Saturday, December 20, 2008

Final Thoughts ... For Now

Our bags are packed and we’re ready to go. Sounds like a song, but it’s true! We had our last visit with Adam this morning. It was a great one. We usually spend time with him and the other kids in his room. We watch him play in the large play yard/play pen with the other kids or put him in the swing until it’s time to feed him. Larry and I take turns feeding him. It’s one of the best parts of the visit. It sometimes turns into a contest … who can stay cleaner … us or Adam. After we feed him, we usually go into a private visitation room and spend one-on-one time with him. We have loved that time. However, today, we stayed in the room with the other kids the entire time. It was awesome! We played with all of the kids and Adam loved having everyone else to watch and interact with while we were there.

We are amazed at how much he has grown in the past six weeks. He is MUCH better at sitting up, he scoots like a pro, he plays more with his toys and has figured out how to use his entire arms to bang the toys on each other or on another surface, he almost has a tooth (sorry, but nothing yet to photograph … we tried). We will miss him so much over the next few weeks, but we have no doubt that he is an amazing hands. The caretakers love those kids. They play with them, help them develop new skills, give them attention, tell them stories, sing them songs and are all-around attentive and loving. It makes leaving somewhat easier, although it is NOT easy.
We will return in mid-January for our final court hearing. Adam will come home about 6 weeks later. I will post a few times while we are home. There is a lot more to say about our time here, so keep checking the blog.

We want to thank everybody for their comments and e-mails. It has made our time here easier knowing that we have so much love and support waiting for us when we (and Adam) get home. For now, enjoy some extra pics of our little boy.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Shana and Larry go to Court

A prosecutor and a seasoned homicide detective go to court. You'd think it would be rountine. However, the prosecutor is Shana and the detective is Larry. Of course there are funny stories. Here are ours.

Before I go much further, I'll say that everything went well and our final court date is Wednesday, January 14th at 10:30am. We are thrilled. By my calculations, Adam will be home just before or just after his first birthday!!!!!

Okay, now on to the funny stories. Our court time is 4pm. We are picked up at 3:40. We are ready a bit early, both dressed in our regular court attire ... suits. We get to the courthouse (just a few minutes away). We are about to walk into the building and Olesya, our interpreter, asks, "do you both have your passports?" Now, I have been saying for 6 weeks that we need to have them on us at all time. Who leaves their passport in the room? That's right ... me! Oops. Good thing our driver is still there. He runs me back to the hotel and I get it. Got back to the courthouse with 2 minutes to spare. Nothing like timing!

We go into the judge's chambers, which is where the "hearing" is held. Larry, Olesya and I sit on a bench on the far wall of the chambers. The director of the baby house, Dr. Kay, sits on another bench along with someone from the Department of Education. This woman was also at the baby house when we first met Adam. Behind a desk is a male. No coat, no robe. He is fairly young and wearing a shirt and tie. At the table in front of his desk is a young woman dressed in a uniform/suit.

I ask Olesya if that's the prosecutor (meaning the woman at the table). She says yes. I ask her this because sometimes the prosecutor is at the pre-court and sometimes s/he isn't. Larry assumes that the judge is the prosecutor. We go through the "hearing" where we are asked some questions ... why don't we want to adopt from America, are we concerned that Adam won't look like us, when did we get here and why did we choose Adam. He answered the questions and we were given our final court date. We then go to the lobby to wait for the notices for our next hearing (like we can read them ... they're in Russian). Larry is standing there holding his jacket. I ask him why? He says why put on his jacket if he just has to take it off in a few minutes. I asked him what he was talking about and he said that we still had to see the judge! I laughed and said we just did. He was so confused that he didn't realize it was all over. Talk about anti-climactic!

Anyway, we are on our way. We come home in three days and can't wait! We have our last visit with Adam tomorrow and are very sad about that, but it is part of the process and is another milestone in obtaining our ultimate goal ... our son Adam!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Scenes From an Italian Restaurant

Please disregard the placement of the pictures. For some reason, blogspot isn't letting me move them today. I didn't think you'd all mind, as long as there are pictures of Adam posted.

I'm feeling much better today so I was able to visit Adam. This was an especially good thing since after today we only have 3 days (6 hours) of visitation left. The reality of leaving hasn't hit us yet. It will probably hit us on the 10 hour flight from Frankfurt to Miami.

