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Gotcha, freedom day!

As my daughter snuggles next to me fast asleep, thumb in her mouth, maybe the world’s most perfect day coming to any end, I try my best to find words, but I feel at a loss.  Today is freedom.  Today is love.  Complete. As joy fills our hearts and our room to the point of no breath, I can’t find words for this day

Instead, I will use someone else’s



“Well get a load of me…”

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

“MY mama?”


His ratty, used, and holey orphanage jammies, that smelled distinctly, were stripped off, new clothes all his own to replace.  We slipped him into his moby wrap, right close to his mommy and this boy had found his home.  I think if we never took him out, he’d be content.



“I get to go, too?”






When an orphanage worker came up to say goodbye to Elijah, who was snuggled up against his mama, he took one look at her, and he started fussing, crying and rocking himself.  I bounced him a bit, said goodbye and we walked down the hall, he calmed down at once.

“Hurry,” Dasha urged, “We must go.”
Elijah looked up at me, and placed his tiny hand on my chest patting it, smiling up at me.


But before we left, I wanted to take a picture of Elijah’s crib, his home for his entire life up until this moment, this moment of freedom.

And I came to find, that within the 20 minutes of him being gone, his spot had been filled, a new baby in the old bed.




As we began to leave, the babies cried out for us, cried out to me, the mother to them that I can’t be, cried out for a mother that many of them will never receive.


Andrew and I tried to give out some hugs and kisses, we began a feeble prayer for families to be raised up, but we were prodded on, “Hurry!”


And so, for the very last time, we said goodbye.




To the most beautiful children, who deserve so much more.






They screamed for us as we left.


“Hurry, hurry, we must go,” we were instructed, and we wound around down the hard, cement stairwell, normally dark and gloomy, but in this moment, filled with the most beautiful, warm light.

“Is this real life?” I asked Andrew.  “I don’t know,” he smiled.


And then.

The moment.

That would forever change the life of the tiniest, sweetest, little boy.

We opened the heavy metal gate, a gust of fresh, cold wind in our faces.  As we walked out, Elijah forever walked out of an orphanage, in the arms of his parents, who love him tenderly, who crossed a wide ocean for him many times, just to call him their own.  Just to shower love on him each and every day of his life.  Just because.

…to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners

Forever held dear.  After a little while, perfectly nestled warm in his wrap, he brought his thumb up to his mouth, and started to close his eyes, his first time ever falling asleep on a mama, first time ever being comforted and held while falling asleep.  It was in that moment that I felt his weight, not much more than 15 pounds, I felt his little heart, beating against my chest, his breathing rhythmic–here it was, God’s joy and goodness, poured onto us, splashing all around–masked as sacrifice, but oh no, our hidden treasure.  As we drove through city traffic, our little boy, who never made a peep, but smiled up at mama and papa, his eyes growing wide with delight when we would mimic and speak to him, when we would caress his cheek, when we were still there, each time he checked.

I do believe adoption is a battle, and to free kids from orphanages takes work, and work and work, and if it sounds like I am complaining, I am actually praising God.  Each, and every step of the way.

Nothing will compare to that little beating heart on my chest, the little soul in our arms, freed.


Buuuut, seriously, so darn handsome!


Get used to this, my dear.

We pushed on in our busy day, made two stops and rushed our car into a quick, jerking park in front of Maria’s orphanage.  When she saw us, she gasped, and her legs started running for us.  The other kids saw us, and started hopping around, crowding the car.

Today’s your day, baby girl


These moments that I wanted to savor, were faster than lighting, and in our joy, there were some broken hearts.  The kids reached out for Andrew and I and for Maria, “Mama?” some asked, and dissolved into tears.


Kate, sweet Kate.

“I love you,” I told her, as Andrew unloaded the donations as quickly as possible.

She smiled and nodded, not understanding my English, but happy that someone was talking to her, sweet and kind.










Then it was time for Maria to dress in clothes of her own as well, because they leave every bit of their clothing there, they can take nothing with them.





