Friday, June 29, 2012

Maya's coming home SOON!

Ryan met Maya today! And Unlike yesterdays "meeting" they actually were able to be up close and personal. It was very cute to see the two of them. They both were a little unsure about this new person that has appeared in their lives. Maya couldn't stop staring at Ryan and Ry pulled out his very best "Peek-a-boo" faces. Such a sweet and special memory for our family to have.

The reason why they let Ryan in to see her, is because she is coming home very, very soon!! We turned in our final paperwork today and it was approved, accepted and the final paper will be ready next week.

So on Friday, July 6, 2012 Maya will be coming home!!

We are so excited, we can't stand it!! Thanks for all of your prayers!!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

First "Family" visit

Today all three of us Shulgins went to the orphanage. We had no other option but to take Ryan with us today even though he is not allowed to go inside. The video is of her orphanage and the grounds surrounding it. I sit with her at that fountain every day when we go for a walk. Because Ry wasn't allowed in, we staid outside the wall, but found a playground that we could climb up so we could see over the wall. This is Ryan and Maya's very first "meeting". It was very sweet, even if we were separated by that wall. Very soon though, there will be no more walls between us and she will be home!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

This is the video that Zhenya recently made for our church.It really captures the beauty of St.Petersburg.

Newsletter (June 26th)

Last month came with the news that our judge refused to open up and process our adoption case, stating that we had failed to meet her requirements for our documents.  When all of our paperwork was handed back to us and the case closed, we were at a complete loss.  Even though on that particular day it felt like we had just been hit by a truck, we immediately scraped ourselves up off the pavement and scrambled looking for answers and a way forward. 

Phone calls, skype, emails, messages, running around... you name it, we were doing it.  The one thing we knew for sure was that we had to find a lawyer that could help us through this.  We had come as far as we could on our own and had now found ourselves in way over our heads.  And when we went into details and explained all the nuances of our case to others (American lawyers, adoption agencies, international lawyers, Russian lawyers, etc.) they all gave the same advice.  Our case was way too complex and complicated, we needed a lawyer to proceed further. 

So, the hunt began.  In Russia it's not so much what you know, but WHO you know that is important.  Through friends and aquaintances we were put in touch with top notch lawyers who might be able to take on our case.  It became clear to us that lawyer #1 was not our guy when, COUGH, he quoted his price at $45,000.  We were then greatly relieved to meet lawyer #2 who was great.  Very professional, helpful, trustworthy and was only asking for $10,000 (what a bargain!).  We kept looking around and kept our ears open, but couldn't find any other options.  Then, last week, a friend gave us another reference.  We met with lawyer #3 last Wednesday.  As soon as we left the meeting we knew we had found our lawyer.  She was down to earth, kind, helpful, was easy for me personally to understand and talk to AND, drum roll please........was only asking for 40,000 rubles (roughly about $1200).  Either way we didn't have a dime for any kind of lawyer expenses and knew that God would some how have to come through.  We were confident that he would, but didn't expect for an immediate answer.  An envelope with Maya's name on it was given to us a couple days ago by a young Russian family that are good friends of ours.  When Zhenya and I went home and opened the envelope were shocked  to find 40,000 rubles, the EXACT amount we needed for the lawyer!  I still get choked up every time I think about it.  We are so humbled by their love for us and their care for our little Maya, whom they've never even met.  Not only that, but we have had family, friends and anonymous people give towards the adoption costs that have come up.  So many people have already made sacrifices for our family and have been hard at work doing every thing they can to help bring Maya home. 

During all of the chaos and craziness there was a very important piece of information that we found out.


What we didn't know was that Zhenya could apply to be Maya's foster parent AND it could be done without a court date or going through a judge!  Which means we could actually bring Maya home while we continued to sort out the paperwork for the adoption process!!  We already had almost all of the paperwork for it.  So last week we started that process.  Even though the process is pretty fast, there were 2 papers that we needed that could have take 5 weeks to get.  Go ahead and ask....Did we get them in 5 weeks??  If you could hear me screaming and laughing, I would answer you with a big, fat, wonderful NO!!  It took less than 1 week for both of them!! 

