Monday, December 29, 2008

Orson Mozes Arrested

Orson Mozes has been arrested in Florida tonight.

Miami police nab ‘Most Wanted’ suspect
Orson Mozes, 57, who is accused of running international adoption scam, escaped from law many times
By RYAN MILLS (Contact)
Originally published 8:01 p.m., Monday, December 29, 2008
Updated 8:19 p.m., Monday, December 29, 2008

Orson Mozes

NAPLES — One of “America’s Most Wanted” fugitives who was arrested and slipped through the cracks at least three times recently in Collier and Miami-Dade counties was arrested again Monday, and is behind bars after more than a year on the lam.

Miami-Dade police arrested 57-year-old Orson Mozes in Miami Beach, Detective Roy Rutland said. An anonymous tip initiated the investigation.

“They’ve been tracking him for a couple of days,” Rutland said.

Rutland said Mozes was “staying with somebody,” but declined to elaborate on the exact location of the arrest.

Mozes was wanted in California on 62 counts of theft by false pretenses after authorities say he ran an international adoption scam out of his mansion and swindled his customers out of more than $1 million. He’s been on the run for about a year and a half, and was featured on the television program “America’s Most Wanted” in August.

“We had heard absolutely nothing from him or about him until just last week,” said Norma Hansen, a criminal investigator for the district attorney’s office in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Mozes was arrested Nov. 14 in Collier County after Florida Highway Patrol trooper Roberto Castilla pulled over the white Mazda he was driving at 85 mph in a 70 mph zone on Interstate 75, reports said.

Mozes identified himself as “Jack Rose,” handing over a bogus California driver’s license and Social Security card. He was arrested on charges of possessing a forged or stolen driver’s license and driving without a license.

But Mozes posted an $8,000 bond and skipped town before his court appearance. A bench warrant was issued for his arrest.

The Collier County Sheriff’s Office, which manages the Collier County jail where Mozes was booked under the fake name, confirmed Monday that Orson Mozes and Jack Rose are, in fact, one in the same. The agency used fingerprints to make the confirmation.

After his Nov. 14 arrest in Collier, Miami Shores police arrested him Dec. 9, and Miami-Dade police arrested him Dec. 21. Mozes used the alias “Jerry Brosse” in those arrests, and bonded out and slipped away in all three arrests, authorities say.

A warrant for Mozes’ arrest was signed April 1 in Santa Barbara. According to an affidavit, Mozes operated an international adoption agency, and told prospective parents that he could “hold” children for them in foreign countries, primarily Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Russia.

The prospective parents, who saw photos of children in those countries on the Internet, then sent the agency a fee, generally between $7,000 and $11,000, to “hold” the child, the affidavit said.

After paying, a majority of the parents were told “Your child is no longer available,” reports said. On at least 10 occasions Mozes promised the same child to multiple adoptive parents, investigators said.

He took off with $500,000 in June 2007. At one point, Hansen said, Mozes wrote a letter to his sister telling her he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown and needed to get away.

“We’re definitely happy he’s in custody,” Hansen said. “There are a lot of adoptive families who were overjoyed that he’s in custody.”

Dawn DeLorenzo, 34, of New Jersey, said she was promised three children by Mozes, but just before the adoptions were finalized, was told each time that the child’s mother changed her mind.

She spent two months in Kazakhstan attempting to adopt a child, and lost about $75,000 in the process, about a third of which went to Mozes’ agency.

“I felt like he was Teflon Don,” DeLorenzo said of Mozes and his string of arrests. “My husband and I couldn’t escape a parking ticket, and here’s this guy, he’s getting away with 62 felonies ... and they kept letting him go. It was very frustrating to say the least.”

DeLorenzo said she cried when she learned of Mozes’ arrest.

“I was so happy they finally caught up to him,” she said. “He’ll finally have to face up to his crimes. Not just to me, but to 61 other families.”

Mozes will eventually be extradited to California, Hansen said.

Collier County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Karie Partington said the FBI informed the Florida Highway Patrol sometime after the November arrest that “Jack Rose” was Mozes, and notified the highway patrol about his warrants.

