Dec 31, 2012

Parenthood - Day 1


Today we got up and were ready to go by 8:30. We met our driver down at the lobby and headed out with him and the other couple from our agency shortly after. He drove us to the Vital Statistics Office where we met Mrs.P, The papa’s to be signed some papers, and suddenly we were officially parents! Apparently, they the mama's don't have to sign anything. 

After that we stopped by a bakery to pick up some cakes to take to the caretakers and we were then on our way to pick him up! When we got there we were put into the director's office instead of the big room and we waited there for the kids to be brought down to us. A came in first and when the door opened, he got the biggest smile on his face and came straight to me. It felt so good that he remembered us! The other couple’s son was then brought in and we had just a few minutes to change their clothes before saying our goodbyes. A was a little nervous when we started changing him but he warmed back up with some hugs and snuggles. 

After the boys were changed into their new clothes and snow suits, we were taken to their rooms so they could say goodbye to their friends and caretakers. All the children were seated nicely in their little chairs and he waved bye-bye to them and one little girl came up and gave him a hug and kiss - we got it on video thankfully! Next he said goodbye to his caretakers. They doted over him and cried a little and then we gave them hugs and I think we all cried then. We were in there for maybe a minute or two and then told we had to leave. It was short and fast but I'm so glad we were able to say goodbye and get some pictures. 

Directly after picking the boys up we went to a place to get their passport pictures taken. The other family went first and it went without a hitch. Then it was our turn. The bright lights and broken chair made for a traumatic event. After several attempts and Mrs.P bribing him with chocolate we got an acceptable picture and we were out of there! He was very relieved to be done with that. 

After pictures we came back to the hotel for lunch where the hotel staff made chicken and dumplings soup (a common dish served at the baby homes) to accommodate all the families bringing their children back today. He loved the soup and bread but had some trouble figuring out the sippy cup. After lunch the papa’s had to go run some official errands with Mrs.P (again apparently the mama's aren't needed) and I got to stay back with A. 

We played for a few hours and he even took a short nap. It was so nice to have him snuggled up next to me. Mr.Slick came back with some groceries and then I cooked dinner. He ate a lot! After dinner we played a little more and then it was bath time. This was very traumatic...for all of us. Baths are very seldom given, if ever and very harshly scrubbed when it's done. Usually when they're bathed it means they're very stinky, got very dirty, got sick, etc. so they may be or feel like they're in trouble. But he's no longer stinky and is now in his new pajamas - they were the first purchase we ever made for him. We bought them just a few days after we got the call about him. He's now snuggling on the couch with us and seems to be calmed down and forgiven us. 

We'll be going to bed soon, so hopefully he sleeps. We are so happy to finally have our boy with us. 

Dec 29, 2012

Court day...


We got up this morning extra early so we would have time to get ready, eat breakfast, and quiz each other a little more. We both barely ate this morning as we were very nervous about court. We left the hotel around 9:15 with Mrs.P and we walked to the court house. It's only about a 15 minute walk but it was very windy and chilly getting there. While we were waiting we took turns pacing the floor and playing games on the iPhone all while quizzing each other over various facts, training's, and other useful information. To think one person holds in their hands the power to prevent you from becoming a parent is very unnerving. All Russian court proceedings are confidential so we won't be sharing any details but…




 She said, "Da!"


We’re parents!



After that we walked back to the hotel, all of us very excited (the other couple from our agency also got good news). Mrs. P commented that she was very proud of  all of us. When we got back, Mrs.P  told us that we couldn’t go back to the orphanage today until nap time was over at 3, so we had about 2.5 hours to ourselves. The other couple asked about the Pan-Asian restaurant we mentioned from our first trip and we all decided to go. It's about a 20 minute walk from the hotel (we actually walked right by the court house again) and luckily for us it had warmed up considerably! We felt like experienced travelers compared to them as they had not been out of the hotel without Mrs.P  on this trip or their first trip. We led the way, through some local markets and the we went by some local landmarks like the Russian Orthodox Church we wrote about in our first trip. We found the restaurant easily and had a pretty good meal, minus some communication issues with the wait staff - but all ended up well.

We walked back this time by the beach and little souvenir stands and had a good time talking with and getting to know the other couple. We arrived back at the hotel with about 20 minutes to spare and by 3:00 we were on our way back to the orphanage. 

Today A was very excited to see us and didn't hesitate for a second. It's bittersweet that we can't continue to build that bond and relationship. It was much calmer today with only the 1 other couple and their son and no others in the room. A definitely opened up a little more and took full advantage of the space to run around. We played basketball, soccer, read some books, and found what was his favorite toy for the day: a balloon! We changed his clothes into the Halloween outfit we brought with us. Tomorrow is Halloween in Russia since they celebrate on the last Friday in October (we wish the US did this too!). 

