiled and then we left the room to wait to hear the date we could return and start the final paper chase to bring Libby home. Our facilitator came out with a big smile on her face and told us that the judge was allowing us to start the paperwork on Tuesday, April 24th!! We were SO thankful to hear this as it was a BIG answer to our prayers. There is a mandatory 10 day wait between court and when you can get the necessary documents needed to bring your new child home. Most of the time weekends and holidays are not counted in this time so the 10 day wait turns into 12-14 days. We were informed recently that the first couple of weeks of May have a few holidays and could be shut down the entire 2 weeks depending on the office from which papers were needed. We had been praying to be able to get her home before all of the holidays and didn't know if it was going to work, but God, in His mercy and kindness, allowed us to be able to start 3 days earlier than expected, so we should be done before the shut down!!

The court building

We headed back to our apartment to get ready for our 15 hour train ride to the capital so we could fly home for the mandatory 10 day wait period. After we arrived in the capital, we mostly rested as we had a VERY early flight home and our driver came about 2:30am to take us to the airport. We were excited to be going home to see our kiddos so it wasn't too bad until we got to the airport to find...
our flight home was CANCELED!!

We were in shock to say the least and when we found the airline counter with about 100 people in line in front of us with one agent working, I was ready to cry! It was 3am and we were standing in a crowded airport in a foreign country with no flight home! While Richard stood in the line, I called our travel agent to see if he could help us. It was Saturday evening (his time), but that didn't stop him from jumping right in and finding us a flight home! About 20 minutes later, he had an itinerary for us and got our tickets booked. We were able to avoid that unbearably long line and go check in for our new flight. I HIGHLY recommend Golden Rule Travel!

Our new itinerary had a couple extra connections, but we were thankful to be on our way. The first flight to Munich was pretty uneventful, then we boarded for a long flight to Chicago. We were pretty tired by this point as we had our 17 month old son with us who didn't sleep much which meant that we didn't sleep. We were told we needed to go through customs in Chicago since it was our first stop back in the States and we needed to pick up our bags and recheck them.

Only one problem...

Our connection was only a little over an hour and we had to clear customs, go through security, get our bags from baggage claim and recheck them AND make it to our gate before our plane left. All in about an hour's time! We were praying for a miracle and for grace if we missed our flight because we JUST. WANTED. TO. BE. HOME!!

We finally got to the customs area in Chicago and the line was, well let's just say, there was NO way we were going to make our flight! I had Luke in the Ergo on the front of me and saw a lady who worked for the airport so I asked her if there was a line for families with small children. She pointed me to another lady who then opened the gate and let us bypass the LONG line of people and go directly to one of the customs booths! It was an answer to our prayers and because of that we actually had a good chance of catching our flight home!

The customs officer was very kind and we breezed through without any delay. We then quickly got our luggage, rechecked it and headed to the security check point. After getting through security, we literally ran to our gate at the other side of the terminal and boarding was in progress as we arrived. We made it just in time!

As we were boarding, we realized our seats were scattered throughout the airplane and tried, unsuccessfully, to get seats together. It was a short flight of 2.5 hrs so we just sucked it up and sat in our original seats. Well, it was pretty much the W.O.R.S.T. flight EVER! It was the most turbulent, rough flight I've ever been on and if you know me, I'm not real fond of flying to begin with so being by myself was really scary! As we started to descend, the pilot came on and instructed the flight attendants to be seated as we were in for a bumpy landing:/ Not exactly what I wanted to hear, and boy, was he right! The plane felt like it was being thrown around like a rag doll and I began to shake as my tummy felt like I was going to lose it. I wanted to cry, but knew the 2 men sitting next me wouldn't appreciate it, so I tried with all my might to hold it in. I guess the guy next to me saw my shaking hands gripping ever so tightly the seat in front of me as I was turning 3 shades of green, so he started talking to me and asking about our trip. He kept me talking to keep my mind off of the sheer horror I felt and it mostly worked although I intermittently would grimace and say something about hating turbulence when we would feel like we were going to fall out of the sky. When we finally touched down, I wanted to kiss the ground and shout for joy, but I was too exhausted to do much more than weakly get up and walk off the plane. We got to baggage claim and our bags were no where to be found. So we went to the baggage recovery area and found out that our bags were on a later flight due to us barely making our flight so I guess there wasn't enough room or time to get them on the plane with us. The lady took our address and said they'd be delivered the next day.

It was almost 10pm and we had been awake for 29 hours and counting. We were exhausted, but looking forward to seeing our kids. They were excitedly waiting for us in the van so we headed out and it was wonderful to hug them and see them again after 3 long weeks without them! I didn't realize how much I needed to see them and be with them until right then!

We've SO enjoyed our time with them and know it will be hard to leave them again, but we are excited to bring our newest daughter home so our family can be together! We leave in 5 days and Lord-willing, are planning to be back the following Saturday with Libby Joy!!

Please pray for her birth certificate to be completed on Tuesday the 24th! Our facilitator believes that it will be done then, but there are some circumstances that could delay us. If all goes according to plan, we will be gone less than a week!!

I'll leave you with some photos of the last couple days of our first trip with Libby. They include getting to feed her for the first time(!), taking her outside for the first time, and her beautiful smile: )

Note: It was 65 degrees out and the nannies put a snowsuit on over her already bundled self: )

Libby's funny face when the sun was in her eyes: )
Taking her outside for the first time!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

COURT TOMORROW!!