Today we were able to turn it all in, to be carefully, painstakingly scrutinized by the appropriate personnel here.  When she found everything in order and begrudgingly admitted that everything was fine, she sent us to be interviewed by the same nice lady who did our homestudy.  And, if I do say so myself (well, actually my husband said this), it was my moment to shine!  I was able to talk about Maya, our home, family and answer her questions.   She now needs to write up a paper that we will take to another office to get their approval.  Our estimated quess is that this will take a couple more weeks.

But ONLY a couple more weeks!!!  Maya could be coming home very soon!!!

When I went to the orphanage today, Maya's doctor asked me if we still plan on adopting her after becoming her foster parents.  OF COURSE!!!  This is totally still the plan.  The beauty of it is that she can be home no matter how long the adoption process will take.  We are so excited and have been getting everything ready. 

We aren't there yet, but this is HUGE!!  Please pray for us these next couple of weeks that there will be no hitches in the fostering process and that Maya can come home.

Thank you for praying, for giving, for running errands for us stateside, for watching Ryan for us so we could run around, for asking, for laughing with us and crying with us.  

We are so blessed to call you our family and our friends.  We couldn't ask for better support.

The Shulgins

Ryan rocking his rollerblades in a local skatepark

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


FC United.

This spring several guys from our church formed a soccer team and participated in the CFL- Christian Football League (yes, our sweet dear north americans, football is the actual name of this game).

FC United did good and finished third overall and Zhenya became the team's main striker with 15 goals. Two of the guys on our squad used to be a part of our Day Center in the early 2000s!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Post #1

Adoption, Adoption, adoption!!!  Is there anything ELSE that those Shulgins do?!?!

Alrighty folks.  Sorry for the lapse, we've had adoption on the brain, but here it is.

What we are up to:

Coming this summer..........Youth with a Mission's ministry program, Mission Adventures!!  We will be organizing Mission Adventure in St. Petersburg, Latvia and somewhere far away in Russia Siberish:)
We love MA and the chance to work with church youth groups, teaching about God, missions and injustice issues.  We love challenging Russian youth to think outside the box and helping them realize that they CAN make a difference in the world we live in.  After a week with us we send the teams out prepared to work in orphanages, elderly homes, practical help, churches, etc.

New this year:

We are involved in helping a new church plant in St. Pete!  We LOVE our church!  Heather is serving as the Children's Pastor and is working on developing the children's ministry for kids 0ish-13ish.  It's been awhile since she has worked in this capacity but is loving every minute of it.  It has been an honor to work with the kids and families in our church.  The children's ministry has had a great start this year and we expect for next year to be even more dynamic!  Zhenya is in charge of media at the church, creating videos, slideshows, newsletters, designs, etc.  He also is the M.C. at church.  What you say?  An M.C. at church?  You got it.  He is and has played an important role with our pastor Andreas in creating a service that is truly unique.  We love helping our pastors Andreas and Anneli in any way we can and meet with them regularly to talk, plan, pray.   We believe that God has huge plans for this church in the city and we are so excited to be involved at the ground floor!


Design.....while the other ministries have been things that we have both involved in together as a couple, this one is strictly Zhenya's deal.  Heather does not even pretend to understand a thing about computers or anything technical or else her husband would mercilessly mock her. Design and photography is another ministry focus.  Working with magazines, writing articles, designing magazine covers, posters, designs for churches, other ministry organizations, YWAM.......the list goes on and on.

So how can you be praying for us?

Our greatest need is to be praying for MA this summer. Quite honestly, because of the adoption process both Zhenya and I are just totally emotionally spent.  Zhen has numerous times commented on he's not sure how he's going to make it through this summer.  We typically go into our summers excited and full of energy.  But as it is we spend our days running from office to office, needing to do something concerning adoption and our nights then need to be spent working and calling America to get things taken care of there.  We will soon give you another MA update with more details.  But please pray for the strength emotionally, physically and spiritually to give all we can to this ministry this summer.

We love you all and are so thankful for you in our lives!!