Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted
according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or
slow to do the humble work.

- Mother Teresa

About Me

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Sunny Florida, United States
I am the proud mom to 6 kids: Natasha, 24, Nikolai, 20, Reese, 20, Maylee, 14, Erik, 10 and Violet, 7. The kids come from Russia, Ukraine and China; I'm so proud of my family sometimes I think I'll burst and I needed an outlet for it - so I've created this weblog. :o)
If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one.
- Mother Teresa

Motivation for Moms

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One of the greatest diseases is to be nobody to anybody.
Mother Teresa

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Sunday, June 7, 2009
This is Reese (in 1998, less than a month after his adoption). He is an extraordinary person. He is one person that I truly, without any doubt, feel God's special hand is on. I'll tell you why:

Around the time I adopted Natasha, I subscribed to a service that sent me about 200 kids' photolistings a month (the internet wasn't nearly as widespread as it is now, and I didn't have a computer yet - this was in the mid-90's). I had a big, green book, and each month I carefully added the new kids' listings in there, and removed the pages on the list of kids that had been placed, or were no longer available for whatever reason. I was always sad to see the kids go, who had to be removed each month, as I scoured that book so often, I felt like I knew the kids. I subscribed to the book around the same time as I was adopting Natasha, always knowing I'd have more than one child. I would slowly and lovingly leaf through the book, reading the kids' names and birthdates and enjoying whatever bio might have been written about the child. I dreamed about so many of the children, and certainly had my favorites, along with several that I thought I could never handle! It was definitely a source of entertainment for me, if that is an okay word to use.

Once, when putting in new kids' pages, I saw a DARLING little boy of almost 3 years of age. He had 3 limbs missing and the longest eyelashes and most kissable cheeks!! Oh, was he cute!! His name was Reeslan and his birthday was 11/94. (I have the page, and was going to scan it, but it is black and white and I didn't think it would scan through well. If I get comments asking for it, I'll put it in in a subsequent post.)

But he had several strikes against him: 1) He was a boy and boys smelled, they were noisy, they were snotty-nosed and rude. (Don't strike me!! I've since changed my tune 100%!!!) 2) He was really young. I was looking for a child of about 5, which would be 2 years younger than Natasha, who was 7. 3) His disabilities were too much. I could do one limb, or two, but THREE missing limbs?? Yikes!! That was too much!

In the meantime, I looked at 5 year old girls, which is what I wanted, anyway. There were a couple that I liked. One was Lena. I called her agency (which happened to be the same as Reeslan's) and asked about her. Yes, she was still available, and yes, she was only missing both forefeet. (Great!) But she was described as having some behavioral issues. --Stop!! Strike that one!!! My daughter Natasha was a handful enough, and having two that were challenging was too much!! But I couldn't help but ask: Is Reeslan still available?? Reeslan? The agent asked. Hmmmm... Let me look. She came back to the phone and said no, he'd been placed. Okay! That was fine. Didn't want him anyway!! I was happy for him, though, and remembered how cute he was.

Soon after this encounter, we moved from Iowa to northern Mississippi, close to Memphis, where I loved. We got settled in, Natasha and me (and the dog), and I began to look in my book again. By this time, Reeslan's photolisting page had to be removed, and I was sad to see it go. He just had a "look". Anyway, I found a new little girl that was PERFECT!! Her name, interestingly enough, was the same as my daughter's: Natalia, but the similarities stopped there. Natalia was 5 (perfect!), a girl (perfect!), with 2 malformed limbs (great!), and was described as quiet, gentle, and craving affection (fantastic!!!!). She was perfect, and as far as I was concerned, the search ended there. She even looked a little bit like me!!

I called the agency (once again being the same agency Reeslan was listed under). I asked about Natalia and said I'd like to receive her video and medical/social. Fine, they were glad to share it with me. In the front of my mind, I felt compelled to ask about Reeslan, and a short argument ensued in my brain:

"Ask about Reeslan."
"No, he's not available anymore!"
"Ask."
"No. I don't want him - I want this little Natalia girl."
"Ask. It won't hurt to ask!!"

So I did. (And BTW, I do NOT normally have these conversations in my head.)

"Is that little boy, Reeslan, still available?" (It was a different agent who didn't know I'd asked before and already been told "no".)
"Reeslan?"
"Yes. He was born in 11/94 and is missing 3 limbs."
"Reeslan... Do you mean Ruslan??"
"Uh, I guess so! His name was spelled R-e-e-s-l-a-n in the book."
"Yes, we have him and he's available. No one has asked about him so we stopped searching for him. Do you want his information as well?"
"Yes, please." (Ugh)
"But I thought you wanted a girl?"
"I do! But I can't help asking about him. He is so cute."
"Okay, they are both in the same orphanage. I'll send you videos and pictures of both of them."

