How do you mourn a dying dream?

Note: I wrote this post this morning, published it and immediately took it down. I’ve floundered all day about whether or not I should share it, or simply pack it away. Maybe I’m oversharing. Maybe I’m talking too much about adoption stuff. When’s it gonna get funny around here again?! C’mon, lady! Talk more about roaches, or your husband dissing Target, or dudes manning the tables at Victoria’s Secret!


*big sigh*

I finally realized that this place – this little internet place – has become a great space for me to grieve and you guys are so freaking up for the challenge! (The challenge being my crazy emotional state, of course…) The fact is, it’s easier for me to unload my grief when I write it down, and you all have walked right next to us on this entire journey.

So here it is…

I pulled the dirty rubbermaid bin off the shelf today and opened it up. Filled with magazine articles, newspapers, scrapbooks and journals, the bin smells like history.

My history.

I dug through the old journals looking for a very specific book. It was the one I wrote in during my very first visit to Belarus and Russia as a fifteen year old. I wanted to feel the pages and read the words that the younger version of me looped in hapless teenage fashion nearly twenty years ago.

I wanted to see if maybe, just maybe, I had convinced myself of a lie all these years. Maybe I didn’t decide I wanted to adopt on that trip. Maybe I’ve worked up some sort of story in my mind that’s justified all these years of longing and desire.

I wanted to see if I was wrong.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find that journal. It’s somewhere in this house, but currently I don’t know where. But there were a stack of journals from the years following that first trip. Journals starting from the day I turned to sixteen to the day I birthed my first child. Pages and pages of history recorded.

I pulled out the oldest book and dusted it off. It begins on June 4, 1994 – my sixteenth birthday.

Most of the journal is slap your knee hilarious to read. Lord Almighty the angst I lived through in those days. They boys I liked, the confusion I felt. Most of my prayers centered around who I should go to Homecoming with and how to tell a boy I didn’t like him. *eye roll*

(Side note: Tia – please don’t become that girl. Stay oblivious to boys or, if you must notice them, just stick to trying to crush them at every competition.)

But then I came upon the one entry I feared I would find. Sixteen year old Kelli took a break from the perils of teendom and recorded a single, heartfelt plea:

Dear God. I love Russia. Can I go back there someday? Can I work with the orphans again?

That was it. That was all I found, but it was enough to remind me that I didn’t make this dream up. And as I flipped through the pages of the rest of the journals, the common theme followed me. A love for Russia and Ukraine. And prayers to someday adopt began to appear with regularity in the journals starting in 2000 – the year Lee and I got married.

The dream really was there a long time ago and today I am very, very slowly letting it go.

I don’t have anything to bury in the physical sense. I kind of wish I did. Would there be more closure if I placed this dream in the earth? I don’t know. Perhaps I will get to that point. Maybe I will do that eventually. Today I’m just coming to terms with it.

The very honest fact of the matter is this: Our Russian adoption is very, very unlikely to proceed. There are still diplomatic discussions taking place between our two countries, but Lee and I have come to a place where we must face reality.

I’m doing okay, really. I think I did most of my heavy mourning last week. This week I am simply…well, I’m sad (and a little bit foggy headed), but also hopeful. I am still very, very hopeful.

Thank you to so many of you who have been calling and writing. I really can’t explain to you what it means to me to be poured into the way you have encouraged me. One friend emailed last week and shared with me something I had never before considered. An excerpt from her email:

 The words “wait” and “hope” are often translated from the same Hebrew word.

Isaiah 40:31: “Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.”

The word “wait” there is qavah, which means “to look for, hope, expect… to wait or look eagerly for.”

May you, Lee, Sloan, Tia, and Landon take courage as you continue to wait and hope, because of the One on whom you are waiting and in whom your hope rests.

While it seems that my dreams of adopting from Russia are coming to an end, I’m not entirely sure my dreams of adopting a child are ending. I spoke with another dear friend yesterday who gave me the freedom to mourn this loss before immediately moving on.

Because this really is a loss. One doesn’t easily give up a lifelong dream. I am allowing myself the space needed to release this heartache before moving on. And in the meantime, we are researching our options and praying for a new revelation – a common dream.

The kids and I discussed this development yesterday and I was so concerned with how they might react. But they surprised me – especially Tia. After we talked about it, I stood at the table and brushed her hair. She is my child who locks things up inside so I wanted to pry a little to see what she was thinking.

