Exposing the Real Issues in Sochi


Tonight, the big torch will light, and another two weeks of the world’s top in athletics will wow and inspire us with their dedication, determination, and skill in athletics. I’m as excited as the next person to watch the Olympic Games. I love everything about the Olympics, though admittedly I’m always more drawn to the summer Games than the Winter.

But there’s a shadow over these 2014 Olympics Games, and I’m struggling to get excited. In the days leading up to these Games I’ve heard little about the athletes, and much about the condition of the hotels, the discomfort of the visiting journalists, and OH DEAR ME THE POOR SHIPMENT OF YOGURT THAT NEVER MADE IT.

*caps for dramatic effect*

Last year, I participated in three phone calls with the U.S. Department of State on the situation with the law banning Americans from adopting from Russia. I listened as bereaved parent after bereaved parent asked, “Where are our leaders? Who is fighting on our behalf?”

We were given answers that were pandering at best, most of them meant to deflect a question without an answer. Outside of Senator Mary Landreiu and a few of her colleagues, very few of our nation’s leaders had anything to say on the matter of Russian adoption. For months and months, the issue was pushed aside as parents who had already met their children, who promised to return and bring them home, languished with no answers.

So imagine the horror we all feel at this abandoned shipment of Chobani. Within hours of hearing that the yogurt would not be cleared, Senator Schumer fired off a strongly worded statement: 

“Chobani Yogurt is safe, nutritious and delicious and the Russian Authorities should get past ‘nyet’ and let this prime sponsor of the US Olympic Team deliver their protein-packed food to our athletes.” Senator Charles Schumer.

Where was this indignation when innocent children were caught in the red tape? Where was the quick response, the strongly worded rebuke, the balled fists and determined pride, when over 200 families who had already met and bonded with their children were told they could not return?

Forgive me, but this is a gross misdirection of priorities and it leaves me sick.

I’ve tried to ignore Yogurt-Gate, but when I turn away from that story, I’m accosted with the images of what appears to be a slew of uncomfortable, horrified journalists who have shown up to half-finished hotel rooms, yellow water, and bathroom situations that leave them red-faced and confused. I read these stories, and I see the tweets, and I can’t laugh. I just can’t do it.

I understand that the Olympics are a big deal, and that a certain level of service and comfort is expected when one visits the top athletic event in the world, but can I just offer a tiny bit of perspective? People live like that every day, all over the world.

Instead of making an entire country, and the wonderful people inside that country, the laughingstock of the world, why don’t you start doing the thing that journalists are supposed to do:

Why don’t you ask why?

Why do you think the conditions are so deplorable in Sochi?  An estimated 51 Billion dollars was spent on these Olympic Games, with an estimated two-thirds of that suspected to have been lost to corruption.

Please, everyone, stop making fun of the situation, and start asking questions, because the people of Russia are by and far good, kind, hardworking people. They don’t deserve to be laughed at, but by all means, question the man who serves as their “leader.” Expose him as the fool that he is.

I want to enjoy the Olympics this year. I really, really do. But I will not laugh at a group of people that I love, especially when they are operating under a man who is nothing short of a dictator. And I will not grow indignant at a missing shipment of yogurt when I know thousands of children are sitting in orphanages waiting on promises to be fulfilled.

I just can’t do it.


The single, blinking strand


On Christmas night last year, after all the gifts had been unwrapped, the meals consumed, the bustle of the day quieted, and my household fell asleep, I sat in front of our lit tree. With all the other lights turned off, I curled up and stared at the Christmas lights. Some of them twinkle, and some do not. This annoys the part of my brain that longs for order, and yet somehow it fits our family.

I watched the half blinking tree, and my heart twisted as I mulled over the possibility that our adoption would be terminated. At that point, talks of a ban on Americans adopting were only murmurs. Nobody really thought it would happen – we all thought Putin was posturing, just trying to save face. I stared at the tree, and I wondered if it was all going to fall apart. I wondered if this year, Christmas 2013, we would indeed have a new daughter home, dancing around the tree, admiring the single strand of blinking lights and trying to figure out why none of the other lights blinked.

I wrote about that night here – I wrote about how the Lord whispered “Wait,” and how my heart fluctuated from grief to peace, and back and forth like that single strand of blinking lights.

Three days later, all my fears were realized when Vladimir Putin made the ban official.

You know the rest of the story.

