Friday, January 29, 2010

A shout out to my peeps...

CONGRATULATIONS to Summer and the Johnson's that got their court dates yesterday!!  I'm so happy for them.  I wrote someone else that the time between trips is the hardest because you heart and your mind are torn in two.  You try to focus on what is happening right here in front of you while constantly thinking about the little person that is waiting for you in Russia.

When we were waiting to go back for Jack there was not one single hour that passed in which he didn't cross my mind... not one single hour.  We wondered how he was doing, if he needed anything, if he remembered the brief time he had with us.  You've read the birthday post and how heartbreaking it was that he was alone on one the most celebrated birthdays a child has.  That first birthday is such a celebration of things, the culmination of a year of growth and change from a helpless infant to a toddler.

We did our best to re-live that year with him.  When he came home he could walk, but I carried him everywhere I could on my hip and in the Ergo.  He had learned to feed himself, but I fed him every meal.  He had learned to fall asleep without anyone holding him, I taught him to fall asleep in my arms.  He had weaned off the bottle, I put him back on and used it to establish eye contact and cuddling.  He had never had someone respond reliably to his cries, so he never cried when he was hungry or tired.  I responded to every single noise he made and taught him that I was there, no matter what.  (boy oh boy did he EVER figure out the crying thing!)

You may notice I'm saying "I" did this and that, so where was Daddy?  He was right there, every second.  He knew that the most important thing in a baby's life is his Mother, at least in the beginning.  He supported that initial bonding to me without hesitation.  He was home with us for the first four weeks and made sure that the house ran smoothly while we taught our son what a Mommy was, and what a family was.  I couldn't have done it if he wasn't there.  Jackson figured out pretty quickly that Daddy's chest was a totally awesome place to fall asleep and that Daddy's kisses tickled like Mommy's didn't.  He grew to love his Daddy just as much as he loved me.

Now that he's older, of course, Daddy rules the roost.  I'm just the glorified social secretary.  He still wants to cuddle and play with me, but once Daddy comes home at night, I'm second fiddle.  Fickle boy.  It doesn't matter... each morning he looks at me with those beautiful green eyes, sighs just a little, lays his head on my shoulder and says "Mommy, I love you all the way to the moon and back".

I don't mind being second fiddle at all.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Have I mentioned how much I HATE waiting?

Perhaps I should re-visit the topic.  I. HATE. WAITING.  Not that I didn't appreciate the break in airfare and the extra time we've had to get stuff ready, but come on already!  Can we go now?

Me with too much time on my hands is not a pretty thing.  If I say to Lance "Ooh, Honey what do you think about  - blank-?", he's going to kill me.  Kill me and stuff my body up the chimney.  I've packed one suitcase, read a blog about how their suitcase got lost, unpacked the suitcase to re-pack it into two carry ons, then decided that it was too much to carry, then unpacked again... you get the point.  I'm going to end up in Russia with one pair of underwear, a festive summer scarf and a pair of swim goggles if I don't stop playing luggage roulette!

I've tortured Nana with endless lists of exactly how Jack likes his breakfast, where we wait for the bus, when to give him snacks, and on and on and on.  It's not like the poor woman hasn't already successfully raised a child!  What do I think she's gonna do?  Throw him out in the backyard to forage for food with the dog?  And God bless her, she just pulls out a notepad and dutifully documents the insanity.

Did I tell you that Nana (brave soul that she is) is staying at our house with Jackson while we're gone?  She'll be taking care of the menagerie as well.  Her cat, our cat and our dog... four mouths and fourteen feet!  She'll also be filling the role of Jackson's social secretary, taking him to open gym at the YMCA, playdates at Monkey Joe's, gymnastics class and ensuring he's sitting in front of the computer at 12 noon to Skype every day with Daddy and me.  She is such a love, and she does it all with a smile!

Well, I've gotta go get ready for work.  Here's hoping all the families that are in Russia are having a great day (especially Mark and Sinzi), the ones that are getting ready to travel are safe and warm, and those that are waiting for phone calls get them soon!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Better living through chemistry...

A fellow adoptive parent recently left a comment about the wonders of Ambien in response to my post about insomnia.  Oh Ambien!  How do we love thee?  So here's an entertaining story about our experience with the drug on our first trip to Russia...

Like I mentioned before, I need very little reason not to sleep.  I blame my father, a veteran insomniac.  When I was a little girl, we would frequently depart on family vacations at 2 a.m. because Daddy would be all keyed up and unable to sleep.  In his mind, it was a good idea to get "an early start".  Sure, Daddy. Dragging two sleeping little girls out to the car in the middle of the night... great idea.  I cannot remember one single vacation that didn't begin with my bleary eyes seeing the sunrise through a car window at sixty miles an hour.  As a result, the very mention of any trip anywhere evokes an intense need on my part to bound out of bed at o'dark thirty and let the fun commence.

But I digress... we were discussing Ambien, right?  Lance and I thought we had this whole thing wired.  We were going to take Ambien on the plane, right after the meal and sleep through to Moscow.  We had our dorky little neck pillows and our precious little eye masks and earplugs to ease our way into blissful slumber.  We board and get settled, get fed and then drug ourselves.  At some point during the flight I awaken with my neck crooked into an unnatural position and panic for just a moment, convinced I'm paralyzed because I can't feel my arms.  Stupid neck pillow!  All I've managed to do is stick it to my face with a runner of drool.  Pretty, huh?  My eye mask is askew and I've lost an earplug.  WTH?  Then I notice that Lance is gone.  Hmm, he must have gone to the bathroom.  Good idea, perhaps I'll go, too.

Have you ever tried to walk a straight line on Ambien on a moving aircraft?  I was careening from seat to seat like a drunk senior on prom night.  I made it there and back again safely.  But where is Lance?  After a little bit he shows up looking a little horrified.  "I woke up in the bathroom!"  he says.  "I don't remember getting up to go at all!"  Apparently he came to on the pooper with his pants around his ankles and a ring around his fanny.  He'd been there for quite some time, dozing happily.  Like any good wife, I express concern and ask if he's okay.  Yeah, right... I start laughing like a hyena.  What a supportive spouse.

Fast forward to when we bring Jackson home.  We've all been home for a couple of days and are trying to adapt our body clocks back twelve hours.  Poor Jack is waking up crying and confused several times a night and needs soothing.  I am a red-eyed mumbling, bumbling zombie so my dearly beloved suggests that I take some more of the wonder drug to get some good sleep.

The next morning he begins telling me about poor Jack and how upset he was last night when I didn't come to his room.  I start in with a harangue, "Why didn't you get me up?  blah, blah, blah"  He looks at me, sincerely confused.  "But you DID get up.  You came into the room and took the baby from me.  You rocked him back to sleep, then went back to bed."  he says.  "WHAT!!"  I yell.  "You just handed him over to me?  Was I even awake?"  "I don't know, you seemed okay." he says, "You didn't say anything, you just took him."

Way to go guys.  At least I functioned appropriately while I was sleep walking.  I didn't drop the baby, or put him in the freezer.  AND... at least I got some good sleep, right?  Better living through chemistry.  I strongly recommend it.

You may submit me for Mother of the Year at any time... go ahead, you know you want to.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I have a confession...

