Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday, July 31

We are at Coffedelia enjoying a snack and the wifi so I thought I would make a last post from Almaty. By the way the food at Coffedelia is yummy, much better than Segrefredo which is a coffee shop closer to the hotel.

We had our last visit with Roman today. On the way to the Babyhouse, we stopped and bought 16 packages of diapers to donate. We also stopped at a small green market nearby to buy 10 kilos of local apples and 2 bunches of bananas to donate, too. We were running a little late, so Roman was waiting for us to arrive.

There was an Italian couple bonding with a baby in the play room, so we had to share the space. This is a little hard to do because Roman can be indiscriminately affectionate as he doesn’t understand that he has only 1 mama and 1 papa. I brought my apple slicer so he shared his 2 apples with us and even attempted to share with the other family. When there is another baby in the room, he always tries to offer a toy to the baby. We played with the toys for a while then went outside to kick the small ball. We also played with bubbles for a little while too. He seems to have caught some sort of cold, as he has had a bit of a cough and runny nose while we are here but it sure didn’t slow him down! We learned that there is something going around in his group.

It was time to go too soon and say ‘paka’ good bye. He was ready to go for lunch. He doesn’t understand everything that is happening right now. We plan to leave a small photo album for him with pictures of the girls and pictures of us in it so hopefully he won’t forget. It's bittersweet leaving because he doesn't understand and we will worry but we have our girls waiting for us back home.

It looks like we will make our final trip back the first or second week of September which is later than we expected. We knew we had to be home the week of August 24th though since that is the first day of school for the girls...trying to balance the needs of everyone in our family can be hard. We learned that after the 15 day waiting period, our agency will apply for Roman's Kazakhstan passport and it takes time for all the paperwork to get done about 1-2 weeks. I'm sad Roman has to wait so long, but kind of glad so we can get into some sort of routine while school is in session. We also have lots to do around the house, decluttering (BIG job), organizing, babyproofing (yes,that's right babyproofing so Roman doesn't get into anything he shouldn't), fixing up his room, etc.

Thanks to everyone for all your comments, support and encouragement, while I read every single comment, I just don't have time to respond to each one...again thank you so much for commenting!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thursday evening

Sorry for the lack of photos. I haven't had a chance to upload them to our computer. We also don't have regular internet access and have chosen to go to an internet cafe only a couple of times this trip. I will try to post pictures after we return home this weekend.

Thursday, July 30th

It’s official! We are proud parents of a new son, Nicholas Roman. We had court this morning at 10 am in which the judge approved our application for adoption. We were so nervous and didn’t sleep well the night before. Everything is more stressful than I imagined. We left our hotel early and arrived at the juvenile court house around 9:30am, so we had to wait for everyone to show up. In Kazakhstan, adoptions are a closed hearing and only parties involved attend the hearing. The hearing is not held in a court room, but inside the judge’s modest office. We were assigned to the new young female judge. There are 2 other judges, one ‘good’ and one ‘bad’, fortunately our judge seemed ‘good’ and very positive. The court is in the process of moving to another building and will apparently have another 4th judge.

At our hearing, there were 9 people, including us. There was the judge, very serious and young in a deep red robe sitting at her desk; to her left was her secretary taking notes by hand; to her right was the prosecutor who was dressed in a uniformed shirt. Sitting around the room around us was the district representative, the representative for the babyhouse, our translator, Galina, and our facilitator, Tatyana.

The start of the court hearing began by listing all the individuals attending the hearing and reading our rights. Then the judge started to ask questions, beginning with my hubby. He had to tell our reasons for the adoption and make a request for the adoption, to request the name changes and request a change for the birth date. The judge asked questions as to why we wanted to adopt in Kazakhstan, about our education, jobs, discipline, how we handle disagreements as a married couple, how involved is my hubby with the kids, asked why we don’t have another biological child, what are our responsibilities as parents, how the girls are reacting to this adoption, who is taking care of them while we are here, etc. The judge and prosecutor asked why we wanted to change the birth date. We told them it was for school so that Roman would have more time to learn English and acclimate and it was important to us because of the school cut off in California which is December 1st. At this point we learned there is a law that this can only be done if the child is under the age of 3. We were disappointed by this, especially me, but of course that would not affect our decision to adopt.

After this, the representatives from the district and the babyhouse each had a turn to make statements recommending our application for adoption. After this everyone abruptly stands up and we exit the office. Because our application included the request for a birth date change, we had to handwrite a statement that we wanted to make our adoption application with no change in the birth date, which is October 5, 2005. Galina translated this request and presented the papers to the office. Then we were all ushered back into the judge’s office where our adoption of Roman was made official. We told the judge and prosecutor, as well as the representatives, ‘spaseeba’ or thank you in Russian and we left the room and court house.

