Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ministry Letter


Our agency will submit the information to the court on Tuesday. At that point, the Judge will be assigned and review the infomormation. We will keep everyone updated.

New Toy Box & Cute Shirts!

We put together this toy box for our little guy last weekend. Also, here are a couple of shirts that are hand me downs that I thought were really cute. The Hawaiian shirt is for Grandma Sherri, and the other one is for Grandpa Tony! Can't wait to put these on him :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Watching the clock....

I have to admit that no Internet may be a good thing at this point. We are getting a little frustrated with the wait. We are READY to go back for Court and bring our little guy home. We have both been really good about the wait so far. Not a lot of fussing or complaining really. We are doing everything we can to stay busy and get everything ready (even doing things that do not need to be done). We are buying gifts, washing (even ironing) his clothes and putting them away, putting together a toy box, sanitizing everything, rearranging his clothing, arranging his bedroom furniture, putting together a trip 1 album, rearranging his bedroom furniture, etc…etc.

This is week 3 for the Ministry letter – so keep all fingers crossed and us in your prayers that we get it soon so the Judge can be assigned ASAP!!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hump Day

It's been some time since our last post. We have not had Internet access for about a week now, but should have it back finally this weekend.

The most recent news is that our little guy has started to walk! We are both thrilled that he is progressing developmentally. I wish we were with him to see his first steps though. We miss him terribly.

We also spoke to our agency yesterday, and are just in wait mode. We are waiting for the Ministry letter, waiting for the Judge to review the documents, waiting for trip 2, waiting for a court date, etc...etc. During the wait, we are filling our time by gathering gifts for the staff, washing the little guys clothes and setting up his room. As soon as we are done, I will post a picture of the completed work!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A cool card and an update.

Our little guy received a card in the mail recently to celebrate his birthday. It was his FIRST birthday card ever! There was a note in there from Nana and Papa. Isn't the card neat? We both love the world photos with the children standing around it. Very cool!

In other news, we had a conference call today with our agency. Our documents arrived in Russia this week. Now, we are just waiting for the Ministry letter to arrive. The estimated time for this is the end of August. A Judge is then assigned, and either sets a court date...or requests further documentation. We had an issue a few weeks ago that held us up, and although we are past that now - our medicals will expire about the time we travel. As a result, we have to get revised medicals. Long story short - October 2009 is the estimated time of travel. We were hoping for September, but October it is. Now, keep your fingers crossed that we actually get to go in October :)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Amy is Da Bomb!

We received an unexpected gift in the mail the other day. It truly shocked and amazed me on the kindness of the woman that sent it. Tatiana's mom, also known as Amy, took the time, money and energy to put together a gift package for us and send it to our house.

I am still stunned. Amy is well known in blogger world as she journeyed to Vladivostok and adopted the highly energetic "T". They have been home now for around 4 months and Tatiana is adjusting very well. Amy and I have spoken on the phone once, as well as exchanged several emails...but in a million years I didn't even consider she would send us a gift. She has been a great support system for us.

Thank you Amy! You are truly kind and wonderful. I can't wait to show our little guy his gifts from you and T!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

July 11th - 12th Travel Days

We left from Vlad to Moscow around 7:30pm. The flight was full, and very uncomfortable...although non eventful. We arrived in Moscow and were met by German. He dropped us off at the 5 star SVO and we stayed the night. There is a 3 star SVO and a 5 star SVO. On the way over, we stayed at the 3 star.

The next morning we had breakfast at the hotel. They had a nice buffet selection so we could avoid the early morning fish and go for the eggs and bacon. Our flight from Moscow to Atlanta left at 12:30pm on Sunday, and we arrived in Atlanta at 4pm on Sunday. Given the time change, we gained 13 hours. We were delayed in Atlanta around 30 minutes due to weather, but arrived home safely on Nana's birthday around 8pm. Papa picked us up from the airport and we were reunited with our furry friends Gracie and Copper.

Thanks to Nana and Papa for watching our girls for us and for the ride to the airport. Nana - hope you had a great birthday!
Little guy - we promise to be back for you! We love you and miss you immensely and will do everything in our power to get you home as soon as possible!

July 11th - Saturday

We woke up and packed our bags and anxiously awaited our ride to the baby home. We arrived at the baby home at 1:30pm and were allowed to visit until 3pm (longest visit yet!). They brought him out and he was such a snuggle bunny. The weather wasn't that great so we went straight to the gym to get as much interaction in as possible.

