A video about our family

Monday, December 5, 2016

Written Referral and Travel Timeline for Trip #1

We have good news! Our written referral has been received! Hooray!! The next step is to schedule our first trip to Bulgaria. We had been hoping to go in December, but there just isn't enough staff to accommodate our family this month. And so, we are scheduled to travel next month! It's not as soon as we would like, but we are looking forward to going and meeting our Bulgarian "triplets" in a few short weeks. And we have some holidays to keep us occupied, which should help a little.

In other news, I started taking Bulgarian lessons on www.italki.com and it has been interesting! I love a good challenge in learning a new language - so wish me luck!

Related image

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Verbal Referral

We were happy to receive our verbal referral last week. Now we wait for 2 weeks to get our written referral. Once we have that, we can make travel arrangements. We hope to leave in early December. We have also received letters from Temenujka and Georgi! Hooray!

Here is one:

Hello, dear family! I was very happy when I received the letter from you and the photos of your family. Dear Jill and Tyler, I can’t wait to meet you all. I am looking forward to meeting you. I am fine. I attended a camp in the mountains close to the town of ***. The holiday house there is located in a quiet and beautiful spot. We visited many places of interest – the *** monastery, the Natural History museum in the village of ***, the towns of ***, *** and ***. It is very beautiful there, just like the park around your house. Jill and Tyler, I am impatient to meet you. I got acquainted with the members of your family. I liked you a lot. I am looking forward to joining your family. I am so excited. I’ve wanted for many years to have a family of my own, parents to love me and respect me as well as brothers and sisters to play with. Dear Jill and Tyler, I love cooking, going for a walk, riding a bike and going to the beach. My favorite color is red and my favorite flower is rose. I think it will be pleasant for us to spend our time together. I will help you with the household chores and with preparing meals. I am currently working on compiling the recipes for my favorite Bulgarian meals. I am becoming familiar with opera singing and classical music. I am interested in learning English because it is important for me that we will be able to understand one another. My biggest dream has always been to have a large family. Jill and Tyler, thank you for your wish to accept me as a member of your family. I am looking forward to our first meeting. We don’t know one another yet, but I love you! Respectfully, Temenujka

And here is the other one:

Hello , Tyler and Jill! I will be very happy to be a member of your family. I am very happy for Anna, Keith, Iryna, Calvin. As well as for the dog. My favorite color is blue. I love drawing, riding a bike, listening to music, watching TV, playing soccer and basketball. I like playing games on a touchscreen phone. I live in Bulgaria, in ***. I am from *** but I have been in *** for 5 years now. I attend a summer camp at the seaside every year. It is very beautiful there and I also love swimming!!! There is a swimming pool at the camp, we swim there, play games and I like that very much. This year we went on another camp! It was nice and our camp was in the forest. We went hiking in the mountains and we saw a waterfall that was 80 meters high. Bye! I will be happy to see you!!! In the heart: Tyler, Jill, Silas, Iryna, Anna, Maggie, Keith, Calvin, Georgi!!!!

We received this note and photo: 

Last week one of our psychologists - ***, was accompanying an adoptive family who are adopting from the same orphanage in which Georgi resides at present. She recognized him and had the chance to talk with him a little bit.  She shared her impressions that Georgi is very shy and quiet but also extremely excited about the Pierce family's upcoming visit. He wrote a letter for them and he had prepared a teddy bear to send over to them.

Isn't he so handsome? And he got this teddy bear for US. #meltmyheart
We are so excited to meet our kids!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Update on Ukrainian Home Study

We were recently told by our home study agency that they are planning to close down their office in our state. And so we are now looking for another home study agency to finish up our Ukrainian home study and to also do the post placement visits for our Bulgarians.

I have contacted a few agencies and none of them allow us to pursue two countries simultaneously. I am going to keep looking, but if I cannot find an agency that will allow this, then we will have to put our Ukrainian adoption on hold until after we bring home our Bulgarians. 

This news has been hard to swallow! But we are trying to move forward one step at a time and we are still very much committed to adopted from both countries. The only thing that concerns us is about the timing. My husband is active duty in the Air Force and we will be moving in less than two years. We are hopeful that that will allow us enough time to bring home the Bulgarians and then be able to complete the process for the Ukrainians. But, if not, then we will have to wait until our next move to begin a home study for Ukraine, as you cannot transfer home studies from state-to-state. 

