Friday, January 28, 2011

Sleeping, Surgery, and Shopping

We made it home just fine. Our family and friends were very concerned when they heard about the tragedy in Moscow, but we were already out of the country before anything happened. In fact, we were never in that airport. The last leg of our trip was both good and bad. Our flight from Amsterdam to Atlanta was the best flight of the whole trip. I would highly recommend KLM airlines. The plane was comfortable and well equipped. The flight attendants were so helpful and professional. We made it to Atlanta in plenty of time for our last connection. In contrast, the last flight was the most trying. Our flight was delayed. We changed gates three times. I got nauseous for the first time on our trip. I really think it was fatigue. At that point we had been awake since 3:00am (home time) and we had crossed six times zones. I was able to nap briefly on that flight and felt some better. We were able to stay the night in Oklahoma City. I was so grateful we could get a full night's sleep before heading home. We finally made it home, home the next evening just in time to see my closest friend who was visiting her in-law's while her husband finishes boot camp. Yeah! We went back to work the next two days, but it was tough. I was tired and it didn't seem like my brain was cooperating all the time. Then, we were back on the road for JJ's knee surgery. We were blessed that it could be scheduled on a day we already had off work. This was a three-day weekend for the county stock show. Yeah for the county stock show! The surgery went well. JJ had torn his meniscus. The doctor was able to repair his knee. He is currently sleeping soundly thanks to some well deserved pain medicine. I think I might be the worst post surgery caregiver, because I left him resting in the car a few times to find do some quick shopping. He was so sweet and patient with me. If you speak the truth when coming out from anethesia he must really love me. He said, "I love you" more times than I can count. He waited while I got our little guy an outfit. I had bought JJ a new outfit for Christmas in expectation of a new family picture, so I got our little one an outfit to match Daddy. Thank you Father for my two favorite gentlemen.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Adventures in Traveling

We had a wonderful day yesterday seeing the sights in Moscow. Natalia, the wife of our agency contact, drove us around Moscow and told us about so many things. We rode the Metro when we got closer to the center of town. She said parking was too difficult in that area. We were able to visit Red Square. We saw Lenin's tomb, St. Basil's cathedral, the wall of the Kremlin, and GUM. She helped us find souvenirs. We got almost everything we wanted to take home to our families. JJ really wanted to get his brother a furry hat and he found one at a much more reasonable price at the airport. That seems strange as the airport shops are usually expensive. It was the most walking we had done the whole trip and we were worn out by the time we got to our hotel. The Beshears flight home began last night, so Natalia dropped us off at the hotel and took them on the airport. I am extremely grateful we were able to share this experience with another family. We didn't feel so alone. Our hotel was hopping. Natalia explained it was a 60th birthday party, so it probably wouldn't last until the wee hours of the morning. It was some 60th birthday party! We were both so tired it didn't matter though. I slept the most I have this entire trip. Natalia wasn't picking us up for the flight until 5:15pm, so we had so down time at the hotel. We ate breakfast and lunch, checked several things on the computer, listened to a sermon from People's Church in OKC, and started a movie. Oh, we also carefully repacked everything to make the trip home. We had plenty of time at the airport and we were able to find the last few souvenirs. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 8:55pm. When they still were not boarding at 8:30pm we knew something was wrong. Soon they announced we were delayed, but only 30 minutes. We boarded without incident, but soon after the safety demonstration the pilot announced that we were delayed another hour due to weather. Yuck! It was actually the best flight for a delay because our layover in Amsterdam should have been 16 hours. We finally took off. They served a meal and JJ got ill from all the fish smell. Poor guy! I really enjoyed my fish and the first white bread of the trip. We had tried to reserve a hotel room since we would be stuck in the hotel overnight, but I messed up big time. The hotel was not inside the airport. Turns out there are two hotels in the airport and we are now in the tiniest room I have ever experienced. It works, but it is tiny. We'll try to take a picture, but it probably won't do it justice. Now for some sleep in the tiny bed. Tomorrow we have our long flight the rest of the way home.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Meeting our son