When we walked into the play room Adam is in today we only noticed one thing. GARLIC. There was a bowl of sliced garlic in the play room and another in the crib room. I'm talking about a big bowl of garlic. Probably 10 cloves per bowl cut up. All we needed was rolls and butter and we'd be in business. We don't know if it's supposed to be healing or if the vampires come out this time of year, but we hope it does its job.
Adam didn't seem phased by the smell. He was all smiles again. He is getting better at sitting up. We are working on his muscles and he has come so far in such a short time. He has also discovered that he can wave and move his whole arms and can even bang things together. It's been such a joy to watch him grow and develop. No official sighting of his first tooth, but we could feel it today. We know that we will miss this tremendously for the next several weeks, but he is certainly worth it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Another Milestone

In the adoption process, there are milestones. You learn not to count time, because that gets too depressing. You count milestones: the paperchase (getting together a crazy amount of paperwork to document all aspects of your life), getting in your dossier (getting that paperwork notarized, apostilled or state certified and filed with the foreign consulate from where you are adopting), getting on a list and having some sort of idea how many families are in front of you, being close to next, being next, getting your date to leave, applying and receiving your visas to travel, meeting your child for the first time, completing the official bonding period, getting your pre-court date. These are the milestones that Larry and I have been through in the past few years.

After finding out that our pre-court date is this Friday, the next big milestone was a meeting between Adam's biological mother and the judge. What this meant was that our interpreter, Olesya, and our driver, Andre, went out to a remote village yesterday near the boarder of Russia to get Adam's biological mother and bring her to court. She came and was asked by the judge whether she still wished to give up her rights to Adam. She had already signed paperwork saying so before he was placed on a registry which makes him ultimately eligible for adoption. But part of the process here is that the biological family is asked againd during the adoption process. If she were to say that she didn't want to give up her rights, it would be an uphill battle for her and would ultimately be up to the judge to decide. This time, however, she said that she still wished for him to be adopted by the family that has been visiting with him for the past few weeks. This is a huge milestone for us and we believe that everything should be smooth from here on in.

We haven't taken many pictures of Adam in the past few days. I started getting sick yesterday and didn't visit with him today because the last thing we want is for him to get sick again and end up in the infirmary. So, Larry went alone. Adam was fussy for much of the time, so photos weren't in the cards. He still has an ear infection. This may very well be because he's teething. Nothing to take a picture of yet, but we believe that one tooth is about to break ground. We hope to see it while we are here. We hope to post some more photos tomorrow or Thursday.

On a final note, it finally got really cold. The high will not get above 20 for the rest of the time we are here. This is what we expected the weather to be like for the entire time we were here. We have been very lucky but our luck with the weather has finally run out. Now, it's just COLD.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Adam look at his family photo album that we will leave for him when we leave next week.
Adam likes to just chill on one of the chairs in the visitation room.

His smile is priceless.

Adam loves to laugh when he first wakes up in the morning.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Pre-Court Date

Well, we finally got our pre-court date. It is next Friday (12/19) at 4pm. We called the travel agent last night and asked about flight availability, and there is nothing available next Saturday or Sunday. So, we are getting home next Monday afternoon! Finally! I haven't downloaded today's photos onto the computer so I'll post some either later tonight or tomorrow. He was in a GREAT mood today and laughed a lot ... so check back later or tomorrow morning.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Bright Side

Everybody's support throughout this entire process has been amazing. Some of you make us smile, some let us know that parts of you are going through this with us and some times you just make us laugh. One of Larry's friends e-mailed him yesterday in response to the timing glitch we just had. We wanted to share it with all of you. Here it is ... from Norm Gregorisch ...

Look at the bright side, this just gives you an opportunity to immerse yourself further in Kazakhstanian you have any photos of yourselves attired in local garb? Maybe you'll be there long enough to establish residency and learn the language....Shana can go to the local library and brush up on Kazakhstanian law to take their version of the BAR, while you imbibe at your version of the bar.... or, we, your loyal friends, can take up a collection to send Art to your rescue, just keep him away from any revolving doors or you might never see him again ... seriously, good luck, Norm.

For those of you who may not know the story of Art and the revolving door, ask a former Sqad C member. It's a hoot!

Adam still has a slight ear infection, but he seems fine. He was a bit fussy while Larry was feeding him today, but ultimately Larry won the battle of the runny oat breakfast. We hope to get our court date tomorrow and we'll post with an update either way.
As for the weather, it should get colder our last week here and it may finally snow! The weather has been extremely mild for this time of year, but it looks like that will change next week.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Scheduling Glitch

We were hoping to post today that our court date was this week and that we'd be home on Sunday. Unfortunately, that won't happen. We were assigned to a judge who wants to meet with our coordinator/translator on Friday. We hope that at that time he will tell her when our pre-court date is. At this point, the courts are closed next Tuesday and Wednesday for their Independence Day celebrations, so the earliest we can have our pre-court hearing is Thursday. Keep your fingers crossed for us! We believe that this is no more than a scheduling glitch and we hope that things are smooth from here, even if they aren't on the time table we hoped for.

On the bright side, this means that we get to spend more time with Adam. He is still a joy, although right now he has a slight ear infection. The little hat you see on his head is so he won't fuss with his ear while it's infected. He doesn't seem to mind having it on his head, and he's still adorable if I do say so myself. I may be biased, but that's part of being a mom!

