Thursday, September 13, 2012


First off, I'd like to welcome you to our blog.  This is our story, our adoption story.  The story of how we came to be a family.  It started in April of 2011 and ended in March of 2012.  It was quite the journey and every bit of it is logged at this web address.  We laughed, we cried, we got mad, but through it all, we were driven by the love we felt for a little boy on the other side of the world.  We have purposely left this blog active with the hopes that someone, somewhere, who is thinking of adoption, or adopting, will come across it and maybe it will help them in their process.  If you are here, maybe you are thinking about adoption, maybe you are adopting, or maybe you will read these entries and decide to adopt.  Either way, we would love to help you.  Read the stories here, and if you have any questions or need any help, don't hesitate to email me at 

Once again, thanks for visiting!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Jonah loves him some Jonah!

We have a vain little boy! Our room has big mirrors on the front of the closet doors. This is where you can find Jonah spending the bulk of his time. He likes to stare at himself. He likes to watch himself dance, or talk, or get dressed/undressed! Everything he does, he prefers it be done in front of a mirror. Today he even brought Leah his bear jacket, and once she put it on him, he went back to the mirror and checked himself out! He knows how cute he is and he wants to be a witness! haha.

Today has been a rather easy day. We had nothing to do other than to await the arrival of our translator to our room at 4:15pm. He brought us Jonah's passport and paperwork showing that Jonah has been registered with the Russian consulate in Houston. I'm not sure why this is required, but it is something that has to be done. We have to notify them if we move so that they can be certain that they have the correct address on file. Until Alex came all we had to do was play and hang around the hotel. I was kind of dreading it because I figured it would be boring, but I was definately wrong. Jonah was so much fun today. He woke up in a great mood and continued like that until this very moment. He thew a little fit tongiht at dinner, so Leah just left with him to go back to the room. We had all kinds of fun today. We played peek a boo, sang songs, read books, and took naps. The day actually went by rather fast. Jonah has finally gotten settled into a sleep schedule. He is out at 8:30 and sleeps until 6:30, then naps at 10 and 3. It's simple and all it requires is a bottle of warm milk and he is out. That's what they gave him at the orphanage so we decided to continue like that until we get back to the states. Moscow isn't the place to try to institute new and strange rules.

It occured to me today that I will never be the same. When I get back to Texas life will be drastically different than it was last week when I left. Leah and I had been holding off on kids in order to live life like a young married couple with two incomes. We had always been able to go and come as we please. Nothing holding us down, nothing holding us back. I talked about this often with a good friend from work and he would always say the same thing to me. He'd say "your kids will always be the best thing to ever happens to you". This week has taught me that he is right. Jonah is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Since I first held him in October right up until the fit he just threw in the restaurant, he has been the best decision I ever made. Life will never be the same, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Tomorrow we will be flying home. We will be landing in Houston around 2:15 on Saturday, then it will be on to the house to begin our life there. It is quite probable that this might be the last blog we write here. This blog began as a way for friends and family to follow us while we were going through the adoption process. Thankfully, the process is over and the family process has begun. There is really nothing else to write about. I'm sure we will chronicle everyday happenings like everyone else does....facebook! ha. This blog will remain active for as long as they will allow. My hope is that someone somewhere will stumble across it and begin to consider adoption for themselves. Much like Leah and I did when we accidentally stumbled across the Clayton's blog on my moms computer. God orchestrated that and I am praying that he will do the same through our story. Maybe someday we will bring Jonah to this address and let him read the story of his adoption. Who knows! Each of you are very important to Leah and I. I know that all of you want the opportunity to meet Jonah in person and we would love for you to have that chance. We have to ask, at least for the first week or so, for you guys to please allow us time to get settled in and Jonah time to adjust to his new surroundings. We are not sure how this is going to go, but it will be easier on him and us if we do not have a constant flow of visitors at the door. I hope that doesn't sound rude, but we have to do what is best for him and this will be the easiest way. We will begin filtering family over this weekend and next week. After that, if he is up to it, we will begin visits from everyone else. Some of you we will call as soon as he is ready to see people, and the others, we would appreciate it if you would please call before stopping by. We have to be extremely careful with him because this will be a delicate thing for him. We love you all and are so appreciative of your support and this is one last thing you can do for us to make this transition easier on him and us. We expect many many months of visits. We both have very large familes, we have two church homes that are bursting at the seams to love on Jonah and many many friends. This process has taught us how loved we are as a family. The outpouring of support is more than we could've asked for. Thank you so much for understanding.

