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The day we left

Did you know it was supposed to rain everyday that we were in Russia?  That was the forecast, but we never saw rain, except while we slept for one night, then on the morning we left, it began to rain, the sky dark.

Our hearts were heavy, the weather matched.

We had been praying for Maria’s heart to be prepared for months, and months and months, and it was.  Miraculously, as were ours to say goodbye to a 10 year old for a short time before we brought her home.

But Elijah.

As we held and loved him in the orphanage, we saw the other babies, on their hands and knees, rocking themselves back and forth cause no one else would.  Because he was in our arms, we never saw Elijah rocking, staring at us from behind white bars from where he was all month, and where he would be for months to come.  But us leaving means he will be.  He would be just another baby, rocking himself for lack of mama and papa.

“Stop,” I told myself.

 I needed to stop torturing myself, stop thinking about this.   This is one of the reasons we almost didn’t say yes.  Once he’s yours, it hurts like nothing else to leave.

As we waited for Dasha and Sveta to come pick us up one final time, I turned my thoughts to God, making them more productive, “God, comfort Elijah, preserve his heart, his mind and his body.”

I flipped through my phone to the bible app, since I was praying anyway to see ‘the verse of the day.’

As the rain streaked the windows, it was this:

“Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him–his name is the Lord.  A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.”
Psalm 68: 4-5

I just stared at it, not even rereading it.  The day I leave them, the day God tells me that He is the father to the fatherless, He will be caring for them.  I don’t remember seeing an orphan verse before from the ‘verse of the day.’

I seriously felt better, God is good, and my job is to rejoice and thank Him, because He’s the one who gave us these gifts, not to pout and be sad about it.

We had time to visit Elijah one more time before we headed to the airport, and we took him into the play room full of toys that no one ever plays in….

“Andrew, I think we need to sing,” I said.  “I think we need to sing together, to praise God.”

“OK, but why?” he asked.

“Well, that verse God gave us today, saying He would care for our kids, the beginning said to ‘Sing to God,’ and since it’s really the easiest thing he’s asked us to do all week, I think we probably should.”

We put on Finley’s ‘birth mix’ on Rdio, worship songs, and let it play.  And sang to our son, and to our Lord, sang it out in that empty room.

I remembered in birthing class, they said that singing helped, because it happens in the opposite side of your brain than pain, and helps you to push through the pain.

Push through the pain to meet your son.  I’ve had to do it once before, and I can do it again.  God is here, guiding even in the small things.


We got on the plane, Korean Air and it was amazing.  I mean, seriously, wow.  It would have been an hour flight to Korea, but we had to fly all the way around North Korea as not to fly over it, making the flight 2.5 hours.  The Korean airport was INSANE!!!!!  We were in such culture shock.  Every high end, name brand store was PACKED with people, buying everything, a parade, live music, delicious food.

In Russia, they didn’t even have McDonalds or Starbucks, and we both felt our appetites go down, being satisfied with soup.  But, in the Korean airport, we had dinner, then walked by Burger King and wanted a hamburger!  I suppose we aren’t as impermeable to advertising as we’d like to think!

From there we flew to LAX, and it was glorious.  We watched movies, ate yummy food, Korean air had metal utensils, and glass cups.  Their slogan is “Excellence in Flight,” and it’s true.  Did I spend my time wallowing in my sadness for my kids left behind?  Nope, I watched The Artist, and 21 Jump Street and we laughed our faces off.  (If you are a RR family, or a family member, do NOT watch this movie…seriously not appropriate!  We don’t endorse it, but, it’s funny I tell ya)  And I don’t like love movies, so when I turned on The Vow, I told Andrew he should watch it instead, because he loves them.  And he did.  Then, we drank our electrolyte water, put in our ear plugs, got out our amazing flight pillows and crashed out until it was time for brown rice and green tea porridge for breakfast.  No wonder those Koreans are so skinny!  It was an amazing time.

On the drive home from LAX, I started getting so impatient to see Finley.  My heart was racing.  I didn’t know if he would act out, be mad, happy to see us, upset…

I ran in and saw his little face, and he smiled and raised his arms to me.  “MAMA!” he smiled.  He looked HUGE and HEALTHY compared to the babies I was used to.  He was just himself, like we had only just been gone that morning.  We read books, played, and he went to bed.  It was great!

In the morning I thought he would be so happy to see that it was me coming in to get him from his crib.  I walked in and said, “Good morning Finley!”  He smiled at me and finally the words I had been waiting for.


I laughed and got him out to get him his milk.

I seriously can’t believe we almost didn’t adopt our children because it would have been too hard to leave Finley.  I can’t believe it.  He had an amazing week, so did all of his grandparents, and we had one of the best weeks of our lives.  We both feel like better parents to him after having come back, we feel closer as a couple.  I guess God knows what he’s doing when He asks you to do things…

One day I’ll learn that for keeps!

***Adding this now**

Ok, and how’s THIS for cool.  Russia is one day ahead of us….so, when we got home, and I looked at the ‘Verse of the Day,’ guess which verse it was.

Yep, same one.  How’s that for some kind of crazy time travel miracle.  God really wants to comfort me into know that He is the father to the fatherless here and in Russia.  God, you’re so rad.

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  • Suzanne June 22, 2012, 1:09 am

    What an amazing journey! God is so amazing at preparing and protecting his children’s hearts. He is a father to the fatherless. I cannot wait to see Him move mountains for you and Andrew to get back to your children. Their lives will forever be changed. Thank you for sharing this with all of us. p.s. I won’t watch the movie! haha

    • The Tiny Team June 22, 2012, 2:58 am

      I can’t wait for them to be home too! Oh my heart just longs for it! But, yeah, pass on the movie, hahahaha!

