Monday, April 30, 2012

I have a confession...

I've been told many times one thing people like about my blog is my honesty and transparency...well, I hope that is true because this post comes from my very core and it is honesty at it's best, or worst.

I have a confession...I am selfish! I have never thought I was perfect but I've never seen this as a big sin I struggle with until this trip. I came to Russia with a bad attitude. I was sick (literally), I was tired, I was sad I had not gotten to spend my last few weeks enjoying time with the girls and Dustin because we were so busy trying to raise money and get ready, I was upset that Dustin didn't get to come with me and I was dreading the challenges I knew would lay in front of me. Do you see how many times I just said "I"? My focus was on ME and all of the negative aspects of our situation. Until today, my attitude had only gotten worse. I was excited to get Levi, but only because it meant this was finally over. After all that we have gone through and all of the hard work to get to this point I thought I would be elated and overjoyed, but instead I think I've been almost in a depressed state. I'm sure you probably got this vibe from my last post but I was still trying to sugar-coat the way I felt.

Last night it all finally came out while I was chatting with Dustin. The tears wouldn't stop. Don't get me wrong, Levi is great! And looking through my "glass half full" lenses I'd have to say he is amazing! I think I have the most socially adapatable former "orphan" ever. He is making this transition without blinking. He has slept well almost every night, he puts himself to sleep, he follows his schedule, he eats great and when we go places he is so excited. It's like he's discovering the world for the first time (which I know he is) but instead of being fearful, he is full-force, bring it on! I was prepared for him to be scared and timid of everything from the car ride to the wind on his face. I thought he'd not sleep, not eat, have an upset tummy and cry all of the time. He has done NONE of those things! For the most part he plays, eats and sleeps. He laughs, mimics me a lot and is even picking up English words. He already knows his new name, he says "mama", "no-no" and "nana" (banana) well! Considering where he's coming from, I'd say he's a pretty cool little dude. So why would I be anything but elated? I'm selfish! I've been so focused on missing my girls and Dustin, jet-lag, feeling bad, not having good food, not having good internet connection and a little behavior issue with Levi that I've let half of this once in a lifetime experience pass me by while I was wallowing in self misery. I'm selfish. I haven't been thinking about this precious child, that all things considered, has overcome so much and has already adapted better in 5 days than I probably would in a life time! I haven't embraced this opportunity to be "the light" and focused on the calling of Christ on us through this adoption.  Last night I told Dustin, "I know Satan is doing this. This adoption is such a big thing God has done, Satan is stealing my joy through Levi's little tantrums to ruin it." (I promise I didn't mean this in an ugly way! I was saying Satan was attacking us!) Of course, Dustin was like "NO he is not." But truthfully, I think he was. Just not through Levi's outburst's. (if you're wondering what I'm referring to, one thing I wasn't prepared for was Levi to throw fits. I knew they'd come but just not this soon. Well, when he doesn't get his I tell him not to stick his finger in an electrical socket...he throws a fit...pretty much like any 18 month old. I was just frustrated because I didn't know how to handle it. So I was letting him do whatever and tiptoeing around him. Then last night I finally realized...this is MY SON. I should treat him like I would my daughters!) Satan was attacking my thought life, and I was letting him win. I was letting anything that didn't go my way or that I didn't like bring me down. I was pitching my own type of fit and letting it affect every aspect of this experience.

BUT I'm happy to say, I've relinquished control once again to my God who brought me here in the first place. I'm re-focused on THE reason I'm here and all I have to be thankful for! I'm giving Him the glory in this experience...I'm letting "my light shine again." :) My friend Emily wrote a comment on my last post...she must have seen through the sugar :) It said "Amber- you can find joy even there. You can be the blessing even there- praying for you to see the grace showering down- even there. Love you and am so very happy for Levi and your family. Love you all." It stabbed me in the heart...but it's what I needed to hear! (Thank you Em for speaking truth over me even when it's hard!) These words came from a momma whose baby boy is about to have open heart surgery. I've never heard her once complain or have a pity party. Last night I prayed for God to make me strong and joyful like Emily, or my other sweet friend, Amy, who has been sending me encouraging notes while I've been here. Her baby girl was born last week at 24 weeks and is in the NICU but Amy also stands so strong in her faith and has a smile on her face. I pray that when things get tough, I will not crumble, but Lord make me more like these godly women...make me more like YOU.