Okay, here are the promised details about our day at the baby home. We woke up much to early. We have not been sleeping well and this morning found us wide awake around 4:30am. JJ played the new Karate Kid movie on the laptop to pass some time. We left for the baby home around 8:30am. Our agency contact rode in the taxi behind ours with our friends the Beshears, so when our taxi driver pulled up I wasn't sure if we were at the right place. Most buildings in Kotlas looked the same to me. They all were around four stories tall with no signs to designate what might be inside. This building was no different, but it was the right place. Dimiti, our agency contact, led us inside, up some stairs and through several halls to an "office" of sorts. I was trying to soak everything in, but Dimitri walks so fast and I didn't want to get lost. I did notice several colorful decorations and door labeled in Russian with various child friendly designs. The "office" was fairly large with three desks near the walls, a table with a tea set, and a large bookcase covering the back wall full of toys. We were greeted by the doctor who let us know that our boys had different schedules. We would get to see our little guy first, but he had to leave at 9:30am for his first nap. The Beshears would see their little boy shortly after and he would stay until 12:30pm. We would both have a second visit in the afternoon. Soon they brought our son into the room. I cannot adequately describe that moment. The first thing that hit me was how small he was. We knew his height and weight from his medical records, but it was another thing entirely to see him in person. He came readily to us. In fact, if we would hold out our arms and gesture for him to come he would almost run to be held. It was wonderful and nerve wracking at the same time. He did not seem to care at all that we were strangers. He did not cry once during the time we played together. He was very tired that first forty-five minutes and only wanted to be held. He did not want to interact with the toys. He had a runny nose and a cough, but my nose has been running for over a week, so we took turns wiping our noses. They came at 9:30am to take him for a nap and we went to meet with the doctor and social worker. Well, I guess she was a social worker. She actually never introduced herself, but she gave us all the available family history. The doctor was very personable and open. She didn't bring up anything we didn't already know. He is much smaller than he should be and the most concerning is his head circumference. We know he had some challenges in the womb and his first few months of life working against him. Yet, he continues to make developmental progress and he is not far behind from where he should be. We were allowed to ask as many questions as we wanted and encouraged to send more questions if we thought of something later. After the meeting it was still not time for him to visit us again, so Anya, the translator, showed us a few more parts of the building and helped us find the secretary's office to send an email to our families. We did not have Internet access in Kotlas and I wanted to make sure someone knew we were alright. They brought our little boy back around 12:30pm and he got to stay until 3:00pm this time. He was much more alert after a nap and meal. We got down to the business of playing. He liked to hide things and then find them again. He loved anything with wheels. We got him to walk all over the room. We even heard him making sounds. He seems to love repeating what you do, which was very encouraging. My Russian is so limited, so when I would hide a toy I would raise my shoulders and spread out my arms to say, "Where is it?". He would mimic me in the cutest way. We showed him the picture book of his family, but he was much more interested in turning the pages than in looking at the pictures. At 3:00pm we were allowed to take him back to the room with his group. Everyone was busy playing when we arrived. Once again words are not adequate. Those little faces are burned in my mind. We were shown his crib and then his caretakers tried to get him to wave, "Paka". He was already playing and was not interested in stopping the task at hand. Of course we got one last hug before leaving. I was concerned again that he did not react to his caregivers or the other children really. Something to be praying about. We had been at the baby home this whole time and had not eaten since much earlier in the day, so we were very tired and ready to head back to the hotel. It had been an exhausting day emotionally and physically. Just before we left I went the restroom by myself and I contemplated what would happen if I ran back downstairs to his room and just took him with me. I think we are now in the hardest part of our journey, but we have so much support and I feel tremendously blessed. Soon we will be back home and I can get started on our paperwork. For now I am enjoying soaking up as much Russian culture as possible. I know this was super long, but I had so much on my heart, more than I can even share in words. It was such a marvelous day.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Quick Peek

We are about to head out into the extreme cold in Arch to find some gifts to take home and a place that we have been told serves good pizza. I just thought I'd post one of the pictures we took just for sharing with others. You know, the ones of his hands. We got to spend all day yesterday at the baby home. I share more about that later.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

We have permission and a funny mistake

We just got back from meeting with the regional adoption official. He was very polite and he smiled often. I noticed in the airport that no one would smile back at me, but he was friendly. He "introduced" us to our little guy and made sure we knew we would get more information when we visit the baby home. He signed our paper that gives us permission to visit the baby home. He asked us if we wanted to meet him and we said "YES!" Well, not so much out loud, but on the inside. We also got to meet Dimitri who will travel with us the rest of the trip to Kotlas. He also seems friendly and responsible. We were able to change money at the hotel. I got nervous yesterday at the airport when our Visa wouldn't work. It worked just fine at the hotel though. Maybe the boy at the restaurant ran it incorrectly. Now we have a few rubbles for just such an emergency.
I have to tell this funny story on myself before I rest a little. Our driver picked us up at the airport last night and he seems to know about as much English as I know Russia. I tried out my horrible Russian by asking, "How are you?" and when he said okay I said, "Si"!! I don't think he noticed, but I was so embarrassed. I would like to justify myself by saying that I had been awake for about 24 hours and I have several Spanish speaking students, but it doesn't make it any less funny. I am like Mr. Bean. Traveling the world and saying, "Gracious" in every country!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

We Made It!

