‘What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men …… That is what love looks like.’ - St. Augustine

Monday, December 24, 2012

So Much To Be Thankful For

Left is Nastia's referral photo. Right is D this week. I see a resemblance:)
I know I am way overdue for an update. I just haven't felt like posting with all the ups and downs in Russia this past month. But today I've just been feeling so grateful - despite the bad news. We have been hosting D for two weeks now. Its been a great experience, even with all the infighting between she and Nastia. Its been a great learning experience for all three of us and D is a very special girl. She is smart as a whip, funny, brave, willing to try new things. She is incredibly athletic, loves the outdoors, loves dress-up and dolls and bedtime stories - but loves games and legos and building with blocks just as much. She is an interesting mix of girly-girl and tomboy. She is fiercely independent and strong-willed, but luckily I have experience with that:)
D with Matilda

Everyone who meets her falls in love with her, much to Nastia's dismay, but we are working on this. At church yesterday, Nastia confessed that she spent the whole time asking God to help her with her 'jealousy issues.' And she's trying so hard. More than half the time they are really enjoying each other, but when they do clash - watch out! Neither one will back down and it takes mom intervention to help them both see how to compromise.

My mom is visiting this week too, which is really really wonderful. Its so nice to have family here. She gets a kick out of both girls and has been spending time just hanging out with us, which  is so welcome. We had a huge Christmas Party here last night and it was so packed that we literally had no room to move! It was shoulder to shoulder and lots of fun, but I did wish that I could expand my tiny house for just one night a year! I got to see friends and students from long ago, as well as most of my current ones. Nastia had some friends in attendance and she actually stayed out in the party nearly the entire time - huge change for her! D had a blast and entertained everyone with her antics. A few stayed till after 1am and we had a great, long talk about Christmas, the meaning of it all, how swift time is moving and what we can do to slow it down and savor the moments.

As for the Russian Adoption ban, I can't say much right now because its a little too raw. I cant go there in my head and heart yet. A journalist friend in Russia is doing a piece on me and Daniel for a national magazine. A few others have been in touch about covering our specific story. In the meantime, my chiefest concern is for Daniel's welfare. Suicide is rampant in their part of the world. Just last year Daniel found one of the other orphanage kids dead - he had hanged himself. I am terrified that when he hears of the situation with adoption, he may feel its over for him. I've sent a message to him thru several people I know in Prokopyevsk. They have promised to see him in person soon and let him know I am never ever giving up and that I will be his mom no matter what - even if that means being his mom the way I am Anya's mom. As my brother Dan wrote me " You can still always make a difference in his life."

I'm going to try.

Right now I need to head upstairs as D and Nastia are waiting for me to play a game with them. Then we'll open an early present and go to midnight mass with my mom. There is so much to be grateful for. Just focus on the good and trust in the goodness of others. It's there, even when it looks dark.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Ahh, Finally!

Sorry Folks! I have not been able to sign into my blogger acct for quite awhile! Not sure what was wrong, but I got an error message every time I tried - and I couldn't reach anyone who could help me. So, I waited it out:)

I'll be posting an update tomorrow night concerning the orphanage 'invasion'. Have a great day!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Doing What I Love

'Orphanage Invasion' Update

Ksusha on the left, and the Assistant Director, Katya R, in the center.
This morning I was able to chat online with three of the girls who aged out of the orphanage in June -- for two whole hours! Ksusha Novikova, Nastya Krasilova and Natasha Chernova were all on at the same time via a school computer! I was able to ask them many questions about the current state of things at the orphanage and what they need.
Nastya Krasilova, who is acting as the main 'messenger' to the orphanage for me. She aged out in June and is currently trying to find a place to live. She is attending church weekly and says it helps her
to keep perspective when things are bad.

All three girls said there is a great need for shoes right now. There are not enough shoes to go around once again, and there is simply no money there to buy new pairs. Second to that they said there is a need (as always) for warm socks, hats and gloves. So if you are sending a Christmas package, please include some of these items if you can.
Natasha Chernova on the left, with one of her teachers, at her graduation in June 2012.
She keeps an eye on Daniel for me.

Sadly, they told me that multiple staff members had quit the orphanage recently. They couldn't speak to 'why', and my guess is the girls were scared of speaking about something they shouldn't. But they did say that they were all still in touch with Ekaterina R, the Assistant Director, and that - though she quit this week,too - she promises to pick up all the packages at the post office and deliver them to the children directly, as long as needed. I have known Katya for 8 years. She is a woman of her word who simply adores the children. I know they will receive everything if Katya is in charge. (She is in the top photo.)

They relayed that things are not great at the orphanage, but that they all visit often to check up on the kids and relay messages. These girls are so thoughtful, that they refused to tell me anything they might need or want and instead kept urging me to 'please send shoes' to the kids at their former orphanage. I hope to send these girls all care packages of their own soon. If you'd like to join me, I can share their address with you via email. I just don't want their public address listed here.

All the girls were delighted to hear that many of you will be sending care packages to the kids for Christmas. They know too well how lonely Christmas usually is. The only gifts they will receive are the ones you send. Please remember that photos and cards mean almost more to them than anything else. Consider adding a few family photos and a simple card in Russian to your box. (You can use google translate.)

The address to use when sending your package is listed in my last blog post. Please be SURE to include a copy of the Russian letter I mentioned! I have only received three requests for it via email. I cannot post it here because it contains personal information that shouldn't be shared publicly. but if you email me, I will send it to you!

