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Two Parts

Part One: Ode to Russia

We love Russia.  LOVE it.  We are literally having the time of our lives out here.  Tonight at dinner, we said that it was like a 7 day date night in the middle of a beautiful European-like country, but set in a mystical forest, on the Sea of Japan, mixed with the joy of a missions trip, but the best part is you get to take home the child you fell in love with.  Plus, we get to be driven around and cooked for each meal.  It’s fabulous.  

 I told myself the traveling must be the hard part, since the paper work was easy, and adoption is supposed to be hard, right?  But so far, it’s the best part.  The scenery is from a story book, the food is amazing, the people are wonderful and we feel so taken care of.

This is the front door of our hotel, which also happens to have a wonderful restaurant down stairs, and they give us a 25% discount because we are adopting!

Outside our hotel.

 A short walk from our hotel is the Sea of Japan.  (Yes, we are that far east)

On it’s shores wash up green colored stones, while forest trees line the sand, and paddle boats are strung up in lines.

We knew we needed to stay awake a bit longer after dinner to ward off jet lag, so we walked the sea shore after passing through a park with some carnival rides.

Another amazing part of our trip are the people who are helping us.  We have built in Russian best friends who we spend a good portion of our day with.  They are the kindest and coolest Russian gals around, Dasha and Sveta.  Dasha is our translator and at only 22 she is so professional yet fun and easy to talk to, she promised she would come visit us soon back home. 

Part Two:  Seeing our girl again

We bustled through city traffic, with the light in the sky already turning and a soft orange.  She ran out to greet us, so excited.  We lugged our huge suitcase of donations for the older kids, mostly donated from Aaron and Kelly Williams, and the staff asked if it was all for Maria.  “For everyone,” we said, They all looked back and forth between each other, “Wow,” they said.  Maria was back in a second, holding something in her hand to show us.

It was the white ribbon that had wrapped her present from yesterday from Grandma that I had put in her hair.  She whispered in her soft voice, “Will mama do my hair again?” hopeful.

“Da,” I told her.  Her hair was much easier to brush today, and I made it very special with her white bow.

Maria told her caregivers after we left yesterday that we were her real parents, and we have just been looking for her, and only just found her.  Oh, that one really got us, and I had been pretty good about holding back tears.

As I brushed her hair, a very stern, unsmiling female doctor came in and sat down across from us.   She asked us if we read her medical report, we said we had.  She told us about Maria, good overall health, and asked us if we had any questions for her.  We didn’t, but even if we did, we wouldn’t have asked with her present!  My goodness.  So instead, I smiled at the doctor and said, “We have no questions, we only want to thank you so much for taking such good care of our girl for us for so long, we are forever grateful.”

This broke the stern woman’s frown, and she cracked a smiled at Maria.  “She is very good girl.  We so happy she have family.  So very happy for her.”

“We are the happiest,” we told her.

Our sweet friend Jaime gave us a great sticker paper doll book for Maria before we left.  We had the best time working on it all together.  I told Dasha she had to help too, and even papa joined.

We always let Maria pick the first girl, there were usually 8 different options of girls on each page with a different style and color of hair, then you picked out their clothes.  “Who do you want to pick, Maria, you can pick anyone.”  Each time she silently picked the girl with long, blonde hair and stuck her on the page to dress and decorate.

Dasha asked her, “Who are you making?”

“Mama,” she whispered, as she picked out the perfect sweater, or bow, or shoes, and very, very careful, lined them up and stuck them on ‘mama.’

“And mama will make Maria,” I told her.  “My Maria wants to hold hands with mama,” I told her.  She smiled.

There were no boy stickers, so papa had to draw himself in each time.  We were laughing and having a good time, especially making Sveta’s always look the most awesome.

She opened the letter from her 4 year old cousin Charlee, and she though it was really fun and special.

Then we took some family pictures.  Mama and her girl.  I just had to pick her up.

