Monday, November 29, 2010

What a Difference a Week Makes

I am sitting in the Moscow airport thinking about everything that has happened this week. When Mom and I arrived here (exactly one week ago) we were so hesitant to explore anything. We went to a restaurant and I accidently ordered dessert for my meal - apple pie instead of meat pie. I remember being so nervous about changing money and checking into the next flight. So today we arrive, check in, go eat at a restaurant, do a little shopping, etc just like it is totally no big deal to navigate a Russian airport. We order appropriate food and even go back for tea & coffee. We have gotten very good at making hand motions or single words to communicate with the people here. It is strange how quickly a place a world away from yours can become home. I guess maybe we aren't all as different as we think we are. The Russian language is still hard for me (and especially for Mom) but I will hopefully be a little better when we return.

Yesterday we flew into Moscow and had the day to explore here. We took a tour down to Red Square and several of the other big places to see. Talk about amazing! Moscow has the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen. Their architecture is like nothing I have ever seen. Red Square is a "not to be missed" place to visit. There is so much history there and we had the best time walking through the square. An ice skating rink had just been put up so there were many people there skating as well. On the next visit, I am looking forward to touring the Kremlin. We didn't have time to actually go in there but did get to see it from the outside. We stayed at the Milan Hotel and would highly recommend it to all my adoption friends for anyone passing through on their way to different Russian regions. It is close enough to the DME airport to avoid all the horrible Moscow traffic but had English speaking staff and accommodations very similar to what we are used to in the USA. It is still quite a ways from the center of town, though, so we probably won't stay there on the second trip as we will be in Moscow for longer than one night.

I definitely missed the girls yesterday. I am sure they are wondering why "mama" and "babushka" (they have clearly figured out already who their mom and grandma are - I think the orphange staff tells them a lot) haven't come to visit them anymore but hopefully none of it will matter once I get them home. I do know that they are being taken very good care of so that makes it a little easier to leave them. I have lots of childproofing and preparing to do before my active little girls come home (maybe some sleeping too - LOL).

Well, I guess I will talk to everyone later today. We should arrive back home by the middle of the afternoon. I am looking very forward to loving on my pets, taking a nice warm bath and seeing everyone!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Last Visit to the Orphanage

Mom and I have finally gotten brave enough to start exploring the city more. We went to dinner last night at a restaurant a few doors down. We were terribly sick of the hotel food and were so glad we decided to go out a bit. We have been afraid to run around after dark (which occurs very early here) but realized last night that there was really nothing to be afraid of. Today we explored the town a little, walked to the town square and headed a few blocks the opposite direction to eat at a cafe. The town square has a huge Christmas tree that we wanted to get a few pictures of. Their was a little farmer's market in the square and lots of kids playing in the snow. We had fun wandering about.

Today was the last time we will get to see the girls before heading home. We had a fantastic visit. Mariya is very interested in learning language. Mom was very surprised when she copied Mom and learned two new words - "worker" and "Paw Paw". I think she is going to learn English quickly. Addie isn't nearly as interested in learning to talk but she is much more serious then Mariya. The girls LOVED looking out the window and I think they were wishing they could play in the snow!

Well, tomorrow we head to Moscow. We will spend one night there and then head home. I have no idea if I will have an internet connection so I will write again as soon as I can.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Orphanage Visit Day 2

We had a wonderful visit with the girls this morning. The caregivers brought them to us in Dr. Ludmilla's office and they both stomped right in with big smiles. They hopped right up in our laps and were ready to get the toys out. We took them to the playroom and played. These two can play hard. They are always moving - and I mean ALWAYS. They are seriously good eaters too! We still haven't figured out if they will ever fill up with food. Once again, Mom got out the food and they bombarded her with little hands. I brought them photobooks with family pictures labeled in Russian. The girls loved the books. A caregiver walked in and one of the girls showed her the book and said "Mama gave it to me". She literally never put the picture book down for the entire visit. After the visit, I signed all the official papers to get the adoption moving. These are the papers where I am allowed to rename the girls. Everyone has been asking so I know that you are all anxious to know their names. Here is what I decided on.

Addelyn Dariya (pronounced Da-ri-ya) & Mariya Rose

I wanted to retain a bit of their Russian heritage while still incorporating some American into their names as well. Addelyn is the name that I have always said I would name my first daughter and Rose is my grandmother's middle name so both names have special meaning to me. I will most likely call them Addie and Mariya.

I am going to try to post a few photos of Russia below this.

Music Room Wall at Orphanage

Russian Apartment Building

Russian House

Thursday, November 25, 2010

First Day Here and Orphanage Visit do I explain what the last two days were like? This has been an amazing week.