An upside for this change is that Tyler will be able to travel with me to Bulgaria for the first trip. And then he will have enough leave next year to travel with me to Ukraine. That is a huge blessing. However, we were hoping to visit Ukraine in between the two trips to Bulgaria - so as not to leave our newly adopted Bulgarians when we travel to Ukraine (which seems likely at this point), but God is in charge and He will help us through that when we get to that point. 

As for an update on Bulgaria: I wish that I had one. The dossier is there and has been for over a month. I hope to receive our travel dates very soon. We thought it would be in October, but now we are thinking it will be in November. Stay tuned...

Monday, October 10, 2016

Pierce Family Adoption Video

My best friend, Sarah, made a video about our family and our upcoming adoption. I hope you enjoy this video. I cry every time I watch it.

To make a donation towards our adoption, click here.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Dossier is on its way!

Here is Tyler...just waiting for the notary to finish our paperwork. Adoptions involve lots of paperwork. Oh, and waiting, too.



Update on Ukraine: the home study is in the final editing process and we have already started on the dossier for Ukraine.
If you have any questions about this process, feel free to ask! Hopefully I can answer them. 



I

Iryna and Keith accompanied me to get some documents apostilled for the Bulgarian dossier.

Here I am mailing our precious Bulgarian dossier! Once it arrives, it will be translated into Bulgarian and then we should receive our travel dates for our first trip to Bulgaria. We are hoping the dates will be in October.




Thursday, August 11, 2016

The triplets say YES

Finally an update on our adoption! We received word that all of the Bulgarian triplets have said "YES" to our coming to visit them/officially starting the adoption process. I am calling them triplets because they are all thirteen years old and have birthdays all within two months. 🎁

Sarah and John have no reservations about this adoption (thus far), but Michael said he wasn't 100% sure that he wanted to be adopted, but he wants to meet with us, etc, so we will continue as planned to go visit all three kids. If it feels right for him, then he will become a Pierce family member. ❤️

The first trip will *hopefully* happen this fall. The Bulgarian home study is complete and Tyler and I are working on the dossier. Today we took fingerprints for the I-800a form (part of The Hague adoption process for Bulgaria).

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Sending letters

The next step in our Bulgarian adoption, is to email a personalized letter for each child, along with photos of our house and of our family, to our facilitator in Bulgaria. She will translate them and then a social worker will take the letter and pictures and visit each of the children in their orphanages. They will discuss the child's feelings regarding our family and hopefully afterwards they will have a good idea of whether or not they are interested in being adopted by us. This is very different than any adoption process we have gone through thus far. I'm nervous! What if they don't like us?? Eeek!



Monday, May 23, 2016

Meet John!

I am happy to share our third and final child from Bulgaria with you all. "John" is 12 years old. He is of Roma descent and he likes to draw, play basketball, and read books. His special needs include age and some delays in school. "John" is #3 of the 5 kids that we will be adopting. We will look for two children in Ukraine when we travel there sometime this year.
P.S. John is wearing a shirt that says OKLAHOMA on it! What are the odds of him wearing my home state proudly? He's already an Okie. Can't wait to meet this cute kid.


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Meet Michael!

The best news the day after Mother's Day is that we have just secured this handsome boy in Bulgaria! "Michael" is 12 years old. He is of Roma descent and loves to play soccer. Michael has dark eyes and hair. He enjoys drawing and singing. His special needs include his age and some difficulties academically. We are excited to bring this sweet boy home!


Monday, March 28, 2016

A thousand miracles

We are so thankful for http://www.theshepherdscrook.org and their help in raising funds for our adoption. Please share this with others to help us raise the necessary funds to bring home five children. Thank you! 

#athousandmiracles

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Reason for adopting - a post by Tyler

Why I am adopting 5 children from 2 foreign countries

Recently, after hearing that my wife and I are planning to adopt 5 more children to go along with the 5 children that we already have, a friend asked the inevitable question, “Why are you adopting? Do you just really love children or something?”  As simple as it should be to have an answer for such a life-changing decision, I found myself fumbling for the right words to say.  So, in response to that friend and anyone else who happens to be wondering the same thing I give the following response.  There are actually many reasons. If you want the non-spiritually motivated answer, than I would simply say that we want to give a chance at a better life to more people.  For the full answer, read on.