Well like I said, this is probably it for this blog. From the announcement in April of last year until this moment where bags are being packed to head home tomorrow, this is our story. This is Jonah's story. We love you all so much. The pursuit if over, now the journey can begin.

As always, if any of you have any questions or just want to know more about international adoption, or Russian adoption specifically. Please email me. I'd love to meet with you.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fussy Baby!

As I mentioned yesterday, we have a little boy who is smack in the middle of cutting his back molars. This is a very uncomfortable process for babies and Jonah has made sure to let us know that he has not been happy about it. He goes from being very happy and playful, to throwing himself down on the ground and banging his head on the floor, or the wall, or the chair. Anything that is available to bang against, he does it. I read online that this is a common thing for teething babies so we are not as worried about it as we were yesterday. We just try to keep rotating baby tylenol and ibuprofen and hope that it helps his pain. It seems to do a good job, we just cannot afford to skip a dose! He loves his medicines. They smell and taste like cotton candy and he will jump up and down when he sees me grab the bottles! He has done remarkably well for a 16 month old who is teething, and was taken away from everyone and everything he knows only 3 days ago, and left with two people he has only seen twice in the last 5 months. I have to admit, even at 29, if this happened to me, I wouldn't take it as well as he has. We can deal with a little fussiness.

Last night, we got Jonah to sleep about 9:30, so we both climbed into bed on either side of him and did our best to fall asleep. I was awakened at about 12:30 by the sound of a Leah rocking Jonah back to sleep. I asked her what happened and she told me that I was snoring and woke him up. When I fly, my sinuses tend to get pretty dry, and snoring is one of the things that comes of that. I can usually control it with medicine, but I didn't take it last night. We tried several more times to sleep, but I kept snoring. We finally decided that I couldn't sleep in the bed with them. I took my blanket and pillow and locked myself in the bathroom and slept on the floor. The bathroom in our hotel is rather small, so I was curled up on the floor, half of me under the sink, and my legs hanging in to the bath tub, just so Jonah and Leah could sleep. It was pretty intense, and I am payed for it this morning. I am hoping that we don't have that problem again tonight because I am not sure I can handle another night on the floor.

I have been amazed at how amazingly good Leah is with Jonah. He and I are getting along great, but their relationship is growing stronger and stronger by the day. I was told that he wouldn't bond with me as quickly due to the fact that i am a man, and that's ok, but I can definately see where he and Leah are bonding. She is so good with him. If she leaves the room, he will walk around whining until she gets back. I make her come down to the bar every morning, order a cappucino, and play on the internet. It's important that she has at least an hour a day to herself in order to stay sane! He and I play really well when she is gone, but as soon as she crosses the doorway, he smiles from ear to ear and runs over to greet her. It's really quite amazing. I mentioned in a blog that I wrote in October that I had to apologize to her for loving Jonah more than I loved her. That's not true anymore. Seeing him with her has made me fall even more in love with Leah. Something about seeing them together, and getting along so well, makes me feel like the luckiest man in the world. I have been truly blessed with a great wife.

Well, that's about all I have for today. We are really doing nothing. We waited all day today for some paperwork, and will wait all day tomorrow for some more. Then we will be flying out on Saturday. It's getting very close. We are super excited and cannot wait to get home with our son, and see Romo and Sophie! I'll blog once more tomorrow before we head out. Until then....

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Teething. Enough said!