She dressed in her clothes, that she would never have to give back, she grabbed our hands, and forever, forever, left the orphanage, and forever left a fate looming over her head only just a few years away.



OMG $5 target shoes, so darn CUTE!



I can’t get over this picture, Vanya looking at Elijah, I can’t even…



We were being pushed into the car by our team so fast, that I couldn’t cry, but it didn’t stop the kids.




Gifts, a stuffed kitty and brushes.



Papa, Sveta and Dasha stopped in the bank, and I stayed in the car with the kids.  Maria and I laughed at the cute things Elijah did, we took turns holding him, I did her hair, we played games, we took pictures, then she decided to clean the whole car, organized our explosion of stuff in all the right bags and containers.  She even got under Sveta’s seat and found a water bottle.  (Whaaaat?  How did we do anything to deserve these kids…I’ll never know)

We got back to the hotel, hugged D and S, and had some dinner.  The kids were loving and I mean loving family dinner time, we were laughing and eating fast, no time for lunch.  We tried to get Elijah to play with his food, but wouldn’t have it just yet.  My husband is a genius and figured out this phone app that you talk into, and it translates and speaks for you in the other language.  We’ve also downloaded 15 English language apps, and Maria can recite full sentences in just one night.





Elijah got his first bath, while Papa and Maria played catch upstairs in the game room.  He thought it was the world’s coolest thing, I hope he tells his brother that…

Elijah and I walked up to them laughing and giggling, knocking the ball around the room.

Elijah was so tired by the end of the night, he crashed out with mama and jammies and a blankie, beats a dark crib any day!

Then it was time for Maria to check out all of her new stuff we brought for her for this trip.  This girl fits so perfectly into our family, it’s just crazy.  She is so full of life and joy, carefree and fun.
First thing she did with her comfort silkie was try it on!
She typed to Papa, “I love you!” and gave him a big hug.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, whohave been called according to his purpose. romans8:28.

“Ok babe, hop in the shower, it’s time to get ready for bed,” I told her.

“Poor thing,” I told Andrew, “I’m going to have to brush and floss for her,” I smiled at him, but she was a great sport, I think she just likes having people who care about her.  I think she likes having a mama and papa.


No but seriously…seriously… the perfect day.

Well, our hearts are on the verge of exploding with joy like every five minutes, we spend most of our time together giggling and hugging and playing.  Our two sweet children, fast asleep with mama and papa.  I read Maria a bed time story and she put her head on my shoulder and stroked my hair, smiling up at me from time to time, I mean, she’s so joyful she can’t contain herself.

Just stare at this when you read the next sentences


In that wonderful day you will sing: “THANK THE LORD!! PRAISE HIS NAME!!  Tell the nations what he has done.  Let them know how mighty he is!  Sing to the Lord, for he has done wonderful things.  For he is the great one of Israel who lives among you” isaiah 12:4-6

I am leaving out some parts, but I gotta run.  Tomorrow we say goodbye to this wonderful city, and ride a 9 hour flight to Moscow, where we will spend a few days getting the last paper work before heading home.  Is it weird that I can’t wait to fly with these two?  They are such good travelers. (lookin’ at you, Finley)
 My babies being sweet to each other
Слава Богу


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  • Five Foot Mama November 13, 2012, 2:52 pm

    Oh my gosh! Congratulations to you and your entire family! This was absolutely amazing to read and my eyes were brimming with tears throughout! Enjoy your beautiful children!

  • Alyssa November 13, 2012, 2:59 pm

    LOVE reading this first thing in the morning. All of those moments of struggle and pushing through paperwork and red tape…for this. Love. Joy. Family. Redemption.

    God is so good.

  • Kate November 13, 2012, 3:02 pm

    Heart. So. Full.

  • Alyessa Duncan November 13, 2012, 3:11 pm

    This was the BEST post to wake up to! Your children and beautiful and you are both amazing. It will be so exciting for Finley to meet his wonderful Sister and Brother! Cherish every moment.