First, I want to use my life up in the service of others.  When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, he responded that it was to love God.  We show our love to God by obeying His commandments.  He followed up by stating that the second greatest commandment is to love our neighbor.  He then shared the story of the Good Samaritan.  Thus, we love our neighbors by serving them.  James states, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” Neither of these scriptures implies a responsibility to adopt; only to serve, visit, and provide aid and comfort.  While this is true, I ask myself, “What is the greatest good that I could do for these children who are without a home?”  Does food, clothing, medicine, and education adequately set them up for success in life?  No, not really.  The programs that exist to help orphans transition to adulthood vary quite a bit.  The United States’ foster care, while probably not perfect, does provide a home environment for children. Many programs exist to give them the opportunity to gain an education and hopefully become productive members of society.  Most East European orphanages accommodate children until they reach the age of 16.  Those children who are not adopted by this age often find themselves on the streets.  Crime and prostitution are a common lot for them.  While programs and funding can help these children achieve better outcomes, I can only conclude that the very best outcomes occur when they are raised in a stable home with a family who loves them unconditionally.  I realize that I am only one person and am limited physically, emotionally, and financially.  However, I feel like I can and should help as many of these orphan children as I possibly can.  I may not put a dent in the world statistics, but I will make a world of difference to the five children that I bring into my family.  Because of the more bleak prospects for those orphans in poorer countries, I feel that I can have a greater impact by adopting from those locations.  This explains, in part, why we are adopting from foreign countries.  There is one final scripture that I always think of when I consider adoption.  “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.  Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink?  When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?  And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”  In my mind, I have always included orphans into the “one of the least of these” category.   

Second, and closely related to point number one, is that I view the whole of humanity as members of a great family, God being the Father of us all.  This makes us all brothers and sisters.  I think to myself, “What would I be willing to do to help my brothers and sisters who are part of my immediate family?  What would I be willing to do to rescue one of my own children if they were to fall into a tragic situation?”  I then try to view people through God’s eyes.  I ask myself, “How must He feel when He sees His children lacking the fundamental necessities of life, including the security and love of a family?  To what extent would He go in order to help their situation?”  His great love for mankind was already manifested in the giving of His Son for our spiritual redemption.  He now calls on me to be His hands in serving His children.  When I view others through this lens of familial relationships, my motivation to reach out and help becomes a more urgent drive.  I’m not simply looking to serve others because God has commanded it.  I’m doing it because I genuinely have a love for my brothers and sisters who have been dealt a very difficult hand in life.  

Third, I feel a divine commission to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with mankind.  A modern revelation reads, “Wherefore, you are called to cry repentance unto this people.  And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father?  And now, if your joy will be great with one should that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!”  I had always related this scripture to missionary type preaching.  Then one day I realized that I will spend years of my life teaching my children about God and the salvation that is available through the atonement of Jesus Christ.  The family unit is the best environment for teaching spiritual principles and instilling a belief in God.  Therefore, in addition to giving these orphans the opportunity at a better life temporally, I will likewise be giving them an opportunity at a better life spiritually, and hopefully eternally.

Everything that I have said up to this point is admittedly looking at adoption through rose colored glasses.  Many people who consider adoption, think that it is going to be rainbows and unicorns: You will open your home to these poor orphans; they will be so grateful that you are giving them a better life; everyone will be happy forever; and you will be sainted for your great charity.  The reality of adoption is something else.  Instead of rainbows and unicorns, it is more along the lines of a mule with rainbow colored diarrhea: you spend most of your money trying to complete the adoption process; the children come with a lot of emotional baggage; they lie, steal and manipulate to get what they want; they show no gratitude for anything that they are given; they abuse your other children; you are introduced to the Mr. Hyde that you never knew lived inside you; you spend the rest of your money in counselling trying to restore some semblance of normal to your life; and instead of being sainted you just hope not to snap and do something crazy that gets you sent to jail.  Those who have adopted before will be both laughing and crying at this point because I speak the truth.  Now, I have painted a pretty depressing picture of adoption by lumping all of the bad into one hypothetical scenario.  The truth is every adopted child is unique.  Some are able to escape their past trauma relatively unscathed.  Others suffer from emotional/psychological disorders which require a lot of work and patience.  The bottom line is adoption is not easy.

So, do my wife and I love children? Yes.  But it takes so much more than that and more than my previously stated reasons to come to this decision in our lives.  Four of the five children that we currently have are adopted.  We adopted two of them from Ukraine and two from Russia.  We love these children and it is rewarding to see them grow and mature, but it has not been rainbows and unicorns.  Raising kids is difficult to begin with.  Add to that the challenges of special needs (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, legal blindness, open heart surgeries) and the emotional damage of having been institutionalized for years, and you get a glimpse of the steep hill that we have been hiking.  I feel like I have aged two years for each one of the past eight years.  So why do this again when we already have five children, which is already a lot by today’s standards. The following and final reason is the only one that really matters.

