Friday, May 4, 2012

Isaiah's sweetest prayer

I prayed with Isaiah last night before he went to bed.  We have never said one bad thing about Zambia to Isaiah and always portrayed it as a wonderful place where went to get him.  That is why this caught me so off guard. 

Dear Jesus,

I have a mom.  I have a dad.  I have a sister.  I have a Kate.  I have a brother.  I have a Will.  I have a Hudson.  I was sad in Zambia, then mommy came and got me and now I'm happy.  And then Nona came.  And pray for Martee's knee.  In Jesus name, Amen.

It's like he is really expressing all these things in the last week or so.  He has said 5 or 6 times, just out of the blue, "I have a family"  

Very sad, but also so glad to hear him say he is happy.  You always wonder what is going on inside a child that has experienced so much change.  So thankful for that little insight into his heart, and so thankful for such a sweet son.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

It's finally my birthday.

Kate, Will, Hudson, Kelley, Nona and Mimi all have birthdays in November and December. That is most of the people Isaiah sees on a regular basis. He was really starting to wonder when it was his turn. He was constantly asking, "Isaiah's birthday?" or "Isaiah blow out the candles?". So when the time finally came for Isaiah to turn 3, on January 21st, we decided to go big. We did this with a lot of help from friends and family of course. Mimi let us use her backyard and she also has a friend that has this really cool ice cream truck that comes to parties. We got a bounce house. Kim Jeantet made an amazing Thomas the Train cake (Isaiah's favorite). We had all of our closest friends and family to celebrate with us (except my sister and her family, who we are really starting to miss now). It was a really special time and Isaiah had so much fun. When we finally got home from the party, we realized we didn't see Isaiah come inside the house. We had only been home for 3 or 4 minutes, but nobody had seen him. We finally checked his room. He was had come straight in the house, took his clothes off, turned his ocean sound machine on, turned out the lights, and was already asleep in bed. It was really precious. Thanks to everyone that came and made this a really special day for Isaiah and us.

I've been baptized!

It should be illegal to look this good.

Isaiah and his proud Momma.

Big sis and Isaiah getting ready for the big moment in the church lobby.

Here is our great friend Scott baptizing Isaiah.

Party time! After the baptism, the Russell family had a baptism party for Isaiah. It was so much fun to share this time with our friends and family. There are of course extravagant desserts, like the Africa cookie, courtesy of our dear friend and Zambian traveling partner, Kim Jeantet.

Meeting my Alabama family

Kelley's dad and sister came down to meet Isaiah. We went out to dinner and had a great time.

Here's Kelley's mom (Nona) and Isaiah hanging out at First Watch after Church.

Coming Home

This is July 15th, the day Kelley and Isaiah finally came home from Zambia. It was a great airport party.

Man, it's good to be home!

