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We’re home!

And life is sweet.

wishes come true

Thank you to our friends and family for making these travel weary people feel so loved and welcome

After we tucked our babies into warm beds after our 13 hour flight, and fell into a deep sleep, we woke up and piled all our happy, sleepy, sweet kids onto our bed. Oh my goodness, what a sight!

They just couldn’t get enough of each other.  Oh, how we have waited for this moment.

 We made a big breakfast with lots of food for little tummies, and our halls and rooms filling with laughter and joy.  We couldn’t believe how blessed we felt, looking at these sweet smiles, filling our hearts, as yellow morning light filled the windows.  Maria is the dancing, little caretaker of the boys, my sweet helper, Finley and Elijah love playing together, and Finley asks for Maria every 5 minutes, “Mawea??  Mawea?” looking for her.  “Yes, Fill-ey?”  Today, she tried to pick him up, but couldn’t lift that hefty boy!

Our entire day felt so full, so blessed.  Simple tasks have so much more joy to them, even silly things like laundry.  Even cooking food because it is for children who hadn’t been able to eat like that ever before.

We showed Maria the outside, and she threw her arms up in the air, “woooow!” she said, delighted–joy is contagious.   And when she discovered we had a cat…it was love.  Out little cat has never had so much love in her life.  Maria is incredible with animals, and can get Piper to do anything she pleases, which baffles Andrew and I. 🙂


 She ran the palm of her hand along the edges of the clothes hanging in her closet, and looked at me solemly, and pointed at herself, a question.

“Yes, honey, they are all yours.”

She looked back at them, and smiled softly, stopping on the dresses.  She picked out a red, flowy dress and asked me if she could wear if, “Of course, baby!”

Our little Russian never thought this could be possible in November, welcome to California!

Now I know why God gave us this garden house, the first thing she did was ask if she could water the plants and the flowers.  She danced around the yard, giving water to thirsty plants.  Sometimes she would spray Finley’s bare feet and he would double over in laughter, he is her little shadow.

If those orphanage workers saw Elijah with bare feet in grass, they would think we were the worst…. hehe

Our joy girl

“Mama, please?”  “Haha, go for it girl”

What’s in this box at the very top of Maria’s desk, you ask?  Well, the contents may surprise you as they did me 🙂

What they heck?  Our unfriendly cat, totally at her will.

 Our house is so full, full of joy and laughter, we are having so much fun in each minute.  Andrew chasing a cat under a bed, two kids eagerly on his back, one more peeking under as well.

Today we went to the park to go feed the fishies.  Maria was shocked when she saw their shiny little bodies make their way to the surface to pop the crumbs in their mouths, “Riba!” she said, pointing excitedly.

Maria and Finley fed the fish to their hearts content, but sometimes Finley would sneak bites of his bread 😉  Elijah just watched–sweet boy still taking it all in, a world outside his crib.

 Family hike, my handsome boys.

I feel so happy when I see Elijah exploring, free from his old crib, getting some sunlight on his translucent skin, working his little leggies. 

When Elijah bonks his head, or tips over and gets hurt, he has absolutely no reaction whatsoever, which is typical of children raised in orphanages because they don’t know how to, or have never received comfort from adults, and they shut off that reaction.  I saw a baby dropped into a crib, bounce around and not make a peep.  But for the first time today, when he tipped, he reached his little arms up to me, looking into my eyes, with a look on his face like, “Maybe?”  So I scooped him up and made a big deal about him falling, and kissing him, and he was all smiles.  I have seen so much change in this tiny soul, it’s so encouraging, it’s such an incredible honor to have him in our home learning so much.  I love making his bottles these days which I shove full of scoops of all sorts of goodness; pure coconut oil (pure fat ;), fish oil, chia seeds, formula and other fun things.  His skin is looking so much healthier.

My three babies making music together

Sometimes we find tiny piles of food in little places around our house, especially in Maria’s room, which is also typical of orphanage children, who have suffered from hunger throughout their lives.  We are parenting them differently than a bio child, and offering food freely, even if she asks for a snack right before dinner, we say, “Of course honey,” and let her have it and even hold it during dinner as she is learning that she is safe.

Picking her first avocado, which are $10 each in Russia, by the way.

Maria is learning English quickly, but I am careful not to put any pressure on her, I want her to enjoy learning.  I am also careful to show her that I am trying hard to learn Russian.  We were doing a wooden alphabet puzzle, and she taught me each of the letters in Russian, and even though I wanted to teach her the English names, I just waited, and actually learned a lot!  Then at the end, she recited all the English words for the letters as well!  It was really so fun.  Tonight after dinner, she walked up to me and said, “Mama, I love you!”  She was so proud, so was I.  And as we tucked her in, and I snuggled with her reading, “A Bad Case of the Stripes,” we laughed together at all the funny parts, she is able to follow along.