On a final note: thank you to the 5 people who sent donations for the Thanksgiving Feast to be held at the orphanage next week! $283 has come in!
I sent them $500 this morning, and Katya R is scheduled to pick it up Friday, so the Feast may not happen until Monday. I'll keep you posted about when it occurs.

Thank you to all of you who are taking the time to send a package. I know it was much easier to get people on board with this in past years when I could post photos of the children, but until I go back there again, you'll just have to imagine the joy you're creating:) I can't tell you what a difference it makes in their lives to know someone cares. This morning Natasha ended our conversation with "Thank you for being so faithful in your care of us. It was not expected. We feel very grateful to you."  So -- Know that your care really does make a difference!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Finally Reached The Orphanage!

Persistence pays off! I crafted a desperate letter and sent it to every single young adult I know who has aged out of the orphanage. I contacted them via Russian Facebook, knowing that they are not accessing it very often, but hoping I'd hear from at least one of them. I heard from three today! Nastya Krasilova spoke directly with the assistant Director and relsyed all my information. It turns out they have not receive even one of the emails I sent to the orphanage email address, and they were actually wondering what happened to me, as I always send them funds for 'American Thanksgiving.'

Katya, the Assistance Director, said they are more than grateful to have packages sent over for the Christmas Holidays and she promised she would do her very best to see that the items go to exactly whom you specify. I had related to her that packages would be sent with a letter included detailing what gender and age each box was for, and she said that would be quite helpful. However, if you have been sending packages for the past few years to one particular child, you can still do that. However, you must include a photo of them and their name in a prominent way within the box,so they know. Those of you who have sent packages for years should still have an old photo of your child. Please use that, if possible.

For everyone, here is how to address the box and send it:


Go to your local post office. You will need to fill out a customs form. You will need to say the contents are worth under $25 even if that's not the case. (Otherwise the orphanage will have to pay on the other end.) You'll have to wrap it REALLY well to prevent theft along the way. (Think duct-tape.) You will need to address it VERY clearly. Write what appears below in BIG BOLD LETTERS. 



Ekaterina ( Katya) is the Assistant to the New Director. I have known katya for 8 years. She is a wonderfully kind person who loves the children. Whatever you send, she will make sure it goes to the children - this I can guarantee! 

Lastly, you will need to include the Russian letter with your package that explains your connection to me. I can send it to you via email.  To receive it, write me at KeriCahill34(at)(gmail)(dot)(com.) The letter includes a list of ages/genders that you can circle so that the orphanage knows who to give your gift to. I broke up the ages as follows: 4-6, 7-9, 10-12,13-16. 

Finally, if you wish to send any donation towards their Thanksgiving Feast, it wil be gratefully received! I am sending the Assistant Director $500 via Western Union in the morning...on faith! I can't quite afford that right now, but I have a feeling that some readers will donate this week to help. That sum is more than enough for them to create a wonderful feast for all 100 children, believe it or not! The 'Thanksgiving Feast' will be held this Friday since I cant get the money to them until tomorrow.

To donate to their 3rd annual  'American Thanksgiving', simply use the paypal button on my blog..but be sure to specify that it is for 'Thanksgiving'! If more than $500 comes in, I will send whats left over next month so that they can have a similar feast for Christmas.

I can't tell you what a treat it is for these kids to have this big meal. I was lucky enough to be there for the 'Feast' two years ago. It was a day of great joy! here's a little video clip of that day:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Invasion

There. Got your attention, I suspect. If so, please listen...

I want to plan an invasion. I will need at least a hundred brave souls to join the cause if it is to be successful. They must be risk-takers, bold and unabashedly committed to the cause. It will take commitment and several hours of sustained effort over the next week or two. It is not for everyone, I know. There will be no thanks, no reward, no getting back anything in return. It takes a certain kind of person to commit to such a thing. Here is your mission, if you choose to accept it:

We are going to invade Orphanage #5 in Prokopyevsk, Sibera. We are going to invade it with love and letters and gifts and attention, so that the 100-plus children there see that they are not forgotten. We are going to stage an EPIC CHRISTMAS INVASION that will leave them incredulous and shocked. Are you in?

Here's what I'll need from you: a commitment to send one box filled with anything that might bring the children and staff some joy. Use your imagination. Send what you love. There are no rules except to avoid anything the US Postal Service says you cannot send.

I will be posting information here and also in the facebook group "I Support the 100 Children of Orphanage #5". I will also post a letter (in Russian) that you should include in your package so that the new Director knows that the gifts come from someone that knows me. In the next few days I will know the name of the person whom the boxes should be addressed to at the orphanage. I will post that here and in the facebook group.

In the meantime, you can start brainstorming about your package. Make it outrageous. Make it memorable. Find a way to also include your own letter (translated into Russia) that reminds them they are loved and not forgotten.

If I am able to once again get specific names and ages, I will, but it is very likely that you will just have to send a generic message 'to a girl, age 10-11' or something like that.

Comment below if you plan to be part of the invasion so I can get an idea of how many boxes will be headed there. They will need to be sent by November 25th if they are to arrive by Russian Christmas.

The orphanage has been going down-hill according to the girls I am in touch with who aged out this year. It is overcrowded with more children, less staff and the children are suffering due to the changes in staffing there as well. Let's try to give them a Christmas they'll never forget!

NOTE: I am also currently financially supporting 5 girls who have aged out of the orphanage (though friends are taking that over this week.) I am working to get a mailing address for each of them so that some of you could send a package to them. They are 16 and 17 years old and do not have permanent homes, so it is difficult to get packages to them. But I'll do my best to get an address!

