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Penny & Chris Goeppner are in the process of adopting two children from Russia.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Great news!

We got our petition to court letter today!!! Woo Hoo! Thanks for your prayers!
We will be making a trip on Monday up to Tallahassee again to get it and a few others apostilled and then we'll be all set to receive a court date!!
We are waiting on our lab work which is time sensitive but should be able to get done quickly and our CPS (Child Protective Services) letter. We are being told that this letter is even more difficult and time consuming to get but it won't keep us from getting a court date. We will need it for court, however, so be praying for that one!
Thank you all so much for continuing to pray for us! We are so blessed to have so many people coming before the Lord and praying on our behalf for our future family. We love you guys!!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Update

Are you all decorated for Christmas yet? I just put up what measly decorations we have today. I've been boycotting a Christmas tree for the past few years now until our boys are home. No one sees it so why bother is my philosophy!=)
We just got the documents we were waiting for from our home study agency today. Unfortunately, one of the documents was not notarized correctly so we'll have to wait a bit longer to submit those. Once we get it, we'll send it with the other docs we have to be apostilled and then we'll be almost done with documents. The big one we're waiting on is the "petition to court" document. We are waiting on Russian officials to submit information before it can be sent to us. I guess it's taking a bit longer because we are adopting 2 children. There's a prayer request for ya! Please pray that the officials will be diligent and get this info in so we can receive this document. We cannot get a court date without it. Once we do get it, we'll go over all the info on it to make sure it's correct and we'll add our boys' adoptive names to it, sign it and send it back to Russia. It still looks like January at the earliest before we'll get a court date. We're praying we'll get one then anyway. With the holidays coming up, who knows! Russia will shut down for about 3 weeks during the holidays and we'll all be in limbo. Here's prayer request number 2, pray that the officials involved with processing our paperwork would do so in a timely manner and not burn out like most of us do when the holidays approach. Please also pray for the judge, that he/she will give us a court date sooner than later. We really, really want our boys home before February!
In other news, friends of mine from church are throwing me a baby shower Friday night. I'm excited but also feel somewhat guilty. It's kind of weird having a baby shower when the boys aren't home yet and we have no idea when they will be. I'm very thankful though. We don't have very much for them so lots is needed. I'll let you all know how it went.
Thank you all so much for all of your prayers and support, we appreciate it!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

We're Back!

We had a great time in NC. We were able to spend Thanksgiving with my Mom, Step-Father, my younger sister, her husband and their baby, my older sister, her husband and their 4 boys, and my Aunt and Uncle. Their place is so beautiful and we have such a fun, relaxing time whenever we visit.


This is my sweet baby niece, MJ.


This is Chris, my step-father, Paul and my nephews playing a little football.



Our dog, Grommit, wanted in on the action too!


A view from the house.


My Mom and nephew riding "Cody".


My sister, nephew and aunt going for a ride.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Yes, I know it's not quite Thanksgiving yet but we'll be in NC so I wanted to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving a little early.
We have so much to be thankful for. We are thankful for our health and our family's health as well. We are thankful to be able to spend Thanksgiving with my family in NC, I don't get to see them very often. We are thankful for our jobs, getting paid for doing what we love most (ministry) is pretty amazing. We are thankful for our home. We are thankful for the Lord's protection and provision. We are so thankful for our two little boys in Russia that the Lord has chosen for us from the beginning of time. We are thankful that right now He is working on our behalf to bring our boys home soon. We are thankful for our adoption blog community that encourages us and prays for us on a daily basis. We are so blessed and for that we are thankful.
We will be leaving for Tallahassee tomorrow at 5am so prayers for safe travels and that all would go well with getting our documents apostilled would be wonderful. We'll be traveling about 7 more hours from there to NC.
Enjoy your turkey dinners and don't forget to give thanks!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Paperwork Day

Thanks everyone for joining us in prayer yesterday. I know our prayers were heard and that the Lord is going to do some amazing things in our adoptions.
Today I'm gathering all my regional paperwork and taking it to the office to be notarized by my favorite notary, Justine. I will then fax it to AWAA so our FC can check for any mistakes. If we're okay, Chris and I will be making another trip to Tallahassee to get everything apostilled next week. We're going to NC for Thanksgiving so it's not too far out of the way.
Anyway, all of our regional specific paperwork is finished for now except we are still waiting on our Petition to Court and our Lab work but that one is time sensitive so we need to wait. Our HS docs should be arriving soon. I know we've still got a while to wait but it feels good to have everything done on our end, for now.;)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Prayer Day