Nothing has changed in my circumstance. I still have 6 more days in Russia with Levi (who can be a little strong willed- JUST LIKE MY GIRLS!) by myself. We have 3 days of grueling appointments and a full day of travel back to the States. BUT I'm now smiling. Because instead I see I have 6 more days to bond with my son who is healthy, vibrant and as cute as he can be! Then we'll be reunited with Dust and the girls and our normal, crazy BLESSED lives can resume! I'm again reminded why I'm here...and it has nothing to do with ME! We were called to care for "the least of these" and to be HIS hands and feet to bring one "home." I'm humbled and honored that God gave me...the selfish one...the priveledge of caring for another one of His children!

I have a prayer request for all of you who have so faithfully prayed us through this journey. I mentioned my two precious friends that have been a constant encouragement to me. Please pray for their babies and families. Baby Ian will have open-heart surgery on May 8th and baby Halle Scott will be in the NICU for a while but she was having a tough day yesterday. Pray for healing over these precious little ones and peace and strength over their sweet families! Thank you! 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Adopting is totally the same but...different :)

It occurred to me last night as I rocked a sweet blonde boy who was sucking his thumb to sleep...I now have a son! I've been knowing this in my head and to some degree my heart but last night as I held him while he fell asleep it really hit me "I have a little boy! I have 3 children! This finally happened!" It's amazing to me how similar my emotions have been in having the girls and adopting Levi. Until they were "here" (while pregnant and while going through the process) I felt a lot of joy and uncertainty. I had periods where I was able to truly surrender them to God, knowing they are His anyway, to times when my faith was that of an atheist and I was consumed with worry! Both processes came with a great deal of discomfort. If you know our history you know each child has a story. With Carsyn, I was on "modified" bedrest (basically house arrest) after 24 weeks, developed pre-eclampsia and spent 2 weeks in the hospital after she was born with fever...which we did not figure out it was caused by spinal anesthesia until after Sara Kate was born. Sara Kate was conceived after a year of infertility treatments, an ectopic pregnancy and 4 miscarriages. My pregnancy and delivery were ok with her but filled with fear that we'd lose her too!  And of course. "the fever" started the day after she was born and lasted about a week. (this time my dr figured out it was a reaction to the anesthesia and knew how to treat it so no extended hospital stay was required. But it was decided if we had another baby general would be a better route for us.) When we felt led to adopt my first thought was "Yay! At least we won't have to go through more infertility or another c-section." If I only knew what we were in for! I think I'd take the physical pain over the emotional stress :) Hmmm, not sure! Our adoption has been filled with crazy ups and downs it seems at almost every step of the process! First we were matched with twins. After we finally got over the fear of adopting two, we found out they were too sick to be adopted and it felt like another miscarriage. The constant paperwork and strategically planned trips to Montgomery  felt very similiar to infertility treatment. The uncertainty of the agency sometimes felt like talking to my dr after another unsuccessful month of trying to have a baby. BUT, then we were matched with Levi! At first, it went great although the first trip felt similar to physical pregnancy...the only other time I've been that tired(jet lag) was in the first trimester of pregnancy! Then all of the issues started in St. Petersburg with American adoptions. It was like the miscarriages all over again. Living in a constant fear...Were we gonna "lose" this baby or not? I know God is tired of my continuous internal battle of whether I'm going to really trust Him with faith that HE IS IN CONTROL or am I going to worry myself into a crazy wreck trying to do it myself until I finally surrender? (In case you're wondering, it's something I daily lift up to Him...most days He wins but I'm still weak:)) But then we went to was kind of like that 20 week're excited and nervous hoping for the best but the "what if" lurking in the back of your mind...our news was equilvalent to "everything looks good-strong heartbeat and it's a boy!"