Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Getting Started in Adoption

Our regular commenter geanann asked about how we got started in adoption.  I thought I would respond here rather than in the comment, as not everyone reads the comments.
I need to say first of all that Ramona and I never planned on having eleven children.  If you have asked me in December 1998 that seven years later I would have flown to Russia twice, once circumnavigating the globe, got on the first plane out of Tulsa after 9/11, and adopted children from Russia, Khazakhstan, China, and Vietnam for a total of eleven kids, I would have said you were crazy.  God often does not show you the path before you, but only shows you the next step.  Faith sometimes requires that you take that step, trusting that He will guide you along the way. That is not to say that no planning went into any of the adoptions, just that the end of the journey was not even dreamed of when we started.
So how did we start?  In 1996 Shawn our third biological child was born.  Ramona’s pregnancies were very difficult.  The doctors said that another pregnancy would kill either her or the baby or both.  Wisdom dictated that we not have any more children by natural means.  
After some time we started feeling a desire to have more children.  We discussed the possibility of adoption, recognizing that this was one of the ways we could carry out the many Biblical commands to care for widows and orphans.  James 1:27 says that we are to visit widows and orphans.  My understanding of that verse and others suggests that we are to be active in seeking to help those in the category of “the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow.”
We recognize that by Biblical definition we, and most Americans, are rich.  We will be called to account by our Lord as to how we have used our wealth.  We also recognize what great import God places on caring for widows and orphans.  His people are to reflect His glory by caring for them with the same compassion.  We decided to pursue adoption as the Lord provided
Having made a general decision to pursue adoption, we had done some looking around, but never quite found something that we thought would fit.  Adopting an infant domestically is very difficult because there are far fewer infants available than parents, a product of the abortion tragedy in the country.  Older children are difficult because of the anti-Christian sentiment in the child welfare system.  Also our courts never seem to make adoptions permanent, with either parent being able to come back years later and reclaim the child.  Ramona and I find it very difficult to think of the possibility of losing a child we have brought into our family.  We could never foster kids, that is just not the way we are wired.  Domestic adoption just did not seem to make sense for us.
We had started looking at foreign adoptions when someone posted an item in our church bulletin.  A local doctor and his wife who had been medical missionaries to Russia were looking for help in finding parents for two children from an orphanage in the region they had been in.  We contacted them and after a meeting and prayerful consideration, we started the process to adopt Vanya and Irina.  
Nine months later we found our selves leaving out of Tulsa to fly around the world to adopt two children from the Amur Region in Russia.  In the process we would ride the Trans-Siberian railway, see Red Square, and bring home the first of our eight adopted children.  But I will tell the rest of that story later.

Post of the week

If you are at all aware of the emerging church you have to read this.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Mother of Dragons

A whisper in the sky
A rustle ‘long the ground
A shiver in the sunlight
A shadow on a cloud.

Hot breeze upon the air
Gold scales upon the ground
The dragon ‘pon the mountain
Watches all around.

Her eyes are swiftly scanning
Her ears are strained to hear
Her tail tip quivers slightly
She’ll protect the load she bears.

Her claws clutch at the stone
She peals unto the air
A warning thunders strong
To all who might come near.

She spreads her wings to fly
She strong legs thrust her high
The load she bears is heavy
She labors towards the sky.

The young within her stir
They yearn to live their life
But ready yet they’re not
To face her world of strife.

Her life has not been easy
The last one of her kind
Men pursue and hunt her hard
No solace can she find.

The mother of a dying race
She longs for what she’s lost
The only hope she knows
Comes not without a cost.

The young that are inside her
Could kill her in their birth
They know not what she’ll give
To bring their young lives forth.

She lands into her cave
Her belly swollen tight
She crawls with rumbling groans
Her eyes are all alight.

Next morning out they crawl
Twelve new dragon beings
They crawl out towards the sun
To flap their glistening wings.

Their mother follows close
She keeps them all in tow
Her body slim and sleek
Her crooning soft and low.

Her happiness is boundless
She watches with delight
She does not wait to growl
If one goes out of sight.

