Wednesday, May 23, 2012
On our way back through Moscow we met up with our very friendly, easy to understand, knowledgeable contact there. There was just a misunderstanding on the way through the first time about where we were supposed to meet up with him in the airport but we worked it out and moved on. :) We got to Moscow early Saturday morning and were not leaving until Sunday morning so he got us to our hotel for the day/night and gave us instructions about how to get ourselves back to the airport in the morning.
Once at the hotel we slept. A lot. The hotel was much more modern than Hotel Volgograd, as well as much more expensive!!! The city of Moscow is just a very expensive place. This...
My little brother got married while we were there! Crazy. We actually slept through the wedding because of the time difference. Not many people can say that they slept through their brother's wedding! Ha!
Saturday, May 19, 2012
He let Barry hold him and Barry got him to smile for the first time!! Well, the first time we have seen. It was the sweetest thing ever!! He did a little talking for us...he was either saying "ba" "da" and "la" or "give" and "take" in Russian...Lena, our coordinator told us he was saying give and take but I'm not so sure...who knows. It was good to hear his little voice regardless of the meaning of the sounds that were coming out! He also busted out into song at one point. We thought he was crying/screaming again, but he was just singing. It was hilarious.
Unfortunately, our visit was cut short though because we received a call from the translator (we were at the orphanage with our facilitator) that the notary office was closing early that day and we had to leave immediately in order to get there in time. We had to grab all of our toys and rush our baby boy back inside to hand him off to his caregivers. We were so rushed that we didn't get to say goodbye, Barry didn't get to kiss him goodbye...I know he's little and it's not like he would have understood us if we had said our goodbyes but...ugh...I just hate how we had to leave him. We had planned on leaving all of the toys we had brought with the orphanage, and that didn't happen because we weren't thinking clearly...it just was an icky way to leave. We did leave with him a lovie, a soft picture book of Barry and I, a disposable camera for them to take pics of him, and a hallmark "All the Ways I Love You" recordable book. Hopefully he is able to keep those things in his crib.
Of course there were tears involved...on all parties actually. I have a pit in my stomach that just won't go away now and need him to be in my arms again. We will have more paperwork to complete once we get back home and some of it is dependent on other people. I am going to be a crazy person if other people are slacking and not getting the job done as quickly as I would like it to happen. Beware if you stand between me and my child... :)
God's hand was once again, all over this visit. Like I said, we got the call from our translator to hurry back to town, left immediately and got to the notary office 10 minutes before it closed!! It was so so close. Our facilitator may or may not have broken a few traffics laws to get us there...but regardless...we got there. :) We signed a book saying that we visited our baby and signed a form saying we intended to proceed with the adoption process with him. That was the last step needed for the first trip!
Friday, May 18, 2012
Lisa and I both had moments today where we teared up because of the change in his disposition toward us. At one point he had become upset again and started crying, but he quickly was soothed by Lisa rocking him and talking to him and almost instantly he put his head right under her chin and cuddled up to her. I could see the tears welling up in her eyes and she just closed them to relish the moment. A little while later while Lisa was still holding him, I had been just kind of trying to play with him a little and patting his back and rubbing his head, just trying to get him more comfortable with me. He was doing great with it compared to yesterday already, so I wasn't expecting too much, but all of a sudden he reached out and grabbed my finger and held on to it for a few seconds. Lisa looked at me and my eyes had already started to fill with tears, and when she saw that she almost lost it again; it was a really sweet moment for all of us, and I'm not even sure if our son realized it was happening! It was something we will never forget though.
When it was time for us to go after a couple of hours, we brought him back to the nice lady who had brought him in. When he saw her it was like he suddenly realized that she had been gone and he got upset and reached for her. This also may seem like a minor thing, but it was a great thing for us to see because that shows that he has built attachments with those that he knows cares for him which is often not the case for children in an orphanage setting where there may be a different person taking care of you every few hours and so no real attachment is formed and it becomes difficult for those children to form healthy attachments later.
It was also a comfort to us to see how much his caregiver really did care for him. We could tell by the way she talked to him and played with him that she genuinely loved him; which means a lot considering we will have to rely solely on their love and interaction with our son while we wait for our 2nd and 3rd trips to come.