Throughout the week, he began to mimic our behaviors. He likes to feel textures and put his fingers in holes. We had a plastic link toy from Aunt Carolyn that he continually put his fingers in and out of. When he pulled his fingers out, I would make a pop noise with my mouth. he began to look at me each time he took his finger out in anticipation of the mouth noise. Also, we clapped and said "yay" and "good job" a lot this week each time he mimicked or made a small accomplishment. This day, he clapped along with us for the 1st time. It was short lived, but still a nice step forward. Another thing he mimicked this day was a mouth noise. Bill sounds like a squirrel when he plays with him... and this day the little guy mimicked his mouth noise - so cute!

Before we left, we asked if we could look at him unclothed just to check everything out. The answer was surprisingly yes. The little guy is quite the exhibitionist. When I started to take his clothes off, he immediately started to smile! Everything looked great, and I hated to put his clothes back on because he was thrilled being naked! I am sure this will someday embarrass him, but he has the cutest little butt. He started to give us open mouth smiles during this time and didn't stop. Finally we dressed him and he started to get tired. I gave him to Daddy and he started to fall asleep in his arms. Precious!

It was time to take him back to his room and we both started feeling a mixture of emotions. For me, the emotions were a new, never experienced combinations of feelings. Sad, happy, blessed, anxious and in love. As we handed him back to his caregiver he woke up. For the first time, he looked back for us. It broke my heart. We went silently to the van and for the first time, the tears started to flow. This little guy was our son and we wanted to make it permanent and care for him the way he deserved to be cared for.

We treated Elana and Vladimir to lunch at a restaurant in Artem. We had some traditional Russian food and then they saw us as far as they could into the terminal at the airport. We hope to be back very soon.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

July 10th, Friday

We left early from the hotel to run into Artem to find the perfect gift for Nana. It was her birthday on Sunday and she and Papa have both been very supportive of our many, many ways. They will pick us up from the airport on Sunday evening so we did not have to pay parking, also they have been babysitting their furry grand kids while we were gone to save us some boarding costs. Since Sunday was her birthday, we were looking forward to trying to find a particular gift we had in mind. We went to several souvenir shops in and around Artem, finally finding what we wanted! A Snowman nesting doll! She collects Snowmen so we were hoping we could add to the collection. Thanks Nana and Papa for babysitting the pups and for the ride to/from the airport!

We arrived around noon and they brought the little guy out. Today was the 1st time he did not seem to be upset by leaving his caregiver. We took him outside for a stroll and then back into the gym for some one on one playtime. We showed him a photo album we put together of his new family, which he enjoyed chewing on. He tasted and chewed on each page individually. He has 2 bottom teeth and kind of looked like a Chipmunk having dinner! So cute!!! He gave us lots of smiles this day, but today we actually received a couple open mouth smiles. We could see his bottom 2 teeth and it looks like others are on the way. We told him we would come back and bring him home as soon as possible. I think he approved given the amount of smiles :) We cannot wait until he laughs out loud, that will be a special day.

Even more good news this day! The Director gave us permission to visit him tomorrow, on a Saturday! We were thrilled!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

July 9, 2009

We woke up at 2:30am (which was the norm for us on this trip) and talked more about the little guy. At this point, we still had not made our final decision regarding the adoption. By 3:00am, we decided that after just 2 visits, we were in love with him and decided to take the leap of faith and formally petition for his adoption. We had decided to really take our time, gather as much information as possible and make the decision together that would affect the rest of our lives. That morning, we were both at ease. He is an amazing little boy and we both already loved him. Although the progress he had made to that point was slow, it certainly was positive. We believe that giving him a loving home, proper nutrition, and good medical care he will prosper, and we both agreed to this with whole hearts. We were the family for the little guy, he was our son.

At 10:45am, we were picked up by Elana and Vladimir. Off to the baby home to see OUR little guy! Today was the 1st time he didn't cry when he saw us. He whimpered just for a second or two, but allowed us to console him. We took him outside again and walked around and looked at the stray cats, and crazy bugs that soon after decided to attack us (and leave welts all over me). We decided to go in the gym and play with him for the rest of the visit. He liked his toys better today, seemed more alert and attentive to his surroundings. He was blossoming before our very eyes, with just a few short visits! During our last 10 minutes of our visit, Bill was doing some type of helicopter maneuver with him, and it finally happened...a smile! 1st smile ever for Mom and Dad! It was slight and sheepish - but perfect. Bill says he "mildly approved" of us with that smile. When we took back down to his room, he was still smiling (mildly still). It was great....

After we had to leave we went downtown and signed the necessary documents in front of a notary to accept him as our son. The meeting was short and sweet. We went back to the VMI and looked forward to the next visit tomorrow. We were going to ask if we could see him on Saturday, but they typically do not allow this. Tomorrow could potentially be our last visit with our son.