“We don’t know when that notification happened,” Partington said. “That’s why we didn’t receive the notification.”

The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating the mix-up to find out what happened, agency spokesman Lt. Chris Miller said.

When asked about disconnects between the various agencies involved in the Collier arrest and release, and the possible usefulness in this scenario of a new warrant alert system recently installed in Lee County and under development in Collier County, Partington said: “We are working to see if there’s a way to avoid this in the future.”

Thursday, December 11, 2008

This is the Day.....Our miracle revealed on 7/14/2006

Below this post and referral photos, is the original real time post from our first blog. A blog written for our daughter, whom ever she was to be, and to our family and friends who wanted to follow us to Kazakhstan and read of our experiences in real time. Because of the emotional toll the loss of numerous referrals had on us and our lack of trust due to all we had come to learn about AIP and Orson Mozes, with guarded words and an anxious heart I blogged only positive events of our journey while in country. I censored our story. And I remained silent about our experiences with AIP and Orson Mozes for close to one year after the completion of our adoption. Our story is extraordinary. As one will come to understand now, as I retell our story in its entirety. This journey was not one of comfort. Labor never is. We were out there, and vulnerable in every sense of the word, every step of the way.
What comforted and prepared us was the reading of online blogs, and communicating with others who had travelled before us. The information gleaned from the Internet really did pave our way. We read about what can and does occur, and formulated how best to deal with the unexpected twists and turns inherently indigenous to International Adoption, compounded especially by an unethical agency. The online blogs and PAP's were a life line. I vowed to be supportive and give back one day when I could. The retelling of our story I pray will shed some light on a road less travelled.

As our journey is retold in its entirety I share now my reasons for remaining silent.

July the 14, 2006, is a vivid memory as I blog our story with photos and all the details that culminated into our miracle.
As I ponder and document the events leading up to July 14th 2006, and see the precious faces of daughters I have loved along our journey, I remain thankful they will forever be chapters in Leah's adoption story. A story that reveals the miraculous chain of events which culminated in Leah becoming our daughter. Our lives have been forever changed and miraculous events have continued even today.

Each one of these precious babies lead the way to our daughter Leah. Seeing them together, and recapping each child's emotional impact and effect on our lives portrays the frame of mind we were in on July the 14th 2006. This truly is a story about faith and miracles.

