All That’s Left is to Pray


^^^ Photo bomb for the win.

It’s officially official!  Yesterday Jake spent fifteen hours in the car chasing papers.  He drove two hours to pick up Jacob’s new birth certificate, drove two hours back to the first passport office, then went to the second passport office, then went to the orphanage to pick up Jacob to drive two hours back to the third passport office (How does it even make sense that there are three of them?!?!) and when they were finished he drove two hours back home, dropped Jacob off at the orphanage and came back to the apartment.

But once it was all said and done our paper chase was over and we are technically, practically, officially Jacob’s parents with legal custody and everything.  There is something about knowing I can snatch him away whenever I feel like it that just gives me warm, fuzzy happy feelings.  We have not had Gotcha Day yet, though.  The director is graciously allowing Jacob to spend the rest of this week there without even charging us for lodging, lol.  You would think we’d want him with us now that we can bust him out any time, but practically this is so much better.

The travel time between Gotcha Day and arriving home is typically extremely stressful for kids, especially in his age range.  The longer it’s drawn out the more difficult it will be.  We want to get home as fast as possible once we pick him up.  Second, we already know he gets sick a lot, and it’s very common for the children to become ill once leaving the orphanage, being exposed to so many new things during such a stressful time.  The last thing we want is for him to be sick during his Embassy medical.  We need him healthy so there won’t be any complications getting a Visa.

So, really, our best option is to wait until the last minute.  We will very likely pick him up and head straight to the train for Hope’s city, no dilly dallying!  We have been visiting each day still, and I will be perfectly honest, the visits have gone from stellar to trying.  It’s not that much has changed, there are just little things here and there… Red flags popping up that are setting our minds toward focusing on the hard realities of parenting a hurting child.

One thing we know… Jacob is not attached to us.  He loves our visits, he loves the toys and food and new experiences we bring, he loves the idea of having his own house and even of having a family.  He doesn’t want to be alone, he wants people to love him and he knows that we are offering him that.  But what he doesn’t know is that we are the only ones who can offer him these things.

As much as it hurts for my mama’s heart to think of it this way, in his mind Jake and I are totally replaceable.  We are characters in his fairy tale ending that can be switched out for new ones if things don’t quite go his way.  While they were driving the four hour round trip to the passport office yesterday, our son was actively reaching out to the driver and our facilitator, calling them Mama and Papa.  They spoke Russian, he connected with them in that moment, and since they were in his fairy tale he could put them in our roles.

To institutionalized children all adults are the same and they are totally interchangeable.  One day I do believe he will know what it means to call me Mama, but for now, to him it is a temporary title not limited to myself.  It’s one he can apply to any nice lady who might help him get what it is that he wants in that moment.  It’s a tough reality to grapple with.  Attachment is going to be work, which is why if you know us in real life it is so important that you help us keep tight boundaries with him.  He will so need them.

Attachment isn’t the only red flag we’ve seen.  He’s been testing us more; we’re supposed to be in the honeymoon period but we are already seeing behavioral issues surface.  His compliance is waning, and I am feeling a downward spiral of that coming on after Gotcha Day.  He uses his emotions as weapons and tools.  Some people refer to this as emotional manipulation, which is technically true.  But I don’t like putting that label on a child in this instance.  It’s a survival skill in the orphanage; he’s had learn to use it so his basic needs can be met.  No child should ever need to do this!  It’s tragic!

He’s not trying to be a bad kid.   This is just the only way he knows how to be.  We have also noticed that he does not have appropriate reactions to pain.  He laughs when he gets hurt, breaks my heart.  This is also a common thread shared by many institutionalized children and their atypical experiences with pain, adult reactions, etc.  Our boy is hurting, he is very much hurting.  I don’t think he understands the extent to which he has been hurt; everything up to this point has just been normal life for him.

It hurts me to see him this way.  It terrifies me to think of the great responsibility we have being the healing presence in his life.  I felt very prepared coming into this and I feel so under prepared and so inadequate as the time swiftly moves forward to bring him home and begin this long, grueling journey.  At this point all I have left to do is pray that God gives us the wisdom, patience and strength to be the parents he so desperately needs.


  1. I’ve enjoyed following your journey, though I haven’t commented before.

    Here is a blog that you might find useful:, if you haven’t already seen it. Chrisite and Mike have been down the road you’re just starting . . . 4 times . . . including one older girl through domestic adoption, one older girl through international adoption, one internationally-adopted older girl who had been through one disruption, and one internationally-adopted older girl who had been through TWO disruptions. The insights Christie shares in her blog will (hopefully) save all of you you some headaches and trauma.

  2. praying with you

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