Saturday, October 27, 2012


Dinner, Dance and Silent Auction
6:30 pm, Saturday, Nov. 3rd
Featuring Live Band "Cousin Smitty"

Eddleman Farm
3457 Wildcat Creek Blvd
Fayetteville, AR 72704
(off 412 in Tontitown)

Auction Items Are Not Limited to: Air Hockey and Foosball Tables, Wii and XBox 360 games, Angry Birds Stuff, Baby Receiving Baskets, Restaraunt Gift Cards, Theater and Symphony Tickets, Overnight Stay in Eureka Springs

Tickets are $25 ($7 ages 6-13) and Can Be Purchased and Donations Made using the chip-in link at the top of the blog, to the right.

 It’s been a year since our family embarked on the greatest adventure of our lives – all inspired by the picture of a special needs little girl who needed a family. Meet Polina – a 5-year-old sweet & sassy little girl with Spina Bifida who has spent her entire life in hospitals and orphanages.

Beautiful, isn’t she! She’s excited to be out of her wheelchair and get to play on the playground. You see, Polina lives in a place called “The Home For Invalids” over two hours outside of Moscow where the caregiver-to-child ratio is way to high and the kids who are not ambulatory aren’t taken out of their wheelchair to play on the playground. Her best fun is seeing how fast she can get her wheelchair to go on the 20-ft. strip of pavement. When we went to meet her in September, we got quite the workout lifting her up the slide, teeter tottering, and pushing the swing and merry-go-round she is on here. And let me tell you, this girl LOVES the sandbox, but she doesn’t get to play there either – too dirty. L
We get asked all the time, “Why Russia?” Initially, it was just because we fell in love with Polina’s picture and that is where she is. But since visiting, we have grown a heart for Russian adoption. In 2010, the chairwoman of the parliamentary committee on family and children, Yelena B. Mizulina, spotlighted what she said was a shocking statistic: Russia had 700,000 orphans, more than at the end of World War II, when an estimated 25 million Soviet citizens were killed.

Russians don’t have the infrastructure to care for or provide opportunity to those with special needs. And Russians don’t typically adopt their own children. 62% of adoptions in Russia are by Americans. 22% are from Spain and Italy. ( Without foreign adoption, these children have little hope of every having a forever family.

International adoption is expensive. Russia happens to be one of the most expensive countries to adopt from because three trips are required and in-country stay is very expensive. Our estimated costs are $45,000.
As you can imagine, the American economy has slowed these children finding a forever family. There has been a steady decline in American inter-country adoptions since 2004 when 22,991 children entered into a forever family. Last year, that number was only 9,319. Specifically, in Arkansas, the number has dropped from 128 to 56. (Beaureau of Consular Affairs, US Dept. of State) That’s more than a 50% decline!

We can’t change the world, but we can change the world for one orphan at a time. The purpose of this letter is not only awareness, but to ask you to help us change Polina’s world.
We are asking businesses to help with a tax-deductible table sponsorship of $100 or more or and in-kind donation of an auction/raffle item, food, drinks or coupons to your business. We plan to serve Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Baked Potatoes, and Soup. We will have a hot-drink bar with Coffee, Cider, Hot Chocolate and Tea and will have a live-auction for desserts.

Thank you for considering supporting us and bringing Polina home. May you be blessed!

Jason, Kendra and Carter Skaggs

Monday, October 22, 2012

You're Invited!

Dinner, Dance & Silent Auction

Featuring Classic Rock/Country Band "Cousin Smitty"
and a Professional Photo Booth worthy of Christmas Cards Photos

Saturday, Nov. 3
6:30 pm

Eddleman Farm
3457 Wildcat Creek Blvd.
Fayetteville, AR 72704

Tickets: $25/person
$7 ages 6-13yrs

Click on the Chip-In link on the right to Purchase Tickets

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Day 5....Goodbye for now...

 It's taken me a long time to write this post because ... well ... re-living saying goodbye and leaving her there is not exactly fun times. I still get teared-up when people ask about it. However, we have some beautiful pictures from that day that I want to share, so here they are.