Are you ready, soldiers? Get to it!

Oops! And Scary Info

The two posts that briefly appeared yesterday were old posts. I've been slowly going through all the posts I took down awhile ago (most of my blog) and am reposting the ones I can. However, Blogger changed its formatting and it is confusing, so when I tried to repost some of them, it removed the old timestamp and posted them as new. So sorry for those who read them and were confused!

I can now tell you why I closed my blog for a bit. A commenter left a message that he had seen photos of my daughter as a young girl on a Russian child p*rn site and he even left the info on how to find it. He swore that she appeared in a particular issue. I did not go to the site, obviously, but I googled the info on the online 'magazine' he referenced and it was absolutely horrific to read. It was indeed a very active Russian child p*rn site and I had to give that info to the FBI in Boston. Nastia simply looked very similar to a young girl featured on the issue he referenced. It was not her.

But needless to say, this terrified me and I had to close shop while it was looked into, and while I decided if I could keep the posts up. I am now painstakingly going through all my posts and removing any photos or info that I feel could be used by people with bad intentions.

So, please be careful, fellow bloggers. This commenter had reached my blog by googling "young Russian girls" and his motivations were obviously bad. The fact that he had viewed the website in question is just sickening. I'll never know why he bothered to post that he recognized Nastia, but he did. Be very careful is all I can say.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Learning the Art of Humility

Times are tough. They keep getting tougher. I am not used to this.

I obviously live a pretty simple life -- small house, old car, second-hand clothes, staycations instead of vacations. I've liked it that way, and felt grateful for what I had. But God (or 'life' for my agnostic and athiest friends) has a way of moving us out of our comfort zones. Even if we have consciously tried to do just that most of our lives. Stagnant water breed disease. A strong current keeps things moving, and healthier. So, I'm viewing this as my current, even if it feels like a tsunami from my view.

After being out of work for four months, I finally had to dig into my adoption savings to pay the rent. And then more, to pay for the oil bill. And then a little more, to pay for the car insurance and then the electric bill, and then, sadly, for food. I can't begin to describe the guilt and shame that came with this move. It was the first time that I felt the sting of being a single parent. No one to lean on. No one to help me weather this financial storm. I was haunted by the voices of my more conservative friends: 

'You give too much. You're going to regret it someday.' 

'Take care of your own..you can't save all of them.'

'How can you possibly adopt again? What if you lose your job in this economy?'

Well, I don't regret all I've given this year. I calculated that, between Anya and the orphanage, I've given over $5,000 of my own money in the past 12 months. (And that is not even counting the generous orphanage donations of so many of you this year!) Pretty impressive for a single mom with a salary hovering around $36,000 a year, I'd say. And why don't I regret it? Because it's not my money anyway. In my heart of hearts I know that any money I didnt need to live on wasn't mine. You may feel different, and that's okay. But this is the heart  and mindset I was born with. It won't function any other way.

And so, yes, I find myself in quite a corner.  I've done anything and everything to salvage my own business, and watched things get worse. I've looked for work, and found none. Everytime I find a suitable teaching job in the area, it is gone before I call. I found a few elder care jobs that sounded promising, only to find I wasn't qualified, because I can't do heavy lifting. Cleaning is out because of rheumatoid arthritis. Even looked for simple babysitting jobs, but the market is saturated..so many qualified teens and college students in the area.

so I'm back to literally and figuratively knocking on doors, trying to create some school jobs for my company, and doing all I can to beef up enrollment in our summer programs. I'm finding that everyone is so strapped in the area, there just isnt room for something as 'extraeneous' as Shakespeare.

But the reason for this post is not to whine and list all the challenges I'm up against. This post is just me trying to be transparent and honest, since I know it is the most important part of having this blog. I first used it to try to be honest and transparent about raising a child with RAD. Then she grew up and didnt want me sharing quite so much. So then I tried to be honest and transparent about the struggle to bring Anya home. Then about the situation for children in orphanage #5 , and also about the horror facing those aging out of this orphanage. I guess the thing to come clean about now is my own vulnerability and how scary it is -- how terribly scary to feel so useless and vulnerable. 

Last night I was lying in bed thinking about it all, and asking God for wisdom. What came to me is what a great lesson this is for me to know firsthand the fear of poverty. I'm not stupid. I know I cannot possibly compare myself to, say, Anya or some of the people I know in Russia who struggle to have enough food for their table. My poverty is cushioned by the fact that, if worse comes to worst, I could move in with my mom or a close friend. It is also buffered by the fact that I live in a country where I can apply for foodstamps if needed. And further, that I have friends I have helped along the way, who are kindly helping me now.

So I'm trying my best to look at this experience as just another lesson. What can I learn from feeling this level of vulnerability? How can I use this experience to help others? How can I use this time to train my mind to more adeptly focus on the poitive and good? Can I teach myself to accept the unknown without this fear? I'm trying. And I'll keep trying as best I can.


This is school vacation week and Nastia has just extracted a promise from me to stay off the computer from tonight until the weekend. We've decided to do our best to pretend we're away for vacation -- no computers, ipads, cellphones. Just us taking a few days to rediscover what it is to be happy.

Its been a very stressful few months for both of us, and Nastia mentioned the other day that neither of us had laughed in months. She's right. And so, we're going to try to remember what it's like to be stress-free and carefree for a few days. And we're not going to let lack of money stand in our way.

