Any Day Now…

So a year has come and gone since little Igor Rashev has come into our lives, and no one who had the pleasure of meeting him has been the same since.  The past posts, although few and far between, have been ones filled with sadness and fear.  I am happy to finally report some positive progress.   Through the help and support of close family and fundraisers thrown by family and friends the next sum of money has been provided.  Now Katie and Chad are waiting for a call that may come any day to tell them to book their flight for their first trip to Russia!  It’s so exciting.  And although this is not the trip in which they get to bring Igor home, they will be able to see him, explain to him what has been happening here in the past year and fill him in on the future he has to look forward to.  While Katie and Chad will still need another $15,000 when they get back from their first trip to Russia, they feel like they are finally on the downhill side of a mountain that at times seemed to steep to climb.   But with her unwavering strength Katie never gave up and Chad has stood by her side from day one.  The light seems to be shining so much brighter on the day that Igor becomes a Pierce…and an American…and a Liminian :)    Katie will be keeping a daily blog when she and Chad travel to Russia.  I will be sure to post the link for all of those who have been faithful followers of this story.   The goal and anticipation is to have Igor home by the end of December.  And even if it’s a few days late, he will celebrate his first Christmas with his new family.  Please post your encouragement here for Katie and Chad.  Media coverage of their journey has brought out many haters and comments from people who are somewhat dense without a real concept or understanding of what they are going through.   Speaking from someone who used to get comments from early morning news viewers that my hair looked greasy or I wasn’t wearing enough make-up, I know that it’s the negative feedback from the uneducated people with little to do with their time that is remembered the most.  While we know there are more people who support Katie and Chad then not, it always helps when you speak-up and let them know your positive words of encouragement.  Afterall, they are on a journey that they never sought out.  They are truly following a plan that God put into motion.  Whether Igor be a Russian, an African, or an Eskimo…he’s a little boy without a family.  This is the family that fits him and he is the child that fits them.   Sometimes things are just that simple.   To  those who don’t like it, perhaps you can do better.  I sincerely invite you to.  Instead of casting judgement upon those who are actually trying to make a positive change in the world for not doing it the way you would, please step up and do it your way.   Show us that you are more than just a mouth with a bad attitude.  Don’t we see enough in the world of hate toward others?  Isn’t it enough to hate those who hurt?  Why hate those who love, just because they love in a different way than you?    It’s just bad mojo my friend – and karma will eventually kick your superior attitude in the….well, to the ground.  You want to adopt a child from the US, that is fantastic.  I applaud you and wish you well, but don’t judge someone else because they chose a different avenue.   Unlike the news stations I don’t have to be fair or balanced.  Negative comments will be deleted…so don’t waste the time you have too much of  – because your opinions do not matter here.  For the rest of you…happy posting!

Igor…9 Months Out…Update

So much has transpired in these past nine months.   If anyone is still out there, following our story, you know that Katie and Chad Pierce have decided to move forward with Igor’s adoption.  We have had two successful fundraisers in the time since they made their decision, bringing in more than $5,000.   The home study took a lot longer than anticipated, but is now officially completed.  While the money that was raised has helped the Pierces’ move into the beginning stages of the official adoption, they need another $10,000 in order to submit their dossier.  The twist in the road came just yesterday, when Adoption Associates called Katie and told her that if their money and dossier is not received by early summer, papers will be signed for Igor to be moved to a different institution after summer break.  This is where I just can’t stand to of what the future may hold for him.  There is a little boy, thousands of miles away, who has dreams of a family.  But unlike other children’s dreams, his family has faces, names.  He dreams of us, all of us that he met on his journey to America.  He waits every day, wondering when his family will come for him.  Now picture that same little boy being packed up into a car, taken from the only people he knows in Russia and droped off at some new institution.  He will know no one, who knows if they will allow him to keep the things he holds dear; like his pictures and flashlights.  He may even be moved to entirly new region…and what then?  What if he gets lost in this shuffle?  What if we loose him forever?  It is a rare thing to end up in a Russian orphanage where you have enough food to eat and feel safe at night.  What are the chances he will end up in a good one this next time?   So what now?….. Well, I wish I had the answer to that question.  There are so many things going through my head right now…what the options are…well we are still exploring all of them.  Until we can announce the next step I have developed a website, www.fiveforadoption.com.  Please go to the site and pass it on to as many people as you can.  We ask that you donate just $5.00.  If each person can get ten people to donate $5.00 we still have a chance of saving Igor before they sign the papers to move him.  $5.00 truly does have the ability to save a little boys life.  You have all been so wonderful in your support and following this blog.  If you have the means and can find it in your heart, please, please won’t you help us save him?