We are actually looking forward to their independence celebration. They have something similar to our outdoor festivals. There should be music, drinks and food out on the streets. Should be fun. You all know us ... we'll make the best of any situation.

We hope to have more information on Friday and we'll post what we know at that point.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Holiday Time in Kazakhstan

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but the celebration here is for New Years. There seem to be a lot of similarities between the two. The only Christmas celebrated here is the Russian Orthodox Christmas on January 7. However, their New Years celebration is a huge deal. People gather in the center of town which is a big open square area. They celebrate by getting dressed in costumes and drinking all night long. Yes, they drink outside even in the freezing weather. I guess it’s similar to those crazy people in the States who gather in NYC to watch a ball or an apple fall at midnight regardless of the weather.

They do not have a Santa, but they do have a Father Frost which looks mighty similar to Santa. He lives in North Russia and has no wife or kids, but he does have a granddaughter. He delivers gifts to children at their homes on New Years Eve. However, being good all year doesn’t get you a gift. You either have to be dressed as Father Frost or his granddaughter, sing a song about one of them or recite a poem about one of them in order to get a gift. People will hire Father Frost to come to their homes or they will get friends and neighbors to do it. While in the US, Santa gets milk and cookies (or chocolates as Bryan and Kellie left him last year), Father Frost gets a shot of vodka at each home. Maybe this is a tradition we will bring back with us J They put up lights and even trees here too. Sometimes, the gifts are left under the trees when kids go to sleep. Also, Father Frost has a sleigh and horses (not reindeer) to bring him around to deliver the presents. So, although we are not yet home, the holiday season is here too.

Now, what you all really want to hear about is Adam. He is great. He’s been a bit fussy for the past couple of days and apparently didn’t sleep well last night. However, Olesya our interpreter has an amazing ability to make him laugh and laugh and laugh. He is sitting up a bit better than he was just a week ago. He isn’t crawling yet, but his scooting is improving. He seems to have grown since we’ve gotten here. Tomorrow we hope to get his new measurements to see exactly how much he has grown. He smiles at anybody who will smile at him and his personality lights up a room.

What would a post be at this point without mentioning that the GATORS ARE GOING TO THE BCS CHAMPIONSHIP GAME and we are thrilled. We hope somebody recorded the SEC championship game for us. We hope to be home within a week and we can’t wait to see everybody.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Things will will miss about Kazakhstan

Our time here is winding down. We hope to come home in just over a week and we have been here for almost 4. In some ways, it feels like we've been here forever. In other ways, it feels like we just got here. Larry and I talked today about things we will miss about Kazakhstan and, specifically, Kostanai (the city we're in).

Obviously, the list begins and ends with Adam. He is amazing and we can't wait to bring him home to meet everybody. He is scooting around the floor and will hopefully crawl soon. He loves to smile and when he does his whole face lights up. You all have seen it in the pictures, but it's even better in person!

A couple of other things we will also miss (in no particular order) are:
Having the right of way. It's amazing. We can cross the road (when we have the green light) and all oncoming cars and busses must stop for pedestrians.

Here, the only decision we need to make in a day is where to go to eat. We have breakfast in the hotel, either eggs in the restaurant or oatmeal or a protein bar we brought with us in the room. We usually only have one other main meal in the day. We eat somewhere between noon and 4 and have a small snack in the room for dinner. So, that leaves that our main decision of the day is where to eat. There are 4 places with english menus. One is an Italian cafe colled Dolce Vida. Their pizza is good. Yes, we can actually have pizza in Kazakhstan. Another restuarant with an english menu is the Bier Haus. The english menu is new ... added within the last couple of weeks. Their food is delicious. It's like a high class American sports bar. Another place with an english menu is a cafe we call the Yellow Cafe. We don't know the actual name of it, but the outside is bright yellow. The food is some of our favorite. The last place is a larger restaurant called the Bavarian. It's actually a brew house and they make their own beer.

There are a couple of other places with russian menus only where we eat with either our interpreter, Olesya, or a friend of hers who spends some time with us during the weekends when Olesya doesn't work. Her name is Nelly. We will miss her too. She also works in the hotel at the front desk and takes classes in her spare time. One of the places we go is called the Russian Cafe. The fish dumplings are amazing. There's also a very interesting place (I forget the name of it but we call it the horse soup place). The kitchen is actually like a person's kitchen at home, so eating there is like getting a home cooked meal. That's where we had horse soup early on in our time here. It's good, as are their meat dumplings. The soups everywhere are amazing and all are home made.

The other thing we will miss about the food is that most meals will take between 90 minutes and 2 hours. Eating is more of an event because all of the food is cooked to order. Most of the places are small cafes with less than 10 tables.