We started today, by spending a good chunk of the day at the beach. It was that warm -- about 42 degrees! We took the dogs and watched them chase the waves. (Wish I had thought to bring a camera.) We ate a 'picnic' lunch in the car and then played by the water, watching Henry and Matilda make news friends. It was a gorgeous, blue-sky day. Here is what the beach looks like, though its an old photo - not from today:

We came home and made my mom's beef stew in our crockpot. And now we're settling down to watch the Downton Abbey finale together (I've already seen it. Let's see if I cry as hard this time around.) We're going to head to bed early, because..

Tomorrow we head into Boston. We'll take the train in and go to all our favorite places. Our library has free passes to most of them, so we don't have to pay. We're planning on going to the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum -- my favorite spot in all of Boston. Haven't been? If you're close enough to Boston, it is a great place to go in winter to be reminded of warmer days to come:
Not sure what we'll do on Wednesday thru Friday. It is the start of Lent and I won't miss Ash Wednesday at my parish, but on Thursday and Friday we may try to visit my cousins in CT or my longtime best friend who lives in the farthest corner of Northern Maine. (The gas prices alone may move that off the list.) We've got open invitations for three different places...just need to decide where to go.

I'm grateful that Lent starts this week. Next to Christmas, it's my favorite time of the liturgical year. Forty days to reflect, heal, take stock in things and draw closer to God. I try to attend Mass daily during Lent, but work usually gets in the way. Not this time. One of the few blessings of unemployment.

For my fellow Catholics reading this: are you still struggling, like me, to remember the changes in the Mass? I catch myself saying the wrong response every.single.time. And, I'm sorry, but I doubt Ill ever feel comfortable with the changes to the Nicene Creed. I'm going to be meeting with Father Murphy soon to talk about it. I figure if he can explain the 'why' of the changes, I may be more ready to embrace them. It's hard.

Yesterday's blessing: I heard from Anya, albeit briefly, via Russian facebook. I had written her on vkontakte and asked if she had left the hospital yet. She wrote last night that she finally is out, and staying at her 'cousin's' again for a few weeks. I hope she didn't wear out her welcome at Ira's. I'm guessing she decided to stay at Sasha and Oksana's to give Ira's family a break, but I'm hoping she'll be back there soon. Sasha and Oksana's doesn't offer much privacy or mobility. Here's a shot of the kitchen there. You can see why I worry.

It's a coal stove (see the little metal door on the far right, below?) This is the sole source of heating for the entire space, though the whole place is only about 10x 14. Here is another view. See the red boards? That is the cover to a root cellar!

I hope she is back at Ira's soon.

Hope you all have a lovely week, vacation or not!

Friday, November 09, 2012

Joyful Happenings:)

I usually shy away from purely informational posts; I'm always afraid I'll bore you! But I continue to get encouragement from people reading this blog to post updates, so I defer to them!

I guess what I'd like to share is that even when many frustrating or even sad occurrences are happening in our lives, we can still find great pockets of joy and delight. Sure D and Anya are not home -- and that is a daily burden on my heart -- but I need not focus all my attention there. if it would help, I would of course! But it doesn't. So, best to lean into joy while you wait for obstacles to clear. Nastia and I found a particularly wonderful way to lean into joy this month -- we are fostering kittens and two cats for the Northeast Animal Shelter! We signed up to foster about a month ago, survived their interview process, and a few nights ago we received our first call! Here are our little ones:

The photo isn't great as I took it with my phone. But at least you can get a glimpse of them! There are five kittens - three black and two gray - and they are 4-5 weeks old. They were found abandoned outdoors along with their nursing mom and her sister (they think.) The mom was pretty emaciated, poor thing. But they are doing really well now that they've been here three days and nights. We have them sequestered in our Anya/Dasha/Daniel/Daniella room. We removed everything but the furniture, and placed lots of towels and bathmats on the floor. They are having a grand old time in there. And they are so much fun to watch.

As sweet as the kittens are, I've fallen in love with the Momma and her sister. I don't think I've ever met such sweet cats. I've been reading up on Russian Blues ( their breed) and it turns out that this is typical for the breed - kind, sweet, social, affectionate, smart. They are a delight to care for and I find myself in the room with them more than out! Here is the Momma and her sister:

If I didn't already have two cats, I'd be keeping these girls for sure! anyway, its alot of work to care for 7 new cats in addition to our already large menagerie, but its so worth it.

If that weren't enough to make this week fantastic, I'm also falling deeper and deeper in love with my new students at the school for at-risk teens I'm currently working at. Although I have always loved my job, I haven't always found it easy to get up at 6am. But these days? I am out of bed the second my alarm goes off, because I know I'll be headed to those kids. I can't share much  about them but the basics, for their privacy's sake - but they are all 16-22 years old, mostly homeless, and all have trauma backgrounds that are heartbreaking to hear about. It's taken a good month and a half to win their trust, but I *think* I'm finally there. We are working on scenes from Romeo & Juliet, and they are really starting to connect to the text and enjoy it. next week I start bringing in the weapons (stage ones,of course) to start choreographing their fight scenes. The boys are pretty excited about that, though they told me they already know how to wield knives -- "Yo, we teach YOU something. You'll see.." I've also been offered a more permanent role at the school. Can you guess my response?

Despite their tough exteriors and threatening looks, these students are incredibly resourceful, thoughtful, and passionate kids. I can't wait to see them experience the rush of being on stage, having a whole audience listen to them and take them in. They need that.