Igor…How he’s doing…and more…

So, if anyone is still checking this blog, I know it’s been awhile since I last posted but please do not think it is because there hasn’t been anything going on!   So much has happened in the past few weeks, but I must start from today.  This morning at 8am our time and 4pm Arkhangelesk time, Katie got to speak to Igor via phone.  Elena, the orphanage Assistant Director, was so happy that Katie was able to contact them because she said Igor has been having a hard time because he misses everyone so much.  Igor told Katie that he’s doing well, but he cried all the way home on the plane for us, and every night before he goes to bed.   He wants to come back to America so desperately, and how can you deny the pleas?  “When will you visit me and will you take me home with you then?” he asked her.  We did find out that he was able to keep his toys.  However, he informed Katie that he is missing a flashlight! So we must promptly send him a flashlight :) .  And if anyone else would like to send something to Igor or just to the orphanage children in general please let me know and I will give you the address.  Things take quite awhile to travel – like Pony Express long – so if you’re planning something for Christmas…I’d get moving.  So, back to Igor’s conversation.  He wanted to know where Mom and Dad were and also what Toby and Sophie were doing…he’s so funny.   Everything just kept coming back to when he could see us all again.  Which brings me to the news I’m sure all of you readers have been waiting for.  What of  Igor’s future?  Well, I will tell you.  Throughout the blog I have mentioned a few hundred times our friend Katie, our translator.  Let me tell you a little bit about Katie and how we came to know one another. 
Back in March I was at a Firefighter Union event.  Excited about our plans to host a then unknown Russian orphan I was telling a few of the other people I was sitting with about the upcoming adventure.  Gloria Greeley, wife of Ed one of our local fire guys, started telling me about this wonderful girl that she worked with, Katie Pierce.  Katie used to live in Russia Gloria said and speaks it fluently if we needed a local translator.  This was wonderful news for Terry and I. Being so far removed from the other host families, living in Lima, having a local translator would be amazing.  So months passed and we found out we were hosting a little seven-year-old boy, Igor.  What a name.  I decided to drop by Gloria’s work one day, hoping to speak with Katie about Igor and helping us out once he arrived.  I had picked the perfect day, it was her last day of work.  She had quit to go back to school full-time to become a nurse and I had just caught her before leaving for the day.  That day I found out that when Katie was 13 years old, her father and mother moved Katie and her five siblings to the Ukraine to be missionaries.  Living there until she was 18 years old she not only developed her language but also a passion for the people of the Ukraine and Russia. She and her husband Chad had hopes for a child, with not luck…but she told me adoption was not on their list of options.  I took her number and told her I would call.

  Another month went by and Igor was due to arrive in just a few weeks.  I had lost Katie’s number, so I stopped by to see Gloria so she could give it to me, but I found Katie instead.  She wasn’t supposed to be there that day, and hadn’t been back to the office since the last time we spoke, but she just happened to stop by at the very same time.  The stories begin to entwine.  We needed Katie right away. As you know from the beginning of the blog, Igor had a difficult first night.  During Igor’s time with us Katie was over a lot.  She went with us to celebrate his birthday, she and her husband hosted him for a Ukranian dinner, her family fell in love with him…and so did she.  We love Igor.  We love him as much as any person can love a child.  And she and her husband love him that much too.  After he left, the four of us were at a loss.  What do we do?  We know he can’t stay at the orphanage - but who is the best fit for Igor.   We had to look back over our time with him.  Igor had so much fun with us, but we lacked any sense of parental control a family would need to begin to mold him into our family.  When he was with Katie and Chad, he was a perfect fit.  He walked along side, instead of being held back from running ahead.  He sat contently instead of crawling under tables, he was their fit.  In all the confusion of the past few months it seems so clear now.  God gave Igor to Terry and I – so that we could introduce him to his forever family, Katie and Chad. 

