let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers ...
To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the
adoption of sons.
Our Adoption Testimony
After 12 years of marriage, Lois and I remained childless. This was not by choice. In fact, we did all we could to have children. We were not Christians, so we did not know about a prayer-hearing, prayer-answering God. When things looked bleakest for Lois and me, we began to seek God. Neither of us knew at the time that the other was searching for God's intervention in our lives. Shortly after I surrendered my life to Christ, my wife informed me that she was with child. Of course, we both recognized this immediately as the miracle and blessing of God that it was.
When Rachel was born in June of 1989, we hoped that there would be more children, but that was not to be. As Rachel, grew, she would ask us why she didn't have brothers and sisters like other children. Our hearts were broken for Rachel. We tried everything the World had to offer in order to have more children without success.
Our hearts went out to the Lord. I particularly remember one late-Summer evening in 1997 driving home from work listening to a-capella children's hymns. My heart was broken. I wept all the way home, crying out to God and asking Him to please give us more children.
Not long after that, my son Jon told me that the pastor at his church was in the process of adopting a little Russian boy. Jon gave me the name of the agency, New Hope Christian Services in Concord, New Hampshire http://www.christianadoptions.net . I called, and they sent me an information packet, which just sat around and collected dust for about a month.
In early October of 1997, Mary Mexcur of New Hope called us. She said that there was a little Russian boy, 10 months old at the time, and that after praying over him, they believed that the Lord wanted them to place him in our home. I was excited, so I asked what this would cost. When she told me I balked and said that I didn't think we could afford it. She told me how she and her husband, David, had adopted six children on a pastor's austere salary. When I asked her how this was possible, she said that they simply trusted the Lord to meet their needs and He did. I told her that I didn't think we could do this, thanked her for calling, and hung up.
My dear wife, who had heard my side of the conversation, asked me what it was all about. After I told her, she pointed to the automobiles in our driveway and asked, "We can afford to buy a new van every year. Yet here is a living child, an eternal soul in need of a home and you say we can't afford him." My heart was pierced. We could certainly trust in God to meet our needs for the sake of a child as He had for our much less valuable earthly comforts. I called Mary right back and told her we would do it.
Soon after we started the process to adopt Daniel, we were approached by a friend whose niece was expecting a child that she would be unable to raise. We were asked if we would be interested in adopting the baby. We saw this as yet another answer to our prayer for more children and agreed to adopt the baby when it was born. The baby was due at the end of May, 1988. If things worked as planned for Daniel's adoption, we would be back from Russia before the baby was born.
The Trip To Russia
After months of preparation involving birth certificates, marriage certificates, court records, requests, permissions, all our paperwork notarized and apostilled in triplicate, signed only with blue ink, and translated into Russian, a home study, FBI fingerprints, passports, Russian visas, travel and lodging plans, we got our approvals at the end of March, 1998, and flew out of Boston on April 5, destined by the grace and mercy of God for Russia to adopt Daniel. We brought Rachel with us. About half an hour into our flight, we ran into a nasty thunderstorm at 32,000 feet. It was awful. My wife, who had never flown before, was terrified, as was I, since I don't like flying anyway. Rachel slept through most of it. Lois and I made use of a hymnal I had brought in my carry-on bag and sang our way through the storm.
The Russian Courtroom
Our adoption hearing was scheduled for April 8, 1998. We had an opportunity to visit with Daniel, who was now 16 months old, at the orphanage in St. Petersburg. In the courtroom were local functionaries of the Russian Federation overseeing the adoption process. The judge asked our daughter Rachel what she thought of this adoption, to which Rachel replied with a big smile, "Very, very, very good!" The judge needed no interpretation, and with a smile dismissed himself from the courtroom to arrive at his decision. He returned very soon and with a big smile announced the adoption completed. The agents of the state present in the courtroom rushed to hug us and congratulate us, some with tears in their eyes. And ours was only one of a number adoption cases to be heard that day.
On The Way Home
As we entered American airspace with Rachel and Daniel, Lois and I were weeping with joy to be back home. We recapitulated our adoption experience. We didn't like being away from home. We hated flying. We consumed a lot of money. The paperwork seemed endless. The American Embassy in Moscow seemed almost hostile, a stark contrast to the warmth we felt in the Russian courtroom. But I said to Lois that if God provided, we would do it all again "in a heartbeat." She agreed, and we even repeated our pledge to the friends and family waiting for us when we came out of Customs at Logan International Airport in Boston.