I do not understand the World Wide Web and how it relates to my computer... the whole language of LAN, RAM, ISP, etc. quite frankly baffles me.  I know I own a Mac laptop, and that it has a pretty, shiny red cover.  I know that I don't have it connected to anything because we have something called an "Airport Express".  I know that when I turn it on, it automatically does everything I require of it without my asking. That is all I know.

If I take my pretty, shiny red Macbook with me to Russia, will it work there?  Do I have to tell it to do something special, or will it understand where it is?  Does it matter where it is?  Will my iGoogle page and my blog work over there like they do here?  If I can't access my email, weather page and my horoscope, I may likely stop breathing.  What if someone tags me in a photo on Facebook?  I would have to wait an entire week to know it!

We are renting an apartment with Peace Travel... they have free internet.  Will it like my Mac?  So many things don't.  Do I have to bring a cable to connect it to the internet, or should I be able to find some WiFi connection somewhere?  Is WiFi the same in Russia as it is here?  There must be a reason it's called the World Wide Web, right?

I bought the Mac because my brother in law Dave said I had to.  He said it was "vastly superior" to other computers.  All I know is that I had to get used to closing the little windows on the other side, and that when I turn it on it makes the same sound that WALL-E does in the movie.  My computer is WAAAAY smarter than I am.

Can someone help me?  I would hate to take my pretty, shiny red Macbook with me to Russia and have it be unhappy there.

My name is Kim, and I am a technological moron.

Friday, January 22, 2010

We've got our Visas...

WHEW!!  Man is that a relief.  I don't ever want to be sitting by the front door sweating the Fedex man's arrival like we did for Jackson's trips.  Poor Lance says he's overcome by nausea every time he sees a Russian visa after the "Great Russian Visa Incident of 2006" when he botched the dates.

Alrighty, we are one step closer to traveling and this makes it seems more like a reality.  Well, this and the four lists my husband sent me this morning reminding me of all the stuff we need to get done!  When Lance gets nervous, he makes lists.  Currently, he has four... five if you count the list he has to keep track of his lists.  When I get nervous, I don't sleep.  I've been operating on 3-4 hours of sleep a night for the last couple of weeks or so.

I took a Unisom last night and was able to get a full nights sleep, but woke up this morning all dried out and hung over feeling.  It's almost not worth it, you know?

We got to meet a lovely family yesterday that lives in our town.  Her little guys are from Russia, her oldest has been home for a little over three years and her youngest just came home in June 2009.  They're both so cute and sweet.  However, as she chased the littlest one hither and yon all over the play place I was reminded that my days as a "remote control" Mommy are going to be over for a while.

Now, when we go somewhere, all I have to do is make eye contact with Jack and give him the "come here" sign.  He runs right over and give me a nice, polite "Yes, Mommy?"  See, remote control!  The new little guy is going to require me running right behind him to keep him from killing himself, just like Jack did when he was little.  ~sigh~  Does this give you ANY clue as to how lazy I am?

Now back to the other little guy... as he was playing, she scooped him up and gave him the patented Mommy Bootie Sniff to confirm that the hideous odor she noted (not that I did) was indeed coming from  little man's bottom.  Awww, MAN!!  I forgot all about diapers!!  I'm gonna have to change diapers again!!  Do you know how much I HATE changing poopy diapers?  The day Jack trained to poop in the toilet was declared a National holiday in our home.  Crap... I can't believe I forgot about poopy diapers (no pun intended).

That's all the news that is news around here today...

Well now what I am supposed to talk about?

I guess I'm pretty tapped out until we head out to Moscow in a couple of weeks.  I've seen photos of the soon-to-be sons of some of my peeps and it's making me so exited!  Traveling blind is different.  With Jackson, we had a little face to ooh and aah over, it made it seem more real somehow.  There was a clearly defined little human at the end of it.  This trip seems more abstract... there SHOULD be a little guy, we HOPE there's a little guy, but we really don't know how it's gonna go.  I'm definitely an optimist, I tend to believe that things are going to work out just fabulously, here we go... la la la.  But this experience, and the uncertainties associated with it are making me a little nervous.

I'm a big believer in destiny.  Things work out the way and in the time they're supposed to.  It never fails that when I need something to happen, it does.  When I'm looking for is 75 cents, I can always find a dollar somewhere.  Is that God working in my life?  I'd like to think so.  I don't think life is a random cycle of events.  I think we're all part of a greater plan, and that I meet the people I need to meet and have the experiences that I need to have.

I wish I had a bit more faith.  I'm trying so hard to relax and let the process unfold as it should.  I wish I knew how to pray a little bit better, and to be more quiet and attentive to the answers that I know are out there.  I know I'll be taken care of, I just need to let it happen.

Soo... (taking a deep breath) here we go... la la la!

PS- Excuse me, but did I just type that we were going to Moscow in a couple of weeks?  OH MY GOD!  We're going to Moscow!  I leave you now in a Wile E. Coyote cloud of dust and tumbleweeds... I've gotta get out of here!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tears, laughter and a bump on the head... the final chapter

We're WHERE?!? Apparently I yelled this, because I startled several Russians. (actually I believe I said a very bad curse word in there as well, and that may have been what got their attention)

We're in St. Petersburg. And no, I'm not kidding. There was "bad" weather in Moscow (what bad weather, my DH asks, a light northeast wind?) so they let us circle for a bit then sent us off to sunny St. Pete. And it's another hour plus flight back to Moscow once we re-fuel. Frigging PERFECT!!! After an hour on the ground we are cleared to take off again. At any point do we see a flight attendant? No water, no apologies. They're sitting in the galley, yucking it up and sipping BonAqua. My son is getting grumpy, we're out of food for him.... and us.

When we finally land, our simple four hour flight has evolved into a seven and a half hour ordeal. We get in contact with all the right folks and they agree to meet us at the rental apartment to give us the keys.

Baby boy finally falls asleep in Mommy's arms on the way to the apartment. We get in the building go up to the apartment... no one is there. We call them back. Oh she'll be there in twenty minutes. Now if you recall, in our last baggage check, we were minus one stroller. A twenty pound sleeping baby is like holding twenty pounds of wet sand.... and we wait.

She gets there with the keys and lets us in... ooohh, balloons!! How sweet!! They decorated for us!! What a sap!! No, they had a party in the apartment last night and this is the aftermath. Beer bottles and cigarette butts, food on the floor and flies buzzing some left over grapes. Nice, very nice. The good news is that Jack is awake. The bad news is that Jack is awake. I have nowhere to set him down. The floor is filthy. So I hold him some more. Those of you that have held onto to an active one year that doesn't wish to be held know what the next 45 minutes were like. I'm still trying to block them out.... it's hard.

(His first bath... and he's digging it!)

Okay, apartment is clean, baby and parents are fed... life has resumed a fairly steady course. We spend the next couple of days just enjoying our beautiful son. We nickname him "howler monkey" because every time I leave his sight he cries and launches himself at me upon my return. Daddy just doesn't do it for him anymore. This is good for attachment, but very hard on Daddy. I can tell he's trying to take it in stride, but he's been waiting for so long for this moment... to have your new son scream when you touch him is unbearable.

