Thursday, October 30, 2008

Day 3 visit

All is continuing to go well with our visits. Each day we bring something new, along with the things we've brought previously. Today we brought a little toy that changes your voice into alien, robot, etc. Julia got such a kick out of it. Borya is, I think, feeling too old to engage in much "silly play", but continues to love to sit and draw pictures with me. Such a talented young man!

Much as I remember from our last trip (for Bella), they are dolling Julia up by placing an enormous bow in her hair every day. I'll be glad to take them shopping towards the end of our visitation period to get them some new clothes. What they're wearing is clean and in pretty good condition, but Julia's dress and shoes are too small for her.

Fred and I had such a laugh today. We were mentioning something about being in Kazakhstan and Bella looked at us and said, "We're in Kazakhstan?" We said, "Yes, honey, where did you think we were?" She just shrugged and said, "I don't know. Maryland?" So now we joke about how things sure are different in Maryland!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Day 2 visit -- check

We had our 2nd visitation day with Borya and Julia today and it went extraordinarily well. Oh, just realized I should back up a step b/c I think that's the first I've mentioned Julia on this blog, though I've spoken of her in private e-mails before. So some of you are aware of the situation and some are not. Baically, when we looked into the possibility of adopting Borya, we learned along the way that he has a younger sister, 10 yrs old, by the name of Julia (pronounced You-lee-ah). We were told that according toKazakhstan regulations, the splitting up of sibling groups is not permitted. At first we were very unsure of the whole situation, knowing nothing about this girl, so we were uncertain how this would play out. However, now that we've met her, we feel very excited at the possibility of adding her to our family. She's a delight. Beautiful, bright, and in general a fun-lovin' little gal! Bella taught her how to play Go Fish, and they were asking each other numbers in both English and Russian. Dva? Nyet. Go Fish. Big hugs all around after this visit. We feel like a family already!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tears again

I saw my boy again today, for the first time in over five years! They brought us into a room with the director and Ministry officials, and our coordinator and translator/driver. They asked us a few questions, and then brought Borya into the room. I went over and gave him a big hug, which he returned fervently. They asked him who I was and he said Mom. Then Fred gave him a hug and he answered their question that Fred was Papa. Of course I was crying. Of course. When I met Borya on my 1st visitation day with Bella in 2003, he looked at me and said, "Can you find me a Mama, too?" I lost it that day. I lost it again today.

I promise to get photos of the visit on soon. Right now I'm going to bed!

Monday, October 27, 2008


Well, folks, the Eagle has landed. Or Air Astana Flt 301 has, anyhow. We are in Ust, baby! Even though this is my second go 'round, I still can't get over how long the whole trip takes just getting here, let alone all the time for the actual adoption process.

We got off to the airport fine, dropping off the kids at Boomer's with Granny Caggy while PawPaw took us on to Philly. There were some tears, to be sure, but overall I, err, the kids, handled it OK. When we got into the Almaty Airport at about 1 in the morning the next day, we couldn't believe all that had changed in five years! It was a pleasure to go through customs and get our baggage. The Hotel Kazhol has also had its share of changes, and will henceforth be known to me as the Kazhol instead of the Kaz Hole. We were a few kilos overweight (well, our luggage was) at the Almaty Airport, but the charges weren't too bad. Our flight to Ust was delayed over 2 hours, but we finally arrived and now sit comfortably in the Shiny River Hotel. We left Philly at 6pm Sat and arrived at our hotel in Ust at 5pm Mon. Whew!

We get to see Borya tomorrow at 2pm. Can't wait! Will post more after that.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

How many people ....

How many people does it take to bring a child home?

Just his parents, right?


It takes the family of the child’s parents, to step up and hold the fort down when Mom and Dad fly halfway across the world.

It takes the brothers and sisters of the child, to hold themselves up straight and tall, secure, confident, responsible in their parents’ absence, though their world has been momentarily turned upside-down.

It takes friends of the parents to lend a hand, take care of precious cargo, watch over critters, and listen as countless worries are poured forth.

It takes a venerable mountain of paperwork, hours upon endless hours of paperchasing, bureaucratic run-arounds, interfacing with government officials from several states and two countries.

It takes competent agency coordinators, to alert flustered parents to documents in need of updating and next steps to take, and answer questions day after day, month after agonizing month.

It takes the amazing network of adoptive families to shine the light to illuminate the rocky path.

It takes caring teachers and a supportive school, to keep tabs on worried kids while parents are away.

It takes coaches and team parents to pull together to ensure one of their own will find a way to practices and games.

It takes a workplace that allows a pivotal employee to take leave of work for weeks on end.

It takes all those mentioned to muster their patience, their flexibility, their courage, their love, their forgiveness and their support. In short, it takes a village, if not to raise a child, at least to bring him home. My sincere and heartfelt thanks to all those in our lives who have helped get us to this point. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Leaving, on a jet plane!

Well, the time has finally arrived. About a year after we started the paperchase, after we got the greenlight to go ahead to try to bring Borya home, we're packing our bags into my car and gettin' ready to head off to the airport. We will probably not be able to post any updates till Mon eve our time, Mon morning "hometime". Can't wait to post for the first time about meeting Borya, which will take place sometime on Tues. "see" you all soon!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

We have contact!