Natalia- precious Natalia our first referral,
  the child who we loved immediately after seeing her referral photo on Natalia fueled our urgency to get through the paper chase and pay the fee's as quickly as possible because Orson Mozes lead us to believe (for close to six months) that was all we had to do in order to bring "your daughter" home. One can only imagine our shock at seeing the face of an older Natalia (now 12 months old) on the blog of the Sapp family who were in the process of adopting her. Emails and frantic phone calls to Orson produced lies when Orson assured us the baby on the Sapp's blog was "NOT your daughter". It was only after being told this lie that I emailed the Sapp's while they were in country to ask them to check on my Natalia. I rationalized and wanted to believe that our daughters just bore an uncanny resemblance. Once our communication with the Sapp's took place, and I emailed a picture of my Natalia to them in Ust, Orson had no choice but to admit they were the same child. To this day I wonder what Orson told the Sapps, and I am sad for the pain this event had on them during a time when joy should have been the only focus.
Losing Natalia was devastating, yet the life lessons learned served to strengthen our faith. The accepting and realizing losing Natalia was an unanswered pray for us, brought with it the knowledge a miracle simultaneously occurred for Natalia and the family that had adopted her. Seeing our precious Natalia on the blog of another AIP family was an extremely shocking and painful turn of events. However our actions and reactions on that November day, we knew would have a profound effect on our then 11 year old son who was so excited about adopting Natalia and welcoming a baby sister into his heart and life. To teach our son how to constructively deal with this emotional loss, we knew we would be leading by example. Through tears I prayed for God to fill my aching heart with his wisdom. As we were going into the Christmas season God filled my mind with thoughts of Mary, and how faithfully she prayed "let it be done to me". This revelation gave us the strength to trust God completely, even through our pain. So we made a conscious decision to just "accept what had been done to us" and we gave thanks for the Sapp family miracle. In return we received the gift of faith renewed. Our broken hearts began to heal. Little did we know of the many miracles that would be revealed to us in the future.
The beginnings of closure came as we continued to watch and read the Sapp family miracle unfold on their blog. Seeing Natalia surrounded by a loving family was so comforting during this painful time in our adoption journey. Knowing Natalia's lonely days of insignificance were all but over, served to overshadow any remnants of residual pain from our loss. We could see and almost palpate the transformation in Natalia as she began feel her own specialness. Being loved and learning how to love back was easily recognized in the photos of each passing day of bonding. The realization Natalia days being institutionalized in an orphanage were over, produced a profound heart warming. Our eyes were opened as we witnessed the power of unconditional love.
While we believe the tactics Orson Mozes employed were both unethical,immoral and illegal, we also empathised with the Sapp family, and felt they too were victimized because of Orson's practices. Gaining knowledge during the adoption of your child, that another family from your own agency had your child as a referral cannot be easily dismissed, especially when one experienced first hand the emotional devastation of losing referrals also.
On my first blog I purposely omit the devastating loss of our first referral Natalia for 2 reasons. First our fear of repercussions from Orson Mozes during our adoption, and secondly because of the Sapps, after our adoption was complete. While we always felt Gods presence in this miracle, and shared our thoughts with the Sapps via email, we respected their privacy and prerogative and deliberately omitted the beginning of our adoption story on our first blog as mention of it would be some what of a surprise to the blogging community who have followed both our journeys. My thoughts and concerns at the time were for the Sapp family who knew intimately the details. In no way did I want them to feel anything but joy for their adoption and the miracle it was, and is. Because their adoption completed in Oct/Nov of 2005, 8 months before ours, I followed their lead as they never made a mention on their blog that Natalia had been another AIP families referral, or the way they came to find this fact out, or of the miracle we shared. While this was and is their prerogative, we believed God's will was so evident. God even used people like Orson Mozes to forfill his plan. This miraculous event, in my mind forever binds our daughters adoption stories. I can attest to the fact that God placed words into my hurting heart that communicated to the Sapps at the time that while we were devastated, we believed the Youngs received an unanswered prayer while the Sapps received a miracle. We were sincere in our congratulations and thankful to God for opening our eyes and hearts at this most painful time in our lives. Instead of feeling a prolonged pain and anger over our loss, we felt blessed to be a part of their miracle and witness the power of love in action in Natalia's life.
As a final act of closure I emailed all the referral photos we had of Natalia to the Sapps, as I knew how precious they would be to her and to them.
My original plan when I began my blog was to keep these miraculous events, which were the foundation of our adoption story private only because of the Sapps silence. As I rewind and retell this extraordinary story you will come to learn why I went public.

Marina- our second referral came to us via email in February 05.
Marina was one of two referrals Orson had sent us. Both babies were beautiful and the choosing now took on a new meaning. We felt uneasy now "choosing" a child, however we rationalized that adoption is a choice. So we listened to our hearts and chose Marina. We allowed ourselves to hope again. We began to build a dream again. We opened our hearts again. Albeit with distrust as a defense mechanism.
It was during this time that I spent even more time on the Internet searching for blogs of AIP families and anyone traveling to Ust Kamenogorsk to adopt a child.
I meet 2 more AIP families who are about to travel to Ust. One is Candy Bushouse and the other Amy McSpadden. Both of these women befriend us and keep us grounded and focused during the most difficult time of our journey.
Candy left for Ust first, in March 06, and after arriving in Almaty her region was changed. As you can see, her blog ended and so did my communication with her for over 9 weeks Michigan

Amy arrived in Ust in April 06, and she was instrumental in helping me find out about Marina as I sent Amy my referral photo. Washington DC
Amy was able to locate Marina and was very hesitant to tell me what she had discovered as she knew about Natalia and our loss.
Marina was being adopted, and her parents who were from Ireland were there bonding at the same time as Amy.
Our faith is yet again tested as disappointment and hurt begin again. Because our information came through Amy, we couldn't go to Orson with what we had learned right away. We felt it necessary to wait until Amy's adoption was complete before calling Orson to task yet again. We asked Amy to get a photo if she could so we had palpable proof.

