Sunday, July 27, 2008

Miss Priss and Mr. Heart-throb

Wow, where do I start? It's been the most remarkable week of our lives, 2 days specifically.
The flight to Kotlas was a little scary. We were on Aeroflot North on this plane: (Note the dark clouds in the background).


We flew through a horrible thunderstorm that wiped out many trees in Kotlas - it looked like a small tornado had hit.





AAI put us in a very nice suite in a Kotlas hotel. The day after we arrived, our driver, Dimitry (AAI Rep) and another couple went to the orphanage which was about 10 minutes away. We were in a large play area that had a lot of toys for the children.
When it was our turn to see our two little angels (Miss Priss and Mr. Heart-throb) they came in very slowly and tentatively. Miss Priss was smiling the whole time but Mr. Heart-throb was very shy...at first. He wouldn't even look at us but neither of them cried. We played for awhile and after about 2 hours or so, Miss Priss was calling Jim Papa and Mr. Heart-throb was happily building a structure with us and laughing a lot. The baby home was immaculate, organized, had many toys for the children and they obviously care for them very much. It was an amazing place considering there are over 80 children there.
We were able to play with the kids from 9am-12pm and then from 3pm-5pm. When it was time for us to go, Mr. Heart-throb got very serious again and was gripping me tightly as I held him. It was quite sad and we promised that we would be back tomorrow (It's good to know some basic phrases in Russian for reassuring toddlers). The Priss pranced out with that never-ending smile of hers. (She had on some squeaky shoes that squeaked when she walked - it was hilarious!).
Day 2: We got to the baby home at 9am. This time when there were brought in, the Heart-throb ran up to Jim and hugged him and laughed - it was such a touching moment (and we got it on video!). We played again for awhile and the Heart-throb came completely out of his shell. We had him laughing so hard! We played an impromptu game of counting to 3 and then he would run into my arms and I would scoop him up and hug and kiss him + twirl him around. He'd get down and run to the other side of the room and do it over and over. The Priss just layed down on her Papa's lap and laughed at us - she is an extremely happy and content baby.
It was time for the Doc we hired from St. Petersburg (Dr. Sofia) to examine them. She had been watching us play and asked the Heart-throb some questions (like where's the big truck, where's the small truck, etc. to see how much he knew). He answered and obviously understands Russian very well. She said they are both "very clever" - we were so proud of them! They were visibly unhappy about being examined but still no tears were shed.

After lunch/naptime, we visited with the baby home director and the babyhome doctor and our Dr. Sofia to discuss the medical and social history of the kids. The kids were little champs, they sat still in our laps and played quietly the entire visit (about 1 hour) in a VERY HOT office.

It was then time to make our decision and we said YES! We feel extremely lucky to have these two in our lives. We signed all of our paperwork and then it was time for the hard part - saying goodbye for awhile.

Our last vision of them is the Baby Home Director holding the Heart-throb's hand and he is holding the Little Priss' hand walking away from us. They kept looking back at us smiling.

I'm so sad just typing this. Hopefully, we won't have to wait too long for court.
We flew back to Moscow through Arkhangel'sk for 2 days of R+R. We did the usual touristy things, St. Basil's Cathedral, the Kremlin, Lenin's tomb, Red Square and of course TGI Fridays!

All of the restaurants, hotels and the apartment we stayed in were absolutely wonderful.
AAI took COMPLETE care of us while we were in Russia. We never felt anything other than cared for the entire visit.

We took 6 flights in 7 days (and 2 of them 11+ hours) - we're ready to stay on the ground for a few days - oh, an shop for the munchkins!!!

Here's the inevitable 'teaser' picture of brother and sister holding hands:



Monday, July 21, 2008

We're in Arkhangel'sk!

We're almost there. The 11 hour flight was great - we slept for about 5 hours (thanks to Tylenol PM!) -that really made the time fly.
We got to Moscow around 8:00 pm and at our hotel and in to bed around midnight. We flew on Aeroflot to Ark this morning and are now waiting for our flight to Kotlas. I've heard horror stories about Aeroflot but can honestly say, it was a very nice flight. (Jim is in love with the women over here - they're BEAUTIFUL!!). Don't worry, I'm keeping him on a short leash!

Tomorrow we will meet the children!! We're so excited! Our rep in Russia, Dimitry, showed us more pics of the kids and they really are truly beautiful.

Hopefully we'll get to post again before the end of the trip but we're going to such a remote area, we don't know if they will have accomodations.

Will write again when we can -
Paka!
Jane & Jim

Friday, July 18, 2008

Feeling the love

I just have to say that I feel so overwhelmingly lucky to have so many great friends out there.
Every once in awhile I will read a blog that says someone is not approving of their adoption. I'm like, huh? what? I have to read it twice. It doesn't make sense to me.
We have not come across that at all since we started this. As a matter of fact, everyone has been so supportive and remarkably kind to us.

Before we take off (in about 27 hours!), I just wanted to let all of you know, from the depths of my heart, how truly thankful I am to have you in my life.
It's truly amazing how many people really care.

Thank you and I'll try to write a post whilst we're there - if not, talk to you in a week!
j+j

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Packing

So we're basically packed. Since we're flying Singapore Air from Houston to Moscow then Aeroflot Nord the rest of the way, we had to look up each of their rules and pack based on the lightest limit. Aeroflot's carry-on weight limit is 10 lbs. and their checked baggage limit is 44 lbs. I really didn't think we'd make it but we're about 5 lbs. shy in each bag. We each have carry-ons under the limit too. Hopefully none of our bags will be lost but just in case, we've mixed our clothes in both suitcases. (I used to work for TWA, Continental and PanAm so I know the drill by now and I've heard horror stories).

While we were getting the luggage organized, our oldest four-legged son Fritz decided to help. Check him out - he's such a great little helper...heehee!

Countdown - we leave in 6 days!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Anticipation

We're doing great - working, gathering things here and there for the trip...

  • Our bag is packed for the orphanage with toys, vitamins, stuffed animals, clothes for the munchkins to try on, questions for the caregivers, paper, crayons, markers, bubbles, beach ball, foot measuring chart and the photo books. It's really heavy!!
  • We've painted their bedroom a really pretty, calming blue called Prairie Sky. I'm soooo looking forward to decorating it.
  • Today will be a clothes shopping day - we'll figure out exactly what we'll wear and what we need to buy.
  • The airfare is purchased. We're very fortunate to be on a non-stop from Houston to Moscow- an 11 1/2 hour flight.
  • The house/dog/bird-sitter is in place (thanks Jeanette!)
  • The hotels are reserved.
  • The Visas have been applied for - should be receiving them next week.
  • Our rides to/from the airport are set (thanks Olga and Ira!)
  • I've had to update a couple of docs: Our Psych. Eval. Doc's license expired so I had to get a new copy of it, have it notarized and apostilled. Our I171H doc expires in July so we had to be re-fingerprinted and I'm still waiting on that approval doc. This is the only thing I'm a little bit nervous about. Also, since we're registered in Tyumen and Ark, I had to write a letter saying that we want to have our dossier removed from Tyumen (so that another family can get registered there). This, of course, has to be notarized and apostilled.
  • The 2nd portion of our dossier is due within 2 weeks of us getting back from trip 1. It's completely together and notarized and so I'll go have all of these docs apostilled next week.

We had a great 4th of July with our friends Olga and Ira. Hope all of you had a great one too!

In two weeks we'll be on a plane to Russia. YAY!!!

Oh, and the CD is great! I've now learned/memorized how to say don't cry, it's ok, you are so handsome/beautiful, you are so smart and a bunch of colors! It's pretty cool -