Resting with Papa watching Sesame Street. This is one of my favorite pictures of them.

Our girl loves the sensory input of hanging upside down. She wants to stay in this position for far tooooo long!

Here she is standing in her brace. This picture shows how it goes from under her feet all the way up around her waist.

She is practicing standing straight up against the wall here.

Time to walk!

We snuck in a picture of her room. There are four twin beds, two against each wall. And this is sweet Katya! My experience with Katya deserves a post of it's own.

After wanting to take her braces off inside, we were able to talk her into keeping them on. While we were outside, she wanted to stand while eating granola.

She drank lots of water we gave her - which is important for kiddos with Spina Bifida. She goes through her typical day only having drinks at scheduled meal and snack times.

Our family picture before we left with her wearing the coat we bought her. We were worried it might be too small, but it wasn't! Yeah!

When it was time to say goodbye, I cried. I couldn't help it. They told her that we would come back after fall and winter had past and spring was coming (hopefully it won't take that long!). She told me, "Don't cry Ma'ma"

I always knew she was tough - now I know she's tougher than me!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Day 4 - Official Acceptance, and Adventure

One minute late and Mikel honks. Really? Sheesh! LOL

Today, we had a translator - Nina. Her father is a diplomat and she went to University in D.C. from age 14-17. (Smart girl?) She works selling real estate in Spain to rich Russians. She'd never been to an orphanage before. Our facilitator told me to "show her the ropes." I kinda thought that's what she was there for. Oh well. She did fine.

Polina seemed tired on Thursday. She certainly wasn't as energetic. It was nice to be able to cuddle with her on the couch during the cartoon time. Sesame Street. I learned a few things in Russian! 

Here she is sitting on Papa's lap with her lip gloss in a fancy tin tinkerbell purse from the play room. Her pretty purple dress didn't have pockets for it and she wasn't letting it go! I told her that I loved her dress and purple was my favorite color. She said it was hers too. 

Here's all three of us on the couch. You can see how sleepy she is.

We had to leave at 12:30 to go to get our official acceptance notarized for the Ministry of Education. We dropped Nina off of the way...and then found ourselves with Mikel, back at the cafe...yep...the same one from day 1! We ordered water and before we could buy it, we were approached by a quickly-moving woman who asked if we were Randall and Kendra. Yes, yes we are. And off we went! 

Our facilitator had gotten caught up in court (ironically with a couple who lives in our community) and so this lady was going to take us to the notary. She wanted to know if we had decided on a name, because it had to go on the paperwork. 

A name? Why, yes....yes we had!
You're gonna have to wait to find out!

We went over the paperwork and checked it. There were some dates wrong on the English translation. It's kinda funny because numbers are the same and it was right on the Russian copy. We fixed them, wrote her name in, and waited. In the meantime, our facilitator showed up. 

Thankfully, court went well for our neighbors. We were able to get some questions answered while we waited. Once called in, we signed the official papers - many of them. Then we signed the notary log. In America, you sign the notary log once. In Russia, you sign it for each document you sign. That took a bit. Once we finished, our facilitator delivered the official acceptance papers to the MOE. That's a relief because it means that no one else can try to adopt her (with the exception of biological family, but I'm not worried they'll come back after 5 1/2 years). Up until we signed those papers, it was possible for another couple from another agency or from Russia to adopt her. 

We also talked to our facilitator about the best way to go visit a Russian family we were hooked up with on Facebook. They lived...well....out of the way! We decided to take the Metro to the northwest and then take a taxi. We had the address in English and Russian...finding a taxi couldn't be that difficult...right?


But first, we needed to buy some flowers and wine as is custom as a guest in Russia. There were flower shops everywhere and there was a market right off the Metro stop, so that shouldn't be difficult. But, it was, and we ended up with some blueberries instead.
I took pictures of these grapes. I thought they looked pretty.

Now for the Taxi. First of's not taxi! It's tox-eeee. Don't ask for a taxi, at least for us, it wasn't understood. And a yellow van that looks like a tox-eee is not. But the guy who spoke "choo--chooch Engleeska" helped a bit. We showed him the address. He gestured asking if we were going to walk. We gestured drive and said "taxi."  Ohhhhhhh, they laughed. "TOX-EEEE."