Some time ago, I started to have some strange experiences.  When we would sit down at the table for dinner, I looked at our family and felt that we didn’t have everyone there.  I would proceed to count heads and come to the conclusion that we were all there.  A similar thing would happen when we loaded up in the van to travel somewhere.  Every time we gathered as a family, there was the strange sense that we were missing someone.  This continued for about four months.  Then one day my wife was driving me to the airport.  It was just the two of us, which gave us a few hours to talk alone.  Somehow the topic of adoption came up.  I didn’t want to share the feelings that I had been having, fearing that it would lead to another adoption.  Nevertheless, the Spirit stirred inside me and I shared with Jill my experiences.  She told me that she had been having similar feelings.  Furthermore, she told me that she had had a dream in which she saw a young boy.  As she shared the details of this dream, I immediately had tears streaming down my face.  Each time we have considered adopting more children, I have been blessed with a vision of the future.  I have been able to visualize our family with additional children.  What’s more, I am able to feel the emotional bond for those children as if the adoption had already occurred and that they had been part of our family for years.  It’s as if they are already a part of our family and we just have to find them and make it legal.  While driving down the highway, we prayed aloud to know if it was God’s will that we grow our family through another adoption.  The peacefulness of God’s presence attended us in great measure.  With that reassurance from God, we determined to once again begin the adoption process.  We figured that we would adopt two, maybe three, children this time around. We just needed to determine from which country we would adopt.  In the following days, we had narrowed our search to the countries of Bulgaria and Ukraine.  There were a number of things that made Bulgaria an attractive option.  Our adoption agency shared the profile of a young girl which was available.  Jill and I discussed the idea of adopting this girl and generally felt good about it.  However, when we decided that Bulgaria was the choice, I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was someone for us in Ukraine.  We discussed this and decided that Ukraine would be the choice.  Then, we couldn’t forget about the girl.  Over the period of about a week, we went back and forth between the two countries several times.  Then, one night as I was praying, the thought came to me, “Why not adopt from both countries?”  This seemed absolutely absurd to me.  There is no discount for adopting from two countries.  Each one has its own painful process and outrageous expense.  Each adoption would be approximately $35,000.  Taking on one is difficult enough.  Two at the same time is suicidal.  The next morning, Jill said to me, half joking, “Hey, we could always adopt from both countries.”  I told her that I had just had that very thought the night before.  She said that she had thought the very same thing at the very same time.  Neither one of us wanted to present it as a real option since it is so ridiculous.  However, once it was thrown out there as a joke, it seemed OK to talk about it.  The more we talked about it, the more it felt right.  This decision, however, I simply could not accept.  It’s too much!  Not just financially, but in every way.  It’s simply too much!  I expressed my reservations to Jill.  She has a much stronger and a more simple faith than me.  She expressed that God would make a way for us to accomplish whatever He wants us to do.  However, she concluded, “You are the patriarch of our family.  You need to pray about it and receive an answer for yourself.”  Well, I prayed and prayed and did not receive any clear confirmation from the Spirit.  I did, however, have one thought come to me that felt inspired.  The thought was that I am not getting any younger and now is the time to complete my family.  It was a nice thought, but it did not have the kind of spiritual confirmation that you can really hang your hat on.  So my quest for heavenly guidance continued.  I am willing to do anything that God asks me to do.  I just didn’t want to embark on such a mind-numbingly ludicrous adventure with little more than faint impressions ensuring me that I was on the right path. I felt like I was unravelling and on the verge of a total meltdown.  The following Saturday I began a 24 hour fast and prayed as intently as I ever have.  At the conclusion of my fast on Sunday, I attended church.  I pleaded with God to give me a clear answer.  During the church service, I joined the congregation in singing the hymn, “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.”  The second verse reads, “Praise to the Lord! Over all things he gloriously reigneth.  Borne as on eagle wings, safely his Saints he sustaineth.  Hast thou not seen how all thou needest hath been granted in what he ordaineth?”  As I sang the last words of this verse, my vision instantly blurred, my breathing constricted, and I struggled to maintain my composure.  The power of God’s Spirit which I felt at that moment was as strong as anything I have ever experienced.  It ranks among the top three spiritual experiences of my life and gives witness to the truth that God lives and will answer our prayers.  So, with that confirmation, the die was cast; we are adopting from Ukraine and Bulgaria.  Through various discussions, Jill and I concluded that we will adopt three children from Bulgaria and one, two or three from Ukraine – probably two. [You don’t pre-select children in Ukraine, so you can’t know how many will be available until you travel there.]

