Thursday, April 28, 2011

WE HAVE A VISA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Final visit to the US Embassy today (the "interview") and we have all the needed documentation for Zack  to enter the US. Due to his dual citizenship (technically still 100% Russia until his VISA is stamped upon arrival in the US) and the fact that the Russian government likes to keep tabs on it's citizens...we need to register his departure at the Russian consolate. This will be done tomorrow for us and we will be clear to leave as soon as it is done! We are not leaving untill Monday due to flights costing $1,200 more on the weekend.

Today after the Embassy we went to the Moscow Zoo and had a great time in the 70+ degree weather...the kids had a blast and so did we (Amy, the mom from Indiana and I).

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Arrived, left, arrived, left, arrived, left and now I have now idea if we are here...there...or anywhere (well anywhere at least).

Dan here,

After 3 flights and 2 of them being exit row (horray!) I have made it to Russia once again. Who knew that Minnesota was on the way to Russia...but it was and after a brief stop in the Big Apple I made it to Moscow (even after the flight left an hour late we made it 1/2 hour early).

Upon arrival at the "Gypsy Flat" (Marina's, the director of the Russian sides flat) I took a nap and a shower before getting on the overnight 15 hour (longer this time) train ride to the Chuvashia region. Then I had a short stay (a few hours) at Luda's (the homestay in the region where we had court the first trip) before her son Sergie took me on the 1.5 hour trip to the orphanage to pick up Zack.

Uppon arrival there, I met up with the orphanage director to take care of some paper work, ate a mostly delicous meal (had to force myself to choke down a mysterious red substance (beets perhaps?)) and then after about 5-10 minutes of goodbuys between Zack and his friends it was departure time once again! Then the reverse trip back to Chubucksary (however you spell it) and a few more death defying, pothole the size of a bus' sidesteping at 80-150 kph we were back at Luda's flat.

Also at Luda's flat was Amy and Julia (pronounced Ulia) a mother daughter combo from Indiana (soon for Julia anyway). Amy and her husband Matt went through court with us and are adopting Julia (13) and her 11 year old brother (whom before court they knew existed but were told he was not availible for adoption).

We hung out there for about a 1/2 hour before it was time to head out on the train once again (back to Moscow if you have not kept up to this point :)  ).  We had a number of stops (ranging from 3 minutes to 1 hour), one of which I played a 1/2 hour long game of tag with a pair of 13 year olds...thus learning that I can outrun both of them...but they have not complained about any sore muscles from the game (me thinks I am getting old). After staying up untill 2 am talking to the other people traveling with us about adoption and other things, I slept for a few hours before our 6:20 am arrival in Moscow.

Then it was off to the "Gypsy Flat" for a quick shower (2 days without...felt GREAT) and some breakfast. We (Zack, Amy, Julia and myself) were off to the kids medicals. That went well and the doctor (Boris) spoke excellent english and was great with the kids. The rest of the day was spent napping for a few hours, going for a walk to some pollution filled pond in a "park" filled with trash to "feed" the ducks (they apparently were full as they did not eat our bread). We saw lots of Moscow "nature"...a few men passed out laying in the dirt...a mentally challenged and apparently homeless man eying our bread (upon offering our bread to him he said nyet (no) and asked for a cigarette)...drug paraphenalia...oh, and pleanty of empty bottles of booze (quite empty as there was a man going aroung and checking them all)! All this while families were out and about with pets and children enjoying the beautiful 60 degree weather. The two 13 year olds also went rollerblading with "Little Fox" (4 years old and speak decent english), Marina's niece who lives with her (along with her parents, as mentioned above) as Amy and I watched as they nearly fell MANY times...apparently there was not a whole lot of rollerblading at their orphanages...who woulda thunk?!

Well, time for bed now...Good night!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Going Back

We have received the travel dates and booked Dan's tickets as well as Zack's.  Dan will be leaving here Saturday morning, the 23rd and returning with Zack on Monday, May 2.  Their flight will be coming in to the Gerald R Ford airport around 10:45 Monday night.  Anyone is welcome to be part of the 'welcoming crew'.  :)  We'll have more details later, and Dan will continue to update the blog while he's there. 

Monday, April 11, 2011


Patti here...