The director didn't seem to want us there today as she had other things she wanted to do and errands to run so we only had about 1.5 hours with him today. She even told Mrs.P  to make sure and not come back tomorrow as she had things to do :( We were hoping we would be able to sneak back in for at least a few minutes. I guess it was good that we didn't know it was going to be short because we didn't have time to be sad when she came to get him. We got a good video of him waving bye bye today but we still didn't catch the elusive blowing of kisses on video. When he got in the hallway all we heard was him talking to the director. We don't know what he was saying but we'd like to think he was saying how much fun he had. He definitely understands what our "names" are and when we say "mama" or "papa" he looks right into our eyes or runs to the one we said. Today I even got a kiss initiated by A! We weren't nearly as sad leaving this time because we know we'll be back in 30 days!

After that went to go pick up some other documents for another family and we went on a nice walk. We're now back at the hotel and starting to pack up our things for our trip back home. We leave tomorrow and on the way out of town we'll stop at the other hotel we'll stay in next time since it's more family friendly. 

Thanks again for all your prayers!

Trip 2 - Day 3


Today when we went upstairs to the big playroom, there was another couple, facilitator, and the social worker and the other couple was holding A. We both immediately put our stuff down and asked why they were holding A (ok, Mr. Slick calmly put his stuff down, I threw mine down and wheeled around about to start a fight. I swear I’m normally calm). By that time they put him down and he walked over towards the social worker and he confused and absolutely terrified. Then he saw me and put his arms up for me to pick him up and he calmed down. The other couple’s facilitator immediately left the room and a few minutes later their child was brought in. Apparently A was brought in first since his room is right next door and the other couple thought he was theirs. We know this couple is on their 2nd trip since they were also getting their medical exams yesterday but we can't figure out how they didn't know that wasn't their child. We recognized A even with an extreme haircut immediately. All three of us were a little upset but we calmed down quickly. Mrs.P later explained that situations like that one are one of the many reasons why she doesn't like that facilitator - he doesn't even know the children he matches with families. 

He was full of hugs for the first 10-15 minutes perhaps partially because of the incident earlier but we didn't mind. We always love hugs and snuggles from him. There were 5 families there today including us and the other couple from our agency. Three of the couples (us, our friends, and the ones who thought A was theirs) all were in the big room and the other two couples were in a smaller room that was attached. Today they turned on the heat and with that and all the body heat it was miserably hot in there. There were 6 adoptive parents, 2 facilitators, the social worker observing all of us for court and the three kids - it was a packed house. 

A is a very curious little boy and wanted to watch all the other children playing but he never wandered over to them and always stayed close to us. We found out today that he loves to draw and we have our first piece of artwork to display on our refrigerator at home! Mrs.P eventually opened a window and we all took turns with our little ones on the window sill getting some fresh air. A loved seeing the birds playing outside and the cars driving by. 

Later, we were playing with his puppy dog and the orphanage music teacher came in to get ready for the day and she sang with him a few songs. He really seems to like her and would smile and listen as she sang but he would never leave our laps or go far from us. 

We looked through his picture album several times and he really seems to understand that Mama and Papa in the pictures are us. He's making the connection well and will go to Mama or go to Papa when you ask him to. 

Today was the other couple's (from our agency) child's 3rd birthday. It was fun to see him open a present and see his face when they told him happy birthday in Russian. He loved the wrapping paper and ribbon but loved the toy car inside even more! 

Today we changed his clothes again as he came in wearing the same ones as yesterday and he put his shirt on pretty much by himself! He needed some help with the pants as they were still a little too big. He's a skinny boy and he gave us a view of the moon every once in a while. He didn't get upset when we changed him today, he seems to trust us a little more in that aspect. We're hoping tomorrow to change him into a little Halloween outfit we brought for him. 

Before we left, the music teacher looked over at our picture album we brought for court and asked if she could see it. She then started asking Mrs.P a lot of questions. She was very impressed by our house, his room and his playroom. She also said he seems very happy with us. The social worker also told Mrs.P that we were the perfect match for A and that he seems to like us a lot. 

After playing for about an hour and a half it was time to go so we said our goodbyes. We still didn't get him waving and blowing kisses! He seems to be in such a hurry to go get lunch. We then all went to lunch to the traditional Russian restaurant we went last time. We both had the delicious beef stroganoff and the amazing pavlova again (dessert).

Besides my mama bear instincts coming out today when the other couple had A, today was a very good day. We still are asking for prayers for court tomorrow and we'll update as soon as we can. We're so excited that we'll get to go see him after court tomorrow!

Dec 21, 2012

Medical Exam Day!


Trip 2, Day 2:


Today we woke up and met the other couple from our agency for breakfast. We really like them and have enjoyed getting to know them and having other people to talk with. They're adopting their first child from the same orphanage and he's just a little older than A. We feel a little impatient since they have waited now for almost 16 years to have their first child. They we were really nervous about their child not remembering them but we were able to ease some of their fears by reminding them that even if he doesn't remember them, that they already know what he likes/doesn't like. 

We woke up to our hotel view of rooftops covered in about 3 inches of snow! It's definitely cold today. We left for the orphanage around 10 am and arrived about 5-10 minutes later. We were put in the same big room as before with the other couple. A was brought in first since he lives in that building but the other couple had to wait a few minutes since their son lives in the other building. A came in and was a little upset but slowly walked up to Mr.Slick. He let him pick him up and hold him for a few minutes until he calmed down and was ready to play. 