Tonight, our awesome friends dropped off dinner, we made a fire and the children played.  I am not going to lie, it’s pretty magical.  Andrew and I were talking about how much more we enjoy things that in the past we may have considered mundane, and how much we love our little family.  And when we look to the future, we feel excited for more as each of our children grow into the person God intended them to be.

Oh, visit the earth,
    ask her to join the dance!
Deck her out in spring showers,
    fill the God-River with living water.
Paint the wheat fields golden.
    Creation was made for this!
Drench the plowed fields,
    soak the dirt clods
With rainfall as harrow and rake
    bring her to blossom and fruit.
Snow-crown the peaks with splendor,
    scatter rose petals down your paths,
All through the wild meadows, rose petals.
    Set the hills to dancing,
Dress the canyon walls with live sheep,
    a drape of flax across the valleys.
Let them shout, and shout, and shout!
    Oh, oh, let them sing!
Psalm 65:9-13

Ok, but seriously, thank you for your prayers, your support and for each person who has made these last 2 days possible, all our children under one roof.  Thank you for helping us bring our children home.

Please donate to Maria’s best friend KATE! or adopt her?  🙂 It’ll be fun

Thanks again, our family is so appreciative of the kind and generous people in our lives.

**Sorry, I haven’t gotten back to any emails or texts or anything, but I will make it my goal this week to make it happen!  Love you all so, so much!

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  • Wandering Heart November 20, 2012, 8:31 am

    Beautiful post, beautiful children! I was smiling all the way through.

  • Sarah Phillips November 20, 2012, 9:14 am

    Your posts bring tears to my eyes every time I read them I haven’t been a follower for too long so I need to go back and read your whole adoption story.

  • Julie November 20, 2012, 1:11 pm

    Beautiful!! Been following your story since your committed to Maria. Curious about the age difference between Finley & Elijah?

  • Heather November 20, 2012, 1:29 pm

    I have been waiting for this post, and it was everything I dreamed it would be. God is SO good! I am so very happy for your family!!


  • Sarah November 20, 2012, 3:23 pm

    So wonderful to see this pictures! I was wondering what these would look like. Love the garden. Living in the Midwest in the winter, I sure wouldn’t mind being able to step into a garden like that right now!

  • Rebecca Higgins November 20, 2012, 3:26 pm

    Beautiful! Beautiful! My heart is full of happiness for all of you! God is good and worthy of our praise! Have a wonderful, fun-filled, family Thanksgiving!

  • Sarah November 20, 2012, 3:27 pm

    P.S. Thanks for the picture of the books that you dropped off at Maria’s orphanage! I hope the kids enjoy them. I was glad to buy them. 🙂

    I observed many hoarding behaviors at the orphanage I worked at, mostly with toilet paper and books.

    Are you anywhere near Olvera Street? I really enjoyed that when I went to Los Angeles.

  • Alyessa Duncan November 20, 2012, 3:40 pm

    Amazing. Simply Amazing.

  • Marissa November 20, 2012, 4:19 pm

    So, so thankful for these children being home! Congratulations on your beautiful, amazing family!

  • Kat November 20, 2012, 4:32 pm

    HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!! Oh what joy abounds! God bless you all sweet family.

  • Molly November 20, 2012, 4:47 pm

    Okay, I am so enjoying coming along on your journey. Share all of it with us, even the things you think don’t matter. I find so much hope in your words because I sometimes feel completely overwhelmed by the orphan crisis. I need to hear stories of lives being saved.

    Prayer for you all.

  • shoshanna November 20, 2012, 5:57 pm

    So so beautiful! The joy just bursts through – it can’t help but shimmer. Maria looks so settled and Elijah has so much more life in his little face now 🙂

  • TnL November 20, 2012, 8:04 pm

    YEAH!!!! I am so happy for all of you. I am sure you have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. I hope you are able to keep up with your blog through the holiday so we can see how Maria and Elijah get to learn what love is at the most wonderful time of the year.

  • sasass November 20, 2012, 8:05 pm

    You can see the joy shining right through Maria and Elijah. Thank you for sharing your journey!

