Sunday, November 30, 2008
We don't have court until Friday, Decemer 12th. So, Thursday we can explore the area and make a trip to the grocery store before we have Vera with us.
Friday we have court, which I have heard isn't a big deal, but I am sure I will still be nervous! After court, there is a 10 day waiting period before we can finish all of the adoption paperwork. I think it is at court that we will find out if we get to keep Vera with us during the 10 day waiting period. Our 10 day wait should be up December 22nd, if I understand everything correctly, so we should have her with us for Christmas at the very least.
It will then take 4-5 business days to get Vera's passport, birth certificate, have her medical exam, and our appointment at the US Embassy. Our plan is to fly home on Tuesday, December 30th. Of course, the one time we couldn't get a direct flight is when we have 2 children with us, so we will have a layover in London!
The bad news is that at this point we aren't going to be able to make it to my sister's wedding! :( Who would have ever thought after a year and nine months in this process that our adoption would fall at the exact time as her wedding! So, pray for a miracle that they are able to process our paperwork at lightening speed and we are able to change our flights for a reasonable price!
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Pizza Hut was good. It tasted a little different, I think Ryan liked it better than home, but I didn't. Our facilitator showed back up and we were off to the orphanage again. Below is the room where we had all our visits with Vera.
Our visit with Vera was great. We just took turns holding her and playing with her. She wasn't too interactive with us, I think she just enjoyed being held and was still taking everything in. Towards the end of our visit, we could tell that she had a long day. We had her sitting in the corner of the couch. Ryan would move in too close and she would kind of whimper and then start rocking. We spent nearly 4 hours with her that day, so I am sure it was very overwhelming for her to be out of her routine. At the end of the visit when I was holding her, out of the blue, she takes her fingers and runs them over her lips making a whirring sound. She then liked doing it to me. See the video below, you will have to turn your head because Ryan turned the camera to take the video. I think she will open up to us the more time we spend with her.
Our facilitator came back in the room and said it was time to go. We took a couple pictures of the 3 of us and then had to give her back. It was hard letting her go since we didn't know when the next time we would see her would be. :( But, I could tell she was overwhelmed and needed to get back to her environment. Plus, I was also ready to get home to Kiara.
The traffic on the way back to the apartment was HORRENDUS!! We sat in traffic forever and for no apparent reason. It took us 2 1/2 hours to get back when it usually took us 45 minutes. Thankfully, it really didn't seem like it had been that long. It was nice to have a chance to chat with our facilitator some and ask questions about the whole process.
We had made dinner plans with the other couple in Russia adopting. Luckily, we were able to communicate a little through our facilitator's cell phones. We were to meet at The Hard Rock Cafe at 8:30 PM. When we got within walking distance, we had our facilitator drop us off. Luckily, we saw a movie poster for High School Musical 3 in Russian and took a picture for Kiara. It was a bit more of a walk than I thought it would be, but we made it there. It was nice to catch up with them because we really hadn't seen them since the very beginning of our trip.
After we walked back to our apartment, I called my mom to tell her that I would call Kiara when she got home from school, which was midnight Moscow time. So, we packed in the meantime. We talked to Kiara and she wanted to talk to us once she got back to my mom's house so she could see us on the computer. Well, I agreed to stay up, but Ryan went to bed.
1. My friends & family
3. Jesus dieing on the cross for my sins.
4. mom, dad, grandparents, cousins, friends
5. my house
6. my sister
I am very thankful to have a court date! I am very thankful that we get to see Vera in 15 days and bring her home shortly after that. I am thankful that God is in control and has led us down this path to expand our family.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
So, neither of us got a lot of sleep, especially me. But, we got picked up at 11 AM to go to the notary to sign papers that we wanted to officially adopt Vera. We got to the notary and our translator parked behind some cars that were parked, preventing them from being able to get out if they wanted to. I had noticed that people did this, so I asked her what happens if those people want to get out. She said that she left her cell phone number on the dash, and they will call if they need her to move. That would never fly in the States!
So, we walk into a waiting area and there are offices on each side of the waiting area. Our translator goes into one for awhile and come back out and reads us the draft version of the paperwork we will sign. Everything is right except that they had Ryan as a Financial Analyst instead of an IT Analyst. We wait a little longer and then it is our turn to go into the big office. There is woman sitting behind a desk. Our translator translates the document to us and we sign the document. Then, the woman stamps the papers a few times and we are done. My translator makes a copy for us of what we just signed, not that I can read it because it is in Russian. But, I was glad to have it because it is the only document I have so far with Vera’s complete Russian name on it. The other couple that is here at the same time as us shows up at the notary about the time we are leaving and we tentatively make plans to have dinner with them at the Hard Rock Café.