Her race is now remade
Twelve new dragons live
Raising voices to the sun
Loud roarings now they give.

Tessa Edwards

Monday, November 28, 2005

Where Do We Blog From Here?

James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. (NKJ)

The word translated “to visit” has the sense of being actively involved in the overseeing of orphans and widow.  This is what James calls “Pure and undefiled religion.”

I have been thinking about what my role in the blogosphere is to be.  I am not a great theologian, apologist or pastor.  Rather than being a front line guy in the great spiritual battle of the day, I am more the guy holding the pack camels still so that the troops can have supplies.  I may be able add a little here or there to the battle, but I am not a front line warrior.

So what is my purpose here?  God has given me a work, the caring of eight former orphans along with three biological children.  He has taught Sheshe and I a number of things regarding adopting older children that might be a benefit to others.  And, I hope, he has been glorified in the fact that such nothings as us could do something that most people consider impossible.  We are such nothings that it should be clear that it is Him doing it and not us.

So with that in mind, I am setting out on defining the purpose of this blog:

  1. To glorify God in telling the story of what he has done in our lives.

  2. To encourage others to live out a James 1:27 style pure and undefiled religion, by showing them that if we can do it anyone can, by God’s grace.

  3. To teach the principles we have found in God’s Word that are helpful for raising adopted children in particular older ones.

  4. Occasional random, usually sarcastic or humorous thoughts that may come to mind.

Ephesian 6:13-17 For the 21st Century

In honor of Tom Ascol's comments on yet another Christian boycott, I give you Ephesians 6:13-17 for the 21st Century church:

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to make the day seem a little less evil, and having done all, to promote moralism. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with opinion polls, having put on the breastplate of political action, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the righteous boycott above all, taking the shield of social relevance with which you will be able to no longer be ignored. And take the next election for the Republican party, and load the Supreme Court because they speak as if they are the word of God.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Saturday, November 26, 2005


Another Sergei (or perhaps Zhenya) photo

Friday, November 25, 2005

Just Wait

This is one of my favorite poems (aside from Tessa's, of course), and it has helped me through many difficult times in our adoptions.


Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried.
Quietly, patiently, lovingly God replied.
I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate,
And the Master so gently said, “Child, you must wait!”

“Wait?, you say, wait!”, my indignant reply.
“Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!
Is your hand shortened, Or have you not heard?
By FAITH I have asked and am claiming Your Word.
”My future and all to which I can relate
Hangs in the balance, and you tell me to WAIT?
I’m needing a ‘yes’, a go-ahead sign,
Or even a ‘no’, to which I can resign.

“And Lord, You promised that if we believe
We need but to ask, and we shall receive.
And Lord, I’ve been asking, and this is my cry:
I’m weary of asking! I need a reply!”

Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate
As my Master replied once again, “You must wait.”
So, I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut
And grumbled to God, “So, I’m waiting…for what?”

He seemed then to kneel and His eyes wept with mine,
And He tenderly said, “I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens, and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead, and cause the mountains to run.All you seek, I could give, and pleased you would be.
You would have what you want – but, you wouldn’t know ME.

“You’d not know the depth of my love for each saint;
You’d not know the power that I give to the faint;
You’d not learn to see through the clouds of despair;
You’d not learn to trust just by knowing I’m there;
You’d not know the joy of resting in me
When darkness and silence were all you could see.

“You’d never experience that fullness of love
As the peace of My Spirit descends like a dove;
You’d know that I give and I save… (for a start),
But you’d not know the depth of the beat of My heart.

“The glow of My comfort late into the night.
The faith that I give when you walk without sight,
The depth that’s beyond getting just what you asked
Of an infinite God, Who makes what you have LAST.

“You’d never know, should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that “My grace is sufficient for thee.’
Yes, your dreams for your loved ones overnight would come true,
But, oh, the loss! If I lost what I’m doing in you!

“So, be silent, my child, and in time you will see
And though oft may My answers seem terribly late,
My wisest of answers is still but to WAIT.”