..we were approved! Then, the final preparations began. We came home for just a month. Again, physically similar to pregnancy. Tired from jet lag but we had to get everything done in a short amount of time. I was "nesting" but instead of getting the house ready it was get the adoption finances and documents in order! Of course, the prep was different. In this case we were doing some major "craft" work raising the money for our last trip! My days were totally filled with refinishing furniture and making picture frames and burlap crosses along with last minute document stuff and preparing for the trip...and I had major mixed emotions as I knew I had to work hard and constantly in order to make the funds needed and get everything done IN TIME but I also really wished I could've spent that time with my girls! They have been such troopers through this process! Luckliy, it appears they have picked up more of the positive ministry side of adoption than they do resent all of the time and effort spent on it. I pray that continues! We were encouraged, supported and "showered" with gifts from our friends and family (too many to name but THANK YOU-each of you will forever be a part of this special time God has placed in our lives!) just as we would've if we were "having" a baby, well actually probably a lot more! :) Then the day came to board a plane to bring our little guy home! This is one part of the adoption experience that varies greatly from the girls...I got on that plane alone. Dustin is more than my husband, he's my best friend...he's my partner! We have always done everything (of importance:)) together! He was at almost all of my dr.'s appts when I was having the girls. He stayed with me every night in the hospital when I had Carsyn(2 weeks) and Sara Kate! He has been by my side through the whole adoption but because of multiple circumstances we couldn't control he just couldn't be here for this! (Trust me he wanted to and me making this trip without him is just as hard on him as it is on me.) I am so blessed that my mom and Courtney could meet me in St. Petersburg for a few days and I am so thankful and love them dearly but it's not the same as having Dustin here. He's the "daddy." :) I miss him and the girls like crazy! Anyway, back to the the night before we were to pick up Levi came with a lot of excitment but also physical discomfort. I was still feeling bad from having strep throat a few days before and I was exhausted from the month leading up to the trip and then the actual travel! I actually felt almost as miserable as I did before delivery...just not swollen! I picked out his "coming home" outfit...just as I did the for the girls. The day we picked him up was filled with chaos (no different than the either of their births- the chaos with the girl's was more medical issues and unplanned c-sections but chaotic none the less.). We had multiple appointments running from one office to another. Waiting in this line and then in that line. But finally about 4 pm on Tuesday, April 24th Levi James was welcomed into the Polk family! I will say his acutal entrance into "our world" was a lot better than the iv's, no epidural, no c-section, no fevers, no breast feeding, no recovery...we just stopped by the orphanage, his caretakers changed his clothes, we spoke with the doctor about his diet and schedule and off we went. Easy peasy...actually a little let down considering the year we've gone through to get to this point but hey, I'll take something "easy" for once :) But all the same emotions were there like the day we brought the girls home...I was so excited and so in love but also a little scared. Will I be a good "boy" mama? Will we make the transition to three ok? How will the girls feel? Will they feel betrayed? (I was really concerned about this when we had Sara Kate!) There are still all these questions going through my head. So much unknown and a little fear but then this little man looks up at me with those big brown eyes and smiles REALLY big and I forget it all and thank God for this incredible priviledge. The first night was similar to having a newborn. I rocked him to sleep because I don't know yet what he "likes" but I  thought for sure he'd like the attention and close time together...he did :) I let him sleep with me because I didn't want him to get scared in a strange place. Every move, every cough or deep breath woke me up and I checked him to make sure he wasn't hot or cold and was "breathing ok" :) Just like I did with the girls! The best part about my "new baby" is he slept 12 hours the first night "home." I really hope we can work with that through the jet lag when we return to the States! We have had a good day too. We are working through a little language barrier and figuring out his likes and dislikes. He definitely isn't shy about letting me know when he's not happy :) But he is also super open and bubbly most of the time playing with us and showing affection. He is a GOOD eater! I mean like record breaking good! He is also quite the ladies man. He was flirting with pretty girls as we walked down the street and in Pizza Hut. Overall, he is making this transition pretty easy on me. I just can't imagine what is going through his little mind. One thing is for certain, he has this natural instinct to know I'm someone special to him. It's like when my girls were born...they just know that I am "mama"...but the cool thing about Levi is he is already saying it!

