The Journey of our Siberian Princess

By Brian and Sarah Grandstaff

One Family's Adoption Journal

Our journey began in an unusual way. We were simply deepening our marriage by attending a conference. We never knew what the Lord had in store for us on August 16, 2003. It would be a day that would forever alter the path of our family. We would see the Lord move in mighty ways over the next year. It was something we will never forget.

We sat with friends at the Family Life conference in Orlando, FL. At lunch Steven Curtis Chapman did a concert and shared his adoption story and video. Brian and I were moved to tears as we felt our hearts were being pulled out of our comfort zone. We left the conference and went to dinner. He asked me what I was thinking. I turned and said, "I think we really need to think about international adoption." He completely agreed. We couldn't believe what we were thinking. We had a biological daughter, Lauren, who was almost three. We'd never had infertility issues. Why would the Lord want us to do this?

We spent weeks talking and praying about the avenue we should choose. We looked at every country and every agency we could find. Then slowly the Lord began shutting doors. Some of the countries we were interested in were closing because of governmental issues; others had time required in-country that would make it impossible for our family. Then God began to move. We sat with my parents the end of August and told them of our intent to adopt. They thought we should consider Russia. I thought, "How could we adopt from Russia? The expenses are so great and I don't know how we could make it work." Then the Lord reminded us that we had refinanced our home to begin construction of a pool. The amount of money we'd received from the bank was more than enough for the adoption. So we canceled the pool and applied with America World on September 16, 2003, to adopt a little girl less than a year of age in Russia.

The mountain of paperwork had begun. I must admit there were times when I wondered if every piece of paper would get done. On November 20th, we got the call from our family coordinator that our pre-file was complete and on the way to Russia. We were officially "paper pregnant" and waiting for our daughter.

The wait was painful at best. The feeling of not having any control over our daughter's environment or the loving attention that she needs caused us many sleepless nights. I would look out the window at a full moon and wonder, "Where on this earth is my daughter? Who is holding her? Who is telling her we will be there soon? Does she have enough to eat? Is she warm enough? Does she know that we love her?" I remember going to a friend's home to see their new baby girl. As I got in the car, I cried because my arms ached to hold the little girl my eyes had never seen. My heart longed for the precious little princess who was created for our family. I desired to brush her hair and kiss her sweet little cheeks. We later learned our friend's daughter and our Emily are one day apart in age. Once again we were amazed at the miracles HE placed in our path along the way. The road is bumpy and at times very disheartening, but HE is so in control.

On April 22, 2004, I woke up with a heavy heart. I told Brian that night I'd had a dream that our family coordinator had called to tell me we had a referral. My darling husband hugged me on his way to work and said, "Oh, I wish that was going to happen, but you know we are not scheduled to receive any news for several more months. Try not to get your hopes up." I went about my daily routine, but couldn't stop thinking about it. I called America World hoping to get some kind of idea about our wait. I was told our family coordinator would call us later in the day. So I waited. When Leslie called later that afternoon, she told me that she had a referral for a little girl. I cried and couldn't help but tell Leslie about the dream I'd had the night before. Then she gave us the amazing news. Our daughter was only 6 months old, and she was in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, which is in central Siberia. Her name was Svetlana, and her mother left her at the hospital after giving birth. She sent us the email of pictures and her medical report. We fell in love at first sight. After getting some international specialists to review her medicals we called Leslie 3 days later and said, "SHE IS OUR DAUGHTER. We are ready to travel as quickly as possible." She called me later that afternoon and said we were leaving in twelve days to meet her.

We immediately began preparing to go to a place we had only seen in pictures. Somewhere that felt so far away on a map, but I felt was so close in my heart. We arrived in Moscow on Mother's Day. And on May 12, 2004, my husbands 33rd birthday, we held our daughter. She was a real beauty with dark eyes and smile that would melt your heart. She made eye contact immediately and cried when they took her away. We spent two hours on two days with our daughter before coming home on our first trip. Leaving her in that orphanage was one of the most difficult things I've ever done in my life. That is my daughter. And I'm leaving to go back home half way around the world without her. I cried as we left, and I knew nothing could stop me from coming back to get her.

On June 4, we received the call that we would be leaving to get Emily in sixteen days. We arrived on our second trip to Krasnoyarsk, Russia, on Father's Day. Isn't God amazing! We were so happy to be back in the same city as our daughter. On June 22nd: we stood before a judge and told her why we would be great parents for Emily. She looked at us with a tear in her eye and told us, "Another Russian child is going home with great American family." She signed the papers for this little orphan girl named Svetlana to forever be Emily Svetlana Grandstaff, daughter of Brian and Sarah Grandstaff. On July 1st, 2004, we landed in New York and she became an American citizen.

Our lives have been so deeply touched by this precious girl. We know without a doubt that the Lord created her perfectly for our family. In a country where women have an average of seven abortions, we know that the woman who gave her birth was the vessel the Lord used for our family to be what it is today. We are forever thankful for the opportunity to be the parents of two beautiful daughters. We appreciate the path the Lord chose for us. We later discovered that the first night our oldest daughter Lauren ever prayed for her little sister Emily in Russia was the day of Emily's birth. The Lord is an amazing author for the stories of our lives. Trust Him and He will give you the desires of your heart. He did for our family.