Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas


So today is Christmas Day and we are spending it quietly, just the 3 of us. Alexis has had a great day as Santa was able to find almost everything she wanted (she only asked for 4 things) and a couple things she didn't even think of. Mom and Dad brought her home a fur hat from Russia which, as you can see looks great on her. Jim and I are still recovering from our trip, catching up on sleep and cleaning up our house.

Yesterday we had to go to the Immigration office to get fingerprinted. We need approval from INS to emigrate a foreign orphan into this country. Apparently this little approval could hold up the whole process as Russia will not officially schedule a court date without it. The very helpful (NOT) lady at the immigration office yesterday said it could be up to a 4 week wait for this. Our adoption agency suggested calling our Congressman or Senator to see if they can't hurry this along. So on Monday, I'll be on the phone with my elected representatives to see if they won't help me out. Do you suppose all my emails, phone calls and faxes to them in the last few months about the health care bills have gained me any favor?? Hopefully they won't remember me....

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Red Square at Night


The street near Red Square (it's behind us)


State Historical Museum- there are entrances
to Red Square on either side of the museum.


Statue in front of the museum


Entrance to Red Square


One of the Kremlin towers


St Basil's Cathedral


Lenin's Tomb and the Kremlin


Another Kremlin Tower

Red Square


Lenin's tomb in front of the Kremlin


The shopping mall that borders Red Square.


St. Basil's Cathedral


State Historical Museum

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Saturday

Sorry I didn't post yesterday. I was just too wiped out from all the running around with no sleep. So after my CT scan I crawled in bed and slept most of the rest of the day (which put me back on east coast time which is fine with me). The CT scan came back fine. They said it looks as though I either had TB or pneumonia in the past, but it is not an issue now so that's a relief.

Now we basically have 2 days to kill in Moscow before we fly home on Monday. We are both ready to be back home and actually tried to look at changing our flights, but there are no seats on the flights over the weekend, which probably explains the $2000 cheaper price on the original purchase to fly home Monday instead of over the weekend. So today we will wander out and do the tourist trip around Red Square and try to get some good pictures to post.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Video 2

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Video

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Thursday

Ok so this will be short tonight. This day has been way too long!! No sleep again last night and up early to see the boys one last time before the long drive back to Moscow. Today's visit was as good as yesterday's. We played some more and got to know them a little better. We learned about their schedule and that they are potty trained! (although all the adoption stuff I have read says don not expect the little guy to maintain this if I don't have the extremely rigid schedule that the orphanage does) He apparently does not ask to go, he just complies when he is put on the potty so we'll see.

We found out that we have a tentative court date on January 18th which means that we will be traveling again very quickly. We are desperately hoping that the mandatory 10 waiting period is waived after the court date, but will not be surprised if it is not. Novgorod region is the only region in Russia where the judges have been waiving this waiting period and apparently they are getting pressure from the Supreme Court about it. They just had a family go home last week with no waiting period, but they say things may change with the new year. We hope not!

So I'm going to attempt to put up some pics and call it a night.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

BOYS!!

So we finally got to meet the boys this afternoon and they are awesome! We drove from Novgorod to Borovichi and went directly to the orphanage. There we met with the director and the social worker and had an opportunity to get a little more information and ask questions. There were no real surprises in their history which is good. We learned that when they came to the orphanage in March, they were both underweight and had dermatological issues. But since then they have both gained weight and are very healthy. Developmentally, they were both a bit behind as well, but now they are ahead of their peers. The director told us that Ruslan, the 3 year old, is the "best" child they have at the orphanage right now and Fyodor is doing his best to keep up with his big brother. She also said that both boys are very much loved by the doctors and staff.

Then we were given masks (swine flu precautions) and taken to a play room where we waited for them to be brought to us. When they came into the room, they were a bit apprehensive probably because not only were we strangers, but we were wearing these silly masks that hid most of our faces and constantly steamed up my glasses. We brought 2 Teddy Bears with us which they came right over to get and then they settled in and we played! They are such typical little boys, wanting to ride the little tricycles in the play room and throw balls. They both talked a lot although we had no idea what they were saying because at that point we had been left alone with them. Neither of us saw anything of concern in either of them. After about 45 minutes, the social worker came to retrieve them and it was time for us to go. Ruslan was pretty cooperative, but Fyodor was not. He melted down and had a tantrum, crying and kicking the social worker as she tried to pick him up. They all thought that was pretty funny because he doesn't usually do that so their conclusion was that he must like us.

