First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
- Mahatma Gandhi
That quote sums up the entire experience in getting Lizzie home and in our family. I'm reminded daily, everytime I look into her eyes, that this was not suppose to happen. In fact, we were told that it would never happen and that people would stand in the way to make it not happen. Like I said with Rimma's adoption...GLAD WE DIDN"T LISTEN!! Rather, we prayed, pushed forth and followed God's Plan for Lizzie and us. Truth is, a lot of events fell into place one by one to be here now. Events so insurmaountable, that I truely believe that prayer and God's hand in all of this, made it possible.
1.) Her records were a mess and no true record exists before 2008, when we started the work
2.) Her mother's rights were never terminated, she was abandoned at the orphanage over 8 years ago
3.) We later found her mother in prison. In Ukraine, this means that a prisoner's rights to their child can NEVER be terminated while they are in prison. We felt for sure that Lizzie would never be adoptable during her mother's sentence, which could have been years.
4.) Miraculously, Lizzie's mother gets out of prison, but no work was getting done on the termination of rights.
5.) We traveled to Ukraine 4 times (2 adoption trips included) to plea for Lizzie's case.
6.) Team Oleg gets her documents in order and gets the courts to terminate the mother's rights
7.) Lizzie undergoes the 1 year wait for international adoption for the only family in her life and the ones she loves.
8.) 2010 and 2011 seem to be the years for record moratorium votes. She and we survive no less than 5 votes during this timeframe.
Now we are here, our court date is behind us, we are in the 10 day wait with 5 days to go, and we are having a record adoption...hoping to be out in under 4 weeks. I spend every evening with Lizzie and catch her waiting in the window for me as I arrive. It warms my heart! As I was looking at her today, I remarked on how much, but yet how little she has changed over the last three years. Take a look, tell me if you see a big change. She certainly is a happy child now. Everyone at the orphanage says that since we entered her life, she has been very "glowing". I call it "Incandescently Happy", like Jane Austin says at the end of Pride & Prejudice. Just so happens, the happy girl in that book/movie is named Lizzie, too!
This is a photo that our friend Angie took of Lizzie during the 2007 UOO camp. It was our first in-person contact with her and I knew at day one, she would be our daughter.
Unable to rest and worried sick about Lizzie and Rimma, we took a fact-finding and mission trip to Ukraine in April of 2008. We snapped this photo right outside her orphanage that Spring of 2008. This was our second in-person contact with her.
During our adoption in November of 2008, we took a few days of from our duties and traveled to see her for her 13th birthday. Here she holds a cake and candle while we all sing to her. This was our third in-person contact.
We made a pledge to the girls to come see them at least once a year until we got them home. For three years, our only "vacations" were to Ukraine for them. We decided to come on Rimma's September birthday in 2009. Here, Lizzie is approaching 14. This is our fourth in-person contact.
In January 2010, we came for Rimma since she was the first registered. Lizzie and others hinted that we needed to come get Rimma out and soon due to the notice she was creating. We made the hard decision to do so and in March 2010, I had to leave Lizzie behind. She had become registered for adoption, but her 1 year international clock had just started. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do when I pushed her away from me, crying, into the arms of her caretaker the night Rimma and I left the orphanage to go home. This photo was snapped the day before and you can see the sadness in her expression. Our fifth in-person contact.
Seeing Lizzie so distraught and worrying that a year would be too long for her without her family, we pushed really hard to have her come home to Colorado instead of us traveling to Ukraine. We reasoned that it would break the wait up in half and would help lift her spirits. We had been turned down the previous two sumers by the orphanage director, so this was a long shot. Finally, his familiarity with us, the fact that we adopted Rimma, and bringing Vika and a chaperone led to his decision to let her come home for 10 weeks. It was a wonderful time and her English skills exploded! It was hard to send her back again, but we all said "she was going away for 6 months of boarding school, then coming back home for good"! This photo was taken in the summer of 2010, our sixth in-person contact.