Waiting was agonizing, so I tried to push Orson into getting me an updated photo of Marina. He said that was not possible. I then asked him to just check on Marina and again he reassured me not to worry as "she would not be off the registry or available to be adopted until June". In my naivety, I thought if he checked on her he would discover what I knew. Marina was gone.
It was during this time I realized the perfection and perversion of Orson's crime. With an inability to corroborate any information Orson gave about incountry events and reasons referrals were lost, coupled with a deep seated desire to become parents, the fabricated excuses and lies that spontaneously fell off of Orson's tongue when called to task, just had to be accepted. Orson knew intimately that clients who would open their hearts to love an orphan, would in all probability recover from his lies as long as another child was available. Hence bait and switch kept money in the pipeline and its my opinion this was his only goal. He would stop at nothing to meet this objective and so far these practices made him a wealthy man. (Orson's success ultimately lead to the arrogance that would and did destroy him and AIP.)
Still I had to wait until Amy was home and her adoption complete before I confronted Orson a second time. We were signed sealed and delivered to Orson and AIP so we needed to not alienate Orson as of yet.
In the mean time I revisited and baby 1011 touched my heart. I decided when the time was right I would inquire about her.
So as the weeks past we plotted our next move and how best to handle Orson. It would serve no purpose to make him angry. We rehearsed what we would say to him when the time was right.
After Amy returned to the USA and I knew her adoption was granted, I confronted Orson with what I found out about Marina in a non confrontational way. At first he didn't believe me, and wanted to know how I got this information. After refusing to reveal my source, I firmly believe had I not been able to produce the photo proof, we would have been told that the mother came back. A lie that would have been un verifiable. However now with absolute proof of a second referral loss, Orson I believe, knew we had enough solid evidence to bring a successful law suit. It was then I inquired about baby 1011 on

Natalya (Leah)- our 3rd referral came to us in early May of 06 after Amy returned to the USA
As I stated above I asked Orson Mozes about this baby after seeing her on Somehow I knew she would be our daughter. She was 12 months old in the referral photos and she shares her birth date with my mother.
Our dossier had been in Kazakhstan for close to 3 weeks and we were hoping for a LOI soon.
Orson tried to talk me out of this child stating she was to "old and didn't have blond hair and blue eyes". I was shocked to think Orson thought these were the reasons for choosing the referrals we had. That couldn't have been farther from the truth, so I insisted on baby 1011. Orson was hesitant but complied and sent us baby 1011 referral photos and medical card. He then removed her photo from the Internet and promised again she would be ours. Orson went on to blame the incountry staff for both losses, and went so far to say they felt so badly for what had happened to us that they would make sure 1011 would be ours. Again my heart became attached. On a logical level I tried to remain detached, however emotion won out again. I felt foolish but I began to love her also.
When Orson called in mid June and told us we had our LOI and we should make plans to travel we were so excited. The ups and downs of our journey suddenly seemed so distant. I called the Assistant Stork to help with our VISAS and made airline reservations thru Eldo at Golden Rule Travel. We were set to leave on June 20, 2006. We were finally going to meet our daughter.
On June 17th Orson called again and this time told us we had to change our travel dates to July as the person who handles the adoptions at that baby house was on vacation and wouldn't be back till July 10th. This last lie really did me in. Now I was just going through the motions, and to make matters worse there was a 150.00$ charge to change our outbound flights. We had no choice but to bite our tongues and ride this journey out.
Candy who had since returned from Uralsk, Kazakhstan with a beautiful daughter after a nightmare of a trip, was instrumental in keeping me focused. It is in large part because of her I was able to keep my anger and frustration in check. I really wanted to lash out at Orson for all the lies and pain he had inflicted on us. A few short minutes on the phone with Candy helped renew my hope and strengthen my resolve. Adoptions were happening just not the way Orson had described.