Tomorrow, (Wednesday), the families from our agency that are currently in the process of adopting will devote the day to prayer. We are praying for judges, that they would see how important it is that these children are placed in loving homes whether it be in Russia or America. We are praying for court dates, travel dates and referrals. We are praying that paperwork is completed and processed correctly and efficiently. We are praying for " a peace that surpasses all understanding" and that we would "trust in the Lord with all our hearts". With all this waiting, it's a constant struggle. We are praying that the Lord will provide the needed finances. We are praying that He would keep our children healthy, safe and well cared for while we are apart.
Would you please join us in praying for the families and children that are waiting to be united together? Thanks so much!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Our Boys' Room

I've been meaning to post on this for a while but haven't so...
While Chris and I were in Russia, Chris' sister, mother, grandmother and a family friend came to our house and decorated, painted and put together our boys' room. They did such a great job and they say they're not quite done yet. Bethany (Chris' sister) is going to paint a border around the wall and add some more baseball decor before our kiddos come home. It was such a lovely surprise! They even put in a closet organizer! I love to walk in there and dream of the day when our babies will be home and playing/sleeping in their beautiful new room. This is the video that Bethany took of us seeing the room for the first time. I'll post pictures later when it's completed. video
On another note, Bethany had a garage sale today at her house to raise money for our adoption and to help pay for their tickets since they are going with us! I'm so excited that she and her husband, Dave, are coming with us. It would be so difficult to bring home 2 kids without them. Anyway, it was even bigger than last time! I can't believe the amount of stuff we had, it was the largest garage sale I have ever seen. We had appliances, dinette sets, a big comfy chair, tons of clothes, musical instruments, kids toys, jewelry, electronics, dish sets, pretty much everything but the kitchen sink!=) We made $1100 and we still had about 20% of it left over. I'm so grateful for all of the hard work she and our family and their home-fellowship put in to making the garage sale a success. In case I've never said it before, Bethany is the BEST sister ever!!!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Adoption Update!

As you all know, we are in the last stages of our paperwork chase. We have just been given a list of documents that we need to complete before we can get a court date, otherwise known as "regional documents".
I started working on them this morning and had several questions for my family coordinator. She called me back and answered them and also let me know a few more things. First, I can calm down and not race so hard to get these documents done because we are currently waiting on an important document from our facilitator that will take some time in coming. Evidently families that traveled way before us are still waiting for theirs. Basically this all means that there is no chance of us getting a court date before Christmas. The reason being is that once all of our regional paperwork is submitted, it takes no less than 1 month before court dates are issued. Since the families that traveled before us are still waiting for their Petition to Court document, they might be able to get a court date before Christmas if they get that document asap, but we won't.=( Also, I found out that Krasnoyarsk only gives court dates on Tuesdays. We are not sure if they give them for one family or allow more than one family to have their court hearing in that one day. If it's one family, it'll take longer for a court date. Russia also takes about 3 weeks off for the holidays. So, my Family Cordinator is pretty sure that the earliest we could get a court date would be at the end of January but probably February. Again, it depends on when we get our petition to court and how fast they process our docs in Russia. I also know that our God is a God of miracles and He can do anything, including giving us an early court date but I'm not going to expect anything. If you all could pray that we can at least have our boys home before our oldest's birthday on Feb. 23rd, I'd appreciate it so much. We have a better chance of that happening.
The next (not so happy) news is that I found out about a fee we weren't aware of. I did not include it when I calculated how much more we would need for our second trip. The fee goes to our facilitator in Russia and it's $19,000! So far we have spent approximately $20,535 on our adoption fees and travel. Before our next trip we need $ 24,125 more! I know all of you who read this blog have been so faithful in praying for us and we appreciate it more than you know. Please add our request that this huge need be met to your list.=) Chris is putting our donation icon back on the blog as well as a "thermometer" so you can see where we are financially in our adoption. Please don't feel obligated to donate but if the Lord leads you in that direction, we will praise Him for it! We desperately need your prayers though.