Since Larry and I haven't taken too much time off together to travel, we have enjoyed our time here together. Whether he wants to admit it or not, we will both miss spending this much time together :)

We will miss our interpreter, who we have also called our angel. Olesya is amazing. She has been with us the entire time we have been here. She is our guide through the process, our liason to the baby house and all of the people there, she has been our tour guide through much of our time here. She has lunch with us most days during the week and has taken us shopping, to ourdoor markets and to a museum. We would not have wanted to go through this process without her. We will truly miss her.

We have enjoyed our time here, and in no way want to leave Adam. We will miss him every minute of every day we are not here. But, we are getting ready to come home (Larry is already ready) and can't wait to see everybody soon.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


When Larry does this with Adam it's tough to tell who enjoys it more!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Go Gators!

So, really, who had the UF/FSU party at our house yesterday? Tiff? Jonathan? Mark? Fess up. We know somebody did. Hope you all enjoyed the game. We didn’t get to watch it, but we woke up to the 45-15 win of the Gators over FSU. Even Adam got in on Gator Fever. Amazingly, they happened to have a Florida hat in the Baby House. Now we know that this was meant to be. Larry is hoping that his first words will be Go Gators!

Things here are good. Not much changes on a daily basis. We visit with Adam for about 2 hours a day. During our visit, we take turns feeding him. We have learned that he loves bananas and apricot juice. We have also learned that when he doesn’t want more to eat, he makes his feelings very clear and just stops eating. He is scooting around the room better every day. We are now working on sitting up. Apparently, as soon as that happens, they start to potty train the kids. We will try to get a picture of the kids in Adam’s room in the bathroom. Essentially, each kid has a plastic potty. Every once in a while, the caretakers take the kids to the bathroom and put them on their respective potty (each kid is assigned a number for their potty). After we put Adam down for his nap today, we walked by the bathroom with about 5 kids under 15 months old sitting on the potties. It was adorable. Until he can sit up, no potty. After that, look out world.

The weather here is still amazingly mild. The highs have been anywhere from 32-41 and the lows have been at least in the 20s. It was supposed to get very cold this coming week, but the highs are still supposed to be in the high 20s and 30s, but the lows may go into the low teens. There hasn’t been much snow. Just the first day or two we were here and flurries the other day. It seems to be just as cold if not colder in the Northeast of the States than here. We feel lucky.

We hope everybody had a Happy Thanksgiving and we hope to be home in 2 weeks.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Larry and I have a lot to be thankful for this year. After three long years, we have finally found our son. Boy, was he worth the wait! He is thriving during our visits. From the first day we visited with him, he could roll from his back to his front and his front to his back. He can’t sit up unassisted yet. But today, he reached another milestone. He crawled (just about)! I posted a video below. He scoots his feet under him and goes forward! He did this at the end of our time together today, so we will continue to watch him and soon he should be scooting and crawling around the room!

Believe it or not, we are more than half way through our first visit. On Wednesday, December 10, we should get our preliminary court date. We hope that the date will be Friday, December 12 or Monday, December 15. That Tuesday and Wednesday are holidays here and the courts are closed. We can come home the day after our preliminary court. We would return to Kazakhstan about 4 weeks later for our final court date, which puts us in mid-January. After final court, there is a 15 day appeal period for the biological mother, judge or prosecutor to change their minds about us adopting Adam. If there is no appeal, on the 16th day after court, he is legally ours!!!!! Then, in-country workers get his new paperwork … passport, birth certificate, etc. and file them where they need to be filed. That takes about 3 weeks. Then, we apply for a visa for him to come to the US on his Kaz passport and home he comes! This puts his arrival towards the end of February, just in time for his 1st birthday on March 1.

We hope that everybody has a Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Larry's Turn

As promised, here are pics of Larry feeding Adam. He did an AWESOME job! Not much to write today. We visited with Adam in the afternoon since he had to go to some doctors to get clearance for the adoption. Everything was good and clear. We had a great visit. He is really connecting with us and we are loving our time with him.

Enjoy the photos and we want to wish all of our friends and families a Happy Thanksgiving! Although we are on the other end of the world, we will be with all of you during this holiday for which we are truly thankful for finding Adam.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Good, The Bad and the Messy

It finally happened. Adam has been released from the infirmary and is in a regular room. The only down side to him being in a regular room is that we don’t get one-on-one time with him. However, this change means that there is A LOT to tell today. There are a total of 9 kids in the room with 2 caretakers. The “room” is actually two rooms with a little kitchen area. One room is lined with cribs. They are nice wooden cribs with brightly colored blankets. Adam’s crib is near a window. If he turns himself around, he can look outside, through a sheer curtain. The other room is a play room. There is a lot of floor space, a small playset with swings and a slide. The large floor area is a great place for us to do Adam’s exercises and massage with him. They have a couple of walkers and even a piano which the caretakers or the kids can play. There is a large play crib where they are enclosed but have lots of room and toys. There is a smaller crib and a couple of tables and chairs.