Two months ago, I woke up early one morning. I felt restless and sad, a feeling that’s been too familiar this past year. With Christmas coming up, I found myself once again wishing that things were different. I thought we’d have her home at this point. I thought we’d be a family of six before the end of the year.

I spent a bit of time sitting my favorite chair, sipping my coffee and praying that I wouldn’t miss all the blessings of the upcoming Christmas season. I prayed for a release from my heartache. I prayed for a contentment in where my family is right now. 

An hour later, I opened my computer, and noticed an email from an organization called New Horizons for Children. This is an orphan hosting organization – they bring children to the United States for 4-5 weeks as an opportunity to experience a new culture, to experience family, to improve their English, and to have a potentially once in a lifetime experience outside the walls of their orphanage.

merrychristmasI showed Lee the email, and together we prayed over this opportunity. We looked through the children available for sponsorship, and one young woman stood out to both of us. Within days we had filled out the application and made the first payment to officially welcome her to our family for the Christmas season.

God is funny, isn’t He? Last year I thought for sure that we would be bringing home a toddler daughter to raise for a lifetime. Instead we will be welcoming a teenage “daughter” to love for only a short time. She turns 18 a week after she returns home, and she will officially age out of the orphanage. Our hope is to love her well, and love her fully, for the month that we have her so that when she’s on her own, she will have some reference and understanding of her worth in this world.

We want her to see Christ in our family.

We want her to see what a godly, stable relationship between husband and wife looks like.

We want her to know that she is not defined by her background.

We want her to know that we will always love her, even if we only get her for four short weeks.

Will you pray for our family as we welcome this precious girl who has spent most of her life in an orphanage? Pray that this experience will be a positive one, for both her and our family. Pray that she will see and know love. Pray that we can bond quickly, and that when she leaves, she returns home with a new sense of confidence as a daughter of God.

This isn’t what we planned when we set out to adopt, but I am so grateful for God’s goodness in giving us this opportunity – for His sweetness in knowing that this Christmas was going to be a hard one. I’m thankful that we’ll have a month to pour ourselves out fully together as a family.

The sign reads "We're waiting for you."

The sign reads “We’re waiting for you.”

When God whispered “Wait” last year, I had no idea this is what we were waiting for. It may not be as I envisioned, but like the single blinking strand on our Christmas tree, it somehow seems right.

Thanks for joining with us in prayer, friends. It blesses us more than you know.

Today I rest

It has been a crazy hectic few weeks. On top of kids being sick, finalizing adoption paperwork, preparing for Christmas, a birthday, working, and all the other craziness of December, Lee has been traveling almost non-stop, which leaves one weary Mama.

We’ve made it. I haven’t always handled everything gracefully, but by and large it has been a lovely Christmas season. That said – I need a break.

I get this look in my eyes when I’m about to snap. It’s kind of a manic, wide-eyed, get me out of the house before I break down mentally and spend a day on the couch eating Nutella with my fingers and staring at the wall sort of look. Lee knows it well. So tonight he is sending me to a hotel at the beach.


By myself.

I’m sorry, but did you hear what I said? I AM GOING TO A HOTEL ALONE!

Are you jumping up and down, clapping your hands and girl shrieking like me?

I’m taking my computer and plan on working on my book, because I haven’t had time the last couple of weeks and it’s been driving me crazy. I’m going to order room service and sit in the hot tub and be totally crazy tomorrow morning and sleep in…until, like, 8:00.

So forgive me while I head off and merrily skip through the house. There’s laundry to put away and crunchy floors to clean. There are Christmas parties to attend at school and I think it’s time I got the car washed. I have one more Christmas gift to buy and the dog needs a walk and I should probably put something in the crock pot for dinner.

I can think about doing all that with out mentally shutting down because I’M GOING TO A HOTEL BY MYSELF TONIGHT!


And we all said amen.

(PS – Please pray hard about this situation in Russia. It’s so tenuous right now. This thing is going to go all the way up to Putin and right now nobody can really read which way he will lean. But if he signs it into effect, Russian adoptions will be effectively banned beginning January 1st. What that means for us is still a little unclear. No one is sure if he will give a twelve month clearance before shutting it all down, or if he will effectively close it down completely.

Where yesterday I felt peaceful, today I am nervous. Pray for  the situation. Pray for Putin. Pray for the hundreds of thousands of waiting orphans. Pray for our family and all the families like us who are so close. Thank you!)