Then, we are off to the orphanage to visit Vera. We got to visit her twice today, so we will go for about an hour and a half, then leave to get some lunch and come back and visit her from 2-4 PM. I was very excited to hear that we would get to see her twice, especially since we really had only spent about 2 hours with her so far.
I hate this picture of me, but I love how she has her arm around me.
The only baby clothes I had brought were the clothes we donated to the orphanage and the biggest size was 3-6 months. So, I took a couple of pieces from our donation so I could get an idea of what size Vera was. The red outfit is the one that I tried on her. It was definitely too small. Some of the clothes that she had on were 6-9 months and they were probably a bit too small. So, I am guessing that 12-18 month clothes will fit her, but may be a bit big. When I was holding her with only one layer of clothing on, it was sad how I could feel her spine so well! I can't wait to get her home and fatten her up!
We also learned on this visit that she sucks her thumb. She is adorable doing it. I am doomed to be weening children from pacifiers for the rest of my life, I think. Kiara still uses her nuky at night. I wanted to get rid of it this summer, but Ryan thought she would go cold turkey when she turned 5. Well, we were half way around the world when that happened and it hasn't been the best time to ween a child from something that comforts them since we have so many changes going on. Below is a video of me rocking my girl.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Luckily, I took a Tylenol PM before bed and had a great night of sleep. I didn’t wake up at 2 AM wide awake like I had previous nights. Our driver called and told us that they are taking Vera back to the orphanage, but he is not sure when. So, he will call us and let us know, but he thought the earliest he would call would be 2 PM. So, we got cleaned up and headed back to Old Arbat to get lunch and shop.
We stopped and bought a painting of St. Basil’s and then made our way to McDonald’s. I had told Kiara that I would bring her a Happy Meal toy back from Russia. The menu has no English on it, so we weren’t sure how ordering would go. It is nice to know that Happy Meal and Big Mac are a universal language, so we didn’t have too many problems ordering. The food tasted almost exactly like in the States.
After a 45 minute drive, we were at the orphanage. We were able to ask our driver to decipher Vera’s growth numbers. It turns out that some doctors use roman numerals for dates, so that is why it was so confusing. The room we were in for our visit was kind of small. It seemed to be a place a lot of the workers walk through from the hallway to a room off of the room we were in. It had laminate floors with a big kind of dirty rug. There was an L shaped couch, a big chair, 2 dining room style chairs, and a small toy basket with some toys.
They brought her into us and she seemed to recognize us. She had several layers of clothes on and black shoes. Since we didn’t get a good visit with her the day before and we only had an hour and a half today, we had to focus on getting the pictures for the doctor and seeing what she could and couldn’t do. We had to put this sticker dot in between her eye brows and take a picture of her looking at the camera. It could have been a lot harder to do with a more active child, but it was still quite the process to get a good picture. It didn’t help that I felt like our camera wasn’t working properly. We were able to observe that she would get up on all fours and rock and she crawled just a little. She would stand holding onto the couch and she cruised just a little. She sits on her own very well. She doesn’t use her pincher grasp, but she used both hands individually to pick up a small piece of paper and try to put it in her mouth. After observing her tonight, I was a little more concerned about FAS, only because her philtrum wasn’t as pronounced as I thought it was. The philtrum is the space between your lips and your nose, in children with FAS a lot of time this area is completely smooth instead of having a ridge.
Notice the great picture of the 2 of us. Ryan still has the green stickers on his face!
We got to take her back up to her room. We couldn’t go into the room because our shoes would get the floor dirty. We stood at the doorway and the caregiver held Vera. I asked if I could take their picture. I wanted a picture of the caregiver, but I also noticed that I recognized 2 of the other children in the room. One was the daughter of the friends we ate at TGIFs with on Monday. The other was the daughter of a couple from my agency that is waiting on their court date. So, I was able to also get them in the picture. As we were leaving I turned off my flash and just held my camera low and was able to get another picture with the 2 girls in it. Adoptive parents treasure these type of pictures. A lot of times we aren’t allowed to see where our children grew up and spent the first part of their lives. It was also neat that Vera is in the same group with these girls, they are kind of like sisters.
After seeing the other children in her group, it also raised some concerns for me about Vera. She seems so tiny. All the other children were “fat” by orphanage standards and much more interactive it seemed. When we got to the door, they all stopped what they were doing to look at us, one of the children waved, and one tried really hard to get to us. Vera wouldn’t have done that. So, obviously she isn’t small because of the environment she has grown up in.
