Tuesday, February 5, 2008

My Russian Family, Continued

As I stated before, the day the kids left was a very sad day for my family. Although it was forbidden and unsure whether or not they would even understand, my mother told the kids that she was going to get them. After only two weeks, she had fallen in love with Serge, Vadim, and Marina and was determined that they would be hers. She told me that after having the children, hunger had a face. During my mother's own turbulent childhood, she went hungry often and many times did not know where her family would sleep. She could not let the children go back to that kind of existence.

Vadim and Marina have a younger sister named Ola who was unable to come because at 4 years old, she was too young to travel with the group to America. On the videos of the orphanage, you can see a tiny Marina and her big eyed little sister with a shaved head. They shaved their heads to prevent lice. For a long time after coming to America, Marina wouldn't let anyone cut her hair. She really wanted long hair!

The children's father left when they were very small and their mother was an alcoholic. Many times Vadim was forced to sleep outside in the cold Russian night because his mother would not let him enter the house. Their mother was physically abusive to Vadim and Ola and often Marina was forced to intervene on her brother and sister's behalf. Vadim was the little man of the family. He would go out every day and look for food for his sisters. Some of you may have read the story of Vadim's cigarette wounds. He was paid a couple of dollars to burn himself with cigarettes. This money was used to buy bread for his sisters. Marina tells that Ola would cry a lot as a baby. She and Vadim would say that she was sleepy; at three and four years old they would try to rock the crying Ola to sleep to no avail. Marina tells my mother, "We pretended that she was sleepy but momma, we knew that she was hungry." Some of the villagers contacted the authorities after days of watching Marina and Vadim barefoot and rummaging through the trash for food. It was then that they entered the orphanage.

After 1.5 of ups and downs, the court date was scheduled and my parents were to leave for Russia in two weeks to get their 4 children-- Serge, Vadim, Ola, and Marina. One night, my mother had a strange dream in which she was at airport customs in Russia. She was crying hysterically saying "I won't leave Serge! I won't leave him!" The officials were forcing her to go and telling her that she must, Serge was not coming. Later, she told one of the adoption agents about her dream and how strange it was. Soon after, the same adoption agent was calling my mom and asking her to sit down. The agent, Val, explained to my mother that after more than 4 years, Serge's mother had shown up and was trying to get Serge back. Evidently, she had a boyfriend/husband that wanted children and because of her years as an alcoholic, she was unable to anymore. This was her reason for coming back to the orphanage to get her only child. As you can imagine, my mother was devastated by the news. She already considered Serge her son and now he was being taken by someone that seemingly had very shady motives. I guess the dream was God's way of preparing my mom for this horrible news.

My mother has an intense fear of flying. She has flown once in her life and vowed to never do so again! Before she left, God took that fear from her and she was able to make the long flight to Russia in peace. When my parents arrived, the children did not recognize them at first. Slowly the realization dawned on them that it was the people from America! Unfortunately, they had been told by their foster families that my parents were going to cut off their private parts and sell them in America. Two days ago, Marina told my mom, "Momma, they told me that you were going to take my parts but I didn't care. After I came back from America all I could think about was how much I wanted to live in America!" The children warmed up to my parents very quickly and were soon calling them momma and papa. All during the time in Russia they sang and danced and performed for my parents. At night, the would lie side by side asleep and holding each other's hands.
The day for court arrived. Families are encouraged to bring the Russian judge alcohol and gifts. So my mom, a teetotaler, made a trip to ABC and bought a bottle of Jack Daniels for the judge. That is so funny for me to picture :) My parents were interrogated for hours about their intentions for the kids and why they wanted them and etc. Serge was brought in and allowed to speak for himself as to whether or not he would go with the American family or remain in Russia, where his mother may or may not reclaim him permanently. He told the courts that although my family was very good to him, that if he went with the Americans, he would miss his mother. He had officially decided to stay in Russia. We all hope and pray that his mother is doing right by him and can only trust God that this was His will for Serge and my families lives.

