Tuesday, February 26, 2008

court date update

I heard from C., and we got an update on our court date. The news was not as good as we had hoped. We were assigned to the judge who is taking vacation in March. She is supposed to review our paperwork on March 3, and assign a court date at that time. Most likely, it will be in early April. The other couple that traveled when we did was assigned to a different judge, and they just received a court date for March 17. They will have their baby home before we even go to court. I am genuinely happy for them, but I had hoped and prayed for the same time line for us. I am really upset right now. Please continue to keep Eli in your prayers.

Monday, February 25, 2008

loooong days

The days are passing SO slowly right now. Time is just crawling. At least the house is very clean now. I'm trying to stay busy, but no matter what I do, the time just isn't passing quickly enough. This evening, R and I sat together and looked at all our photos of Eli. This is so much harder than I expected.

Please continue to keep Eli in your prayers.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

car seat sale

Just thought I'd share - PoshTots is having a sale on Britax car seats until March 2. 15% off and free shipping. They're not on sale very often. This comes just in time for us to order one this week. Another thing to cross off the list while we're waiting.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

court date delay

Just found out that we will not be going to court until early April. Apparently judges' vacations are causing the delay. We had really hoped we would be bringing Eli home at the end of March. Now it will be the end of April. We are really upset that he will have to spend another month in the orphanage. We are very sad right now.

Please pray for God to take care of him until he is home with us, where he belongs.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

glory to God

I've been reflecting on our week in Moscow, and I am still amazed by everything that happened. Our experience was as perfect as it could have been, and it can only be attributed to God. Everything that I worried about worked out smoothly, and I realized that I need to trust Him more and worry less! His hand was evident in everything that happened, including the fact that Eli was born on our wedding anniversary and entered the Kolomna orphanage on Russ' birthday, which we thought was a large and obvious sign that Eli is meant to be our son, but His presence was also evident in all the small details. Our Lord works miracles in Russia, and we are full of praise and gratitude.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

the last of the paper chase

We got our FBI clearances notarized, and sent them FedEx to be apostilled. That should be our last thing to be apostilled and submitted! Yay! Today was a busy day. I got pictures printed for our court photo album, ordered a black jacket & skirt to wear for court, and ordered a replacement luggage lock for the one we lost in customs in Atlanta (R was too distracted by the loss of his sandwich to close the lock, and it fell off!) I'm almost finished catching up on the laundry, and I've already started making a pile on the bed in Eli's room of things we'll be taking on our next trips.

I'm still really feeling the jet lag. I'm just dragging. R went back to work yesterday, and is feeling ok.

We got a great surprise in today's mail! My aunt and uncle sent baby stuff for Eli! (Thanks N. and J.!!!) The cutest little clothes (size 12 months), books, a plate (his first dish!), and a 2 cd set of lullabies. I'm going to copy the cd's to my laptop, so we'll have them in Moscow. I loved all that they sent! It really made my day.








Missing Eli so very much. This waiting is SO much harder than waiting on a travel date.
Plesae pray for God to take care of him until we can bring him home, where he belongs.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

a story of a man and his sandwich



(this post was written by R.)

It was our last day on New Arbat Street, no. 160, and I was in the kitchen making sandwiches for the plane ride home. No offense, but Aramark's choices on Delta flights to Moscow and back can be less than satisfactory sometimes and I wanted to be prepared.

The loaf of sliced brown bread I had been fixing my daily lunch with had reached its end - but there was still almost half of the huge round of black bread I had purchased in the fancy grocery on Old Arbat on Sunday, which felt like months ago, back when Katia our guide and translator and Anton our steely-calm driver were strangers to us. I looked in the refrigerator and realized that our flatmates Lisa and Marty had left us an unopened pack of boiled ham slices and half a pack of really nice Swiss cheese - thanks, guys!

Ana came around with the camera as I was fixing two really thick, substantial ham sammiches. She laughed and took a photo, I posed formally for a second shot, and finished fixing my reserve lunch. Moments later we were in the Renault on our way to the airport in 10 degree Fahrenheit weather.