                        (the obligatory St. Basil's photo... can you see the bruise over his right eye?)

Except for this, things go very well in our apartment. Jack naps twice a day, he's sleeping pretty well. He is funny and sweet and adorable... more than I ever imagined. One afternoon, he was sleepy and we lay down together on the bed, face to face. He laid there, touching my cheek, my nose, my mouth... all the while staring right into my eyes. I was afraid to breathe, but absolutely captivated by his gaze. Those beautiful blue eyes were curious and questioning. It was almost like he made a decision to give it a try... to try and trust me. It's a very scary thing to have someone believe in you.

The flight home was exceptionally painless. He slept six of the eleven hours and the other five was so pleasant and cheerful, passers by commented on his lovely disposition.

We've been home now for six days, and things are settling out well. He's definitely a two nap a day boy and in bed every night at 7pm to sleep until 6 or so. He's eating everything in sight, the pediatrician thinks he looks fabulous and he still loves his Mommy. Unfortunately Mommy came down with Giardia the day after we got home. The good that came of it was that he HAD to let Daddy take care of him while Mommy worshipped the porcelain Goddess. Upside is that now Daddy can play with and hold him... he still only wants Mommy for boo-boos, bedtime and bottles. It's pretty cool to have someone that thinks you totally rock!!

We've had two more injuries... any more and DFACS is coming to my house. There was an incident with the bookshelf... the bookshelf won. Add a matching bruise to the left eye. Then there was an altercation with the IKEA table and chairs set we had... they came out the winner as well. Score one badly bitten lip with blood on my baseboards. Quite theatrical. The table and chairs have been temporarily relocated to a less dangerous locale.

I've been at this for about two hours now, listening to him snore on the monitor. I'd better get in bed before it gets much later... tomorrow is going to be another great day!!  I will keep you posted on the good, the bad and the ugly. The honeymoon will have to end eventually.  We will attachment parent this baby forever, because he has suffered an unimaginable loss... his birthmother, his country and the only life he's ever known.

I'd like to end this by saying that this has been the single best experience of our lives. Please continue to believe in miracles, because they really do happen every day. I've got proof.... lying right upstairs.

Current day...
Man, oh man does that bring back memories!  He's still our miracle, and it still ranks up there as the single best experience of our lives.  Here's looking forward to new experiences, new miracles and many, many new memories.

Jack-Jack, we love you sooooo much!!  You are everything we've hoped and dreamed of.  You are smart, funny, kind and thoughtful... not to mention one of the cutest darn kids I know.  We are proud and blessed to be your parents.

We love you Buddy... MUAH!  

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tears, laughter and a bump on the head... Part seven

I manage a fairly graceful job of feeding the baby, and DH and sit on the floor to play. He is such a joy. He smiles, he laughs, he's walking... not well, but with that wide-legged spraddle... you know what I mean?

He goes down the first night at 7:30pm and sleeps straight through. Yeah baby!! THAT'S what I'm talking about!! The next day we start off well, until Mommy changes his diaper on the bed. It's a king size bed and he was in the middle of it... well for a minute anyway. I stepped away for ONE SECOND to throw the diaper away and hear the loudest CRACK I've ever heard. There he is... feet still on the bed, head on the floor doing that shuddery little inhale before the big scream. Big scream ensues, he's alright. Great big, giant goose-egg already popping up over his right eye.

                               (this photo was taken mere moments before... see how happy he was?)

GREAT!! I've been a pediatric nurse for 20 years and I can't keep my own kid from falling off the bed? I've not even had custody of him for twenty four hours yet!! I suck.

The next night is not so good. He is awake and crying most of the night. This is a different cry. It won't be consoled. He'll hold onto to me, he'll let me rock him, but he just can't stop. It's 3:30 in the morning and we're both crying now. I know how scared and lost he must feel. He finally goes down about 4:15 and our ride to the airport is coming at 5:15... just perfect.

We crawl to the airport, get checked through and realize that somewhere between the hotel and the gate, the stroller has gone to heaven. How bad can it be? He only weighs twenty pounds, right? We board the flight to find ourselves back in airline He@@.

It's the "better" airline (Aeroflot), but an old, old plane. Once again, I have my knees smashed into the kidneys of the man in front of me, and when my husband drops his tray it ends up in his liver. What fun!! Jack is doing well, though. He's laughing, he's smiling, he's waving to the passengers behind us. Not bad for 45 minutes sleep!

It's a four hour flight and like any good Mommy, I've packed provisions for my precious young son. We have a bottle on takeoff and snacks for later. We had breakfast in the terminal just prior to boarding. Perfect. I'm all over this Mommy thing. Miracle of miracles, the plane takes off on time. I reset my watch to Moscow time and settle in.....

We start to descend, I feel my ears pop and offer Jack something to drink. He's happy, we play for a while. Hmmm.... uhhhh, why can't I see the ground anymore? No, seriously, where did the ground go? Why are we back up in the sky?

The flight attendant rattles off some long thing, then does a spectacularly bad job of it in English. From what I can gather there is bad weather at SVO2, so we are landing at another airport... SVO1 perhaps? That doesn't make sense though... they're not that far apart. We ask the flight attendant a question, they make a "circling" gesture with their hands... okay, we're just circling the airport, it's all good.

One hour later, we finally land... YAY!! This flight has been as hot and malodorous as the first. Apparently it doesn't matter whether you travel in July or September, it's hot and it smells. They have the heat cranked up so high it's actually burning my right leg against the body of the plane. I'm cranky, Jack is starting to not be quite as cheerful and DH is ready to die.

We land, get poor Jack suited up in his winter wear and wait to deplane. Uhhh, why aren't we pulling up to the terminal? They make another announcement... apparently we're re-fueling. WHAT?? We don't have enough gas to drive to the frigging terminal? We sit for another 45 minutes, sweating and hungry. Finally, I call my interpeter and tell her what I think is going on, but can she PLEASE talk to someone and get a straight answer?

I get back on the phone with her, and what she tells me has me absolutely floored.....

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Interrupting our regularly scheduled program...

Hi guys!  We hope you're enjoying Jackson's story, it's been amazing to go back through the pictures and journals.  I still can't believe we've had him home for 3 1/2 years!  Anyway, we'd like to keep you updated on the insanity and hilarity here as we're gearing up for Trip One.

Did you know that you can't get your fingerprints done here in Massachusetts unless you cry?  Yeah, I found that out the hard way.  And you should know, I'm not a pretty crier.  I'm all snotty and red-nosed and my voice goes up 8 octaves into the ranges only audible by dolphins and whales.

I call CSS today and chat with 'C', and she reminds me that we need to update our FBI fingerprints and our local police clearances.  I knew when she said it there was a reason I blocked it out...  When we needed to get our prints done for the first go round, I called my local police department.  They informed me (rather abruptly) that they didn't do fingerprints unless you were being arrested.  They then went on to say that if they printed every one that asked them, that's all they would do all day long.  Okaaaay, I get it.  Uhh, any suggestions officer?  Call the Sheriff's Department.