After this, Tatyana took us out to lunch with her driver, Dimitri, and Galina for a celebratory lunch. We went to a restaurant not far from the hotel and shared shashlick (shish kebabs).

We were not able to visit Roman today as we were told they were cleaning and the babyhouse is closed. So tomorrow, we plan to buy some fruit to give to the babyhouse and we have been asked to buy diapers as part of our donation to the babyhouse. The rest of our donation will be pooled with other families to buy some new furniture for the babyhouse. Tomorrow we will visit Roman as his new Mama and Papa.

Wednesday, July 29th

Although I still woke up about 4 in the morning, I was determined to be positive today after the bad day we had yesterday. My mantra today was ‘it will be a good day…it will be a good day’…and it was. We had a good visit with Roman this morning. We were told he was asking for us since 9 in the morning and he ran to us this morning when we arrived. Thankfully Galina was with us this morning as she is really great with helping us with Roman especially since she knows some Kazak. Most of our visit went really well. Roman did have a couple of fits of anger over something he wanted or wanted to do, but we managed to get past it and have fun. He is so active that I actually broke out in a sweat trying to keep up with him. The language barrier makes it hard to connect with him but despite this, he gave me several hugs today. He seems to thrive on the love and attention we give him.

When I watch him, sometimes he looks like a 4 or 5 year old in his face, but he is the size of a 2 year old and many times exhibits behavior much like a 2 year old. He also exhibits the independence of a much older child which is due to living in an orphanage, sadly kids are pushed to be on their own much sooner than children in a family. I feel sad he has had to live in an orphanage and learn survival skills to live there.

It gets really boring being in the same play room all the time, especially on days like today where it is raining. Today we brought a mega blocks truck from home and he seemed to really enjoy building a house and playing with the other blocks. It’s so funny that he was so into kicking the ball the last time we were here or rolling the ball on the ground and now he is not as interested. We did a little bowling with some of the plastic bowling pins and balls…well, Roman did anyway. Then he used the bowling pins to bat a little ball back and forth with us.

Roman does laugh a lot when we tickle him or Papa throws a ball from behind his back and head. Roman finds the latter especially funny!

After our visit, we headed to the Green Market to buy a few last souvenirs and some flat bread. We are hoping to make another trip there on Friday to stock up on flat bread to bring home. Afterwards we just had snacks and relaxed in our room. Then around 4 we decided to take the cable car up to Kok Tobe which is up a hill near the large TV tower. It was a really nice excursion; we didn’t realize there was so much up there. There are a few restaurants, snack places, shops, and lots of activities for children even including a mini zoo. There are lots of trees and places to walk and enjoy the view looking down on Almaty. It is also quite peaceful. It ended up being a beautiful afternoon, too, sunny with a slight breeze.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesday, July 28th

I am still jetlagged as I woke up at 4am and couldn’t go back to sleep. I tossed and turned for over an hour and gave up. I decided to read and then I went for a walk around 6:45am. As we were getting ready to go down for breakfast, we realized our hotel room door would not lock! So as I went on to breakfast, my hubby called to the desk. Someone was sent up to help him move into a different room. I felt like it was an upgrade since it included more furniture, it has 2 chairs and 2 nightstands!

So this morning we headed off to the Babyhouse for a 10am visit with Roman. When we arrived, Maigul and Tatyana showed us to the music room where we have never been. Apparently there is another family supposed to meet in the play room. I looked around the room, it’s nicer than the play room where we usually spend our visits, however I noticed there were only ‘baby’ toys…no balls, no cars which Roman likes to play with. Maigul went to get Roman but he refused to go to the ‘new’ room and ran to the other room.

To be honest, today was a difficult day. I feel like we made such strides during our bonding period, but it’s like starting all over…like 2 steps forward, 1 step back. He loves the matchbox airplane set we got him, but he has already thrown a huge tantrum about wanting to take it outside and he was MAD he didn't get his way. We managed to get him outside with promise of some bubbles. Today he wasn’t interested much in playing ball with us like he was during our first trip, he was more interested in sneaking berries off a bush and playing in the Little Tikes playhouse. We only get such limited time with him, we really don’t know him enough. And it's so hard with the language barrier. He forgot all the English he learned when we were last here. I wonder what he will be like when we get him home. Will he be a lot different? How often will he have a tantrum? Will he be the happy guy we left after our 2 week bonding period?

Monday, July 27th

We arrived to Almaty late Sunday night and got settled in our hotel room. Monday, we mostly waited for a call and rested from our travels. We also went to the supermarket to stock up on water and a few snacks. We were able to go to the Babyhouse at 4pm to visit Roman for only an hour. Roman remembered us, but it’s hard that we have been gone for so long, it’s like starting all over again. Galina talked to Maigul while we were gone and told us Roman missed us and wanted us to visit.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Thank yous!