Needless to say, I have lots of pictures and some video, but our hotel has no internet so I am posting from my phone. If I can figure it out, I will try to upload some video since I took some on my phone, otherwise it will have to wait until we get back to Moscow.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Wednesday Morning

We finally arrived at the hotel in Novgorod last night at about 8:30. It was so nice to be out of that car! We signed a couple papers so Natasha could go to the MoE this morning without us and we had dinner at a pub at the hotel. I tried Borsch for the first time which was actually pretty good. I love beets though which is the base so I wasn't surprised. Jim had a steak which was "ok" as he puts it. His favorite part of the meal was the apple strudel at the end. Then we went back to the room and relaxed for a couple hours before going to bed. Finally we both slept through the night! Yay!

After breakfast this morning, we shopped in the hotel gift shop and met again with Natasha to sign more papers. She has gotten permission for us to not have to return to Novgorod in person after meeting the boys to formally file the petition to adopt them. This means we will get to spend a little more time with them before we have to return to Moscow for my CT scan Friday morning.

As soon as she gets back here, we will leave for Borovichi which is where the orphanage is. That will be another 2-3 hour drive, but we are actually meeting the boys for the first time this afternoon, a day earlier than planned. Very exciting! I'll try to post more after, but I have no idea about cell coverage out there. Later...
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tuesday

So this morning I woke up at 2 am and couldn't go back to sleep. I thought since I had slept all night the night before, that I was all set with the time change thing. I guess not! Jim was awake again too so we got up and he worked on a couple newsletters and I watched some adoption education videos I had been given.

We were being picked up at 11 am by our driver so when I was tired at 6:30 I decided to try to get a couple more hours of sleep. Unfortunately, Jim climbed back in bed with me and without an alarm set, we slept until just after 10. Now we had to scramble to get breakfast, get everything together and get downstairs on time.

We managed to do it, but my oatmeal was less than yummy so I just had a small yogurt, Jim inhaled his bacon and eggs and we hit the road for Novgorod
Our coordinator told us when we met her in the lobby that our van cancelled at the last minute so we are driving in a regular car. All 5 of us. (Jim and I, Tanya our translator, Natasha the coordinator and Vitaly the driver.)

So it is now 6:30 and we have been driving for 7 hours. We have 150 Km to go and I am sitting in the middle of the back seat crammed in between Jim and Natasha. The car is 700 degrees and I cannot wait to get out. Russians take the cold very seriously and apparently want the degree of warmth when they are inside to be as extreme as the cold is outside. They are all sitting in this car with their coats on and the heater going full blast. I could be sitting here in my underwear and still sweating........
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sunday and Monday

So we made it to Moscow without any real problems other than my sore throat and horrible cough being aggravated by the dry airplane air. We got to our hotel Sunday about 4 pm local time and basically had dinner and went to bed. Thank goodness for Marriott!! I love knowing that I will have a nice room and a good night's sleep pretty much anywhere we go with Marriott. I managed to sleep mostly throught the night as I was exhausted and my body is desperately trying to kick this plague thing. Jim on the other hand was awake from about 2:30 am on.

Monday we got up, had breakfast and met Tanya, our interpreter. It was just getting light out at 8:15 when she took us to the medical center for our Russian medical evaluation which turned out to be much more than I had anticipated. I thought it was some blood work, urinalysis and a chest x-ray to check for TB, but it was all that and more. We actually spent the majority of the day traipsing around this medical center and seeing 8, yes 8, different specialists. We saw a general practitioner, an oncologist, a neurologist, a psychologist, an addiciton specialist, a dermatologist and a couple others I can't remember. Each of them did their own eval, many which repeated the things someone else had just done. We had to get undressed and dressed several times. In the end, it would be no big deal really except that I failed the chest x-ray because they saw something that "should not be there". They say it looks like I may have had TB or pneumonia in the past and it is just the remnants, but they want to be sure, so the TB doc will not sign off on my paperwork until they get a CT scan. That could not be scheduled until Friday, so unfortunately, that means we will have to leave the orphanage earlier than expected to return to Moscow so I can get the CT done. We will see the boys twice on Thursday and were supposed to spend a few hours with them Friday morning before returning to Moscow Friday night. I suppose, if that's all that happens and the CT scan comes back fine then I can live with that although it is a bit unnerving and disappointing all at the same time.

