Thursday, July 31, 2008

A "Positive Outcome" = Meghan and Bill are parents!

I can't believe its already Thursday evening. Sleep has been so hard to come by here for both Bill and I since we've arrived in Moscow and today was no exception. My problems started with random guys yelling at each other outside our window at 3am, this went on for quite a long time. Bill's problems started earlier in the evening when he wasn't able to get to sleep, at all, until about 4am. This was after he tripped the circuit in the apartment and we had no overhead lights, no big deal, its fixed now. We're hoping things go better with sleeping tonight.

We had court this morning at 10am. One of us was designated as the first speaker, yours truly, and I was in front of the judge for about 20 minutes answering questions. Then it was Bills turn, he was questioned for about 5 minutes. I have to say the court had a really positive vibe and we felt very comfortable and supported. After some official business, the judge left the room, and after another 5 - 10 minutes she returned with a "positive outcome" for the adoption request. This was very good news, obviously, and we were thrilled to have this part of the process complete. Of course we will have to wait the mandatory 10 day period to take custody of Nick, but hopefully the time will fly by.

After court we had the pleasure of meeting 3 other American families, all with court today, all adopting beautiful, healthy, young, baby girls (each right around 12 months!). The mood was very upbeat with all the families and we will hopefully be able to meet them again when they return to pick up their children in 10 days.

We were scheduled to see Nick at 1pm, so we rushed back to the apartment to change clothes and then head out to the baby home. When we arrived, Nick came walking (assisted by a caregiver) out of the play area, sporting a huge grin, to the outer room where we waited. Once the caregiver let go of his hands and Bill bent down to pick him up, he lost it, crying his little heart out. Boy, was he unhappy with the situation. It may seem strange, but even though we felt bad for Nick, we view this behavior as positive. What this tells us is that he has formed a bond with his caregivers and is not willing to go blindly to any old stranger, even ones that are now his parents!

We gave Nick a cookie and he settled down very quickly. After that we played ball for a while and spent some time playing with the cool train Julie gave us (thanks Julie!). We then found out they were going to allow us to take Nick out for his Passport and Visa pictures. How exciting! Nick was fascinated with the cars and all the activity. It was too cute to see his reaction to everything. The pictures turned out really well and Nick looks totally serious for his Passport and Visa.

After our little outing it was back to the baby home for more play. I was really happy that they allowed us to stay outside with Nick. We walked around the grounds of the baby home, played on the teeter totter for a while and then spent the end of our time in one of the outdoor play pavilions. It was during this time that we witnessed Nicks first unassisted steps, walking between Bill and I. How thrilling!

We also found out that they will allow us to visit Nick on weekdays, unaccompanied by a translator. This was great news for us, as we weren't sure they would allow this. We aren't going to be able to visit him tomorrow, but will get to visit each weekday next week. YAY!!!

Tonight, Bill and I made a quick trip to the grocery and then stayed in for dinner. We had spagetti with a pepper tomato sauce that was quite good. Our apartment host, David, brought us a beautiful torte on our first day that we have saved to celebrate with tonight. So when I'm done blogging, I'm going to have to wake Bill up (well, maybe not) and have some torte!

Till tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Reunion with Nicholas

Today started really early for me. I am usually the "good" sleeper in the family, but today I was up at 6:30am, after a night of fitful sleep. Bill on the other hand slept till about 9:30 or so. I was so jealous!

We were to meet our translator and driver at 12:30 so we had a leisurely morning with instant coffee, toast and granola bars for breakfast. Sounds good, huh. We're really going to have to do something about the instant coffee situation. Maybe I'll switch to tea while we're here. After breakfast we got ready to face the day and then headed across the street to the baby store to buy diapers. How convenient, there is a supermarket and childrens store within 5 minutes of our place. We picked up the diapers to take to the baby home as a donation and were picked up right on time to head over to see Nicholas.

When we arrived we waited in the locker room outside of the playroom of Nick's groupa. After a few minutes, Nick appeared in the doorway, walking (with his caregiver's help), and a big smile. He is just the cutest guy. He was very proud of himself and his abilities and just had a huge grin on his face...until he realized they were going to leave him in the room with, gasp, strangers. He did not like it when his caregiver left the room and cried a bit. Luckily, he settled down pretty quickly.

He is very cautious about us but definitely warmed up to us as the time went by. His favorite toys were the peek-a-boo ball (which occupied him for quite a while) and the toy cell phone that played cow, dog and sheep noises. The books didn't go over too well, nor did the singing of various nursery rhymes by Bill and myself. One thing I have definitely come to realize is that I really wish I had learned more Russian. Our translator is helping us with some basic phrases that we can use to help comfort Nick if he gets upset.

