it was a long drive from the hotel in the big city to the hotel in the small village.
it was -22 degrees celsius and the roads were icy and full of snow.
it really didn't bother our facilitator at all--he drove all three hours fast and with intention.
there was very important things to be done this afternoon.
we dropped our luggage in our room and went back in the car.
it was frigid outside, much colder here than in the city.
we drove back the same way we just came and then we made a left turn down a very snowy lane.
i thought as if we might have made a wrong turn but then slowly, as we made our way down the path, i could make out playground equipment buried in the snow.
only the bright yellows and blues barely sticking above the huge piles.
i knew, yes, this was the orphanage.
we turned a corner and there was the entrance, the same entrance i had seen online.
this was it.
we sat in the car waiting for the translator for a bit and then a woman came out to the car and told us it was ok to come inside.
we could smell food cooking (didn't smell like good food to me) and then we waded down a few dark hallways.
i saw a cat sitting in the stairwell and we walked right past it up to the next floor.
we passed by a bulletin board full of photographs and i recognized a few faces.
the children were here, somewhere, but you could have heard a pin drop it was so quiet.
we were welcomed into a big office and the woman there seemed friendly.
she motioned for us to hang up our coats so we did, and then we waited.
we waited and waited and waited.
finally, after about maybe an hour?, the social worker and orphanage director came in to see us.
the translator came in too and told us we were going to get started.
tell us a little about yourselves, your occupation, your family...
right away, the social worker started to shake her head.
how can you manage all of this with your job too? how can you manage all the children?
another with special needs? why? what about his disability? why, tell me again?
what is your faith? do you have a group to help you? is this the only child you want? why?
it was overwhelming.
john's face blushed red when he spoke.
i tried to explain our life--it's hard to convince someone that it is a good life even if it's not perfect.
then the nurse came in to discuss his medical records.
mostly info we already knew but even still, there were some surprises about his short life.
i won't write the details here but we know for sure he was loved even though he was given up.
and for some reason that gives me such peace.
and after the medical information, the women stopped asking questions.
it was time.
they stepped out of the room and we sat there knowing they were going to get him and bring him to us.
we heard shuffling in the hallway and then the door opened all the way.
and there he was.
this little boy that we have prayed over and cried over and almost gave up on many times.
there he was before me like a dream.
his head was freshly buzzed and he was wearing little girl's yellow sandals and purple striped socks.
he had on a striped turtleneck and dark red corduroy overalls.
and i thought he was the most precious thing i've ever laid eyes on.
i knew the ladies were all staring at us, watching how we reacted.
but i didn't even notice them.
i just wanted to get my hands on him, to feel him, to touch him and know that he was real.
he was soft and shy and his eyes were wide open, nervous to meet us.
he clung to the director, arms wrapped around her neck and feet wrapped around her waist.
he was scared.
i stood up and touched his arm.
his eyes got bigger and he started to smile.
i couldn't help but laugh and giggle.
i was giddy with happiness.
and he knew it too.
it didn't take long before he was laughing at me.
the ladies told us he likes music and musical toys.
we found a farm that played farmer in the dell and brought it to him.
he bounced on the director's lap and we clapped and clapped.
soon he was bouncing on my lap and i clapped for him.
yaaaaayyy! we all cheered.
he was the center of all it and deservedly so.
before i knew it, i was kissing his cheeks and little hands.
i inspected every inch of his face.
i sat him in my lap, facing me and i bounced and sang and clapped.
there were moments when he was completely content and moments where he was looking to the one he was comfortable with but he stayed with me, even hugging me for a few seconds.
after a little bit of time, he even sat with john.
men are a rare sight in the orphanage so i'm not sure he knew what to do.
john didn't care one bit.
he bounced him and rocked him and made silly faces.
i grabbed the camera quickly and took a few shots.
this one was my favorite.
i wanted to stay in those moments forever, everything seemed so good and pure and true.
in those moments i felt like the world was so small and our problems are so insignificant and all that really matters is love.
that's why we are here, to give love.
because the joy i felt by giving love and sacrificing for that little boy was indescribable.
i just can't explain the happiness...and john felt it too.
it was overwhelming.
when it was time for him to leave, we waved goodbye and my eyes were instantly wet.
i could barely speak, the tears were coming too fast.
this little boy, oh man.
he has my heart.
the social worker and director seemed to understand.
after they saw us with him, i think they knew.
their whole demeanor changed.
suddenly there was laughter and smiling and good feelings all around.
i showed them pictures of ben on my phone.
they didn't speak english and we didn't speak russian, but they could tell what i meant.
we love him, just like we'll love davis.
down syndrome is not the end of our world, oh no.
down syndrome brought more love into our world than we ever thought possible.
these children matter to us.
they are worthy of love...and much more.
when we left the orphanage today, john and i were like giddy school girls, chattering about this and that.
we knew today was the answer to a prayer, the culmination of so many events, the truth that God needed us to see.
we are tired and our hearts are full.
tomorrow we will go back and spend more time with our boy.
i'm sure there will be more long sappy posts to come.
and pictures, lots and lots of pictures!
good night, dear friends.
thank you for praying with us.
we appreciate each one of you.