When we got to the room this morning, Adam was in the play crib. I went up to him and his face lit up. I picked him up and he saw his dad and his face lit up again. We had a great time playing with him on the big open floor. Lots more room for him to roll around. He isn’t crawling yet, but he wants to. For the first part of our visit, he was all laughs and giggles. Then, I got to feed him!

At 9:30 am, he gets a bowl of milky baby cereal. They feed them with a regular sized spoon. The kids with teeth got an apple slice. Adam, who does not have teeth yet, got grated apple in his cereal. Whoever does the feeding has to wear an apron and a handkerchief on their head. Yes, Larry’s turn is tomorrow, complete with photos! If it’s not challenging enough to feed a 9 month old with an adult sized spoon, they also get a shot glass full of fresh juice. Today, the juice was apricot. You read correctly, ladies and gentleman, the kids are fed from a shot glass. What fun! No sippy cup, an actual shot glass. I think I did pretty well today. Most of the drink went into Adam, not onto him.

Adam is the youngest kid in his room. 6 walk. One sits up and we don’t believe that the other little one sits up. I think the oldest in the room is about 14 months old. The “older” ones took a nap right after feeding time. The other 2 younger ones played in the play crib and Larry and I played with Adam on the floor and the swing after breakfast. It is certainly a nice change and a wonderful experience to be able to feed him. I’ll be sure to take lots of pics of Larry’s turn tomorrow.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sleeping Beauty

Things from Kazakhstan are good. There isn’t much to report. We get to see Adam for about 2 hours every day, even on the weekends. He is still in the infirmary, but his chest seems less and less congested. The baby house masseuse came the other day to teach us how to work with Adam. She showed us lots of ways to move his arms, hands, fingers, legs, hips, feet and toes. This is an especially good thing since he does not get a lot of activity time in the infirmary. We have been doing the massage with him for a couple of days and he LOVES it. He smiles and laughs and lights up the room. Unfortunately, he has learned that the red light on our camera (to prevent red eyes) means that his picture will be taken any moment. He plays shy and stops smiling when he sees the light. We figured this out today and took the feature off, but it’s been hard to get those precious pictures of his smile.

After he ate today, he decided to take an early nap. With 45 minutes left in our visit, he zonked! Out like a light. He decided to wake up when we were getting him ready to return to the infirmary. We hope for more awake time tomorrow.

Many of you have been wondering what it is like here, other than visiting with Adam. I have said that the food is great. The weather has been amazingly mild. It snowed the first day we were here, and a little the other day. Other than that, it’s been cold, but not much below freezing. We will try to take more pictures of the city and things here, but here is a picture of the grocery store (the Gros). A bit different from the supermarkets in the States, huh? The Gros is on the first floor. On the second and third floors, there are small stores. On the fourth floor, there is a play area for little kids as well as an arcade and a few more stores. A couple of times a day, music plays from the clock on top of the building, the clock turns around and a figurine comes out and “dances.” It’s fun to watch.

Please keep the comments coming (especially the Saturday football reports). Go Gators. We love reading them and hope that everybody is enjoying the blog as much as we are enjoying our time here with our precious little boy.

Friday, November 21, 2008

What is in a Name?

Some of you have asked how we came up with Adam Garrett Belyeu. Larry and I decided to follow a Jewish tradition and name our child after people who were close to us who have died. Adam Garrett is our way of honoring two important people in our lives.

Ma Belyeu (Gloria) was a very wise and down to earth woman who loved her boys (especially Larry, the baby of the family). She was the anchor of the Belyeu home where family came first.

My Grandpop Shor (Artie) was a strong and passionate man who, no matter how much he worked, always made time for his family. He was heavily involved in his community and was a friend to everybody.

When Larry and I met, Larry said that he always wished that I had met his mother. I told Larry that I always wish he met my Grandpop Shor. And had they met each other? Now, I would love to be a fly on the wall for that one.

So we decided to use an “A” and a “G” for our child’s names. We both loved the name Adam Garrett. We have not yet decided on whether we are keeping Adil as a second middle name, but we are told that it means fair and honest. Whether or not we keep his given name, we are sure that he will keep the qualities that his name has given him.

And what does Adam Garrett Belyeu think of his name and of those it honors?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The March of the Penguins

The baby home is wonderful. The kids are cared for extremely well and get more attention than one would expect. Even in the middle of the winter, the kids go outside. To say that they get bundled up is an understatement. Even inside the baby house, which is pretty warm when dressed normally, the kids wear at least 2-3 layers. Usually, Adam is wearing one or two thin shirts … one is short sleeved and one is long. Over that, he is given to us with a thick knit sweater. On his legs, he has on medium thick pants with feet. Over that, he has a thick knit pair of pants. On his feet, over the footed pants, he has on a pair of socks thicker than many pairs of shoes. I almost forgot the hat. It’s thick and knit too. When we get him for our visitation time, off comes the hat and the thick outer layer.