Nope, nada, zilch.  Apparently their "machine" is broken.  What machine, dude?  I just need someone to roll my prints.  Not gonna do it.  Once again, any suggestions?  Call the State Police.  They're doing construction at the barracks and can't do any fingerprinting for a few months.  Any suggestions?  Nope, sorry.

So then I start calling local police departments in surrounding towns.  By the third town, I was nearly hysterical and talking way, WAY up in the dolphin range.  The local constabulary agreed to print us if we could be there before he went off shift.  Sweet!  When would that be?  In fifteen minutes.  Did we make it there?  Heck, yeah baby!  With three minutes to spare!

So, let's get back to todays quest for prints...  Once again, I try the local PD.  This guy is more polite, but this time he tells me this HIS "machine" is broken and out for repairs?  WTH?  Has he been talking to the Sheriff's office?  I try the Sheriff's office and the person on the phone has absolutely no idea how you could get printed unless you committed a crime. ~heavy sigh~  I call the State Police again... you never know, right?  They're still doing construction and can't do any fingerprinting for a couple of months.  I whip out my trump card, quavery voice, edging up into hysterics... and SCORE!!  They can do it.  

I need to get the prints off to the FBI for our fifth or sixth clearance since we started with Jack's adoption.  You'd think they know us by name now!  I also need to send off the paperwork for our local clearances.  It's the one thing that MA makes easy.  They send you this lovely typed letter on letterhead, all official looking.  Then once all the clearances come back, it's one final trip to see my friends at the apostille office in Boston.  If everything goes well, the next time I see them it will be to notarize our first post-placement report!

The bank is going to order some shiny, sparkly new money for us, we're also exchanging some of it here, where the rates are a bit better prior to traveling.  I think that's it for the updates, now back to our scheduled program.

UPDATE:  We got our prints done and Fedex'd off this afternoon!  We actually had them do two sets, so we have an emergency back up set if needed.  Now we just have to pray they come back quickly!!

Tears, laughter and a bump on the head... Part six

Well, as most of you know, we got the call in the middle of the night of his first birthday after making a wish on the "magic" cake. That was early Thursday morning and we needed to leave on Monday... Holy Frijoles!! We called Delta right away.. BTW, if you need to find fast, friendly customer service, call at 2 a.m... They quoted us $2500 per person, no freaking way, right? I ask about the adoption fare and get a quote of $1875, better, but not by much. Fine, we'll take them. But the hitch is we've got to go to the Delta counter to pick them up and prove we're adopting... what a pain. 

I allow DH to do the visas again, reminding him that a mix up this time will most certainly end in a divorce. Did I say divorce? I mean murder. We call the travel agency associated with our adoption agency and guess what? She can give us the SAME tickets for $1150!! Whoo-Hoo!! I might be able to afford to actually eat while in Russia!! Okay, everything is in place... except one tiny thing... isn't it always one thing? We can't get to the region. Yep, no seats on the single flight a day. Excellent.

We are on standby for the outbound flight, and have tickets for the return. Finally we have to take seats on another airline that flies out of another airport. They'll just have to pick all of us up separately... God I HATE flying Siberian Air. For those of you that recall trip one... AKA Armpit Air.

Now we're in the crunch... our entire lives depend on Fedex making four Saturday deliveries... AND THEY DO!!! I peek at the visas, they're right... I look at the tickets, they're right with two outbound and three returning. I cry a little bit over seeing his name in print on the tickets. He's getting more and more real to me every second. Why am I sitting here crying?! I've got to go pack!! I pull up every packing list I've saved for the last two years and try to compare them all. Sock garters? Oh Lord, I need to just do this.

Then we bounce between three and four suitcases. Three are bursting at the seams, four are baggy. Three it is, plus the stroller. We take Ambien and are out like lights, taking no joy in our final night alone (if you get my meaning 

The trip to the airport is painless, they change our flight from JFK to the non-stop to Moscow, we get extra roomy seats and sleep well... how much better can it get? We make it to Moscow, get a quick nap in the airport hotel and get on board Armpit Air. Much to my suprise it's a new plane, roomy seats and yummy food. Life is good. 

We get to the hotel and they tell us they'll be back to get us at 2pm to go to the baby house to see our boy... YAY!! It's a long three hour drive done in 2 hours and 15 minutes by our suicidal driver, but we arrive intact. They bring Jack in and he's pitiful. I don't know this now, but they've given him a load of vaccines and that's why he looks so bad. Where is my beautiful, smiling baby? We only get about 45 minutes with him, then we have to leave. Follow up another wild ride with Mr. Toad.

Court day.... I'm so happy, my fancy new travel hair dryer blows things out nicely, so no big hair. My clothes are ironed and I only need one pair of stockings (I brought two pair because of my propensity for sticking my fingers through them at critical times).

We got to the courthouse and down the stairs to this dark little room with granite slab floors... sort of like a dungeon. There's a prisoner cage to our left, a jury box to the right with the judges bench in the front. My husband is pale and slightly sweaty. He's terrified that somehow he'll mess things up and say something wrong. I try to tell him things will be fine when the door opens....Now we're off, the judge walks in and takes a seat. The interpreter is busy in my right ear, DH looking wan on my left. Twenty minutes later it's over and the ten days are waived. No questions of me except about child care. We barely have time to understand that it's over and we head off to start working on his new passport and birth certificates.

We finally get back to our hotel room and realize that IT'S OVER!! We're FINALLY parents!! Oh my GOD... they've just made me his mother!! And can we get something to eat, for the love of Pete?

The next day we pile into the van for the final ride to the baby house. 
 We get there and there he sits... dressed in the little summer shorts outfit we brought in July with a pink winter jacket over the top. Stylish, no? He's got his little bag of things... his lovey, his camera, his picture book. And I realize that all his worldy possessions are things that we gave him. He looks better today, more like himself. He smiles when he sees us.

We get him dressed and have a quick tour of the orphanage, we see no other children, except one little girl walking down the hall. We recognize her as the little one who's family is coming next week for court. Hang on, precious, they're on the way!!

Back in the van, he falls asleep almost instantly on my chest. That's it... I'm absolutely, totally in love. I listen to the sound of his breathing for three hours and smell the top of his head.... is there anything better in the world? I think not.

Before we know it, we're back in the hotel. DH and I stare at each other dumbly and realize that we just might need to feed this child!! Let the experimentation begin!!

Monday, January 18, 2010

The magic cake....part five

Just call me "Mommy", we've got a court date!!

Hey Everybody,
(start humming the theme song to "Gilligans Island", okay?)

Now sit right back and you'll hear a tale
A tale of a magic cake.
That started the insanity
Of this trip we're about to take.

The Mom was a mighty pedi nurse,
The Daddy, brave and strong.
For twenty two months they've been struggling
Way too darn long.... way too darn long.

The household started getting tense
Their hearts were bruised and sad
Then came a middle-of-the-night phone call
With news Oh so glad.... news Oh so glad.

No forms! No deeds! No apostilles!
Not a single notary!
Like Ward and June and Beaver,
A family they would be.

They're leaving on a big airplane
For court the twenty first
So keep them in your prayers my friends,
For the best, not the worst.....