As I may have already posted, my cyber-friend Dee (we've never met face to face, but I feel like we've been through a war together) is over in Kazakhstan right now, adopting two brothers that attend Borya's orphanage. Like me with Borya, she's known Aniyar and Madiyar for about five years and is finally able to bring them home, and I am beyond excited for her. Anyway, I had sent her something to give to Borya for me if she travelled before us, and she was able to meet with him yesterday. Here is her account of her visit with him:

I saw Borya today! I told Alma that I had a gift from you for him, the hat you had sent me. She talked to the director and Borya was called in to talk with the officials who were already there for our bonding visit. Alma and the ministry official asked him if he remembered you, had heard from you, wanted to have a family...he said yes to all 3 questions. He looks good, very tall and strong. I couldn't get a picture but he does have the hat and he's waiting for you.

It still doesn't seem quite real to me that I leave in three days and will see him in six days. Someone pinch me, please. And leave a mark so I know for sure I'm not dreaming all this up.

Friday, October 17, 2008

I think we're gonna need a bigger suitcase ....

Started packing today, since we leave a week from tomorrow. Though I've always been someone who prided herself in packing light, I was amazed to see how much stuff I had accumulated to take with us. I've got 3 suitcases in different sizes on my bedroom floor. "Baby Bear" is holding coats, hats, boots, and gifts for caretakers, drivers, etc. "Mama Bear" is packing clothes for the three of us, as well as all our toiletries. Our biggest suitcase of all, "Papa Bear" is crammed full of medications for any and all potential maladies, stuff to entertain Bella, books, things for Borya and Yulya to play with, snacks, DVDs, journals, a portable jungle-gym, a nanny, some chickens ... uhhh, scratch those last three, I got carried away. Besides the suitcases, we'll each have a carry-on bag and I'll have a purse. My purse would probably put you in mind of what your grandmother once carried. It's an enormous black compartmentalized monstrosity that I bought for our last adoption and haven't used since. Think Mary Poppins' carpet bag when she unpacks in the nursery. Go ahead and dare me to see what all I can't get in there. Heck, I could probably bring my kids back in it.

Monday, October 13, 2008

T - two weeks and counting ...

Well, we leave two weeks from this past Saturday, and the semblance of a calm is beginning to settle over me -- the calm before the storm? Our visas are expected to arrive today, and the bank called last Friday to tell me they have at least some of my new bills in. I'm going to head over to one of those stores
where Big Foot and Sasquatch buy their survival gear and get some clothes for Fred, Bella and myself. Folks tell me to expect a sub-arctic clime outside in the region we're heading, but that all the buildings have heat set to "burning fires of hell" with no way to adjust it or even open windows, so I'm thinking layers. I suppose if we'll be going back and forth between ice and snow outdoors and sweltering temps indoors, we'll all either become violently ill or we'll lose a bunch of weight. Maybe both. Hey, it beats the torturous rigors of a personal trainer (Lori!).

The latest I've heard is a bit distressing, actually. We've been told all along that Borya would be transferred to an orphanage down in Ust Kamenogorsk, which is where he was when we met him five years ago, So we booked some fancy digs in the swank Shiny River, and were feeling pretty full of ourselves b/c we know the lay of the land a bit there. Well, I've just heard from my friend Dee (who is over there right now adopting two brothers from the same orphanage as Borya)that the boys will not be transferred to Ust after all, but will stay up at their orphanage in the mountains, a hop skip and a jump from the Russian border. From what I hear, Ridder is about a 3 - 4 hour car ride from Ust, over a crater-filled, so-called "road". So Dee was given the option of staying in Ust and travelling each day to Ridder and then back again, or staying in god-forsaken Ridder. I'm sorry, but is there an option C? Because quite frankly, both option A and option B suck! And I feel I've been though quite enough so far with this adoption, and I want to be presented with an option that doesn't SUCK! Excuse my French, but I haven't yet learned how to say that in Russian. But I can say, "Skujheetsi, phajhalsta, gdyeh Pushkinska Ulitser?" That means, "Tell me please, where is Pushkin Street?" That will help me a lot b/c I honestly have no idea where Pushkin Street is.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Time to shift into high gear!

We just got back from our trip to the Bahamas this evening and although my brain was actually able to take a short hiatus from the whirlings of Kaz trip planning, it's now back in full gear, though it hasn't even rested one night on its Pennsylvania pillow.

To backtrack, we had originally planned on taking the kids to the Bahamas over the summer, to celebrate our 20 year anniversary. When we thought we would travel for the adoption over the summer, we scrapped our plans. But then when it looked like we would never get our travel dates, we finally went ahead and booked our trip to the Bahamas. Anyone wise to the ways of the universe can guess the ending to this story -- no sooner did we book our trip than we got the elusive LOI! We talked about cancelling the vacation since it was only a couple weeks from our Kaz trip, but in the end decided it would be a few much needed days to reconnect as a family before we were ripped apart for several weeks. Boy am I glad we decided to stay the course, b/c the Bahamas was just what this Mama needed! Clear blue waters, rum drinks in coconut shells on the beach, river tubing over and over and over again with four wet, giggly children, and piles of sand on the bathroom floors that someone else cleaned up!

Anyway, now we're back, and tomorrow I start the heavy hitting: ordering crisp new bills from our bank (apparently Kazakhs turn their noses up at ripped, crinkled, smudged US cash), submitting the applications for our visas (would have done that one sooner, but we need to send out our passports, which we needed for the Bahamas trip), getting the last of our documents (which should have come in the mail while we were away, I will collect our mail from the P.O. tomorrow) notarized, then sent out to get apostilled, etc, etc. Of course, I still have a zillion other things to do, not the least of which is get my kids to figure out what they're going to be for Halloween and get their costumes together, and ... hello ... PACK! Ohhh, just one more rum drink?
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