So, I knew we probably had a long hard night ahead because we would need to decide for sure if we would accept Vera. We needed to send all her info to the IA doctor.
So, Wednesday night was one of the hardest nights of my life. I called my friend that had helped me with the growth charts. After I gave her the rest of the measurements for Vera’s head circumference, she thought that was more normal. But, when I sent her a picture of Vera and she saw that her philtrum wasn’t very pronounced, she thought we should consult the IA doctor. So, I summarized everything that we had learned about Vera and sent the team a few pictures of her. They emailed us back and told us that their assessment would be waiting for us when we got up in the morning since it was morning on the West coast. Yeah right! Who is going to sleep when you are waiting on such important information? I was really starting to think that we were going to have to turn Vera down because I didn’t want to risk not being able to give Kiara the time and attention I am currently able to. I wanted to make the best decision for our family. I didn’t think that the doctors would come back and say that Vera was a high risk referral, but I didn’t think they would say she was a low risk either. So, what if they say she is a moderate risk? I don’t think I could take the chance. I was miserable. I didn’t feel like there was a good option. Either we accept the referral of a child that we aren’t sure we are able to take on her special needs, or we turn her down, have to stay in Russia longer, and we don’t even know if they would have another child to show us.
Thankfully, about 3 AM the report came in from the doctor. And, to my shock and udder amazement she said that Vera was a ‘lower than average risk referral from Russia’. She said that Vera has none of the 3 features of FAS in her face. Ryan and I were crying as we read the report because we knew she was our daughter. I emailed the report to my agency director, who had called earlier to check on us. I was so emotional that I couldn’t even talk to her, so I think Ryan talked to her for the first time ever. Right about that time, my friend from England emailed to ask why I hadn’t updated my blog. I asked her to send me her phone number since she was obviously up. It was great to share the good news with someone. Ryan went to bed while I stayed up to email the good news to a few people.
You never really know how you are going to react to meeting your child for the first time. I have to admit, I didn’t have that ‘this is my child’ feeling immediately. But, thinking back to having Kiara, I don’t think I did with her either. On the other hand, Ryan basically felt that she was our daughter immediately. We are so similar in how we make decisions that I am surprised we reacted so differently. All in all it was a great day, but extremely emotionally draining.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
We were picked up at our apartment at 9:30 AM. The other couple that is also here went in a different car than us, but we all ended up at the Department of Education, DOE. On our way, another driver motioned that there was something wrong with one of our tires. We pulled over and the tire was low. When we got to the DOE, we sat in the van with the other family while our drivers changed the tire on the car we were in. After about 20 minutes, our translator got there and we all went into the DOE. We enter into a waiting room and there are other people waiting. We waited about 30 minutes, then our translator took us to an office in the back. We walked into a room with 4 women behind 2 desks. I was expecting one woman. We sat down and they asked us to tell them about ourselves. Ryan said where he worked and that I stay at home and would with the our new child. They asked if we had any children currently. We told them about Kiara and they asked if she was excited to have a sister, which we told them that she was. Ryan was then smart enough to pull out a picture of Kiara he had in his wallet. I think they really liked that. They passed her picture around and were smiling and nodding their heads. Then, one lady passed us a white sheet of paper with Russian printed on it and a small black and white picture with the face of a child. It was our daughter and we couldn’t believe she had light hair! They told us that she turned 1 on 10/16/07 and she has red hair. The picture we were seeing was when she was 5 months old. We went back to the lobby while the other family went in to get their referrals. Then, we were off to the orphanage.
Since our child was sick with a cold and in the hospital, we went to the orphanage first to go over all the medical and legal paperwork in her file. We were able to speak with the orphanage doctor and we learned that she is pretty healthy and has only had colds and respiratory infections. She does have rickets which is a Vitamin D deficiency and is pretty common in orphans. She also has 12 teeth. We learned that she was put into orphanage care 2 weeks after she was born and brought to her current orphanage in January 2008.
Next, we were off to the hospital to try and see Vera. The drive between the orphanage and the hospital was over an hour because they are on opposite sides of town. We weren’t for sure when we left the orphanage if we would be allowed to see Vera. You could tell this doesn’t happen all the time because our driver had never been to this hospital and then had to ask the guard at the front of the hospital where to go. The hospital is made of 2 big buildings. The building that is in front looks newer. We walk to the back building and all the way around to the back of that building. In the middle of the back of the building there is a door that kind of looks like an entrance. The door looks like it is about to fall off of its hinges. We go through what looks like an antique medal detector. I go through with 2 bags full of stuff and no alarm goes off, so I think it might have just been there for looks. There is a tiny 80 year old, sweet looking security guard sitting at an old desk to our left when we walk in. Our driver speaks to him in Russian and finds out that the woman we need the permission from is in a meeting. So, we wait. The security guard came over to me and started talking to me in Russian. I tell him I only know English and can tell that he is amused that he thought I was Russian.