On the return trip, Marina was very ill. She was burning up with a fever and they could not get it to go down. All of the stewards were trying to help her, even the passenger doctor on board. They thought that they would have to make an emergency landing but thankfully, her fever must have went down because they made it back to the states! My mother held her in her arms all those long hours until they landed.

Vadim, Marina, and Ola were the most well-behaved children, so hard working and thoughtful. They soon got used to the American cuisine... and the American ways. Now I often hear my mother fussing at the kids to clean up their shoes and backpacks... typical children :) After my mom was arguing at Vadim to clean up his room the other day, he came to her and said, "Mean momma, but I don't care. I still don't want to go back to Russia!" This from the child that testified to the courts that he would never learn the English language (little did he know us Southerners don't speak it too well NEITHER!) and did not want to come because he was fearful of losing his Russian heritage! All of them love God and church. This took Vadim a little getting used to. Southern preachers can be very long winded-- and it would be even worse if you couldn't understand a word they were saying! Marina especially loves to go to church, in fact, her favorite thing to do is to go to her room and play church. She and her sister sing and worship and make up dramas to the songs. Marina and Ola have even performed their dramas in ministry outreaches. Vadim loves racing his dirtbike and recently broke his wrist while racing around the front yard where he was not supposed to be riding (see I told you, typical American kid!)

We love the children so much and we are the ones who have been blessed through this adoption. It is unbearable to think where my little brothers and sisters would be if it weren't for God laying that burden to adopt on my parent's hearts! We were told the typical lifespan for a Russian child on the streets is 21 years old. Most children are not adopted after 15 and are forced to leave the orphanage after 16. Had Marina not been adopted, she would have never found out that she suffers from a rare disease that stunts her growth and prevents her from bearing children. Now she is on a growth hormone and has already grown 1 inch in just a few months. There is also a slim chance that she will be able to have children naturally. If not, my mother has already had a vision/dream that she was in her country ministering to orphans. If God chooses not to heal her she will have many spiritual children!

We are so blessed in America. Even the poorest of us have so much to give. I hope that this story will encourage someone out there to open up their hearts and lives to a child without a home. Yes there are financial hurdles, but remember the Earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof. There is no hurdle that God cannot move if we are willing to put our shoulder to the plow, pray, and wait for His instruction. I know a lady who did car washes to earn the money to adopt one of her numerous children! As is often said, "Where there is a will, there is a way!" Or maybe you will be able to help another family find the means to adopt. Pray and ask God how you can be a blessing to these children who so desperately want a mother and father to love.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after the orphans and the widows in their distress... James 1:27 NIV

{Updated on 2/21/2008: Some pictures have been removed for the children's protection}


Marie M said...

Thanks for the post Himilce! So good to hear the story again! It is so important what your mom and dad did! I'm so amazed how God has brought your family so far from when they started with the kids! I'm so proud of them!!!!

Elizabeth said...

Marie's thoughts exactly.....

Its so nice to hear about the kids and how they have adapted to our country and been given the best gift of all, our Lord! Thank goodness for your Mom and Dad.

You must keep us updated continually about those loveable kids!

Melissa said...

Thanks for sharing with us about your siblings. What an amazing story! It's sad that they are forever impacted, however, they can use what happened to them to glorify the Lord.

Again, thanks for sharing. God Bless your wonderful parents.

Sweet Ruthie said...

Oh Himilce! That is such a sweet story, it is so encouraging to hear it.
Thank you for your sweet comments, and by the way I keep forgetting to post Elizabeth's picture again, I don't know how come it doesn't come up.
Thank you again!

Lisa said...

That has to be the most God-filled adoption story that I've ever read. Thank you so very much for reminding me of the good things in life.

Mrs. Bonnie said...

Yep, it was a tear jerker, but in a good way. Your siblings are too cute, and look much like you and your family!

Davene said...

I'm just now going back through your blog and getting COMPLETELY caught up since Tobin's birth. I've checked in every so often, but hadn't read every post. So I'm having fun! :)

THANKS for sharing this adoption story! Each one is unique--and so very special. It makes my heart long for the day when we can adopt. :) I don't know for sure that we'll ever get to do that, but I can hope!