[BTW, this is how we started calling Ruslan, "Reese". We thought we'd shorten his name "Reeslan" to "Reese" but then found out it was Ruslan! We liked it so much we decided to nickname him "Reese", anyway.]

The 2 day wait until the FedEx package arrived with the videos and bios was an eternity! I raced home from work on my lunch hour and RIPPED it open, practically with my teeth! I popped the tape in, and there was little Natalia, sitting on the couch, so cute!! So quiet and sweet and helpless-looking! She talked a little and did a little puzzle-toy and I was in love. As far as I was concerned, I didn't need to see Ruslan's video, but of course I was very curious about the little guy I'd been thinking about for a year and a half, now.

I watched his video, and I had to admit, he was really, really appealing. He smiled the entire time, and interacted with the person doing the taping. He did some puzzle-toys, and when corrected for mistakes, he looked disappointed, but quickly resumed the big smile. Yes, he was cute; but he was still a very young boy with 3 misshaped limbs. And that's not what I was looking for at all.

I made a copy of the tape and FedEx'ed it to my mom, who is my biggest adviser. In the meantime, I kept Natalia's picture with me and looked at it throughout the day. It was hard to forget about little Ruslan, but he just didn't fit the "template" I was looking for, unfortunately.

I finally got the call from my mom, who said she had just looked at the tape. I excitedly asked what she thought. She very methodically and objectively said that Natalia was very sweet and very cute and looked like she'd be a perfect contrast to extroverted and often overbearing Natasha. She said she liked her. I then asked about Ruslan. She paused, then burst out: "HE LOOKS LIKE AN ANGEL!!!" She said she was TRYING to be objective, but she couldn't help it - he looked like he was an angel. He glowed, and he had the look of someone who was extremely special.

Of course, I was disappointed. I agreed that Ruslan was VERY appealing, but darnit!!! I wanted a GIRL!!! And Natalia was PERFECT!! I was very torn. When it comes to matters of the heart, my mom is rarely wrong, and she gives excellent advice.

I looked at the tape again and liked Ruslan more and more, however. What should I do? What, oh what, should I do??? Honestly, no matter how cute and appealing the little bugger was, I wanted Natalia, and there was no way around that.

So one afternoon, I went up to my bedroom, opened the window and lie down on the bed. I was emotionally exhausted from all of this. I knew that whomever I chose, the other would be transferred soon to the mental institution for the disabled very soon, and I just really didn't think I would be capable of getting both. Natasha was such a handful, and being single with no family nearby, I had to realize what I was able to honestly do. It was a horrible position to be in.

So I lied in bed, and just remained quiet, with the warm Mississippi breeze blowing over me. I thought about Natalia. I pictured her in my head and thought of what I would re-name her. I would have to rename her as I couldn't have two "Natasha's" around...! What would it be?

"Ruslan."

The name was so quiet in my head I wasn't sure I heard it. I kept thinking about Natalia and how Natasha's clothes would be perfect hand-me-downs--

"Ruslan."

I knew I heard it this time. How strange! Why would Ruslan's name pop into my head?? I thought again about Natalia. Thought about how I would do her hair and hoped she'd be feminine enough for me to dress really cute, since Natasha was such a tomboy.

"Ruslan."

Okay. This was weird. I heard it loud and clear this time. Couldn't God or my brain, or whatever was talking to me realize that I did NOT WANT THIS CHILD??

"Ruslan!"

The name was unmistakable. So I argued back and clearly and deliberately, said in my head, "NATALIA."

"RUSLAN."

"NATALIA."

"RUSLAN!!"

Each and every time I heard Ruslan's name it was louder and more convincing. I wasn't scared, I was TICKED. I DID NOT WANT A 3 1/2 YEAR OLD BOY WITH SO MANY PHYSICAL PROBLEMS!!!!!

"RUSLAN!!!!"

"OKAY!!" I yelled audibly into the empty room. "RUSLAN!!!"

I was utterly exhausted. By this time, I was 100% convinced that the voice in my head was God's. God obviously wanted me to take THIS child, and he was not going to take "no" for an answer!!

After I yelled Ruslan's name in the room, I collapsed emotionally. I lied there, quiet, almost panting, from the spiritual battle that I had just conceded defeat to. Yet, even so, a sense of peace, of quietness, of "everything's going to be alright" filled me like it never has before. I realized that I had just, for the first and only time in my life, heard the audible voice of God speaking to me. I would have been terrified, had I not felt such peace. I knew that I would have to give up the dream of adopting Natalia to adopt a child that I didn't really want, but at that moment, I knew that it was going to be okay.

The adoption agency was very surprised by my decision, but they were happy for me that I'd made a decision, and the adoption proceeded as usual.

There were no paperwork delays.
There were no time delays.
There were no financial snags for me to work out.
Everything went through like a well-oiled machine.