Please keep us in your prayers over the next 10 days. It's going to get lonely being in a strange, not "kid-friendly" city when my mom and sister leave in 3 days. I'm already in tears I miss Dustin and the girls so much and when I think about all I have left to do next week after the paper work in St. Petersburg is processed on Wednesday, I want to throw up...just being honest :) I saw the line I'll have to be in to get Levi's passport and it made the Shelby County DL/Tag office in Pelham look like a well-oiled machine (we're talking 4 hour waits in a hot, smelly immigration building.) AND THAT will just be the beginning of the adventure I'll have next week with my new toddler...alone :) Prayers appreciated! I'm praying for God to capture my mind so I'm in some sort of chocolate eutopia until 9:00 pm on May 5th about to land in Birmingham, AL and hug my family all together for the first time! Hey, it could happen...with God ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE :) I mean...I'm watching one of His miracles sleep right now :) 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Today is THE day!

An exerpt from my journal this morning...

This is so bizarre! I'm sitting in Russia, waiting outside a notary office for the official documents to be signed making "Dima" Levi James Polk. I am filing for his new birth certificate...a piece of paper stating we are his parents! This is so surreal. I'm hoping in just a few hours I will pick him up from the orphanage and never let him go. He will be ours! I say hoping because I'm still not feeling great and if I have another "weak-blackout-neasea spell"  like I did yesterday then we are going to wait until tomorrow to get him. So far I'm okay, not great but not about to pass out either:)  It's just such a strange feeling. This adoption has consumed our lives for a year. Every decision we make (from financial to how to spend the day) has been based on this process. We have worked so hard. We have raised a crazy amount of money, which we honestly thought was impossible. We have spent everything we have and taken out a loan in faith that this was the right thing to do. We have sacrificed many "wants" and time with family and friends for this moment to be possible. We have cried, we have laughed, we have filled out literally hundreds of documents, we chased the papertrail from Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, all the way to Oregon and then to Russia, we have traveled all over the world. Since May of 2011, adoption has been our life.  It has consumed our time, money, thoughts and prayers. We embraced the chaos and lived in it for as long as we had to to bring Levi home. And that moment has finally arrived. We are ready for the transition of bringing this sweet boy into our home and all that will entail. I'm just not sure I'm going to know how to adjust back to life before adoption. If you've ever adopted you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, I can't even begin to explain what the experience is like. To be able to spend free time (or just actually have "free time") at the park or the zoo with the girls, to be able to go out of town without fear that we'll get a call about some document that is needed or travel dates, to be able to budget again and not watch every penny that we spend, to have a week where not every single day is filled up with things to do, to just be mommy and wife to my family...these are just a few things I'm looking forward to. When Carsyn was told after the court hearing the judge let us have Levi her response was "Does that mean my momma doesn't have to do anymore paperwork?" This coming from a 6 year old bystander of the past year just about sums up our adoption...totally consuming!

And now here we are. The moment we have prayed about, the day we have begged God for, the time we have felt led to by something much bigger than ourselves or this child...the calling of God on our lives and the desire of our hearts; to care for the orphan. In just a few short hours there will be one less fatherless child in the world! I'm not sure why I've ever doubted this moment would come. God loves adoption and He will bless it! Just because things didn't always happen the way I felt they should or in my timing, I've known all along this is His will for our lives and we would one day be united with our son!

Today is THE day!

Monday, April 16, 2012

I have never kept a journal...