Whew!! I don't think I can do much more!! Besides, I sort of lost the focus of the story of the cake, didn't I? So here's what happened.... Wednesday was little guys first birthday and we were just sick missing it, imagining the big NOTHING that was going on for him over there. So we decided to celebrate in absentia. We bought the cutest little cake and a single candle, but when the time came I just couldn't sing Happy Birthday without crying. So we blew out the candle together and made a wish.

Four hours later I wake up standing beside my bed... wondering why in the heck I'm awake. Then I realize it's the phone... Of course I'm thinking someone's dead or injured (good nurse that I am) and answer with a concerned, but groggy, "Hello". Then came the most beautiful words ever spoken "Hi Kim! We've got your release letter!" She then proceeded to ask if I thought we could be there for court in a week. WHAT THE F....? Okey, dokey baby... we're there!!

Anyway, long story short (too late, I know) we spent all day yesterday frantically arranging travel, visas and final apostilles. Somehow in three days, I have to clean my entire house, get my roots touched up, finish baby-proofing, pack our bags for what could be a 10 day or a 24 day trip in weather ranging from 30-60 degrees, make doggy care plans, get my car seats installed, finish the five different household projects we started to distract ourselves from the stress of waiting, pick up my pediatrician letters and dry cleaning.... OH MY GOD!!! What am I doing on here making up songs? I gotta get a move on!!

A final note, you just never know when some birthday wishes are going to come true... in a big way.

Much love my friends, I'll see you when I get back!!


And here's a photo of the magic cake!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Happy Birthday Daddy!

Today is Lance's birthday and Jack and I wanted to take this time to tell everyone how lucky we are to have him around.

Kim - Lance is the best husband a girl could have.  He does laundry (I HATE laundry), picks up and puts away things I leave laying around (thank you Honey!), he handles all the "outside stuff" like shoveling snow/snow blowing, chopping and sawing things, car maintenance, etc.  Personally, I think he has an obsession with power tools and small engines, but what do I know?  He always puts our families best interests ahead of his own.  He is selfless and devoted to me and Jackson.  He has a warm and loving heart that he shares freely with those he holds dear.

Jackson - I love my Daddy because he plays on the bed with me, gives me my bath and gets me ready for bed.  He spends "man time" with me... he lets me help him do projects around the house, takes me to Lowe's (my favorite store) and lets me use small power tools.  He tells me he loves me a hundred times a day and snuggles with me at night under the blanket while we watch Max and Ruby.  He's my favorite and best Daddy, and I love him all the way to the moon and back.

Happy Birthday Honey!  We love you so much and are very happy you're in our lives.  Like Barney says, "We're a happy family!"


             Kim and Jackson

      (No, he's not psycho... this is from Jackson's birthday in September, he just REALLY likes Buzz!)

Blood, Sweat and Tears... part four

Tuesday, July 11th... Cecile B. DeMille, eat your heart out!

The next day I vow to be more analytical, less involved. Yeah, right!! I did manage to do a little developmental screening and get his measurements, but mostly it was two more hours of trying to absorb every second. We set the camcorder up on a tripod and took turns manning the digital camera. I'm so glad we got tons of photos... Poor little guy must've felt like he was being stalked by the paparazzi with all the flashes going off in the room!! Someone once wrote that having a child is like having a piece of your heart walking around outside your body. Now I know what they mean.

In pretty much a repeat of the first day, we coo, he babbles, he's gorgeous and he's covered in... bug bites?  WTH?  Apparently they have a sleeping porch they put the little ones on in the summer for fresh air.  Clearly it's a fresh air banquet for the hordes of mosquitos that live near there.  The poor little guy has no fewer than 12 new bites on his face... I've got a lot of Photoshopping to do!  At least they haven't covered him in the dreaded "green salve".  The social worker comes in to observe, she holds him by the hands while he toddles along, smiling and encouraging his faltering steps.  The Medical Director and the caregivers here are so lovely, it's very clear they care about the babies here.

When the end of the visit comes, it's like a Hostage Rescue Team. Get in, get him out quickly. Before we knew it he was gone... our last view of him smiling over the caregivers shoulder. I'm okay, Lance keeps watching me, expecting a storm of tears, some emotion, anything. But I walk out like a big girl, not kicking and screaming like he feared! 
 They tell us they'll be back at 6:00am to take us to the airport to head home.  Let the waiting for court begin...

Wednesday, July 12th... can we leave now?

We don't want to get up early, but we do, making sure we've left nothing behind. We get to the airport and it's foggy, very, very foggy. Hmmmm, not a good sign. Remember back when I told you that our connection in Moscow was tight? Oh criminy!! We sit down in the airport and the overhead speakers blare... the plane landed at Kemerovo city airport d/t the fog, it will be here soon. We were supposed to leave at 7:00am, we take off at 11:30.

Okay, so we've missed the Atlanta and the JFK flights back home. We can still make the flight to Paris. Why so imperative that we leave? If you recall our visas expire that day. We have til midnight, then we're in the country illegally... GREAT!! I tell my DH that if this affects our ability to come back and get this little boy, I'll remove his manly parts and feed them to him for dinner. We land, and struggle against the horrible Moscow traffic for almost three hours, getting to SVO at 3:00pm. The Delta office is closed, Air France won't help us. They've rebooked me on the Atlanta flight tomorrow, but DH is on standby. We got his ticket on Skymiles and the flight is oversold. Probably no seats til Saturday!

We grab our luggage and head back to the car. Our poor driver has been circling the airport as we've wandered from official to official pleading our case. We can see him, but he's stuck behind some yahoo who's decided to park in the middle of the lane. Our coordinator stalks off and starts yelling at the guy. It also appears she has given him the universal symbol of contempt with her middle finger. I ask her about it and she tells me she called him a goat. Apparently a most insulting thing to say....who knew?

They take us to the lovely 
 SVO hotel. It takes the desk clerk a full 20 minutes to process our registration. Stamp this, stamp that, etc. As we're standing there we see this other guy in front of the elevators staring at us. As we FINALLY head for the elevator he stops us and asks for our papers. I'm not kidding... it's like a bad movie. I mean, didn't he just SEE us standing there registering? Fine, fine... I shuffle my luggage and give him our "guest card". Whatever! We go up to our room and crank the a/c.... Yeah baby!! We want it so cold in there we can hang meat!! We crawl into bed and fall asleep. It's 6:30 at night... we don't care.

The next morning we're up at 5:00am staring at each other, starving to death. We get up, put on our (at this point) rather questionable clothes and head back to the airport. My DH has bravely said that I should go home without him. He'll be fine. We start to divvy up the money and the credit cards. We arrive, and shuffle through the first security checkpoint. It was at this point some unfortunate Russian man tried to cut me in line. I literally hip-checked him and stepped right back in front. That was IT!! I had had ENOUGH!!

We get to the Delta counter, explain our situation for the 15th time and they tell me I have a seat, and DH remains on standby. Then they tell us the consulate representative will hear our case and decide if he can extend our visa. Oh Lord.... what if he says no? I envision the Tom Hanks film "Terminal". We'll turn into little Russian bag people. We go through security checkpoint number two and wait in line for the Delta people to shake a tailfeather.