I had wondered what Russian security would be like. Homeland security folks, listen up - the Russians are more efficient than we are. Upon entry to the airport, after saying goodbye to Katia (and suddenly feeling like motherless children), we went through the first metal detectors, opened our bags for a polite, detailed, but very neat search, got our boarding passes, went through passport control, and then through the terminal. We beat the rush and went through the last security checkpoints for our flight and were in the locked down gate for a little less than two hours. Hunger set in.

Shortly after taking off, Ana and I tucked into our lunches. I wound up keeping my last gloriously thick Russian ham and cheese sandwich in reserve for later. Well, Delta did better this time with the food. The pasta had lots of veggies, which I was craving, and the salad was devoured sans dressing. Later on they brought us lots of strong black tea in tiny cups, which was just delightful. I slept some, looked out the window and saw Scotland at one point, and walked up and down the aisle.

Eleven hours or so later, we landed in Atlanta. We clapped on landing as the Russians do, glad that we were indeed (finally!) on the ground. It was something like 67 degrees, so I was burning up in my long undies, jeans, shirt, sweater, etc. We got through passport control, then off to find our luggage.

We were standing around the baggage carousel when Ana said, "Oh look, they have the dog out today."

I looked but didn't see the dog, but noted the older officer with a trailing leash. Our checked bags came around about the time the officer turned the corner. The dog was a beagle, wearing a blue vest identifying him as a working Customs and Immigration dog.

"Afternoon. Would you please put your carry-on bags down for the dog?"

So we did. And the beagle hit on my bag.

"Do you have any food in the bag?" the officer asked.

I remembered. "A sandwich."

"A meat sandwich?" he asked.

"Ham and cheese," I said.

He nodded and asked for my customs declaration form and wrote "ham sandwich" on it in big letters with a blue magic marker. "You'll need to go through Agriculture."

Great, I thought. Stopped by customs for a ham sandwich. Lovely.

So we made our way through the line, making a left turn to discover NO ONE ELSE ahead of us in the Agriculture line. We zipped on up and put our bags through yet another conveyor/scanner. The officers working the apparatus took my form and said, "Please remove the sandwich."

So I opened my backpack and took it out. Despite traveling more than 5,000 miles and the compression of being in the bag, it was still a big, thick, meaty, solid, substantial sandwich. Three pieces of ham. Two slices of creamy Swiss cheese. Gulden's spicy brown mustard. All on two hand-sliced pieces of black Russian bread. It was mighty appetizing looking, even now, and the two officers looked at it - dare I say it - hungrily.

"We'll have to take that," one officer said.

I nodded and handed it over. Whatever happened to that wonderful sandwich after then was no longer my business or my problem. We answered a few more questions, assured them we had no other meat products or fruit, and were sent on our way.

We still had to go through one last batch of security procedures, complete with removing boots and taking the laptop out of the bag and running everything one more time through the security conveyors. At last we were free in the Atlanta airport.

Strangely enough, we were ahead of everyone else. Getting popped for a sandwich and going through the Agriculture line had saved us a bunch of time. I'm not necessarily advocating having a small amount of undeclared processed meat from foreign countries to shorten your time in the security lines, but the thought definitely crossed our minds!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

home

We arrived home safely. What an intense day. I thought I would be so excited to be going home, but on the drive to the airport this morning I was feeling sad. Anton, Katia, and everyone connected with our agency in Russia was just so wonderful to us, so saying good-bye was bittersweet. It was a life changing week, and they shared that with us. When the plane took off, I started crying. I hadn't expected to be affected so strongly. The young Russian woman across the aisle had a very concerned and sympathetic look. She was sitting with her young son, who had dark wavy hair and dark eyes, which of course made me think of what Eli might look like when he is older. Then right before the plane landed, the pilot came on the intercom, and said "For those returning to the USA, welcome home", and I started crying again. I was relieved to be home, but I didn't feel happy because we didn't have Eli with us. When the plane touched down, all the children on board became citizens, and I was touched by that as well. We might be home now, but nothing is the same. Part of my heart is in Russia.

moscow - trip 1 - last day

Almost time to leave Moscow. Our bags are packed, and in 30 minutes, Anton and Katia will be here to pick us up and take us to the airport. Marty and Lisa left this morning at 4:30am. We're glad we had the chance to share the apartment with them this past week. Being able to talk about what we were experiencing was very helpful. Doug, Kathy and baby Matthew are on our flight to Atlanta. We really enjoyed spending time with them this past week, and being able to talk to them as we wait in the airport will be great too.