Olga-our 4th referral came to us on July 10, the night before we were to depart JFK for Kazakhstan. I was driving to the store for last minute items to bring to Ust.
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When my cell phone went off and I saw Orson's name, I just knew the pain was going to start all over again. This call was brief and stoic. Orson began with "she's gone" Ann. I have sent another referral who you will love. I explained to Orson that each phone call from him is so painful, and that I was driving now and having difficulty seeing through my tears. His last words before I hung up were to check my computer when I got home.
Upon arriving home, Chris and Christopher read my face and knew. What happened now? I explained what Orson had said. It was at this moment I realized that faces in photos really didnt matter, our hearts were ready to love any child. Olga was adorable as were the other three, but God was in control and had sustained us all thus far. We just had to wait for HIS plan to be revealed.
A last call to Orson from JFK Airport just before boarding drove this point home as Orson told me "I dont know whats going on over there, or what child you will get".

Walking into that baby house on July 14, 2006 was the culmination of an almost unbelievable journey of the heart. We did not know what child God had planned for us, but what we did know was the child presented to us would be loved unconditionally. This moment would define our International Adoption leap of faith. 
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When Leah, baby 1011 was brought into the directors office we experienced fully our miracle as it was unfolding. The gasp and spontaneous tears of joy from our son, partially camouflaged our own intense emotions. All we had been through was quickly erased,(much like the pain of natural child birth once infant is presented to mother) when they placed Leah into our arms. GOD's plan and timing was perfect.

In hind sight as I rewrite our story I realize that at this point I had yet to learn the real truth about the adoption process in Kazakhstan as it related to our experience. This education would come after spending close to a month in country and making friends with the in country staff who assisted us with our adoption. As we develope a relationship with Almagul and Sveta innocently they share with us their perceptions of what had transpired with all of our referrals. From the how and why we lost Natalia, to the agency that represented the Irish couple who adopted Marina, to the facts that Leah had been refused by 3 other families including one who had been visiting Leah just before we arrived, and finally the fact that Olga was never available for adoption at the time Orson sent her referral photo to us.
This information took some time to process as it became available and I will talk about it more in a future post.
For now I just wanted to recap and give some insight into where we were emotionally the day we met our daughter.

7/14/2006 (Original Post in Real Time)
Destination Ust Kamenogorsk
We arrived right on time in Ust Kamenogorsk. The flights were not as long as we had anticipated. At both airports AIP staff was there on time to greet us and take us to our apartment. We were given the times they would be back to pick us up and they were there on time. After arriving in Ust at 9:30am the AIP staff collected our baggage and drove us to the apartment to unload the luggage and freshen up.

the elevator
our apartment buildng

Sveta and Bulat our translator and driver
came back at 1:45 to pick us up and off to the baby house we went.
We were met there by Alma our adoption coordinator and were taken in to the baby house to meet with the Director. Upon entering the baby house we observed the cleanliness and felt welcomed. We were interviewed by the Head Physician and a women from the Dept of Education. We were asked what type child we were looking for, questions about us and why we chose Kazakhstan. After answering their questions the physician turned her questions to Christopher. We were so proud of the way he looked directly at her when she spoke and his answers were understood even without translation. She wanted to know if he too wanted a baby sister and would he object to sharing our attention with this young child.His English answer was an immediate YES I AM with a hugh smile. As Christopher has a warm wonderful smile I believe as they made eye contact she could see right into his heart and palpate the sincerity she found there.
After the questions, we were told they had identified a baby that they thought would be good for us and her care giver walked her in. We were 7 people sitting in an office and she walked in curious and confident. As she entered I was wishing I had 46 eyes to see everyones face. I looked at her then at Christopher who had filled up with happy tears then at Chris then back to her. She looked at everyone and the caregiver brought her immediately to me. We had brought a yellow duck puzzle book and Christopher and I enticed her with it. Within minutes of me taking her from the care giver, after a 30 sec fuss she was engaged. I don’t think she new weather she wanted to look at the book or Christopher. We got on the floor and under the watchful eyes of these officials from Kazakhstan we began our relationship with our daughter. She babbled, walked , pointed,played with the puzzle book and looked all around. After we were told of the visiting requirement of 10-12 and 4-6 everyday twice a day for 14 days it was time to leave. I had picked her up and gave her a kiss. She in turn leaned over to kiss her brother. Talk about a defining moment. The time we spent in that office though brief contains memories that will last a lifetime . The word that we use to describe this day is JOY.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

AMERICAS MOST WANTED..Air Date 1/3/08 at 9/8C on FOX *** 12/14/08 Air date has changed will post new date when we are notified

AMW has completed the segment on fugitive Orson Mozes. The air date is January 3, 2009 at 9/8C on FOX.