Oh my goodness, is this not meant to be, or what?!  Minnesota Vikings, or Wikings 🙂  She’ll have to wear these on our family trips to Minnesota.

 Maria and Papa

 Mama, Maria and Papa.  We feel like the luckiest most blessed people in the whole world to have this little life in our lives.  Thank you, God.

Then I looped the camera strap around Maria’s neck, “Do you want to try and take a picture?” I asked her.  I held the camera up to her face, and showed her how to look through, and press the button.  “Who do you want to take a picture of?” asked Dasha.

“Mama Papa,” she said.

Photo by Maria 🙂

Photo by Maria

 From moment one, Maria was attached to me, but the orphanage doesn’t have any men care takers, so she was a little more shy around Andrew, that is until he pulled out his phone with the talking Tom Cat app.  I watched him teach her how to use it, and when Talking Tom would repeat back what she said in a silly voice, the two of them would laugh, and laugh together. 

The new shirt I got her, which is waay to big!  Now I know she is a medium.

A few minutes later, we heard a great commotion coming up the stairs.  All the kids from her groupa came in.  They crowded Andrew and Maria with loud, rambunctious laughter and movement.

Maria started to get a little uneasy, all the kids were vying for our attention.

Which led to my favorite part of the day.  Maria’s sweet, shy face got a bit more serious, she slipped her arm around her papa, and whispered, “Papa.”

“My papa.”

 I started to hand our stickers to the other kids (Thank you Sharon!!), and they were so happy they were flipping out, saying, “Spaseba!  Spaseba!” and jumping around for my attention.  Maria came into my arms and looked up into my face.  “My mama?” she asked me.  “Da,” I told her and held her close.  “I am your mama.”

From then on, when I talked to the kids, I always said Maria’s name.  “Who wants to take a picture with Maria?” I asked, and they all ran to line up.  Maria got everyone in line, adamant that they all obeyed me.  When she gets happy and excited, she bounces on her toes.

“Who wants to have Maria take a pictures of them?” and I gave her the big camera.  The kids were very impressed and lined up to have their pictures taken.

She looks like a Turner to me 🙂

This precious boy is called Glip.  He is so sweet, and funny and fun.  He tried to call Andrew papa, but Andrew smiles and corrects him, “Andrei.”

Our visit was over because all the kids were in the room to eat dinner.  We started to pack up, but Maria ran to clean and organize all the gifts we brought, bagging up each bead in the right spot, folding things, making it all perfect for us.  Our sweet girl.

Through the loud noise, crazy commotion of the kids and while seeing us grab our purses and back packs, Maria with a solemn face came up to us, and whispered, “Mama and Papa like Maria?”

Did we still want her, she wanted to know, even with all these other kids.

“Maria,” I told her,

“Ya tibia leblue,” I love you.

I gave her a kiss on the cheek and told her we would be back early tomorrow, her face broke into her sweet smile, joy.  “Maria,” papa said, “Ya tibia leblue.”  She smiled and went back happily to her friends.


Another groupa was outside playing when we left.

Our two part story has come to an end.  We see our girl tomorrow, then hopefully on the weekend, and we jet out very early next week.  But the best part of our day?

“Do you want to spend more time with her to see if you like her?” they asked.


“For the Lord your God is living among you.
    He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
    With his love, he will calm all your fears.
    He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
Zephaniah 3:17
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{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Lou June 14, 2012, 8:09 pm

    You guys are so amazing and this story is so lovely, I can’t help but sit and cry and how wonderful it all is.

    You have a beautiful girl to add to your family, and she is obviously so so loved. I can’t wait to see and read more.

    Lou 🙂

  • Ann June 14, 2012, 8:22 pm

    “Maria told her caregivers after we left yesterday that we were her real parents, and we have just been looking for her, and only just found her.”

    Ohhhh my HEART.

    This is such a rich blessing you’re sharing with us, and I am greedy, gobbling the words again and again. I ache for the day I can write my own version of this post, mine and my daughter’s, but until that day this will be a treasure for me, watching a precious girl I have prayed for for over a year find her way home to her family.