Author Unknown

A Poem From Tessa

This is a poem from one of our fourteen year old daughters. I hope you enjoy it:

The grass grows green in spring
The sun shines warm in summer
The leaves turn colors in autumn
The snow lies thick in winter.

A baby comes into the world
A toddler learns to crawl
A child pulls himself upright
An adult standeth tall.

We think of time as a river
That flows on in a line
But I like to think it’s a spiral
That adds on to that which we’ve seen.

Sometimes it comes back to haunt us
We feel like we’ve been here before
A turn of events that is startling
Like a cold wind through the door.

Other times it is pleasing
A feeling of joy remembered
A comforting pattern in change
A light in the darkness we feared.

History runs in a cycle
The same mistakes happen again
The peace gained is lost
Events like links in a chain.

The seasons themselves run in circles
In spring new life is seen
In summer it flourishes and grows
It winter it dies yet again.

The grass grows green in spring
The sun shines warm in summer
The leaves turn colors in autumn
The snow lies thick in winter.

God's Delightful Timing

My husband is a brave soul, granting me posting rights on his blog. He knows my love for writing and tendency to ramble, yet he willingly offered me free time on his very own blog. What a mess I would make of my own, anyway. A geek, I am not. Writer, perhaps, but not a computer literate one. As it is, I created a "Pepto Bismol" pink blog (Bob's words) so that I could post on this blog, but now can't figure out how to get rid of it.

Thank you, dear, for graciously granting me writing rights. As I sometimes say when speaking before a crowd, "You don't know how dangerous it is to give a mother of many kids a captive audience."

So, having said that, allow me to share a few ramblings of my own.

We are all familiar with the phrase, "God's perfect timing." Yet, are we truly willing to give the timing of our lives over to Him? Take moving for instance. Bob and I have been married 27 years and have moved about 17 times. Most of those were BK (before kids), when I was working in apartment management, but suffice it to say that I always knew it was time to move when the cobwebs started forming in our apartment. What better way to spring clean?

Moving has been a hard habit for me to break, especially since I simply love to look at all different kinds of houses. Each time Bob would even mention the possibility of moving, I would be on the internet searching for the "perfect home" for us. That's not an easy task when you have as many people to house as we do, but I loved the challenge.

So, when Bob's mother graciously agreed to move in with us, I was once more on the prowl for the perfect house. Many hours were spent searching, and I have to admit that I loved every minute of it. It became somewhat of an obession for me, of which I often had to repent and purposefully lay aside for a while. Days were spent going to remote locations to look at houses that might or might not fit our unique needs. Our kids were dragged through numerous homes, where they each claimed a space, only to be told later that it was not the right home for us. Faces glowed with expectations and fell with disappiontment on a regular basis for many months.

We even seriously considered adding to our current home, or building a small home for Ollie on half of our one acre lot. After much prayer and consideration, those possibilities were ruled out, however, and I continued my search for the perfect home.

Finally, "the" home showed up. It was large enough for us all. The price was well below market value and it appeared to be a very good buy for the money. Good neighborhood. Good schools (not a factor for us, since we homeschool, but improves resale value). The kids all loved it, and so did we. The biggest selling point, by far, was the fact that it had TWO full kitchens, though. Ollie and I spent many a night dreaming of ways to utilize that aspect of the home.

An offer was made at the full asking price, since we felt it was a fair price, and we proceeded with securing a mortgage. From the first, things did not go well on the seller's part, however. There were problems between him and his own mortgage company and one of the requirements was that they approve the contract.

Over the next few weeks, the words, "mortgage company" became a cloud threatening to break loose with thunder at any moment in our lives. In the eyes of our kids, this far away entity seemed to hold such power in their uncertain lives. Every time they us asked about the house deal, we had to reply, "We are STILL waiting on the mortgage company's approval".

As we found buyers for our own house, this became even more of a roadblock for us to stumble over. Everyone who has purchased a home understands the tight schedules the process runs on, and yet we did not even have a fully approved contract at any time! Everything was up in the air, and we were seemingly at the mercy of the mortgage company. Our own buyers were military, and in a hurry to move before the school year started.