I want to start off by telling you guys a story I forgot to tell you yesterday. On Monday, in Volgograd, our translator, lawyer, and their driver, came to pick us up to go to the orphanage to get Jonah. We headed over there, processed everything, said a tearful goodbye to his care takers, and hit the road. A little explanation first. In Russia, traffic is really bad. There are traffic laws, but they are extremely loose. For instance, there is a yellow line down the middle of the road that seperates the different directions of traffic, but there are no lines indicating driving lanes on either side of that yellow seperation line. Now remember on our first blog from Volgograd that I mentioned that a scary man in a black Audi picked us up, and I was convinced that he was going to kill us? The driver we had on Monday was this same guy. His name is Dimitry, and he is quite nice. We have had him drive us around on every trip we have taken over here, and this situation was no different. Dimitry is a scary looking dude. If Vladamir Putin and Jason Statham had a baby, it would look like Dimitry. So, back to Monday. We had just picked Jonah up and hit the road. Traffic was bad, as usual, and we were in a jam headed back to the hotel. We weren't in the Audi, but in some other kind of SUV. We were traveling down the road, slowly, when an old man in a fiat cut Dimitry off. Since there is no lane seperation, there was no turn signal, no indication he was coming, just 6 inches between the fiat and Dimitry's SUV. Dimitry got visibly angry and blew his horn. He began to mumble under his breath in Russian. He followed closely to the Fiat and would not let it get away. Soon after, we came upon a red light, and Dimitry pulled up next to the Fiat. He blew his horn and rolled his windown down. At this point, I was waiting for him to stick a potato on the end of a revolver and blow this guy's head off! With his menacing voice and terrifying demeanor, he willed the old man to roll his windown down! Literally, the guy had no intention of engaging in conversation, but he did anyway. That's how you know your the boss. You make people talk to you even when they are in another vehicle and do not have to do so. The old man timidly rolled his window down and Dimitry said something to him in a very low bass that sounded awful. The old man kind of withered and slowly rolled his window up. The interesting thing is that our translator and lawyer acted as if this was completly normal. They never acknowledged the situation at all! It was amazing. We were all impressed with his clout and I was justified in the fear I felt on the first night. He may have willed that I fear him, who knows! Anyway, I didn't want to leave that out. It is fighting a close battle with hearing Jonah say "da-da" as my second favorite moment of this trip! That's how great it was.

On to today. I was complaining last night about not getting any sleep. Well, that has been fixed. We got back to the room last night about 8:30, and after a bottle, Jonah was sacked out. We took the opportunity to go to sleep also. We all slept until about 4:30 this morning before he woke us up. 8 hours of sleep was blissful. It was the first 8 Leah and I had gotten since mid week last week! I appreciated it so much. We have learned to sleep when he sleeps. Nap time, car rides, plane rides, whenever he sleeps, we sleep. He is in control. He has been running a low grade fever all week due to teething. You can tell it really starts to bother him in the early afternoon. He chews on anything he can get his hands on. We have been rotating tylenol and ibuprofen with him to make him a little more confortable. Teething makes him very fussy during the day. Just whining and complaining with no way to satisfy him. We were at the end of our rope today until we discovered that all he wanted was apple juice. Not sure why, but he has been killing apple juice all day and it seems to help with the fussyness. I'm going to own stock in J7 yablica juice before I leave Moscow!

We went to the US embassy to get his Visa and immigration papers today! That was an experience. Because we were US citizens we were allowed to skip the lines and get out business done quickly. Jonah now has a Visa to travel back to the United States. HIs immigration status is approved and final. He is, pretty much, considered a US citizen. We must complete the re adoption process when we get home to finalize his citizenship. They told us today that the Russian Federation will always considerer Jonah a Russian citizen unless he flys back to Russia and denounces his citizenship. This means that if he travels here between the ages of 18-27 he will probably be drafted into the military. Lots of people have asked us if we would be traveling back to Russia with him to visit. I guess that will depend on how bad he wants to fight for Russia in their military! We will ask him in a few years!

Overall he has done great today. Lots of playing, lots of napping, lots of eating, and most of all lots of loving. He gives us kisses and calls Leah Mama. He says DaDa, but he doesn't direct it at me. He will point at Leah and scream MAMA!!! He is an amazing little boy. We just finished dinner in the hotel restaurant, and he was putting on a show for all of the women in the restaruant. They were gathered around talking to him and he was just dancing and talking back. Spitting game as well as I have seen in a long time. He is going to be a mess. He is a performer! For us, for strangers, for Dimitry! He just performs. We love it.

