Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Two steps forward and one step back...

Today's visit started off great, Anna came right to both of us and we starting playing together. After just a short time, a few little ones from her group came in for a music class. Anna was so excited and jumped right in with the songs and motions. When it was time for them to leave she clung to her caregiver and started crying! It was really surprising because before when her group would leave she didn't seem to mind. She cried and cried while her caregiver left the room, it took us quite some time to settle her down but the day went downhill from there. A little while later another caregiver came to feed her her morning snack, again when she went to leave Anna cried for her and wanted nothing to do with us. She seemed particularly upset by them leaving her today. She would let us play for a few minutes then she would start getting sad again. After a couple of hours we realized she was only getting more upset and it seemed like the best thing would be to send her back to her group so she wouldn't be so sad. We knew this reaction was very likely at some point, but things had been going so well we were surprised to see her react this way today. I think she is starting to realize there may be a reason we keep coming back every day, and perhaps starting to resist us and the changes we bring to her normal routine. Hopefully today was just an off day and tomorrow she will be back to her happy self!

After our visit we went with the director of our orphanage to a large baby store to purchase the items with the money we received from donations. It was so much fun and a good day for some retail therapy! The director seemed very excited to purchase some "big ticket" items that she had been wanting to buy. She told us they were in need of baby strollers that they could take the smaller babies outside in during the winter and still allow them to lay down and be warm. We were able to purchase 3 of these! This was great because these type of strollers are very expensive and I am sure they will use them often. They feel it is important that the children get fresh air everyday and even take them outside as long as the temperature is above 5 degrees! We also purchased a large plastic play yard for crawling children so they can play inside a safe environment without escaping. She also chose many small baby teething type toys and a large quantity of Q-tips! I guess you go through many of those with 105 children:-) As they were loading up the van will all the purchases she told me they would always remember our family because of these items. I told her they were gifts from Anna's friends and family back home as a thank-you for the care she received from them. She told me "please tell them to come and adopt these children and babies". I was so touched by this, she truly desires to find loving homes for each of the children under her care. She is a wonderful lady.

Here are pictures of the purchases from many of you! Thank you, thank you!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Blah, Blah, Blog

Today has been one of those days. We woke up missing our boys at home and frustrated that we only get 2 hours a day to be with Anna. The newness of living here has worn off, and now we are just trying to get through the rest of this waiting time. Typically families are able to take their child out of the orphanage on this coming Friday, since the mandatory 10 days of waiting after court day is over. However, this Friday is a Russian holiday, so we were hoping that we would be able to take Anna on Thursday since the courts are closed on Friday. Our facilitator told us today that it is not possible, and we have to wait until MONDAY to get her. I was very discouraged to hear this, I was hoping we would have this weekend alone with her to be able to start getting her more adjusted to being under our care. Now we will only have her 3 nights until we leave for Moscow. I know it will all work out, it's just not happening according to my plan! This also means that we should probably wait until Monday to post pictures of her face. They have cautioned us to wait until she is in our care before we send out her pictures. Just to warn you, we have already taken 920 pictures since we have been here, so you may be seeing more of her face than you would care to:-)

The good news is today's visit with her was lots of fun! It is amazing how our hearts are already so attached to her. We love our precious little girl. The clothes they had on her today were size 0-3 months!!! NO JOKE! I can't believe they could squeeze them onto her. Just 2 days ago they had her in 4T and she was swimming in it. I had happened to take along one of our 12 month outfits to try on her so that is what she wore most of our visit with her, she just looked too uncomfortable in the smaller one.

Tomorrow we are going at 8am to the orphanage and then we are going shopping! We are taking the director of the orphanage to go spend the money that so many of you generously gave to help with items they are needing. I am so excited to be able to do this and that the director is coming along makes it even better! We will be sure to take pictures and let you know what your money purchased.

We just realized today we have 17 more nights until we will be home. That seems like forever...

This is Anna and I looking out the window today, saying "let us out of here"!