“Are you okay with everything that’s going on with the adoption?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she said with a nod.

“Good. If you want to talk about anything or have questions, let me know okay?”

“Okay.” She turned and locked eyes with me. “I’m just gonna wait for my little sister to come home…Hey Mom! Can I have some Nutella?”

You know how you mourn a dying dream? You lean on the faith of a child and you eat a little Nutella.

You can read more about our adoption journey here.


  1. Kelli, I want you to blog about your adoption, broken dreams and heartbreak as much or as little as you feel comfortable with. I do beg of you to please, please, please, never blog about cockroaches again.

  2. Kelli,
    Blogs are the places where we can be free. I’m really not interested in the pretty stuff; it’s nice, but when writers are brave enough to be real, to go there with the pain and the angst, and the disappointment and the brokenness, THAT is when I am inspired, and when I learn. I’m with Amy, blog about your stuff. Let the roaches write about themselves.
    Be open. And remember, if God intends for a mountain to move, POOF, it’s gone. Never give up on your faith….
    Peace and good, sister.

    • Thanks Chelle. I appreciate that. 🙂

    • Thank you, Chelle. Glad to see that someone can see the light…. and not just the cockroaches in the bed. I am in agreement. I like real, not pretty. I want to know that I am not the only owner of a broken heart, there are other’s just like me. (without the cockroaches)

      • I killed another one today, by the way. A little one. That kind that could totally burrow in my ear. I might have said a four letter word while stpping on him, too. I swear they’re in cahoots to make my life as miserable as possible…

  3. Hi Kelli: I sent you an email and I hope you receive it. Good luck, my friend…

  4. Hey there, you don’t know me and this is the first time I’ve come across your blog. However, I love adoption. I also have an uncle who is a missionary in the Ukraine. We just spoke with him a few weeks ago and there are adoptions happening there….very slow process, but they do indeed happen. don’t give up hope, adoption is so close to the heart of God…blessings while you wait.

    • Thank you, Lani. We are looking at a lot of different programs at this point. I would love to go to Ukraine- that actually would have been my first choice, honetly. But because of the ages of our children, we really feel like we need a younger child so as not to displace birth order. But there are a couple of other countries that are possibilities so we are beginning to wrap our minds around it all.

      Thank you for your encouragement!

  5. I am so terribly truly sorry for your loss. We brought our son home in March from Russia. I’ve been in that position of terror, lost a referral, and prayed many a sleepless night to get him home. 464 nights in fact. Day 1 was exhiliration, days 2-465 were sheer terror. I get just the very tip of what you’re going through, and while we lost a referral and at the time that was really hard, he led us to our son. It’s a rough road to parenting along this particular journey. So I guess my point is, as much as this hurts, keep your ears and hearts open. Your child might actually be around the corner, where you didn’t expect to find him/her.

  6. I came back earlier to post a comment and realized you had taken it down. Praying you have wisdom, discernment and peace about what to share….and not share. Thanks for being open about your dreams and struggles. May you cling to Psalm 18:1.

  7. (a friend shared your article on FB and I wrote this there… but wanted to copy it over for you as well. Sending you love and prayers, sweet stranger-sister! xo)

    Oh wow, I can so hear me in this post. Just after I turned 18 (I’m now 19 1/2) I was diagnosed with PCOS, and medically theres a heap of things in the way of me a having kids. Goodness it’s crushed my mother-heart that has always dreamt of a houseful and husband. I think that’s why I got stuck this past few weeks with my dream chasing – that it still the dream I want to chase. I want to have babies, run playgroups, lead women’s ministry, be a pastors wife, open my home, be hospitable, and quite a bit of that can be done without babies, but still… Adoption is also really.really.really hard here in Australia, so that would be a lifetimes investment. Anyway, I know God works miracles and I’m sorry for rambling on here, but there’s my little, heart-break 2 cents. Trusting Him to hold each of our futures – and our dreams.

    • Thank you, Rachel. I will join you in that prayer. Thanks for stopping by and for offering a word of encouragement.

  8. Cried through this one too. Though I have to say I thought you were going to end it with a link to something about nutella. I love you and am so sorry for your sorrow. Matt and I have been having lots of conversations about suffering / trials / hope. We came to the conclusion that if everything was sunshiny and glorious we simply wouldn’t long for heaven. Jesus come quickly to rescue us… to rescue the orphans… to rescue the hopeful!