Many of the families presently represented by Joni Fixel in a law suit filed against Orson Mozes and Christian Brown (owners of AIP) have contributed to this segment. In the reliving and the public sharing of our emotionally devastating experiences, we are hoping this exposure will aid in the capture and arrest of Orson Mozes.
Having our day in court, and seeing Orson Mozes held accountable for the crimes he perpetrated on innocent unsuspecting adoptive parents is our goal.
International Adoption needs to be protected from greedy,ruthless people who prey on innocent people with a desire to open their hearts and lives to orphans.
For this reason I applaud AMW for taking up our cause, and I am proud to be part of a group of people who have taken a stand and spoken out against the immoral,illegal and unethical practices of AIP and its owners. Our success in court will send a very loud message to adoption agencies here in the USA that greed and illegal practices can and will be prosecuted to the full extend of the law.

And now back to my rewind........

Friday, October 24, 2008

Its dawn in Almaty July 14, 2006

Our driver, and Bulgan our translator wish us good night after helping us up six flights of stairs with our luggage into the apt in which we will spend the next few hours. After they depart we close and lock the door, the apt is quiet. It's 2:30 am. We are all in need of showers. So Christopher is elected to go first and instructed to be quick. As he is showering, Chris and I have a few moments to talk without having to censor our words. After being married for 18 years, words sometimes aren't necessary. Privately now as we look into each others eyes the anxiety present is evident, yet the strength of our love serves to quell our fears. We talk about the events of our day and together we realize our dream is about to come true. The journey which began many months ago is on track. We are sitting together in a foreign country,in a strangers apt at 2:30 am trusting another stranger will be back to pick us up after giving another stranger 5000.00$ in brand new 100.00 dollar bills. It is almost surreal to believe that we are on the way to a baby house half way around the world, in a country and culture vastly different from what we have known, to adopt our daughter. The first few hours and introduction to this culture were extreme examples of those very differences. Our experiences so far enlightened us to just how naive we Americans are. One is never so isolated and vulnerable until you cannot speak the language or be protected by the Constitution.
Our saving grace was our faith in God, and just knowing we were exactly where he wanted us to be at this very moment.
Realizing and accepting our vulnerability, coupled with knowing AIP didn't have a glowing reputation of late, we planned on keeping a very low profile and quiet demeanor while in country no matter what.
After Christopher said goodnight, Chris and I took quick showers as it was now 3am Almaty time and the driver is due back by 6am. Our flight to Ust Kamenogorsk departs at 7:20am.
Oh the calming effects of a much needed shower, I am last to hop in. As the warmth of the water meets flesh, a catharsis of emotional cleansing takes place promoting anticipation of a new day. I remain pensive and prayerful as I allow myself to unwind. I emerge from the shower renewed and refreshed. A peacefulness takes place as I witness my husband and child in restful sleep. In preparation of an early departure, I make sure everything is repacked and ready to go in a moments notice. I then drift to sleep.
Like clock work Chris is up before dawn, dressed, teeth brushed hair combed and ready to go. So we hurry up and wait. We wonder if our driver will return. Almost to the moment we verbalize our doubt, right on schedule the driver arrives 5:45am.