I have spoken of the many virtues of adopting.  It is not my intention to persuade anyone else to feel that they are obligated to pursue this course.  In fact, I think there are many people who definitely should not adopt.  They are not cut out for it.  You should follow whatever path God has for you. 

Final Notes:

After reading this, you may think that I am one of those guys that’s super emotional and cries at everything.  The opposite is true.  I am very rational and logical, and I rarely get emotional.  Just saying…

Shortly after making the decision to pursue these adoptions I was notified that I have been selected for a promotion.  Based on my calculations, my increased salary should almost exactly offset the added expense that I anticipate with these additional children.  I will never be rich, but God will always provide.


4-5 kids

Here is the latest update in our adoption. We are close to finishing our home study and already working on some dossier documents. Woo-hoo! 

We have secured one girl, Sofia, who is 13 years old. We are also looking at a set of brothers in Bulgaria. One is 10 and one is 6. Both have moderate mental delay and other learning disabilities. We are hoping to secure their files at the beginning of April, but it is possible that someone else can commit to them before us. In light of that, we are open to looking at new files and, ultimately, plan to adopt three children from Bulgaria. 

As for Ukraine, we are keeping our options open and plan to look for 1-2 children there. We will not preselect these kids before our trip to Ukraine, so stay tuned for that trip when it comes. 

So, yeah, we are looking at adopting five children. That blows my mind! But I am eager to meet the children that God has in store for us. As Keith told me recently, we NEED these kids in our family. We're not only saving them - they are saving us. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Meet Sarah!

Our application has been approved to move forward in adopting Sarah from Eastern Europe! We are so excited!

Sarah is 13 years old and her records indicate that she struggles academically. Other than that, she seems to be typical in every other way. Her interests include art.

She has blue eyes and brown hair. Anna is thrilled at the prospect of having a sister near her age.

It will take about a year to bring her home, if she is willing to be adopted. I hope to travel to Bulgaria before the summer is over.

Her face is covered up for her protection.

Friday, February 19, 2016

One thing at a time

My passport came in today! When we started the home studies, I realized that my passport expired two years ago. Oops. 



I took three of my kids in for TB tests and physicals today. We are getting our paperwork put together slowly, but surely. 



The other day, I heard Keith praying that our adoption would go well. Afterwards, I asked him if he was excited to adopt more brothers and sisters. He said, yeah! We NEED them! 

I hadn't ever thought of adoption in that way before. Keith certainly says some profound statements.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Why stop there?

The Lord's plans don't always match my plans, and since His plans are so much better than mine, I will divert from my plans to follow His. And so, after many prayers and fasting, we are planning to adopt up to four children from Eastern Europe. We are currently looking towards Ukraine and Bulgaria. 

In addition to adding more children and another country, we are upping the age limit from 0-6 to 0-14. Again, we felt strongly impressed to make this change. We are hopeful to find a sister for Anna who is closer to her age. As for the other children, I feel inspired that there will be a younger boy, but that is all I know for now. 

And now begins the insane amount of adoption paperwork. We have two home studies and two dossiers to complete. Thankfully, my case worker has me organized and I hope to stay on top of things. 

In addition to paperwork, I am actively working on fundraising ideas, as international adoption costs money. 

We are excited to get this process moving!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Here we go again


It's been four years since we adopted Calvin and Silas from Russia. And then it was four years before that when we first adopted Keith and Iryna. Now we are adopting again. I guess 4 years is how long it takes to feel like things are calm enough to start another adoption. The strange thing is that after this new adoption is completed, we will wonder how we lived without two precious souls - that we don't even know yet!

Welcome to our journey to adopt two more children! We don't know where we're going just yet, but we are looking at Ukraine and Latvia at the moment. We are open to other countries in Eastern Europe. Since I have been trying to learn some Russian, I would prefer to adopt in a Russian-speaking country, but God knows where our children are and He will lead us to them.

