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Moscow and the first days of healing

 We are having the absolute time of our lives, in the most beautiful city we have ever been to.

Maria dancing with Papa

We traveled the entire length of Russia to get here, a plane, train and taxi, holding our kids close, who did wonderfully well the entire time.  And when we drove in the taxi through the streets of Moscow for the first moments, our eyes saw through rain dropped windows sweeping stone buildings, huge plazas, and bright, dancing lights.  Moscow is one of the most beautiful and refined cities I have ever been to.
Piled in blessings on our way to the capitol

Andrew’s amazing parents gave us their Marriott points to use for our three days here, and our only word is wow.

The lobby

 We are spoiled by the room, they gave us a free upgrade, and each morning we have a buffet breakfast (I couldn’t make this up if I tried!)  It’s funny to see our two babies in the lap of luxury, it’s funny to see ourselves here, but for them, it’s like rags to riches.

The first morning, we headed down to the all you can eat breakfast buffet with classical music, and more food than you could imagine. I made Elijah a concoction of oatmeal, yogurt, kefir, carrot juice, a little butter and floated a piece of salmon in it for the oils.  I kept feeding him throughout the meal, kept offering him more in small doses.

$1 garage sale moccasins 🙂

Then, we headed to the pool.  The kids couldn’t quiet believe how much fun this whole ‘family’ thing is.

Annoying the other patrons with loud giggling, just out style

The first few stages of healing.
Andrew and I have decided early on, that we will help our children heal in God’s timing, and in his direction.  We will not be filled with anxiety of the list of suggestions and overwhelm our children with too much too soon.  We choose joy, we choose thankfulness, we choose fun, we choose enjoyment.  We chose to see each moment as  a gift of possibility, and not focus on the length of the road. God’s joy and freedom.

 And each, and every day, they are surprising us, and delighting us with their growth, and their reception to us.  Honestly, it is not in our strength, it is not in our knowledge, it is in the example of sacrifice and love set before us by the God that we love, who daily, and now hourly, inspires us in our love for our children.
Elijah spends a good amount of his days being kissed.  I mean, it’s almost awkward, I do it even while talking to people, but too bad for them.

Small updates:

Maria is– a gift. She is a breath of fresh air.  She is light and love, and moment by moment fills our hearts with joy.  When I reach to put on my jacket, she quickly grabs it to put it on for me.  When we walk outside, she hold our hands, holds our arms, and smiles up at us as she skips down the street.  We adopted her to give her everything.  We asked nothing of her, and she showers us with love.  She has gone in 3 days, from being ‘one in a crowd’ to understanding ‘family’ better.  She would walk with us, and sometimes start to follow the crowd, before we grabbed her hand, “Families stick together,” we’d tell her.  And in three days, she knows.  Each moment she reaches out for affection, we take her into our arms and show her love right back.  Although she still has a road to walk towards healing, we feel honored that we are the ones who get to walk it with her.  God could have chosen anybody, but he chose us, and I’ll never be able to understand that kind of goodness.


Has grown the most, and has the most to grow.  It makes my insides burn to remember that after picking him up from the orphanage, he didn’t have a dirty or wet diaper for 12 hours.  He is now much more healthy.  Instead of a few big meals, we offer him small doses of food and formula and pediasure throughout the day: first to help his small stomach and body grow gradually, and also for him to know he is safe, and that mama and papa mean food, which to him means security.  He is constantly making more eye contact with us, like, “Me?  Really?”

In three days time, he has gone from taking care of himself, to searching for his mama, needing mama, and only being able to fall asleep with mama.  This boy is so in love, and so loved. He is our precious 17 month old ‘newborn,’ smaller than pictures can relay.

This moby wrap is the best thing to happen for this sweet babe.

 Although he is growing and learning, he has lived his whole life in survival mode, not enough food, not enough anything.  And when he feels hungry, he doesn’t just cry, he screams out of pure fear that his little body won’t make it–it is sad and hard to see.  We hold him, and comfort him, but although he’s learning, he doesn’t know yet that he will never be that kind of hungry again, that he is no longer on his own, that he doesn’t need to fend for himself.

And when I see my son, yelling in fear, I see myself.  So overwhelmed by my needs, by my fears at times that I can’t even see the father that is in my presence, even as I fret.  Just as we wait and long for Elijah to come to us for his every need, his fear prevented him.  Elijah would fight it at times as we tried to feed him and hold him on that very first day, and it was only out of exhaustion that he would try trusting.  But, in those first moments of trust, he began to like it. Although he has a road of healing ahead of him, he has made such great strides, and we are here for him.  I ask God often to show me how best to parent our wounded little birdy, and God has been so very good and faithful.

God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it,
He throws caution to the winds,
    giving to the needy in reckless abandon.
His right-living, right-giving ways
    never run out, never wear out.
This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God.//
We leave today to head home, can you believe it?  I can’t.  Pray for us, if you think of it.  But mostly, pray for the children we leave behind.
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{ 16 comments… add one }
  • JaneC November 17, 2012, 3:46 am

    God is so good. You all now have time to let God heal all wounds. Going for joy and love seems to be the right thing to do. Blessing on you. I am looking forward to your joy in having all three of your children home safe and sound.

  • Julie Rakay November 17, 2012, 3:49 am

    Thank you so much for the update! I’ve been checking to see how the rest of your trip is going. Prayers for a safe journey home!