  • superfan519 November 13, 2012, 3:15 pm

    I am so thrilled. And tears and tears and tears are being shed. How blessed are you all!

  • Beth November 13, 2012, 3:16 pm

    What a WONDERFUL story!! I am crying at my desk at work. God is GOOD – so very good! Congratulations to your beautiful family!

  • Jennifer November 13, 2012, 3:21 pm

    Tears. You would think I had never been through this myself the way I marveled at your pictures and hung on every word. Your post is as beautiful for the words as it is for the pictures of two precious ones forever loved. Godspeed.

  • Becky November 13, 2012, 3:25 pm

    Oh Amy!!! Tears of joy and love and gratitude pouring down my face to see your children, YOUR children, finally with their family. Just beautiful.

  • Elaina Marie November 13, 2012, 3:42 pm

    My heart is absolutely bursting with joy and happiness for you guys, I feel like I am going to explode. God is so good and I am so happy that this story has a happy ending, for you and your beautiful deserving children.

  • Rachel November 13, 2012, 4:01 pm

    This is so beautiful I can’t wait to be directly involved in this redemption one day! Thankful for your following the call to go get these children!

  • Jessica Freeman November 13, 2012, 4:08 pm

    God is awesome! I can’t believe this day has finally come! Praises!

  • Suzanne November 13, 2012, 4:11 pm

    My heart is so happy for you guys. God is so amazingly good.

  • Alison @ Notyetwhatweshallbe.wordpress.com November 13, 2012, 4:22 pm

    Yay!!! I’ve been checking for an update. So thrilled for you guys! Congratulations 🙂

  • Wendy T. Portsmouth, VA November 13, 2012, 4:25 pm

    Oh so beautiful. So beautiful! May you all have a safe journey home and many prayers coming your way.

  • Cindy November 13, 2012, 4:50 pm

    So happy for you and your babies I could explode!!!

  • AngelaLexi79 November 13, 2012, 5:15 pm

    I am so happy for your family. I have followed from the beginning but I don’t think I have ever commented. This blog post has brought so many happy tears to my eyes. I have prayed and prayed for your family and for those 2 sweet angels that are now part of it. I can’t wait to see how Maria and Elijah react to Finley. So so so seriously happy for you right now!

  • pat November 13, 2012, 5:31 pm

    Thankful for a marvelous first family day for everyone and praying that all the flights and appointments move smoothly. Thanks for sharing your story w us as it has been 8 years since I went to Russia to bring my daughter home. Blessings to all.
    St. Louis

  • Lisa, Jason and Gus November 13, 2012, 5:59 pm

    Bless you….Bless you…..Bless you.

  • Cynthia November 13, 2012, 6:06 pm

    This is wonderful and absolutely touches…no *grabs* my heart! I wish I had been able to document our first moments with the twins so well. It was all such a whirlwind of emotions, exhaustion, and yes miracles! I saw your daughter on RR when we were just committing to the adoption of our twins and I thought she seemed like a beautiful girl inside and out. It is just so beyond words, wonderful to see her going home. Thank you for allowing the rest of us to share in the joy of it all!

  • Rebecca Higgins November 13, 2012, 6:14 pm

    I had difficulty reading this post, because I literally was sobbing the whole time. There were tears of extreme joy for your family and tears of sadness for the children remaining. Thank you for taking all of us on this journey with you. Your lives are not the only ones changed by this, I am sure. Thank you for allowing God to lead you and being willing to step out in faith on shaky ground to be obedient. I so would LOVE to be in Moscow with you to help you get around. May God speed your journey HOME!!!

  • D clan 4 November 13, 2012, 6:25 pm

    I am just SO THRILLED for you guys!!! 🙂 Praise God! There are no words! 🙂

  • Kristin Smith November 13, 2012, 6:51 pm

    Beautiful Story! Beautiful Family! Beautiful Savior!