Four weeks into this stressful game, we discovered that there were actually two mortgage companies involved, both of which were stating their desire to approve the contract before we proceeded with the purchase. Our suspicions were aroused and we began to push to get more information.

Our real estate agent was a delightful Christian man named Sam. You gotta' love a guy who answers his cell phone with "Sam I Am", right? At this point in the process he agreed that it might be wise to look elsewhere, just to cover our bases, since our buyers were scheduled to move in the following week. I was certain that I had scoured every web page in the area, but he found one I had not even considered. It was listed with only two bathrooms, which I did not perceive as being an option for our family. I believe his exact words were, "Well, you are pretty desparate at this point and you could always add another bathroom later on." We packed the kids up that evening and went to look at one more house.

My husband does not get easily excited over houses. Rather, he leaves that duty in my capabale hands. However, as we were walking through this house, he actually came bounding up the stairs, announcing in a rather loud voice, "Guess what I found downstairs!!! Yes!! Another BATHROOM!!" He was excited as I have probably ever seen him when looking at a house, and just over an extra, unlisted bathroom. Sam was amazed that the house had been listed incorrectly and promptly got on the phone to the listing realtor to report the mistake, who was equally amazed and embarrassed. Apparently this one mistake had caused the six bedroom home to remain on the market for close to a year, without any serious inquiries.

As we left that house, Bob and I cautiously looked around at the kids. The poor things had been through this so many, many times already. They were weary and ready to move, having already packed their belongings. I knew how much they liked the house we had the contract on and I hesitated to even mention the possibility of not getting it at that point.

One by one, they informed us how much they liked the house. What a shock it was to discover that this opinion was unanimous among the kids! I then asked Ollie, knowing how many hours she had spent already "moving in" to the other house. She looked at me with a bit of a sideways grin and said, "Uh, I actually like it better than the other one." The concerns she had had about the first house were not factors with this one (the house being on a steep incline had been a big issue for her, but being the trooper she was, she would have dealt with it).

The next morning we sat in Sam's office, telling him of our decision to cancel the contract on the first house. At just about the same time, we found out that the second mortgage company had decided to foreclose on the property, although they had a ready buyer (us, up to that point). We were offered the opportunity to purchase the home out of foreclosure, but didn't even seriously consider it. All we wanted at that point was to be released from the contract and allowed to move forward with other option. This was granted us, and we had our earnest money returned within the hour.

Having gained full agreement on the house we had looked at the previous evening, we decided to make an offer on it. There was no time for a professional inspection to be done, so we asked if we could do it ourselves. The owner must have been stunned to receive our full price offer and a request for a move in agreement at the same time. He stuttered around a bit, but agreed to let us inspect the house while he considered the offer.

So, after being "on hold" for such a long time with the perfect house that I had picked out, God showed us the house He had for us, and provided us with a move in agreement less than 24 hours after we first looked at it. God's timing was indeed perfect, and all of my fretting and worrying had been for naught. Will I ever learn to, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God?" If I do learn that lesson, then indeed "the peace that passes all understanding, will guard my heart and mind through Christ Jesus."

Five months later, this house and neighborhood have been such tremendous blessings in our lives. We are within bicycle distance to a library, park, bank and other various stores. The kids have greatly enjoyed walking throughout the neighborhood, and we have been pleased with the friendliness of the neighbors and the many stories we have heard concerning the stability and lack of criminal activity in this area.

This fall, Naomi has begin a leaf raking business, which has brought us in contact with a large number of our neighbors. Over and over, folks have commented on our well behaved kids and the good work that they do. What blessed sounds those are to the ears of parents!

Will I ever learn? I pray that I will. Have you learned? Are you anxious and worried this holiday season? "Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand." Philippians 4:5

Blessings to all,
Ramona, aka "sheshe"

Thursday, November 24, 2005

A Sergei picture.


A tradition around our house at Thanksgiving is to have all the kids make a list of things that they are thankful for. We then read them before the meal. I thought I would share them with you. They are ordered from oldest to youngest. I have kept the English pretty much as written to give you the flavor of language around our house.