On the plane ride there, we experienced some turbulence during the night.  For me, not a frequent flyer, it made me nervous.  It was dark, and the plane was shaky.  The plane soon smoothed out, and I felt much better.  Later, I watched the sun rise above the clouds.  As I was looking out the window, I started thinking about this whole adoption journey, and how there were times when it felt as though we were in the dark night, experiencing plenty of 'turbulence' with the many problems we've encountered along the way.  But God is always faithful.  "Through the LORD's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.  'The LORD is my portion', says my soul, therefore I hope in Him."  Lamentations 3:22-24

Sunday, April 10, 2011

We made it home!

Home at last! While we are still one member short here at home, it still feels great to be home.

After 4 separate flights totaling  about 25 hours, 24 hours on a train and a good deal of time spent riding in various cars  (to and from O'hare and numerous car rides around Moscow and Chuvashia)...we are back home again!

My greatest "high" of the trip was right after court when Zack gave us each a HUGE hug and called me Papa, Patti, Mama and pointed to himself and said "Zack".


Thursday, April 7, 2011

A picture of our Zack

Now not only do we call him Zack. But he referrs to himself as Zack and the Russian government recognizes it as such as his name and we are his parents...imagine that, to be part of a family for the first time in his life!


Dan here (Patti is sleeping...VERY little sleep last night) Court went great and it is official according to the Russian government! His name is now Zack James Vannette. A one day court is FANTASTIC according to how things are currently going with adoptions here and in fact there is a family here from Indiana who is hoping to finish in court tomorrow afternoon and they started this morning at the same time we did (different judge). The internet is sketchy here and as we were Skyping (or however you say it) my parents, Jenna, Jack and Kate the connection died and it was not untill a bit ago (some 4 hours later) that it has resumed working. It has been hard not being able to call our loved ones and update this blog as our phone card was not working either. The plan at this point is that we will be traveling by car (an 1.5 hr ride) to Zack's orphanage to visit with his teacher and other staff as well as to see where his has lived these last few years. Then we will take the 13 hour train ride back to Moscow and our 2 incredibly painfull (downside of being 6'6") plane rides home. After the 10 day waiting period (still unsure if that started today or will this Saturday) I will be returning here to finish paperwork and take him home! We did learn today that he in fact did NOT enter his first orphanage untill the age of 5 and his only childhood memory is that he was cold, hungry and was all we could do to not break into tears in the courtroom upon hearing this...that should NEVER be the memory of a childhood. Patti says a child should remember the relentless torment of siblings (you will have to ask her about HER childhood memories :) ). Anyway, enough for tonight as it is after 9 and time to get ready for bed. THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR PRAYERS...THE LORD HAS ANSWERED AND SHOWERED HIS FAVOR UPON US!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Here with Zack

Hi everyone,

We are here with our soon-to-be son!  We arrived here in Cheboksary this morning and were reunited with Zack about an hour later.  As he walked in the flat where we are staying, he had a huge smile on his face and gave us hugs right away...what a relief it was for him initiate the hugging.  After that, it was instant bonding.  We looked at pictures with him and helped him remember the time he was here (he did not need reminding!)  He told Luda (the woman who's home we are at) that he remembered our family and that he wanted to live with us!

After a day of having fun, Dan and I met with the translators who will be with us at court tomorrow as well as his orphanage director.  Everyone is so very nice and it is clear that they have everyone's best interest at heart.  Hope, the orphanage director, told us that Zack has had a specific teacher since 2004 and this teacher wanted to adopt him, but he told her "No" and explained that he wanted to be in our family!  That was great for us to hear! 

We skyped with the kids today and I'm not sure who was more excited...them or Zack!  There were lots of smiles :)

Tomorrow is our court hearing at 9:00 am.  (That will be 1:00 am for all you Michiganders).  We ask that you pray for us as we are trying to prepare what needs to be said.  Please pray for clarity of mind, good rest and that the judge will go easy on us.  We know that God is in control and that His will will be done.

For some reason I can't get all our pivtures to load, so we'll try again later...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Last post

OK, so I lied before...this will be the last post.  We are here at the hostel waiting for our driver to take us to the train station for our overnight ride to the region.  We will be reunited with Zack tomorrow and we are so excited!  Please pray that all goes well.

Today we walked to Arbat Street again and continues all the way to Red Square.  I'm guessing we walked 10 miles today!  Maybe not quite 10, but it was a lot!  We were getting lost on our way back from Red Square...we ended up walking back to Red Square because we were lost!  It was quite funny!  We eventually made it back.  We took lots of pictures, but can't share any of them right now because the hostel computer is too old to do that, so we will keep posting when we get back home.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Moscow Medicals...DONE

Dan here...