We had an opportunity to meet with one of Nick's caregivers to get his routine and find out what he has been eating, etc. I'd say the most interesting information we were given today is that he apparently has several food allergies that we will need to be aware of. Some of the foods they do not feed him are bananas, citrus, milk and carrots. We'll have to look into this more when we return home. We'll also see what additional information we can get about this over the next 2 weeks. We had a great reunion visit with Nick and we can't wait to see him again tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow, its our Court Day. We feel well prepared and are looking forward to having it behind us. We'll be updating the blog tomorrow night with the details!

Bye for now.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Back in Moscow, at last

Its Tuesday evening here in Moscow, we're tired but really excited about the upcoming weeks, especially tomorrow when we get to visit Nicholas.

Our trip was long, mainly due to the 6 hour layover in Atlanta, but uneventful. Everything was on time, all the luggage made it, and our translator A was at the airport to meet us. It was really nice to see her again.

We made it to the apartment around noon and David met us at our building to show us around. I think the apartment will work out really well for us. The location is good and it has everything we need to be comfortable for the next 3 weeks. We unpacked a bit and then decided to take a nap. 3 hours later we both woke up and while we were trying to decide what to do I checked email and found that Ron and Dinia were meeting up with another adoptive family for dinner. We couldn't pass it up and quickly threw our stuff in a back pack and hit the road.

We had dinner with Ron and Dinia, a very nice couple from the states that enjoy meeting and helping adoptive families during their time in Moscow, and another adoptive family, Christa, Vernon and Andrew. It was really amazing to meet a family a few weeks ahead of us in this journey and to see how well they are doing and how happy they are. Dinner was really delicious as well, I'm sure Bill and I will be heading back there again during our time here.

I'm going to sign off before I collapse into the keyboard. I'll be posting more tomorrow!

Blogging in Atlanta - Bill's Entry

It is Monday morning and we are on our way. Thanks Mike for taking us to the airport at the ridiculously early hour of 5AM. We have arrived in Atlanta and are hanging out in the food court in the international terminal (we have a 6 hour lay-over, so we are in no hurry). Things are OK so far, no issues with the extra heavy bags (other than extra cost). We’ve already had success shopping in the airport, where we bought a Georgia Tech T-shirt and sippy cup for Nicholas.

So, I have been thinking about my Dad’s birthday party and while I didn’t speak due to the short notice, I do want to convey a sentiment as Meg and I get ready to expand our family. If there is one thing I would say about my dad, its that I can only hope that I am as good a dad to Nicholas as he is to me.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Time Flys

The past few days have been incredibly busy getting ready for the trip, with a little fun squeezed in here and there.

The weekend starting with a Friday night happy hour with Bill's work friends. He has a really fun group of coworkers so there were many laughs and it was also nice to catch up with some of the people I also used to work with and hadn't seen in quite a while.

Saturday morning we worked on getting the house in order and also did some errands. Later that afternoon we drove to Northern Virginia for Bill's father's surprise 70th birthday bash. Bill's mom did a great job putting on the party. A family friend put together a powerpoint of pictures throughout his life and friends and colleagues also roasted Bill's dad. It was really nice and I think everyone had a wonderful time. I was happy that we were able to make it there. Earlier in the week we weren't too sure that we would have things under control for the trip. It turns out that we did, or so we thought.

Sunday we got up fairly early to hit the road back to Richmond. Once we got home the fun began...packing. Packing for this trip was much harder than I had anticipated. I honestly don't know how people bring everything needed while staying within the airline baggage limitations. When I had finally gotten every thing in the 3 suitcases, Bill weighed them and we were over by one pound on one suitcase and 17 pounds on another. This is when we decided we would bring a fourth suitcase and try to redistribute the really heavy stuff into the smaller bags. We tried and were partially successful. We brought the 51 pounder to under 50 and the 67 pounder to 60. Plus now we have 4 suitcases. Oh well. whats another fee for excessive baggage on top of everything else, right? For luggage we have, 2 really large bags (27 inches +), 2 smaller bags (21 inches or so), a laptop bag, large purse, backpack and umbrella stroller. It should be really fun lugging this stuff around for the next day or so.