He seems to love his new photo album we brought him of his house, us, him, etc. and would walk around the room with it and his puppy dog. Those two things never were far from him. He and the other little boy kicked a ball back and forth together - it was nice to see how he interacted with another child. He was very interested in them and wanted to watch them but he always stayed close to us and wanted to be in our laps. 

We brought him new clothes today and changed him into these since he was wearing the same clothes as yesterday. He didn't seem to be as upset when we changed his clothes this time as last trip but maybe that's because we knew how to go about doing it. He even wanted to put his pants on by himself and helped me get his shirt and shoes on. He's still not talking much but he will say dog in Russian when he sees pictures of Gunner. He did also say bye to us in Russian when he left today for lunch as he waved and blew kisses again. 

We just got back from our medical examinations and it was crazy! We walked there from the hotel in the cold but we made it. The clinic is in a 200 year old, beautiful building. Every room has ornate floor tiles or wood and chandeliers. It used to be the home of a rich family but it's still mostly in its original condition and in need of some work. We were told this process would be very easy and it would only take about 10-15 minutes. And that was mostly true. But...when one of the doctors was examining Mr.Slick's x-ray (right before we were to get our blood pressure mind you) she found something on the x-ray that there was a problem. Needless to say, our blood pressure shot through the roof! We were no longer calm and were worried. It turned out to be no big deal and she just saw what was likely an old rib injury. We then were taken to the exam room where several doctors looked us over and asked us questions, all at one time and in broken English. It was very hectic and we had no clue what was going on. One doctor asked me, "Do you have children?" so I answered, "No." He then got a funny look on his face and said, "Why no children?" so I explained. Then Mrs.P came to the rescue and said he was asking why we wanted to adopt. So we got that cleared up and we were then taken to see a few other doctors who asked us a few questions and we were cleared! In retrospect it would have been easy if we knew what to expect and if we hadn't been worried about the x-ray issue. 

Mrs.P gave us some notes to study for court, so that's what we're doing now. Tomorrow we go see A again and we hope the weather will be nice enough to go outside. We'd love to see him play out there and get him in some fresh air. 

Dec 18, 2012

93 days...

93 days. That's how many days we went without seeing A or having any sort of update. Here is the story of seeing him again after all that time. 


First visit of trip 2


We made it here late last night and really enjoyed flying Korean Air...if there is such thing as enjoying 14 hour flights. We got to see the Rockies while flying over the US, Canada, and also we got to see some awesome views from above Alaska. But the coolest thing was flying over Siberia and seeing smoking active volcanoes. We had a short layover in Seoul and then took a Russian airline up to our final destination. Mrs.P sent another driver to meet us at the airport, D, and he took us and another couple (from another agency) to our hotels. Turns out the other couple lives 20 minutes from us back home – such a small world.

This morning we met Mrs.P at 10 am to leave the hotel. We were prepared for a 30 or so minute drive to the orphanage but were pleasantly surprised that with the new suspension bridge built, it's a short 5-10 minute drive. We arrived at the orphanage and the entire place seemed to be under construction. The parking lot is in pieces and workers were everywhere, hopefully this means good things are coming for them.

We saw the director, who then went to get A and she told us to wait in the big room for him. A few minutes later she brought him in and we were surprised to see a little boy with almost no hair! He had a brand new buzz cut but they left him with bangs. Mrs.P said she didn't even recognize him at first. He was shy at first but this time we knew what he liked so it didn't take long for him to warm up. We played with the same ball, his puppy dog, and brought out his picture book (has some of the same pictures as the one we left with him) and he responded well. It seemed all he wanted to do today was hug us and be held. It felt so good to hold him. He would spend 5 or so minutes with each of us just laying his head on our shoulders and letting us give him love. We knew we would only have a short visit of about an hour today since we had to go with Mrs.P to the airport to pick up another couple so we when the director came back in after 30 minutes we thought our visit was going to be cut shorter than we thought. We were lucky, and she was just coming in to let us know we had about 30 more minutes. 

A is still pocketing food in his mouth but he didn't seem as rushed or concerned about food this time he spent 3 weeks in the hospital in July but all is well now! It's starting to get cold here and viruses are spreading through the orphanage, so prayers he stays healthy would be appreciated! 

When our time was up, A was so excited to go back to his room/friends. We got him to wave bye-bye to us and blow us kisses. He was so adorable waving to us and sending us kisses, we're going to try to get a video or pictures of it tomorrow. 

After that, we left for lunch and then we went to the airport to pick up the other couple from our agency. They are very nice and are staying at the same hotel with us. 

Tomorrow we will go to see him again but it will be another short visit. Then after lunch we'll come back to the hotel and then go get our medical evaluations. 

Dec 11, 2012

The last day of trip one.


Lots of tears today. And none of them were from A.