We are planning to be approved for up to three children. At this point, we are thinking to adopt two children, ages 6 and under. We are open to special needs children. I am working with an agency to get the home study underway. Stay tuned for more information!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Where was I?

Oh, yes. Back to blogging. I know it's been a few days, sorry. It's been pretty busy here - as you can imagine - but never fear, I will now recount our travels from the Motherland to my beloved United States. We got up at 5:30am - well, Tyler got up at 5am - to prepare to leave. The taxi was on time at 6:30am outside. We had to be to the airport by 9:30am and the traffic in central Moscow is SUPER busy, so we wanted to leave in enough time to get there. 30 minutes later, we had arrived. Somehow I was fine paying $100 for a taxi ride that would take 3 hours, but for 30 minutes...it seemed a bit steep. However, there was no throw up on the taxi and we were there by 9:30am, so I guess it worked out. That also meant that we had some 2 1/2 hours to kill before checking in our luggage...the boys were mostly entertained by long walks and eating some bread that we had brought. In hindsight, the boys were super well behaved, although I think I was paranoid to lose them or to have them stolen - so I kept them close at all times.

I think the Moscow airport has something that ALL airports should have - if they don't already: a playroom. That's right, parents out there, this airport has a playroom! It's full of toys and the kids loved it. I loved it! We met another family who was bringing home their two kids that they adopted from another region - can't remember which - a sister and brother, ages 4 and 3. It was nice to chat with them about their adoption and we ended up sitting next to each other on the plane, so we had someone to empathize with talk to.





About a day or two before we fly home, I noticed that Silas never wanted me to hold him when we were out and about. It began to eat at me as he was constantly crying and holding his arms out to Tyler to hold him. Tyler was very sweet and sensitive to me and my emotions. Whether it was the fatigue on the long 10 hour flight to NY or this issue with Silas, alone, I don't know - but at one point I lost it and just bawled like a baby on the plane. I said I wanted to go home to my 3 children who I knew would want for me to hold them. I had been waiting for more children and now the baby (2 years old is the closest that I have) didn't want me. At all. It was heartbreaking. Tyler assured me that with time it would change and that I would be home with Silas all the time during the day, etc, etc, etc, but it didn't help me right there and then. For the record, Calvin DOES want me all the time, so it was a funny thing for me to complain when I had a boy who was constantly vying for my attention. And since we have been home, Silas has certainly given me plenty of loving, so I'm fine now. Below are some pictures that Tyler took the day before we left Russia.



 Lenin's grave - they keep a flame burning at all times.


A guard at Lenin's grave - there are always two.




And so, after we landed in NY, we hurried to get through customs and by the time we picked up our checked luggage and went to recheck it for our flight, they said we wouldn't make it in time, so they booked us on the 7pm flight - we were supposed to arrive in Orlando at 7pm - and we arrived at 11pm. The second flight was better because we all slept. In fact, I remember taking off and the next thing I knew, we were descending into Orlando. Thankfully Calvin slept, too, as I wouldn't have been able to watch him. And no throw up either flight. This is significant, as Calvin had thrown up on both car rides prior to our flights. We were just prepared for him to throw up at any moment. And I asked a nice stewardess to explain to Calvin (in Russian) to throw up into the bag that we had for him.

Danielle, Anna, and Maggie arrived at the airport to pick us up. Jana was kind enough to come sit at the house while Iryna and Keith slept. We made it home around 1am and we all crashed. At that point, it had been 28 hours since we woke up in Russia to leave, and I had only slept for 2 hours of that. It was so good to be home and sleep in my own bed. The boys fell right asleep, too, which was great for us.

We woke up about 7am and had breakfast together before Tyler had to run to work. And our first couple of days have been fabulous. I know that you want to read more about it, but honestly, my time is up and since I have more limited time now, as you can well imagine, I won't be able to update both this blog and my main, Jill, THE WARRIOR blog, so from now on out, check onto that blog for updates. Thanks for your support! Calvin and Silas are finally HOME! :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Visas for the boys

Yesterday we went to the US Embassy to pick up the visas for Calvin and Silas. When we went inside, we were able to bypass several long lines to get to the right window. I felt bad that I was able to cut in line ahead of so many Russian citizens. It also amazed me how many of them want to go to the US. The rooms were packed full of people. We a bit of a wait before they called us up to the window. While we were waiting, a nice, elderly American-looking couple was looking at us. I asked if they were American, and the wife came over to talk to me. To my surprise, she was Russian and her English was very good. She said that she remembers seeing us before we boarded our flight from NY to Moscow two weeks ago. She said she heard us talking to two young men (missionaries) about our going to Russia to adopt two boys. She then commented on how cute Calvin and Silas are. I gave her an English Book of Mormon before we left. They were so friendly.