How Many Heartbeats?
We got home on April 11. The baby was due at the end of May, so we had just a little time to adjust before facing the next change. Four days later, Mary Mexcur of New Hope called and said, "There's a little girl. We've prayed about her and we believe that God wants us to place her in your home." I told her that God worked miracles for us to be able to afford Daniel, but this was certainly going to be much more difficult. She told me that, because of special circumstances for this soon to be 4 year old girl, the adoption fee had already been paid, and the Russian document translators had agreed to provide their services free. Because we were "paper ready", having our passports and visas still in order, if we could afford travel and lodging, we could adopt this little girl.
I asked about the "special circumstances" and was told that the girl had been placed by another agency but was rejected by her prospective adoptive parents because of her emotional problems. Worse, she was rejected right outside the courtroom in St. Petersburg. The couple just couldn't go through with it and backed out at the last minute. I told Mary that we would have to pray about it.
That evening, as Lois and I went to pray about the little girl, I believe I heard the Lord saying, "I have provided. How many heartbeats has it been?" I called Mary the next day and said we would go.
The Second Trip to Russia
The baby was born on June 6, 1998. We named her Rebekah, and immediately she was placed in our home by her birth mother. The process for our second Russian adoption was accelerated, since most of the paperwork completed when we adopted Daniel could also be used for adopting Sarah. We got our approval on June 20 and we booked our flight from New York for June 28. Though many kind families offered to watch our three children while we went to get Sarah, we decided that it would be best for them to stay with the Lagoys, since Rachel felt more at home with them. When it was learned that we would have some problems meeting expenses for the second trip, some families very kindly provided money to help. For this we are eternally grateful, to them and to the loving God that moved their hearts.
Before we left, New Hope provided us a videotape of Sarah at the orphanage. She and a little boy about the same age were playing with blocks. The date on the tape was Dec 22, 1997. The little boy fashioned an airplane out of the blocks, and I knew enough Russian to understand what Sarah said when she saw that. "An airplane! My mama and papa are coming on an airplane to take me home." She was speaking of the couple who rejected her after they had spent a couple of days with her. Lois and I wept for her.
When we met Sarah, we understood why the other couple rejected her. She was an emotional basket case. She screamed when they removed her from the orphanage and she screamed almost all the way to our hotel, a good hour drive away. When we got to the hotel, Lois thought it would be a good idea to give her a bath. As soon as Lois touched her to remove the bow from her hair, she started screaming, jet-engine pitch, easily 80 db above ambient. But when Sarah got into the tub, she was like any other 4 year old; laughing and playing and splashing with soap and tub toys. We spent the next few days walking on eggs. Through it all, the 2nd verse from the hymn "Each Step I Take" was moving in my mind, as was Psalm 27:1.
Back in the States
Once we got home and were reunited with our family, things began to move quickly. Sarah has grown into a sweet, affectionate, playful sociable child. The younger children, Daniel and Rebekah, did not have to adjust as much as Sarah. Rachel is adjusting very well as a big sister, though she's tempted to tease her younger siblings from time-to-time.
God's miracles in our lives are so evident, yet they are almost imperceptible; just part of the background noise to which we've all become accustomed. But each breath and each step we take is a gift from God. The blessings of home and family are much more than any of us deserves. Jesus, our God manifest in the flesh, died alone on the cross of Calvary to atone for our sins.
In July of 2001, we got a phone call from David of New Hope Christian Services to inform us that our son Daniel had a sibling born and that she was available for adoption. Apparently, Russian law requires the parents of an adopted Russian child to be notified if a sibling is later placed for adoption. David told us that we needn't feel pressured to adopt the child, but that we just had to be notified. When I expressed our interest, David gently reminded me that I wasn't getting any younger, but if we wanted to pursue the adoption, he would lend all the assistance available to him. I told him we would pray about it.
That night, before we went to prayer, Lois and I discussed the ramifications of proceeding with the adoption. We didn't have the funds that would be needed, but we submitted the whole matter to prayer, asking that if it were God's will that He would make it clear to us by providing the means to conduct the adoption.