We made it to the orphanage around 9:30 but with it being Saturday the gate was closed so Mr.Slick had to be the gate attendant for us. And then later got scolded for not closing it properly, ooops! 

Today we were allowed to use the big room, no more closet for us! We waited for only a few minutes and then A came in and came straight over to Mr.Slick and sat in his lap. He remembered us and by the smile on his face we could tell he was ready for some fun. He was dressed in the same clothes we put him yesterday, plus some long underwear. But it was no big deal since we brought him new clothes again. The shy little boy from day one was gone and from the start he was his normal silly self. 

We had ready for him all the familiar toys we had been playing with all the other days and we went straight to playing. He was talking a lot but we still don't know exactly what. He seems to have a vivid imagination and while reading books he'll make up his own stories and sounds. He even sang a few songs today while reading and playing. 

He liked throwing a plastic bowling pin around but it seemed to annoy the woman in the room with us so we had to get him to stop. Luckily he's a quick learner and even with the language barrier he understood when we said "gentle" and would play quieter with us. He really liked playing basketball with one of the mini hoops in the room. He thought it was pretty funny when he would throw things up through the hoop the wrong way. But he thought it was hilarious when Mr.Slick threw a ball from several feet away and made a basket. 

Today he seemed much more interested in our reactions to his playing, he was looking for approval. After doing something silly or doing something well he always looked up to us to see if we were pleased with him. He made so much good eye contact with us today. At one point I asked for a hug, which in days past he would always let you hug him, but today he ran up and threw his arms around me and hugged back. We held each other for a few minutes and was amazing. He did the same for Mr.Slick and really gave him a good bear hug and nuzzled into his neck for a long time. Today he not only let us show him affection but he also showed it back. 

While playing a game we began to point at Mr.Slick saying papa over and over, and then he said it! He said Papa when I was pointing at Mr.Slick. We were amazed. He then started incorporating papa into his stories he was telling with his books and play. He would be "reading" his books and in the mix of Russian we'd hear papa come out and he'd look to Mr.Slick. When we'd ask him to bring something to mama or go to papa he'd look to us and do exactly what we said all while looking right into our eyes with a smile on his face. 

Today he played so intently with us he would sometimes forget completely about his food. It was no longer his main concern and he wanted love and play time more than anything. Don't get us wrong, when he would eat he'd eat it by the mouthfuls and he still ate a lot but he wasn't constantly looking for the food today. If he was sitting in your lap he would lean against you and search for you. If he was sitting next to you he would lean on you and hold on to you. If he was playing around you he was constantly looking to you. 

He enjoyed using Mr.Slick as a jungle gym while he laid on the ground today and we got some good giggles out of him then. In between some serious playing he'd come to me and get some good hugs and snuggles, today prompted by him, and then run around again. 

It felt like such a short time after we got there that his caretaker came back into the room and told us it was time for him to go. We were happy we didn't have any warning so we didn't have time to be sad in front of him. He let us hold him and kiss him and he hugged us back but then it was time to let him go. He waved goodbye and then was taken into his room for lunchtime. It didn't really hit us until we were in the hallway that it would probably be at least two months until we'll see him again. There were lots of tears shed. Mr.Slick just had something in his eye (ha!).

We then left for the notary to officially sign all documents to set up our court date. We won't know when this will be but we do know now that our petition will be sent to the court and we will soon know when we can come back. We also at this time had to finalize his name. We chose a name that we both love but we have decided to keep it to ourselves until we bring him home.  

We're packing our things but leaving half our hearts here in Russia. We know it's still not final and we know that things could still go wrong but we feel this is the path God has chosen for us. We did not know it was possible to fall in love with someone in just three days. 

Trip 1 - Day 2 with our boy!


We got a glimpse into his real personality today. 

We started the day with Mrs.P’s daughter-in-law instead of Mrs.P since she had to take care of other business. She is a facilitator for other adoption agencies for this region. So she knows the ropes and took good care of us. Though her driving is a little more scary. We did not know she was going to be picking us up this morning so we kept looking for Mrs.P's vehicle but she eventually found us and we were on our way.

We arrived at the orphanage around 9:30am and were taken back to the closet from yesterday. We then waited for director to go get A. Soon enough we heard them coming down the hallway with A sniffling. He was upset to have to leave his friends and the safe place of his room (we were told that the children are often scared when the director takes the children from their rooms because it means they're going to the doctor to get poked and prodded or in trouble). When he came in we were able to comfort him and he didn't resist our hugs and affection. After 2-3 minutes we were left alone with him.

Once we had been alone for about 30 minutes or so he really started to open up to us. The shy and quiet boy from yesterday was slowly drifting away. He still has his quiet moments but he also was talking up a storm (of course in Russian) and in full play mode. Food is one of the keys to get him to open up. It's such a big deal to these kids to get food and never mind getting extra food! He is a very caring boy and even trusted us to share his food with him. He thought it was funny when Mr.Slick would make funny noises eating goldfish. He was still stuffing as much food as possible in his mouth and saving some for later in his cheeks but at times he was able to forget completely about the food and just play. 