Other than this, its getting ready for Daniella's arrival, teaching my non-school classes, and trying to keep the house clean!

Hope you all are well!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

When You Least Expect It, God Opens A Window

Our window:)
Those of you who are regular readers of my blog know that things haven't been easy as of late. I couldn't give many details, but I think you could read between the lines -- we've weathered a storm of bad breaks with no end in sight. Anya continues to miss us and need us, but there is still no way to get her here. D's adoption has hit one big roadblock after another (not unlike my attempted adoption of Anya six years ago.) The region I'm adopting from closed is doors to Americans and the local DOE refused to accept my dossier for months on end. Even with the law now dismantled this week, they are still refusing, and if that weren't enough - the bilateral agreement goes into effect tomorrow, barring independent adoptions. My adoption is independent.

Most people would just walk away in defeat by now, I know that. But I think God has used my entire life as preparation for these kinds of insurmountables. The hard lessons of my life - and there are too many to count -- have built a strong faith and trust in a Power greater than myself. You can call Him what you like, I don't think He really cares all that much. You can call Him 'She' or 'It' or 'Higher Power' - I honestly don't think it is important to Him. It's the content of your relationship with Him He cares about, not the FORM.  Imagine your Love for God and His Love for you is like water. Do you really think He cares whether you put that water in a plastic cup, a glass, a ceramic bowl or even a cupped hand? I don't. It's the CONTENT in the cup, the glass, the hands that matter.

Anyway, I am sharing this because I know a great many people in this world suffer crises of faith. We don't expected to be pummeled with bad experiences, losses, obstacles, and misdirected hate throughout our lives, without rhyme or reason, but these things happen to people - ALL THE TIME. And when they do, we question why. We cry, we scream, we shake our fists, but mostly we just want an answer. Why, God? Why? And answers do not always come. But --what we do with that big question mark stamped on our heart is most important of all. 

To give up is easy, and it's human nature. It's our default setting. But why settle for that? If we can rise above the scary question marks and keep choosing the highest, greatest and most loving responses in every situation, we are LIVING the answer. We must strive to do this even when we fail.

It's hard to see past the rubble of our shattered dreams. It's painful to crawl out of the debris and reach up towards the Light we often cannot see. It's scary to trust. I get that. But the rewards of ever trusting, ever stepping forward into that unknown, instead of collapsing in a heap of 'I give up' - are COLOSSAL.

D's adoption is all but a pile of rubble come tomorrow, when the new law goes into effect. But if I keep the faith and keep taking a step towards him every day, he may still get here. You know how he WON'T get here? If I give up and take 'no' for an answer. You know what MIGHT get him here? Knocking on every figurative and literal door I can think of. And I'm doing that.  THat's what I keep doing for Anya and I KNOW someday the right door will open and the answer will be there. I know in my heart someday she will be home, here, where she belongs.

 I just spoke to an agency that is willing to go to bat for me with D. It's an agency I've gotten to know quite well over the past 18 months, because they did my homestudy. The amazing head of this agency has offered to send a letter to the DOE in Kemerovo asking permission to handle D's adoption in the region, even though they are not yet registered there. (And those of you in the adoption community know this never happens.) On top of that, I have media connections and professional contacts on the ground in Kemerovo who are willing to go to the DOE and 'encourage' them to push this adoption through. The DOE has the power to bring this boy home. They just need to WANT to do it. And, by God, I will do everything I can to put that pressure on them to help them see the light.

While all this was/is going on, and while I kept moving forward, I also reserved a part of myself for grief. I have grieved HARD over this new loss -- the now extended wait for D, the loss of time with him, the loss of the memories we could be storing up right now, even the loss of the tens of thousands of dollars already poured into his adoption. The money is secondary, obviously, but it is not insignificant. I have to grieve that, too. All that money that could have gone to help others...washed away in bureaucracy and red-tape. Having already experienced this same devastation with Anya did not make this loss any easier, in fact, it made it worse. One failed adoption is horrible. Two feels like a hurt that will never heal.

And here's where the little window opened. While all this confusion and  darkness was encircling us, a little girl kept showing up in my newsfeed on facebook. This is the time of year for hosting programs to advertise. For the past two months I've seen my share of postings about various children. But one kept recurring on my newsfeed over and over again. It was like a little bell going off. And so I prayed for that little girl whose name I did not know. I prayed until she found a host family. Then later, she was there on my newsfeed again. The family had fallen through. So I kept her in prayers and soon she was off the list and had a home for Christmas.

And then, last week, she appeared again.

It struck me suddenly that maybe we were her host family. We would actually be home for Christmas this year, and we'd likely be quite lonely without D or Anya there. (Christmas is a hard time for us.) And wouldn't it be great to host again? Hosting Dasha in 2010 had been SUCH a gift. But then again, there was no money. Not a penny. Every bit of my money was tied up in D's adoption and our impending trip to Russia to bring him home. But we were willing to host, so why not ask? 

I messaged one of the coordinators whom I know and told her we'd be delighted to host this little girl if someone provided scholarship funds. We had the time, energy, space and love to host - just not the funds. It would even be healing for us, and obviously this little girl needed a host family, and there was only a day left. Sadly they had no funds to cover her hosting costs...maybe a few hundred dollars, but that was it. She suggested I put the word out to my friends and see what happened. 

On the heels of learning I could not go bring D home, I posted a  status on FB about our desire to host and about this specific little girl. Three hours later there was a total of almost $1,000 in my paypal acct from three very generous friends, with a note attached that it was 'for hosting, and to heal your heart.'