A few days later, a family member, upon learning of our dilemma, generously provided the finances to conduct the adoption. Other family members also contributed, as did other saints of God in the church we attend. Within a short time, we had the money to complete the adoption, so we proceeded with the paperwork.
On September 11, 2001, we were horrified to learn that terrorists had demolished the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing over 3000 people in the sneak attack. Now, we don't like flying, anyway, and this gave our fear of flying a new dimension. Nevertheless, we proceeded with the adoption paperwork, figuring that all would work according to God's plan.
At the airport, just before we boarded our plane, I began to have cold feet. I turned to Lois and said that I wasn't sure I wanted to go through with this. She said that she would abide with whatever decision I made, but that I should think about whether I was more afraid to go or more afraid NOT to go. I ruminated on that thought for a moment, thinking about what it would be like to ignore God's clear leading. We boarded the plane, and on March 8, 2002, we brought little Hannah home.
Our Brazilian-born Children
there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down,
it will sprout again,
that the tender branch thereof will not cease.
the root thereof wax old in the earth,
the stock thereof die in the ground;
through the scent of water it will bud,
bring forth boughs like a new plant.
Job 14:7-9 ~
We were not seeking to adopt any more children. We had five children at home, we felt immensely blessed by God in this, and we needed no other fulfillment. However, we believe now that God had other plans.
On September 24,
2004, I received e-mail from one of my co-workers about four Brazilian
siblings in need of a family. The Brazilian authorities wanted to keep the
four siblings together, but they were worried that they would not be able to
find a family willing to take all four children, especially since they were
older children ranging in age from 5 years to 9 years old, at the time.
The children had
been placed in an orphanage in Curitiba, a city of just over a million
inhabitants in the southern Brazilian state of Paraná.
Attached was a photo of the four children. I cannot adequately characterize the emotion that photo evoked in me. In the “Subject” line of the e-mail, my co-worker had written the following words:
opportunity - Tony you are the first person I thought of
I was tempted to
write a clever response such as, "You must have been thinking of someone
else," and delete the e-mail, but I could not. While I did not respond to
that e-mail, I did not delete it either.
The children’s names, starting with the oldest, are as
follows, with the accent on the capitalized syllable. The “J” sound in
Portuguese is pronounced like the French “J”, softer than in English.
- pronounced ja-keh-LEE-nee
- pronounced ju-SAH-rah
- pronounced jah-nah-EE-nah
- pronounced fran-SEE-scoo, or Chico (SHEE-coo)
The next day,
while working from home, I came across that e-mail and the photo again. I
called my wife Lois into the room and asked her what she thought about it.
When I told her the children were in Brazil, she said, "Oh, that's crazy!
It's so far!" Then I said, "So I can delete it, right?" She
replied, "No, we have to pray about it."
The more we prayed about them, the more we felt a burden for them. I can remember crying out to God in the night on more than one occasion, "Lord, why are you burdening our hearts with these children? Lord, this is crazy! What about my children here? What about being away for many weeks in Brazil? How can we do this?"
conscience would not rest. I was struggling with what to do. I thought that
perhaps God wanted me to shop the photo around to some other Christians, to
see if anybody else was interested. Strangely, I half-hoped that nobody would
be interested. Nobody was.
There was an Anabaptist meeting every other week just three miles from us in Swanzey, which we attended regularly until the meeting moved to Vermont. We still attend from time-to-time, even though it is a long drive.
The Brazilian Brethren
Some weeks before
receiving the email about the four children, a Brazilian couple came to the
church meeting in Swanzey. They spoke fluent English, so we were able to
converse easily. We learned that they had meetings every Monday evening in
Nashua, just minutes from my office at work, and they invited us to come and
attend one of their meetings.
At the time, I
did not think I would ever have a real reason to attend any of their meetings,
but now I thought it might be a good idea to go to one of their meetings, to
show them the photo and see if any of them were interested. The meeting was
wonderful, with a lot of sincere Christian love and warmth.
brought my prayer request about the four orphans before the brethren there
assembled, the leader of the group put his arm around me, looked me in the
eyes, and said, "We will pray for you brother." We all got on our
knees and prayed fervently that God's Holy Spirit would guide me to make the
decision that God wanted.