July 8th recap

We left the VMI at 10am so we could pick up some items for the baby home. We went to the baby store in the town of Artem and picked up 3 big bags of diapers and 6 traditional Russian toys. From there, we went to the market in a settlement outside of Artem to buy some fresh fruit. We picked up some apples, banana's and peers for the kiddos. If you ask my husband, he would tell you we looked at about 100 different types of apples at that market!

When we arrived at the baby home, we gave the items to the Director. She was very appreciative, and asked the Music Director to come out as well. She too was thrilled. It was nice to get that response.

They brought out the little guy soon after and he began to cry again. We decided to take him outside and walk around. He really seemed to like that! The Doctor arrived when we were outside and answered a few questions for us. We then decided it was too hot outside and made our way back into the gym. Poor little guy had on 3 layers of clothing, a hat, and 2 layers on his feet. He was burning up!

When we went back into the gym, he started to cry again and he continued this for some time. I realized that he had a fever (maybe from teething?) and we asked for something for him to drink. We were brought tea in a bottle, but he wasn't too interested. He just felt pretty rough. He did allow us to soothe him off and on. Again, it was the sweetest cry we had ever heard.

We went back to the VMI and checked our email for the Doctors response, as well as sent more video and updated information back. We had peanut butter and crackers and talked a lot. Still jet lagged, we went to sleep early.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

July 7, 2009 - Meetcha Day!

Since we had just traveled through a time warp, we woke up very early this morning. We were excited about Meetcha Day, but also very, very cautious. We separated out toys for him and for other children (compliments of Aunt Carolyn - thanks!), and some snacks in hopes they would allow us to give him a treat or two.

At 10:45am, we met Vladimir the Driver, and Elana the Interpreter in the hotel lobby. On the way to the baby home, we spoke to Elana about what to expect. She explained the process, and it put us at ease. We pulled up to the baby home just before noon and went in to meet the Director. She was an energetic, upbeat lady that seemed very welcoming. We asked if we could bring some fruit and diapers during the week and she suggested we save some funds on fruit, and instead buy some traditional Russian toys for the children. She explained they were very short on these toys. Then.......we went down to meet the little guy.

They brought him out all dressed up for our visit. He was in a Gymboree outfit, with 2 layers of clothing underneath. He had on a little bear hat and lamb socks. He was beautiful. Then, they handed him to me.....

Luckily, Bill had the recorder going because this is a moment that was really cute. When I spoke to him, he looked at me in sheer disbelief and started crying. He buried his head in my chest and must have been able to pretend that this stranger went away - because he quit crying for a few seconds. He then raised his head up and looked at me (in disbelief) again, and started crying again! Poor little guy! It was the cutest cry ever! He did seem somewhat attached to his caregiver, which made us pretty happy. The caretaker came out of the room and took him from me and played with him for a minute. He calmed down and she handed him back to me. Of course, he started crying again! The caretaker came back out again and calmed him. She put him in a little car after he was content, and I kept pulling him closer to me, inch by inch - until he didn't seem afraid any longer. Bill would talk to him on and off and the little guy would bury his head in my chest, but didn't cry at the sound of a male voice.

The car trick worked, he finally let me hold him! We went to the gym because the visiting room smelled like paint. We put down some mats and he calmly sat with us and kept looking at us in disbelief. Occasionally he acted like he would cry, but seemed to really like to snuggle. Within 30 minutes he had warmed up to Bill and was making eye contact with him. By the end of our 1st visit, which ended up being 2 hours, he allowed us to carry him around and love on him.

We spoke to the Director, Social Worker, Caretaker and Neurologist on this day. We felt we had gathered enough information to send to our IA Doc when we got back to the hotel.

Leaving the baby home was sad. Our 2 hours flew by, but we had a lot to talk about.

Monday, August 3, 2009

July 6, 2009

We touched down in Vlad around 11:30am. After we claimed our luggage, we went outside where we found our Driver, Vladimir. I wanted to know right away if we had an appointment with the DOE and if we could also go to the baby home but he didn't seem to understand me. After we got into the van, he put Tonya (our agency rep) on the phone and she explained to use that we would go to the hotel and check in, then we would meet her to go to the DOE to receive formal permission to visit the little guy. It was too late in the day to visit the baby home so we were sad that we had to wait until the next day - but glad we could get the appointment with the DOE out of the way.

We checked into the Vladivostok Motor Inn, washed our hands and off we went to pick up Tonya and go to the DOE. The woman there asked us several questions. Did we have children? What experience do we have with children? Are we willing to accept a child with minor correctable issues? What is our child preference? Where did we work? What were our job titles? How would we take care of him after the adoption was final? Would he go to a babysitter, or would one of us stay at home with him? Did we have supportive family nearby? Finally, she gave her seal of approval and we signed a couple of documents and left. I have to admit, this part was a little stressful! We were told that we could see him from 12 -3 Tuesday - Friday at Artem. Our Driver was going to pick us up the next day at 10:45am.