Tomorrow morning our flight is really early and our friend Mike is picking us up at 5am! Wow, I hope I can sleep tonight. I am sooooo excited to see our little guy again and really looking forward to our time in Moscow. We do have internet access in our apartment so my plan is to update often (hopefully daily) once we're settled!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Documentation Drama Update

I'm starting to, not really, but kindof. I do have some good news about the infamous police/background checks. After talking to various employees of the State Police, M, and M, and finally T (my new favorite person), our updated documents are now in FedEx Tracking on their way to our social worker. If all goes well and FedEx delivers as they normally do, our updated reports will be available around 10:30 am on Thursday, with our local Home Study Agency. I am so relieved. I called the nice people at the State Police every day this week to get updates. T told me that the reports would be mailed today, but I every time I checked Fed Ex tracking they didn't show up, until this evening around 9PM. I know they aren't in my hands yet, but its nice to know the hard part (I think) is done. Tomorrow, I plan on making a beeline to get the documents from our HS Agency as soon as they have them and then I'll head downtown to get them apostilled. I really appreciate that T went above and beyond to ensure that our documents were processed and mailed out on time. I am so amazed and thankful that she was able to help us.

Thats it for now!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Documentation Drama

Its 7am here and I've been awake since 4, up since 5:30, and have already made a trip into work (and Panera). I'm a tad stressed out due to events of late last week and this morning. This is what happened.

It may be hard to believe for people who are currently or have recently been through a Russian adoption, but, I did not know that our Police Reports/Criminal Background Checks were only good for 90 days (thought 365) until I read a thread on the CHI Yahoo Site regarding documentation updates (thanks all that helped trigger this realization for me, I think it sunk in due to posts from April and Rachel :-). Anyway, up to that point, I thought I had done really well with keeping up with documentation updates and that we were in good shape, not quite. Prior to trip 1 we had requested updated Police Reports which we didn't receive in time for trip 1 but received immediately upon return, dated April 18. Court is July 31st, so with the knowledge of this new timeframe, these docs will expire July 18th. Thus the drama ensued.

I first called CHI to verify the life of these documents. Our rep was not available so I decided I'd rather be safe than sorry and immediately tried to contact my local Social Worker for help with requesting a new set of police reports. Turns out she was on vacation so one of the other Social Workers walked me through the steps. I then left work and headed out for the appropriate signatures. While I was at the Social Workers office, we called the State Police and they said I could hand deliver the request forms. So, that is what I did, with a letter begging them to process by Wednesday and I also included a pre-paid Fed Ex envelope for next day delivery once the request is processed. I called the office that handles these requests and explained my problem. The women I spoke to was very nice, but wouldn't commit to the needed turnaround. I feel like they will make it happen, but have no guarantees. After much thought in the wee hours this morning I decided that I will call again first thing Monday morning and beg them to process it as soon as they can. I am beside myself about this and not sure how this requirement fell through the cracks for us.

This morning, as I was stressing out about the Police Reports, I decided to check the timeline for getting these reports back in April, to try to understand the normal processing time. Its 5:30 am and I go to the spot where I keep my "adoption bag" (adoption bag = tote bag full of all important adoption papers and the accordian file with copies of the dossier, our original I-171H, etc.), its not where I normally put it. I looked in my car, checked by the garage, scoured the house and my adoption bag was nowhere to be found. This is the kind of thing that will undo me. I will obsess about a lost item, be it an earring, sunglasses, clothing, for much longer than I should. I knew the only hope for me getting through this weekend was to go into work to see if I left the bag there. Lately I have been taking this bag everywhere because you never know when something is going to pop up. It had to be at work.

Luckily work is pretty close to home so I set off to find the bag and there it was, sitting in my chair. It is so unlike me to forget something so important. I guess I've got a little bit on my mind!

We had another mini-drama Thursday night that I won't go into in detail except to say we've now got that one under control. I will say this, know how long it is going to take you to get any required finances in place so that a Registered/Certified check can be ordered by whatever deadline you have!

I have a few updates. The leak from the dishwasher was caused by a puncture in the bottom of the dishwasher. Crazy, it looks like a very sharp knife or something was dropped straight down into the bottom of the dishwasher. We have no idea how this happened, you couldn't do it on purpose if you tried. Oh well, our wonderful friend and handyman Glen put a patch over the puncture wound that we hope will last until we have finances to replace it (in about 20 years or so). We haven't actually tried the washer yet post patch.

My running has been going pretty well. I think my leg is almost healed and I have been able to run every other day for the past few weeks and even went 6 miles last weekend. I was going to try 7 this morning but due to the trip to work, etc. I missed the coolest part of the day so I am going to try tomorrow instead. Also, due to the timing of our Russia trip there is no way I'll be able to do the Rock 'n Roll 1/2 marathon in September. Now I'm thinking maybe the Richmond 1/2 in November. We'll see how it goes.