This was not
exactly what I expected, but it was what God gave me, so I went home with
that. Lois and I continued to pray for God's guidance, and we shared our
burden for these children with other Christian brethren and family. All said
that they would stand behind us, wherever God would lead us.
Lois was always peaceful and resolved. She was convinced that the Lord wanted us to move to adopt these children. When I finally decided to proceed with the necessary inquiries, I found peace. I still had times of struggling with God through some nights, but God was preparing me for a greater struggle to come.
The Children's Profiles
Before we gave
the adoption agency, Limiar, a
commitment, the director of the agency, Nancy Cameron, sent us the
psychological profiles of the children detailing their psychological and
emotional problems, and their developmental delays. Nancy called us a week or
two after we had received the reports and asked if we had read them and
whether we were still interested in adopting these children.
I told her that
we had read the reports carefully and understood the panoply of challenges
these children present and the troubled background from which they came. She
asked, in light of all that, if we would press ahead with the adoption. I
responded by asking if she was a Christian, and she answered in the
affirmative. Then I said to her that she would understand why our response
only could be, "Yes."
Meanwhile, I started to attend the Brazilian prayer meetings somewhat regularly. It was close to my work, so it was not difficult to attend, and I sometimes brought the whole family. Being with the Brazilian Christians was not only a spiritual blessing, but also it provided an opportunity for us to learn Portuguese. Before long, everybody in the family was picking up a little Portuguese, and we even started learning hymns in Portuguese.
before Thanksgiving, 2004, a social worker from a local adoption agency,
Adoptive Families for Children, came to perform a “home study”. This is an
examination of our living conditions, our relationship as a married couple,
our relationships with our children, and our finances.
Among her questions, she asked whether we would be sensitive to the children’s Brazilian heritage. We replied that we had spent time with Russian Christians and had learned some Russian hymns to teach our Russian-born children. She asked if we could sing one, so we sang "Nebesa Ozhudayet Minya" ("Heaven Is Waiting for Me"), a very beautiful song in a minor key. The social worker was moved and said that the Brazilian children would be fortunate to become our own dear children.
Approval from Child Protection Services
Because we were
adopting four children all at once, and increasing the number of children that
would live here to more than seven, a threshold had been crossed, whereby the
New Hampshire Department of Children Youth and Families (NH-DCYF) would have
to review our case and give their approval. Adoptive Families for Children
submitted our case to them early in December.
On New Years eve, 2004, we received the response of the DCYF. It was a letter asking a number of pointed questions and for more additional information. Since the family had only one breadwinner, the DCYF wanted to know what plans and contingencies we had if I were to lose my job, or become incapacitated, or die. They also wanted to know what accommodations we could make for the children’s emotional difficulties and educational delays. They wanted to know how well-integrated we were with our community and expressed concern about the “isolation of a large, self-sufficient family.”
We were very disappointed that we were not given our approval, but we were not denied, either. We had been challenged to give an answer for the hope God had provided us for these children. Rather than discourage us, this challenge greatly strengthened our resolve to adopt these children. We prepared and researched our best responses, with much prayer and many tears.
neighbors is a dear octogenarian lady for whom our children had done chores
from time to time, stacking wood and raking leaves. My dear wife, Lois, would
also visit her from time to time to share tea. In the letter she submitted to
the DCYF, our dear neighbor revealed that she was a retired psychologist who
had a practice in Vermont for 40 years. She specialized in family problems and
saw many neglected and abused children. She also had worked closely with the
She gave us a
very high recommendation and finished her letter by saying that it was not
long ago that this entire region was filled with large, self-sufficient
families whose members were among the greatest contributors to its social and
Early in January
2005, we submitted our responses to the questions posed by DCYF, along with
the letters of recommendation they had requested from our neighbors, the
churches, our family, and our friends.
Almost two more months passed, and at the end of February 2005, the DCYF finally gave their approval. Foremost among the reasons they cited for their approval was their agreement with the Brazilian authorities that the siblings should not be separated.
Our Psychological Profiles
In order to complete our requirements for the Brazilian court, Lois and I had to submit to a psychological examination by a psychologist licensed in our state, so that he could submit our psychological profile to the Brazilian court. At the end of February 2005, on a cold Saturday morning at 7:00, we met with a psychologist in Peterborough, NH. We were wondering whether he would doubt our sanity for seeking to adopt four more children while we already had five at home.