Yeah, that's what I said! Sheesh! Lol!

So, they pointed to one. I asked if he spoke Engleeeskee. Nope.  I showed him the address. Da? I asked. Da, he answered. Without further thought, I told Jason to get in.

So, there we were. In the tox-eee. But not an official one, it was a self-run business. A Mercedes. You should have seen that baby! I mean really - you should have seen the Mercedes that was being driven by the 22-ish year old wearing the MTV shirt! I've never seen anything like it!

Do you sense my sarcasm? But it's true! I'd NEVER seen anything like it!

For starters, the carpeting on the roof was torn off. You could see all the wiring. Some autistic kids would have had a field day with that one. Then I put my seatbelt on. It was...well...stuck. It looked like it had been attacked by an overweight, angry pit bull! There were chunks missing out of it and it took some effort to get it to slide, but I eventually got it buckled. 

By this time, we could tell he knew where he was going. We did some sight seeing. We were at the very north of Moscow about to leave the city. We needed to go 11km outside of the outward loop. Moscow is made up of a bunch of loops. Not too long and I saw signs that assured me we were going the right direction. We came upon the MEGA center where IKEA is and I knew it was only 6km from there. 

ONLY 6km. 

There was a traffic back-up for some reason that the driver did not take a liking to, so we did some off-roading into the MEGA center and drove around the parking lots to the other side. I don't know if it helped or not. We ended up parked. And why would we be surprised to have a tractor next to us in Moscow traffic. I mean...if we haven't learned yet not to let anything surprise us....there it was, trying to merge in with us. 

We ended up parked. Engine off. Mad Driver. Dirty Music (in English) on the Radio. I asked him...Niyet Engleeskee? He shook his head. "Musica Engleeskee." He shrugged.

I might have said a few things about the music...about how I knew he was going to offroad it when he followed the Mercedes, maybe that it was new and an SUV and this was old and about to fall apart. 

Yeah. Keep that in mind.

We drove through some real Russian villages then. Talk about poverty! We saw Babushkas selling flowers on the side of the bumpy two-lane road. I thought about jumping out, but the translation as to how much they cost would have taken forever, and I was tired and stressed. I just wanted to get there. 

And then....AND THEN...the non-engleeskee speaking driver said, "Let me see that address again."

Uh huh! PUNK! 

What all had I said that he understood? 

I made a joke about it. He laughed. We drove up to a gated community. I didn't know what house number. I didn't have the name in Russian. Thank you FB for pulling up on my phone, and thank you guard for reading the English version of the name, and letting us in - even if you and the driver did have a laugh at us first!

Now, time to pay the driver. I had made a comment about that in the traffic - thinking he didn't understand.  

I asked him how much. He said, "What do you think?"

Yep, in Engleeskee!

I had been thinking about it. We rode the Metro to the north end to cut the price from 1000 to 500 rubles...but then we sat in traffic for two hours. I had already thought I wouldn't mind paying the 1000 rubles. 

I told him to tell me and I would say yes or no. He asked again, so I said 750. He said no. Then he said in his deep accent...100 Russian Rubles. I repeated. Yes, he said. Now I'm feeling better he didn't understand EVERYTHING I said. I told Jason to give me a hundred. I knew that wasn't what he meant. I held it out. 


"No, No!" 

"You mean 1,000."

"Yes, 1,000 Russian Rubles"

And off he went.

We had wonderful hosts & the most American dinner we had had since being there. We talked about Autism, and how they became Christians (Jesus Project Films and Campus Crusade) which was really cool because we didn't know they were Christians.

They drove us back to the nearest Metro station which only took 20 minutes this time. We had to make one transfer to make it home. I could do it! I COULD!

We got off one-stop too early...but I knew right away! The color was red, not orange, and I could read enough to know our stop wasn't on the list. Jason thought it was headed the wrong direction. We got back on for one stop and then made the exchange successfully. 

It was an eventful day, evening, and night. It was an adventure...and the next day we had to say goodbye to our daughter.