Monday, November 05, 2007

A Surprise!


Chris and I got a surprise in the mail today. It was a package from my sweet friend Debbie! She is one of the most thoughtful and caring people I know. Even though we've never met, I consider her a close friend. I hope one day soon we can get together with our kids and go to Disney!=)
Thank you so much Debbie for blessing us! You're the best!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Thanks!

Thanks everyone for your comments. It's so nice to read your words of encouragement and excitement! A few of you had some
questions regarding the wait time between trips. Well, all they really told us was that the faster we get the last batch of docs in, the sooner we'd have a court date. With the holidays coming up and Russian vacations, I'm guessing at the earliest the end of January. I'd love to have them home for Christmas and the Lord is certainly able to make that happen so we'll see what He wants to do.
Also, we do have names picked out for our boys. We are only sharing them with family and close friends right now until we have a court date. "M" and "S" are the first initials of their Russian names. We will be changing them once they are legally ours.
Would you guys like to see some pictures? Okay, here are a few teasers:

Thursday, November 01, 2007

We're Home!

We got home this morning at 2am, went to bed and got up at 2pm. We were up and traveling/waiting in airports for about 32hrs.
First of all, let me say a big thank you for everyone's prayers. We sure felt them and appreciated them more than you know. I'm so sorry to keep you all hanging after my last post but we could not post while in Siberia.
The trip was a whirlwind! We spent more time traveling to get to Kras than actually being in Kras. We had 1 full day there and it was great but let me start at the beginning.
We arrived in Moscow, spent our layover there in a very nice and expensive hotel and then left to catch our flight to Krasnoyarsk. I am so glad our driver was there to help us get where we needed to go or I don't think we would have had a clue as to where to go in the terminal. I'm also glad we were traveling with another family, it made it so much more fun. We flew on Aeroflot, let me just say that I am so thankful for American airlines (not AA, but in general). I was very thankful that it was a smooth flight and a pretty good landing but because we are tall, we were extremely uncomfortable. There was absolutely no leg room, our knees touched the back of the seat in front of us and when that person in front of us decided to put their chair back, we yelped in agony! Their heads were literally in our laps!!!
When we arrived in Kras, it was snowing and there was a light covering over the ground. We had to walk off the plane onto the tarmac and into 20 degree weather. Yelena, our contact was there to meet us and knew exactly who we were before we introduced ourselves. I guess Americans sort of stick out like a sore thumb in Siberia.=) From there we went to Hotel Krasnoyarsk and were able to rest for a few hours before our appointment with the MOE.
I was very nervous for this appointment but for all of you PAPs, don't be. It was so comfortable and it lasted about 5 minutes The ladies interviewing us were very nice and really just wanted to make sure we were dedicated to following through with our adoption. We officially accepted our boys and were off to the orphanage to see them for the first time. I was very nervous for this meeting! I didn't know what to expect. Here's how it went down:
As we were approaching the orphanage, our translator, Marina (who I love), told us that the orphanage was the largest in Russia with 160 children. It's a baby home so I believe once a child turns 4, they are transferred to an orphanage with older children. Thank the Lord we are able to bring home our oldest before he would have been transferred in February! The orphanage is actually in Sosnovoborsk which is about 30 minutes from Kras. It's a very small town compared to Kras. There's nothing really there besides apartments and very old and dilapidated homes. Anyway, we were taken into the "music room" to wait for the children. The "music room" is used by the children as a sort of exercise/play time. The second day we were there, we were able to see groups of children come in to use the room. They wore yellow uniforms and they were so cute! We were with the other couple so they were waiting to meet their little boy as well. Their son came out first with his nanny, crying and about 5 minutes later, our littlest one came out to us with his nanny. As soon as she tried to hand him over to us, he threw back his head and cried! It was so pitiful! I wasn't hurt by it, I expected it since we're complete strangers to him. I picked him up and tried to sooth him and distract him with toys. Meanwhile, our oldest came into the room. He ran over to Chris and they immediately started playing together. I can honestly say that there was an instant bond between the 2 of them. It took me about 20 minutes to calm down "S" but I had to stay with him because he was so scared of Chris. The children rarely see men so they are often frightened of them. I did get to interact a little bit with "M" and give him some toys we brought him including a photo album. He loved the pictures and looked at them over and over with Chris pointing and naming everyone, especially his "Mama, Papa and sabaka (dog)". It was so cute! I loved hearing him call us his Mama and Papa, which he did a lot! Soon it was time for us to leave but we told them we'd be back the next day. From the orphanage we went out for pizza at "california pizza kitchen". It was the Russian version of it so it wasn't exactly the same but it was tasty all the same. Then we went back to the hotel to go to bed. We stayed up and looked at pictures though!=)