Early in the interview, he asked what we considered the “sentinel moments” in our lives. Well, to a Christian, THE sentinel moment is the moment of conversion from darkness unto light. We gave him our conversion testimonies, and, as he was writing all of this down, I began to think that the best recommendation we could get from him would be something such as, “Delusional, but harmless.” We were very pleasantly surprised when we got a glowing recommendation from the psychologist.
US Immigration Approval
Meanwhile, with the approval of the DCYF, the local adoption agency submitted all our paperwork to the U.S. Immigration office in Boston. We had started the US Immigration process in December 2004, submitting ourselves to an FBI investigation of our past and having our fingerprints taken. We received the approval of the US immigration authorities at the end of March 2005.
Caretakers for our Children at Home
Slowly, things began to come together, as God was weaving the fabric necessary to support our children here in the States and us while we were in Brazil, so that we could go and bring our children home.
To watch our children here at home while we were in Brazil, the Lagoy family in Milo, Maine and the Matras family in Pittsfield, New Hampshire, offered their daughters, Samantha Lagoy and Bonnie Matras to take care of our children in our absence. These young women, besides being accomplished in matters of keeping the home, have kind hearts for children and a close and good relationship with God. They were going to have to remain with our children for at least five weeks, and were willing and happy to do so.
The House of the King
The Brazilian adoption policy requires that parents must
stay in Brazil with the children for a 30-day “habitation period”. During
this time, the children and parents
would have the opportunity to bond in an atmosphere that was still somewhat
familiar to the children, and the court psychologist and social workers
would be able to help the newly formed family to adjust to one another.
For such a long stay with children, a hotel would be impractical. Many adopting families stay at a Christian retreat center at the outskirts of the city, but for us the cost to stay there was too high. We began to look on the internet for houses to rent in Curitiba, but even though I was getting familiar with the language, making all the arrangements to rent a house from this distance was beyond my abilities. I asked the Brazilian brethren here in the States if they could help, and they contacted the brothers in Brazil.
The Church in
Curitiba had three meetinghouses that they call Casa Um, Casa Dois, and Casa
Trés (House One, House Two, and House Three). Casa Dois and Casa Trés were the
meetinghouses where the brethren living in the nearby neighborhoods could have
a house where they could meet during the week. Casa Um was the largest house
where the Church in Curitiba could meet every Sunday.
The Church in
Curitiba offered to rent Casa Dois to us, if we didn’t mind them having
prayer meetings and Bible studies there a few nights a week.
Casa Dois was a
large house with a very large dining-living room, three bedrooms, a kitchen, a
laundry, and four bathrooms, two with showers.
We were glad to be in a place that was God's house, so we accepted their generous offer.
Our Rebekah, seven years old at the time, said that, for our adopted children, it would be like the second verse in the Bill Gaither song, "The Family of God", which verse says, in part, "From the doors of an orphanage to the house of the King."
The Gift of the Holy Spirit
Over the months that we waited, God had done such a work in our hearts. We would often cry out to Him, "Oh, Lord, let us bring our children home!" We had such a love for them. It was as if they were always ours, and that we had been separated by some accident of circumstance. Our hearts just ached for them.
By August of 2005, after almost a year into the process and after 5 months of waiting for a response from the Brazilian court, I began to feel somewhat discouraged. At one of the Brazilian meetings, one of the topics discussed was, "Knowing for certain that what you are doing is God's will for your life." I began to feel some strong doubt, and as we sat down to the meal after the meeting, I asked the teaching brother how I could know for certain that what I was doing was God's will for my life.
"Do you mean about the adoption?"
I replied, "Yes."
Then he looked at me with a warm smile and said, "Brother, don't you remember? I was there. We all got down on our knees, and you asked that God would guide you with His Holy Spirit in this matter. If a man asks his earthly father for bread, will he give him a stone? How much more, then, will your Heavenly Father give you of the Holy Spirit when you ask?" That was the end of all doubt.
A few short weeks later, we were notified that the Brazilian authorities had approved our adoption petition and that we could come to Brazil to complete the process. We planned our flights to leave from New Jersey at 10:00 PM on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 and to land at our destination, Curitiba, Brazil, on the afternoon of October 19, 2005.
