‘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

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Requested Update!

You know when thing are good and you don't want to jinx it? That's the story with the long absence here. I'm finding life so enjoyable right now, it's hard to find a reason to spend any time on the computer, let alone type a whole blog post. But I know how anxious I get when one of my favorite bloggers doesn't post in a long while, and how delighted I am when they do post - so I'm humoring the handful of you that still read this blog and filling you in.

Nastia with her Aunt 'M' last week.
Nastia is doing so well I'm almost afraid to write about it. She is loving college and thriving there. I never would have imagined it in my wildest of dreams. She has eight (yes, eight) roommates in a very large apartment in the top floor an old Victorian house. There are two other girls in her room, and then three other bedrooms. It's a mix of upper and lowerclassmen, which is ideal. They have to cook their own food, as there is no campus cafeteria, and Nast is quick becoming the resident chef. The homework is a bit overwhelming for her, but she is reaching out for help there, and she is doing so well in her art classes that she is thus far getting As and high Bs on everything! She just got her braces off this week, so she is really starting to look (and feel) like an adult, and she is acting like one, too! She hasn't missed one class in 5 weeks, and she is really managing her time well for homework, etc. I couldn't be more proud of her.

Tilly being shy about a photo.

Tilly is also thriving - REALLY thriving. She loves third grade, loves her teacher, loves her new school friends, loves our morning routine and our chatty walk to school each morning. She joined the local soccer team and is learning so much. The assistant coach nicknamed her 'Speedy' the other day, and she was absolutely glowing to hear that. She is very fast! She has also (joy oh joy!) discovered a love of reading, and I have to work hard to keep myself from buying her every chapter book I have ever read as a child. Thank God we are broke from the adoption - we're learning to use the library instead of amazon! She is skyping with her sister every week or so, and her foster mom, too, when the timing works. She celebrated her 10th birthday with 8 little friends sleeping over a few weeks ago. 

I am really, truly enjoying being her mom a great deal. Many of you might remember how difficult my first few years were with Nastia. Her PTSD, trauma history, RAD and autism made parenting her very challenging and I often felt incapable of being the best parent. I tried so hard, I gave it everything I had in me and more - but it was intensely scary and painful. Parenting Tilly is a very different experience. Though I wouldn't trade my experience with Nastia for a million dollars, I am very grateful that this second time around is a little more peaceful. It's just nice to be able to go out and do mother-daughter things so early on - I couldn't really do that with Nast, until she was much older.

As for me personally, my health is not ideal, but I'm learning ever-so-slowly to take better care of myself. I'm trying to make healthier choices more often (like one spoonful of nutella instead of, say, ten…) and I'm learning to slow down. I can no longer work at the pace I used to, but I'm finding ways to make adjustments, and I'm hoping to keep getting better at saying no to anything extra. That's the hardest part of all.
Anya and Sasha

Anya is sadly still struggling with depression, but I'm trying to be more in touch with her. Nastia is finding it hard to balance her worry for her sister with the demands of college, so she is backing off a bit, while I am trying to pick up the slack and be more attentive to Anya and Sasha online.  I wish I stumbled upon some miracle way of getting her here, but it still proves impossible. I also just heard from some people who have been there/done that, that the average wait time for a sibling visa through the US lottery system is over 12 years. so I may be rethinking our plans. Instead of spending so much time and energy trying to get her here, I'm looking into finding a way to more effectively support her there. We still send her a monthly stipend to live on, and I'm trying to be more diligent about care packages. The last two never arrived to her, so I'm trying to find safer ways of getting things to her - I hear DHL is good. If you have ideas, let me know. 

As to the orphanage kids that many of you still pray for - as always there is good news and bad news. Some of the girls that just aged out are already pregnant. Angelina just had a baby, and a few others are due soon. God help them. I'm still trying to keep some of the girls from falling through the cracks by keeping them connected to supporters here in the States. i still have six wonderful online friends sending monthly support to some of the girls there. A few others got tired of the lack of responses from the girls and just stopped sending money. I don't think everyone understands the feeling of hopelessness and self-loathing that accompanies post-orphanage life. two of the girls that stopped receiving support dropped out of school. (But don't worry, I've found someone over there to try and get them back on track.) 
Daniel won a boxing trophy.

Daniel is doing as well as can be expected. We talk online maybe once a month and I have someone bring him $10 a month to buy extra food/treats for himself. He ages out of the orphanage next June. Alot of the kids are now able to access Russian facebook (vkontakte) and post me little messages asking if I have forgotten them, or why no one ever sends letters and socks, etc anymore. I sadly explain that the new director still won't allow it, but assure them they are not forgotten. That's about all I can tell you. Wish there were more...

I'll try to post more regularly, but I honestly am just really enjoying just living our lives right now. I'm sure when winter forces us inside more often, my posts will increase. Love to everyone reading this. Please comment with an update on yourself, if you have time. I'll leave you with my favorite photo of Sasha, whom I still have not met, outside of Skype. But she kisses me through the computer every time we skype, and when Anya asks her 'Where's Baba?" She claps and points at me. Nothing better than that.

Sasha smiling at her visiting Aunt Nastia. August 2014.


  1. What a wonderful post! You're right...I was thrilled to see this pop up on my blog list! So glad to hear all the updates and the beautiful photos...

  2. Heart4Russia10:59 PM

    Hurrah! I've missed your posts so much! But if anyone deserved some time off to 'enjoy life' its you. You can't be off saving Anya and orphanage kids and aged-out orphans and everyone in betweeen if you don't take some time to refill your tank! God bless and write when you can. Some of us were just thrilled to see this show up in our blog feed today!

  3. Anonymous3:52 PM

    Glad to read an update. Been wondering about how your daughter was doing at college. hope you post more. (Eileen, not Anonymous)

  4. Anonymous4:44 PM

    So happy to read this. Is it 'my' Angelina who had the baby? Sigh. I stopped sending money because it wasn't being picked up, according to USPS. Shall I start sending again?
    Ina, not anon.

    1. Yes, it is your Angelina :(. I dont have any details, and I havent been able to reach her…but she gave birth last month, I think. In the photos on Russian FB she looks very pale and depressed. Her hair is thinning, which means poor nutrition, too. I'm trying to get an address for her, but no one seems to know where she is….

    2. Anonymous9:09 PM

      I stopped sending money to "my" Ksusha because she never picked it up, three or four months.

      Are you still in touch with Ksusha? I'd love to continue to support her.


  5. Anonymous10:38 PM

    Great update, so glad things are going well for you all here! Continuing to pray for the children left behind too.

  6. So glad to hear such a happy post. :>

  7. I am so happy indeed to read an update from you, and to read such a happy one! Such a delight that Nastia is doing well and that Tilly is adjusting so nicely :-) I am so happy for you all.

    I don't really know what is considered a tiny house, but I suppose less than 72 square meters? It is considered small here, but I enjoy it because of all the reasons you mentioned. We are five, six in the summers.

  8. Thank you for the update! I'm so happy for you and your kids, Keri. I know what a triumph it is to see Nastia off to college. And I'm thankfully that Tilly has made such an easy adjustment. God knew she was what you needed during this season of life!

    Thank you too for the update from the orphanage. I was not able to get to know the children there as closely as I would have liked due to the change in directors but I was glad to support them while I could. And I'm so thankful that you paired me with Sveta :) She has slowly started to communicate a little more. I know how difficult it must be for her. I only wish I could meet her in person so she might understand why I want to see her succeed and that I honestly want to know her and form a relationship with her. But even if that never happens I'm glad that I was able to walk with her through this time in her life.


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