  The Apt in morning light
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Kazakhstan at first light

Again we are helped with our baggage down 6 flights of stairs. Its as if we never arrived to begin with. In at 2:30am out by 5:45am. Never saw or spoke to a soul.
Once in the parking lot, and as the sun is rising we can now see Kazakhstan and the beauty of her snow covered mountains. The apartment building is like no other we have ever seen, never having been out of the USA. To our eyes the building looks pre war and run down. Having arrived in the dead of night, our first impressions became our last as we departed for the airport.
Before entering the car, the driver handed me a package the size of a CD wrapped and sealed with packing tape. His instruction in broken English " you take to Ust". I vaguely remember Bulgan telling us last night we would be given documents to carry to Ust Kamenogorsk. This package did not however, look like documents. Chris and I immediately made eye contact, and the nonverbal communication was clear. Red flags waving. Knowing the driver didn't speak or understand English that well, as we were getting into the car I said to Chris (the Laurel and Hardy line) "this is another fine mess you got us into". I was able to communicate we would fix the mess after we got to the airport. Again eye contact acknowledged Chris understood the message. Until then I held the package on my lap and devised a plan while looking at Kazakhstan for the first time in daylight. Obviously Chris and I were on the same page with not wanting to carry a sealed package onto an airplane in a foreign country. So my immediate thought was to wait to refuse the package until we were at the airport, out of the car with baggage in hand. This airport could take us home if need be but, we had to get there first.
Quietly we rode for 30 minutes. Idol chit chat about the landscape and what we could remember seeing last night took place between us. Our assumptions were correct, the driver spoke only Russian so attempts at communication with him failed.
Upon arrival at the airport as I exited the car, I conveniently left the package on the console in hopes I could innocently forget "the package". After all the luggage was out of the car and we said our thank you's, we were preparing to walk towards the entrance to the airport when the driver called out and began walking towards us waving "the package" saying "to Ust to Ust". Damn! I guess we have to revert to plan B, which I know will be difficult because of the language barrier.
So with my best Russian accent I say NYET (no). Then I motion with my hands NYET (no) see into package NYET (No) "to Ust". Somehow he understood and communicated he would park the car, make a phone call and be back. He wanted us to wait. In these few tense moments alone, together we discussed plan B. Being we were at the airport already we were pretty safe. So when the driver returned our plan was no public loud discussions, we weren't taking a sealed package period. He would either open it and reveal its contents or it was not going with us. Everyone understood so if a confrontation was evident we would just walk away and into the airport.
The driver returned with "the package". Only now it was opened and inside was 2000.00$ in brand new 100.00 bills. The documents we were to carry was American dollars. The same dollars we carried to Almaty only less of them. What a relief. Our journey now would definitely continue onto Ust Kamenogorsk where our daughter would be waiting.
Upon seeing our relief and acceptance of "the opened package" the driver also looked relieved. He helped us into the airport, and though the security check point. Upon x-raying our baggage the guard wanted to see something inside the luggage so we opened the luggage and had to explain why we had tools and screening material inside. Because we didn't speak Russian, and they didn't speak English, frustration and a physical observation of the tools and screening material pushed us through. We gave our driver a tip for his efforts and again said our good bye's. We boarded the plane bound for Ust Kamenogorsk... 
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Monday, October 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Natalia

October 20th will always be a special day. A day of reflection.
Just as the season was changing and fall leaves were bursting with color, so was my heart bursting with love for a baby girl who's tiny bald head and sad blue eyes were captured on a referral photograph and etched into my soul. For 6 months this baby girl, along with my son had become the center of my world.
I love this innocent baby with all my heart.
As Gods plan began to be revealed in our adoption journey, miracles and unanswered prayers simultaneously took place. Painful life lessons that tested my faith also opened my heart. As we celebrated Natalia's first birthday in that restaurant that day, 
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little did we know Natalia celebrated her first birthday in arms of parents whom God had chosen for her. Natalia was now surrounded by unconditional love for the first time in her young life.
It was at this very moment, when I saw her birthday photo almost a month later, I learned humility. Although my heart was aching at my loss, through my pain I was blessed to be able to recognize God at work in my life and the miracle that had taken place. Natalia and her needs were what was important. The miracle of a family being born of Gods will was deserving of sincere celebration and praise.
I am so grateful to God for allowing us to witness Natalia's miracle. Just knowing Natalia had a family to make her feel special and loved helped ease our pain.
We believe God placed Natalia in our lives not only to love and pray for her, but to lead us to our miracle, Leah Natalya Young.
Happy Birthday Natalia, you and your family remain always in our thoughts and prayers......