Thats about it. This weekend we are focusing on picking up the remaining items we need for the baby and making sure everything around the house is in good shape for us to leave for 3 weeks.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Progress and Making the Time Go By

The list making has officially begun and progress is being made. I can't believe that in less than 2 weeks we'll be in Russia. I am so excited! The fact that we're so close to finally becoming parents and expanding our family is surreal to me.

Preparations for the trip are underway. We have plane tickets, an apartment for 3 weeks, a house/Abby/Chloe sitter (Thanks Sam!), doctors appointments rescheduled (I had originally made appointments for our little one for the end of July...wishful thinking), a preliminary packing list and a list of items we still need (happy shopping).

Other than the trip planning, we have one document that expires the day before we go to court. Yes, the day before. So, tomorrow or Thursday I'll be trekking down to the Sec of State office to have this final document apostilled. Good times...and whats funny is they now know us down there. Bill took something a few weeks ago and they said that I had just been in and asked about our progress. Funny. I think we'll definitely take a picture and thank you note down there once we're home.

We are also trying to have some fun, relax and spend time with friends. We had a rousing game of Killer Bunnies on Saturday night at Mike and Arletts house. I actually won, which was totally unexpected and random, but a nice surprise nevertheless. On Sunday afternoon I had brunch with a few college sorority sisters, Lois, Christine and Marsha. It was really fun and as always there was alot of laughter, especially when Marsha pulled out the pictures from back in the day!

Aside from that, I just found what appears to be a leak from the back of the dishwasher to the other side of the breakfast bar where I am sitting right now so I better go and try to figure out what is happening!

More later.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

YAY...We Got the Call

Yes, its true! We got the call to inform of us of our court date around noon today. YAY!!! We aren't sure exactly when we leave but it will be on or around July 28th, Court is July 31st and we should head back home with our little guy around August 18th.

I was at work when we got the call and to tell the truth, not doing well at all. The bottom line is that I had pretty much hit the wall this week. You might think to yourself, it seemed like she hit the wall about a month ago, and you would be correct. But, I hit it again, and harder. Really, it was not pretty. I had gotten sooooo frustrated with the lack of information we were getting, it was just eating me up inside. The logical side of me could not make sense of everything and I was looking for answers where there weren't any.

It was such a relief to hear that we're actually scheduled. At first I didn't believe it. So, after I pinched myself a few times I tried to call Bill, but he wasn't at his desk. I was really bummed about that. I eventually got in touch with him and he was thrilled with the news as well. I spent a few hours wrapping up a project and then set out to take care of the paperwork for the replacement Visas.

We are both really excited about the news and the first thing I'm doing after updating the blog is to make some lists!

I'm really going to try to be good about updating regularly on the prep for the second trip. Hopefully I'll have an update soon!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Life on Hold

Through this adoption journey I have felt like my life is on hold. I've been afraid to make plans for weekends out of town because we might be travelling soon. In anticipation of the 3 week return trip to Russia, both Bill and I have been trying not to take any extra vacation, etc. So, having the 4th of July off and being able to hit the road last weekend was a god send.

Originally we were going to stick around town. After all, we had Abby's friend Spike staying with us while his family was away on vacation and we hadn't made a reservation for Abby at the Holiday Barn (kennel). Not only was the upcoming weekend the 4th of July, it was also the beginning of Bill's family's annual summer vacation at the Outer Banks. Once again, due to our upcoming trip to Russia, we weren't going to be able to join them. But, we really needed to get away so we decided to go to Va Beach for the 4th to hang out with my friend Maria and her family and then we travelled to Frisco on Saturday to spend Sat/Sun with Bills family before returning home-to work on Monday morning.

It was a great weekend. We had a blast hanging out with Maria, Chris and their 3 wonderful children. We played at the pool, relaxed, had great food (thanks Chris!) and even saw fireworks. Its always great to spend time with good friends and it was a fun way to spend the 4th.

On Saturday we travelled to Frisco, which took us about 5 hours from Va Beach. We hit a fair amount of traffic and Frisco is almost all the way South to Hatteras. Even though our time was short, we enjoyed the beach which mainly consisted of eating, reading, laying around and chatting. It was just what we needed. Boy, was it hard to get up at 4:30am on Monday to return back to Richmond. We made it back in about 5 hours which was pretty good time.

So now we're back to reality and waiting. I have no news regarding our court date and I'm trying not to have any expectations...that is really hard!

Hopefully we'll hear something soon.