I did not worry about Natasha's adjustment to having a barely-4-year-old brother who couldn't walk and would need so much attention.
I did not worry about attachment, and did not read ANY parenting books to prepare like I did before Natasha arrived.
I did not worry about the trip to Russia or taking time off work or anything.

Everything went beautifully, and the whole time I was at complete peace, knowing I was doing something that God had specifically, and audibly told me to do.

When I first met Ruslan, he was calm, and sitting in a big chair. I arrived in the room, and the ladies told him to look. They asked him who that was, and he said, "Mama!", flashed me that smile, and put his arms up so I could pick him up. And that was that. No adjustments, no crying, no rebellion, no sadness, no nothing. He was happy from the first moment I got him. There was only ONE issue of adjustment that I remember and it was naptime at my grandmother's house at Christmas, 2 weeks after his arrival. He cried for 15 minutes on the bed, then fell asleep. That was the extent of his adjustment.

I KNOW that God has a very specific plan for this child's life and I am honored beyond BELIEF that He chose me to raise him! Reese and I have always been close and I love him with a love that can only be the most true mother-son love there is. He has been a joy and a pleasure to raise and I have almost never had any issues with him behaviorally (although he isn't perfect!). He loves Christ and has a compassionate, gentle heart. He yearns for people to be saved and wants so badly to please his Heavenly Father.

But to those who say that God's will is a general will for His people, yes, there is a general will, I believe. But I also VERY strongly believe that God has SPECIFIC tasks for specific individuals, and if we are wise and listen to that still, small voice (that sometimes screams in your ear!!!), we can also know His divine will in individual circumstances, too.

I can't wait to see what God does with Ruslan ("Reese"'s) life. Can't you??

13 comments:

Amy L said...

This is such a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it with us. What an amazing child he is!!
Amy

Cynthia said...

Wow! That was powerful testimony! Thank you for sharing! Reese is absolutely precious! Thank you for listening to God's calling!

June Berger said...

It is so awesome to "see" God's blessing when we do His perfect will. We had a similar, not audible, but definite no doubt about it conviction to adopt our Anah. She was way older than we had "planned" (she's 11, 9 when we started the adoption) and was a girl! We "only" wanted a young boy, to be a playmate for Jonathan (he was 1 1/2 at the time we started Anah's adoption). A boy no older than 5 was what we "planned" on. Haha, God definitely knows best. Anah is a perfect child for our family and is a blessed playmate to her baby brother!

Molly C said...

Whoa. That is an amazing story. The child in my heart right now is little aaron with arthrogryposis. If only I was old enough!

wordgardener said...

I am not only amazed by your story but by the link to the orphanage world in the blog below. I don't even know which story railed me harder. God is up to something with me and the suspense is driving me nuts. Feeling it build is pretty powerful stuff. Everyone's story so far has some part in it...and i think you for taking your time to write yours. You have no idea...
love, cathy

gypsy@Hebrews11:13 said...

Amazing...I REALLY felt that we were going for another son but God kept saying "Tori" and well here we are one month after committing and we are nearly done with everything needed to submit our dossier. I know that we have "flown" through everything because this is God's specific calling for our family!!! Lovely post! Thank you for sharing your story!

Linda said...

Wow! Missy, that is such a wonderful story about Reese! I only wished you had included a picture of him now! He's such a beautiful little boy, I'd love to see him now at 15! Thanks for sharing his story with us! Linda from RR

Missy said...

Thanks for all of the very nice comments, everyone! Wow - I've never received more than 3 comments on any post before! LOL I'm always glad to tell the story so that God can clearly get the credit for the amazing boy that I have here. It's not because of me that he's so special!!

Linda, there are pictures of him all over my blog. I believe there's one nearby underneath of him sleeping with the dog, but if you go to "Older Posts" there are a bunch where you can see him better. He's getting to be quite the lady-killer these days, and knows it...!

Christy said...

great story! thank you so much for sharing it.

Jane Smith said...

Hi Honey!
You really know how to make your mother cry!! I am honored to have been a part of God's will! I know God will use that precious gift for His Glory if He hasn't already! I TOO have heard the voice of God a few times that literally changed the direction in my life! We just need to LISTEN!
Love you more than you know! MA

Stephanie said...

Thank you so much -- I feel the same conviction about Max! And God has directed me very specifically in many areas of my life! I am inspired so thank you for stepping out in faith and telling your story!

Kelly said...

Love, love, love this story!!

Jenny said...

Missy, I really enjoyed this testimony. Such a comforting story.

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If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day, go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.
- Chinese proverb
It is not the will of your Father that any one of these little ones should perish. Matt. 18:14

Whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. Matt. 18:5

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

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My family

My family
Nikolai, Mark, Missy, Reese, and Erik

Nikolai, 19

Nikolai, 19

Reese, 19

Reese, 19

Erik, 9

Erik, 9

Daisy

Daisy

Mary

Mary

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