By this time in the day, it is probably 3:30 PM and I have not gone the bathroom all day. If you know me, this is quite a feat! So, I ask our driver if there is a bathroom and he kind of cringes and looks around and then looks behind a door. He points at the door and says, “Don’t be too scared.” It was probably one of the nastiest bathrooms I have been in! It smelled worse than a port a potty and it was very dirty. The toilet doesn’t have a seat, it didn’t look like it had been cleaned in a very long time, and it isn’t supplied with any paper goods. At least I had come prepared for a situation like this with my Cottonelle moist wipes. So, of course I squat to do my business and I hadn’t realized how bad I had to go. My thighs got a great workout!
When I am done, I go out and sit in the “waiting room” and observe everything around me while we wait. To the right of where we came in the building there is a desk with a nurse sitting at it facing the rest of the room. There is nothing on the desk except for a phone and whenever she uses it, she talks VERY loudly. To her right is door to what seems to be a closet with another nurse who has the key to the closet. People were coming in the door we came in with plastic bags full of stuff and giving it to her. She would either put it in the closet or put it in her metal shopping cart, like you get at the grocery store, and take it over to the elevator and disappear with it. She would come back with an empty cart and continue accepting more bags. There were others in the waiting area. Some just sat there the whole time we were there, one had what looked like a female doctor with someone’s file come out and talk to her, and some would come and talk to the nurse at the desk and then wait, and the others were waiting to give their bags to the other nurse. On our way out of the hospital, our driver explained that families can bring bags of food, drink and supplies to those staying in the hospital. A lot of times, patients can’t be seen by people because they are contagious.
After about 30 minutes of waiting, somehow the security guard knew that we had permission to see Vera. We go over to the closet nurse and give her our coats, which she puts in the closet. Then, we had to pay 30 Rubles for the 3 of us to get blue booties to put over our shoes. So, we get in the elevator and 4 people can barely fit, especially with all our bags. It is the scariest elevator I have been on, very rickety. I remember the lady pushing 4, but then it stopped on 3 and we got out. No idea why. Once we get on the floor it looks more of what we would think a hospital looks like. There is a main desk and a hallway with doors that I am assuming lead to hospital rooms. We walk just a bit down the hall and there is a little nook of a waiting area. There are probably 8 chairs that make a U with a coffee table in front of the chairs. We sit down. There is a nurse on one end holding a little girl on her lap. We sit there a bit and I kind of wonder if this is Vera, but the child has strawberry blonde hair and we had only seen a 5 month old picture of her head. Finally, someone says this one is yours! So, we turn in her direction and talk to her a bit. I wasn’t sure what we were suppose to do, so I stand up and make a gesture to see if I can hold her and the nurse says “Niet”, which is no. Our driver tells us that the nurse will hold her the whole time.
She looks like the tiniest thing ever with short strawberry blond hair and beautiful blue eyes. We had been told that she was fragile and very sensitive.
Vera seemed very serious and cautious of us and wasn’t very interested in the toys I had brought. She would just stare at me and not even look at the toy I was holding. The nurse said to the driver that Vera seemed to be more interested in the woman than the toy. The nurse also told us that in the hospital, Vera is in a room by herself. She stands in her crib and when the nurses go to leave, she tries to get them to stay because she doesn’t want to be alone. It makes me so sad, I wish I could stay with her in the hospital. I was starting to run out of things to do. The nurse takes my hand and has me touch her. I hadn’t done that because I wasn’t sure if I was allowed! She is extra cautious of Ryan and whenever he talked, she would look at him with a very serious look on her face. Ryan is probably one of the first men she has seen since entering the orphanage since all the workers, doctors and nurses are usually women. I finally get Vera to pat my hand when I hold it in front of her, then I would say “Yaaaa” and clap. She liked that so we would do it over and over. She then started touching my face. It was so sweet. It was kind of like she knew I was her mommy. She was very alert and aware of everything. If there was any sound or a person walking by, she always had to look to see what was happening. She seemed to know her name really well. She patted on the table a little bit, so I would do that too and she would follow my pattern.