Saturday, January 7, 2012


This is the timeline for adopting Isaiah:
  • 5.24.11- We met Isaiah, formerly Raymond, for the first time today at Saint Anthony's Children's Village in Ndola, Zambia. It was an orphanage with a few hundred children. The social worker told us to "identify" our child out of 4 little boys available for adoption, and we chose Isaiah! He walked right up to us and beeped our noses, and we knew he was the one. Later that evening, we got to go back to Saint Anthony's and bring him home with us. The other children at the orphanage were so happy for him to be leaving with us. They clapped and cheered and all hugged him goodbye. It was so moving.
  • 5.25.11- Isaiah woke us up at 5am by saying, "Up, mzungus! Up!"
  • 6.8.11- We found out the evening before that we had our court appointment at 8:30 am today. We thought it would only be Luke appearing before the judge but we found out that Isaiah and I had to go before the judge too. So Kim kept the 3 older kids and Luke, Isaiah, and I went to court. We were only in the judge's chambers 10 minutes before it was all over and the judge granted our adoption decree. Isaiah officially belonged to us now!
  • 6.9.11- Saddest day I've experienced in a long time. Luke and the big kids left for home. Isaiah and I stayed to finish the paperwork so he could leave Zambia. We planned that we would be there 2 more weeks at the most to get all the documents we needed and made return ticket reservations for the 23rd.
  • 6.13.11- I had a mix-up with a Zambian friend, Mwamba, who was going to help me get Isaiah's new birth certificate and our adoption decree. She and I showed up just after my attorney had already been there trying to get the documents. The government worker got really angry that we came there too. To punish me (it seemed to me), she made me wait awhile to get the documents.
  • 6.16.11- Decree and birth certificate finally ready. I picked them up, dashed over to another attorney's office to have them certify the papers, and hurried to meet my friend, Mwamba, who had an "in" to help me get Isaiah's passport expedited. Too late to try to get the passport today, have to try tomorrow. Remember, I'm trying to leave for home on the 23rd, a week away.
  • 6.17.11- I call Mwamba early in the morning, per her request, to wake her up so we could be first at the passport office. I wait there all day but they can't finish it by the end of the day, as they had promised. I would get it tomorrow, they assured me, even though it was a Saturday, they would have it ready. And I foolishly believed them.
  • 6.18.11- No passport. There had been a power outage.
  • 6.20.11- Back to passport office first thing in the morning. Wait there till 2 pm. Still no passport. Remember, I'm still trying to leave for home in 3 days. I finally leave at 2pm because Isaiah has a dr's appt. with the embassy dr. in order for him to get his visa to enter the US. The dr's office won't see us without the passport. The nurse gets the paperwork started but tells us to come back the next afternoon. Meanwhile, Mwamba has been waiting at the passport office for the passport and calls to tell me it's finally ready and she's on the way to bring it to me at the dr's office. I have the passport!
  • 6.21.11- I go first thing in the morning to the dr's office, even though they said they couldn't see us till the afternoon. Isaiah has to pee in a cup and he wouldn't do it. It took forever but he finally did it. We continue waiting for the dr to squeeze us in. I have an embassy appt at 2pm to apply for his visa. It's my last chance to leave Zambia on Thurs. I have to have all the paperwork in order to get the visa. The dr's report is part of the paperwork. The embassy had told me if they get all the paperwork by this afternoon, they could have the visa ready by Wed. afternoon so I could leave Zambia Thurs morning. It's 11am now. I'm running out of time. I'm praying earnestly for everything to work out. They call our name. The exam is so quick. The dr is so nice. I'm early for our embassy appt. I'm thinking, "This is it. I'm actually going to make it out of here on Thurs. and see my family Fri. night!" So naive. Embassy appt could not have gone worse. They say my adoption is not valid because the orphanage mixed up the paperwork and gave me the paperwork on the wrong child. I have to completely start over and have the judge sign a new adoption decree because the embassy made some phone calls and found Isaiah's hospital records. They found out his real birth date. We had made one up because they told us at the orphanage that they didn't know his birth date. They told us that we had been approved to adopt a child with different information than what we now know. So the judge needed to know his new birth date and his new history to make an informed decision on whether we could adopt him. In sum, Kate, the embassy consul, said there was no way we would be getting on a plane on the 23rd. The room started spinning at this point. I hadn't eaten a bite in 3 or more days, I'm not even sure how long. I was about to faint or have a panic attack. But I didn't forget my manners. I thanked her (for ruining my life, but I didn't say that, of course) and then left. Later that night, sweet Abby, a precious college student I got to know while I was there, went to the bus station to take a 4+ hr bus ride to Ndola to try and get some paperwork from Isaiah's orphanage.
  • 6.22.11- I went back to the dr's office because the embassy said the dr had forgotten to mark some things on the health forms. The dr thought the embassy meant they wanted me to have Isaiah vaccinated before he left the country. Originally I had said I would have him vaccinated as soon as we got home to FL, and the dr and I thought that would be ok. But now the dr said the embassy must want me to do the vaccinations now. His office had 4 of the 6 shots he needed. I had to drive to 3 different pharmacies to buy my own vaccinations to take back to the dr's office for them to give to him. Only in Africa... Meanwhile Abby has spent her whole morning in Ndola going back and forth between the orphanage and social welfare and a copy place (since offices don't have fax machines there) to fax documents to the embassy. Isaiah finally gets all 6 of his shots and we're done for the day. The embassy tells me the orphan investigation is complete. They believe Isaiah truly is an orphan and they have enough documentation from the hospital in Ndola to prove it. However, that's just the first part of the embassy visa process. I still need to get all the paperwork changed to reflect his new birth date, 1/21/09. So all the hard work I've been frantically racing around Lusaka to get done is all for nothing. I can't use any of it since it all has his birth date as 7/15/09.
  • 6.24.11- I renew my visa because I've been here another 30 days. 60 altogether now.
  • 6.26.11- My mom comes to Zambia since I'm having a nervous breakdown.
  • 6.28.11- Our attorney, who has been hounding the judge to sign the amended adoption decree without making us have to go back to court, informs me that the judge left for China and won't be back for a week and still hasn't signed the new decree. Sad day.
  • 7.6.11- The judge is back in the country but won't sign the decree yet. At this point, we're realizing that we have no idea how long Isaiah and I will be in Zambia. The judge could wait indefinitely to sign it. Another sad day, except I got my hair did and it looks so pretty. Luke listens to me cry and panic that I'll never get to leave Zambia. But I try to have faith.
  • 7.7.11- After my sob fest and pity party the night before, my attorney calls first thing this morning and says that the judge signed the new decree. I dash to meet him and pick it up. Then I dash to the birth certificate office. They assure me I'll have the new birth certificate by the end of the day. Again I believe them. It's so helpful to have Mom here to watch Isaiah so I can run around like a chicken with its head cut off by myself, without carrying a 2 year old around with me everywhere. Although I must say, he was so sweet and well behaved the first time I was running around to all these gov't offices. No birth certificate by the end of the day. Now my goal is 7/14 to leave for home. So I'm not panicking. I still have some time.
  • 7.8.11- My 11th wedding anniversary. I get the birth certificate first thing this morning. Best anniversary gift ever. I hurry to the passport office with my cab driver, Charles. He's my "in" at the passport office this time to help me get it expedited. Mom, Isaiah, and I wait there till 1pm to be interviewed on why we need another passport.
  • 7.11.11- We wait all morning to hear from Charles about the passport. By noon, I'm worrying. Then he calls and we go pick it up. Then we hurry to the dr's office to get him to change all the paperwork to the new passport number and new birth date. We then dash to the embassy with all the new and improved documents. I love Kate, the consul, this time. She approves everything and says I'll have Isaiah's visa tomorrow. She also says the US Ambassador to Zambia wants to meet us and give us the visa himself the next day. It's a nice effort to make up for ruining my life 3 weeks before. Mom thinks we should celebrate but I'm still on pins and needles, afraid they'll find something wrong and won't really give us the visa tomorrow. I don't trust anything anybody tells me in Zambia anymore.
  • 7.12.11- We actually get the visa, have a nice visit with the ambassador, celebrate over pizza at the fancy mall food court, and pack to go home.
  • 7.13.11- I say goodbye to baby Florence at House of Moses and all our Zambian friends.
  • 7.14.11- We leave Zambia and head for home. It's now been 5 weeks exactly since I've seen Luke and the kids. I never in my life thought I would be away from my kids that long, until they left home to go to college. The hardest 5 weeks of my life, Will's 2 weeks in the NICU a close second, but God taught me so much and changed my heart in so many ways. I'm forever grateful. And now I have a new son to show for it!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Isaiah is coming home - eventually