Today we were told we could bring the clothing donations to the orphanage and a change of clothes for him so we did. We started by changing his socks and shoes (we had to get rid of the flower and heart shoes he was wearing) to see how he'd react to us changing him. He seemed excited to get new clothes so we then went on to his clothes. We held up his new shirt to him and said "new shirt, new shirt, new shirt!" several times over the course of a few minutes making it into a game and then we changed him. As soon as he got his new shirt on he said, "new shirt" - we were shocked and didn't even realize for a second that he just said his first words in English! It was a crazy moment and we know he was just repeating us but it was awesome. We changed him into pants first but then it got too hot so we switched to shorts. He really liked his new socks and would play with them and even said, "ocks" one time after we said socks a few times. Again, it was awesome to hear him repeat us. 

He was talking a lot today, several words at a time and pointing at toys and objects in the room. I wish we could understand him! He especially loved his stuffed toy dog - his Gunner. When we showed him a picture of Gunner in his picture book he began to point at the book then back at the stuffed dog and would make dog noises. We think he gets it. 

We found a toy hammer in the toy pile that made squeaky noises when you hit it on something. This is when we were introduced to A the Destroyer - the normal 2 year old boy we had been waiting to meet. He loved to build towers of toys and blocks just to hit them with the hammer and knock them down. He would jump up and down, giggle and laugh when he did this (of course Mr.Slick showed him how to do all of this). He then started running, jumping, talking, and crawling under the table/chair (that takes up half the closet!) and having a good time. We did not know that the shy little boy that we met the day before had this in him. We are so glad the real A trusted us enough to be himself. He loves having his belly kissed and having raspberries blown and will give you a full belly laugh when you do this. He also loves for you to kiss his cheeks and neck and will giggle when you do this too. 

After almost 2 hours A started putting his toys up unprompted. We figured this meant he was hungry so we pulled out more snacks which he ate all of. We were able to tell him to take something to Mama and he would carry it to me and we could tell him to take something to Papa and he would take it to Mr.Slick. The caretakers at the orphanage started referring to us as Mama and Papa too (they don't use the word Dad there). After two hours our ride finally came back (we thought she said 15 minutes) and that's when we had to say goodbye to him. He seemed excited to go to lunch but disappointed to see us go. He had big smiles when we kissed and hugged him goodbye. 

We were then took us to the director's office to meet with the orphanage doctor and Mrs.P  was able to come back to translate for us. We got all of our questions answered with good information to pass along to our pediatrician. They seemed very pleased with A and us and think we're a good fit. They excitedly approved of us adopting him - which is required for court here. We then signed the papers for the Intent to Adopt and we were then on our way to lunch. She took us to a nice restaurant to celebrate and wanted us to have a nice Russian meal. She recommended we try the pickled herring for an appetizer, which sounds gross but it was really good! We're glad we tried it. We then both had the best Beef Stroganoff we have ever had and a delicious dessert made with local berries. 

Today it was fun to play with a rambunctious two year old and we can't wait to see him again tomorrow. 

Dec 9, 2012

Meeting our boy for the first time!


This is the majority of the email we sent home to family after meeting our son for the first time.  



We got up around 6:30 after sleeping for 12 hours. It was so nice to get some sleep. I don't think either of us moved all night. We had a good breakfast which included cold cuts and cheese slices. It sounds strange but it was very tasty. At 8:45 Mrs.P (our coordinator) picked us up and we were on our way to Baby Home #1. For day one we were told to bring just a few toys and snacks, so off we went. 

I videoed our arrival at the baby home, which is actually 3 plain brick buildings that are all three stories tall. Outside there is a small but nice playground. Upon arrival we were told to put on booties to keep us from tracking in dirt and we were taken up some stairs and down the hall to a big play room to wait for him. One of the caretakers went to wake him up, change his clothes and bring him from one of the other buildings so we waited for what seemed like forever, but it was only about 5 minutes. 

We were both full of nerves and butterflies when they opened the door and a caretaker came in with him. He was dressed in blue cotton pajamas with brown shoes and a red coat. He also looked nervous and was hesitant at first until he saw the cat. This baby home has a cat named Lucia (which should maybe be named Lucifer - this cat doesn't like anyone apparently, especially kids). So, why would this cat be here? We don't know. 

After a few minutes we were left alone with him and convinced him to come play with us. He then started to warm up to us. He liked pushing the toy police truck and ball back and forth and would switch between sitting in our laps. Mr.Slick showed him how to throw the ball overhand and he got a hang of that quickly and was then throwing it too. There may be some baseball games in his future. We also brought out some Lego's. He was confused at first but after showing him how they worked, he quickly stacked towers, knocked them down and built them again. He liked the police car best and knew which way to roll it but he was disappointed that the buttons didn't make sound (we were unsure if we could bring noisy toys - we know now!).