Next post will be from the USA!

Friday, February 15, 2008

moscow - trip 1 - day 6

Our last day in Moscow. Anton and Katia picked us up this morning at 11:00am for our 8 doctor medical exam. We drove 45 minutes to the clinic. Once we entered, we paid 20 rubles (a little less than a dollar) for blue plastic shoe covers, and then we went upstairs. The long hallway had windows along one side and lots of large plants, and there were couches, so we sat and waited, but not long. R & I were allowed to go in to see each doctor together. The doctors asked few questions, and the whole process only took 1 1/2 hours. We met another American adoptive couple, and we enjoyed talking to them while we were waiting. They are with the Gladney agency, and are adopting a little girl from Perm, who sounded adorable. It was their 2nd adoption. They showed us pictures of their son, who is now 6, and he was so cute. At the end, while we were waiting on our papers to be signed, we had tea in the secretary's office. We were so relieved when it was over, but it wasn't nearly as bad as I had imagined!

Then we went by the office briefly and then back to the apartment. We are all packed. I thought our luggage would be empty when we returned, but it's almost as full as when we arrived! We're ready to leave for the airport at 9:00am. I'm so excited about going home and getting everything ready for Eli. (We miss him terribly.) This has been a life changing experience for us. As much as I can't wait to get home, there are things about Moscow and the people we have met that we will carry with us forever.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

moscow - trip 1 - day 5

Happy Valentine's Day! We enjoyed a nice Valentine’s Day, even though we didn’t get to see our beloved Eli, and we miss him very much. We started the day by going to Krasnogarsk to the Moscow regional courthouse to drop off our file for court, about a 45 minute drive. The courthouse is a new building, and was very nice. Because the traffic was heavy, the judge’s secretary had not arrived yet, so we waited about 30 minutes. We submitted our file, and that was a happy moment. When we signed the ledger book, Mark & Sinziana's names were just a few lines above ours! Based on the time lines of the other families with our agency, we're really hoping to be going to court in a month. That court date can’t come soon enough.

After we left the courthouse, we went down the road to a huge grocery store. It had groceries, plus clothes, a dry cleaners, bank. We got a few things to bring home, and more bottled water and cheese for the apartment. R got some tea biscuits and coffee creamer to take to the break room at work. We enjoyed walking through the store and looking at everything.

Then we drove back to Moscow. I fell asleep in the car. I woke up right before we arrived at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Since I didn’t bring a hat with me, I wrapped my scarf around my head, because women can’t enter the Cathedral with an uncovered head. The Cathedral was amazing. The walls and ceiling were completely painted with saints, angels, and the Savior, and there were gold icons everywhere. We bought a candle to light for Eli. We placed it in front of the icon which depicted the baby Jesus. There was an old nun there, and she was talking to us in Russian, which we did not understand, but her face was very kind. She gestured, so we walked up to the gold stand, lit the candle for Eli, and placed it there. Then we stood together and said a brief prayer for him. Even though we are not Russian Orthodox, it was a very emotional moment for us. As we were leaving, we bought a small icon, which had been blessed, of Elijah the prophet for his room.

After we left the Cathedral, we walked around the corner to a souvenir shop. It was very cold today, and it was snowing lightly as we were walking. We were so glad that we were wearing the silk long underwear, because we didn’t freeze! The shop we went to was in the former palace of the father of Peter the Great. It was a 2 story building built in the 17th century. We bought some nice souvenirs. We got a a wooden toy for Eli, an ornament of a man playing a balalaika, a coffee mug with a map of Moscow for R to take to work, and a little decorative box made from birch wood, which is a souvenir for Eli of the beautiful birch trees on the way to Kolumna. After we paid for our purchases, we had tea at the shop, and it tasted so good. We have really enjoyed the tea here in Russia. It's much more flavorful than the bags we brew at home!

