Friday, April 25, 2008

Back Home in Richmond

First, thanks to everyone for your positive vibes, prayers and support while we've been away, it really means alot to both of us.

We are sorry that we couldn't post earlier in the week. Over the weekend there wasn't anything to report. Once things finally got back in motion on Tuesday morning, we were a long commute away from Internet access and the plans for updating the blog were squelched by trips from one end of the city to the other to sign papers and deliver documents.

We switched hotels Saturday morning from a Holiday Inn to a government run charity hotel (as our agency rep described it) with no name that anyone could ever really tell us. Once we got past the graffiti walls and barbed wire that surrounded it, it was actually not that bad, although it was about an hour commute to the city center, it took 11 bus stops and 7 metro stops to get to Red Square. The room itself was like a small apartment with a very large bedroom and a small sitting room. Pictures of the outside of the hotel follow, unfortunately we don't have a shot of the barbed wire, maybe next time.

One thing that helped the transition to the far flung reaches of Moscow is that another couple moved with us and the husband is fluent in Russian. Through talking with him we found out that buying a phone for use in country wasn't very expensive and was nice to have in case of emergency or if one of the agency reps needed to contact us. After we moved, our driver Alexi, helped us buy a phone. This did wonders for our comfort level.

We had 3 days to ourselves until we would go to the Ministry of Education on Tuesday. Over this time we explored the city and spent more time with my friend Patti and her family. It was a welcome distraction from the worry and anxiety surrounding the past and upcoming events of the trip. Here is a picture of St. Basils (in the rain) and a guy in Red Square with Monkeys dressed in rain gear. We don't know what his purpose was with the monkeys but they were cute.

After not sleeping a wink on Monday night, we were finally going to meet our second referral child on Tuesday. We started the day going to the Ministry of Education (the folks that control the international adoption process) at 10am. We were the first group of foreigners to show up. As the morning progressed additional American and French families came to meet their future children.

We were eventually called back to an office where the officials questioned us about why we wanted to adopt, etc. and after alot of Russian spoken between our Agency Rep and the officials, we were given our referral. At this point we received a picture and some background on his circumstances. He is an adorable little cutie-pie that just had his first birthday.

We then went to the Baby House to meet him. The baby house appeared to be well run and was very clean. We met with the Director of the baby house and the Doctor and were updated on his medical and family history. Here I am waiting for the caregivers to bring him in to meet us.

Once our little guy came out to meet us, we were able to go back to the play area and had a wonderful time playing with our babe and his play group. They have a nice big play area with a wall of windows to let the sun shine in (when it is out which seems rare based on our 10 days). The kids were all very interested in what we were doing, it was a nice experience.

On Wednesday we returned to the baby house and were able to take him outside to play. One thing that is fairly amusing is that in Russia they really bundle the children up if they are going outside. Wednesday was a beautiful day and was probably about 55 degrees and sunny. They had our little guy bundled in a body suit, shirt, pants, big wool sweater, hat and a snowsuit over all of this. Of course we didn't know how many clothes he had on until we came in from the outside. We were surprised he could move with all that clothing on!

The time to say goodbye came too quickly and we left him with a blanket, a teddy bear and a little teething photo album with pictures of us and Abby.

We then spent the rest of the day running around one end of the city to the other signing documents and delivering paperwork. Among other things, we signed the petition to adopt our little cutie.
Unfortunately, we can't post pictures on the blog until the adoption is finalized.
After celebrating with a dinner in a great Georgian restaurant with our Interpretor, we went back to our hotel to crash and pack up for the trip home.
Now we will wait for a court date. Our agency tells us we won't hear anything for at least one month. The wait until we travel back is going to be really hard, but we've got a ton of stuff to do here to prepare so hopefully time will fly.
We're really happy that the trip was a success and look forward to the journey ahead.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Update on Trip 1

After two days of waiting we found out today that we will be allowed to stay to meet a second child. We should be able to spend time together on Tuesday and Wednesday and plan to fly home on Thursday. We are hopeful.

In the mean time we have had alot of time to explore the city.

We have mastered the subway...kind of. Today, I (Meghan) got through the turnstyle for the first time without my legs getting caught.

Yesterday we saw Red Square, St. Basils, Alexander Gardens and GUM. We also ate at the local Mexican restaurant where we were treated with live music and special dancers, they were fabulous, there was a fog machine and everything.

Today we went to the Arbat which is a pedestrian area with many shops and cafes. We met my friend Patti and went to a cute little bistro for lunch. It was great to have someone to talk to (in person) about the situation and also to find out more about what it is like to live here.

Tomorrow we're switching hotels because this one is booked and we were supposed to leave on Saturday. We don't know much about the new spot except that it may not be very "convenient". That gives me a warm fuzzy. Anyway, hopefully we'll find internet access somewhere so we can keep you updated.

We probably won't post again for a few days as nothing will really happen until Tuesday.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Update from Moscow

Greetings from Moscow, we have had a tough few days.

I'll start with the good stuff:

All our flights were on time and we had no troubles along the way. The one highlight of the trip was running into a Sorority Sister that I haven't seen for 20 years (Patti F.) in the Munich airport. How random and wonderful is that? And, she has recently moved to Moscow which is very cool and hopefully we'll get together at some point before we leave.