I have recently found out that there are people who actually read this blog. I thought Kelley just wrote on here to chronicle what was happening in our live so we could look back and remember. Apparently there are others who read the blog and I'm sure are now thinking we are serious slackers. Kelley is still in Zambia with a very bad internet connection or often no internet, so she will not be updating the blog and the grammar will be much worse than usual. I have came home with the 3 oldest kids on June 9th. We are hoping and praying that Kelley and Isaiah will be coming home in the next week or two. They were supposed to leave on the 23rd, but were delayed at the last minute. Apparently some of the info from Zambia did not match up with the info the US Embassy found on Isaiah and all the paperwork had to be redone (birth certificate, passport, other stuff). This is taking longer than usual because of all of the holidays that Zambians enjoy. Good for Zambians, bad for Americans trying to get home. They have a holiday today and two next week on Monday and Tuesday.

Kelley's mom joined her in Zambia last night. This was a huge blessing for all of us. Kelley has her momma and we don't have to worry about Kelley and Isaiah anymore, because Kelley's mom can comfort and care for them for a week or two.

Isaiah is 2 1/2 years old. I think his birthday is January 21st, 2009. I know it sounds bad to say I think, but a couple of days ago it was July 15th 2009 and it just we just found out it is really the new date. He is a really funny and outgoing little boy. We really enjoyed him while we were in Zambia. Now we are missing him and Kelley from afar.

I'm sure Kelley will give a much better update when she gets home (hopefully July 5th), but until then, this is all I got. Obviously I'm not a big blogger. At least I have figured out how to post a picture. This is a picture of Hudson and Isaiah a couple of days before we left. Please pray for Kelley, Isaiah, and Kelley's mom to come home quickly and safely. We also thank everyone who has been praying for us and loving us through this process. We look forward to sharing how God worked in amazing ways in all of us over the last couple of months.