thinking of my friends

Next week will mark one year since we first saw a picture of Little One. Next month will mark 6 months since she’s been home. Next month two of my boys have birthdays. I’m a photographer and part of what I love about photography is how I can quickly be taken back to days past. I treasure looking back at photos and remembering both the hard and sweet days that are behind me. So, this is your little head’s up…in the next coming weeks I’ll probably be doing a lot of ‘looking back’ on here.

This photo was taken by another adoptive family visiting Little One’s orphanage 6 months ago.

The photos below were taken by my friend Shannon recently. I’ve had a front row seat watching her blossom the last 6 months and yet I still can’t wrap my mind around how fast and quickly she has changed. The changes that took place over a year with my other kids have happened in weeks and months with her. Six months ago I had a baby girl in my arms that had no idea how to be held. Today I’ve got a little girl that wraps me up tightly in her hugs.

While I am spending time looking back these days, I am also hurting for sweet friends. Friends that have longed to bring home their children. Friends that have held their sons and daughters once and ache to do so again. Friends that have spent years fighting systems and corruption to simply be able to hold their little ones. Friends whose kids are in Russia, stuck because the international adoption program suddenly shut down. For many children with special needs, international adoption is the only chance they will have not just to have a family but to survive. Life in an institution for many of these kids is a death sentence. This post isn’t to be political or to discuss the whys and why nots of Russian adoption. This post is simply me saying I am hurting for my friends – friends who long to feel the tight hugs of the children whose pictures are framed on their nightstands. Friends whose arms have been empty way too long. Friends who daily have to get up knowing the child they long to bring home may face a bitter life in an institution instead of a home. I’m just hurting for the broken hearts of my friends…

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” ~ Psalm 34:18

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  • erin - Such a beautiful and heart touching post. So happy for you and little one, and praying for all those still waiting to hold their children and all the children waiting for a home.

  • amber - I cannot believe that girl has been home almost 6 months & that it’s already been a year (?!) since you first saw her. Crazy. She is so, so beautiful. And Russia’s closed doors are heart wrenching. In more ways than I will ever know. So very sorry for your heartbroken friends…

  • Lynne Malan - ‘only love is real’ xx

  • Anne @ Planting Sequoias - Jillian from http://www.addingaburden.com and her husband brought their son home from Russia JUST in time. She’s currently posting 40 prayers during Lent for Russian orphans. Anyone care to join me in prayer in this way?

  • Nina - I love these little girls pictures. You are so beautiful, both of you and I feel always very close to you and little one.
    Enjoy the kisses and her little arms and all the wonderful days together!

    Nina

  • kimmie - we are blessed that our boy is in the foster care system, but [as you shared] we long for him to be in our arms. i praise the Lord today for the gift of others like you who understand the difficulty of such a longing. thank you for your encouragement to those of us who continue in our wait.

  • Monica - SO beutiful girl! I can see her happiness now. Your post make me sad for the families that arewaiting for their babies and for the babies that are waiting for families to be loved. Every baby deserve a lot of love because is the only thing that makea big difference in their lives. Babies loved they always will be a good kids. I am so happy for Little One that now she have you. God bless your family always!

  • devon - so beautiful, encouraging, and challenging.

  • Susan - Ashley,
    I can hardly imagine the pain your friends must feel. My brother-in-law works missions to Ukrainian orphanages and seeing the bright faces of all the children who need families can be heartbreaking. My prayers are with children everywhere who are without the love and protection of parents who long for them.
    May God hold these children in His arms and may we lift them in prayer daily until they are home.
    So glad your Little One is with her forever family and thriving.
    Susan

  • jenny - I am so happy that your little one is home and is loved so deeply. But just like you, it is heart breaking to know there are so many little ones who may never know this comfort. It is so hard to understand the “why” sometimes. It’s in those times that the Lord allows me to trust Him deeper and I am reminded of His promises.
    The need is overwhelming, but I trust my God and I hurt for those little ones and those families, praying that they will know “home” one day soon.

