The worst and the best of times

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

Dickens, you said it best.

I feel as though I have been living in the best and worst of times these past few days. Caught between two worlds: one of joy and newness of life, the other of grief and endings. In our personal lives John and I have been caught between the light of welcoming Arie home and the grey of having two family members dealing with serious illness. While we have been figuring out how to live in both worlds for a long time now, we were both struck with a new wave of emotion upon hearing the terrible news of the Russia/US adoption ban this week.

I feel like I've been knocked right off this type rope I've been balancing on, but I can't figure out what side of the rope I'm falling on.

On one side I'm deep in the bliss of Christmas with my little boy.  I'm filled with the sweetness of his wet lashes in the bath, the sound of his breathless laughter, and the beautiful weight of his little body on my hip.

On the other I'm heavy in the waters of worry and sadness. I'm continually faced with comments about how we brought Arie home just in time and I don't know whether to fall to my knees in gratitude or shake my fist at the heavens for the families whose just in time didn't come soon enough.  I want to be so thankful that he's home but my heart is so often swallowed up by other emotions. It's just too close for comfort as they say. I look at Arie and I want to be comforted by the fact that he's home, but it's just too close for comfort. When I think about how few days passed from the time we brought him home to the time the ban went into effect, it scares the hell out of me.

I'm praying thank you thank you thank you to my heavenly father and then I'm just crying out why?? Why are you letting so many children languish?  Why did we get to come home? What about the rest of the families? What's your provision for them?

And I'm trying desperately to rest in the truth I sang on Christmas day, that the Christ child came and is coming again to make his blessings known far as the curse is found.  Far as the curse is found.  Far as, far as, the curse is found. 

Because right now it seems to me that the curse is found very, very far. 

Please continue to pray with me for the Russia/US adoption relationship.  I know it seems so final to hear that Putin signed the ban and it would be easy to resign ourselves to the idea that Russia/US adoptions are over, but we must continue to pray.  I'll tell you what specific things I'm praying for and ask you to join me as you are called:

I'm praying first that the families whose adoptions are in-progress will be allowed to complete their adoptions.  I've heard that there are over 50 families in this situation and nine have been granted special permission to complete their adoptions. We need to pray that the rest of the in-process families will bring their children home SOON.

I'm praying that the ban will be revised to make provision for special needs adoptions.  In Russia, children with special needs like cerebral palsy, down syndrome, HIV, and physical impairments are rarely adopted. Without international adoption these children are left to grow up in the system at best or languish in their cribs at worst.  I'm praying that special needs adoptions will be granted exception from the law.

Finally, I'm praying that people in countries like Canada who have Russian adoption programs will stand up to fill in the gap that the lack of American adoptions will leave. Of course I want to see American parents adopt again, but in the meantime I pray that Russians themselves will adopt more domestically and that people from other countries will continue to adopt and give love to these children so they do not have to grow up without a family.

We serve an omnipotent God. This fact causes me great stress in the face of evil but also great comfort as well.  I pray that he will make his power known by providing a way for Russian orphans to know the love of a family. Every single one.

Thank you for joining me in these prayers.

Now as we pray for the thousands of orphans in Russia and the thousands of families who want to love them, let me show you what it looks like for one former orphan to bring immeasurable joy to his new family:

It looks like Grampi's delight in introducing his grandson to his dog:

An obsessively compulsively super clean and tidy Omi letting her grandson throw packing peanuts all over the floor just to watch him laugh.

It looks like a little boy getting so excited over his new play tent that he can't even wait for us to put it together before climbing in.
It looks like an unnamed family member letting him spoil his dinner with a chocolate letter almost as big as his face.
It looks like uncles and aunties sledding down a snow covered hill with their nephew, totally making up for the fact that he doesn't have any cousins (yet).
Justin courageously paved the way for all future sledders by going where no toboggan had gone before.

... it didn't end well.
Despite his facial expression here, sledding was a bit hit with Arie!

It looks like five adults bundled up with hot coffee in hand to take one little boy to see a lakeside Christmas light display.

And it looks like gorilla hugs to say goodbye.

Every child deserves love like this.  May our prayers pave a way for every child to find a family and every family a child.  May our God move in the way that we sang this Christmas by making the nations - the US and Russia among them - prove the wonders of his love.

Even in these uncertain times, we know how He rules:

Truth and Grace,



  1. I have been thinking about your beautiful family since hearing the terrible news of this adoption ban. I am so glad that Arie is with you now (the joy on his face and love is so evident in your photos). I am heartbroken for the families in the middle of the adoption process, those who had dreams of adoption, and most of all, for those sweet children who are in desperate need of forever homes. I will join you in prayer and praise God that Arie is in your arms. Thank you for sharing your story and journey.

  2. Anonymous12/30/2012

    Survivor's guilt is a very difficult thing. One can sit where bliss and dispair co-exist, but it is a strange place to remain. I hope that a solution to the Russian adoption situation is found. My heart aches especially for those families who have already come together, parents who last parted with promises to come back and bring their children home.

    Kim in NC

  3. I so love your big beautiful heart Jill.

  4. Anonymous12/31/2012

    He's Home! He's Home! So thankful that He's Home! Praise and joy and all positive thoughts for your wonderful family right now. Such a little bundle of joy. A very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all. And bless all the little orphans in Russia right now...may they find their families soon, too.

  5. Alanna Lexie12/31/2012

    I think I was meant to read this post today. It's been placed on my heart to adopt since I was young, and I think God is just getting around to telling me "from where". I'm 17, and I'm a Canadian. Adoption has always been something I wanted in my future. It breaks my heart to think that children are living without someone to love them. It's not right. Our Father adopted us as His children - I think adoption is a picture of God's love for us, thus we must love others.
    God bless you and your new son, Arie. You are so blessed!

    [email protected]

  6. I was so sad to hear about the ban on adoptions from Russia, especially because I married into a Russian family and my children are also Russian American. When I think about those sweet children, especially the ones you mentioned with special needs, my heart just breaks. It is so hard to understand why God works the way God does, and who knows when you will stop feeling so torn because you were able to bring your child home. Obviously you need to heal these feelings, this whole thing is traumatic for not only American families and the children, but for you because you are so close to the whole situation. Maybe you can get your church to write letters addressing concerns for families who were already in the process of adoption and give everyone on your blog an address to write to as well? And of course, you have our prayers!

  7. The ban on America to adopt in Russia breaks my heart. This is traumatic for you all, you will have to heal your feelings somehow because as you said, this is all so close to you. Maybe you could have your church write letters expressing concern for families who were already in the adoption process? I would be glad to write one, I am sure we all would. And of course you have our prayers!


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