My hope now is that as much progress will be made from today to tomorrow as there was from yesterday to today, and that he will allow me to hold him like he let Lisa today. Even if we still don't get a smile, it will be great just to see him again!
And another unrelated to this post picture because we still can't post any of the sweet boy that has us here...
Thursday, May 17, 2012
The absolute coolest thing though happened when they showed us his birth certificate........He was born on our exact due date. How amazing is that?? It gives me chills when I think about the way God has orchestrated every little bit of this process. When she showed me that date on the birth certificate I think my mouth dropped and I know I started to cry. I just can't get over how amazing our Lord is.
When we met with the doctor it was quite confusing. She was talking, our translator was kind of translating...I say kind of because the doctor would talk for like a minute going non stop and then our translator would say something like "he gets a lot of colds" and I'm wondering what else she said because regardless of the language that does not take that long to say. Anyway, we learned a little bit more about him and then they brought him in for us to see. Holy cow this kid is cute! He was wearing a little do-rag, jeans and a little blue shirt. Oh my goodness adorableness. He started crying almost immediately when he saw Barry because they don't see many, if any men. After a brief introduction they left and let us finish our appointment with the doctor.
Then it was time to actually spend time with him! They led us to a room with a couple couches and a mat on the floor to play on (definitely not air conditioned). His caregiver brought him in and he started crying again...we were sitting back trying to let him warm up to us when his caregiver came and sat on the couch next to us and placed him next to her and then walked out. Screaming continued. I am sure she had to get back to other kids but I hate she just left him like that. So then I went and picked him up and poor baby never quite recovered. We were in there for maybe 30 minutes and he cried the whole time. Barry and I both tried to hold him, distract him, sing, rub his head, etc but he was just a very sad and scared little boy.
As sad as it was to see him so upset though that was such a good sign!! It shows that he is attached to his caregivers, which many children from an orphanage do not have. Once a child has attached to a caregiver, the easier it is for them to attach to others...if a child has never learned to trust and attach, the harder it is to learn how to do so.
We took a few pictures but really spent most of the time trying to get him to calm down and trust us. We never knew spending 30 minutes with a crying child could be so fun. :) It really was a surreal experience...I'm not sure it really hit me that the child I was holding was MY son. I will say though that there was a little bit of a "what's wrong with me, why can't I calm my own child" type of feeling. Which I know is completely ridiculous because he doesn't know us from Adam (speaking of...that saying makes no sense...why Adam??). And we wanted to see that separation anxiety! It still made me feel helpless though.
When we left we started praying that the next day he would begin to warm up to us and begin to trust us! More on that to come! The suspense...
And I'll leave you with a few completely unrelated pictures just because I can...
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
We flew into Volgograd and landed in the middle of a field, got off the plane and were ushered unto a bus that drove us to a yellow building/room where we got our luggage. It was quite interesting to say the least. :)After a brief moment of panic when we thought we lost our boarding pass with the baggage claim ticket on it (apparently you need that to leave with your luggage...good to know) we were met right outside by our facilitator, translator and driver who loaded us into cars and off we went! They are all very friendly and knowledgeable. Weirdly, the car we got in had a steering wheel on the right hand side of the car. The odder thing is that ours was the only one like that!! All the other cars has steering wheels on the left...not so sure what was going on there. The driving is...let's say chaotic to put it nicely. :)
We drove maybe 15 minutes through the "suburbs" and then arrived at our hotel, Hotel Volgograd. They helped us check in and explained what the next day (today) would look like. Since they have two families we are having to split our time between the orphanages, so the Bush's (the family we met up with in Atlanta) had an early morning visit and we will be headed to the orphanage around noon today!!!