    Thank you so much for making us a part of your journey to Maria, and letting us watch her journey home.

  • LaurenJo June 14, 2012, 8:25 pm

    I can’t stop crying!! This has to be the best story ever!! We leave for there next week, and your photos have me SO excited, it looks beautiful! We were there in Feb. and it was dreadful!
    Thanks for sharing your story and writing it so beautifully!

  • Jennie June 15, 2012, 1:01 am

    I am not one to cry easily, but this post brought tears to my eyes again! There is something very special about your sweet Maria 🙂

  • Carla June 15, 2012, 2:38 am

    I love it! I love that this little girl has found a mama and papa! So sweet.

  • Rebecca Higgins June 15, 2012, 2:49 am

    My cousin Marla S. gave me the link to your blog, and I am following your journey with great delight . . . and lots of tears–happy tears and homesick tears. I spent almost 7 years in Russia in missions and love the people dearly. I know how much the children in the orphanages need good homes and loving families. I am so, so very happy for Masha that God has brought your family into her life, and that He has brought Masha into your lives. There will be adjustments to cultural differences for all of you, but God has brought you this far and He will work out the details. May God continue to knit your hearts together as a family and speed the process so that you can bring your girl home!

    Yesterday I was listening to Casting Crowns’ “Come to the Well” album shortly before my cousin sent me your blog. I was struck by the song about adoption–“So Far to Find You.” You are truly living the reality of those words:

    You were broken, abandoned
    And crying all alone
    We were waiting and praying
    And longing to bring you home
    And then we saw your face
    In a moment you were wrapped up in our hearts
    We took a step of faith
    And now here we are

    Will you let me hold you in my arms tonight
    I have come so far to find you
    So far to find you
    Will you take my love and give up the fight
    I have come so far to find you
    So far to find you

    From a world away, I journeyed
    Just to hold your hand
    You will never be alone again
    I’ve come so far to find you
    So far to find you

    You were fighting and fearful
    You were hiding your heart away
    But I was trying so hard to show you
    ‘Cause there were no words that I could say
    If you could see my heart
    You would know that all I want to do
    Is care for you

    Will you let me hold you in my arms tonight
    I have come so far to find you
    So far to find you
    Will you take my love and give up the fight
    I have come so far to find you
    So far to find you

    Here in your eyes I see
    Reflections of myself
    How I’m the child that’s really running
    But I can hear a voice that’s whispering my name
    Saying come to me, don’t run from me
    I’m all you need and I am calling

    Will you let me hold you in my arms tonight
    (I have come so far)
    Will you take my love and give up the fight
    (I have come so far)

    Will you let me hold you in my arms tonight
    I have come so far to find you
    So far to find you
    Will you take my love and give up the fight
    I have come so far to find you
    So far to find you

    From Heaven’s throne
    Down to a rugged cross I came
    It was My love for you that brought Me all the way
    So far to find you
    So far to find you

    You were broken, abandoned
    And crying all alone

    Blessings to each of you as you continue the process through which you have to go to truly become the family God intended you to be!

  • Joanna June 15, 2012, 3:59 am

    Boohoo! This is making me cry!!

    also, have you noticed any of the RR children there?

  • Kate June 15, 2012, 5:11 am

    i just can’t get over the other kids – SO many kids – Maria is so blessed, I am praying for the others to have this moment too. Safe travels home – can’t wait to see her in your arms for good!

  • Jamie Crandall June 15, 2012, 5:48 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. How blessed you all are to have each other.

  • Kami June 15, 2012, 9:29 pm

    I have been following your blog for some time, but never comment. I read it first when emails come in because I enjoy it that much! I have been so moved by your journey of adoption that I actually told my husband that we should consider adopting.
    BTW – she is so much prettier than her first picture you posted. She’s such a doll! The Tiny will adore her!

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