Back to how they are when they go outside. This country gives new meaning to a snow suit. Earlier this week, we had to take Adam to the doctor. Here we are in the cab. Notice there is no car seat. Thankfully, our driver Andre (who looks like our friend Chris Stroze), got us there and back safely.

Adam can’t wait to see the wonders of the world. His eyes are full of hope, love and laughs. As I said yesterday, he loves to look outside the window. Here he is with his daddy looking outside.

What does he see when he looks outside? He sees trees, birds and often blue skies. He also sees the older kids taking their daily walks around in the fresh air with the caregivers. Larry calls it the march of the penguins. The little ones can barely walk all bundled up. It’s more like they waddle. They’re adorable.

Everybody’s comments and e-mails yesterday meant the world to us. You all know what we have been through the past three years. We couldn’t have gotten through it without everybody’s love and support. For that, we thank you. Hopefully, things will be smooth from here on in and we can all just enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Larry and I would like to introduce you to the next member of the Belyeu family … We have finally made our decision and have accepted the referral of this adorable little boy. His given name is Adil. The name we will give him is Adam Garrett Belyeu. We have not yet decided whether we are going to keep Adil as a second middle name (making it Adam Adil Garrett Belyeu).

He was born on March 1, 2008 almost 10 weeks early. This makes him a fighter. He was born at just over 3 pounds. When he got to the baby house in May, he was over 8 pounds. Now, he is 13 and change. He is growing very well. He has been through many medical tests, some at our request this past week. He has gotten a clean bill of health and we are moving ahead with the process. We are still figuring out the timing of the process, so we’ll let you all know more about that in a few days.

We have been able to see him for almost two hours every day. For now, we see him alone. This is because he is in the infirmary. He has a chest cold that is going around the baby house. When he gets out of the infirmary, he will be moved to a room with others his age. We will then visit with him in a larger room with other kids and possibly other visiting parents. We’ll figure that one out when we get there. For now, we love our time alone with him.

He has a contagious laugh and smile and loves to talk. He also loves looking out of the window in the room. He can just stare outside for a while with a satisfied and happy look on his face. Since we don’t get to feed him yet, he is left to munch on our fingers. No teeth yet, but he should be there soon.

Now that we have introduced you to him, we (or I) will post more often and let everybody know what our days and nights are like.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Today's Random Post: Fashion

You go to Paris and expect high fashion. You come to the former Soviet Union and … don’t. If you were a betting person and bet against a keen fashion sense here, you’d lose big, especially in the city we are in. Maybe not as much as if you put money on South Carolina, but you’d still lose. (GO GATORS)

Here, it’s the beginning of the winter. We did not expect the temperature to get over freezing. Since we live in South Florida, we had to buy lots of clothes. We had sweaters, but that was about it. Whenever we’d go to visit my folks in Pennsylvania, we’d borrow cold weather clothes. So, we went shopping. I bought what I thought would be a really cute coat. It’s a down jacket with a faux-fur-lined hood. We brought corduroy pants sine they’re supposed to be warmer than jeans and easier to clean and dry, since we do our laundry in the room. Other than me, there isn’t much faux fur here. There may be some, but it’s a much higher quality than we have at Burlington Coat Factory. The hood linings aren’t the only things that are fur. There are more fur coats here than the guys see hunting on Ocala at Camp Idiot. I have to say, it’s beautiful. It's not just the outer-wear. The outfits that people have on are very stylish (especially the women). Beautiful boots, great pants, pretty dresses, beautiful hair styles.

In short, the fashion here is high and the people are beautiful. There is a university here, so there are plenty of young people. We’ll see what happens to the fashion here when it dips into the single digits.

Unfortunately, still no firm news. We hope to have some by the end of the week. We are hanging in there and appreciate everybody’s love and support.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Random post of the day: the hotel

Things here are, well, the same. Still talking to the doctors here and back in the states, so there is nothing to tell that you all want to hear. So I figured I would tell you about things here for a couple of days other than the baby.