Our next stop was the Tretyakov Gallery. It is a museum of only Russian art. We spent 2 hours walking through, looking at all the paintings. Other than our precious Eli, of course, it was the highlight of our trip to Moscow. Impressionism is my favorite, and I was thrilled to see paintings by Vrubel, Graber, and especially Korovin. At the end, we bought a book in English about the collection, which included some of the paintings that I liked and which I will enjoy showing to Eli when he is older.

Our last stop for the day was to go to the bank to exchange money. We needed 36,000 rubles for our 8 doctor medical exam tomorrow, which is our last thing to accomplish on this trip. After that is over, we will come back to the apartment and pack, and get ready to come home. Since we did not see Eli today, we have already started our waiting for the court date, even though we're not even home yet.

Please continue to pray that we get a court date very quickly, and pray for God to take care of Eli until we can return.

P.S. Here is a picture of R in front of the Cathedral.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

moscow - trip 1 - day 4

Much better day today. We drove across Moscow to the notary office, and we only had to wait 30 minutes before we signed our documents for court. R paid 1400 rubles, and then we were on our way to the orphanage. I was happy that we were getting to go out to Kolumna earlier in the day.

The traffic was not heavy today, so we made it to Kolumna in 1 1/2 hours. As soon as we arrived, we went into the music room again, and his caregiver brought him in. She said she could tell that he had been waiting for us. As always, he was in a happy mood. We got down on the floor, and he actually played with the stacking rings for a few minutes. We read the “Touch and Feel Farm” book again, and that was still his favorite. At one point, I left him with Russ, and went across the room. I sat back down on the floor, and then called him. He crawled all the way across the room to me! So once he’s wearing fewer layers of clothing, he’ll really be moving around. When he got to me, I gave him lots of hugs and kisses, and I could tell he was very pleased with himself. The rest of the visit, he just wanted to be held, so we did. Lots of hugs, kisses, and snuggles. I told him he is my Snuggle Bunny! I got some great pictures of R holding him. At the time, we didn’t know if we’ll see him tomorrow, or if today was our last visit, so we told him how much we loved him, that we would be coming back to take him home as soon as we could, and that God would be with him and take care of him until we returned. About 2:30, his caregiver came in. She watched us with him for a few minutes, then she played with him along with us. She seems to like Eli, and is good with him, and I am very thankful for that. At 2:45pm, we kissed him one more time, and then she took him upstairs for yogurt then a nap. She took the keys on a ring and the photo album for his crib, and the stacking rings for his room.

Then we went to the office to give I. the notarized documents for court, and then I. gave us our folder that we’ll turn in at the courthouse tomorrow. While we were at the office, we found out that we won’t be seeing Eli again on this trip. We have to go to the courthouse tomorrow, and the drive to Kolumna in the heavy traffic is just too long. We have our 8 doctor medical on Friday.

Please pray that we get a court date as soon as possible, so we can bring our Snuggle Bunny home very soon! We miss him already!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

moscow - trip 1 - day 3

Today was a challenging day. Traffic was very heavy, and we didn't get to spend as much time as we wanted. But first, we have a name! His name is Elijah Alexander, and we will probably call him Eli. After much discussion over the last several months, we have decided not to keep his Russian name, and to give him a family name instead. Elijah means "The Lord is God" or "My God is Yahweh". We wanted to give glory and honor to God, who brought him into our lives. Alexander is my mother's maiden name, so it honors her side of the family, whom I love very much.

Today's trip was longer than we had hoped. But as we turned on to the road to Kolumna, we saw a wedding convey. The hoods of the cars were decorated with flowers, and one of the cars had balloons tied to the back.