The first lady that helps us tells us she will go to the consulate person and see what she can do. Fifteen minutes later she comes over with a hand-written note that says, in effect, that we request to have our visas extended for one day. We sign it, hand her a $100 dollar bill (she is unsure of how much visa extensions cost) and she tells us it will be an hour. So we sit off to the side with the untended, oversized baggage and wait. Forty five minutes later she comes back with $50 and our brand new, shiny visas... valid for one day.

We get in line to check in for the flight. The girl processing tickets in our line is clearly new. She gets up repeatedly to check with other people on procedure. We get up to the desk and present our tickets... she is perplexed. She says she sees me on the flight, but not DH. We don't say anything about standby, we just stare. She looks at his ticket which clearly says he has no ticket and asks us if we want to sit together. We nod and smile and the next thing you know we're in 34A and 34B... heading home together!! Whahooo!!

The flight home is very long and made longer by the two and a half hour delay d/t a "mechanical issue" with the plane. Of course this mechanical issue does not show itself untill we are taxi-ing down the runway. They roll us off to the side and we wait as the little men fix our plane and re-fuel us since we burned so much fuel during our two hour ground party. I feel for the new families on the plane. You know all they want is to get home, touch down and get on with their new lives. The flight is peaceful with little to be heard from our newest members.

Well, that's it.... we're home and gathering the papers to go back. We've watched the video at least six times and can't stop staring at his photos. Thanks so much for coming along on our trip, it's been fun.

To all those families waiting for Trip one, I hope it's magical. To all of us waiting for Trip two... please God hear our prayers!!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Blood, Sweat and Tears... part three

Monday July 10th, 2006... the race is on
We get to the hotel in Novokusnetsk and all I'm thinking about is a shower. Well, a shower and an air conditioned room, that is. It's 8:15 and they're coming back to get us at 9:00. We pay three times the normal room rate to get a renovated room with a/c. I don't care. We fly upstairs and there is an explosion of clothing, hair products and toys while we both try to get ready at the same time.

I'm in the shower when DH comes in with a stricken look on his face. The camcorder some how got turned on/left on and the battery is completely dead!! We're about to meet the most important little human in our lives and we can't record the moment? Find the power adaptor!! Quickly!! Now we have 25 minutes to finish getting ready...

Some wonderful soul has given me the hair dryer she purchased in Russia during her journey. I've never tried the thing as I don't have any way to plug it in Stateside. Imagine a gentle summer breeze... a gentle HUMID summer breeze... that's my hair dryer. When I turn it on, the lights dim like some sort of prison movie. Fine, I'll have big hair for the first meeting... he's a baby, he won't care. My husband is cursing that someone has stolen his contact lenses. That's right honey, someone rifled our bags and all they took were your contacts? How about we look again? Panic over, contacts found.

We make it downstairs with seconds to spare. I, with big, high humidity hair, and my husband with his shirt buttoned askew all wild eyed. We're a handsome people! We once again pile into the car and beg for the a/c to be turned up so we can cool down a bit before the big moment.

We arrive at the orphanage... this is sooooo cool!! I've seen the photos on the message boards and now I'm here!! We walk into the Directors office. She's so kind, and dressed a little like a christmas tree... all red and green. They sit us down and immediately launch into the social and medical history of our little man. Mom's young, yes... can't care for him, yes.... he's got all the normal orphanage ailments, yes, yes....all the while we're sitting with our ears cocked waiting for the door to open behind us.

We finally meet our son...
The door opens and in walks a woman with an anxious looking little man in her arms. It's clear he's not been in this room before, and he doesn't understand what's going on. I whip out my best baby Russian.. "Ee-dee syu-da Malish" I say to him... come here, little one in English. She hands me the most beautiful baby I've ever seen and he bursts into tears.

Now there's a babble of Russian in the room as all the ladies start talking at once trying to soothe him. I put him up to my shoulder and he stops crying immediately. I close my eyes and inhale the baby smell of him. They've taken great care to dress him and put him in American diapers, and it shows. My poor husband has been designated "camera guy" and is trying to film the moment at the same time he's trying to get a good look at his new son. The video camera is all over the place, then it zooms in on his face... just as it screws up and he lets out a big loud bawl!

After a few minutes of walking him around muttering in my bad Russian they let us go to the playroom to visit. I put him down on the floor at arms reach to let him get a look at the both of us. He's stopped crying, but is still giving us those big, hiccoughing sighs as he catches his breath. We start to offer him toys and he looks a bit perplexed... what in the world are these people up to? Twenty minutes later, we get our first tentative smile.... it was at that moment I knew I'd lost my heart forever.

We continue to play with him and get him up on his feet. He looks down at them, then does a double take, like "How cool is THIS?" Once he's up, he's up for good. We see his little personality start to unfold. It's amazing... sort of like watching one of those stop action flower movies... do you know what I mean? He gets more and more animated, smiling and clapping his hands together. Every time he does something he looks up to check our reaction, we smile at him and murmur encouraging words... he beams.

Before we know it the two hours are up and they're asking us if we want to go ahead and sign the petition to adopt. Are you kidding?!? Can we take him home now? They laugh... they've heard all this before. On the drive back to the hotel we look at the photos and watch the video of what just happened. It's completely surreal. Eighteen months of tears, trial and heartbreak forgotten in one short second.

After we get back in our room, we watch the video... again. Then at some point we fall asleep, heads together, the camera forgotten on the bed between us.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Blood, Sweat and Tears... part two

Sunday, July 9th, 2006
Okay, so we're waiting at the airport for our flight to board. Like I said, it's a nice new airport with A/C and a relatively clean potty, so I'm pretty happy. It's started to rain outside, so now we're getting nervous about the flight leaving on time. That fear will be re-visited several times in the next few hours......

Right on time they start boarding the flight. Now we've read all about the crazy rush to get on the plane, so we're cool, we wait for the first mass of humanity to jam themselves on the little bus. We walk over and get right onto the second bus. It's at this point that we notice that all the rain has done was turn the atmosphere into some semblance of Vietnam... hot as heck and humid. Now factor in the Russian dislike of bathing, fondness for wearing the same clothes for days in a row and the relative underuse of deodorant.

Oh yeah... it's like a baaaaaddddd deodorant commercial. Armpits raised high, funk floating around and we sit on the tarmac in the little bus as the windows fog. The driver hollers something in Russian and we take off for the plane. The a/c on the bus cycles for about 15 seconds and then we're there. We run across the tarmac to board. We've been warned the plane is small and space is tight. They weren't kidding. Add a little oil and we're like sardines in there... knees jammed against the seat in front, cheek by jowl with your fellow passenger.

We're in the plane and we're waiting... and waiting.... and waiting. No one tells us why. Why would they? 
 As we wait, there is no air. None. Nothing coming from the little blowers over our heads. I'm sweating like no woman should while I'm sitting still. One and one half HOURS later... I've sweated off at least ten pounds. My husband makes the comment that all we need is a few birch branches to flay ourselves with and we've got a nice, if not smelly, Russian sauna!

We take off and head for Kemerovo. The air comes on, the plane cools down, life is better. I lean down to get something out of my bag. Right, I didn't really lean down... I just mooshed my face into the seat in front of me and flailed blindly in the direction of my bag. As I'm leaning I smell something absolutely appalling.... it's ME!! Dear God!!