Katie and Igor

So, the paperwork has been started and we hope that the Pierce family will be able to bring home their son in about nine months.  Like being pregnant with a 7 year old :) .  The cost for this happy family reunion is not cheap.  It will take 35-thousand dollars to bring Igor home.  So, this blog will be turning into our source of information on how we are doing on raising the money to get to this wonderful goal.  We have a few fundraisers in the works for the end of October and beginning of November.  We will be holding an event in Toledo and one in Lima.  It will be a Russian Tea and Silent Auction.  Tickets will be $10.00 for all you can eat sweets and teas, there will be great prizes and wonderful entertainment.  Please stay posted to the site to find out when and where.  We will also be setting up an account at a local bank, should anyone feel the urge to make a donation on your own – know it will be greatly appreciated.  Also, if anyone would like to take on their own small fundraiser to help bring Igor home that too will be greatly appreciated.  Thanks to Stephanie and Adam Jordan, who will host a Labor Day Change Party - asking friends and family to bring change to donate to the cause.  Every little bit helps.  Imagine if 35 -thousand people could just give one dollar…or if 3500 people could give 10 dollars.  

It’s amazing the direction in which this story has turned.  I guarantee that anyone who is reading this that wants to get involved with this life changing challenge or with any of the programs through Friends of Russian Orphans – you will feel alive like you never have before.  You will be given a chance to save lives like you never have before.  And you will see and feel God working more powerfully than you ever have before.  I’ve seen it,  felt it and am experiencing it right now – with the story of Igor.

Igor…

It’s Wednesday night.  The last time we saw our little guy was two days ago.  It’s hard not knowing and wondering what he is doing and how he settled in the orphanage.  I wonder if anyone helped him unpack….I wonder what of his personal items he was allowed to keep for himself. 
Life after Igor I don’t think will ever be the same.  An experience like the one we just had with Iggie makes you stop an evaluate your priorities…at least it has made us re-evaluate.  Before Igor I was worried about having granite counter tops, nice doors and wooden beam accents.  After Igor, what truly is the point to all of those “things.”  Not that they aren’t nice to have, but not at the expense of a child’s life.  I’ve come to the conclusion that at the end of my life I’m not going to be thinking about those counter tops or those doors, or the wood accents.  I am going to be thinking about the people who made a difference in my life…my family.  So with that being said, does anyone have an extra $35,000 ?
I’m only half joking.  $35,000 is what it would take to bring Igor home.  And when I say “home” I actually just mean to the US.  More than one family is interested in adopting Igor.  And while we love him, we want the best for him….which may mean being raised by another family.  When I have more definitive information I will post to this site…but I’m hoping the next post will be about bringing Igor home for good.

Igor…Saying Goodbye

6am and it was time to leave for the church.  We had awakened Igor and got him dressed.  His little teeth chattered, even though he wore long pants and a jacket.  He said good-bye to Babushka, and we left my mom’s house with Igor, for the last time.  He was quiet on the short ride.  We were the first ones to arrive.  While we technically said our good-byes to Igor the day before – through Katie – the actual moment of knowing we had to let him go was overwhelming.   Igor climbed into the front seat with us.  On my lap he looked into our eyes and smiled.  A little longer than usual, so we knew this was his way of telling us good-bye and remembering our faces.  When the vans began to arrive Igor saw his friends, and he ran to join them.  He told everyone that he had a bag that he could pull behind him, on wheels!  The loudest and most talkative of the bunch was our Igor…ahh, does he fit into our family or what :)
The kids loaded into the vans, we had our last good-byes, and our final glimpse of the little head – peering out the window.  After a 24 hour plus trip, they are all back in Arkhangelesk now.  I’m sure trying to deal with jet lag.
  I wonder what he is doing right now…

In the airport. Their final picture before flying home to Russia.