This is the sweet little girl that is making this ALL worth it!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Lots to see today

Anna walked right into the room today and came to us like she knew we would be there, YEAH! I was really concerned we would have to start over with her getting to know us since we had not seen her in 2 days, but she seemed to almost be expecting us! During our visit we were able to watch her participate in her groups "music time". It was like being at the library story time in our hometown! One of the caregivers played the piano and sang the songs while the children mimicked the movements with the shakers and toys. It was really cute to watch and we could tell they were used to these songs and knew what to do. Anna seemed excited to show us her stuff, particularly how she can spin around and clap at the same time:-) After her class time we played hard for another hour and a half. We could tell she was getting tired or hungry because she started acting like she was on Friday afternoon, just kind of fussy and hard to please. We brought out a board book we had with us and she sat contently on my lap and looked at it for at least 10 minutes. That was a good sign that maybe on the plane she will be pacified with "low stimulus" toys.

We had been told at some point during our visits we would be able to see her eat a meal with her group. Ryan and I had talked about this some and commented that it probably takes forever to feed 15 small little ones their meals. Umm, we could not have been more wrong! They brought us down to her groups room and there at little small tables and chairs were about 11 other kids just starting to eat their lunchtime meal. She eagerly sat down and they brought hers to her. Before I could even get out the camera and snap a couple of pictures she had completely drained her soup bowl! I am not kidding, I thought she had spilled it or something. I have never seen anything like it, our boys could take some eating lessons from her! The tables they sit at come right to their chins so these little babies just have to basically shovel the food into their mouths with the adult size spoons they are given. Once the soup was gobbled down they brought their plates with a large portion of mashed potatoes with meat and carrots all pureed together. Same thing happened again, these kidos take huge bites and shovel every last drop in before you can get your mind around what is going on. After this, the caregivers served juice in a normal size cup (no sippy) and they drink it all on their own. It was a sight to see! Start to finish I think it was over in 10 minutes.

After witnessing some of her normal daily routines these last few days it is starting to sink in exactly how much of her life in just a matter of days is going to be completely new. I am feeling sad for her because of the changes we are about to thrust upon her. She is very comfortable in her environment and with her caregivers and we are going to remove her from everything that she knows. Her sights, sounds, smells, schedule, food, drinks, language, clothes, bed, playmates, caregivers, toys, absolutely everything will change. Although we know in the long-run it is what is best for her, we have to be so sensitive to the fact that her mind is going to be overwhelmed with everything new. My prayers for her is that somehow in the midst of all the changes that will be going on around her, that she will start to realize we will be her constant. These two people that smile, talk and dote over her all day will always be here and that she can learn to trust us. I pray that God will hold her extra close as we make our journey home and settle her into her new life. I also pray that we will be sensitive to her and be able to understand what she is needing (time to cry, time to be held, time to be left alone). We are discovering that our journey TO Anna is over, but now another journey begins.

Front of our apartment building

View from apartment building

Tastes almost like home

PS: If you read this and happen to see our boys, please give them a big hug from us. We are missing them so much it hurts!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Action Packed Weekend

Ryan here....since we could not see Anna this weekend, we decided to pack in as much action as possible. Our facilitator and driver picked us up on Saturday to follow the route of the Amazing Race. Many of you may have watched recently when a leg of the TV show "The Amazing Race" came through Krasnoyarsk. On the show they had to stack logs by the river, build shutters, visit the huge dam and ride the "bobsled" run near the city. Our "handlers" (as we like to call them) were surprised that we knew of these places and, of course, had never heard of the show.

It was a beautiful drive up the river to the dam although it still has nothing on the Columbia River Gorge, in our backyard! Here are some pictures from where the ice is still formed even though it was 70 degrees today! No fish ladder on this dam so there are several fish markets where the "dead-ended" or turbine-chopped fish end up. Very nice to look at but we weren't too tempted to buy.

After visiting the dam we went to an amusement park / ski area that was recently built by the company who mines and manufacturers aluminum and nickel in the area. Amy and I were able to ride the ski lift to the top of the mountain and take some pictures looking back onto Krasnoyarsk. It was a gorgeous day at about 65 degrees and total sunshine. We then rode the bobsled ride down the mountain which has to be one of the best and longest in the world. The ride dragged us nearly 2 miles up the mountain and then we zigzagged our way down. Unfortunately, the picture does not do the ride justice but we got some great video of Amy screaming the whole way down that our boys will love!