Only two more days left for us in Russia. It's kind of bittersweet. Of course we are ready to be home, but I have grown to love this counrty. Their way of doing things, their food, their architecture, I love it all. I will always have a special spot in my heart for Russia and for their people. You have a certain expectation, due to stereotypes you hear at home, but when you get here, you realize that it is far different than what you thought. I've read a lot in the news saying that there is a lot of anti american sentiment in Russia, especially concerning adoption. That couldn't be farther from the truth. We have been stopped in the street, or in the supermarket by Russians who will tell us, in Russia, that they are so thankful that we are there giving Jonah a home. Our translator will tell us what they are saying and it is very moving. I guess they can tell we are American and he is Russian (for now). We have heard nothing negative and we are thankful for that. I think my entire outlook on our country's foreign relations has changed. Sitting in the US it's easy to forget that there are actual humans over here and in other countries that are having to endure the hardships and other challenges that come with life outside of the United States. Think what you want about our country, it is the best in the world. No question. Our translator told us yesterday that even though things were better than they were during communism, that they still were not free. He told us that we were lucky and all the Russian people wanted was a life like the one we had in America. That is why he helps Americans adopt Russian children, so they can have that life. It was very eye opening. We have been blessed beyond measure. I hope we all realize that.

We are almost home! We cannot wait. Please continue to pray for us and for Jonah. God has been so good to us through this whole experience. He has brought us on this amazing journey to bring Jonah home and he has taught us so much about Himself. I understand the cross so much more than I did a year ago. The gospel is so much clearer. We'd like to think that God brought us on this journey to teach us a lot about ourself and to give Jonah a home, and he has, but even bigger than that, he brought us on this journey to teach us about himself, and about his sacrafice in order to adopt us. We have no claim to the birthright, it was freely given. Just as Jonah was born with no hope, we were born with no hope. Hope is found in the cross. We knew that before, but it is crystal clear now. We love Him because he loves us. And we love you guys too! Later.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Will I ever sleep again?

This is the question we have been asking since landing in Volgograd on Sunday. We arrived in Volgograd about 9:30 Sunday night, very jetlagged, very much looking forward to a good nights sleep in our hotel before picking up Jonah. That night of sleep didn't come. We were so excited about picking him up, that we both found ourselves up at 4 am staring at the ceiling, begging the time to evaporate so we could finish what we started almost 1 year ago. We were allowed to go to the orphanage at 9 am on Monday morning to get Jonah. We were expecting a whole bunch of legality, but they informed us that the orphanage was having an inspection that morning and we needed to get him quickly and get out. The Russians don't mince words. They had something to do and we were going to be in their way. Take your boy and go! haha. He had been moved to a new care room so we had to go there to get him. When we walked in, he immediately recognized Leah. His eyes were fixed and his hands were extended! It was as if he knew, all along, that on this day we would get him! He was so excited. Our translator and lawyer were astonished at the way he recognized Leah. They said they had been doing adoptions for years and had never seen a baby react like that to leaving. Usually they are unsure of what is to come, Jonah was sure he didn't want to stay! We handed them the clothes we had brought for him, and after he changed, he was handed over to us. We stopped by the social workers office to sign a few papers and to get his Russian insurance card, stopped by and let him say goodbye to the ladies in his original room, took some pictures, then we were off to begin our life together!

The afternoon was great. Our flight didn't leave until 9:05 pm so we had all day to stay at the hotel and play. He did really well. He explored a lot, he played with the toys we brought, and we all took a nap together. It was great. Around dinner time, we decided to try our luck and see how he would do at Grand Cafe. We walked over there, and he ate an order of mashed potatoes. He didn't cry, fuss or anything. He just sat there in Leah's lap, ate, and hung out while she ate. After that, we met with our lawyer and translator one last time, then it was off to Moscow to spend the rest of our trip. I was really worried how Jonah would do on the flight, but he did wonderful. He fell asleep about 10 minutes after takeoff and slept all the way to the hotel in Moscow. We got to Moscow about 1:30 am this morning, and as soon as we got ready for bed, he woke up. We were up with him most of the night. (I might of slept a little while Leah was up, you'll have to ask her!)