The Brazilian brothers here in the States wanted to take me out to lunch before Lois and I left for Brazil, so I met them at Panera’s in Nashua the Friday before we were scheduled to leave. There were five of us altogether, and we shared a meal and made a cell phone call to the elder brother in Brazil who had arranged for us to stay at the church meetinghouse at Casa Dois. It was a blessed and sweet time of fellowship. We shared the Lord’s Table and sang 1st Corinthians 11:23-26 in Portuguese. With tears in our eyes, we bade our farewells.
We had been having much rain here in New England during September and October of 2005, and that Friday night, the rains came in earnest. It was raining more than an inch per hour. That night, much of Keene was flooded when a dam broke and the Ashuelot River overran its banks. Upriver, in Marlow and Alstead, houses and cars were swept away in the flood. Whole roads and bridges were destroyed and lives were lost.
By Saturday afternoon Oct 15, 2005, the pond at the end of our road was overflowing and washing over the road. I was concerned that the part of the road that serves as a dam for the pond would be washed away. I called the Fire Department hoping that they could sandbag the road.
I went down to the pond to meet the fire company when they arrived, but they told me that the flooding was too severe, and that sandbagging would not stop it. I told the firefighter in charge that we had to leave for Brazil the next Tuesday, and he replied, “If I was you, and I had to be somewhere next week, I’d leave right now.”
The O’Connells, one of the church families that had escaped the flooding, offered to let us stay there. Lois and I could leave from there to catch our flight from New Jersey, and the O’Connells would bring our children back here to Richmond when it was safe to do so, whereupon Samantha and Bonnie could take over watching our children. That Saturday afternoon, we hurriedly packed for our trip and brought our little family to the O’Connell’s.
After church on Sunday, we called one of our neighbors back home in Richmond, and she told us the flooding had stopped and the road was still there. With this news, we were able to return to our original plan. We thank God for the O’Connell family, who opened their home to us in our distress.
Our flight was scheduled to leave from New Jersey on Tuesday, Oct 18, 2005, at 10:00 PM, so we planned to leave Monday night the 17th and spend some time with Lois’ sister Kathy and her husband Benny, who would then drive us to the airport. Before we left, my oldest son Jon came to bid us farewell, as did Tim and Laurel Ojala. Bonnie Matras was there with her father, Gene. It was another time of sweet fellowship.
The Church in Curitiba
We landed at the municipal airport in San José dos Pinhais, Paraná, Brazil, as scheduled on the afternoon of the 19th. There we were met by Laércio Dias and his wife Marilene, Carmem Slomp, and Lino da Souza. Laércio is the eldest brother at the Casa Dois meetinghouse in Curitiba, where we would be staying. Carmem is one of the ladies in the church, and her husband Edguardo is one of the teaching brothers. Lino was our guide and facilitator who works for Limiar. When we got to the house, we met sister Eneida, whom the church had provided to help with the children day-to-day and to cook and clean for us.
On the morning of October 20, 2005, we finally got to meet our children. We stayed at the orphanage for lunch, and then went to the court to obtain our custody papers. When we returned from the Court, we took our children out of the orphanage to start our lives together.
Shortly after we arrived at home, we had an opportunity to learn about our new children’s attitudes towards tidiness and orderliness. One of the girls took a banana, peeled it, and handed me the peel. I asked her, “What am I supposed to do with this?” She responded, “Throw it in the trash.” I told her, “It’s your trash. You throw it in the trash,” and I gave the banana peel back to her. She dropped it on the floor.
The dinner table was a free-for-all, with hands reaching across the table, food scraped from one plate into another, and utensils used as play objects. The noise was astonishing.
I began to read the Bible in Portuguese at the table when we sat down to eat, in the midst of all the chaos. Because God’s word never returns void, the children began to grow calmer at the table, and Chico began to fetch my Portuguese Bible for me every time we sat down to eat.
We began to conduct family devotions, as well as participating in prayer meetings and Bible studies with the church in Curitiba that met at our house, Casa Dois. We enjoyed many outings, and shared many challenges with the dear brethren in Curitiba.