Now for the tough stuff:

After spending two days with a very cute and sweet little 18 month old boy we made the extremely difficult decision not to adopt him because of high potential for significant issues down the road.

As you can probably imagine this is tearing us both apart and is one of the hardest things we have ever had to do. I don't think either of us was prepared for how awful this would be.

We don't know what is going to happen next. Right now, we hope that we may get a second referral by early next week but it is possible that we may come home Saturday (as planned) without one.

Thanks everyone for your support and prayers!

We will try to post again when we have more information.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Anticipation, Shoes and Lists

We leave tomorrow for Moscow and I'm very excited, thats how I feel, very excited. And scared and nervous and very excited.

We spent the day finishing up preparations for the trip. I think we're there, we're ready to go. Bags are packed, and unusually light I might add. One of my most noteworthy packing accomplishments would be the fact that I'm taking just one pair of shoes plus the ones I'm wearing. That is a new record for me! Baby stuff is definitely more important than one more pair of shoes.

But seriously, I worry that I've forgotten something important. Although part of me wonders how this could be possible given that I have about 20 lists of things to do, things to buy and things to pack. Surely that elusive item has made it onto one of these lists...right? I did have a good day in terms of my lists. I think the list makers out there would agree, when you get to cross all the items off the list that is really good (and pretty rare, at least with my lists). One more thing about lists and then I'll be done. Have you ever added an item to a list, that you've already completed just so you can cross it off your list? I have.

I can't believe we're leaving tomorrow. I hope everything goes well. I think its going to be incredible. We'll try to post while we're away. I told Bill we would have to be silly and take pictures in Dulles and Munich and everywhere we go so we have something to post. He was really excited about that!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Adoption Details

I realized today that I haven't really provided any information regarding how our upcoming trip is going to work and what the purpose is.

The first thing that might seem kind of surprising is that right now, we don't know anything about the baby that has been chosen for us. When we completed our original paperwork we didn't specify boy or girl, the only thing we specified was a healthy baby, as young as possible, under 18 months. We are also approved for 2 children, which is probably highly unlikely but you never know (smile).

The youngest that the baby will be is around 9 months. The babies have to be on a Russian database of children without parental presence for at least 6 months before they become available for International adoption. Also, from what we are told we are more likely to be matched with a boy.

Two trips are necessary to adopt a child from Russia. First, we travel to Russia to meet our child and apply for a court date (this trip will last about one week). After this we return to the United States and wait for the court date. Unfortunately, our prospective adoptive child must remain in Russia during this time. The time between trips ranges between 1 to 3 months. We will then travel to Russia a second time to attend the court hearing. After the court hearing, the parents will receive the adoption certificate and a new birth certificate showing the child's new name, and the adoptive parents as the child's parents. During the second trip we will have alot of time to spend with the baby. Especially if the court doesn't waive the 10 day waiting period. We expect to be there for the second trip between 2 and 3 weeks.

Thats the process in a nutshell. We expect many ups and downs over the next several weeks. My goal in all this is to go with the flow and to try to keep perspective.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Countdown to Trip #1

I am so excited! We have 4 days until we leave for Moscow and I think we're in pretty good shape to get everything done that needs to be done before we go. Some of the major accomplishments of the past week include: arranged for a doctor in Moscow, arranged support from a doctor in the US, updated passports, received visas, bought a camcorder, arranged for special money, completed most of the updated documents with notarization and apostille, bought baby clothes (fun!), bought baby toys (thanks Katherine!), made a photo album to leave with our little one (very cute!), set up this blog, and ran a 10K.

We still have a few documents to pick up from various sources, we'll have to get those documents apostilled and then we need to scan all documents and send to them to our agency. Whew!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Our Journey

Wow, I can't believe we're leaving in just a few days to meet our little one. We are both thrilled, excited and nervous about our trip and what may be in store for us. We've been on this road for about 5 years and in some ways I can hardly believe this is our life.

Now that we have a referral and our travel dates, I realize that we have been pretty laid back about this whole process. Our timeline has been pretty quick, as far as I can tell. We finished our Home Study in late September and after that we still had a few documents for our dossier to complete, then after more changes, our registration docs were finished in November. Bill says our official date of registration was December 24th, I think its earlier than this, at this point I guess it really doesn't matter.

From everything we had heard from the agency we were expecting a wait of 18 - 24 months. This is a long time but it was just part of the process. I will say I never believed that long timeline, I was convinced we'd be travelling by the end of 2008. Was I wrong.

It must have been early-March, when Bill got a call asking if we would be willing to go to Moscow City for the adoption. There would be additional costs but our agency thought it could reduce the wait by about 6 months so we said yes.

On March 20th we received an email telling us our Dossier was registered in Moscow City and on March 24th Bill received the call telling us that we had been invited to travel. On that morning Bill had called my desk multiple times. When I returned and saw this I was very worried about what might be going on. The last thing I thought he would tell me was that we had dates to travel Russia.

We would be travelling on April 13th to Moscow. All of a sudden, there was a lot to do in a short amount of time. We had to get plane reservations, updated passports (yes, mine was due to expire in May), visas, updated documents for our dossier and the list goes on. How exciting and nerve-wracking.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Let the Blogging Begin

I have no idea what I'm doing with this blog, but I thought it would be nice to have a way for friends and family to keep up with our progress on the adoption front, most notably our upcoming trips.