After a 2 1/2 hour drive, we finally reached Kolumna. I was eager to see Eli. Because we were late, we didn’t get to see him eat lunch as we had hoped. We waited while they dressed him in many layers, and then we took him, along with the caregiver, into downtown Kolumna to get his passport and visa pictures taken, about 7km from the orphanage. His caregiver was very kind to him. He is an amazing little guy! He never cried. He is so open to new experience, and is craving stimulation. He doesn't seem to get overwhelmed, so that's good! He looked all around, and looked out the window, taking it all in. We arrived at a little store that took passport photos in the back. The caregiver sat in the chair and held him while they took the photo. It was difficult to make him look at the camera, because he kept turning his head to look at me! I had the beanie Pooh, and waved that, and they finally got the shots that they needed. R paid them 230 rubles, and then we all got back in the car to go back to the orphanage.

Once we were there, the caregiver took off his outer layers, and handed him to me. We went back to the music room, where we were yesterday. R. got good pictures of him, which I can't wait to share later, and I “read” him the “Touch and Feel Farm” book. He loved petting the soft chick on the cover. Whenever I turned the page, he would go back to it!

I put him on the floor to see if he would crawl. He got on all fours and rocked back and forth (that pre-crawling motion), and then he stretched up on his tiptoes, just like downward facing dog yoga pose! R. got the cutest photo of that. We saw a very brief forward motion, but that was it. I think he had on too many layers. So, he might be behind physically for now, but that will change soon enough. If you hold him in your lap, and hold under his arms, he loves to jump up and down! He wasn’t really interested in playing with the toys. We tried the ball, the stacking rings, and the car. He would play a little, but he really just wanted to sit in my lap and have baby snuggles. We haven’t really seen him cry. Not even in the car. Once, he started to fuss, but as soon as I snuggled him, he put his thumb in his mouth, and he was fine! I will definitely be bringing a pacifier on the 3rd trip for the plane ride home. He is such a sweet boy. So for about 30 minutes, I just held him and talked to him and gave him lots of kisses. I also showed him the“Who Loves Baby” photo album that we had brought, and he looked very intently at all the pictures. At 3:00 the caregiver came to get him, to put him down for his nap, so we kissed him and said “paka paka” (bye bye). So we had 1 hour 15 minutes of time with him, not including the time it took to get his photos taken. The moments with him were the definitely the bright spot of the day. He is so wonderful, and comfortable with us, and we feel bonded to him. Yesterday was a little awkward, because it was the 1st meeting, but today we didn’t feel awkward at all. It was the most natural thing in the world. R is very good with him too.

Then we went upstairs to the break room to wait on his medical records. Our translator took them to the office to be translated, and we will have a copy before we leave Moscow. While we were waiting, we had hot tea and R. ate some cookies that he really liked, a vanilla sandwich cookie with banana creme filling! When we go to the market on Thursday, he’s going to look for some to bring home.

Traffic on the way back to Moscow was just as heavy. We stopped by the office to review the English translations of the Russian documents we will sign tomorrow at the notary. We got back to the apartment at 8:00pm, so it was a long day, and we were drained.

Doug, Kathy and baby Matthew from downstairs came up when we got home. Lisa had cheerios and gerber puffs to give them, and they brought Honey Nut Cheerios (with the Russian label) and fruit cocktail to trade. We have really enjoyed visiting with them and seeing their adorable little one every night.

Tomorrow might be the last day we go to the orphanage, but I won't know until tomorrow afternoon. We are already so attached to Eli, and want to spend every moment with him that we can. He is just the most adorable, sweetest, amazing baby ever!

P.S. Here is one of the last photos of us before we became parents! This was taken in front of St. Basil's Cathedral, of course, right after we arrived in Moscow on Sunday.

Monday, February 11, 2008

moscow - trip 1 - day 2

We arrived in Moscow safe and sound. I was too exhausted and drained to write a blog entry yesterday. This morning, we woke up at 3:30am and were wide awake. We went back to sleep at 4:30am, and slept until the alarm went off at 7:30am. We are sharing the apartment with Marty and Lisa, and they were already up. We all had showers, coffee, and oatmeal. At 9:00am, the courier came to pick up the copies of our passports and visas and our immigration cards to take them to be registered. That cost $100 per couple. Right before we all went downstairs to meet our drivers, we had Marty and Lisa take the last photo of us before we became parents! At 10:10am, we went all went downstairs. They met their driver, and we met Anton and Katia.