About 20 minutes into playing we were told we had to move into another room because inspectors were there to look over the baby home and this room. Mr.Slick carried him into the other room and he started to get scared. He grabbed onto Mr.Slick's shirt and neck and hid his face into his shoulder. But after a few minutes of playing he was fine again. The room they took us to was just a glorified closet with toys and chairs. It wasn't any more than 4 feet wide and 8 feet long. But we made it work and spread out a blanket on the floor and played for another 2 or so hours. We played some more with the ball, the police truck and the Lego's and there were also some other toys in there. We found stacking cups that he was a pro at stacking and unstacking. We got our first laugh out of him when Mr.Slick put a cup on his head like a hat and I put one on A's head to match. We also found a peg board with shapes to stack on them. He was able to do this with little assistance, but those pesky triangles were tough to fit on! There was a toy cell phone that we found and he knew exactly what to do - he immediately put it to his ear and started talking. He thought it was funny when I pulled her cell phone too and they talked on their phones together. 

In the closet he also found a stuffed animal dog that he seemed excited about so I pulled up a picture of Gunner on her cell phone and that's when we got the first full on giggle. He loved the pictures of Gunner and started yelling the word for dog in Russian. He then within a few seconds figured out how to scroll through the pictures on the iPhone. It was funny watching him swipe through the pictures. 

We did some more playing including taking a rubber ducky on a ride on top of the police car. He thought we were silly and laughed at us when we did this. But then he did too. He would very carefully load the ducky onto the top of the truck and push it gently so it wouldn't fall. We also brought some snacks; animal crackers, goldfish, and yogurt bites (they were all a hit). A figured out quickly how to get them out of the no spill cup and started putting bites into his mouth one by one. Then he figured out he could fit his whole hand in the cup so he started putting whole fist fulls of food in his mouth. He even was storing some food in his cheeks and looked like a little chipmunk. Apparently this is common in orphanages and something they will stop doing after a while in a home. He was a serious drool monster and the yogurt bites dissolving on him made for some messy drool. We think he may be cutting some teeth as he kept rolling his tongue over the sides of his gums. 

After a while Mrs.P came back with some paperwork where she gave us more information on A's past and his birth family. So we know a little but still not everything. This is information that we will someday give to him and only him. It will be his choice to share it someday if he chooses. It's his story, not ours to share. But we do know that he has three older siblings, one of which was adopted by an American family. Mrs.P is going to find out their information for us so we can make contact if we want to. They don't know about A, so it may be a shock to them to learn their child has a biological sibling also being adopted. 

While we were playing a social worker came to observe us. She will be the social worker present during court so it was important for her to see us interacting with him as she must give approval for us to adopt him. She sat outside the closet in a chair watching us and after a few minutes we forgot she was even there. 

When it was time to go, A saw Mr.Slick putting our toys back into our bag and he helped us clean up. Mr.Slick picked him up and handed him to I and we got to take him back to his building. The whole walk he put his cheek right up against mine and held on tight. When we walked into his building we could smell lunch and A could too. He perked up and couldn't wait to get through the doors to his room for lunch! He waved bye bye to us and they closed the door. 

Overall, he was a very quiet and shy boy today but also very smart. We can't wait to play with him tomorrow. 



Neglectful of my blogging

I have been terribly neglectful of my blogging. Terrible. But I've been busy! 

I'm going to start again by posting things I couldn't post before. While we were overseas with our LO (all three trips) we wrote emails back to our families. I'll be posting these in order periodically to give the whole picture. I may take out a few names, I may leave out a few places, but I'll still reveal all the important details. 

For a quick rundown of things, hop on over to my Adoption Chronicles page to see our adoption timeline :)

Oct 5, 2012

The Adoption Tax Credit - Why I think you should support it.

The Adoption Tax Credit - Why I think you should support it. 


I'm a hard working American. I come from a family of hard working Americans. I don't like hand-outs you don't work for and I don't believe in just spreading the wealth. 

But I support this tax credit. 

Why? Why would someone like me, someone with my beliefs, want our government to give money to others to help them financially? 

Because it's not about them. The reason behind this tax credit isn't to help them financially it's to help orphans find their forever families. It's about the children, it's not about you. 

Fact of the matter is, adoption costs money. It's expensive! Even if you go the route through CPS or similar systems where it's "free," it's still not completely. There are usually court fees, attorney fees and classes you must take. Of course many of these things are paid for in some states but not all. There's also the time off work, doctor's visits, court hearings, travel to and from all of these things, and sometimes in the adoption world you have to drop your life with a phone call to go pick up the little person that is to be yours. Traveling on no notice isn't cheap. 

Adoptions through state systems tend to be the cheapest costing anywhere from $0 - $5,000. But many of these (not all) children require some expensive and time consuming TLC that happens after the adoption. There are often times unforeseen costs. Of course these things can happen with biological children too but usually (again, not always!) one or both parents already have some time off for the birth of this child. 

Domestic agency/identified adoptions usually range from $10,000-$50,000. These numbers is based on research done in my area with agencies as well as observations from online adoption forums. I've even seen cases where families were charged upwards of $10,000 in hospital bills because their child's biological mother didn't have health insurance (this a completely different can of worms I do not wish to open today). 