After we got back to our hotel, we had dinner and then ventured out for a walk, on our own! Did I mention it is COLD here? Oh my gosh! And everyone is wearing fur. Women have the most gorgeous coats and the men are wearing the typical fur hats. When we get out of Moscow in the next couple days, I may just have to buy something as I am told things are not so pricey outside of the big city. Our hotel is about a 10 minute walk from the Kremlin and Red Square. I did not take the camera with me tonight since it was dark, but I could have as it was all lit up. When we are back in Moscow at the end of the week, we will definitely go back and get some pictures.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) we leave for Novgorod, which is where we will go to the Minister of Education and file the paperwork to formally adopt the boys. That will be a 7 or 8 our drive depending on the roads and traffic so not much else will get done. We have a driver and our interpreter going along as well as the coordinator who we have not yet met. I have no idea if we will have internet or cell coverage there. If we do you will hear from me, if not it will have to wait until we get back to Moscow. I'll try to post some pictures next time if I can figure that out.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

On The Road

So we are on the road. We are on the bus from Portland to Logan. Our flight is at 7 PM. So far I realized that I forgot my travel pillow, but if that's all I forget, I will be very grateful.

So since I have some time, I'll go back and share some history so you have an idea how we got here. (I promise to give you the short version) Most of you are aware that for us, having kids has not been as easy or nearly as fun as it should be. We are very blessed to have Alexis as she came to us as a result of our first IVF cycle after 5 years of trying things the normal way.

Since we both knew we wanted more kids, we have tried numerous IVF cycles since with no success. We even used an egg donor for the last 2 cycles with no luck. We still have 2 embryos left from that donor cycle that are frozen until we decide to give it one last shot.

Then last December, through a friend of the family, we became aware of a baby boy that was to be born in January that would be placed for adoption. We began the process to adopt him, but when the time came, his birth mother decided to parent him herself. It was a tough time, but I can't honestly say I blame her.

So then I decided to look into international adoption. We considered all kinds of places and I thought we might try Ghana but we thought that since I was approaching 41 we should probably finish up with the IVF attempts and then consider adoption if we still wanted more kids so I put the adoption plans and paperwork on the back shelf and went back to trying to figure out why the IVF's weren't working and if I could do anything to help that be a success. We planned to transfer our last 2 embryos this winter sometime.

Then in late September I got an email, just like I had gotten a hundred times in the previous months, from Rainbow Kids about some waiting children. I always read these emails and look the kids pictures but this one I couldn't just delete. It was about 2 little brothers, under the age of 3 with no real health problems. There were no pictures with this email but they were described as having dark hair, big brown eyes and olive skin. Well I had to get more info so I sent an inquiry through the Rainbow Kids website and that led us to where we are today. On a bus, to get to a plane, to fly half way around the world to meet 2 little boys that want and need a family that wants and needs them just as much.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Getting Ready

So welcome to our new blog. This will be my attempt to document our journey to adopt 2 beautiful boys from Russia. I have not done a blog before so bear with me as I figure it out.

As exciting as this is, I am actually overwhelmed with it right now. It's almost time to leave and I feel like I have missed a thousand small details. It is almost 11:30 pm and I haven't packed yet. This week has been a train wreck in terms of things going as planned. From no fewer than 5 separate computer issues at the office (not the least of which is my computer dying and needing to be sent away for repair) to me getting some sort of plague with a throat on fire and a nasty cough (no I don't have strep- I actually went to my MD and had it checked) to 4 hours spent shoveling/snowblowing Wednesday to the afternoon today spent with no power and frantically trying to get an electrician over here because of the sparks and unpleasant burning smell coming from the main breaker switch outside our house. I'm still trying to get the laundry done that I couldn't do earlier. So I am going to keep it short tonight and I will back track in my next few posts and fill in the story for those of you who haven't heard it right along the way.

Good night all.....