Today (Sunday) we had the opportunity to visit a Russian Baptist Church on the outskirts of Krasnoyarsk. Through a contact of Peter Law (see previous post), we contacted the Pastor of the church, Yvgeny. He gave us the number of a woman who teaches english in the city and lives nearby our flat. We called her and organized to meet to take the bus to church. The cultural experience on the bus was complete as it was the day of the year when everybody visits the graves of their relatives. There is not an english word to describe how packed the bus was...did I mention it was hot today, too? We made it to the church and greatly enjoyed the service. It was a blessing to worship the Lord with these fellow believers on the other side of the world. The rest of the day was relaxing as we head into week two, the final stretch, until we can bring our daughter home.

I would be remiss if I did not take the opportunity to tell you how thankful I am for my partner in this journey (and in all of life). So many people have asked, "aren't you sick of each other, yet?" or "are you bored?" The answer is unequivocally no! We are really enjoying this time together and are making some long-lasting memories. We are even still speaking to one another! I am so blessed to have Amy and look forward to many more wonderful years together as a family of 5!

Til tomorrow....

Friday, April 24, 2009

Fun Day!

Today we were able to spend the morning with Amy's good friends Dad who just happened to be traveling through Krasnoyarsk! He is traveling with a missions team, so we were able to meet his team and spend some time with them. It was so encouraging to be around fellow believers and English speakers! Such a small world.

After our visit with him we went to the orphanage. She did not cry when she saw us and she eagerly came to me. She also warmed up to Ryan right away. We spent the first hour playing inside the playroom then bundled her up to take her outside. At first she did not want to walk on her own, she just wanted to be held by us. Then she went to just wanting me to hold her, then she went to wanting nothing to do with either of us and only wanted to be on her own. We are not sure if she was getting tired or hungry or just plain sick of us! We realized we are constantly in her face for the whole 2 hours and she was probably wanting us to back off:-)

We are not able to visit her over the weekend so we are trying to set up things to keep us busy. Tomorrow our facilitator is taking us to the bobsled run place that was on the show "Amazing Race" when they came to Krasnoyarsk this season. We are super excited to try that! On Sunday we have found a local church that we are going to go visit during their service.

We are hoping Anna does not forget us over the weekend and we have to start all over again with getting her used to us. We are still unsure of when our "Gotcha day" will be (the day we can take her out of the orphanage). Because of a Russian holiday coming up next Friday we may have to wait until the following Monday. We are praying we will not have to wait and that we can have her with us by next weekend so she can get more used to us before we take her on the plane to Moscow.

We'll post pics from the bobsled run tomorrow!

Picture of a man ice fishing this morning on the river

Thursday, April 23, 2009

We went to the orphanage this morning from 9-11am. It was good to see Anna at a different time, she did seem a little more spunky and busy. We are not sure if it was the time of day, or the fact that she is starting to get more comfortable with us. We are beginning to see some insights into her personality which is soo cute. She definitely can get her point across, even though she doesn't use words. She enjoys slapstick humor (our boys will love that!). If you knock something down or pretend to fall down, you will get the cutest belly laugh out of her! I am sure the boys will provide countless hours of this type of humor for her:-)

While we visited with her for the 2 hours today, the same room was also being used for different groups "exercise time". They would rotate in and out small groups of 5-6 children to play around and even walk on these cute little treadmills (I will be sure to take a picture next time of them and post it). Although these children were having a great time and enjoying playing with their caregivers, my heart was still breaking for each of them. Do they also have a mama and papa who were coming for them? Many of them were content to just sit and watch us play and laugh with Anna. I wanted to let them join in, but it didn't seem like their caregivers wanted them to. One little one in particular walked up to Ryan two separate times and gave him a hug, then turned and went back to her group. She kept a close eye on him and seemed particularly interested in watching him play with Anna. I will always remember her adorable face.

After our visit we ate lunch at an Italian buffet and came back and did some grocery shopping at the store and farmers market. I think we are getting the "American prices", in fact I am positive of it, since we just spent $5 on a few sprigs of fresh dill!!!!! Can you believe that?! We also paid $10 for a few potatoes, I thought potatoes are cheap and that's why everything here is cooked with them! HMMM it sounds a little suspicious.