International adoptions usually cost anywhere from $30,000-$70,000. These numbers are based on incredibly extensive research of over 20 agencies all around the US. Did you know that with some countries you have to travel 3 or 4 times? That's 3-4 sets of plane tickets, 3-4 hotel stays, and never mind the visas and paperwork needed to get into some of these countries. Some countries require one or both parents to come STAY in the country for 4-6 weeks. Can you imagine leaving your job, house, bills and then living in a foreign country and having to pay similar bills there too? And some countries will be extra awesome and only give you a weeks notice on when you need to be there. That means expediting your visas, last minute plane tickets, last minute hotel reservations, last minute taking care of your business at home. All that costs extra. 

All of these hoops have to be jumped though for these families to get their children, and more importantly for these children to get to their parents. 

Those of you with children (or nieces/nephews, or kids you love) - think of them. What if they were in a household that couldn't give them the care and love you feel they deserve? What if they were in an orphanage where they didn't get enough to eat, a bath, or a hug and love everyday? One way to do this is to make it possible for more families to afford adoption. 

This tax credit is about making sure those kids get nourishment for their mind, bodies, and souls. It's so they can be tucked into bed each night by someone who not only loves them but by someone who can also give them what they need and deserve. 


To find out if your representative has sponsored the Adoption Tax Credit and to see what you can do to help, visit: http://adoptiontaxcredit.org/

Aug 29, 2012

Let's playyyyyyyyy!

While waiting the longest wait of our entire lives - the wait for little Slick, we put operation build the playroom of our dreams into motion. 

Years ago, I dreamed of having an indoor tree house in our bonus room as it overlooks the woods and trees behind our house. I was hesitant at first to tell others and even Mr. Slick as I was sure they would think I was crazy, but surprisingly he was on board. 

We started with painting (see previous posts for pics) and then by putting on this awesome decal!



Then we started building. And by we, I mean Mr.Slick and FIL while I supervised :)




And then some more building.



And then a few more touches were added. 



IT'S HERE! It's finally here! 




And the final product - notice the awesome rock pillows below the tree house!


I cannot WAIT for little Slick to be here and play in their new awesome playroom! 




Tree decal - $85.00
Slide - $110.00
Wood - $35.00 (most of the wood used was from pallets that were free!!)
Paint - $21.00 (all we needed was sample sizes for the tree house)

The table was our old coffee table and the chairs were a free find from the dump - don't worry they have been thoroughly sanitized! Even the curtain rod is repurposed - it used to have clear "girly" ends on them, so the ends were painted. Everything else is just odds and ends we've picked up over the last 3ish years or were ours from childhood. I can't believe we did pretty much all of this for under $300!




And for the record, the slide works...I've tested it :)

Jun 29, 2012

Dear Lindsay,

I've been thinking about you a lot lately. I miss you so terribly much. 


I spent some time with your mom last week and it was so nice visiting with her. We went to see your tree and it looks wonderful with lots of new growth. It's strong and beautiful, just like you were when you were here with us on earth. 


It's almost your birthday and I'm sure you'll be celebrating, but not for you but for all the joys in Heaven.


I miss you and I lub you. 

Jun 26, 2012

The transformation has started...

We've started decorating the upstairs! It's been the same boring off-white since we moved in. Actually most of the house is this boring color:

But that all changed on Sunday night. Since we WILL have a little one someday (still don't know when) we have started the transformation. We even decided on and agreed upon the design scheme together! Here it is after the paint:


Three walls are the light green and just that half wall is the darker green. The dark green is much lighter in daylight - this picture was taken after we finished around 10pm Sunday. 




And!




And!




And! Since this room overlooks the woods behind our house and all you see is trees...




We'll be building an indoor tree house up here. COMPLETE WITH A SLIDE! We are both ridiculously excited about this. More pics will come as progress is made :)

Jun 6, 2012

Tips for Choosing an Agency

Choosing an agency is a daunting task and probably one of the most important decisions you'll ever make! If you're stumped on where to start, here are a few tips I used and should have used!



  • Get as much free information as possible. This may mean informational packets, online webinars, free seminars, etc. A lot of agencies give the same info about the process and then only differ in a few ways. 
  • Get information from at least 20 agencies. Even if you are set on one in particular - I learned something new from each agency packet about the process or I was given another website, resource, or just awesome quote. 
  • Once you've narrowed your search down to your top 5ish, make random phone calls at all times of the day/week to see how phone friendly they are. This was a big deal for us and we found that a lot of agencies had unfriendly phone and business hours. Also, if your married, have your spouse also call to see if you get the same information, tone, and assistance. 
  • If they give you definite time-lines, RUN. No one can know for sure when you'll get a referral. 
  • Ask for references. The good ones will gladly provide some although it may be after you've paid a small fee (usually a small $50-100 fee)
  • Ask for a list of preferred home study agencies if they don't do them in house. 
  • If considering domestic adoption, ask about their birth parent care. Make sure you're choosing an agency that properly takes care of (legally, physically, mentally) the birth family. 
  • Check online resources - look for agencies with a lot of good reviews, and not just one website. Just because an agency has 5 stars on one website, that doesn't mean they will on all sites and it doesn't mean it's true data. 
  • If you have a question, ASK IT! If they don't answer your question, ask again. If they still avoid your question, either confront them a third and final time or move on. 
  • Start talking. A lot more people have been touched by adoption than you realize and will be able to give you good (and sometimes horrible!) advice. 
  • Ask about financial assistance. That might mean talking to your financial adviser, bank, parent, whoever - just make sure you have a way to pay for things before you start the process. 