We drove in the extremely heavy traffic to S’s office. We went inside. She and I. share an office. I gave the dossiers and paperwork that I had carried for other families to I. I. greeted us very warmly, and I liked them both immediately. Marty and Lisa were in the office with us. S. gave us all some information about the referral process, asked us to keep an open mind, and was happy to answer any questions. After about 15 minutes, we all left and went to the Ministry of Education.

When we arrived at the MOE, we went down 2 flights of stairs to check our coats. Then we went upstairs to the 4th floor. The elevator is tiny, and only holds 2 people, so we decided to walk up to the 4th floor office. Climbing the old marble stairs was a good way to burn off all our nervous energy. We all waited in the hallway for about 15 minutes, and then both couples went inside with S. We were not as nervous as I thought we would be. We felt calm and happy. We all sat around a round table. The MOE official talked to us while S. translated. Marty and Lisa received their referral first. Then it was our turn. A little boy 8 1/2 months old. Normally the photo on the referral is many moths old and not very good, but this photo was of a sleeping baby with a sweet face and chubby cheeks. When I looked down at the sheet, I realized his birthday is the same day as our wedding anniversary. Instantly my eyes flooded with tears, and I knew it was a sign from God. This is our son! I felt such joy and peace in that moment. Before we left, we walked upstairs to the 5th floor to use the restroom,. As we were walking up the stairs, R and I agreed that we would be accepting his referral, before we even met him. We knew in our hearts that he is our son.

Then we left to drive to the orphanage. He is in Kolumna, 100km from Moscow city. On the way, we saw small houses near the main road, and birch trees, and then lots of open spaces covered with snow. About halfway there, we ate lunch in the car, of Russian cheese and mild sausage. It was very good. Not long after that, we were on a 4 lane highway. The police pulled all the cars over, for a routine document check. Anton got out and gave them the papers for the car. After a few minutes, we were back on our way. Katia told us that Kolumna is a tourist destination in the summer. They have several rivers and a lake, and people come there for water sports and recreation. The orphanage in Kolumna has a very good reputation. The children are well-cared for. She said that even local parents will bring their children to that orphanage just for medical care, because it is so good.

After about 1 1/2 hours, we arrived at the orphanage, and Marty and Lisa and S. had just arrived as well. We went inside and upstairs to the orphanage doctors’ office. She gave us his medical information, while Katia translated, and we both took notes as fast as we could. He came to the orphanage on R’s birthday! There was no information given today that gave us any cause for concern. Everything sounded good. While we were writing, the caregiver brought him into the office, with no warning. All of sudden, he was just there in the doorway. His brown eyes were wide, just taking everything in. She gave him to me, and he sat on my lap for a minute. They asked us to wash our hands, so I handed him back to the caregiver. He watched as I washed my hands, and then I held him again. The social worker came in to give the family history, and R wrote furiously while I held him in my lap. He watched R very intently, and then he reached behind me and tried to take a stack of papers off the counter!

Then it was time to go downstairs to the music room. We waited for a minute in the hallway before going downstairs, and he looked down at the ceiling and then up at the floor. He’s very curious! Once we went downstairs, the 3 of us were alone for some playtime. We sat on the floor, and he played with some toys while we got some cute pictures. We had the Fisher-Price stacking rings, the “Moo Baa La” board book, plastic keys on a ring, and a purple Tonka car. His favorite thing was the book. Hopefully he will love to read as much as we do!

After about an hour, he started to wind down. First he put my finger in his mouth and started teething on it! Then he put his thumb in his mouth, and his eyes started to close. He slept in my arms for about 45 minutes. He woke up and looked around and was content just to sit in my lap. Then the caregiver came in to officially put him down for his nap. I kissed him good-bye. As she was carrying him out of the room, his eyes were wide and he looked at us like “what is going on?” We all had already bonded.