  • Emily - What a beautiful little girl and a wonderful story!! So happy for your family and still praying for all the other children waiting for their forever families!

  • Kara M - Amen! I ache for the Russian families that are in this purgatory of suffering! I have a friend adopting from a hard country in Africa and the orphanage definitions just make me weep. Children eating every 2 or 3 days. I don’t understand this suffering.

  • Jade Cook - starting thinking about sweet amy before you said Russia. i can’t imagine what she is going through. she is blessed to have friends who pray and are sad with her. we’ll keep praying! and love that little one is squeezing you so tight. those are the best hugs. precious!!

  • Cindy from New York - You are a true blessings to many :) May God continue to watch over your family and friends.

  • Jolan - I love the way you look at Little One in the second picture!

  • Layla - I feel the same way. :-( Thank you for sharing this post…and those pics. They’re so beautiful…just like your heart! :-)

  • Angela - Little One has the most incredibly soulful eyes. I am so happy she was able to join your family. It’s sad to think of those children being lost behind paperwork and restrictions.

  • Jacci - Oh my. Yes.

  • Irene - I enjoy reading about your family, and all the love you have to give them :) I am however curious about little ones name. I am assuming that she had one when you got her, but does she still have the same name or did you give her a more “American” name? I am just a bit curious about the entire thing.

  • Shelby - Ashley,

    I greatly appreciate this post. My parents are currently in the middle of this huge mess, while my beautiful little sister is stuck in Russia. She is five and a half, cannot walk, does not talk, wears 18-24 month sized clothing, and weighs under 20 pounds. My parents visited her this past September and cannot believe that political banter between countries has resulted in such a terrible situation for the children. For their child. For my sister. Thanks for getting the word out about Russia and the children that are stuck there.

  • tracy a - thanks for this post. i’m looking forward to looking back with you! and continuing to pray that Russia will open up again…

  • jeanette - Watching Little One develop has been such a sweet journey! Every single post you write make me cry – I find your family so incredible and inspiring <3

  • Christine - Thank you! I am one of those Russian adoptive Mamas!

  • Martina - These pictures say so much of the power and testimony of adoption. LIttle One’s eyes speak volumes. Her eyes in the first picture consume me – so intense – eyes that have seen things a baby girl should never have to see. And then I see her now, eyes still intense but relaxed at the same time and I have a good feeling that those memories of her pre-families days are distant and fading more everyday like a dream. She’s a strong, beautiful little girl!

  • Sonia - How gorgeous is she! Happy and healthy. :)

  • merideth a - the transformation is unbelievable and so beautiful. so much love can do so much good. little one is just too cute for words.

  • Sadee - Little One is looking so beautiful, happy and well-adjusted! It is so very obvious in the photos that you are holding a miracle. My heart hurts too for my friends whose little boy is stuck in Russia. So, so very sad. But I am praying there is still hope!

  • Irma Razak - i know i am repeating what others had said.
    But it is what it is.
    Beautiful.
    Touching.

  • Tiah - So much change is a short amount of time. Amazing what being loved will do for your mind and spirit!
    I too am so sad about Russia. A couple was on the news, they were only a few weeks from flying to Russia to pick up their daughter only to have the whole thing stopped. They are devastated, I just don’t understand it.

  • Marie-Eve - Amazing and so inspiring!
    Thank you for sharing!
    ox-

  • Kelsey Dusing - Hello! I am not sure if this is the right place to ask. I couldn’t find an email or anything but I am just going to go for it. So, I am a student at Texas A&M and I am apart of an organization called Agape Images. We are a small group of girls who put on an art show at a local coffee shop in College Station. All the proceeds that we get from the art show benefit Bridge of Hope, through Gospel for Asia. I read your blog all the time and I love all of the cool projects you do. This is such a long shot but I was wondering if you would be interested in crafting something for the show? If not, totally fine! Hope you have a great rest of the week!

  • Natalie - Little one looks so healthy and happy. Love it!

  • Crystal Prychidko - I’ll join you in praying for those that are longing for their children! Praying for all the families that are waiting or that are searching for a little one to call their own!

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