I have never kept a journal or a diary...and this is why! I'm terrible at it :) I get so busy and distracted and totally forget to update it. For those of you that have followed this journey from the beginning...I want to apologize for my lack of consistent communication. I would like to say I'll do better but I'm about to bring my THIRD child realistically I know it's probably going to get worse :) (To my friends that keep a consistent blog with multiple kids, I'm envious and would love some time managment tips :))

So the last update was the night before court. Well, A LOT has happen since then so here's the short version....we were approved! Levi is officially our son and we get to pick him up on April 24th! Court was pretty intense but to be honest I think we were so prepared for the worse that it was easier than we expected! I must tell a story on Dustin...I know he'll be embarrassed but it made me so proud I have to share! He was asked in court about parenting and interaction with his family. He replied "I follow the teachings of Christ from the Bible in how I interact with everyone and let it guide how I raise my children and treat my wife." Keep in mind this was in an environment where we still aren't sure what they thought about our faith but it was certainly the topic we were asked the most about! I was so proud to stand beside him as he proclaimed his faith in Christ without fear. In the end, it all went well and the judge even smiled when she told Dustin, "Mr. Polk you will now have a son" (because he mentioned during questioning how excited he was to have another boy in the house.) :) I must mention, however, that while we are overjoyed at bringing Levi home in just under 3 weeks, we are very concerned for the other families that are still waiting for court dates in St. Petersburg. Please pray for them and that the current issues will be resolved ASAP and they can continue in the process to bringing home their children!

For the last trip, I will leave on April 21st. I say "I" because Dustin will not be able to make this trip. There are multiple reasons that played into this decision but mainly it was because we wanted Dustin to be able to spend some time at home when Levi gets home and we really couldn't swing it financially for us both to go. He is making a great sacrifice by staying home and I'm so thankful he will be here with the girls. (I'm already crying over leaving them again for so long!)  I'm grateful that Mawmaw (Dustin's mom) is coming to take care of him and her "precious" granddaughters while I'm away! The cool part is my mom and sister are going to get to come to St. Petersburg for a few days and help out with little Levi. I'm really looking forward to getting to visit with Courtney since she is now living in Bosnia and I'm so thankful that my mom and dad rearranged their trip to make this visit happen,  I am amazed and overwhelmed by how much our family have stood by us through this process and done everything they could to help (WAY above the normal family duty)! We are very blessed to be loved and supported so well by our family. Words can't even begin to express our gratitude and love in return....

Yes, I'm nervous about traveling for two weeks in Russia with a new toddler without my "Dust" but if you knew the WHOLE situation and how everything had to fall just right for him to HAVE to stay home you'd see this is obviously God's plan...and I think I know why. Dustin is my weakness :) I feel like I have grown so much in my faith over the years but the one area I always fail when I face a struggle is I immediately turn to Dustin for comfort and guidance instead of hitting my knees in prayer to the ONE that really can fix it! On this trip God has ensured He will be my number one (His rightful place) instead of Dustin because I can't just pick up the phone and call when I need to talk. I can't cry to Dustin when I have my momentary "freak out" I will have to truly rely on my God...the One I too often misplace on my list of confidante's. I'm actually looking forward (although a bit nervous) to the short adventure on my own. God has shown me time and again He is the one that will always be there and I know this will be no different! I'm sure this will be a great time of growth for me....but, of course, I would always appreciate prayer to help me get through it :)

I fly out April 21st. If all goes as planned I will get Levi on April 24th. We will be in St. Pete until May 2nd and then take a train to Moscow. We fly home on May 5th...I think Levi and I will actually land in Birmingham around 9:30 at night on May 5th...he will actually be home. I can't believe this time is approaching. Such a relief, joy, and elation it will be...please keep us covered in prayer until that moment. THEN IT WILL FINALLY BE DONE!

We are so thankful for all of your prayers....

Below are some pictures from our last trip...St. Pete and a 24 hr. layover in Paris. (If you want to laugh, HARD, ask us about our night in Paris! Seriously, they could make a movie about our French adventure :) ENJOY!

St. Petersburg- Church of the Spilled Blood

St. Petersburg- Frozen was COLD!

New Friends- celebrating after court!

On our door after court :)

Paris- Notre Dame

Paris- A really big tower :)

Paris- Eifle Tower

The Polk's in Paris-
all we had was a cell phone camera :)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

This is the day!

Tomorrow morning at 11:00 am (early Thursday-2:00am for most of you) we go before a judge asking for the privilege of being Levi's parents. We believe this was God's plan before we even knew that sweet boy was on this planet. We trust we will have a favorable outcome and get to officially call him our son!