Igor…Day 17

Our final day with Igor was obviously emotional.  We went to church together and then met Katie and her husband Chad for brunch at Cracker Barrel.  Igor was wonderful.  He ate all his chicken and carrots, and as he sat there he contemplated that this would be his last time in a restaurant.  It’s the sweet innocent comments that  I think get to you the most.  We then went home to finish packing and Katie came over so that she could help us say our goodbyes to Igor.  It was a very emotional few hours.  We made him a photo book, so we had Katie read it to him.   I couldn’t fit all of his treasured items into his bags…so they wait for him in his room.  With an unknown future, God only knows how long they will wait.  We finished the day doing Igor’s favorite activity, swimming!  We went again to my Uncle David and Aunt Julie’s house, where Igor just loves their dog Bandit.  He yells at the top of his lungs, “Bandit, Bandit!” wanting Bandit to chase him into the water.  When it comes to water Igor has no fear.  As soon as his life vest is on he jumps right in, eyes wide open.  Yesterday he dove right in…without his life vest on.  I honestly don’t think I’ve seen Terry move so fast in my entire life.  He was a blur as he dove in and popped Igor back onto the pool deck before he even knew what happened.  With more time we could work on his swimming abilities…ahhh,…time.   We all went to Babushka’s house for dinner.  Iggie loved his dinner of lettuce, tomatoes, watermelon, blueberries and cucumber, followed by ice cream – of coarse.  He took a nice long bath.  Knowing it would be his last for some time I wanted him to play and enjoy the bubbles.  When he got dressed he ran down to where Babushka had glow bracelets waiting for him.  He loves anything that lights up.  He loved his glow sticks!  Grandma Lois gave Igor a rosary, which he promptly put around his neck :) .  That night we thought he would fall asleep watching Cinderella.  But, while he was fascinated by the movie, especially the little mice, he didn’t fall asleep.  At one point I saw his lower lip sticking out…as if he were thinking about the next days departure.  The next movie we chose was the Polar Express.  He loved this one…but still – not asleep.  I think he was just so anxious with anticipation for the next morning that he didn’t fall asleep until midnight. 
Before we get the final days goodbyes, I feel it’s important to address something at this point in the blog.  Many people read this and hear about our story and form some generalized opinions on this hosting program.   I am not angry, everyone is entitled to their opinions, I would however like to set the record straight for those who may not understand the purpose of what has been transpiring these past 18 days.  What you see and read in this blog is an emotional journey that I am experiencing in my own words.  They are things seen through my eyes, questions and thoughts that I have about the life of a child living in an Eastern European orphanage.  The raw emotions you experience through this blog, are not the emotions these children are experiencing through this program.  Even orphans deserve a dream vacation, and that is what this is for these little ones.  They come here with the promise of fun, that is all.  There is not a promise or even a concept that this may be a permanent situation.  The inside of an orphanage is all most of these children have ever known.  This opportunity gives them a chance to see that there is a bigger world out there; where they can have hopes, dreams and a chance for a good future.   They see what a working family unit is – so when they do leave the orphanage they know how to provide one for their own children.  They develop a life long relationship with their host families that will help them rebuild the trust that they lost in so many of the people in their lives before this.  And, most importantly they are introduced to God, many for the very first time.   This is the trip of a lifetime, that fosters hope and growth in these children.  The contemplation of adoption is something that happens in the background, something they don’t see until possibly months later, if at all.    These children will take this journey with them forever, as a foundation for the direction in which they will steer their lives.

Igor…Day 16

I made Igor Blini’s today.  Being I struck out with pancakes on his first morning with us, I looked up an authentic Russian recipe for Blini and cooked them up while Igor slept in until 9am.  He didn’t like them.  Go figure :)

Igor and Maksim, excavating bones at Imagination Station

 Terry and I thought they were pretty good though.  I suppose I should be happy he prefers a banana to a sweet brekfast, but I really wanted to redeem myself!   Oh, well.
  So, Igor slipped in and out of good behaviour today.  If I had to pick one or the other…I would say bad behaviour was the theme of the day.  I can’t help

I started with this...

 but wonder if  it’s because he knows he’s leaving in a few days. I snuck a peak into his room this morning to see what he was doing.  He was packing his most prized posessions…in a plastic bag.  While in the USA Igor has accumulated a number of toys and clothing.  So Terry, Iggie and I headed out to Super Walmart to find him a bag with wheels so he can take his new treasures back to Russia with him.

...and ended with this!

  We found a very nice bag that he can pull behind him – and one more toy.  I’m sorry I couldn’t help it.  It was already an emotional trip and how could I deny him a Buzz Lightyear action figure?!  After the store we went to Terry’s parents house for lunch and so Igor could say good-bye.  He actually did great at their house.  He ate and played longer than he had in the past.  We went home and he cleaned his room to classical music.  Like I said, he had moments of good behaviour…then we went to a birthday party.  Well apparently it was sensory over-kill.  I have never seen him be such a stinker as he was at this party…and it continued throughout the evening.  The only thing that gave him a bit of a comfort was a mini-marathon of Sponge Bob.  We put him to bed a little after 9.  