Long story short, I let the hosting program know that I now had some funds but not all. It still didn't look possible, but then last night - a day after the deadline - I got an unexpected email from the hosting organization: they said yes! We could host her! Although all the funds were yet to be there, they were acting on faith, just as I was. between them and me, we could find a way to cover the rest over the next 6 weeks. She needed to come, and so they were taking a leap of faith, too.

 Hosting is a GIFT and we now get to spend almost a month nurturing and loving a little girl who needs it. We are SO FORTUNATE.

This post is longer than any one I've ever written, I think. Sorry for that. The words just kept coming. In the weeks and months ahead, I'll post what I can about our hosting experience and our sweet little visitor. I hope it will be an encouragement to others who are on the fence about hosting. Maybe it will lead to others hosting next summer!

Anyway, please don't forget that old adage, because it's true: sometimes when a door closes, a window appears. Just keep an eye out for them, because surely we miss them sometimes when we are distracted with grief and pain. Be ready, because when one appears, God may be waiting for you to open it. I just opened mine:)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

LOVE does

I'm doing much better. Allowing ourselves to grieve losses is important. Even if they are relatively small losses in other peoples' eyes. Even if they seem small compared to the losses others are experiencing. Grieving is not only natural, it is imperative. And so, I grieved hard for a few days, and it has helped.

This has been an incredible week of loss. Aside from my own losses connected to D's adoption, I heard the sickening news of my friend Annie's loss of her dear son, Ilya, to suicide.  I haven't been able to wrap my head around it yet, but have thrown myself wholeheartedly into holding Annie up in prayer and praying deeply and fervently for Ilya's peace. My heart is broken for Annie, who is one of the world's most tender-hearted, kind, and selfless beings you'd ever wish to meet. I cannot imagine her pain, and I grieve with her and pray that God will make Himself known to her in these dark days.

I also have not been able to escape the news of the Krim family in NYC. Upon hearing the graphic details on TV two nights ago, I was so overcome I threw up. The description of Marina Krim grieving in the lobby of her building while clasping her remaining little one literally knocked the wind out of me. Before I knew what was happening, I had to race to the bathroom to throw up. Shock, I guess. Deep, deep heartache. Mothers across the world are united by the bonds we have with our children. When one grieves, we all grieve on some undefinable level.

And here's where I move the focus elsewhere. While we don't have power over many of these horrible things, we do have the gift of free will to act afterwards. Our friends don't have to grieve alone. We can 'DO'. Love 'does'. Love acts! We can share the burden our friends are suffering, we can hold them up, we can nurture their ruptured hearts, we can provide food or donate funds to funeral costs, we can clean up messy houses, we can send a heartfelt letter, we can hug them, we can talk, we can listen.

Thanks to my beloved friend Tesney, I am reading a wonderful book right now that is a balm in this difficult time. It is LOVE DOES by Bob Goff. It was the perfect reminder at the perfect time, that Love ACTS, Love MOVES, Love DOES. And sometimes the things Love does look crazy, or ill-timed, or outrageous. But Love is outrageous. Love often calls us to do the unthinkable, the unimaginable, even the impossible. Those of us who say yes are usually rewarded with quite the adventure! It's not easy, but it is what is called for if we want what is highest and best for this world.

The road to adopt Anya and Daniel has been nothing short of devastating, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't have tried or shouldn't keep trying. The most important journeys of our lives are often the most difficult. If we walk away in defeat to early, we could lose out on the greatest triumph of our lives. We need to live each day DOING what Love calls us to DO, even if it's hard - even if it involves days and even months or even YEARS of grieving. Even if everyone else around you says it's IMPOSSIBLE. 

Love DOES. 

I wish more than anything I could take away Annie's pain, but I can't. I wish more than I can express that I could place those beautiful Krim children back in their mother's arms, alive, but I'm powerless to do so. I wish I could take Anya and Daniel out of the empty, indifferent worlds they were born into, and place them in my own arms here in the home that waits for them, but I have tried and failed a hundred times. 

But I do have the power to choose. I can keep moving forward. I can keep choosing Love. I can keep trying. One tiny step at a time.  And that's what I choose to do. 'LOVE DOES'. I know now that these are the words written on my heart. LOVE DOES. And I want to be a conduit for that energy. LOVE DOES. I want to be Love's hands and feet, even when it hurts. LOVE DOES. I want to do the hard things, the impossible things, because that is the very thing we were created to do while we are alive on this planet.

Love does. And so do I.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sometimes We Don't Get Answers...

This is one of those times.

(Some of what appears below is from a post I wrote two years ago, because it speaks so perfectly to what I feel right now.) 

I received terrible news this morning and I will not be leaving Friday for Russia. The DOE is refusing to move forward with my adoption. A long story that I just don't have the energy to discuss this moment, but I will in the days to come. Tonight I've reached the point of not crying anymore. What's the point? It serves no purpose to cry and scream and shake my fists at God. If I'm learning anything in this life, it's humility. 