The entrance to the hotel was nice...the elevators are TEENY. As in you almost have to turn sideways to get in and a maximum of 4 people (with no luggage) can fit! The halls are kind of dark and "soviet" and the rooms are just old and not US. :) Many people still smoke inside and our room smelled pretty smoky and for an asthmatic like me... That was my last straw. I just broke down into tears and told Barry we needed to get our son and go back home. We had been traveling for 24 hours, had very little sleep and were in a world where very few people understood us and we understood them even less. It was just all so overwhelming. After a brief cry where Barry reminded me of all the positives...one of which was that this is all totally worth it for our son!!...we headed around the corner of the hotel for dinner. There are a couple restaurants within walking distance (Grand Pizza, Grand Cafe and Bar & Grill) and at least two of them have menus in English. We sat outside and enjoyed our pizza with the Bush's (it's so nice having another couple here with us!). Our waitress knew zero English so it was interesting trying to order but we made it work! We then came back to our room, took a shower and went straight to sleep!!! We slept like logs and I have a much better perspective on life now. Ha! Now to the orphanage!!!!
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Regardless, we found our own way through passport control (much less scary than I thought it would be), baggage claim (our luggage was some of the very first pieces off), ticketing (we had to get boarding passes for our connecting flight and recheck our baggage) and then to the gate. And we did it all by ourselves. :) Most things in the Moscow Sheremetyevo airport are also written in English and when it wasn't we were able to find help. One airport worker abandoned his job pushing luggage carts and took us exactly where we needed to be!
We are quite ready for this next flight though...6 hours hanging out in a small terminal is driving me batty.
Here are a few pictures. They're not great because it's pretty cloudy and rainy. There's a picture of Barry and I boarding the plane to Moscow, a view of part of Moscow from the plane and the Welcome to Moscow sign at the airport. At least I'm assuming that's what it says...I know it says Moscow at least. :)
Monday, May 14, 2012
Also, there is a family traveling to Volgograd with us! We met up with them in ATL and have enjoyed our journey together thus far. We are getting ready to board our flight to Moscow (10 hour flight then a 6 hour layover before our connecting flight to Volgograd) - so до свидания!
Sunday, May 13, 2012
Saturday, May 12, 2012
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Wednesday, May 9, 2012
We sang a song in church this past Sunday with the lyrics, “We Stand in Awe of All You Have Done, Father, Spirit, Son…Almighty One.” I just was overcome with emotion…I really am in absolute awe of God’s plans. How He has worked out every little detail of this adoption…of our whole journey these past few years. There are several other details about this adoption that I can’t share at this point for confidentiality reasons, but wow…just wow. God is truly amazing. I still can’t see the whole picture, but just to see God making beauty out of the ashes…it’s truly an amazing feeling.
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Monday, May 7, 2012
We had some sweet friends from church come over last night to pray with us before we leave for Russia. We spent a while in prayer praying for the specifics of the trip, that the words that we speak while we are gone will be honoring to Him, etc. We are so so blessed to have such amazing people in our lives. We made a list of specific prayer requests so I thought I would pass them on…
- That our visas will arrive in time!
- That everything with our travel goes smoothly – flights on time, baggage not lost, no problems in customs, that our facilitator/translator/driver/etc. will all be on time and easy to find, etc. (I’m a control freak so having to let go of ALL control and depend on others for EVERYTHING is very nerve-wracking!)
- We will have an interview at the Department of Education on Wednesday morning where they will ask us questions about our home study, ask us why we are adopting from Russia, why we are not adopting from the US, etc. We were told by our worker that they do not like to hear “God led us to adopt from Russia” but that they like to hear things such as “We respect the Russian culture”, etc. I feel very uncomfortable not being myself and having to screen my own answers but a family that recently got back from Volgograd with their son said that they had NO problems, were completely honest about the Lord leading them to adopt, etc. and they have their son! I feel so much better knowing that I can be myself!! In our prayer time last night we prayed that God will be glorified in all of our answers and in this whole experience.
- Wednesday, Thursday and Friday we will visit with our son!!! We are just praying that this will be a sweet time that we will never forget. That he will feel our love and know that he is wanted, that he will begin the bonding process with us, that we will be able to talk with his caregivers and get many of our questions answered…we are bringing note cards and are hoping that we will be able to get his caregivers to write him little notes. I feel like this could be so special to him one day.
- That our return travels will go smoothly.