Thanksgiving to God!!

Thank you to Jesus for coming to the Earth and die on the cross so we can be free from sins. Thank you for good works you have done in people’s heart and still do. Thank you for being here for us so we can worship you and fellowship with you. Thank you for providing for us all things which we have. Thank you for giving us a good Christian family who love us and help us to learn more about you and understand your word. There a lot of children who have not parents to love them and to tell wonderful news about you and what you have done for us.

Thanksgiving is all about give thanks to God and Jesus Christ who are here for us all the time to help us in hard times and deal with things. Thanking God for giving us a Bible and His Word to us.

I am thankful for the family we got, food, house, my camera, church, computer, Bible.


I’m thankful for mom, dad and Grandma, house food, dogs. Bible good Christian friends, a church, clothes, school, all of the electronics that we have like computers, cameras, etc. dad’s job, thankful where God has brought me to America and in a good home.

Thank you for having mom, dad, sisters, brothers, friends, family, teach Bible, church, house, birthday, Christmas, food, clothes, music, jewelry, hearing aids, school, drawing, park, work, laptop, dogs.

I thankful for today is holiday and Grandma and the Dolittles able to come with us. Thankful for all the food. I really thankful for God brought me here.

For this house which keeps us against winter’s and summer’s storms.

For Grandma who fixes our meals and without whom you wouldn’t see the wonderful spread in front of you today.

For my family, every one of whom is a gift and treasure and a story just waiting to be told.

For God’s grace without which I would have none of it.

For Sandy and Charlie (our dogs) both of whom have been the best child therapists that money can (or can’t) buy.

For friends, especially the ones here today, who have performed valuable services and never asked for payment.

For my dad, who alone supports this horde, by his hard working diligence and patience.

And last but not least – my mom, whom something yesterday made me realize is the most beautiful woman I know.

1Thes 5:18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (NKJ)

1 Tim 2:1-2 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. (NKJ)

I’m thankful for the food, house, friends, family, job, clothes, and all the stuff that I have.


I am thankful for:

  1. a car

  2. a house

  3. an air conditioner

  4. clothes

  5. Sun

  6. inside light

  7. chairs to sit in

  8. food to eat

  9. dogs to play with

  10. weather cold, hot, warm

  11. things to have fun with X-box, computers

  12. people to play with

I am thankful for a grandma, parents, house, Bible, God, brothers, sisters, church, friends, food, clothes, neighbor, (

Trey’s thankful list:

  1. Family

  2. Home

  3. Food

  4. God

  5. Jesus

Family, Jesus, house, shelter, toys, friends, Jesus dying to save us from our sins, God, nature, clothing, furniture, computers, God making all things, food, water, His grace.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

WWJD - World Wide Judgment Day

As I humorously pointed out here asking "What would Jesus do?" can sometimes get us in trouble. When we fail to see the differences between deity and humanity, we can get ourselves in serious trouble. Likewise, Jesus often did things that confounded and astounded those around Him. Do we really think we know what Jesus would do in a particular situation? Even if we could know, most of the WWJD trinket wearers I have know do not even know all of what Jesus did do. So what do they base their ideas on?
So to turn the WWJD trinkets to a more useful task, I suggest we redefine what they stand for. Hence for and for evermore WWJD will mean “World Wide Judgement Day.” This would make it a great evangelism tool. We can talk about the coming wrath of God, their sin, the judgement, eternal punishment, their need for a Savior, and how they can be reconciled to God. That sounds more like what Jesus told us to do.

An Eventful Day

We have moved up in the Blogospher we have gone from being a Insignificant Microbe to a Multicellular Microorganism in the TTLB Ecosystem. I would like to thank all the people that helped us get here. When I say all, I really mean both, because only two people have actually ever linked here: our pastor and this guy.

What does all this mean?

First it means that getting one guy to link to you can move you up 45000 spots in the list of most important blogs. Proving that nobody cares or is paying attention to most blogs.