I have lots of New Agey-type friends. I used to lean that way myself. People who swear we are gods in our own right and that tapping into that power, or connecting to 'All That Is' is as easy as turning on a light switch. People who tell me that just envisioning the outcome I want will bring it into being. Know what I've never found? I've never ever found someone who has been to Hell and back who believes those things. The people I've met in life who have experienced the worst of humanity (like the Holocaust survivor I know, or the young friend who watched her entire family murdered in front of her in Rwanda, or the 13 year old girl I teach who was raped, tortured and beaten by her father for years, and who, when she finally got the courage to tell, was forced by this father to eat her own dog) - these people, these miraculous beings who looked Evil in the face and lived to tell about it -- these people, whether Jew or Christian or Muslim or something all their own, accept and understand their own limitations and reach upwards to a God who promises to love them and be with them, even when they feel it not. Each of these people I mentioned found that we do not have any real power of our own accord. Nothing, apart from Him. If we did, those horrible things would not have happened, because we would never allow them in our lives. 

But terrible things happen every day, by happenstance or by intention, and we are often powerless to do anything to stop it. Children lose parents, parents lose children, people are murdered, and falsely imprisoned, and abandoned, and, and, and. You get the picture. This is the world we live in, and it has not changed much in tens of thousands of years.

I have not survived a holocaust. I cannot fathom what it would be like to see my family murdered before me, but in my own relative circumstances, I have been living my own little version of hell. And I am here to tell you that platitudes and positive thinking cannot clear a heart of darkness. A little darkness? Sure. But a great big, unfathomably deep and all penetrating darkness that seems to pummel us in relentless waves? No. 'Happy thoughts' are not going to fix that kind of thing. It takes something greater than ourselves. Ask the wounded among us; they will tell you.

And so, in this never ending journey of pain and suffering with Daniel and Anya, I have only two choices. I can trust in all the other instances that God has proven His love (and there are sooo many) and wait for His answer to come or I can give up, turn my back on Daniel and Anya, and walk away.

I'm sure you know which one I choose.

 I cannot even pretend to understand why Daniel and Anya have to suffer so much in this life and why I continuously am put in the position to not be able to help them. And yes, I am also fully aware that I have gotten the lion's share of bad luck in recent days.  I do not know why, but I do know this: God (Love) is ever and always pushing us towards a greater good ( if we allow it). I may not see the point of the suffering, but I don't have to. My job is to persevere. My job is to put one foot in front of the other, even when I'd rather just lay down and give up. Its not easy. In fact, some days its downright impossible. But the impossible is nothing to God.

 So what if it's not happening in my time frame? Who am I to question? 'Be still, and know that I Am.' Sage advice all those thousands of years ago, and still sage advice today.

I do not know when or even IF Daniel and Anya will come home to me. I do not know when or IF their suffering will end. But I know this: God loves them, and if He loves them, He will not forsake them. And that is why I have hope in the face of so much uncertainty and suffering. 

I believe in a God -- a Power Unimaginably Beautiful and Deeply Caring -- that formed and sustains this world with LOVE.


So, while some around me tell me what I should be doing and thinking and feeling, I'll be banking on LOVE.

LOVE sits with Daniel when he cries himself to sleep wondering why I have abandoned him when I promised I'd come. LOVE embraces Anya when she is hungry or lonely or missing us, her family. LOVE knows them and loves them and keeps them. That is all I know, and all I need to know.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bolt from the Blue News!

N and me, Newport in September
This will have to be fairly quick. I'm burdened with a mile-long to-do list, and it only got placed in my lap a few hours ago!

First - apologies that the blog was closed for awhile. Someone posted a threatening comment a few weeks ago and it was specific enough that it spooked me, and I called the authorities. They suggested I close it while they looked into it. It's still not clear what I should do, but I've removed a great number of posts from the last few years that dealt directly with my daughter. I'll figure out which ones I can re-publish once I get back from my trip. I just felt it important to open it back up tonight so I could share my good news:

So, the big news is, I'm heading to Siberia again in 3 days. Due to the contract I signed, I can't say much more publicly about the trip, except that it is adoption-related and I hope to post good news upon my return. I can say that I will get to see Anya,too! And Anya still has no idea I'm coming! I hope to reach her before I leave on Friday!

Several of my friends have asked if they can give a donation for the orphanage for this trip. I think it's honestly best to wait for my next trip, as this trip is brief and I will likely only have one day to shop for the orphanage, and I already have enough money donated this past year to probably spend on that one day I'll have to shop. if you DO donate, I will do my best to spend it while there. If I can't, it will remain in the account until my final trip in 2-4 months.

But there is something you can do for me now. Pray. Pray like there's no tomorrow!  This trip could be fraught with obstacles, and due to the delicate timing involved, I can't afford anything to go wrong. If things do not go well this trip, I will likely lose the only chance I have to bring a certain child home. I'm scared but I'm trusting God. The timing of this trip is very unexpected, but I've already seen a small miracle occur in relation to it that can only be attributed to Divine Intervention.

I have so much to say, but no time to say it! Once I get my tickets purchased and suitcase packed, I will try to post more. In the meant time, I hope you will take a moment to pray for me tonight and in the coming days, if you feel you can. Nastia is not going with me, so I'm doubly nervous. She'll be staying here at home with a revolving list of friends and family who have offered to watch over her.

Thank you all for your continued support and prayers! I'm so grateful!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Because Julia Asked:)

M and V in last month's production of  'Comedy of Errors'.
One of my blog readers wrote me a very sweet email today asking for an update and sharing that I'm missed. It's nice to be missed. I didn't know I was missed! So, in honor of dear Julia, whom I do not know but very much appreciate, here is my update!

