Tuesday, November 20, 2007

previous blog

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The rest of the story

I certainly haven't kept this up in the last couple of weeks, but I do want to actually try to bring the actual story to conclusion.

After returning back to the US on Nov 15 (a Monday night), I found out that my adoption court date was scheduled for Dec 1. That meant that I had to be in Moscow on Nov 29 and ready to head to Yaroslavl on Nov 30. I quickly called my parents and made arrangements for them to come to PA the day after Thanksgiving (Nov 26) in order for us to all leave on Nov 28 after church. The time between the two trips was quite busy for me--I had some more paper work to do, a drive to Harrisburg in order to have papers "apostilled" (Pa secretary of state certifies that the notary was legit--$15 per apostille!!) I also had to make a doctor's appointment for Will in order to bring Will back in a shorter time frame. (The judge would waive the 10 day waiting period after the court date) I also had to arrange for my parents' visas and, of course, teach and have Thanksgiving at my house. My friends at the college gave me a surprise baby shower on the 22nd--My sister came before Thanksgiving and she finished painting letters on Will's nursery. (My niece and her now fiance painted the room while I was in Russia on the first trip) My family cooked all the food for Thanksgiving Dinner and we had about 40 Copelands at my house. They also surprised me with a stroller.

We arrived in Moscow on Nov 29 and I headed to Yaroslavl on Tuesday, Nov 30. I signed more papers and was given a hint about the court appearance that was scheduled for the next day. We showed up at the court early on Wed., Dec 1. I was dressed appropriately. The judge was in his gown, a recorder, social worker and "state prosecutor" were there as well as my translator. The proceedings were interesting to say the least but the process was odd. The judge appeared to read a lot while the translator spoke simultaneously. The judge proceeded to ask a couple of interesting questions that I didn't fully expect---Do you plan to marry? and What do you know about babies and what examples of experiences can you give me? Of course several ideas flashed through my mind including is there a right answer? I gave honest answers and have no idea what the translator said but surely it was what I said....

We were all ushered out of the court with only the judge left in the room--we were called back in with a favorable court decision. Will was legally my child! The next couple went into the court with the same response. WE then headed to another office where we signed more papers and then back to the hotel to change clothes. The back to the orphanage. Because a snow storm was threatening, I was told to hurry. Will was brought to me, I took all of his clothes off (we were to leave everything at the orphanage) I diapered him, put on a onsie, a sleeper and a snow suit. We all stopped at a store to buy water to mix up the formula that we had.

I couldn't believe it. I sat in the back of the van with Will and held him for the entire 5 hour drive back to Moscow. I took off his snowsuit because it was so hot in the van, he cried for awhile until I fed him. He quickly fell asleep and slept for about 2 hours. I was certainly in love with this little boy.

We arrived at the Radisson Hotel in Moscow and took the elevator to the 8th floor where mom and dad (who had stayed in Moscow) were waiting along with Scott and Kristen, who had adopted their daughter from the same orphanage. (They had been with me on the first trip and for some reason went a day ahead of me on the second trip)--I didn't tell Scott this, but I thought that I had seen him peering out the window in the lobby when our van arrived. Mom immediately took Will and kissed and hugged on him and Dad was just grinning from ear to ear. He then took him and proudly held his new grandson. I don't think that I've ever had such a sense of joy as I experienced on that day and yet, I was exhausted.

Much more to say---I'll finish later

Thursday, October 19, 2006

back to the story

Yesterday, the chapel speaker spoke about how her family was led to adopt internationally. Her parents had four biological children and through a series of circumstances followed God's lead to adopt a total of 10 special needs children. Her family then formed Shepherd's crook ministries to help people in the process of international adoption. She showed pictures of infants and toddlers while in orphanages and then followed with a picture of the child who was home in a forever family. I was in tears as I watched the video. Of course, since starting this blog I have been more reflective of my experience in adopting Will. My heart is still very tender towards wanting to adopt a second child.

Back to the journey.....Once I had full immigration approval, waiting for a referral became the daily chore. At that point, I also went public with my impending expectation of motherhood. Most everyone was very supportive although some people were certain that as a single woman I should not adopt a child--many stated that every child should be with a mother and a father. While I understood those reactions, and many other reactions and comments, I was convinced that I was to establish a Christian home for a child of God's choosing. I felt that I had love that I experienced in my family and wanted to share that love unconditionally. I also continued to grow spiritually as I internalized more deeply the unconditional love that God has for me. Some would say that an orphan is blessed to be adopted into a family--in a way, I suppose that's true. But, ultimately on this side of heaven, I am far more blessed as a result of becoming an adoptive parent. I spent a lot of the summer of 2004 talking to Mary Jean, a single mom, whom I'd spoken to earlier in the process. Mary Jean had adopted 2 girls at different times through EAC, she is my age, and a working nurse. She became my lifeline to patience in many ways as well as a sounding board for anxieties and joys. I am very thankful for her walking with me through this process.