I think that's mostly it but I'll come back and add to this if I remember a few more things :)

Jun 4, 2012

Radio silence

This will be my last post about our adoption journey until it's all done. 


It makes me sad to do this but it's necessary and I understand the reasons. If you'd like to know the reasons, I'll be happy to share - just not over a public space. And if you have questions - shoot me an email :)


But that doesn't mean I'm done here. I guess I'll shift my focus from our story to informational types of things with random mixed in. 


I will say though that things are going well and I'm still very happy with all of our decisions and the process so far. 

May 27, 2012

Left behind.

I'm feeling left behind. I'm feeling left out. I am very grateful for all of my blessings in life but there is a hole in my heart. 


Most of my friends have children. And I have, as of recently, started to receive less and less invitations to go out, hang out, and be around them. I've been told that they don't want to bore me with their (mother) conversations and children. I am not part of this exclusive mommy club. I have no stories to tell, no pictures to share in their baby fueled conversations. I listen and try to be supportive where I can but am often times given the look and even told that I don't know how hard it is as they complain about their lives and children. They're right, I don't know how hard it is and I have never claimed so but I want to. Maybe I'm too sensitive? I know they don't mean to hurt my feelings. 


I've been trying to reach out and recently have made plans with my mommy friends. We all have fun but it's painfully obvious to me that I'm the only on in the room or wherever we are without a child(ren). Everyone leaves with their little ones and go back to my empty house. A house with an incomplete family. 


But what gives me hope is knowing that my child is out there, perhaps even already born. A child that may have grown in another woman's body, but is growing in my heart. 

May 21, 2012

Home visit is done!

We had our home visit last night and it went great! I'm not going to go into too much detail since nothing is finalized yet, but we both feel pretty good about things. 


She came over around 6 last night, did a joint interview, we ate dinner, then she interviewed us separately, did a home tour and then left around 9. 


She expects to have the rough draft to us within 2 weeks - which is pretty fast in the world of international adoption. 






In other news, I ONLY HAVE SEVEN MORE DAYS OF SCHOOL LEFT! I am so excited for my summer sanity break! I can't tell who is more excited; the kids or teachers. Today, I'm voting the teachers.

May 10, 2012

Records

This is a PSA:


If you're planning on pursuing international adoption in the next 6 or so months, start schmoozing up to the records department at your local police department, county clerk's office, state offices, doctor's offices, vet's office, etc. 


Some of these people act like it's an act of God for them to pull a record for you. Never mind the fact that it's their job or anything. But seriously, I go to pull records, and they act like no one has ever needed 3 certified copies of their marriage license, birth certificates, or background checks. 


Really? We're the first EVER? 


Even though some people have been less than willing to do their jobs, many have gone above and beyond to get us documents in a timely manner (this is a shout out to you little man in the passport office for not charging us extra for our rush order!). 






But we're making progress :) Our home study has been scheduled for May 20th, we got our fingerprints done and sent off, we have all of the official documents we need from the state, and most of the documents we'll need to fill out for our dossier once our home study is finished!

May 2, 2012

$H!T People Say

So I know I'm technically still new to this process but the stupidity has already started! I foolishly hoped (but also was preparing for) the oh, so wonderful comments from ignorant bystanders. I know most don't mean well but here are some recent doozies:



  • Oh, don't give up!  <--This one is referring to stopping IF treatments
  • Will you still try for a real child?  <--You mean adopted children aren't real???
  • I think you should adopt a special needs child, they need families to adopt them. <--How many special needs children have you adopted, again? 
  • Well, I'll love them anyways! <--WTF is that supposed to mean?

I'm sure there will be more to come, but people let's please use our brains and think before we speak. Mmmmkay? 

Apr 25, 2012

Check list!

Our check list is getting some action!



  • Find an agency we like - CHECK!
  • Find a home study agency - CHECK!
  • Start filling out mounds and mounds of paperwork - CHECK!
  • Buy extra bandaids for the paper cuts - CHECK!
We mailed off our application with our first payment...we're gettin' serious about this people! I have a stack of paperwork that's at least an inch thick AND there are some online forms too. 

I also just ordered and spent $140 on documents that we'll need for the home study. And that wasn't even half of them!

Apr 23, 2012

NIAW

It's National Infertility Awareness Week! Although we have closed the treatment door and opened the adoption door, I'll always be infertile. I'll always carry it with me. 


Here's a video that my friend over at The Juice is worth the Squeeze made this and it's awesome, just like her!