On one particularly difficult day, after the children had made quite a mess and done some damage to the house, I said to brother Laércio that if he said the word, we would find other arrangements. He looked at me and said, “We are the Church. When you rejoice, we rejoice. When you suffer, we suffer. And we learn more from the suffering than from the rejoicing.”
The court psychologist and social workers visited with us on several occasions and provided much comfort to us, working with us and with the children, helping us to adjust, and advising the children that they had a wonderful opportunity set before them.
On November 21, 2005, we went once again to the family court in Curitiba, where our adoption became final. November 22 was Thanksgiving here in the States, but in Brazil, we had much paperwork to complete and spent the day driving to various state administrative offices to initiate the final paperwork. We had flights scheduled for November 30, 2005, to leave Curitiba and go to Rio de Janeiro to obtain the children’s entry visas from the U.S. Consular office in that city.
Saying Goodbye to the Saints in Curitiba
After forty days in Curitiba, and many trials, perhaps the greatest struggle of our lives, all the paperwork had been completed, the children had their passports, and it was time to leave Curitiba. During this time, the children had begun to come around and we were knitting together as a family. We had outings to the ocean and parks. We enjoyed churrasco (barbecue). There were the times lingering over cafezinho (afternoon coffee) with Eneida and the visitors who often came to see us while we were there.
We found it very, very, very hard to part with these precious brethren who catered to our every need and blessed us with a love found only in the New Testament at the feet of Jesus. We wept, we laughed, we remembered.
After many tearful farewells at Casa-2 with Sister Eneida, Lois and I and the four children, together with our much baggage, piled into cars driven by Laércio and Marilene, sister Carmem, and Lino, and drove to the airport at the outskirts of Curitiba.
At the airport, we watched our beloved brother and sister, Laércio and Marilene, walking away. We waved with tears in our eyes, and they were gone.
Sister Carmem remained with us at the airport to keep the children from becoming too jittery waiting for the plane. But when it was time to board, our hearts ached once again, as we left our dear sister Carmem.
The brethren in Curitiba had arranged for the saints of the church in Rio to meet us at the airport and drive us to our hotel. They are precious brethren, but our stay in Rio was so short, and we had so much to do, that we really did not have an opportunity to get to know the church in Rio.
On Friday evening, December 2, after an evening and two hectic days in Rio preparing paperwork for our children’s entry visas, we boarded a plane for the long flight home.
Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift. - 2nd Corinthians 9:15
We thank our
Father in Heaven for the unconditional love and Christian example of our
Christian brethren in Brazil. They housed us, fed us, and cleaned for us. They
taught our new children to pray. They provided us with indispensable help in
the nurturing and admonishment of our new children. Most of all, they were an
example of living Christianity.
We thank God our
Father for the Christian love, care, and nurture provided to our children here
in Richmond by the Lagoy and Matras families while we were away. Samantha
Lagoy and Bonnie Matras cooked, cleaned, taught school, and led family
devotions. Our children will never forget the love and care with which they
were blessed by Samantha and Bonnie.
We thank God for
the logistic support Bonnie and Samantha got from other Christians who came to
finish the bunk beds and do necessary repairs on the home.
The Church at Casa Dois in Curitiba has moved from the house we rented to a different location. Sister Eneida, who did all our cleaning and cooking and taught our children how to work and to pray, had to live for a while in a different state in Brazil to work there, but has since returned to Curitiba.
most sadly for those left behind, Nancy Cameron, the director of the Limiar,
passed away in her sleep on May 18, 2006.
intricate fabric that was woven by our Lord for the adoption of our children,
and to care for us while we were in Brazil has been re-woven according to His
In God's perfect timing, all of these people and places and things that we needed so much, came together for that brief window in time, those 40 days in Curitiba.
have seen the hand of God in every step of this process, and continue to see
His hand in our lives as we begin our work with our children here at home.
through the photos evoked many memories, not only of hard and hectic times,
but also of tender and sweet times with the Lord, with His people, and with
our new children
our time in Brazil with our new children was sometimes very difficult, we
would not have changed a thing; not the time of year we went, or the length of
time we stayed, or the trials we endured.
we have had to meet many challenges here since our return home, we would not
have changed a thing. For through it all was the love and timing and perfect
plan of God our Father.
by the mercy and grace of God our Father,
Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior,
in His name,
& Lois Camuso and Family