Our court date is tomorrow at 12pm (4am home time)!! We will go before a judge and petition to be made Elizabeth Joy's legal parents! From what I've been told, this judge is adoption friendly and our hearing should go smoothly. Will you please pray with us for favor with the judge and other officials? Also, pray for peace for us and health for our sweet girl while we are away.

The plan is to have court tomorrow and then Friday evening, we are boarding a 15-hour train headed for the capital. We will arrive mid-morning Saturday and try to get rest as we will have to be at the airport around 2:30am Sunday morning to get ready to fly home. We will have a 3 hr layover in Frankfurt and then fly directly home. It's going to be an exhausting weekend, but we will be grateful to be reunited with our other kiddos at home!

Richard will go back to work the day after we get back, Monday, and I will unpack, wash clothes, and repack to get ready for our 2nd trip that we'll be leaving for about a week later. Our bodies are not going to know what time zone we're in, but I know it's worth it and we're EXCITED to get to bring our Libby Joy home and be together as a family of 7!!!

Tomorrow morning is the last time we'll see our baby girl for almost 2 weeks! Please pray for my mama heart as we prepare to leave her for a time. I know it's going to be so difficult and I'm thankful for the peace that passes all understanding from the Lord as we wait!

I haven't had a chance to upload our photos and video from today since my hubby has been working on the computer and I need to go get us packed up for tomorrow. I might have a chance when we get to the capital and will update and post if I'm able.

Thank you for your prayers and support!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Thoughts on our Life Here


I was planning on posting yesterday, but the evening got away from me as we decided to sit down and watch a movie together. By the time we finished, I was too tired so today's post will be extra long: )

Other than missing our other kiddos at home (A LOT!), we're doing really well! I've so enjoyed this country and our apartment in our region is located close to a busy shopping area with lots of restaurants and coffee shops. I thought I'd lose weight here with the different food, but boy, was I wrong!! I think I've actually gained and hope I can fit into my clothes when I get home. We have a yummy pizza place within close walking distance of our apartment that we've eaten at a few times. We've also been to a nicer little restaurant here with english menus as well as a couple of yummy little french and italian coffee cafes. The coffee cafes have ah.ma.zing pastries and desserts along with many delicious coffees and teas. The chocolate is abundant and wonderful as well as the breads and cheeses! I'm going to miss being able to walk a short distance to the market and get our groceries for a couple of days. It's nice to have convenient access to fresh food and get to take a walk in beautiful weather.

Now, lest you think it's all been roses here, I will say there are definitely times when I fall apart and just cry as my husband holds me. I miss my kiddos at home more than words can say!! I just want to hold them and smell them and kiss them. I. CAN. NOT wait to be home with them and love on them!

Also, I really can't put into words how difficult it is to walk into the orphanage and see the cribs with babies just lying there. Most of the time it's eerily quiet and not because they're all sleeping. They are awake just lying there and most of them have nothing more than a blanket in the crib with them. No toys, no music, not much interaction other than being fed or changed, day after day.

Our Libby girl is the only one I saw that has toys in her crib and I'm pretty sure that came from someone who has visited her. She is in the infirmary where the sick babies are housed. Most of these babies don't get visitors or have someone to hold them and talk to them, love on them or sing to them. It breaks my heart each time I walk in her room to get her and walk past these babies who look up at me. I want so badly to pick them up, love on them, tell them they are precious, but I can't, it's not allowed. Their beautiful faces have been forever burned in my memory and I pray I never forget! I hope this will spur me to continually speak up for those who cannot and help raise awareness that they are here while we go on with our lives never giving a second thought to them or even knowing they exist. Please don't misunderstand me, Libby is at a really good orphanage and I am thankful for the staff. But there is no way possible for those children to be loved on and taken care of the way they would be in a family by a few of the staff, especially as the workers are ever changing.



Please, if you haven't already, go now to Reece's Rainbow and look at all the precious children waiting for families. How can you be a part of helping them? Maybe you can donate to one of their funds or can post on Facebook about them or set up a fundraiser to help a family in process who still lack the funds to bring their child home! There are many ways we can help and Reece's Rainbow isn't the only place that helps families and raises awareness. Above all, please pray for these precious souls, we can ALL do that! If you have any questions or want more information about the organization or specific country program, PLEASE contact me and I am happy to discuss it with you!! If I can't answer your questions, there are many people I know who can: )

We are hoping to either bring some items with us on our 2nd trip to donate to the orphanage like diapers, clothes, and toys or just take some extra money over with us and buy those items there to save on luggage fees. We need to see how many bags we're allowed first and then we'll decide from there. As you can see in the pictures we post each day, Libby and the other children wear the same clothes for days at a time and often they are very worn. We won't get to dress her in the clothes we brought until we take her out of the orphanage after our 10 day wait period is up closer to the end of the month. If any of you would like to donate, please let me know as we will only be home for about a week before we plan to return.

When I think about leaving our girl here, I immediately begin to tear up and my heart literally aches! I just want to bring her home NOW, but this isn't how the process works so we must wait. I feel like I am torn as I ache for my kids at home and ache over leaving Libby. It's definitely a tough thing to deal with, but know that Lord-willing, we will be reunited with her after a short time and will bring her home!! Please pray for us as we have to say good-bye for a time on Friday and for her that she will be comforted and well taken care of in our absence.










Libby in the sling for the first time! She loved it: )