  • Lindsay Pavkovich November 13, 2012, 6:53 pm

    Congratulations! I have no idea the struggles you and your family have been through but what an amaxing outcome…your children are beautiful. What a blessing!

  • Molly November 13, 2012, 6:57 pm

    Amazing! Praise God for people like you.

  • Jo's Corner November 13, 2012, 6:59 pm

    Never felt so much Joy and Happiness in one post! And, sadness. For those left behind. Kate has a Mama coming for her! I got THAT from the Holy Ghost. If no one had stepped out for her before, they will be after the posts you have done about her. *Wish it could be me! Congratulations to ALL of you!
    I have to share how very touching the photos of you flossing M’s teeth are. You are giving her SO MUCH more than just good teeth care! It a touch of Mama/Daughter bonding and intimacy that she has likely never experienced. I would put it right up there with doing some of the same nurturing activities that you do with your newborn/young infant. I would encourage you to bathe her, was her hair, rub lotion on her arms and legs and back. Her needs are different than Elijah’s, but so so similar. Thank You, for sharing your Journey. Much Love and many, many Prayers being said.

  • Julie Rakay November 13, 2012, 7:32 pm

    Congratulations!!! Maria and Elijah are so beautiful and look so content to be with you–I hope you have a safe, easy, and happy trip home.


  • Kathleen November 13, 2012, 7:39 pm

    Congratulations! I am so happy for you all! I was brought to tears reading this. Such precious children and a precious family! God bless you!

  • Caitlin November 13, 2012, 7:55 pm

    YAY!!!! The post you have been waiting to write and we have all been waiting to read!! Thank you so much for sharing this journey with us. Maria looks so beautiful, and both of them look SO happy! Love seeing them together. Congratulations to all of you!

  • Future Nurse November 13, 2012, 8:00 pm

    Oh my goodness — tears of joy streaming down my face as I just read today’s post and saw all the photos. Simply beautiful in every way. Thank you for sharing with total strangers like me.

    And my heart breaks for all those left behind…if I could just go scoop up Kate, I’d be there in a heartbeat. I hope to God we can also adopt one day. I’ve got such a soft spot for the older children (well, all of them, really, but especially the older ones)

    Sending love and blessings from Canada, Kate.

  • Elizabeth November 13, 2012, 8:26 pm

    My heart is exploding with joy for you and your family. I will never read that Isaiah scripture the same again after reading your story. God is so very good!!

  • Margie Hapner November 13, 2012, 8:30 pm

    Redemption is beautiful! Congratulations on the start of your new lives together 🙂

  • Danielle November 13, 2012, 8:39 pm

    So happy for your family! We are so close to our little guy, reading your post made me that much more excited! Many blessings on your beautiful family!

  • Emmy H November 13, 2012, 9:07 pm

    Hooray!!! I have been loving your story and waiting for this day! I am so happy!

  • Rebecca November 13, 2012, 9:14 pm

    This is almost too much for my heart to contain! So beautiful.

  • K.A. November 13, 2012, 10:12 pm

    Praise for this day! And I was so happy to see Kate’s dear face on the Reece’s Rainbow Christmas Angel Tree! http://static.reecesrainbow.org/angeltree2012/ Praying we can grow her grant and find her a family, and that families will come for these children! Congratulations to you and Elijah and Maria.

  • Squiggly Rainbow November 13, 2012, 10:45 pm

    Amy and Andrew and Maria and Finley and Elijah – I have tears of joy for you all, praise our God. I am speechless and send you all my love and kisses to each of your babes xxx Rach

  • Jane@flightplatformliving November 13, 2012, 11:54 pm

    seriously just drowning in tears here! xxxxxx

  • Jodi November 14, 2012, 12:03 am

    What a beautiful story of love, hope and redemtion!
    I read it this morning and it’s stayed with me all day. I have a feeling I won’t soon be forgetting it.
    It brought back so many memories of when we got our son <3
    And it opened up my eyes to the beauty of the older children, the little girl on the couch crying just broke my heart! 🙁
    I showed my husband that picture and he said ‘We should go get her!’ 🙂
    I wish more people would open up their homes to the lost and forgotten children, show them love of family…see how lives can change.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  • Holly November 14, 2012, 1:21 am

    tears of joy streaming down my face as I read this tsle of LOVE

  • Leah November 14, 2012, 1:52 am

    This was beautiful.