At the window, a nice woman from CA swore us in and went over paperwork with us. She said that Russia will always recognize Calvin and Silas as Russian citizens. And that means after they turn 18. With our Ukrainian twins, if I remember correctly, they are both American and Ukrainian citizens until the age of 18 and then they will have to choose which country to be citizens of - Ukraine or America.

On the walk back to our apartment, we passed a hot dog stand and decided to try it out. I normally don't do too well with foreign foods, and sure enough, I had diarrhea afterwards. I don't understand how Tyler can eat anything and not have any issues and I always do. Sheesh. Now I am reminded yet again why I cook my own meals here in Russia. And the hot dogs were $3 each! Not exactly cheap.



It was like a long hoagie roll with a hole on one end. And the hot dogs were various shapes and flavors.


The boys have adapted fairly well to us. There is still a big language barrier, but basic needs are communicated and more will follow in time. After talking with my friend, Amy, I am convinced that Silas' orphanage caregivers were mad at him every time he soiled his diaper, because of how expensive they are. When we first got Silas, he would cry and suck on his thumb so hard when we were changing his diaper. I was trying to figure out what he was so afraid of! And now after he has seen us not being upset with him, he is downright playful at diaper changing time. It's a welcome change.


We also switched from showers to baths and the boys love it! They still don't like having water poured on their heads, but they like being in the water. They do hate having their teeth brushed. Oh, how they hate that! I remember Keith and Iryna hating it, too. They still don't like it now, but they tolerate it.

This morning I made blini - a Russian crêpe. We put strawberry jam and sweetened condensed milk inside. They boys liked it, naturally.





My brown-eyed boy! Isn't he adorable? Love my Calvin!


A pastry that Tyler bought. It was a cake with some vanilla creme inside with chocolate and coconut on the outside. It was really good.



The boys love their new shoes and ours! Calvin is very tender. If we raise our voices at all or use a tone with him, he breaks down and cries. It is hard because we love him and want for him to be happy, but he is deliberately doing things that we have asked him specifically not to do - and we really do know that he understands what we're asking of him. We have been doing the time outs with him standing at the wall. Each time he wails and wails. I don't know if he just hates to be disciplined or perhaps he assumed that his new parents would just let him do whatever he wants to do...I don't know. I love on him a lot, so I hope that he feels of our love for him. And we always follow up the time out with love and snuggles.



Daddy's first blue-eyed son, Silas! Silas also carries around his jeans. I think he really likes them.

We are packing up today and heading out tomorrow. I have been eager to get home and let the healing begin, but I know it has been good for us to have some one on one time with Calvin and Silas. Before we adopted the boys, I knew that our family was not complete. And now that we have them, I am so happy. And yet, that incomplete feeling is still there. I wonder what the future still holds for adding to Pierce family. I am so grateful for personal revelation. It feels good knowing that I am doing what God would have me do.

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Church in Moscow

This morning we all got ready and headed out to church. This time we had to change from one metro line to another. Tyler had prepared well so we didn't have any problems getting off on the right stop. Silas did get tired of Papa holding him but he didn't want to walk either, at least, he didn't want to walk where we were walking. He is certainly a two year old - wanting his independence!

We had a little difficulty in finding the church building, but I prayed for help and we saw some other people in dress clothes and followed them to the church. It took us a full hour to get from our apartment to the church building. It certainly made me think of how many people have to sacrifice to go to church, whereas it takes us 12 minutes by car back home in FL, certainly not the same as walking with two boys for over half an hour in the snow. Did I mention it snowed nonstop?

We sat next to a sister missionary in the ward - it was a Russian ward - and she translated for me. The second hour we took Silas to nursery and he did great there. Calvin was a whole other story in primary. Tyler went with him and stayed for a while. I thought that Calvin would enjoy being with other children who spoke Russian, but he began to sob and didn't stop until Tyler brought him to me. He was even calling for his mama, poor baby. I can only assume that he thought we were leaving him there, like it was another orphanage or something. I knew that it was important that Calvin understood that he is safe with us and that we will never leave him, so I asked the same sister missionary to translate that for me. He seemed to understand, but I imagine it will take time for him to realize that he is part of the Pierce family now and that we are a forever family.