I can't help but post a few pictures of our sweet Anna's head donned with various bows. I know someday she will not like me for this, but seriously they are too cute to pass up. We were just saying we still don't know the true shape of her head because EVERYTIME we have seen her she is sporting these ginormous bows. I have to hand it to the caregivers, I am amazed that they can tie such a thing into an 18 month olds hair. Truly a work of art.

PS: Today was Anna's 18 month birthday. Happy year and a half to our sweet little girl!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Day 1 with our Daughter!

Today was a fun, relaxing day. We stayed in our hotel for the first part of the day, fixing breakfast, doing some laundry, skyping, catching up on emails, journaling, etc. It was so nice to be able to relax and not have a list of things we felt we had to do. We were discussing how nice it would be if we could bottle up some of this free time and use it later, once we get home with 3 children to care for!

At 2pm we were picked up to go to the orphanage. It was a different feeling this time driving to see Anna. The other three times we have gone I have been nervous and anxious. This time all I was was EXCITED! This was the day I was seeing her as her official mommy. I even learned how to say "I am your mommy" in Russian and probably told it to her 50 times today. She only cried for a few minutes when we first arrived (big progress from Monday) and warmed up to Ryan very quickly. By the end of our time with her she was initiating kisses from both of us and was all smiles. We taught her how to sign for the word "more" and she picked it up really fast. We also tried "thank you" but as usual for all of our kids, that one tends to take more work:-)

We had two "firsts" with her today. We were able to feed her the afternoon snack of crackers and warm milk served on a china plate and teacup! I can't imagine giving an 18 month old a real teacup to drink from. She wanted nothing to do with the milk because we had brought a sippy cup of water and she felt pretty special having it which was a totally new concept to drink from. After she finished her snack we were able to bundle her up and take her outside. They brought her outdoor wear for us to dress her in, it was another pair of pants to go over her existing ones, a coat, hat, scarf and boots. It was a beautiful day outside, we think at least in the 50's and we felt she did not need all those layers, but we do what they tell us! We walked around the orphanage grounds and enjoyed being in a different environment with her. As we were out walking, a group of little ones her age were being walked around by their caregivers. As they rounded a corner and saw Ryan about 3-4 of them immediately said "PAPA!". I stopped and felt such an intense sadness for those little ones, they see a man and instinctively call him Papa. Ryan also was moved by it and we are still shaken by the fact that those sweet, innocent little ones have probably never known a Papa of their own. It was such a reminder to me to be on my knees interceding for these little ones, that they may some day have an earthly Papa, and most importantly come to know their true heavenly PAPA.

Tomorrow we will go to the orphanage at 8am. It will be good for us to see Anna at a different time of day and see how perhaps she is different in the morning than the later afternoon.

We will post some pics tomorrow. Dasvedanya!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


We are excited to announce that we are officially the parents of a beautiful, sweet, Russian princess named Anastasiya Christine Yarbrough!

Today was filled with lots of emotions. The court proceedings were a little intimidating, but Ryan did a wonderful job answering the judges and prosecutors questions. After he was questioned for about 45 minutes, I was able to stand and explain to the judge why I felt Anna was a good fit for our family and how I feel about her. I did shed some tears while speaking, but was able to pull myself together and finish all of the other questions without completely loosing it! I can't help but get emotional when I think how long a road it has been to finally have this day happen. For the last two years we have prayed and prepared and worked on endless amounts of papers to bring us to this point. The wait is finally over, we can now focus on taking care of this sweet baby who has gone the first 18 months of her life without the consistent love of a mommy and daddy. Wow, we can't wait to start catching her up on all the hugs and kisses she has gone without.

After court we came home and skyped with our families to tell them the good news. Later in the afternoon our facilitator and driver picked us up to go out and celebrate. We asked them to take us to a traditional Russian restaurant and order us typical Russian food. Be careful what you ask for, that was an experience:-) The first was a plate of raw fish which included caviar nested on top of boiled quail eggs. UMMM, this is not my idea of good food, but I did not want to disappoint, so I am proud to say I was the first to pound down the caviar and fish!! Ryan was very proud of me. I pretended I was on an episode of Survivor and had to eat it in order to stay in the game. With that over, the remaining dishes were much better (i.e. cooked!). We had a great time hanging out and laughing with them.