The hotel: amazing. We have a large room, two balconies (which is funny since it’s winter) and a large bathroom. That’s what the parts of the hotel room are for. Here’s how we use them: we use one of the balconies as a refrigerator. We can’t drink the water, so we buy it in 5L bottles. Since you can’t drink the water, you can’t have ice. Keeping the drinks outside keeps them cold. Speaking of drinks, it took almost a week but Larry had his first beer today … and his second. We went to lunch at one of three restaurants that have English menus. They also brew their own beer … regular and light. We each had beer and it was great. Now, back to the room: the balcony doubles as a refrigerator and the bathroom doubles as … a washer and dryer. We did laundry today. We wash it in a big bowl that the families pass around and share. We rinse it in the sink and dry it on a clothesline we hung across the bathroom. Yes, life here is full of excitement. There isn’t too much to do to pass the time in the evenings, so even a chore like laundry can pass an hour or two and break up the monotony.
We get wireless internet in the hotel, but our computer only picks it up in the lobby. I am sitting in the lobby right now while there is a wedding going on in the restaurant behind me. Apparently, the hotel has only had high speed wireless for about six months. Before that, it only offered dial-up. Thankfully, we are here with high speed wireless.

We love hearing from people on the posts. Everybody’s support is more helpful than you all know.

Tomorrow’s post: fashion in Kazakhstan.

Since it’s Saturday, the post must end with GO GATORS!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

No news yet ...

We hate to keep everyone in the dark, but we really don’t have any decisions made at this point. The process goes something like this: we are brought into the office of the Director (Doctor) of the Baby House. We are shown several files of children who are available for adoption or will soon be available for adoption. From those files, we ask to see one or more of the children. If we choose to begin an informal visitation with the child (if the child has not yet cleared the national registry) we can do so the next day. So … we were shown files of three children and chose to begin seeing one particular child. We began our informal visitation on Wednesday. We have time to consult with doctors back in the states about the medical history of the child and what we see first hand when spending time with the child. That is where we are. The medical information and history takes time to go through and with the time difference, it takes a while to get information back and forth to the States. We are trying to make the right decision and it (like the rest of the process) takes more time than one would think it should.

Sorry for the formality, but it’s a pretty stressful process. We know we have the love and support of all of you and we thank you for that. As soon as we have a decision, we will let you know.

In the mean time, the city is a pretty cool place. The food is great. Sometimes odd, but great. Yesterday, Larry (now that he can eat) and I had horse soup. Yes, he won’t eat Thai or Chinese food, but he tried horse. It was actually good. Tasted like brisket (not chicken). The weather has been surprisingly mild. After the first day when it snowed, I don’t believe it has dropped much below freezing. We hope all is well back in the States. Dad – sorry about the Nittany Lions. Leslie and Tiffany – thanks for the football update. Go Gators! We will write again soon and thank all of you for your love and patience.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Eagle Has Landed

Well, we made it. Some of us in better shape than others, but we made it. Unfortunately, on the first of three plane trips (the one from Miami to Frankfurt), Larry got sick. He apparently ate something and spent most of the eight hour flight in the bathroom. Our six hour lay-over in Frankfurt consisted of finding chairs for Larry to sleep on and hoping that he could keep down the iced tea I found for him. I know that iced tea is probably VERY wrong for someone in his condition, but the Frankfurt airport doesn’t have Gatorade or Ginger Ale and the soda he tried to drink on the plane didn’t work either. Fortunately, he kept it down until part way between Frankfurt and Almaty, Kazakhstan. While I got some sleep on that flight, he plotted his potential courses to the bathroom. After that, things began looking up for him.

As we landed in Kazakhstan, I looked at Larry and said that we were about to land in the country where our child is. He looked at me as if to say, we’re about to land in a country I haven’t thrown up in yet. Certainly a moment to remember.

Once we cleared customs in Almaty (very quickly and uneventful), we were picked up by Nikolai, who took us to our hotel for a few hours of much needed sleep. At this point, it was around 1am on Monday. We had been travelling since 4pm on Saturday. So, with the time changes, we had been travelling for about 24 hours. The hotel was fine. It was exactly what we needed … a bed and a shower. We wouldn’t need to meet Nikolai until noon that day, so we had plenty of time to sleep, which we did.

From Almaty, it was off to our destination city. Now that plane ride was … interesting. Larry tells me that the plane we flew on was older than the one that India Jones took to Asia in the first movie. I had never been on a plane with curtains on the windows before. It was loud and hot, but it got us here in one piece.

When we arrived, our translator/coordinator, Olysea, picked us up. We have only known her for a day, but she is a godsend. She is very sweet and knows the system very well. We got to the hotel which is better than we could have imagined. There is plenty of space and a very large bathroom. Once we figure out how to get the shower to drain faster and how to get water that is not scolding hot, we will be in business. And mom, don’t worry … there is a hair dryer in the bathroom. One problem down :)

There are other families here from Adoptions From the Heart. We met one of the fathers last night. He is very nice and has been here almost two months. His wife just returned to the States (Rosemont PA, actually) and will return here in a few weeks for their court date. He is going to be a great asset to us.

As for the weather, we’re apparently going through a heat wave. It was about freezing today and even snowed an inch last night and a bit more when we walked to lunch today. It’s melted by now, so it should turn good and icy over night.