Our guide in Moscow showed up at 8 this morning and took us to a local clinic to have Jonah assessed by an American Embassy approved doctor. He checked out fine. The doctor told us that he was small, but that was typical for orphanage babies and it was nothing to worry about. The doctor also told us that the ladies would really like him because of his smile. He is quite the charmer. He has this little smile he will flash, when he is up to something, that just melts your heart. He loves pretty ladies! Russia is full of beautiful women and he will just watch them, and smile, and ask them to pick him up! He's not very bashful.

All in all, things have gone great so far. We are so thankful for all of the support from each of you. It has been a very tough process, but it's over. We will spend the rest of the week getting his US citizenship, then it will be off to Hull, Texas on Saturday. I cannot wait for that day. I promise you guys that I will blog every day. We have no wifi in our room, so I am having to sit in the lobby to post this. It's difficult to find time each day to come down here, but I will make it happen. You guys have prayed for us and supported us, so we feel it's important to see this blogging process through. I will also be posting pictures to facebook each day when I come down to blog. Once again, we appreciate the prayers and thoughts. Until next time.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Hello Moscow!

Saturday was the day we had all been waiting for. It was finally time to get on an airplane, and fly to Volgograd to take Jonah away from the orphanage he had spent his first 16 months of live living in. We left Houston around 4:40 pm Saturday evening and we just arrived in Moscow a few hours ago. It's like a 13 hour time warp, but it feels like the same day. It is a hard thing to explain unless you have experienced it. We are both really tired, but we have one more flight to catch. We are sitting in a little coffee shop at Domodedovo Airport waiting to board our connecting flight from Moscow to Volgograd. We cannot wait to get into out hotel room and just crash.

Tomorrow is going to be a great day. We will go to the orphanage, meet with Jonah's doctors, then after that, he will be handed over to Leah and I, for good. We will FINALLY be able to leave that place with our son. We have gotten way to familiar with the emotions that accompany leaving him there and flying home. We are ready to experience the emotions that accompany him flying home with us. AFter picking him up, we will fly back to Moscow and spend 4 days at the US embassy doing the necessary paperwork to make Jonah a US citizen. From there it will be a 13 hour flight home with a 16 month old. I'm very interested in how that is going to go.

We will be doing our usual updates daily while we are gone. We will FINALLY be able to post pictures of Jonah to Facebook once we have him in our possession, so be looking out for that. Thanks again for your prayers and we look forward to having so much more to tell you all tomorrow!

PS, if we usually text you while we are here, that probably won't be happening this time. I bought an iPhone 4s and was assured that it would work when we got over here. Well, it isn't. Looks like it will be an email exclusive trip. Just FYI......Later

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Delays at Volgograd Airport!!

We have about a two hour delay until our flight here in Volgograd airport, so I figured I'd catch you all up with the happenings of the day. We saw Jonah for the last time this morning. He was doing fine and feeling better. We played for about three hours before we had to say goodbye. It was, once again, very hard to say goodbye to him. We did better than last time though. We even made it out with out crying. Leah teared up right as we walked outside, and then thought better of it. She was worried that her eyeballs would freeze if she started crying. ha

We left the hotel to travel to the airport about two hours ago. We arrived at Gumrak airport and found out that our flight will be delayed approximately two hours. This presented a scary situation for us because our translator had to leave. We weren't really sure what to do. We don't know how to check in, how to read the signs, and what happens if, God forbid, the flight gets completeley cancelled? It is the last flight out of Volgograd tonight, and one we need to be on in order to catch our flight from Moscow first thing in the morning. Before our translator left, she showed us how to become members of some club here in the airport what will allow us to wait in a plush lounge with free food and drink until our flight gets here. The employees handle all of your luggage, they check you in for your flight, and deliver your boarding passes to you while you wait on the leather couches. This is a blessing and we are eating it up! Some of the employees in here speak English, so we feel like we are ok.

Sorry this was short, but we I am trying to figure this place out and need to focus on that. I will update once more from Moscow in the morning before we head back to Houston!