We are currently sitting in the airport in Moscow, Russia. We have actually been here for a few hours. Our flight from Atlanta arrived at 12:00pm local time and our flight out to Archangelsk doesn't leave for another hour plus. Our flights were pretty uneventful. Long, but uneventful. They had time to show three movies during the flight from Atlanta to Moscow. It was so difficult to sleep. We took Advil PM, but I think it only succeeded in making me more tired while being awake. Needless to say, we are exhausted now. We met up with another couple who are working with our agency and visiting the same baby home at the same time. It has been fabulous to have someone else in the exact same situation as us! We are all the unwitting Americans just trying to make this adventure work. I do feel very blessed! I know so many people are praying for us. Soon we will fly to Arch and hopefully get some much needed sleep. Tomorrow we will visit with the adoption officials for our little guys region and then fly, again, to the town where he lives. I'll try to keep posting, but I make no promises about my punctuality.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A New Adventure ( take two)

We made it to Oklahoma City. We will fly out tomorrow morning. The reality of our situation is finally
sinking in. After the I initial shock of getting our referral so quickly wore off I have been
less emotional, but I broke down this week. I picked out the book, "A Mother for Choco"
to read to my class. I thought it would be the best way to explain my week-long
absence. I had to wait until Friday to read the book because so many of my students
have been out with the flu. As I was reading about what Choco thought a mother would
do I started to cry. Of course I immediately had a captive audience. Adults don't cry very
often, so they were all trying to figure out what was wrong. I had to explain that the story
made me sad. It was that moment when I knew this was real. We are really going to meet
a little boy who, more likely than not, is our son! I am so ready for the biggest adventure
of our lives.

A Brand New Adventure

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sickness and Snow

Those are the two big things happening at our house. I have been sick since Saturday. I thought it was a bad sinus infection, but I was achy, hot, and just plain miserable. I am feeling a little more normal, but not 100% by any stretch of the imagination. I really need to get better quickly. We fly to Russia a week from today. JJ is not sick, which is a huge blessing. I stayed home from work today. I really did not want to use a sick day, but it seemed like a double standard to require parents to keep kids with fevers home and then go to work when I had a fever. Turns out a bunch of my students are sick as well. We did have a delayed start because of the snow, so JJ got to sleep in. That was good for him. I am not the sweetest person when I am sick. I pretty much told him not to touch me because he was making me uncomfortable. In my defense I couldn't find anyway to sleep because I was so miserable, so I gave up around 4:30am and tried to rest in the living room. Maybe he got some sleep while I was gone. I really wanted to do a test run by packing my suitcase this weekend, but of course that didn't happen. Maybe tomorrow.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

What? Next Week!

I was thinking out loud today with JJ as my sounding board, which is pretty normal. He actually told me he has the ninja skill of walking away without being heard while I am still talking, which I did not realize was a ninja skill, but what do I really know about ninjas anyway. This particular conversation involved me trying to decide how best to explain my almost week and a half absence to my class full of three and four year olds. In the middle of expounding on my plan to read a picture book to them that might explain what adoption means I said, "I think I'll read them a story next week?!!?". Are you kidding me? This is so fabulous and overwhelming all at once. Two weeks from tomorrow I will be flying to Moscow.
Speaking of fabulous, we have been blessed beyond words this Christmas season and I know now that we can afford our first trip and most of our second. I cannot express what this means to us and we cannot thank those responsible enough. We also have been blessed by those of you that prayed and continue to pray. Prayer is a gift that cannot be measured. We need it too. I try to keep it together, but I'm really full of so many emotions and plans and unknowns. I don't know how other first time expecting parent feel, but I often feel like my brain is running in twenty directions at once.
Well, back to work tomorrow, so I better get some sleep. Thanks for being another sounding board. I just hope none of you practiced your ninja skills and walked away from the computer. If you did, it is now safe to return. =)