We would like to thank everyone who has helped us along the way. There are so many... With help from friends and the community we were able to raise $1000 plus change for our donation to the Babyhouse! We will be making this donation on our 2nd trip and will keep you posted. We also couldn't have done this without my hubby's parents as they drove here for both our trips and took care of the girls. It's alot of work to take care of a 4yr old and 7 yr old! Thanks to all the friends that lent us DVD's for our trips! It's nice having something English to watch while hanging out in the hotel room. And we can't forgot those of you who have been praying for us during this journey, it has lifted us up knowing friends are thinking of us and praying for us.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Our 2nd trip

So tomorrow on July 25th, we are setting off for Kazakhstan again. This time we will merely be there one week. I've really enjoyed the break from blogging and have enjoyed spending time with the girls and having fun swimming while trying to beat the heat (100-111 degree temps).

During the break, I've also checked out several books from the library about adoption. I finished reading 'The Connected Child' and I'm currently reading 'Attaching in Adoption'. I have alot more thoughts and feelings about everything, but one thing is for sure is that this will help me to become a better parent.

Since returning, I have felt like I'm caught between 2 different worlds. There is the really comfortable one where I spend time with the girls, referee their fights, have fun with them, take care of them and then there is the one in a whole other world where I'm jetlagged, eating different foods, hearing a different language, getting to know a little boy who will become our son, living in a different culture with a bunch of strangers.

I'm struggling thinking about all the changes about to happen, changes for us as parents, changes for the girls, changes in our day to day living, but I just wish we could start already. It's agony having everything so drawn out while we wait for bureaucracy to creep along.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

We have a Date

We were stunned to find out how quickly we received a court date. The date is set for July 30th and we have to arrive by the 28th to prepare so we are leaving in a week again for Kazakhstan.

We had expected to have several weeks to rearrange things in our house, paint Roman's room. It seems like we just got home! I was also looking forward to spending some quality time with the girls, looks like we only have a week and I know the time before our 3rd trip will go very quickly.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Family Time

As soon as we landed on July 4th, we were headed off to my hubby's family's reunion. We spent about 3 days attending family events and spending time with extended family who we see only about once a year. The girls had a great time with all their cousins. The bottom photo is the youngest cousins. The teenager in the photo is the cousin who flew out here and helped out with the girls while we were gone. I'm sure he is glad to be back home so he can 'hang' with other teenagers.

As soon as we made it to our house on July 8th, I was busy unpacking and preparing for Olivia's belated birthday party. She had a swim party for her 7th birthday FINALLY...she has been asking for this since we moved here 3 years ago.

Now, we are settling into a summer routine and planning to spend some quality time with the girls. Olivia had a really hard time while we were gone, more than I anticipated so we are having to address some of the behavior issues and focus on quality time with them. We are also going to try to prepare them for the arrival of their little brother.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Home at last!

We finally arrived home after about 28 hours of travel. Well, we're not home, yet since we are celebrating the 4th of July weekend with family, but we are in California at least. So glad to be in the good ole U.S.A.! Before our next trip, we will spend the next 4-5 weeks spending much needed quality time with the girls and getting ready for Nicholas Roman.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Friday, July 3rd

Today, we had our last day of bonding with Roman, and it was a sad grey day. It’s hard to think about leaving him and I worry how he will be, I hope the time passes quickly for him. Today was a really great day for us. During the time we have spending with him, we have learned a lot about his life here. One of the things we learned is his strict schedule, which includes even toilet habits. During the bonding period, he has had a couple of accidents, partly due to our inability to understand him when our translator steps away. We also learned that after the kids eat, the caregivers make all the kids sit on pots about 15 minutes after each meal or snack. So Thursday, after we gave Roman a juice and a few cookies, we waited about 20 minutes, then we attempted to get his interest in going outside. Galina, our translator, had just stepped away, and we kept telling him ‘toileta’ and gesturing and cajoling. Thankfully Galina arrived as Roman was about to begin a full-fledged tantrum after seeing the bubbles. She gently reminded him of his accident just the day before and told him we were giving him the choice of going outside AFTER he goes to the toilet or staying in the room. Galina took him to the restroom and I stood just outside the door watching.