After about 30 minutes, a tall blonde woman comes out of an office across the hall from us and tells us our time is up. The time went so quick! I couldn’t believe it was over already. Ryan hadn’t been able to touch her yet, so I ask him if he wants to touch her. As he goes to do that, she reaches out and touches his hand, very sweet. We will get to see her tomorrow, but they aren’t sure if she will be back in the orphanage or not. We pray she is in the orphanage so we can have a better visit with her and get a better idea what she can and can’t do.
We ride back down the elevator and have to wait by the closet with our coats for about 15 minutes because the nurse is no where to be found. Finally, the security guard miraculously has the key. Then, we drive an hour to our apartment.
Soon after we got back to our apartment we were able to call Kiara and show her pictures of her sister and tell her happy birthday. She thought Vera was cute, but was also ready to open her birthday present. We were able to see each other on web cams, so it was nice to be able to see her open some of her gifts on her birthday.
Then, we headed over to Old Arbat to find some dinner. We went in a few sovenior shops and then found MyMy, prounounce Moo Moo. It is a Russian restaurant that is cafeteria style. Luckily, we could point at things and they would try to explain what it was. I got something that looked like baked chicken, but it ended up being stuffed with something, but it was really good. Ryan got some type of meatloaf that he thought was pretty good, too.
When we got back to the apartment, we plotted the numbers we were given for Vera on growth charts. We didn’t have many points to plot because we couldn’t read the copies we were given by the doctor of her measurements. The ones we plotted weren’t the best, so we were a little concerned. I emailed the numbers I had to a friend that had adopted twice from Russia. She was traveling, but able to communicate with me from her phone. Her husband was nice enough to input Vera’s numbers into an Excel program they had and send it to me. Her recommendation was to have her checked out by the international adoption doctor that I had lined up in Washington State mainly because of her head circumference numbers. The Adoption Center specializes in evaluating referrals for FAS. Ryan and I had agreed that this would probably be one of the few things that would make us turn down a referral. I wasn’t too concerned about FAS and wanted to get a better look at her the next day and take the pictures necessary for the doctors if we decided to use them.
I can’t believe the day I have been waiting for, for over a year an a half has finally happened. It wasn’t anything like I pictured it, but it was a great day. At the beginning of our journey, we started off thinking we would adopt from Uzbekistan and thought we would be taking one trip of a week, now we will take 2 trips and one will be 3 weeks long. I envisioned my child with dark skin, dark hair, and dark eyes. She has light skin, strawberry blond hair and blue eyes. I thought we would be able to leave with our child after meeting her and now we have to leave her behind. Also, I never thought I would be meeting my child in a hospital. It has been exciting, frustrating, overwhelming, and stressful seeing how God had led us on this journey. Now, He has led us to the perfect child for our family. I can’t wait to bring her home!
Friday, November 14, 2008
We are home safe and sound! Our flight was great, but neither of us slept very much. So, I am headed to bed. It was so good to see Kiara and feel her arms around my neck again. I will try to post more about our trip tomorrow. I got a lot typed out on the plane. Good night!
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Here is your sister , I think she likes the book you helped me make for her.
Here is a picture of mommy and daddy outside of the Notary office where we petitioned to adopt your sister. We can't wait to see you soon. We will see you tomorrow! Love you like a million! I can't wait to give you lots of hugs and kisses.
Vera Marie Wolland
We kept her Russian name and it is pronounced Vair-a, not like Vera Wang the wedding dress maker. Here are some pics of our cutie…
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
St. Basil's was really impressive and neat to actually be at after seeing so many pictures of it on other adoptive families' blogs. I didn't realize until we were there that you could go inside for a small ticket price.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
In the middle of the flight when I went to use the lavatory, I met a woman who was also on her way to Russia to adopt! It turns out they are using the same team in Russia and we had posted on each other's blogs a couple of times! What a small world! Also, they are staying in the same apartment building. It is nice to have an American couple close by to be able to figure out the lay of the land together.
We got off the plane to a sunny day in Moscow! We got through immigration, got our baggage, and through customs with no problems. M was right outside of customs with a sign with our name on it. We really hope the rest of the trip goes as smoothly as it has so far. We waited for the other couple to get their baggage and then we all piled into a van and headed for our apartment building. It was nice to arrive in Moscow during the day we we could see the scenery on the way. Here are a couple of pictures we took. The first is a Peter the Great statue and the second is a Lenin statue.
We got to the apartment and got all of our instructions. You have to register your visas if you are staying more than 3 business days, so the apartment lady was able to take care of that. We setteled in and unpacked a little. Our apartment is nice and cozy. It isn't big, but it has everything you would need. You walk in the door to a little entry with the bathroom on your left. When you walk through the entryway, there is one big room that serves as the living area and bedroom. Then, there is a small kitchen off to the left. Here are a few pictures.