To start from the beginning, we arrived yesterday morning and spent the morning with our coordinator. I received a small amount of information about the girls and had to sign several papers at the Department of Education (DOE) office. Around 11 am we headed to the region which was about a 3 hour drive. Mom and I were exhausted and basically headed straight to bed. We woke up at 6 pm and went to get a little bit of dinner - "Variant 1" on the menu!! We pretty much headed back to bed after that. I think our bodies were having a little trouble with the time change. The Russian countryside was beautiful and totally white with snow. The little towns have the cutest little houses with decorative window shutters and outhouses in the back. The cities (where most people seem to live) are very industrial looking. The language is difficult for us to grasp since their alphabet system is totally different than ours. There are very few English speaking people here so we are happy that we have an interpreter to help us. We have learned a few words and hopefully will learn a few more before we leave. I think I am going to have to spend more time on Rosetta Stone before I come back.

So this morning I woke up about 4 am. I think it was a combination of the time change and the excitement. Russia does not have all the safety features that we have in America. For instance, the water is scalding hot and the stairs are marble with nothing to keep your snowy shoes from sliding. On the way back to the room after breakfast, my life flashed before my eyes as I took a tumble down the stairs. It was pretty humiliating and really hurt my knees but did make us laugh. What a way to start off the day!

We left for the orphanage at 8:15am. It was about a one hour drive but took us a tad longer because it snowed all night and was very icy outside. I was getting car sick and was happy when we finally arrived. There was remodeling going on at the orphanage which is a good thing. We immediately met with Dr. Ludmilla, the orphanage director. She was so friendly and clearly cared about all the kids there. I brought her several pictures from parents who had adopted children from this orphanage in the past. She was thrilled to see the pictures and kept talking about how happy the kids look. Jody - she though Alex's picture with food all over his face was hilarious. Then, Dr. Ludmilla explained my children's history and asked if we were ready to meet the girls. I was nervous and excited at the same time! They brought the girls in the room and they were both crying but quickly calmed down once they realized that we had a bag of toys. They were so beautiful and had on the cutest little dresses and shoes. They are clearly not handicapped in any way and seemed to be very well adjusted. They were not particularly shy (especially once they figured out that the bag I had was full of toys and treats). I think I brought way too many toys because they pulled everything out at once and all the toys were a little overwhelming for me (so I am assuming they felt the same). We had a very good time playing with them and they seemed to enjoy themselves as well. They clearly have two different personalities. Mom said that one of the girls looks a lot like me as a baby and the second twin had a personality similar to mine. It was like they were my girls from the start! One of the girls is a "collector" and would collect all her toys and carry them around with her. She then decided she wanted to slide and I would have to put her on the slide with all her toys. We were cracking up! The second twin always smiles and seems to be the easy going of the two. They discovered the yogurt melt treats and got really excited. I fed them for a little while and then let Mom take over. Unfortunately for Mom, while things were initially going fine, the girls eventually got a little out of hand with the yogurt melts. Mom felt like she was being mobbed for the melts and we eventually had to put them away. The kids were stuffing handfuls in their mouths and climbing all over Mom trying to grab more. The girls are VERY active and I think that I am going to be very busy. They loved all the toys we brought and one of the girls was especially interested in the books. It looked like she must have been read to at the orphanage because she would take the books and go sit on the chairs to page through them. The little Kleenex packet and an empty box that the girls found in Mom's stuff were big hits as well. The kids actually almost had a fight over the Kleenex. The playroom we were in had many toys as well and we spent a lot of time taking turns on the slide. I am so excited to go back and see them tomorrow. We leave at 8 am because we have to go by the notary office on the way there so I can sign some papers.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

In Moscow

Mom and I arrived in Moscow about two hours ago. We flew Singapore airlines and were very impressed. The seats were big and the food was really good. Mom (who never sleeps on planes) slept well. I, on the other hand (who sleeps no matter where I am) could not seem to get to sleep. Must have been the nerves! We were met at the airport by the Moscow coordinator who helped us get through the check-in process for the second flight and showed us some good places to eat. The airport is clean and not particularly different than a US airline (except everything is in Russian). There are a bunch of restaurants, stores and coffee places. We are going to be here until around 11:30pm tonight so we are getting settled in for an 8 hour wait until the next flight. Well, haven't really seen Russia yet so I don't have much to report but just wanted everyone to know that we arrived here safe and sound.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Trip Plans

I got my trip plans finalized this week. I will be leaving on Monday, November 22nd. I will visit the MOE on November 24th and will meet the girls on November 25th. Most people visit their referrals for two days but I requested an additional day so they approved me to visit on Saturday as well. Mom and I will head back home on the 28th but won't actually make it home until Monday the 29th. I am excited but also nervous about getting everything ready.