Well, we have a clean bill of health (as far as 2 countries are concerned). After chest X-Rays, blood work and full physicals in the US, we now also have the stamp of approval from 8 Russian doctors (all women...interesting). It consisted of 4 hours of mostly waiting and a little of answering questions about why we are adopting (odd for a "physical")...interestingly enough, the psychologist did not ask us barely anything after we watched her grill a few other couples quite intensly (no H.I.P.P.A. laws here, we sat in the same room as 5 other couples (each with their own translator by the way) and listened to their questioning as well).

A bunch of US cash later and some "pretending" by some doctors to look over our, a clean bill of health!

We had some delicious dry toast this morning for breakfast (actually very good bread) with some cheese and yogurt (also really good), a lunch of a granola bar for Dan and nothing for Patti while we waited for doctors. But tonight we splurged on a wonderful meal at "MY-MY" (pronounced Moo-Moo), a buffet style restaurant (thing Mr. Burger) with authentic Russian food ("Like at home" we were told). Been walking everywhere (except the trip to medicals), feet are getting a workout but the nice thing about the hostel is that we are within a brisk walk to food, entertainment (street performers) and as much people watching as you can handle (if you don't mind them watching you just as much)...we are certainly not "fitting in".

Gotta Love This! We were walking out of a small food store (after watching a Babooshka looking woman actually physically throw 4 teenage boys out), we were asked by two African women (actually from Africa) where they could find somewhere to eat. We, two non-Russian speaking Americans, politely gave them, two non-Russian speaking Africans, directions to McDonalds of all places!

Tomorrow we plan on visiting Red Square where some of the famous landmarks are.  After that, we will be leaving for the orphanage to see Zack once again!  Please pray that all goes well with the train ride as well as seeing him again and then court.  At our medicals, we did meet a few couples from the States that are also adopting, one couple will even be going to the same courthouse we will be going to!  It was refreshing to speak English with another couple! 

This is most likely going to be our last post until we get back.  Our laptop ran out of battery power and our outlet coverter thing (This is Patti typing now) is broken.  We have been using the computer at the hostel for now, and depending on what there is in Cheboksary, we will have no way to communicate until we get back.  We are pretty bummed that we won't be able to Skype with the kids anymore :(

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Dan here...typing on an "authentic" Russian computer. (an "acer" actually, but part of the keypad is in Russian anyway).


We are thankful for an uneventful trip (nearly 24 hours from doorstep to harrowing ride to the Hostel from the airport). I would like to send a shoutout to all those "large" sized people who have had to cram themselves into a seat on a plane that has the room for an "average" sized 5 year old.

We made it safe and sound and after a BIG night of sleep and are feeling well rested after crashing for 14 hours straight in our "IKEA" furnished room. We are staying in the Moscow Home Hostel ( and have the "Luxury" room...good thing it is SUPER cheap because it is SUPER small. We have the only room with a private bathroom and by bathroom we mean a closet that has a tiny shower and toilet crammed inside. You actually have to crawl over the tank of the toilet to get in the shower...good thing I am so small and practially a gymnast. I can touch wall to wall and with our 3 checked bags plus two carry-ons...let's just say there is barely any room left. This is TRULY an ADVENTURE.

We took a walk last night toward downtown Moscow and ate at McDonalds for supper after some "lovely" food from the airlines. Patti had a Coke Light and I had a regular Coke...oddly enough they tasted the same. I have a new appreciation for the picture menus that McDonalds has!

This afternoon we walked down Arbat Street and turned back after getting to the "Inner Circle" (a street which runs around the inside of Moscow and has TONS of traffic. It was fun to walk in a different country with a completely different culture...needless to say, we stuck out like the tourists we are :)

Our plug adapter is not working, but thankfully we are able to use one of the two computers at the hostel. The people here are very friendly (odd for a place called a "hostel"...ha, ha, ha).


Monday, March 28, 2011

"Be anxious for nothing..."

Well, the time is quickly approaching for our departure.  Like any other person, I have so many concerns (or let's face it...worries).  We know that so many are praying for us and will continue to pray for us as we travel.  We are so thankful for the guidance God has provided for us and for the support that has surrounded us.  The Bible is full of promises from of those promises keeps coming to me:

4 "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:4-7

There are so many things that I am anxious about (even though I should not be anxious for anything!)....Please join us in praying for some specific requests:

1.  Our safety.  I (Patti) am unsure about flying and traveling in a foreign country.
2.  Our kids that will be left here...that we may all have a peace even though we will be apart.
3.  Zack...we pray that the Lord will prepare him for the changes that will be coming and that bonds will be re-ignited quickly.
4.  The judge that we must 'deal' with.  We have been told that he is the most difficult judge, please pray that he will be 'easy' on us.
5.  All those involved in this workers, translators, adoption officials.