  • Lou November 14, 2012, 2:12 am

    There are no words
    Just magical moments and a family finally complete.
    You have my heart

    Lou 🙂

  • Emily November 14, 2012, 2:21 am

    What an incredible first day with your precious babes! They are beautiful, and I can already see what a gift they are to you two! Blessings as you walk this journey of helping them adjust to a new home!

  • MamaFoster November 14, 2012, 2:54 am

    tears. tears just pouring down my face.

    they are both so beautiful. when you get home and have time, if you could shoot me an email to mamatofoster@gmail.com I would love to know what agency and what orphanage these were…if you are allowed to tell such things. the picture you posted of the beautiful child that now is in your son’s old bed there looks like she needs a mommy. i would love to go get her.

  • Dars November 14, 2012, 4:11 am

    Your story….beautiful! Thank you for doing what many wish they could, and what many are just learning they can. What a blessed bunch you ALL are!!

  • Kira November 14, 2012, 4:18 am

    I am so happy for all of you! God has truly blessed each and every one of you!

  • Heidi November 14, 2012, 6:10 am

    I sat and cried while I read your amazing story! God bless you and your new family!

  • Kym November 14, 2012, 6:59 am

    tears of joy! so beyond words, what a beautiful day!

  • superfan519 November 14, 2012, 8:11 am

    Can you tell us the names of those apps by the way? Would LOVE to have them!

  • Amanda November 14, 2012, 9:00 am

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful post with us! It is such a blessing to see the fruit of what you’ve been praying for. May God bless you with a smooth time in country and a quick, uneventful journey home…HOME for good!

  • Holly Schoeppler November 14, 2012, 11:28 am

    I read this last night, I read it again this morning, and I cried both times! I’m so thrilled for all of you. Thank you, God!

  • rudyswife November 14, 2012, 1:03 pm

    I am SO HAPPY for your family! I have been following your adoption journey since the beginning, but usually read from my phone and can’t comment. I am looking forward to your future posts and watching your beautiful family grow!


  • Heather November 14, 2012, 1:04 pm

    I am SO HAPPY for your family! I have been following your adoption journey since the beginning, but usually read from my phone and can’t comment. I am looking forward to your future posts and watching your beautiful family grow!


  • Shari November 14, 2012, 5:47 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your little loves with us, I am a long time reader (maybe a first time commenter, I’m not sure??) and I am just so excited for your family! I hope you’ll continue to share them with us when you are HOME!

  • babyarnie November 14, 2012, 7:27 pm

    in a public place reading this with tears streaming down.! Praise our great God for redempion! You are blessed.

  • laura! November 14, 2012, 8:27 pm

    Congratulations! So happy for you and your family, thank you so much for sharing your beautiful story.

  • Laura Marino November 14, 2012, 8:50 pm

    The moment we have all been waiting for!! What an amazing day. You guys have done the most incredible thing to change Elijah and Mariah’s lives. My heart is so full of love for you all. I don’t think words can begin to express the meaning of all of this. I think the feeling in everyone’s hearts as they read your blog and see your pictures is enough to testify of the goodness of God and what He can direct people to do as well as the blessings that can come into ones life unexpectedly. I am thrilled for your family and can’t wait to meet both Maria and Elijah.

  • Laura November 15, 2012, 12:29 am

    What an amazing journey. Your writing made me feel like I was there and tears of joy (for your family) and sadness (for those left behind) were falling as I read your post. Congratulations to your entire family as you set out on the newest chapter of your lives. Soak it all up and have fun with all your cuties!!!