    • Ah yes. I was reading 1 Kings 19 yesterday when Elijah met with God. God did not come in the mighty wind, or the earthquake, or the fire. He came in the gentle breeze. Trials and pain force us to sit still and be quiet, don’t they?

      But that way, He can talk.

      Love you, friend.

  9. Kelly, I’m so very sorry. It’s heartbreaking that children get caught in diplomatic messes between countries. I have no answers, just a virtual hug.

  10. I’m so sorry. Susan said it so well, what a shame that children get caught up in these messes. Thinking of you.

  11. Grieve and Believe! I can’t wait to see God’s hand in this. I know He is working through this mess. I am confident that He will honor your desire to glorify Him through your heartache as well as through your desire to love a child you have yet to meet. Thanks for the privilege to cry with you because it means the celebration later will be that much sweeter! Love you!

  12. I appreciate what Pam says. Grieve and Believe. I have munched on our phone conversation all night long and this morning and that’s where my heart landed. Pam is right. Until God reveals His marvelous plan, we will wait with you and cry with you and tell you funny (an inappropriate) stories to make you laugh. Thanks for being real, yo.

    • Tiff and Pam. Thanks for lending me your ear the last couple of days and for crying with me and for offering me words of hope. I love you both!

  13. Jenny Gan Wolf says

    Oh Kelli,
    I’m reading and my eyes are filling with tears for your family. I guess I was living through your blog and your dream of adding a wonderful child into your family. I too would love another child but the road has been hard. But the words that your friend shared with you makes so much sense it’s all about our faith! Believe and he will show us the way! I still believe Madison will someday have a sibling I just have to realize it may not be on my time. I will continue to pray for your family.

    • Sweet, Jenny. I will be praying for you and your family as well as you wait for the answer to your own dreams and hopes. Thank you for sharing and letting me join with you in prayer.

  14. I have had to deal with the death of a dream a couple of times, not about adoption as our dream for that came true (short of the timing of it). What I have learned through those times of mourning, anger, sadness, is that God always birthed another dream out of the ashes of the one lost. We went to Brazil for a particular project and goal that fell apart 4 months after we arrived. God loved on us and guided us to work with a Brazilian pastor and ministry that was absolutely the best time ever in serving Him. When He told us it was time to leave ministry to students it was the death of my dream to stay in it until I started collecting Social Security but He gave us IsleGO, the best job ever. Maybe our dreams have to morph, not die, into what He wanted all along. Not saying that’s the case with you all – but it could be. Praying for you…

  15. I’m so sad for you. I keep reading the blogs of parents who were in the process of adopting a child from Russia- only to realize that they will no longer be able to bring their child home. It breaks your heart in all the wrong ways because, no one should be banned from loving a child and families shouldn’t be outlawed. It is confusing to the entire Christian community.

    So we’re all praying. For those children in Russia (and everywhere).

    With that being said, I hope you’ll let your dream be deferred. Dreams have the ability to change, evolve, and grow. I hope you’ll consider it as a dream deferred rather than a loss (I know that’s hard because, you lost your Russian daughter).

    But there so many children here in Ukraine (and even in the USA) that need our help… they dream of loving families, having fights with siblings, and having someone who cares enough to fix their boo-boos or, put pony tails in their hair for the first day of school.

    Unfortunately their dreams are deferred too– by paperwork, financial cost, and emotional risk. And statistics show that each day they grow older- the likelihood of their dream coming true is slim to none.

    I think losing this dream- means there is an even greater one out there. Maybe there’s a little girl waiting in Ukraine (or elsewhere) who really was meant to be yours all along… you just simply didn’t know it.

    Don’t be afraid to dream bigger or differently… and never view any of this as a failure on your part. Hang in there. There’s always hope.

    And just maybe you can make someone else’s dream come true.

  16. The adoption journey is so so hard…
    I wanted to share this quote with you because it meant a lot to me when we grieved at different points during our adoptions. Your heartache means that you allowed yourself to love this little-one-prayed-for. That’s a good thing. And it’s healthy and good to acknowledge the pain. But don’t give up on the dream…

    “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.” ~ C.S. Lewis


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