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!