My first visit to Russia was in 1995, the summer after my freshman year in college. During the two months I lived there, I fell in love with everything: the people, culture, food, and language. When I left, I prayed that God would allow me to return one day. Nine years later, I returned with my husband and a team of ten college students to teach English for a month. It was a joy to share my love for Russia with Ben and to experience that place together. Little did we know that God was developing a love for Russia in our hearts for an even bigger purpose!
In the fall of 2006, God spoke to us about pursuing an adoption to grow our family after years of infertility. Once we started looking at the options, there was never a question about where our child lived. It had to be Russia! After signing our adoption agreement, we waited over a year for the referral of our son. After getting "the call," we eagerly ran to the computer to see the picture of the child that would change our lives forever. As soon as I saw his precious face, my heart felt a deep connection with his. Even though he lived halfway around the world and had no idea who we were, I knew without a doubt that he was our son. It didn't matter to me what his medical diagnoses were--he was ours. And getting on the next flight to Russia in order to bring him home seemed urgent to my mother's heart (although that wasn't actually possible!).
We first traveled to meet Sam in March of 2007. I will never forget how hard my heart was pounding on our way into the room to meet him. We were told we would first meet with some doctors in order to ask questions, and then Sam would be brought in to meet us. Imagine our surprise when we walked in and saw Sam in his caregiver's arms! The moment you first meet your child is one that every parent remembers and treasures and this is no less true for adoptive parents. I will never forget how small he looked, and how he felt in my arms when I first got to hold him. The three months before we were able to return to get him couldn't go fast enough. Our court date was the day before his first birthday. What a joy to celebrate his first birthday with him in Russia!
In the eight months since he has been home forever, all three of our lives have changed in ways we could not have imagined. Sam loves to learn and explore his world, and we delight in watching him do so. We talk with him daily about our time together in Russia and the miracle of adoption. We look forward to the day when he understands what this means, and what a gift he is to us. I am so grateful that God began growing my love for Russia all those years ago, and I hope we are able to return one day to show Sam the beautiful country of his birth.