Thursday, April 28, 2011
We had our conference call with our agency case worker today. She went over all the big details of our trip; what to expect at court, our basic itinerary, paperwork for the embassy in Moscow, expenses, etc. We had decided sometime after we got home from our first trip that we want to make this last trip into one long stay instead of two shorter trips. With flights and visa expenses it wasn't too much different to stay in country. Oh it will be more expensive, but worth it. We learned today that our judge does not count weekends as part of the ten day waiting period. We had planned to stay in Kotlas for most of the ten days to help the transition we will all be facing as we bring our little guy home into a totally new world with new strange people. With this new information, about the essentially fourteen day wait, we've decided to spend the first week in St. Petersburg to experience more of Russian culture and the second week in Kotlas with our son. It was going to be difficult to spend two weeks in Kotlas. It is not a place foreigners come to visit, so it is not a town with accommodations for foreign guests. The biggest disadvantage from our perspective is the lack on communication. We could not get access to the Internet nor did we have a way to make phone calls. We did not want to be without a way to communicate with our families for two weeks. This new plan will still give us a week to spend as much time as possible with our son. Then we will take him with us back to Archangelsk for the start of his paperwork. We will finish his paperwork in Moscow and fly home on June 9th.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Yes! You brilliant detectives are correct. We got our court date, May 13th, and we will be leaving for Russia either May 9th or 10th!!! That was about the best email of my life. We will be gone for almost a month because we are staying in country and making it one long trip instead of two. We will have a travel planning meeting later this week, so I'll have more details then. We are thrilled. I will now take the rest of the evening, all thirty minutes of it since we had to drive to a neighboring town to get pictures for our visa application and just got home, to be thrilled before I jump into trip preparation mode tomorrow. Wait? Maybe I'm already there and I am happy to be right in the middle of it again.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
These pictures are all from the regional capital of Archangelsk. We will return here for our court date. We were in and out of Archangelsk during our trip, but we had one almost full day there and we were able to walk around and see some sights. That day was -20 plus degrees. I don't remember the exact temperature, but it was the coldest I have ever been.
Here we are in front of our hotel. It was a nice hotel and the ladies at the front desk spoke English. We enjoyed our time there. We met/saw several other families at the hotel who were picking up their children.
These are some shots from the inside of the room. We called these the "Lucy and Ricky beds", but they were comfy and clean. I only used that hair dyer once. I gave up on having nice looking hair rather quickly.
I am standing next to a statue of a seal near the river Dvina. We saw several statues, but I wasn't sure what they all commemorated.
JJ insisted on walking out on the frozen river. It was frozen solid and seemed safe but it wasn't my idea of fun.
A view of the shore line. This was a pretty church off in the distance.
Here is an outside view of our hotel. I think we were on the sixth floor.
The moon over the river.
This was the view from our hotel window. We had the exact same room coming and going. So much snow!
We got an email Thursday and things have changed in our region. The official at the ministry of education has rescheduled his vacation. There is now a chance for our court date to take place in May. I was hesitant to share this news as if someone how sharing it might make things change. There have already been so many ups and downs. We were told we should have a more definite idea about our court date this week. Thank you guys for all the prayers! It means so much. I do pray for our situation, but it is tough when you are in the middle. Sometimes your perspective seems to be off. I'll update as soon as we know more. I will try to post some more pictures from trip one as well.
Saturday, April 16, 2011
We had some painful news this week. Our case worker got back into the country and I called her Thursday evening. She told us we need to redo our financial statement. There was a problem with our accountant's signature. That in and of itself was not too discouraging, but she kept going. An official in our region that is vital to our court hearing will be taking the month of May off for vacation. Because of our paperwork setbacks it is now impossible to get our court date in April. That pushes our court date into June. June! I have cried very few times during this process, but I spent some time alone in the church crying after that news. We had been mentally prepared for late April/early May. I had been trying to get everything straight for my classroom so things would go smoothly while I was gone. We just had a baby shower at work. I am working to remember that this is not an accident. God is not surprised by this news. There must be a reason for these events that feel like a huge setback. I cannot say I am doing well all the time, but some moments are better than others. We are committed to our son and to completing this process. I know we would appreciate prayers for peace and wisdom though. I don't want to wait unproductively, if that makes any sense. I'm going to post some pictures from our first trip. It helps and hurts to see our son's home.
I realized I had never shared any pictures from our first trip. We look over them often as they are all we have to remember our time with our son and in his country. We took several pictures, so I thought I would begin with Kotlas, where our little guy lives.
Some playground equipment outside the baby home.
The view from a window in the baby home.
JJ and I right before we met our little guy.
The sign on the outside of the baby home in Kotlas.
These are some photos of the inside of our hotel room. It was not my favorite hotel of all time, but it worked. We only had Russian channels on the TV and we did not have Internet access, but we did have those comfy green chairs and our own tea maker.
This is the plane for our flight to and from Kotlas. Also not my favorite.
Anya lives in Kotlas. She helps our agency with translation at the baby home. She was so sweet and curious. She asked us a ton of questions about our lives and American lifestyle. Her English was beautiful. She teaches foreign literature at a local school.
The airport at Kotlas. Even though Kotlas was a difficult place to stay (it is not exactly a tourist attraction) I can't wait to get back!
Sunday, April 10, 2011
We thought our paperwork was complete, maybe even being presented to the judge. Wednesday evening, though, we learned there was a problem with our psychological evaluations. Our agency was suggesting some changes be made so they would be more culturally sensitive. They were going to present the changes to our psychologist on Thursday and see if she would be willing to make those changes. If I've learned anything in this process it has been do not sit back and let the wheels of burearocracy turn. I got off work early on Thursday because of a junior high track meet and I started making phone calls. I was finally able to speak to our psychologist in person. She seemed unwilling to make the changes (which I understood because I wanted her to uphold her standard of ethics), but also unwilling to make a commitment one way or another until she could confer with Leta, who did our home study and is her colleague. It was looking like we would have to find a new psychologist and have everything redone. To top it all off our case worker at our agency is currently out of the country.
I called everyone in the agency I had spoken with in the past to get some advice and was finally able to speak with the woman who was actually in communication with our psychologist. She suggested getting an appointment with a new psychologist just in case things didn't work out. I was able to use a connection I had made through blogging to get some information about psychologists in the same town as our previous psychologist. (Remember we live in a tiny town far from these kind of resources). My blogging friend didn't have a specific referral, but what she gave me turned out to be better. She sent me a form supplied by their agency for a psychologist to complete. I quickly sent it on to our agency, who approved it and forwarded it in turn to our psychologist. JJ had a baseball game on Friday near the town where our psychologist works. He spent some time calling their office and praying fervently that she would agree to this new form and get it finished in time for a Friday afternoon pick-up and she did!!!! Praise the Lord!! We picked up the form Friday afternoon, put it straight into the mail to a courier service who will hand-deliver it to the Secretary of State's office on Monday and send it on to our agency. I believe it will be in our agency's hands by Tuesday or Wednesday and on to Russian sometime next week.
This was painful. This period has been the most difficult of the entire process, at least for me. At the same time, God has been able to show Himself faithful in a huge way. Thanks so much to my blogging friend!! You provided the means for a miracle.