Now, what you are all waiting for … news of our first visit to the baby house. It was today. Everybody in their blogs has described this experience as surreal. For me, it was amazingly real. It was over before we knew it, but it is all we have until our next visit tomorrow. I am not going to post much on what happened. In short, we are going to begin visitation tomorrow with one particular child. We need to get more medical information from the baby house here and consult with our doctor at CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) before completely making our decision. We hope to have that done by early next week. Olysea is checking to see when we will be able to start our official bonding time with this child. We could only spend a minute or two together today, but we are hoping that everything works out with this one. I know I am being vague, but I need to be for now. Thank you all for understanding.

Thank you also for your comments. It certainly helps keep us connected. From what we understand, we're about to star in the movie Groundhog Day.

Friday, November 7, 2008

26 Hours to Go

Yup, it's true. We leave in just under 26 hours. Our bags are just about packed. There's not much more to report for now. Since Kazakhstan is a blind referral country, we don't and won't know any more about the baby until we visit the baby house. At this point, we believe that first visit will be on Tuesday. We won't post much information or pictures until we accept a referral, which will probably be some time towards the end of next week. We want to thank our friends and families for their love and good wishes. We will miss all of you and your thoughts and posts will help us through our time away.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Information Galore

In 9 days, we should be on the airplane. Our first airplane, to be exact. We leave next Saturday for Frankfurt, Germany. After a mere 6 hour layover, we leave for Almaty, Kazakhstan. We get to rest in an actual bed in an actual hotel room for a few hours, and then it's off to our final destination.

When we get there, we will begin to get settled for our 4-5 week stay. This is what we expect to happen. I say expect because, as you know, things don't always happen as expected or on any anticipated time line. I am writing this for our family and friends who have been with us on this long and often uncertain journey for the past few years. I am also writing this for those of you who are in the process of adopting yourselves and are trying to figure out what might happen along the way. I know that I learn an enormous amount from reading others' blogs, so I hope this helps.

Soon after arriving in our destination city in Kazakhstan, we will visit the baby house. This might happen the day we get there or it might happen the following day. From there, we will likely be shown the medical records of several children who are up for adoption. We should be able to briefly meet with one or more of these children. Then, in what we expect to be one of the toughest things we will ever experience, we choose a child to begin bonding with. How, you ask, will we choose? As Larry asks, is it like picking a puppy? We don't know how we will choose. We just know that our child is out there and we will find him or her and we'll know it when that happens.

We will then have a chance to gather as much or as little medical and biographical information as we can about the child and consult with an international adoption doctor, who we contacted today and will begin consulting with this weekend.

We will then beging a required official two week bonding period with our chosen child. We will hopefully be able to visit with our child for an hour or two every day. Yes, this means that we will be spending Thanksgiving with our child. It doesn't get much better than that!

At the end of that period, the referral becomes official. We then get a date for pre-court. From what I gather, pre-court is a meeting with the judge and others to make sure that our paperwork is in order. From there, we get our final court date. That date is usually about a month away from pre-court, so we will travel back home for the holidays. We will return to Kazakhstan for a couple of days, hopefully in mid-January, for court. Then, it's home again for a few more weeks.

After court, there is a fifteen day appeal period. Once that is over, we are officially parents! Amazing, but true. However, we're not quite finished yet. More paperwork to get done. There is someone in Kazakhstan who gets a new birth certificate and a passport. Then, we return once more for about a week to get the Visa for our child so we can bring him or her home.

I know I'm talking as if nothing else is going to happen to this process. At this point, I am being as positice as I can possibly be.

That's the plan. That's what we hope will happen. Keep your fingers crossed and think happy thoughts!

As for our preparations, things are coming along. We should be good and ready by next weekend. Due to the timing of all of this, we have to renew much of our paperwork. That is coming along. We should have everything out by Monday! The shopping is also coming along. The weather is going to be a huge change. To say the least, it is going to be cold! The high today was 50 and the low was around freezing, but a lot could change in 2 weeks. From the almanac from last year, it is unlikely to get above freezing while we are there and there are likely to be days that don't get out of the single digits!

That's about it for now. I hope the information and the timeline helps.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Welcome to our blog

We are coming, my little one. Mommy and Daddy are coming. We leave in two weeks to meet and fall in love with you and start the process of being able to bring you home. We don't know much of anything about you. We don't know if you are a boy or a girl, when you were born or what you have done in your life, but we can't wait to find out.

The call came a few days ago. The call that we have been waiting for. The call that our families and friends have been waiting for. We leave in two weeks. So our families and friends can follow our adventure and meet you too, we are creating this blog. Before we leave, I will give more details about how the process is supposed to work. For now, I have to check the weather in Kazakhstan to see when the temperature will dip below freezing ... as a daily high, not a low.

That's it for now. Short and sweet. We invite all of you to follow our adventure and our travels.