I will try to post a picture of the donations I have for the orphanage but I am still learning how to use this blog.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Finally - Trip 1 Here I Come

I have been sick all weekend and woke up this morning feeling a little better. I was in really great spirits and just felt like it was going to be a good day. I got to work to find out that my morning pharmacist was sick and wouldn't be coming in. For some reason, that didn't put a tiny dent in my good mood. Then Kyle sent me the most beautiful roses. I watched the phone all day because I had received words that my travel dates should be coming soon. At about 6pm I told Mom that today just must not be the day. I figured that my caseworker (she is the one who tells me when I get assigned travel dates) was surely gone for the day. Crazily enough, about 7pm I suddenly got an email saying that I received an invitation to travel to Russia. I was ecstatic and called Mom and Dad immediately - then Kacie, Ashley, Haley, Maw Maw, Kyle, etc. I can't believe that after 8 months I am finally going to get to meet the girls. I will be leaving on November 21st or 22nd and will actually meet the girls on Thanksgiving morning. Talk about something to be thankful for. I will certainly miss all the American Thanksgiving food but will be happy to spend my first holiday with the girls. I have lots to plan and get ready for because I leave in less than 2 weeks. Me, Mom and all the sisters are going to be in Houston this week for Nutcracker Market so I really only have about one week to plan. I guess I better get started! We will get visas and tickets tomorrow. Well, I will keep everyone posted.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Where I Stand Now

Well, there are been several developments since I last posted. Firstly and most importantly, adoptions in my region have started up again seem to be proceeding smoothly. On the downside, I am still waiting. I have currently been waiting 7 months now to meet the girls. I was very upset last week to find out that Russia had invited a family to travel who had waited for less than two months. According to my caseworker, the fact that I am adopting two children rather than one is a little bit of a problem. There is a quota in my region that only two children can be adopted per month so no other family will be able to travel with me. It appears that Russia is probably trying to process more families so they are pulling people ahead of me. I was originally told I would travel in September but have now been delayed until October. I hope and pray that I will be able to go in October. Please say extra prayers for me and the girls that the waiting phase of this process won't last much longer. I have been having a difficult time dealing with the extended waiting.

The girls recently turned 2 years old. I was very sad to miss their birthday but figure we will celebrate big for their 3rd birthday! Hopefully the orphanage acknowledged their birthday in some form or fashion.

I have finished all my court paperwork and have most of my orphanage donations. Basically, when they call I am ready to go! I was told to start getting their bedroom ready as photographs of the room are needed for court. I won't complete the room until after trip 1 but I did get their bedspread, a lamp and some nicknacks. The room is very girly and I think it looks good so far.

Pray that I receive travel dates in the next couple of weeks. I will post as soon as I hear something.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Quick Update

I just wanted to let everyone know that the Russian/American meeting was considered very "productive" and both sides said that an agreement about key issues was met. They are composing an actual signed agreement that will include all the changes and are supposed to meet in June to go over the rough draft. They estimate that it will take approximately 2 months to finalize the agreement.

My region continues to process adoptions at a very slow rate (but still moving). I have been told that September is still my expected travel date. I have started collecting orphanage donations to take with me and have been trying to learn some Russian. Russian is VERY hard! Other than that, I have just been living my life and trying to be patient. I know that eventually my girls will come home. Thanks for all the prayers and words of encouragement.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Russian Meeting Tomorrow

Tomorrow is the scheduled day for the meeting between the US representatives and Russian authorities. I have to admit that I have been feeling very nervous and uneasy today. I worked with a group of single women this week helping to collect Russian single parent adoption stories to send to the Russian representatives. I hope that these stories show them that most single mothers would never do anything to hurt or abandon their children. We received some wonderful and very uplifting stories that certainly will make a difference. Due to the fact that Ms Hanson, the woman who "returned" her son to Russia, was a single parent, many regions have been closing to single parents or delaying court dates until after this meeting tomorrow. I hope and pray that all goes well and that realistic and appropriate changes can be made to the process. I do feel strongly that God will open doors for me to find the child that is meant to be mine, but I certainly hope that these two beautiful little girls are the ones. My heart will be broken for myself, other adoptive families and especially the Russian children if this meeting doesn't go well.