Now that we have shared our petitions, we cannot forget God's faithfulness and thank Him for that:

1.  We are thankful that the funding has been provided.
2.  God's provision for not only finances, but the peace He has given us through this process.
3.  Support from family and friends.

Most importantly...we pray that His name will be glorified in all we do.

Thank you all for all your words of support and encouragement, and most of all...lifting us up before our Father in prayer.

Dan and Patti

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tonight's The Night

Tonight is a big night.  We have our pizza party fundraiser as a final fundraiser before we leave for Russia.  We are in need of about $9000 still.  We know that is a lot, but we also know that God is in control.  It has really been amazing to see God’s people work together for this purpose.  When we started this journey, we were told that the cost would be right around $50,000.  We choked.  We felt the Lord leading us down this road, but knew we didn’t have the money, even after selling everything we could.  We started with fundraisers and the money started coming in.  Each time we had to send in a ‘chunk’ of money, we had just enough.  It has been just awesome to be a part of…(I say ‘awesome’ because we are in awe of God’s provision and evident hand). 

When I think of the amount we must raise, I find myself in a panic.  The verse that always comes to my mind is Ephesians 3:20-21:

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

I have been finding so much comfort and encouragement from the Bible lately.  It feels as though the words were written just for me.  I just love when a passage will bring me to tears, because they are tears of surrender and relief and joy (that deep down overwhelming joy).  God has been showing Himself to me/us in so many ways through this adoption that we know without a doubt that this is His will and that He will provide.

Our fundraiser is from 5-8pm, March 25.  It is being held at:
Bethel URC
2025 Baldwin Street
Jenison, MI 49428

Anyone is welcome

Monday, March 21, 2011

Preparing and Packing

We are starting to get our things ready.  I have a box in our spare room (for now) that I toss things into as I think of them.  I'm so nervous that I'm going to forget something!  We have to bring so many things that are required.  We have to take a suitcase full of things for the orphanage to leave.  Things we need to bring include:  School supplies (paper, pens/pencils, crayons, markers, coloring books, etc), and hygeine items such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, medicine, band-aids and such.  We were wondering if anybody has anything that can be spared.  Do you have extra things in your cupboards that you could donate?  We would really appreciate if you could also help us out in this way since it is costly to fill a suitcase with those things, versus everyone sparing a tube or two of toothpaste.  If you are able to help us out, I can meet up with you at some point, or you could bring it to our fundraiser on Friday night.  Thank you so much for all your help, donations and prayers!
Dan & Patti

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Court Date!!!

Dear family and friends,
It is with great joy and excitement that we write this letter…we have been assigned a court date in Russia!  Our date is April 7, 2011!!!! 

Many of you are wondering (as we were when we heard) what this means. This means that we need to appear in the Russian court and make the case/request for Zack to be our son.  Lord willing, we will leave for Russia on Friday, April 1.  This will give us a few days to do the things we will need to do in Moscow, and then leave on a twelve hour overnight train ride for the region of Chuvashia on Tuesday night.  We will arrive in Cheboksary (the capital of the Chuvash Region) on Wednesday morning, and go to the orphanage (roughly an hour drive) to go get Zack.  We will stay in Cheboksary Wednesday night and prepare for our court session on Thursday.  Court has been known to possibly be two days long.  We particularly ask for your prayers that the Lord would soften the heart of the judge as he has been intensely difficult to deal with these last few months. We do know that we will be leaving again for Moscow either Thursday or Friday night to make our flight on Saturday, the 9th.  Approximately 2 weeks later, Dan will return to Russia to get Zack and take him home.  Russia has a waiting period after the court date, while the child’s visa is applied for.  Dates on this trip are not yet set, so we’ll keep you all posted.

In our haste to make arrangements for travel and adoption, we spoke with our adoption official, and she informed us that costs have gone up, and the value of the American dollar has gone down, making the exchange rate unfavorable.  Therefore, we are in desperate need of more funds than we originally thought.  We are in need of $10,000.  We will be having a last-minute fundraiser at Bethel URC in Jenison.  We will be having a pizza party open house from 5-8 on Friday, March 25. 

We thank you all for your has meant so much to us.  We know that MANY people have given money, time, help and most importantly…prayers.  We know that this is our Father’s will and He will provide, as we have seen His hand time and time again.