Please pray specifically that we will have a favorable decree allowing us to be his parents after our hearing. Pray for wisdom, strength and courage for Dustin as he will be the main spokesman for our family. Pray above all God will be glorified through this process and through the "joining together" our family with this precious little one. PRAY, PRAY, PRAY! 


Monday, March 12, 2012

Momma's gettin' crafty!

Well, they say in times of desperation you find a way to do what ever it takes to take care of your family. I think this may be proof that this statement is true :) As I mentioned in the previous post we are in need of more funds to be able to complete our adoption. For years I've had friends and family tell me I should sell some of my "creations" so I got the little wheels in my head turning and worked my tail off (along with my amazing mother and husband) for a week to produce enough items to sell for the benefit of our adoption. We have opened a booth at Encore Resales in Pelham, AL to sell some of my "crafts" to raise extra money to help bring Levi home. This is something I never thought I'd have the guts to do...and I certainly never thought I'd be getting it going the week before we leave for court in Russia! But everything sort of fell into place and I had to see that as God making a way for us to raise the money we needed! Please support us in this effort to open up our home and hearts to "one of the fatherless." 

If you are interested in some cute stuff for a great cause please go by and visit our booth, Polka-tots.  It's in the very back, down the middle isle, of Encore Resales. If you see an item listed but would like a different color or size (or do not live around the Birmingham area) I can custom make any of the items you'd like and ship it. 
Here are some of the fun things you'll find at Polka-tots:

Here is our booth!

Tiffany blue chalkboard

Distressed white frame

Frames and shadowbox shelf

White candlesticks

Tiffany blue candlesticks and white table

Weathered wood frames, beaded wineglasses, pottery

We are also selling burlap door hangers (pictured below) which can be made to order with your choice of colors. They are $20 (add $5 for shipping if not local). I have several more furniture pieces I will be working on when we come home from Russia. If you are looking for something specific let me know and I'll refinish whatever you are wanting in the colors you'd like.  We are very thankful for everyone that has already purchased a cross or visited our booth. We are so blessed by you! 

Crosses for Levi :)

To place an order or for more information please email me at 
Thank you!!!

Wednesday, March 07, 2012


Do you remember what I asked everyone to pray...very specifically...after our last court date was canceled??? I'll give you a hint: it was a list of 4 things and I wrote it in the post "I need a favor" on February 6th. Remember? Let me "jog" your memory:

1) For our family (Dustin, Amber, Carsyn, Sara Kate & Levi) for comfort, protection & peace.
2) For a court date as soon as possible in March.
3) To have Levi HOME in Alabama not later than May 2012.
4) For the people in Russia-leadership (our judge specifically), citizens, orphans.

I have prayed this everyday since then and I know many of you have also! Well, God heard our cry and the prayers of so many on our behalf! We have a new court date on March 22nd. This is great news...but here is why it is miraculous news...

Our first court was canceled due to the upcoming Russian elections. We were told everything was on hold until after the election.The election was on Sunday, March 4th. We were told we would not hear anything until next week (March 12th) because the courts would take time to reconvene. I was still hopeful they would somehow "squeeze" us in for March so we could bring Levi home in early May. I begged God to make this happen. I asked Him repeatedly for a court date AS SOON AS POSSIBLE in March. They called us on Monday morning, the DAY AFTER the election to let us know our new court date of March 22nd! It doesn't get any sooner than that! Praise God!

Please keep praying for us! Items 1, 3 and 4 are still very important :) ...and we haven't actually gone to court yet so pray for that part of the process too! We leave March 17th and we have a lot to do in a short time. Please also pray for provision. We are hitting a crunch with our finances for this adoption. We had raised/saved/borrowed right at the amount we needed to complete everything but now with the delays there have been some additional expenses and we need to raise about $5000 before the end of April. Please pray...but I know God will provide!

We are so thankful for this great news but even more so for all of our prayer partners that have lifted us up to get to this point. We are so very blessed...