On another note, I will be running in my 3rd Half-marathon this weekend. My training has not be very consistent but I am still hoping to finish in a reasonably decent time. I am looking forward to the race and would strongly encourage anyone who has ever thought of running one to try it. It really is a lot of fun! Things have been extremely hectic at work because we had a big computer upgrade two weeks ago and then I had to go to a management seminar for three days last week. This is the first week in a while that has been somewhat calm and I am certainly enjoying the "catch-up" time.

I will post again once I hear something about what happened at the meeting.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Recent Events in Russia

I have received several emails and phone calls from friends/family about the recent events happening in Russia so I would like to update everyone as to my status. Last week an American woman sent her adopted Russian son back to Russia alone with a note stating that he had problems and she no longer wanted to parent him. As would be expected, this woman's actions have greatly upset Russia and the US adoption community. There have been several reports that Americans will no longer be allowed to adopt from Russia or that adoptions are on "hold". As of this moment, these reports are not true. Next week there will be a meeting between the US and Russia representatives to try to address concerns and come up with an agreement as to how adoptions should be handled. I sincerely hope that an agreement can be reached and adoptions can proceed. Please keep me, the girls (plus all other Russian orphans), and all the other families currently adopting from Russia in your prayers. Until the meeting occurs, no one is really sure what the future holds for Russian adoptions. I pray that I will have good news to share with you all in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Update on Trip 1

I just wanted to give everyone a quick update because everyone keeps asking me if I know anything about my travel dates. I spoke with my caseworker this week and she informed me that Russia has my estimated travel date as September. While I am certainly hoping the trip comes sooner than that, most likely I will not travel until then. Please continue to keep the girls in your prayers and pray that my trip 1 date will come sooner. I will keep everyone updated if I get any new news.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

May You Be Safe

Here is a poem I heard and really liked.

May you be safe while you're waiting...
Author: Anonymous
May you be safe and sleep soundly through the night
May you be safe as you wake to the morning's light
May you feel my love from so far away,
May it comfort and protect you throughout each day.
I will pray for you my little one,
Until our time of waiting is done.
I will pray that the Lord keep you safe from harm,
Until the child of my heart becomes the child in my arms.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Thank you to Carrie

I was so excited yesterday about posting my first blog that I totally forgot to thank my good friend, Carrie, who spent lots of time designing this blog for me. I think she did a fantastic job and I can't begin to thank her enough for everything she did. She also has a beautiful little girl adopted from China and has been a huge support to me since I started this adoption.

Just a quick update. I received a little bit of a disappointment today. I originally thought that I would likely travel around the beginning of May. Unfortunately, adoptions in Russia are a little slower than normal this year due to the murder of a Russian born child by his American adoptive parents. What that means for me is that I most likely won't be able to meet the girls for several more months and possibly even into the fall. I keep hoping that things will go faster than that because I know they are getting older each day. Until I have them both home, I ask that everyone pray that they are healthy, happy and well-taken care of by their caretakers. I will let you know once I get another update.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

How It All Started

Let me start off by saying that this is literally my very first time to blog. I have decided to start a blog as a way to keep family and friends updated about my adoption experience. Since I am not 100% sure what to say, I will just start off with my story. I have always known that one day I would adopt a child. I didn't know when I would do it, but I have always had the desire to. So about nine months ago I started to feel like maybe the time was right. I discussed it with my family and gave them time to warm up to the idea. I continued to bring up the idea until my family agreed that they too were excited about the prospect of having an adopted granddaughter/niece. Initally, my mom and I spent some time looking into domestic adoption and both eventually agreed that the right choice for me was international adoption. I guess it was around August when I really started researching different countries and adoption agencies. I was able to get the country search down to Russia or Kazakhstan fairly quickly but choosing an agency was much, much harder. I was in the final stages of picking the agency when I started talking with a good online friend of mine from the adoption community. She told me about her experiences and recommended Adoption Ark to me. She had such wonderful things to say about them that I felt I had to consider them. I spoke with one of the caseworkers and felt really good about them so I signed up and the process started. I initally decided to go to Kazakhstan because there was a waiting child there I was hoping to adopt. Prior to getting my paperwork in, she was adopted by another family and I decided to change to Russia. After many months of working on the paperwork, I finally submitted it all approximately one month ago. I was given an estimated wait time of 12-18 months. To my extreme surprise, I received my referral last week for two girls. It took a day or two before it all felt real. Not only was it a whole lot sooner than I expected but twins! I couldn't be more excited and can not wait until the day I get to meet them. I am currently spending my time preparing for a trip to Russia, taking care of things at home & work, and trying to learn a little russian. So, that is pretty much my story. I will try to keep everyone updated as I wait for my trip 1 travel dates.