The next morning we left the hotel at 7am for the orphanage. We were able to spend 6hrs there! It was wonderful!! When they brought "S" in , he only cried for 5 minutes and "M" was so excited to see his Papa! I brought snacks that time so we were able to create a sort of bond with Chris and "S" with the food. By the end of the afternoon, "S" was sitting in Chris' lap with "M" and I took some great pictures. I was also able to bond more with "M". We played with the cars we brought him and I gave him lots of hugs and kisses. He hugged me back and it felt amazing! He loved the snacks we brought so I taught him the sign for more and within 2 seconds he was signing and saying "more"! I know I'm biased but he is so smart. He learns so quickly and loves to take things apart and put them back together again. I was able to trace both of the boys hands and feet and find out what sizes they currently wear. I found out that "S" is ticklish on his feet. So of course I tickled him to hear his cute little laugh and see his sweet smile. He's a very shy and quiet little guy so to bring him out of that was kind of a relief.
Soon it was time to leave. The nanny came to get "S" and he was ready to go, it was his nap time and he was very tired. It was very comforting to see that he loved his nanny. Both of the boys, it gave us so much peace when we had to leave. When the nannies came to get "M" it was a very sad sight. He cried and grabbed onto Chris and said "niet, niet Papa!" It was heartbreaking . Our sweet little boy didn't want to leave his Papa. We were crying, the nannies were crying, it was not pretty. I really didn't expect that he would bond with us so quickly. I kissed him and told him in broken Russian that we'd be back soon and that we loved him very much. His nannies were able to talk him into going with them and he looked back at us with a tear-stained face, smiled and said "paca" (bye). I cry when I think about it.
We left the orphanage and went to have lunch. Then we went to a souvenir shop and a chocolate store. The next morning we left the hotel at 4:30am to catch our 7am flight to Moscow. We had a little bit of a layover in Moscow so we ate there. Our flight was filled with families coming home with their adopted children and also with families returning home from their first trip, like us. It was so cool to see the new families and think that in a few months it would be us returning with our sons.
It was so surreal being there after waiting so long. I kept thinking that is wasn't real, that we weren't really in Russia. I couldn't wrap my brain around how far we were from home. Now that we're home, it's almost like we were never really there. If I didn't have pictures and videos to prove it, I probably wouldn't believe we were ever there.
I thought I'd also list some observations about our trip. These are not in any way criticisms.
First, the majority of young women in Russia are very thin. They wear very tight clothing and knee length high heeled boots with pointy toes. I could pick out the Russians at the airports because they tend to dress in a similar way. It's somewhat trendy but also kind of mis-matched and dated (like the 80s). Most women over 40 have their hair dyed a sort of burgundy color. Everyone wears heavy coats and sweaters, even in doors which I could not do. Every building we were in was at least 80 degrees or hotter. Thresholds are raised in Russia. I guess to keep out the cold. I tripped over every one of them! Some of the cars in Russia have the drivers seat on the right-hand side but they drive on the right side of the road. They do drive pretty aggressively too. Our driver was great but there aren't too many rules on the road. It can be pretty nerve-racking! The airports were very quiet. No one spoke unless they needed to which is the case most everywhere in Russia. Americans are loud and talk even when they don't need to but that's not the case in Russia. Everyone we encountered was very polite and courteous to us and we even saw some smiles.
We feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to go to Russia and meet our children. We had a wonderful trip with absolutely no hiccups. Again, thank you all so much for your prayers. Please continue to pray for our children. That they will be protected from all harm, sickness and disease. That they will remember us and that the Lord will allow us to go back soon to bring them home.