I'm just like Papa!

 He can be the sweetest little boy in the world, but he seems to be getting more aggressive with Toby and Sophie and when he is in trouble not only does he smile, but he will do something else that he knows we don’t like…just because he likes to see us upset; like pick his nose and eat it.  To which we reply, “Foo, Foo.”  (Apparently this is the Russian word for, ewwww.)
I can’t believe it’s time for him to go home already.  After church tomorrow we are going to have Katie come over.  She will help us say our good-byes to him.

Gram, Babushka, Joey and Igor at Imagination Station

  We will go to my moms house to spend the night tomorrow night, because Igor and his group have to be at the church at 6:30 in the morning on Monday.  The children will depart from their together for the Detroit airport.  And for some…that will be it.  We all made commitments to stay in touch with our children, and we will.  But how will they respond to us?  We can’t speak on the phone…because we don’t speak the same language, their mail system there in Russia is terrible…so I better send him a Christmas gift next week…if it gets there….and while we can e-mail each other…how do we know if what we receive are even their words?  I wonder if they’d be willing to sign-up for a Skype account?

Igor…Day 15

What a day!  We woke early to get on the road for Igor’s final day of Vacation Bible School.  Katie met us, she was going to join us for our trip to Toledo today.  I did have to work today, so Babushka picked Igor up from school.  Later we met the Peterson’s with Maksim for fun at Imagination Station. Wow, they loved this place!  First of all Igor and Maksim I think are part of the same orphanage group.  They are little buddies and love sharing experiences together.  The two built in the  Kinetics building zone, played in a hurricane, fought a fire and played water games.  It was great and they played until it closed.  It helped having Katie with us, as she was able to explain and calm the children.  Katie is falling just as deeply in love with Igor as everyone else who meets him.  He has a way of casting his little Igor spell, and before you know it – you’re hooked.  When we got in the car Igor asked what the English word for “love” is.  Katie told him.  About 10-15 minutes late, while Katie and I were chattering away in the front seat I heard a little voice exclaim from the back seat, “Mamma! I love you!”  I looked back in amazement and said, “Katie, did you hear that?”  all of a sudden I hear a little mumble, mumble, “I’love you..” and Katie started laughing.  She said, “He wants to know where his I love you is..”  Igor was a little gentleman at dinner.  He had a lot of questions about God and about what he learned in VBS.  He finished his meal of fruit, lettuce and mac and cheese witha big sundae he got to deck out himself.  On the way home he fell asleep. With the exception of a few moments, he was such a good boy today…but what if that is only because Katie was with us?  I can’t help but wonder if it’s more than just the fact that she speaks his language.  He really listens to her.  And we are so grateful for that, we just wish he would do the same for us.  We’re not sure how to differentiate between what is his personality and what is a correctable bad habit.  Only time will tell, but we are running out of time.  Igor leaves on Monday and he says he doesn’t want to go.  We tried to keep talks about his going back positive, by asking what his favorite parts of the children’s home are…he said when they take him to the sea…and that’s all.  He gets quiet when we talk about it…deep in thought.  As of writing this entry I don’t know what this next year will bring for little Igor or for Terry and I.  But of one thing I am certain, he can’t stay in the orphanage.

Igor…Day 14

Before I blog about our 14th day with Igor I must first give some love to my wonderful brother Jonathon.  Apparently I have been forgetting to add him in events on the blog that he has participated in, such as the Zoo :) .  Thanks Jon for entertaining little Iggie and being his bff in Toledo!  And if anyone who is reading this knows of a job availability in Toledo – he is looking.  There you go Jon! Lots of love!

Emali and Iggie ...so cute!

So I realized today that I really am as bad at math as I claim to be.  This blog in entitled 20 Days with Igor…well today I realized it is actually 18 days with Igor.  Lisa Wurster said that I could count a day of travel at each end of the trip to make it 20 -so I am going to pretend that this is what I meant to do. :)

Igor loves VBS.  I was working today so Babushka picked-up Iggie from school and took him to her house to play.

