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.