One thing I give Siberian Air full credit for is the food. Dinner on the flight was absolutely delicious!! I had the fish. Yep, that's right folks, I had FISH on Siberian Air. It was awesome!! We adjust our watches another four hours ahead... now we're a full twelve hours off our time zone, and feeling every minute of it.

As we land in the airport, and trust me when I tell you that airport is a fairly generous description of the building, we see this little metal shed. This shed is baggage claim. This is also the first time our luggage is inspected by anyone, and she took her job VERY seriously. We meet our coordinator and head for the hotel. I don't think I mentioned that the flight left at around 11:30pm Moscow time and now it's 7:30 am Kemerovo time. We're due at the orphanage in an hour and a half. I smell like I've been cleaning road kill off an Arizona highway, and DH is still sweating like some sort of farm animal!!

Off to the hotel we go.....

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Jackson's Story...

I didn't keep a blog when we adopted Jackson.  I posted a bit on FRUA and on and had some "virtual" friends, but just never made the leap.  Ironically, I was a total, complete blog stalker!  I had lists of blogs that I followed with almost religious fervor.  I must've reloaded pages multiple times a day looking for updates (O Google Reader!  How do I love thee!).  It was so nice to follow everyone's adoptions and here how the first meeting went, what the hotel was like, and dear Lord... how was court?!

I posted a series on when we got back about our first and second trips.  I got such nice feedback about it that I thought I would re-post it here.  It doesn't seem fair to leave big brother Jackson out of the process.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy Jackson's adoption story.

Blood, Sweat and Tears... A tale of Trip One

Thursday, July 6th, 2006... one day and counting We started the day with a phone call from the agency telling us we were booked on the wrong flights into the region. Uh, what do you mean? I told the travel agent where we were going, they wouldn't make a mistake like that... would they? Yep, they would! They later told me "You said Kemerovo, you didn't say WHERE in Kemerovo." Uh... yes, I did, please re-read my original email  . So flight re-booking number one happens, no big deal.

Then the visas arrive in via Fedex. I'm happy, I'm joyful... then I look at the dates. They're WRONG!! 
 My DH (not so "D" to me at this point) has made a most egregious error when processing the visa application. Our visas expire the day before we leave the country. This necessitates flight re-booking number TWO. It's still all good at this point. Okay, maybe I exaggerate.... it wasn't a pretty scene at the house, but we moved forward. 

I print out the (third) new intinerary, forward it to the in-country folks and such and get the next phone call. "Ummm, you don't have enough time between the flights to transfer between airports coming home." WHAT!?! Now I'm starting to do a "Rain Man" rocking and moaning in front of the computer.... DEFinitely not going to make my flight home... DEFinitely not. Once again, I'm on the phone with my friends at Delta re-booking for the THIRD time. It's been such a fun day!!

Friday, July 7th, 2006... we're going to Siberia!!

DH and I had a heart to heart last night. We're not going to let the unpleasantness of yesterday ruin our first trip. He cried, I cried... we're better. Everything's packed, and we're on the way to the airport. Amazingly enough, nothing bad happens on the flight to Russia!! We sleep, we watch funny movies, the food is good... Ahhhh!!! Finally things are going smoothly.

We land in Moscow and are met by our coordinator. She's a lovely young woman and speaks impeccable English. Our driver... not so much. 
 They take us to the apartment that we've rented. Did I mention that there's a heat wave in Moscow? And that the apartment we've rented has no a/c? Lordy, Lordy!! Suffice it to say, it was a bit toasty in there!! We opened up all the windows and turned on the fan... I do believe the sizzling sound I hear is my booty melting in the sun!!

Out we go... the intrepid explorers on the loose. There is a Stardogs most conveniently positioned right out front of our apartment. Now I can call you "sweetie, bunny and sunshine" in Russian. I can count to ten and tell you my name... but I have no idea how to order a hot dog!! So we point and hold up fingers and generally blunder through the transaction. I'm not sure, but I think we paid $26.50 for two hot-dogs and two Cokes! (kidding, it was only like $2.00) Thank you Nungesser... our first Stardog!!

We wander off down the Ulitsa to Red Square. How cool!! Americans standing in front of the Kremlin!! We took all the obligatory photos in front of the amazingly beautiful St. Basils and then continued off through some stunning parks.

At dinner time, we're not feeling quite so intrepid and we'd really like to find some A/C. It's been a sunny day in Moscow and we did NOT bring sunscreen. Ouchy, ouchy!! We did the cheesy, cowardly Amercian thing and went to TGIF. Chicken fingers, Sprite and A/C... it doesn't get any better than this. Okay, I know it does, but you take life's pleasures where you can find them! In my real life here in the States, you would never catch me at TGIF. Desperate times call for desperate measures. 

Then we go back to the apartment and sweat our way through the night. Some thoughtful tourist had left a gallon of water in the fridge... we were most thankful. Saturday brings more of the same. We wandered around town for a few more hours killing time before our flight to Kemerovo. We drove across town to Domededvo airport. It's a lovely drive, and the airport is sparkly new. Clean restrooms, plenty of toilet paper, air conditioned, everything a girl could ask for.

Which brings me to a point.... I read over and over again all the travel tips and clothing tips for Russian travel. First, either we had a very different experience than most, or things are getting better over there. I never found a "hole in the floor" for a toilet. They were always normal looking flush-jobbies. And while the toilet paper is definitely NOT Charmin, it was readily available everywhere. The only thing I found strange were the footprints on the toilet seat in the airport. Did they lose something? I just draped the seat with paper and plopped down. I'm not saying there aren't some scary toilets, but I didn't see any.

We brushed our teeth with city water, and have yet to be struck ill. I forgot and drank a soda with ice in it. Still feeling okay...

About the clothing. My poor DH took only trousers because NOBODY wears shorts in Russia. Ahem... I respectfully beg to differ!! There were plenty of folks wearing shorts, TONS of people in blue jeans of all colors. The women tended to wear more skirts/dresses in the heat, but I did see several in bermuda-length shorts. We were told not to wear sandals. Okay, maybe not in winter, but all I saw were sandals and open-toed shoes on the women. Granted alot of them were the dreaded spike-heels, but lots of toesies on the street. Tennis shoes, not so much. More of the new Euro-looking colored sneakery/bowling shoe looking things. I didn't see any more exposed flesh on the young women there than I do here... less so when you consider most of them had their backsides covered up!!

No, the Russians don't smile at people on the street. Yes, they cut in line. My suggestion... cut right back. I'd gotten so tired of being cut off, I just started pretending I didn't see them and stepped right back in front of them. Amazingly enough, they moved back!! So I have to advocate the "I don't see you" approach. They do it all the time!!

Anyway.... on to the region, and our boy!

PS- This is Part One of a Eight part series... check back for the rest of the story!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Man, I LOVE Craigslist!!!

I gotta tell you guys, I am a HUGE fan of Craigslist!  We've scored some major coups on that site.  Most recently, like tonight, we got a solid pine armoire for little guys room for $60!  The girl paid something like $250 for it, but didn't need it anymore and wanted to get rid of it.  It's the perfect size, with two doors on top and a hanging bar, and two drawers on the bottom.