The second hour is Sunday School and we just kept Calvin with us. The topic was on the atonement of Jesus Christ. We split up into groups and talked about some scriptures and about the life of Christ. One senior missionary made a point that really struck me. In the LDS church, we believe that before we were born, we lived in heaven with Heavenly Father. When we came to earth, a veil was placed over our minds such that we do not remember our lives and events that happened in heaven. On the earth we have scriptures and prophets as well as personal revelation to help us learn about God's plan and develop a personal relationship with Him. Because of the important role that Jesus plays in God's plan, I somehow thought that the veil was not placed over His mind, that to be our Savior He would need to know who He was from the beginning. However, He was born as a baby and had to learn and grow in His knowledge of God's plan and His role in that plan. We know from the Bible that He was aware of His calling to be about His Father's business by the time that He was 12. So what happened between birth and 12 years old? We don't really know, but we can only assume that His mother, Mary, played an important part in teaching Him about God, the scriptures, and the divine calling that He had been given. Surely she taught Him to pray. Through prayer He would communicate with His Father and receive revelations expanding His understanding of His incredible mission. Whereas I am not the mother of the Savior of the world, my children do have amazing potential, and I am humbled by the responsibility to teach them about God's plan and the roles that they may play. Additionally, I need to teach them that through scripture study and prayer they can develop their own relationship with Heavenly Father and learn through revelation the specific roles that He has planned for their lives. And the same applies to me - I can learn God's plan for me through my own personal revelation. What a blessing that is!

After church, we took our hour long trek back to the apartment, followed by a quick lunch and a nap. I have been taking naps when the boys do for the past three days. I need it! I made a nice meal for dinner of chicken strips and macaroni and cheese with peas. It sure does take longer to cook here in Russia, but everyone enjoyed the meal, so it's worth it. Tomorrow we are going to get the visas at the US Embassy and then we are completely done with everything we have to do before we leave in a few days.

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A video of the boys. Silas is so adorable when he raises his eyebrows.

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Silas crying on the taxi from Nizhny Novgorod. Breaks my heart.

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The boys playing together. How cute is this???









The super long escalator by the metro.

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

The sights of Moscow

Up until last night, I was super eager to just go home. I have been in Russia for 2 1/2 months in the past year and now that I have my boys - I want to take them back to FL. But then, Tyler talked about getting out and seeing some of the sights of Moscow. This really perked me up and it was nice to have something to look forward to today. 

I can see progress everyday with the boys. We have started using more and more English with them, instead of just Russian words. And they are picking up on the sign language super fast. They play together really well - which is nice because they will be together a LOT at home when their older siblings are in school. I find Calvin hugging and kissing on Silas often - so sweet to see. 



Me and Calvin snuggled up.


Silas wanted to join in on the fun.


Papa giving Silas some loves.


My boys here in Russia - just missing Keithy. 


Tyler out souvenir shopping in Izmaylovo Market. 















So, Tyler rode the metro to go to the souvenir market, but he got off the metro one stop later than when he should have. Once he got off the metro, he knew something wasn't right, so he asked this guy, Igor (pictured above with Tyler) where to find the market. This nice guy said that he would take him there. He got his car and drove Tyler to the market, walked around with him and even gave him his phone number in case we wanted to get together with him during our time here in Moscow. 






On the metro. How do you like Tyler's stoic facial expression? He wanted to look Russian.


The escalator up and down to the metro. It was the longest escalator that I've EVER seen.



The stops in the metro and so beautiful underground. They are made with marble and beautiful artifacts. Tyler read that they are so nice because when it was built there was a fear of a nuclear war above ground, so to boost morale, they made the underground areas beautiful.


I loved riding on the metro - I found it very fun. 


Outside the Kremlin.



St Basil's Cathedral. It was an amazing sight to see. So beautiful - I felt like I was in a fairy tale.




Lenin's grave. We think. There was a royal guard posted on either side.


Statue of Lenin.


Nice artwork underground by the metro.

One thing that I couldn't take pictures of was a Russian Orthodox Church. I heard some music playing through speakers outside and found the music beautiful. It sounded like a recording of religious/gregorian chant music. So lovely. We went inside and found a service going on inside the church and the music was from a choir - a very small choir. We watched the people come in and light candles and do some sort of hail mary motion, which reminded me of the Catholic church. It was interesting to see and we weren't allowed to take pictures, so you'll just have to imagine it. :)