- That we will feel God’s peace that surpasses our understanding as we leave Volgograd Saturday morning…
- And that God will continue to care for our sweet little boy in ways that only He can. We pray that he is getting the proper nutrition, that he is being held, given the opportunity to move around, that he is being talked to, that his caregivers are making eye contact with him and loving on him…I know that God created this little boy and has been holding him in the palm of His hand. He won’t stop now…but this mommy’s heart is already aching with the thought of leaving him at the end of our time in Volgograd.
Those are our specific prayer requests for now. Thank you all in advance for your prayers!! We really feel like we are not alone on this journey…you all are traveling it right along with us!
Saturday, May 5, 2012
The adoption process in Russia will take three trips...the first trip lasts about a week and we will meet our child. We will spend about three days in Volgograd, visiting at the orphanage during designated hours, and the rest of the time will be spent in transit. At the end of the three days in Volgograd we will sign an intent to adopt.
Then we wait to hear back from Russia about our court date. In the meantime there will be a TON more paperwork to complete. It typically has been about four months between the first and second trips, but this time frame can vary greatly. Our prayer is that things go so much faster than anticipated and that we will be back in Russia in much less than four months. During that trip we will go to court and appear before a judge...we will probably have to make speeches about why we will make good parents, details about our income, our home, etc. The judge will determine if we can adopt this specific child. Then we come back to the US...
And we wait 30 days. This is new as of 2012. There used to be a 10 day waiting period between the court hearing and when we can actually take custody of our child, but they have now increased it to a 30 day waiting period. This is the reason why three trips are now the norm instead of two. It's not so practical to stay in the country for that whole time. After 30 days then we get to go back to Russia and take custody of our baby!!! This third trip lasts between 7 and 10 days.
So there it is. Our rough time line for when we will be a family of three living under the same roof!
Friday, May 4, 2012
"I go back and forth between being so excited and falling in love with this baby to being terrified that the referral will be taken away. In Russia, if at any point before the adoption is final a Russian family comes forward interested in adopting him, they will be given first priority. This possibility terrifies me.
But then I think...When we were pregnant, I enjoyed every minute of that pregnancy and even though we were crushed after our miscarriage, I don't ever wish I had guarded my heart more and not let myself enjoy and attach to that baby. God gave us that pregnancy and wanted us to enjoy every second. I feel the same way now...God allowed us to get this referral and for today we rejoice in that.
But then my flesh goes back to...protect yourself, it is a very real possibility that a Russian family could come forward interested in adopting this precious child.
I'm doing much better now but I did want to share the emotions from this roller coaster we call adoption...God is really helping me not dwell on those thoughts that I know are straight from the devil. God is in control here!! We are praying, and please join us in this prayer, that this IS the child God has for us to parent and that He will continue to work out all of the details as only He can.
Thank you for all of your prayers and for traveling this journey with us!!
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
For our visas, we used an agency called Go To Russia (GoToRussia.com) and luckily you can fill out an online application (you print out the application after it auto fills in the details for you and then you mail it in). The application is just crazy though…you need to have addresses and phone numbers of past employers, schools, etc. in addition to a ton of other details. It took us several hours to fill out both applications. It was a very stressful process because we are on such a time crunch and I analyzed everything we put on there, double and triple checking every little detail. The representative at Go To Russia was so helpful and easy to work with though - I highly recommend them if you are traveling to Russia!
To complicate matters, Russia has several holidays coming up in the next few weeks…5 holidays in the next 10 business days before we travel to be exact. Because of this, we had to use a very quick processing time which, as you could expect, was a bit more expensive than if we had more time. And by a bit more expensive I mean like twice as expensive. We just had to laugh about it because it was so expensive and crazy what we were having to pay. God is so faithful though and even though money has been going out very very quickly over the past few days, He faithfully provides! And it's not our money in the first place, everything we have is the Lord's!
Everything is in the mail as of Saturday morning though and we are praying that everything moves smoothly and that we get those visas in the mail quickly. Please join us in that prayer! It is really going to be pushing it to the very last second...oh how it makes the planner and organizer in me cringe. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Philippians 4:5-6
Now I start on my lengthy lengthy to-do list…I mean, my head spins when I look at it! But what a great problem to have. Who needs sleep, right??