  • Kym November 20, 2012, 8:27 pm


  • Squiggly Rainbow November 20, 2012, 9:50 pm

    I’ve been so excited to see your homecoming! Again I have not many words, except tears in my eyes, thankful to Him and love for you all! xxx

  • Rebecca November 20, 2012, 9:56 pm

    Okay, this is the third time today I have read this post and stared at the pictures. I am so thankful that you allow us all follow along on your journey, and especially for the overflow of joy from your sweet family to us 🙂

  • Angela Bailey November 20, 2012, 11:03 pm

    I am overwhelmingly overjoyed for you!!!


  • Teresa and Andy November 21, 2012, 12:53 am

    Aw, man, I love the great pictures of Maria and the dandelion.

    You probably are anticipating this, but we found that it was really important to spend a lot of time cocooning, teaching our daughter what it means to be part of a family. That can be hard to do when friends and family are excited about meeting and hugging and playing with the new arrival (arrivals, plural, in your case), and don’t quite get the extent to which an orphanage child has a different background. Good luck on your voyage as a family!

    (Also, re food hoarding, it can be effective to give something, like granola bars, for a child to keep in her room and control herself. Sanctioned hoarding, sort of.)

  • kate November 21, 2012, 1:23 am

    I just love your girl! She is a gem. ;>

    I can’t wait to hear more! It brings back such sweet memories.

  • kate November 21, 2012, 1:24 am

    p.s. Welcome HOME! I know it feels more like home now than it ever did before. <3

  • Jen November 21, 2012, 2:36 am

    Welcome home! Beautiful pictures of your amazing kids!

  • Laura Marino November 21, 2012, 5:44 am

    I love seeing all of these pictures and especially love seeing Maria’s beautiful smile! I can totally see how the little things in life that you took for granted or thought mundane now seem so wonferul. The appreciation you all must have for even the tiny things or the anoying things (laundry like you said!)… I’m so happy for you and SO ready to meet them, whenever you guys feel settled enough.

  • Christiana November 21, 2012, 7:29 am

    I just found your blog tonight and have literally spent the last four hours (it’s WAY past my bedtime) reading and reading the whole story of your beautiful little family. I was deeply touched. Your children, all three of them, are gorgeous and as you’ve said so many times, “so worthy.”

    I’m a mom of three little boys who has had a heart toward adoption all my life and seeing your angel girl Maria has blessed me beyond measure. With my husband in nursing school and us renting the house we call home, I know that adoption isn’t a current possibility, but you’ve opened my mind to the possibility of it being in our future. I’m going to start saving. Pocketing away what I can here and there. We already live on an extremely tight budget, but there are always little sacrifices to be made, garage sales to be held, crafts to make and sell…

    Anyway, I just wanted to let you know how your story has blessed me. And maybe changed my life.

  • Future Nurse November 21, 2012, 2:24 pm

    What joy and beauty. Reading your blog fills me with so much love and peace, seeing such genuine happiness in the photos, reading the love-filled words, and listening to the beautiful music.

    I have a special place in my heart to adopting an older child to add to our brood, and the beauty of your story makes it seem that much more possible and realistic. I’ve actually gone back to your “gotcha day” post several times, as I find it so beautiful to re-read, so tenderly written. 🙂

    Nursing school cannot finish soon enough, in order to be in a position to adopt…in the meantime, I am one of Kate’s Prayer Warriors. Happy Thanksgiving from Canada! Kate xo

  • KimberlyKB214 November 21, 2012, 2:49 pm

    Amazing. No other word but amazing.

  • Grace November 21, 2012, 8:15 pm

    Your family is beautiful and I just wanted to thank you for letting me be a part of this journey. I’m thankful for families like yours! Happy Thanksgiving and Happy 1st Thanksgiving to Maria and Elijah!

  • Marijane November 22, 2012, 5:42 am

    the story of your beautiful family has been such a JOY to follow. Only God could be the author of such a story . . . played out in the lives He always intended would be woven together. Your obedience and patience is a blessing! Happy THANKSgiving!

  • noneya November 23, 2012, 3:55 pm

    I too am a RR family. We too adopted what would have been considered an older child (almost6 and a 2 yr. old). I so love your heart for realistic expectations and enjoying the every single mundane moments that arent so mundane anymore. We often adopt thinking we are rescuing a precious soul,and to some degree that is so true, however I have found that it is our family that is rescued. Our family will never be the same again because of this joy.

    You are a very gifted writer and have the ability to bring your readers right into the scenery with you. Your blog is a breath of fresh air and a beauty to behold. So excited to watch more of your journey to unfold. ~Trina Scoda

  • Suzanne November 25, 2012, 1:36 am

    So happy for you all. Praying you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Can’t wait to see what God has in store for you all as a family.