Well, today, we gave Roman a juice and a banana. Boy does he suck the juice down! He sucks it without stopping to take a breath really and just gulps it down. He always makes sure to get every last drop of it. Afterwards, he had to burp from drinking his juice so fast, I had to pat him on the back. Next he ate the banana, took a few huge bites, but I think he is beginning to understand when I tell him to take smaller bites. Then we played for a while in the play room. We took some pictures, at one point he came and sat in my lap on the floor without me calling him, it was touching to know that we have made some strides in connecting with our new son. About 20 minutes after he ate, we again asked him ‘Roman pee pee?’ ‘Roman toileta?’ and as I scrambled through my list of Russian Baby Talk found ‘pee-sat’ so then we asked ‘Roman pee-sat’ repeatedly and asked if he wanted to go outside. He finally jumped up and jabbering, headed for the door. I threw my shoes on and followed him. He was waiting by the restroom for me to turn the light on (it is outside the door about 6 feet from the floor). He did everything himself, so I waited and then came in to help him wash his hands. I was so proud of him! It felt like we made huge progress and I told him over and over ‘good job Roman’ and ‘mole ode yets Roman’. I thought ‘hallelujiah’, he understands us!

We went outside and headed to a playground, on the way there, he sees his friend from the other group and runs up and gives him a hug and a kiss. This is the dearest thing to see especially since they tell us he doesn’t have special friends in his group. We have learned from Roman that this child’s name is Iboule, I’m not sure how it’s spelled. We can clearly see he has had a cleft palate repair and has some other issues. We see Roman try to push this child when the this child tries to grab one of the balls so we scold Roman and then he gives this child the other ball.
At one point, I bring out the bubbles and am overwhelmed with Roman, Iboule and a girl that is in Iboule’s group as they start to grab the bubbles from me and yell ‘mine’ in Russian and try to grab the wand. But when I blow the bubbles, I see the joy in their faces from seeing all the bubbles floating away in the wind.
When it was time to leave, Galina helped us to explain to Roman in simple terms we won’t be here. She told him we had to go back home to work so we can save money for a ticket for him. When he left, he gave us a kiss and I gave him a big hug and told him ‘Ya tebya lou blue’ (I love you). It is so hard to be torn between 2 places. I’ve miss the girls so much but now it is hard to leave Roman. During our time here, I’ve worried about the girls, are they healthy, are they being good, are they eating well, etc.

As we return to the U.S. I have a mix of emotions. I will be elated to touch down on American soil and enjoy the conveniences and privileges we have there. I’m looking forward to some of my favorite foods, my comfortable bed, our house, spending quality time with the girls. But at the same time, a piece of me is left behind here, I will worry about Roman, will he be angry, will he be hurt, will he eat his food. I wish we could take him home now. Time will pass quickly for us though as we get back into the swing of things and also prepare for Roman’s arrival to our house. We have lots to do at the house. Lots of babyproofing because although he is 3 ½, he is emotionally delayed from living in the orphanage. He will get into everything because it is all new. We will work on his new room and work on preparing the girls and ourselves for the newest member of our family.

Tonight we enjoyed eating dinner in the company of our neighbors who we have befriended, the single mom has only been visiting her baby girl a short time and they are waiting to hear when she and her mother can leave. We ate at the Guns & Roses pub attached to the hotel. We’ve eaten here a few times and some of the burgers and sandwiches we’ve had have been good. It was nice to have some camaraderie with some other Americans during this process.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Thursday, July 2nd

We had another great day of bonding with Roman. He seems to understand that at some point he will be getting on a plane. I think he will be okay when we leave as he has seen other children go through this and he is very smart. Only one more day left. I'm sitting at Coffeedelia trying to recount our day but am almost out of power on our laptop. The price for the wi fi at the hotel just went up $20 so we are trying to conserve our resources. This might be my last post before our return to USA. We are looking forward to spending quality time with our family and enjoying some good food.

Wednesday, July 1st

Today, we brought the apples and bananas we bought at the market to Maigul. We brought 12 big apples, 1 for each of the children in his group and also a small bunch of bananas. The apples cost $10, can't remember how much the bananas cost. When Roman saw the apples, he refused to come in the visiting room. Maigul ended up giving him one of each so that he would come see us. He gobbled up the banana and started on the apple, Galina told him to not eat it all or he would get a stomach ache, so he ate half and we put it out of the way. He started playing and getting too rambunctious with some somersaults and must have had a pain, he came right to me for comforting and let out a belch! We brought balloons to blow up, but they lost his interest pretty quickly. He is mostly interested in balls and cars. We ended up going outside for a little bit and he interacted with one of the kids from the 'other group'. Although he doesn't have any special friends, I've seen him be really sweet with this child. Roman is pretty darn smart, he knows this child is not a threat to him and it's okay for us to be there.

After our visit, we went back to our hotel and finished watching 'John Adams' that a friend lent us. It was really good, I highly recommend it. We took naps and then around dinner time walked about 15 minutes to the American Bar on Kuneav (sp?) street to meet the other adoptive mom and her mother for dinner. They have a great menu, mostly American type food, this is the 2nd time we ate there. This time I ordered the chicken fingers and fries...very tasty! We all got a ride back to the hotel from one of the drivers.

Happy Birthday to our oldest!

Happy Birthday to our newest 7 year old. Olivia's birthday was on July 1st.