  • Lainy Grey November 17, 2012, 3:55 am

    I wanted to tell you how much your story has moved my husband and I. We have talked about adoption for a long time but have made the decision we are starting the process to adopt. I truly know God brought us here to read your story through other friends posting about it, in order to give us the strength to follow his path for us. You are all in our prayers. Safe travels 🙂

  • Lou November 17, 2012, 4:06 am

    Amazing photographs Amy. already you can see the changes in both Maria and Elijah – their faces are more open and the love they have is just overwhelming.

    I think Maria & Elijah are so lucky to found you, Andrew and Finley; and I think you,Andrew and Finley are so lucky to have found Maria & Elijah.

    I cannot wait to read about how your family continues to grow in love and trust of one another.

    Travel Safe
    Lou 🙂

  • c November 17, 2012, 4:31 am

    I am enjoying following your story so much. Your children are beautiful!

  • The Idaho Neumanns November 17, 2012, 5:24 am

    Your Elijah is such a sweet baby. Thank you for sharing so much about him. I shake my head a lot when reading about his condition and I haven’t made it through a blog entry yet without crying tears of joy and tears of absolute disbelief and asking “why”? What a fallen world we live in. I thank God for parents that are willing to share the truth about these babies and show Christ’s love to them. May you have a wonderful trip home and may God continue to bless your family. What a blessing your daughter is too! Beautiful child.

  • Rebecca Higgins November 17, 2012, 6:39 am

    How wonderful of Andrew’s parents to give their Marriott points so that you all could enjoy your first few days together in Moscow in great comfort. I know exactly where that hotel is (not that I’ve ever stayed there before 🙂 and its proximity to Moscow’s key attractions. While Elijah won’t remember Moscow, Maria will. I’m sure she never dreamed she’d ever see it firsthand. What a bonding time for all of you and what special memories you are creating! My prayers continue to be with you as you make your journey home. What an awesome time for this miracle of God’s grace to occur–Thanksgiving! How perfect is that?! May God’s continued healing take place–especially in little Elijah’s body. My heart is giving praise to our Father that He has united these precious children with two precious parents and soon to be united with their precious brother. May God smooth the transitions for all of you. Happy, happy Thanksgiving!

  • Jen November 17, 2012, 6:57 am

    so thankful for healing….. I have been praying for your journey home, but mostly for the little one’s still there. I was telling my husband about the babies in the cribs, not being held, being so malnourished and deyhdrated– and then my 9 year old Bella started sobbing. We had a family prayer time for all those sweet babies and children. Ever since I read your Gotcha post, and was introduced to your journey I keep picturing my little Ellie in one of those cribs…. or Gracie and Bella in a “big kid orphanage” without the love they need. I feel like my child is half way around the world, and I can’t reach them. As a nurse, I just can’t get past those hurting babies– unbelievable.

  • Holly Schoeppler November 17, 2012, 11:59 am

    I’ve been praying for your family all week. I’ll pray you all the way home and also remember those left behind, especially Kate. Your children are blessed to have you guys as parents (and I know you feel the same way to have them!). Our God is an awesome God!!!

  • Kimberly November 17, 2012, 4:35 pm

    Praying for safe travels home, and continuing to pray for those left behind. Your hearts will never be the same. Healing can take a time, we’re home 4 years and we still have moments. But it is a gift to be able to go through those moments with my son and the nights when there are no terrors are simply priceless, just knowing he feels safe enough to sleep. You can see the change in your children already. God knew what parents to give these children to. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Molly November 17, 2012, 5:45 pm

    I have only recently found your blog and I am just in awe of your journey. I so wish I could take the same one. But my husband is not on board and I’m not sure we would qualify.

    Your children are amazing. Elijah tugs at me especially. I will pray for you all.

  • prnps November 17, 2012, 10:05 pm

    I have thought of dyou all week hoping all was going well. I stayed at that Marriott with my daughter and it was a little piece of heaven. I pray it is a good trip home and for all the children still waiting for families. Elijah has some excitement coming his way when the whole family gets together.

  • kate November 17, 2012, 10:45 pm


  • Kym November 18, 2012, 8:01 am

    praying praying and praying some more. your children are beautiful. moscow looks and sounds like an amazing place. you probably feel like your in another world, so happy and fulfilled. i cant even imagine… i think i’ve told you that a lot, but i really cant. i hope you have a safe and easy trip home. it will be so exciting for finley to meet his new siblings! and also, you guys are amazing (another thing i’ve probably said a million times) and loving- that’s why the kids keep surprising you and are warming up to you so quickly. love is contagious. god is showing you what to do and your doing it beautifully. those are some lucky kiddos 🙂

  • Rachael Klopfer November 18, 2012, 10:47 pm

    Wow…just wow! I started following your blog after “Ava’s Mom” shared it on Facebook and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about your journey. Maria and Elijah are beyond lucky but how lucky are you guys?? Those children are wonderful (and gorgeous) and I’m excited for what lies ahead for you all. Please keep sharing and I’ll keep praying for continued healing and love and joy and all things wonderful. And the timing…what a celebration Thanksgiving will be.

  • superfan519 November 19, 2012, 7:37 pm

    itching for an update! So excited to hear all about your glorious reunion with finley and your new family of 5! If I wasn’t unmarried, 23, and living in a war zone right now, i’d for sure be adopting 🙂

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