Goodness, has it really been over a month since I’ve posted here? I am so sorry for the delay. Life since our last post has been … well, full. We held two incredibly successful benefit concerts, by which I was overwhelmingly humbled and filled with gratitude for the love and support of friends, family, and strangers. God is so good.
While we were in VA for the second benefit concert, Shanti got to see Nastya, one of her best friends from her orphanage life, and I got to see my sister and nieces. Oh what a wonderful weekend it was! My parents played host and hostess to the large gathering, and I was once again reminded how incredibly blessed we are by our wonderful support network. Jill and Rebecca, thank you both so much for making the trip to attend our concert with your kiddos in tow. It was SO good to see you both.
The weekend after our second benefit concert, on a Saturday morning no less, we got the call we’d been hoping and praying for: we got our date. We were scheduled for our appointment with the central adoption regulators in Shiloh’s country at 11:00 am local time on December 8th. Oh my! It was much earlier than we’d expected to receive our appointment, so we had lots of figuring and re-arranging of our schedule to do in order to make it work. Arturo and I were supposed to play a concert on December 6, and my music students were to perform their studio recital the afternoon of December 6. We spent over 2 hours on the phone with a travel agent trying to find some way we could leave Cincinnati on the 7th and make it in time for our appointment, but no such luck. We had to leave on the 6th. We did the rescheduling we needed to do, and we made it work. Our plane tickets were bought just a few days later. So exciting!
We then left all adoption thoughts behind and spent an incredible 4 days in New York City celebrating the 13th birthday of one very special girl. Before her 12th birthday, which we celebrated with Shanti in 2013 at her orphanage, Shanti asked us to take her to NYC for her 13th birthday. In the book of photos we brought for Shanti, she saw a photo of me in front of the Statue of Liberty and immediately decided she wanted to go there herself. So go to NYC we did. We saw the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (so cool!), took an open-air bus tour of Manhattan (more fun than I expected, and Shanti loved it), rode the subway (required for every visitor of NYC), visited friends in NYC (who were gracious enough to allow us to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with them), spent an afternoon at the Queens science museum (which was AWESOME — absolutely worth the admission price and more), saw the Macy’s window displays (WOW!), bought lots of souvenirs (we did have a 13yo with us, after all!), saw the World Trade Center Memorial (so moving), and took the Staten Island Ferry for a great view of the Statue of Liberty. It was a wonderful trip, and I’m so glad we had that intensive family bonding time with Shanti before our travels to Eastern Europe.
Just a few days after we arrived home from New York, our silent auction ended, with a final tally of well over $1,000. Wow! At this point, almost 2 weeks after the auction’s conclusion, not quite all of the winning bids have been paid, but most of them have, and that money will pay for our return plane tickets home as a family of four. I cannot thank enough those who donated to and bid in our auction. You literally provided the way for us to return home with our son.
No sooner had the auction concluded than we packed and hopped on a plane to Eastern Europe. We arrived in early afternoon on December 7, had our appointment without conflict on December 8, and met our son on December 10. On December 15, “Shiloh” signed his new name (which I can’t yet share) on the document stating that he wants to join our family. On December 17 (today), our request for a court date was submitted back to the central government adoption regulators. We are praying for a miracle that would allow us to have court before the courts and government offices close on December 31, as a delay in our court date until after the holidays would require us to stay in-country for at least an extra 3 weeks. At this point, we are expecting to be here until the 3rd or 4th week of January if we have court before December 31 and until the 2nd or 3rd week of February if we have court after the holiday break. Prayers are much appreciated.
“Shiloh” is wonderful and is indeed a perfect fit for our family. He and Shanti definitely hit it off, and their relationship is already growing well. Shiloh is fun, energetic, and all-around a great little boy. We are so excited to call him our son. I can’t share photos or details now, but I will as soon as we pass court and take custody, making us officially a family of four.
This adoption trip has definitely been different than Shanti’s in a number of ways, not least of which that we have Shanti with us and have her daily needs and schoolwork to monitor. Perhaps the biggest difference relates to our trips to and from Shiloh’s orphanage. For Shanti’s adoption, we were a mere 5 minute walk from her orphanage. Even on days when we spent 3 or 4 hours at her orphanage, the rest of our days still felt empty. Such was our free time (and level of boredom) that I knitted no less than 5 scarves, 6 hats, and 3 pairs of mittens during the 6 weeks when we were visiting Shanti’s orphanage each day.
Our visiting experience this time couldn’t be more different. Shiloh’s orphanage is over 1 hour away from our apartment, making for a 2-hour+ round trip each day just to see him, and nearly 40 minutes each way is walking, for a total of 80 minutes a day walking along the cold, muddy streets of Eastern Europe. While the weather hasn’t been terribly cold, it has definitely been cold enough to make the walk unpleasant. By the time we get home each night after our visit with Shiloh, we are completely spent and have no energy for anything other than making a quick dinner and falling into bed. I brought my knitting supplies for our trip this year, but I have a feeling little knitting will actually get done, unless we find a way to boost our energy levels significantly.
Shanti and I are also somewhat homesick. We both miss the comforts of our friends and family during the holiday season. I’m going to go shopping for Christmas decorations for our apartment today or tomorrow, which will hopefully help things significantly. Arturo is also struggling, although of a different sort. He’s had trouble in the past with kidney stones (including one terrible episode during Shanti’s adoption trip), and it appears the kidney stones are rearing their ugly heads once again. We would like to ask for prayers for Shanti and I to find comfort from the homesickness and for Arturo to find relief from the pain.
I’m now going to be a horrible blogger and end this post with not a single photo. It’s time for lunch and then the mandatory hour+ trip to Shiloh’s orphanage, so photos will just have to wait for another day. Greetings to all of you from Eastern Europe. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement. I can’t wait to introduce you to our new son!