The sibling set of six featured in this family story were originally hosted by their future adoptive family at the end of 2013, prior to adopting. Latvia requires three trips however they permit children that are in the adoption process to come back to the US with the family after the family's first adoption trip. To learn more about adopting from Latvia, visit here.
After many months of paperwork, interviews, and more paperwork, we have one more trip back to Latvia to process U.S. immigration for the children to be admitted as citizens. We spent most the month of August in Latvia for our “first” hearing (which actually entails two formal court hearings, two informal meetings with the adoption judge and an interview at the U.S. embassy). Like the children’s hosting visit over Christmas, Inga, the then-orphanage director, was with us every step of the way. She attended every hearing and spent nearly every day with us. Inga prepared a (large) rental home for us and reserved a large van with a full time professional driver (required for passenger vehicles in excess of 9). She also brought us several home made and excruciatingly delicious Latvian tortes. She taught us how to make eastern-European styled pork roasts. Inga planned an itinerary and showed us the sights of Latvia from well known Cesis castle to Rundale Palace to off-the-beaten-path places like Barefoot Walk , the delicious bread of Liepkalni bakery (the best rye bread I’ve ever had), Viking boat tour of the Dauguva, a fantastical doll museum in Preili and the nearby ruins of Kokneses castle and several other interesting places. Perhaps my sweetest surprise was the afternoon we spent with master beekeeper Jana Bisu, eating honey directly from a few of his hundreds of hives.
We returned to the loving embrace of dozens of our friends and families at the airport. As I mentioned on these pages before, it was a celebration of life and a lifetime memory. It has been the only time I’ve walked into an airport terminal to the sound of vuvuzelas blaring and people cheering — and for us! We were embarrassed and encouraged and loved. Our Latvian children were primarily bewildered. All were exhausted after 24 hours of travel. It was a welcome home kiss from God.
A week after we returned, several members of our church coordinated a clothing and stuff donation drive. There was so much donated that donations not only filled one room – they filled several. There was the ‘girl sweater’, the ‘boy pants room’ etc. The kids’ favorites were the toy room and the sports room. Within minutes they were riding scooters and bikes up and down the church hallway. We were encouraged to select as many items as we wanted. Unwanted items were sold at a local thrift store for which we received a gift card. Following our ‘shopping’ spree they treated us to a reception/celebration. Many friends and family participated and we felt so loved and encouraged.
Another great example of support we received came through our daughter’s American Heritage Girls troup. The coordinator approached us saying they wanted to bless us with their annual service project. Together we came up with the idea of doing a ‘yard make-over’ to prepare our home to put up for sale. The outside had been at the bottom of the priority list with basic survival as a large family at the top of the list for several months so the yard was definitely in need of some TLC. By 9am that day mini vans lined our street and whole families marched about our lawn armed with rakes and shovels. Dead leaves were removed; flowers were planted; and 20 cubic yards of mulch was spread. The transformation was incredible and trumped only by the support we felt.
The love we’ve received has been incredible, very welcomed and appreciated. Through the past year, so many friends and people we do not know have prayed for us and/or given us encouragement, time, money, food, clothes, toys, furniture, bicycles, bedsheets, computers, games, puzzles, medicine, dental care, yard cleaning, house cleaning, packing/moving/unpacking help, and I’m sure there are at least another dozen areas of help we received. It has been an overwhelming wave of love. There are too many names to name. To each and every one – THANK YOU!
A few folks commented that we are “saints” for adopting six children at once. Heh. They are correct in the theologically accurate, New Testament sense that we are “saints” because we have placed our faith in Jesus Christ as our lord and savior. In the colloquial sense, however, I can assure you that I don’t feel “saintly.” What we experience is just what every other parent experiences, it’s just we’re getting a more concentrated dose of it lately. Parenting and marriage exercise the fruits of faith. Or to put it less diplomatically, few things expose our fallen, self-centered nature more readily than parenting and marriage. At least that’s the case for me. Being an adoptive father of a large set has shown me more areas than I care to admit where I really need to be more like Christ and less like me. “Areas” … that’s too generous. More like territories. Like Newfoundland size territories.
We might not feel saintly, but we feel incredibly blessed. He provided the way and loved all twelve of us abundantly, particularly through His people – the church. We thank God for each of you who faithfully loved and supported us this past year.
Learn more about hosting a child from Latvia, Colombia, China, Ukraine, Philippines and other countries!
Since our beginnings, An Open Door has always felt a strong call to provide orphan children with loving, Christian homes.
There are more than 153 million children in the world who have lost at least one parent, and there 8 million children living in orphanages -- not counting those living on the streets or trafficked as slaves. Every year, there are also thousands of birth parents who face the incredibly hard decision to place their child with the best family possible. What a humbling privilege it is to be there for these children and families.
Since 1987, An Open Door Adoption Agency, Inc. has placed over 2,100 children. These include 1,400+ children from the state of Georgia and 700+ international orphans. Each of these precious lives represents many more people touched by adoption -- from the birth parents to the adoptive couple to the children themselves. What a great privilege it is to be there for them to complete their desire for a family.