After we got back to the VMI, we decided to eat at the hotel restaurant. We had pizza and a club sandwich. I didn't realize I had ordered a 16" pizza (oops), but it came in handy the next morning for breakfast! We went back to the room and fell asleep by 5pm, we were exhausted from the 13 hour time difference.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

July 4th - July 6th. Traveling to Vlad

At 10:15am we were on a plane headed to Atlanta out of Tennessee (July 4th - our Independence Day). Our first flight was full, and uneventful. We had a 5 hr layover in Atlanta so we had lunch at TGI Fridays. We left Atlanta at 4:30pm to head to Moscow. This was another full flight, but an overall positive experience. The flight was 10 1/2 hours and we were able to rest a bit. When we landed in Moscow, we went through Passport Control and Immigration. It was as we had heard - long lines and pushy people. All our luggage arrived safely, and we were met by our driver, German, just outside the double glass doors.

We had decided to go directly to the other terminal and just wait out the 8 hr layover in the terminal, but German talked us into staying at the 3 star SVO for around $100 US. After we arrived at the hotel, German advised us he had a prior engagement and could not be available to take us to the airport. He drew a map and told us to get on the 6pm shuttle. We went to our room, laid down, and slept for 4 hrs straight. I really thought that our anxiety would be too high to sleep, but we were both out like a light. We woke up, showered and changed into nicer clothing in hopes we would get to see the DOE when we arrived into Vladivostok, as we still did not have a formal appointment time.

Funny side note! As we left our room, the Maid asked if we were 'Finnish'. Bill said, "no, we speak English". It was really funny because she wanted to know if we were finished with our room, not if we were from Finland! We both got a laugh out of that!

We made our way down to where the shuttle was, and the driver appeared after about 30 minutes. We told him we needed to be taken to the domestic terminal, and he looked at us like we had 2 heads. After we think we got our point across, we loaded up and were on our way. He dropped off another couple at an airport, and made them walk in because it was too busy to drive in (or at least that is what we understood), but he didn't tell us to get off the shuttle. We had no idea which airport this was, so we just stayed on. After a certain point, we wondered if we were on a tour bus to Red Square because we were thinking it was just 5 minutes away - but eventually, we were dropped off and went into the airport.

When we were finally in the airport, we looked at the flight information screens and it told us where to check in (1st in Russian, then in English). We went through the Security check point prior to checking in. They had blue footies and people were putting them on, so we just followed the crowd and it worked (when in Rome...)! We made it to the Aeroflot counter and the Attendant didn't seem to speak English, so we blindly handed her our passports in hopes she didn't send us to Korea. When she was placing the luggage stickers on our bags, she stopped abruptly and suddenly announced "no, over the weight limit". We both looked at each other in disbelief! How could this be? We weighed the bags at home and we were okay. I started to explain our situation (what Bill calls "argue"), and she smiled. It was a joke. I considered telling her that her joke wasn't funny, but I knew Bill would not have approved. We went up to the gate and waited.

During the wait, we decided we were hungry. We walked around to find some food and finally decided on something that was recognizable - a baked potato. Bill grabbed 2 waters out of the cooler and I ordered the potatoes. This was interesting, because she had no clue what I was saying, and I had no clue what she was saying. Finally, I just said 'da' to whatever she was offering. Luckily, she brought out a baked potato and kept wanting us to put fish topping on it. Bill finally acquiesced to a sausage, mustard, ham, and something creamy topping, and I agreed to something green and creamy. We sat down to eat and both liked the potato surprise. We were starved and thirsty. When I opened my water, I took a huge drink and started to choke. Water tried to come out of my nose! It was carbonated!! That was a surprise, and of course anything carbonated is a surprise when it starts to come out of your nose. Bill grabbed carbonated water instead of still water. This was funny moment #2 - well, at least Bill got a laugh out of it.

When Aeroflot loaded we were hoping we were on the right flight because they only announced it in Russian. We were thinking if they kicked us off, we were headed the wrong direction. After lots of pushing (LOTS of pushing), mass chaos, shuttle rides, more pushing and about 30 minutes, we were on our flight and seated. This was another full flight that was overall non eventful. My seat was broken and Bills TV monitor was frozen, but overall it was good. Some of the staff spoke a bit of English, and the Pilot 1st made announcements in Russian, then in English.

Just over 8 hours and we touch down in Vladivostok!