Second it means that we are now more than nothing (Nihilo) in the blogosphere. Will this self contradiction cause the universe to spit us out because we cannot be both nothing and not nothing at the same time? Only time will tell.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


One day I was out in a boat with the twelve (my wife and the eleven kids) when a storm came up. Seeing the ship starting to flounder and the panicked look on the faces of the twelve, I said "What would Jesus do?" Of course, remembering a story from Sunday School, I did exactly what Jesus did in a similar situation, I stood up in the bow of the boat and rebuked the waves. Suddenly a large wave crashed over the bow knocking me into the water and nearly swamping the boat. A couple of the kids held onto me and I was able to finally climb back into the boat. From then on I simply prayed that God would keep us through the storm.

The moral of this story is that sometimes it is not profitable to ponder what the Sovereign King of All Creation would do in a situation, but to ponder what He would have me do. Maybe we should change it to WWJHMD (What Would Jesus Have Me Do?).

Note: No animals were harmed in the making of this story. Except the tasty ones we ate.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Modern Day Prophets (or is That Profits)

The Pyromaniac has been trying to have a discussion regarding the clear lack of reliability of modern day prophets. This has created a firestorm of people trying to justify that the sign gifts really are for today. While I would classify myself as a hesitant cessationist (I find the argument for cessationism less than 100% convincing), there is one part of this discussion that simply flabbergasts me. That is the people that attempt to justify a success rate of 2/3 as being God given prophecy.

First, I see little exegetical evidence to sustain anything other than the 100% success rate demanded of the old testament prophets, assuming that the gift has not totally ceased. Given the vauge nature of most of these prophecies, someone with a good understanding of the times and the way the world works should be able to achieve a rate of 2/3. Are we then going to say that God cannot provide these “prophets” with better information than that?

In fact, I would recommend that someone try their hand at it and we will compare your success rate to theirs. Any takers? I’ll start:

There will be a major earthquake in Asia next year.

Of course there is in most years, but don’t pay any attention to that.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Pictures from Adoptions - IV

One of the interesting aspects of adopting a child is the insights it give us of sovereign election.

First, when adopting a child, it is always the parent’s choice. A child does not choose the parent, but the parent chooses the child. Often there are many to choose from that meet the general criteria the parents have chosen (age, gender, race, even skin or eye color in some cases). Yet in the end, it is only for reasons that are understood by the parents that they choose one over the other. One is chosen the other is left behind, and someone looking from the outside can see no reason why. Likewise we cannot understand why God chooses some that we would not have chosen for salvation while leaving others unsaved we would have chosen.

Second, when we went into the orphanage we saw many children waiting to be adopted. We loved them all and would have taken anyone to be our child. In the end however we chose some and left others behind. This did not mean we did not love the ones who stayed. It only meant that, for our purposes, only some could be chosen. Likewise, though God loves the entire world, it does mean that He loves everyone in it the same nor are His purposes for them the same.

Third, once we had chosen children we adopted them and placed them in our family. Though we loved the others, we chose to poor out our love on these in a special way. They became objects of our special care and affection. Not just a general love and compassion for them, but a special familial love poured out on them. Likewise, God shows His love for His chosen people in ways that He does not for those who do not believe.

Pictures from Adoptions - III

The word most often used in the Bible for orphans is "fatherless." What does a father provide a childe? A father provides a child with the necessities of life, protection, love and many other things. Perhaps the greatest thing a father gives a child is access to himself. Not only can he come to the father for help, but he gets to enjoy the relationship that they have with one another.

An orphan misses out on these. Life is hard because there is no one to help him navigate through life. He has no one to provide for him, no one to care for him, no one to love him. All this changes when the orphan is adopted. Suddenly he has access to a father. He has someone to love him.

Likewise when we are adopted into God’s family, we have access to Him. We can go to Him with our needs, our cares and our joys. We have access to the Father.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Sergei Daniel

I have already told most of Sergei's story as he was adopted at the same time as Jennifer. I could show you a picture of him, but he is hard to get in front of the camera. However, with Sergei, you learn more about him from the pictures he takes than pictures of him. He says more with his camera than he does with his broken English. So here is Sergei through his pictures.