We are constantly amazed at how God has shown himself to us during this time. We are humbled and so grateful that He has chosen us to be the ones to raise Anna, what a gift of His love.

Celebrating and Praising Him!
Ryan and Amy

Monday, April 20, 2009

Long Awaited Day

We had a great visit with Anna today! When she was first brought into the room she immediately started crying, really crying! She clung to her caregiver for dear life, it surprised me some, even though I had been warned that she may not remember us. In my mind I have replayed this day over and over, and anticipated it for over 4 months. Of course she is too young to recall those brief days we had with her way back in December, so we were strangers again to her. I finally was able to hold her and her caregiver left the room. She cried for a few more minutes but then was able to be soothed, unless she caught a glimpse of Ryan! It took her about 30 minutes until Ryan was able to bribe her with some Cheerios and get her to not be afraid of him. By the end of our time with her she was laughing, walking all over, and even went up to Ryan to have him hold her:-) She is so beautiful and doing very well. It is amazing how much she has developed in the last 4 months. She is now walking all over the place, has adorable soft curly hair (of course with a HUGE bow in it!) and we were able to see more of her sweet personality. The long awaited reunion was awesome!

We got a solid 12 hours sleep last night which was very much needed after going without for over 30 hours the previous days. We had time to do laundry, take a walk, read and rest up for the day. It was sunny and in the 30's most of the day which isn't too bad. We were brought to the orphanage later in the afternoon. The ride there and back was non-stop preparation for court tomorrow. Ryan gets to do most of the talking before the judge tomorrow so he was grilled on a multitude of questions. Please pray for us as we appear before the judge and the adoption is granted or denied (our court will begin at 6pm Monday west coast time). We are trusting God that we will officially be Anna's parents as of tomorrow!

We have enjoyed Skyping with our family and are very thankful for technology that has allowed us to see our kiddos back home. We are missing them so much and know that we have a long wait ahead of us until we are finally all together.

We will post again tomorrow after court!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

We are here!

Lots has happened since our last post, so this may get a little long!

On Saturday we enjoyed a wonderful tour of Red Square with a lady who spoke great English and was an amazing Russian history buff! So much history in this country that we were completely naive to. Unfortunately, the weather was a bit cold with off and on snow but we still had a wonderful time and enjoyed learning what we could. It was so fun to be back in Red Square and relive the memories when Ryan and I were here together on our trip in college, which is when we met and started dating. Wow, lots has changed since then:-) Who would of thought that we would be back here together 12 years later, now married and adopting a little girl into our family. It makes me laugh to think God knew all of this would happen way back then!

After our tour we went back to the hotel and they let us hang out in our room until 5pm when we were picked up to go to the airport. Our flight left at 9pm and we landed here in Siberia at 5:30 this morning. I was getting emotional driving from the airport to the city. So many times in the last 4 months I have thought of this city and cried wondering when I would be able to return. Now we are actually here, it is hard to believe. Just sitting here thinking I am this close to Anna is making me want to jump out of my seat and go run to where she is! Unfortunately, since it is Sunday we have to wait until tomorrow to go and see her. I asked our facilitator if we could go today and she just laughed...we actually are not going until 2pm tomorrow, how mean is that??!! They are going to make us sit around all morning. Our driver tried to help and said, "oh she is fine, I have seen her she is getting bigger, walking, hair growing long, etc." I was like, I should know these things about her, not you! Take me to my daughter NOW!! He laughed too, but still no luck.

We had a wonderful surprise when we arrived here. They told us there was an apartment now available to rent, instead of having to stay at the hotel. We came to have a look at it and it is WONDERFUL! It is completely remodeled from top to bottom, new windows, floors, walls, paint, fixtures, appliances, etc. We are the first ones to stay since it has been redone. This is such a huge blessing! It has a full kitchen, breakfast nook, nice bathroom, king bed, flat screen tv's, free wi-fi and a enclosed balcony. We have already been to the grocery store and are starting to settle in and make this our home base for the next 3 weeks. It is going to be so much easier taking care of Anna here instead of in a hotel room. Now there is space to play and a way to feed us all instead of going to a restaurant for every meal.