Zoo Pics - It's a snake hat

  Babushka found out that Iggie loves classical music.  She found a Mannheim Steamrollers CD that is Disney.  It was amazing.  It’s like he just went to another zone for the entire CD.  He loves music.  On the way home we listened to the CD.  When it was over Iggie started kicking…so I had to massage his feet for the rest of the way home.  I know, strange, but it calmed him down.  Tonight Igor was treated to a wonderful homemade Ukrainian dinner made by Katie.  He had a wonderful time with Katie and his family.  It made him feel very comfortable that Katie’s family could speak to him in Russian.  And they also spoiled him with gifts, which he loves as well!  So thank you Katie and family :)   Igor was as cute as ever today.  He was a very good boy.   Aside from the kisses and hugs, this was one of my favorite “Iggisms” that really show his personality.  After bath time we were sitting on the couch eating a fudge pop when we came across the Food Network.  There was a special on chocolate, and he loves chocolate.  He got a bit smile on his face, jumped off the couch

What's in here?

, went to the TV…and licked it!  I know…what can you do but laugh?! 

On the Carousel with Papa

Igor…Day 13

Time between meltdowns seem to be getting longer.  I may be off myself, but I really think his spells of crazy are fewer and farther between.  Igor seems to be doing very well in Vacation Bible School.  School excites Igor.  He loves to learn and be creative and he loves to be around other children.  After VBS today, I was still working and Terry is at the Fire Department today, so my mom (Babushka) picked Igor up and took him to meet Grandma and Grandpa in Michigan; and as a special treat Aunt Carol and Nina and Christina showed up as well.  From what has been reported to me, Igor did great as he ate lunch and played with his arts and crafts.  The arrival of two cute little girls apparently put him over the edge though…it could happen to any little guy…but that was after an hour of being calm and listening to Babushka.  They had to leave at that point and met me so I could take Iggie swimming.  Other than repeatedly putting some little lizards that he got from the Toledo Zoo in his mouth he did great – playing with Bandit the dog and floating along.  A storm was coming in so we headed for home, this time home in Lima.  As we drove Igor questioned me about going to Babushka’s house, since we’ve stayed there the past few nights.  But tonight, he needs a good night sleep, which means sleeping in his own bed, in his own room.  As we turned down our street I said, “Igor, where are we?”  And he said, “My home, My home!”
 So tonight I met a group of girlfriends from my old job with Trilogy for dinner…Igor accompanied me.  He was good for a complete hour!  Thanks to the great funky, artsy sticks my mom found Igor, they keep him busy for such a long time.  Unfortunately our waiter was a bit slow.  Igor blew his top not long after we ordered…so I tried to defuse the bomb…but had to cancel our order and head out early.  I wasn’t happy, but I wasn’t  mad either since he did make it for an hour…I think I was just hungry :) .
We went to see Papa at the Fire Department after that, where Igor ran to Papa for a big hug and kiss.  Terry is at an out station this cycle – so it makes it easier for Igor to run around like a little mad man there!  Iggie likes Big Jack, a fellow firefighter and friend that works at that station.  He says in his little accent, “Bee Jock!”   We did have to call Katie on the way home to calm him down by speaking some Russian to him.  He told her again that he has to go back on Monday.  She said he sounded sad, so they would talk about it tomorrow when she comes over.   At home Igor entertained himself with the art, coloring and those artsy sticks again. (These things are really cool, I will have to post a picture of them.) 
We have decided that Igor is a little man.  The way he speaks and his mannerisms when he is serious…he’s just like a little man.   We got Igor for his “birthday” an art kit that you write on and can rub off the marker.  It came with pre-printed pages that include the uppercase and lowercase alphabets.  Igor wrote each letter next to the pre-printed one.  They do that in Kindergarten, so for not even having started school yet I think it’s fantastic.  He also asked Katie if 12 plus 12 is 25.  Ok, so he was one off…but how did he know that?  His questions and the things he knows don’t match with the educational upbringing he’s had.  Up to this point I have been convinced that Igor must have Reactive Attachment Disorder, but after purchasing “Adopting the Hurt Child”, I’m starting to think maybe he is just an amazingly resilient child who is testing the boundaries of his new experience. 
While eating popcicles tonight he kept asking me to give him kisses.  My cold lips felt funny on his cheek – and he reciprocated with a giggle.  When I tucked him in and turned on his classical music CD I gave him a kiss and whispered, “I love you.”  and following my lead, in English, he whispered it back to me.

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