Sigh... now I have to paint the darn thing!  It's natural pine with no stain, just like we wanted, but I am dreading the sanding, priming, painting part of it.  I did all of Jack's furniture when we lived in GA, but it was different.  I needed a project so as not to go completely insane from waiting.  Now I have a lovely pre-schooler that wants to "help" me with everything.  Don't get me wrong, I let him help with anything I can, but painting is one of those things that is fraught with potential disaster.  Especially when you're painting inside the house, on 106 year old heart pine floors... see where I'm going with this?

I guess I could put drop cloths down over the entire house, and let him help.  I'll be sure to take pictures of the ensuing chaos!  I'm gonna go ahead and say "I told you so" to myself about the paint.  It won't be pretty.

So, any good deals off Craigslist for you?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Visa stuff is done!

Lance took the day off on Friday and we were able to get all our visa paperwork, photos, etc. completed and Fedex'd out in time for processing on Monday.  The Russian holidays are over this weekend and the consulate and all other official offices should be up and running again on Monday.

I had a brainstorm (or brainfart, if you will) that in order to take Jackson to Russia with us on Trip Two, we might actually need a US Passport for him!  Duh!  You think?  So part of the dashing about on Friday included going to the post office and getting his paperwork done as well.  We should have it back in less than a month.  It sure made me nervous to send out his original adoption paperwork and his COC.  Why not send in his US birth certificate you ask?  Because we never applied officially to re-adopt here in the States.  Slackers... complete slackers.

Well, to be fair, we have moved to another state in the time we've had Jackson home and the process here in MA can be a painful one, or so I've heard.  Pretty much free... but painful.  When we get back from Trip One, I plan to submit the paperwork to officially re-adopt here in the US.  For those that don't know why you would, or should...  Foreign adoption is recognized by the US, so even though we adopted in Russia, the US recognizes it and treats it no differently than they would one completed here.

The problem can come with replacing a foreign adoption decree and birth certificate.  Right now the ones we have are in Russian with official translations attached.  If we should lose them, we have to try to obtain replacement documents from Kemerovo, which is out in Southern Siberia...literally!  Might prove a bit difficult to do.  When you re-adopt in the US, you get a birth certificate from the state you live in.  It will always show that he was born in Russia, but will be as easy to replace as ours are.  It's really not a birth certificate as much as it is a Recognition of a Foreign Adoption Decree.  But it has all the pertinent details and lists us as his parents, etc.

One month from today we'll be on the way to Russia to meet our little guy!  It seems so close, yet still so far away.  Knowing how fast the Christmas season flew by, I'm sure it will be here before we're quite ready!

And a big Congratulations are in order for Mark and Sinziana... they just got their travel dates and referral for their little girl in Kaluga!  Good luck guys!!  The Johnsons left today for Moscow and should be there tomorrow.  They'll be meeting with the MoE on Monday to receive their referral.

Things are moving along!!

Friday, January 8, 2010

How this works...

We've gotten alot of questions from family and friends about how this whole process works.  When you are pursuing an adoption from Russia, there are a number of things that have to happen before you meet your child.  You have to have a homestudy, which is an in-depth look at your family, health, finances, general sanity and fitness to parent a small human being.  You need to select an adoption agency, they are your representatives that handle the paperwork and act as a liason between you and the Russian government.  These last two sentences add up to about 3-6 months of paperchasing, appointments and startling cash outlays.

Once you have a completed homestudy and an agency, you complete your dossier.  Your dossier is an even more comprehensive overview of every single thing anyone could ever want to know about your family.  Religious beliefs, parenting style, family history, medical history, financial stability, how tall you are and whether or not you have ever been arrested or convicted of a crime.  They know it all.  Once you have compiled your dossier (can take another couple of months) you submit it to your agency for translation and eventual registration in the region in which you hope to adopt.  Each agency handles it differently.  Some assign you to regions and you get in line and await your referral.  Some wait until they have a referral, then register you in the region the child comes from.  It varies.

The referral process can go two different ways... sometimes you get a photograph and a very brief medical blurb about the child.  Sometimes you travel "blind".  Blind travel means you know nothing, absolutely nothing about the child you're going to meet.  With Jackson we got a photograph and some measurements from birth to the present.  We knew a tiny bit about his birth mother, and that was it.  We decided that he was too delicious NOT to meet and sallied forth to Kemerovo and lived happily ever after, the end.  Okay, there was a whole lot more to the story, if you want the details, just ask.  The following is Jackson's referral photo.  Do you see why we rushed halfway around the world to meet him?  I thought you might.

This time around we are traveling blind.  We know (at least we HOPE we know) that it will be a boy, between the ages of 8 months and 2 years old.  That's what we asked for, it remains to be seen if the Russian government agrees!  We will not know anything else until Monday, February 8th when we meet with the Ministry of Education (MoE) representative in Moscow.  There we will be given a small, blurry, often terrifying looking photo (we think the DMV travels over there specifically to take the bad pictures) of the child along with a brief summary of his medical background.  Then we travel to the orphanage to meet him.

Since we are going into this with no information, we have hired Dr. Oleg Togoyev, a Russian pediatrician with Western training to come with us to the orphanage to take a look at our new little guy.  After the years I've spent looking at children, I feel comfortable doing the basic developmental screening and plotting growth curves, etc.  But there's one thing I can't do... read a Russian medical record.  He will be our pediatrician while we are in country.  We will be making the decision to adopt based on his recommendation.

The most difficult, painful situation we might encounter would be to have to decline a referral.  Generally that happens when the child has significant medical problems, or severe delays.  It is every adoptive parents nightmare.  If for some reason we have to decline a referral, we risk coming home without a child at all.  It all depends on if there is another child available for adoption in the region that fits the parameters set forth in the homestudy.  We hope and pray we are not faced with that situation.

Once we accept the referral, we petition the Russian courts for a hearing.  That generally happens anywhere from 4-8 weeks after we file.  Then we come home and wait... and wait... and wait.  When we get our court date, we fly back to Russia and (hopefully) are named the parents of our newest son.  Then we fly home without him yet again.  In Russia there is a 10 day waiting period before any civil or family court judgement becomes final.  It's known as the "10 day wait", for rather obvious reasons, I would think.

Once the 10 day wait is over, we fly back to Russia... are we keeping count?  Yes, folks that's THREE trips to Russia!!  Now we finally get to bring our little guy home.  He has to get poked, prodded, photographed and make a trip to the US Embassy in Moscow to receive a visa to enter the United States.  When we land at JFK and his little toes touch the ground he will become an American citizen and we will collapse gratefully into our own beds.  That is until he wakes up crying every 45 minutes because he doesn't know where in the heck he is... but that's another story for another day.

One thing we have to tell you, though.  We are absolutely NOT allowed to post photos of our son until we take custody of him after the 10 day wait.  We can send the odd little photo to desperate Aunts and Grandparents, but the rest of you will have to suffer until he's legally ours.  But just so you know... if you email us privately, we might be persuaded to bore you to tears with a thousand or so photos of him doing the exact same thing... just like any other new parent!

Hope this helps clarify things!  Any questions?  Let us know, we're happy to help!

Kim and Lance