  • Carla June 22, 2012, 1:54 am

    Oh so hard to leave! that separation is torture…but your perspective is so beautiful. Our God is so faithful!, praying that there will be no delays in bringing your little treasures home quickly!

    • The Tiny Team June 22, 2012, 2:59 am

      Oh thank you. It definitely would not have been my perspective if it hadn’t been for that verse at the perfect time! Wish I could claim anything as my own doing, but it’s just not!

      Thank you for the prayers!

  • Rebecca Higgins June 22, 2012, 3:04 am

    So thankful for the verse that God gave you that He is going to watch over Maria and Elijah in your absence! The contrasts between where you were in Russia and Korea will be magnified for Maria in the transition. When I came back to the States after my first year in Russia in 1995, I was overwhelmed with sensory overload. I remember the first time I walked into a Meijer store (don’t know if CA has those) and couldn’t get over the number of aisles and cash registers…and bright lights! I wanted to buy some hot chocolate but was overwhelmed by the number of choices there were. I think I might have walked out of the store without buying anything. It was just too much for me! Things that we take for granted as Americans as part of our everyday life can be a bit overwhelming to those who have never experienced them before. I’ll be praying not only for all of the red tape to be able to be worked through quickly but also for all of the adjustments that you and the children will have. May God bless your hearts as you await your next reunion.

  • Kimberly Dumlao June 22, 2012, 4:23 am

    It must have been so hard to leave them, but at least you know you’ll be going back to get them.

  • Angela Bailey June 22, 2012, 1:56 pm

    Ok so…I’ve been super busy (read: slack) so, I haven’t been reading any blogs. I just read through your Russia visit blogs and OMG!!!!! Two for the price of one???! (Sorta…) How amazingly blessed you guys are!!! How wonderful that God orchestrated his plan. This just reassures me that God’s timing is MUCH better than our own and HE has a PERFECT plan for us all…even if we don’t understand it at the time…or ever. PRAISE BE TO OUR FATHER AND HIS PERFECT SON, OUR LORD, JESUS CHRIST!



  • Lou June 22, 2012, 3:02 pm

    I am not a religious person, but I find myself becoming more spiritual as I get older even so. I do believe that we all have a purpose in life and one of yours is so obviously to be a family with Elijah and Maya and to give them the love that they so desperately need and that every child should be given as a basic right!

    I am thrilled that you have had a safe journey home, and also that Finley has had such a fantastic time in your absence. I am sure that the images of you and Andrew, and the love that you have will help to guide Maya and Elijah through the next months while you are away from them. Hopefully it will not be too long before you are able to travel back to Russia to bring your other babies home with you.

    You guys are forever in my heart and in my head.

    Lou 🙂

    • The Tiny Team June 22, 2012, 7:41 pm

      Thanks for sharing Lou, we’re right there with you. Not religious, but God lovers, seeing Him more each day as we listen to him.

      Yes, I can’t believe how great our travels were! I should share some of the pics of Finley from when we were gone, just picture permanent grin glued on his face! Haha!

      Thank you for your sweet encouragement, friend.


  • Joy June 22, 2012, 7:08 pm

    I’ve been following your story for the past couple of weeks, but this is the first time I’m commenting. (I always want to, but my heart is just overflowing from each installment of your story, that I just can’t be articulate!)
    And again… now that I try to write, I almost don’t know what to say! I am just so touched, moved and inspired. Thankful that your two new children have a mama and papa.
    We have two biological daughters (3 and 5.5) and were about to commit to a little boy on RR when I found out that I was pregnant with our third. I am thankful for our new baby coming, but my heart hurts for the boy that we cannot adopt. The pain almost makes me want to withdraw from the adoption community. However, stories like yours are a balm to my heart. Even though we cannot adopt right now, I am so thankful for the children that are being saved by God and by families like yours. Thank you for your obedience to Him, for trusting Him… what a story! I will continue to follow closely, and comment when I am composed enough to do so. ;*) Your family of five is in my prayers!

    • The Tiny Team June 22, 2012, 7:43 pm

      I am so glad you did, Joy! It means so much to us!

      I am so sorry about that little boy, but just know God has a plan. Use this time to prepare yourself for the journey God has for you! Start praying for your child now, they are out there somewhere. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that God’s timing truly is BEST even when it feels like the worst.


  • Kate June 22, 2012, 11:22 pm

    i love that you sang with him and i love that you compare it to labor – so beautifully put. it is so hard but you can do it. and just like the baby being born – walking out of that orphanage w your kids in your arms – and then off a plane to their new home – oh! it is SO soon! (in the grand scheme of things that is) – you are in our prayers, Maria is in our prayers, and especially Elijah! both of your new kids did not have the best start but they are SO blessed that you followed thru with your calling even when you were scared to leave Finley – Im just so happy for your whole family =-)

  • Squiggly Rainbow June 23, 2012, 11:20 pm

    Amy, I again have tears. This is something that crosses my mind all the time, but what about my three children I have birthed? It is almost selfish of me, I know we need to trust. I have to keep pressing in on what He wants. Would it be easier for me to post things to the orphanage from Australia, or send them to you guys? xxx Rach

    • The Tiny Team June 23, 2012, 11:37 pm

      Hi RACH!

      That’s a good question, I’ll look into posting it to Russia it’s self! I’ll get back to you, and thank you for being you.