  • Ann November 15, 2012, 1:48 am

    So happy for all of you! Praise to God!

  • Kimberly November 15, 2012, 5:49 pm

    Yep, I got em…goosebumps. Congratulations on family. It is a beautiful thing.

  • Jayma Malme November 16, 2012, 6:57 pm

    I just re-read this post and am so filled with joy for your family. Can’t wait to see you all next month.

  • Stacey November 18, 2012, 3:34 am

    One of the most moving adoption posts I’ve ever read. I love the symbolism of them being set free and the photos of them exiting the orphanages for the last time! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!! Loved it so much I had to share it all over facebook and link to this post on my own blog! Those are two beautiful kids. Praying for those you met and had to leave behind!

  • Kathleen Bloomfield November 19, 2012, 4:48 am

    Congratulations to all of you. You are all very blessed and Maria and Elijah are so lucky to have your love. Their lives will be so much better and enriched now. Enjoy this incredible journey. They are so adorable. : )

    I used to student teach with your mom, and our mom’s taught together for many years at OPE.

  • ~CCC November 20, 2012, 4:27 am

    this post just about says it all. totally inspired by you guys and to God be the glory!

  • Jill - addingaburden.com November 22, 2012, 12:05 am

    Congratulations! We just adopted our son from Moscow City and are flying home with him on Saturday. I can relate to your feelings! Beautifully story; praise God for his good gifts!

  • The Life of Blights November 22, 2012, 1:29 am

    As many others have said, this post is so beautifully written and is heart filling and gut wrenching at the same time.

    Do you have any idea who that adorable baby girl is who is in elijah’s old crib?

    (friend of Jenna Anderson)

  • The Quillins December 27, 2012, 3:21 pm

    My husband and I have been talking about adopting for a while now. I fell apoun your page on facebook and just cant stop crying tears of joy over your stories. I am so happy for your family and love seeing how your children are adjusting so beautiful. Can you share what orphange you adopted Elijah from? That little girl that took over his crib is so beautiful I just have to get to know her as soon as possible. Every time I see her picture I just know she is suppose to be in our family.

  • Sarah March 7, 2013, 1:39 am

    I just started reading your blog for the first time (sent here by my friend Jamie :)) and oh, my. Such a beautiful post. My husband and I are paper-chasing right now to adopt from Ethiopia and my heart already aches for our child who is probably not even born yet. Your children are blessed, you are blessed. What a great God we serve!

  • Sarah March 7, 2013, 1:40 am

    I just started reading your blog for the first time (sent here by my friend Jamie :)) and oh, my. Such a beautiful post. My husband and I are paper-chasing right now to adopt from Ethiopia and my heart already aches for our child who is probably not even born yet. Your children are blessed, you are blessed. What a great God we serve!

  • Sarah March 7, 2013, 1:42 am

    What a beautiful story! My friend Jamie sent me to your blog and I am so thankful. My husband and I are paper-chasing to adopt from Ethiopia, and my heart already aches to hold my son or daughter, who is probably not even born yet. Reading this gave me a glimpse of our future. Your children are blessed, you are blessed. What a mighty God we serve!

  • Christy Irons March 11, 2013, 1:24 pm


  • Daniel and Rachel August 30, 2013, 11:24 pm

    Oh wow, I’m bawling right now!!! THIS is the love of Christ right here!!!! Beautiful children, beautiful story, beautiful love and redemption!! Wow!!! Praise God!!

  • Anastasia October 27, 2015, 4:33 am

    Hi Amy! this is a very touching story, I almost cried while reading it. You and your husband have beautiful, gentle and brave souls, I wish you all the very best! And I’d like to ask you a question. I live in Russia and have always felt driven to help orphans. Adoption is not an option, at least for now. But maybe I could help such families as yours with translation (my English is fluent). Perhaps you could tell me how you got started, who are the women (D and S) who worked with you and how can I contact them? You can also give them my e-mail if you think it’s appropriate. Thank you and all the best to you, your husband and your children!