It is hard to believe we have already been home from Latvia for one month. Even Raimonds says the time has gone very quickly.
Our trip was wonderful to say the least. It was quite an adventure.
After a very short trip to Sweden for business we took a ferry across the Baltic Sea arriving in Riga, the capital of Latvia, on Sunday morning, July 12. Our apartment in Latvia was more than adequate and once getting settled we went to shop for groceries.
On Monday morning we had our first court appearance. The lawyer picked us up and took us to Raimonds home to get him. His home was in a small region about 1 1/2 hours out of Riga. He was waiting for us with his bags packed. As soon as he saw our girls, he gave them long hugs before moving on to me and Brad. It was needless to say an emotional moment for us all.
We talked for a little while with his foster mom before saying our goodbyes. We then went straight away to the orphan court. After much conversation, they granted us permission to have Raimonds stay with us in Riga, where we would be visited by a social worker to check on our progress.
We did much sight seeing, which bored Raimonds at times, except for the indoor water park at the city of Jurmala on the Baltic Sea. He did not want to leave!!
On our second visit with the social worker, she asked Raimonds if he wanted to go back to his foster family and he replied, "No, I have a new family now". Again an emotional moment.
At our 2nd court date on July 27th we were granted permission to bring Raimonds back to the US to await our the final adoption. The orphan court has made the recommendation to allow us to adopt Raimonds. We are now awaiting his US immigration approval. Once we get his approval, we will be given a court date from Latvia to determine if they will approve the adoption. We understand that this next judge is not as enthusiastic about international adoptions. We are trusting God that all is in His hands.
The orphan situation in Latvia is a sad one, especially for older boys. With a population of only 2.5 million people in the entire country of Latvia, there are 3000 orphans. Alcoholism is a huge problem among adults, and parents simply do not want their children. Once a child turns 16, they may not be adopted out of the country. There is not much to offer these children as the economic situation is quite oppressive. And with very little training - most of these children turn to drugs and alcohol. Once they turn 18 there is a government housing program, but the children are often exploited by their alcoholic parents or other adult who suddenly takes an interest in living with them in the free housing!!!
The hosting program is a real blessing for these children. Most come from such abusive family situations that even those living in the orphanages feel safe and will say they do not want to be adopted. Once hosted by a family they get a glimpse of what a real family can look like. Raimonds had lived with his foster family for 5 years. He would always say he did not want to be adopted. He felt safe with them. Being hosted by my daughter's family was his first time in the hosting program. On returning home, he said YES, I wanted to be adopted!
The hosting program also gives families an opportunity to see if that child fits in with the personality of their family. We highly recommend anyone who feels a tug of God on their hearts to consider hosting a child. New Horizons for Children is a wonderful program.
Though we have had a few rough moments here and there, we are all adjusting very well. Raimonds is a bright boy, who loves people and loves to be busy. He is bonding very well with our entire family. He has already gone on two road trips with Brad and has proved himself to be a hard worker. On this last trip, he and Brad spent the day in Washington, DC and a day at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. In a few weeks he will make the Florida deliveries with Brad and take in a couple of amusement parks as well. He likes roller coasters!!!
His English is quite good for day to day conversation but we have him working with a tutor to get him up to speed on his English comprehension so we can get him up to his level in his schooling.
I am so glad that many of you have had a chance to meet him. I will try to get pictures up soon!!!
Thank you again for your continued prayers and support.