Today is the Russian Easter holiday. We bought a typical Russian Easter cake that is only sold this time of year and we are sitting here having a cup of coffee, enjoying the cake and looking at the gorgeous view outside the apartment. Home Sweet Away From Home:-)

Ok, the cow tongue was in the grocery store so I had to take a picture of it. No we did not buy any!

We are missing our friends and family and love hearing from all of you!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Medicals done

Glad to have that over with! It's not every day I take my shirt off to a room full of people:-) We saw about 8 different specialists who all had to check various things, then we received the necessary stamps on our paperwork and were done. This plus a bunch of waiting took most of the day.

After that we took a walk to a nice restaurant, had some dinner and now we are hanging out in our room getting ready for a good nights sleep. Ryan is dealing with the shakes from Blackberry withdrawl...cold turkey has been rough!

Looking forward to a walking tour of Moscow city tomorrow, then catching the red eye flight to Krasnoyarsk.

Thanks for checking in. Wish we had more to say, but our day was pretty uneventful.

We are missing our boys, but know they are being spoiled and having lots of fun with Grandma!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Almost there

We made it to Moscow! It is a cool feeling to know we are so close to Anna.

The flight was pretty uneventful except for the drunk guy in front of us who was begging everybody for more alcohol and Ryan losing our laptop and cameras for a few minutes. We landed in Moscow and made the 1.5 hour trek through traffic to the city center to our hotel. It is now 7:00 at night and we have not slept in 28 hours, we are looking longingly at the bed now.

Tomorrow we have medical appointments with several different Russian doctors (not sure what to expect there). On Saturday we will take a tour of Moscow and catch the red eye to Siberia.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Let the journey begin!

In exactly 10 hours we will be in the air! If I go sit at the airport now, will it go faster?! We are so ready to be on that plane and start our journey to Anna.

We are filled with excitement and hope and joy and peace!
Post again soon,
Ryan and Amy

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

It's really happening!

We had one of those moments today when a fed-ex package came and we opened it to find this inside!

Yes, you are reading that correctly. Anastasiya Yarbrough has a plane ticket to fly home to the United States on May 15, 2009! Seeing this in writing made us giddy with excitement!! We are having lots of "reality" moments like this the past few days and it is so much fun! The end of a long two year process to bring our child home is right around the corner. We are praising God for His faithfulness to us. If Anna only knew the work that is going on to bring her home, the poor thing has no idea what is about to happen!

One week until our adventure begins!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Court Date!!!

We can't believe it! Something actually happened in this process quicker than we were expecting. We received our phone call this morning from our agency that our court date has been set in Russia for April 21!!! That means we leave here in exactly 2 weeks from today! We had expected our court date to be at the end of the month so this was a wonderful surprise.

I am praising the Lord that I will be with my baby girl on Mothers Day and she will officially be ours. I remember feeling a little sad last Mothers Day, knowing my baby was somewhere out there and not knowing when I would be able to get to her, now this Mothers Day I will be holding her in my arms:-)

Here is our itinerary so you can keep track of us!

April 15 - Leave US for Moscow
April 16 - Arrive in Moscow
April 17 - Medicals in Moscow
April 18 - Leave Moscow for Krasnoyarsk
April 19 – Arrive in Krasnoyarsk
April 20 – We will see Anna again for the first time in 4 1/2 months!
April 21 - Court Appointment!
*10 day waiting period* Visit with Anna everyday at the orphanage
May 7 - Leave Krasnoyarsk for Moscow with Anna
May 8 – Anna's Medical Appointment, Submit documents to the Embassy
May 9 – 11 – Embassy is closed for Victory Day
May 12 - Receive visa
May 13 - Apply to the Russian Consulate
May 14 - Receive Consulate Registration
May 15 - Leave Moscow for the US with Anna!!

Praising God from whom all blessings flow...
Ryan and Amy