My parents and sister in particular were very supportive. My brothers, though not so overt, were also supportive. My extended family couldn't wait for the arrival of this new child. Around Labor Day, I received my first referral, which I declined. While I won't go into the details, I was devastated. On Oct 21, I received another referral and on Nov 9, I was on my way to Russia to meet my son!

We flew all night to Moscow arriving around noon on Wednesday. On Thursday, we headed to Yaroslavl. (Three families were adopting from that region) We checked in to the hotel and then headed to the orphanage. Each family was taken to a room to meet and spend time with their child. I was taken aside and told that I couldn't meet my son until the next day because he wasn't officially available. Again--another frustration that was exacerbated while I sat in the orphanage knowing he was there.

At some point the director changed her mind and said that I could meet and hold my son. I will never forget the moment that I laid eyes on William McLeod Copeland (not my dad, but my son) The nurse brought him into the room and he had a big grin on his face and I was overwhelmed with a deep love in my heart for this little baby boy, I had assumed that I would grow to love him but never knew that I could feel such deep love before I touched him, before he was my son. He was (is) beautiful.

Another photo teaser

This is a picture of Will at Christmas 2005 in Fresno, CA.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Just to whet your appetite--this was one of three pictures that I received on October 21, 2004. I would later find out that Will was about 3 and a half months old when this picture was taken.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Just taking a break from preparing for my next class--a seminar for student teachers. I'm hoping that this blog will provide me the opportunity to put in writing the thoughts and feelings I had when I initially adopted Will almost two years ago. I also hope to do some additional reflecting.

For those of you who may not be aware, I made two trips to Russia in 2004 as part of the process to adopt Will--but I'm getting ahead of my story--my journey to family.

Sometime in the early 1990's, I began to think seriously about adopting a child. I had always thought that I would become a mother in the more traditional way and so "merrily" worked at seeking to know God, become a better teacher, and just maybe get married. As I began to think about adoption, I searched all the avenues as I knew them-- foster mother, teen needs to give up child, domestic adoption. All of those paths seemed to rule out adoption, or at least make the process difficult, for a single mother. As a Christian, I also questioned whether adopting a child as a single person was appropriate. Of course, a lot went on in my head and in my heart, as did other life changing situations--I went back to school in 1995 and graduated in 1998 with a PhD in Educational Policy and Leadership from the University of Kansas. Financial struggles and career choices apparently kept "the adoption feelings" on the back burner.

I arrived in PA in the summer of 2003--new position at Geneva College, new colleagues, new church, new communities, "cloudy weather" and so many other changes. My new church community had several children who were adopted from different countries. Colleagues at Geneva also had adopted internationally. One of my college room mates, a single woman, had adopted internationally. This new community sent my head and heart into examining international adoption agencies and adoption through a Biblical study. Biblically, I kept seeing the reality of my adoption into Christ's family played out over and over through the Scripture. I was struck anew by Christ's unconditional love for me--an adopted child of the King. Meanwhile, my heart continued to be prompted by the Holy Spirit to adopt a child. I also providentially got better acquainted with Gail Prutow (who has since be come a dear friend) through this year. She had a foster daughter (whom she has since adopted). We talked about adopting as a single mom over the next several months.

I distinctly remember sitting at the Geneva College commencement of 2004 and chatting with my friend and colleague, Jeff Cole. Jeff, and his wife, had adopted a son with the help of European Adoption Consultants. He was quite pleased with this agency. I immediately talked to a rep from this group, went online and looked at more details, and then talked to other people who had adopted with EAC. I then talked to my pastor, who was in the middle of his adoption process as well. He was very encouraging. This was the middle of May 0f 2004.

To make the long story short, shortly after July 4, 2004, I had immigration approval to adopt from Russia (the selection of Russia fell into place) and a completed dossier. I was now "in the waiting period." I should add that while I had the option to request a specific gender and for that matter, hair color and eye color, I make no specific request other than a healthy infant.

So...here we are at this point in the story--I will be heading to class and then off to pick up Will, my joy and delight!

just starting

I'm just getting started with this idea of blogging. I thought that perhaps this would be a good way to communicate the happenings in the Copeland household in Beaver Falls. I hope to begin to utilize this medium in a consistent way. You'll probably find out more about me than you want to know and not enough about Will, the actual "star" of this blog.

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