I haven't written mostly because there is not much to share, at least from my view: Anya remains in Russia, Daniel remains in Russia, and Nastia and I remain here. But some things have changed or progressed so I will share those:

Anya had court on her birthday, August 1st. However, I have been unable to reach her since then, as her Russian faceb**k was shut down, and skype is too unreliable from her location. I try every night, and will continue to. I know I will hear from her soon somehow, because I am overdue to send her her monthly living expenses, and I know she will need funds very soon, so she will likely find someone whose computer she can borrow, or something like that. Still miss her, but we sent off a birthday package and I know that will make her very happy!

I can't talk details about my current adoption because I signed an agreement saying I wouldn't share details in public forums. However, I guess I can say things are moving, and I suppose I can say that it looks like I will be in Russia in late September. My attorney is very savvy and on top of every little thing, so that puts me at ease a great deal!

Work has been spectacular as always. How is it possible that I can make a living doing something so wonderful? Sharing the magic of Shakespeare with kids and teens? I lucked out work-wise. I feel grateful for my job every single day. Even working close to 60 hours a week in the summer doesn't feel stressful - it feels empowering and energizing! Our enrollment was down 40% this year, which was scary, and we had to cut two programs this year due to that fact, but I do know the 79 kids that were/are with us this summer are very happy and fulfilled, and that means the world to me.

My health has been as screwy as ever. I'm being pressured to have a hysterectomy this fall, but I'm not quite ready for that. In addition, I had a very scary flare-up of trigeminal neuralgia that landed me in the ER this week. I had a mild reaction to the anti-seizure meds they put me on, so it looks like surgery might be the only answer there, too. But honestly, that doesn't scare or worry me at all, because the pain of TN is so horrific, I would brave a dozen surgeries if it meant an end to the pain. Thankfully, a shot of some kind of narcotic at the ER dulled the pain, and finally today it has ceased entirely (knock on wood.)

Nastia has been down in Florida visiting my mom. I love seeing them spend time together. I'm so grateful she has that relationship in her life. I was very close to one of my grandmothers, and I'm glad my daughter gets to experience the same thing. 

My summer work ends September 2nd, then Nastia starts her junior year in high school two days later. I have a very exciting trip to Ohio in mid-September, as I am godmother to two beautiful lovebugs named Phoebe and Bella, adopted from EE and thriving in their new family. I cannot wait to spend time with Lisa ( their mom) and take a million photos of them. If I get the okay from Lisa, I'll post some photos here. (They are gorgeous, so I know you'll want to see them!)

So that's about it in a nutshell. My dogs are driving me insane these days, but what else is new? Without Nastia here, they've been a bit neglected and don't get as much play time. They sure let me know it each and every day she's gone.

I hope this update is not too boring, and I hope it finds you all well and thriving, too. I actually say a blessing over you, my readers, each night when I say my prayers. Hope you feel the love!

Sweet Dreams to all of you! I'll leave you with some adorable photos of my young actors...

J being adorable.

E always has someone on her back:)
There's always someone to lean on:)

S with his pet snake Sophia, who appeared in our show.
Last month's cast, on the beach near our stage.
Kim, a dear friend and fellow Shakespeare director, and me.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Missing My Girl & Hoping for Good 'Travel' News

most recent photo of Anya <3

We've been missing Anya so much around here. Usually we skype with her weekly, but her netbook died so we have not had contact. And buying one there is far too expensive, so she has to wait until I visit again to bring a new one. In the meantime, the silence is killing us! She was able to message me a few days ago using a friend's parent's computer, but it was brief, and sad.

Anya is not doing so well lately. The trial keeps being postponed, and her hope of coming here for reconstructive surgery seems to have completely died. She just doesn't see it as a possibility anymore. Nearly a year since the shooting, she still wears the "Llizarov Apparatus" although the surgeons promised her it would be removed 4 months ago. She still endures the pain of frequent 'screw turnings', and seems to have simply reached her emotional limit in dealing with her life circumstances. This happens whenever we go long periods without seeing her in person. its been over a year since we were last there, so it makes sense that she's grieving again.

I know that mail really does lift her spirits a great deal, so I'm hoping some of you will consider sending her a postcard or 'get well' card. It is very easy to translate what you want to say via google translate. Just go to google translate, type in what you wish to say and hit the translate button into Russian! Here is the address she is at currently, if you feel inspired to send her a note. It needs to be addressed to her 'cousin' Oksana, as Anya is not properly registered at this address and can therefore not receive mail there. but Oksana will pass on everything to Anya. Just mention it is for Anya on the other side of the envelope, where the post office won't care what you write:) Here is the address:

Ulitse Kanskaya, 25
Kemerovo 650002
Kemerovskaya Oblast

Also, Anya's birthday is August 1st, so if you get something in the mail this week, it might just get to her in time! she has absolutely LOVED getting mail via her friend Ira. A few of you sent small packages, and she was so excited to get those she had a hard time calming down enough to explain it to me on skype! No matter what, please keep her in your prayers and thoughts. She is really feeling defeated, overwhelmed and lonely lately. She needs a great deal of support right now. With all she's been through in her little life, I don't even know how she has made it this far. 

On the potentially good news front, I finally finally finally got the remaining piece of paperwork that had to be redone for my adoption. I head to Boston in the morning to get it apostilled and ship it to the attorney overnight. This ONE document is the missing piece. Everything else is translated and sitting reading to be delivered to the Russian 'Ministry of Education. I am sooo sooo hoping my attorney says I will be travelling soon. Please send as many prayers and good thoughts as you can! I'm ready to get on a plane this minute! Wouldn't it be wonderful if I end up being there for Anya's birthday???