We are so in love with him already! God answered my prayers and blessed us beyond all my hopes. We are so grateful. As we were leaving, the orphanage doctors told us they thought he was special and amazing, and of course, we agreed. They were pleased that we were so happy and that we already love him.

Tonight, we have to make a decision about his name. We’re still not sure! Tomorrow we’ll arrive at noon, and we’ll get to see him eat lunch before our playtime. Thanks to everyone for all their support and prayers. We wish we could share photos so everyone could see just how adorable he is. God has given us a great gift, and we are very happy!

Friday, February 8, 2008

MOSCOW

We did sleep for a few hours. Even though it's midnight, it feels like morning, so maybe that will help us with the time change.

We are completely overwhelmed and completely excited! Thanks to everyone for all their support. (Loved what you wrote, my Sweet Pea!)

Please continue to keep us in your prayers. Our next post will be from Moscow!

take a deep breath

"Now then, stand still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes!" -- 1 Samuel 12:16

Thursday, February 7, 2008

almost there

I can't believe there is only 1 more day before we leave! I'm not even sure what I'm feeling right now. A little anxiety and lots of excitement. We will meet our baby in 4 days! It still hasn't totally sunk in that THIS IS IT. We're about to become parents. It's really happening. Our lives are about to change forever, in the best way possible.

I hadn't planned on today being so busy, but it really was. I guess that was good, because it helped the time to pass. I talked to my family, and it was emotional, because I've never traveled this far away from them before. I had good conversations with all 3 of my sisters. My mom gave me a wonderful card, that I tucked into my carry-on. (Mama, I loved what you wrote!)

I cleaned the house and finished the last of the laundry. I went to the drugstore and got some Airborne (thanks again, Lori!)

I waited all day for FedEx, for our FBI clearances. When we got back from the drugstore about 6:30pm, I realized we hadn't checked the mail today. When R brought the mail in, there they were! They arrived a day before the deadline we requested. It never occurred to me that they would send them regular mail, especially when I had enclosed a FedEx airbill. I was worried they would arrive while we were gone, so I was so relieved. We can have them notarized and apostilled as soon as we get back from Moscow.

Last night, I had emailed the US Embassy in Moscow to verify that they had received our USCIS approval. They emailed this morning saying they had indeed received it! Another piece of good news.

Not much left to do tomorrow. We asked our pastor to come by, so he's coming tomorrow afternoon to talk to us and pray with us before we leave. That should help to calm us down. Then the plan is to try to nap, since we're leaving around 1:30am to drive to Atlanta.

Not too much longer now! I wish our baby could know that we are coming. Maybe God will put it in his/her heart.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

visas

FedEx just brought our visas! YAY! No errors either. I have to say that seeing the visa for the Russian Federation in my passport is one of the coolest things I've ever seen! Now I'm really really really ready to get on the plane!

ladybug

I went in the kitchen to make some tea, and I noticed a spot on the ceiling. At first I was annoyed, thinking how am I going to clean that off? When I got closer and looked up, I realized it was a ladybug! A nice little sign of good luck while I WAIT to get on the plane.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

question (to pass the time)

Why isn't it time to go yet?

Actually, that's not the only question that comes to mind right now. R and I were sitting in our living room, chatting to pass the time, and he mentioned that every single person we have told that we are adopting said that they know someone who has adopted, and then they have shared the story with us. Some domestic, some international, but always, they know someone who has adopted. Policeman, store clerks, government officials, it doesn't matter. Everyone seems to have a personal connection to an adoption story. Has anyone else noticed this?

can't we just go already

Ok, I'm ready to go now. It's time. I wish we could get on the plane RIGHT THIS MINUTE!

I finally got my packing issues resolved. Thanks to everyone for all their suggestions. I took some things out and rearranged, and now we have 2 backpacks as carry-ons, 1 duffel and 1 19" suitcase. Once that was done, I felt so much better. I felt stressed yesterday, but now I feel excited.

Only 3 more days to get through, and then we'll be on our way to meeting our baby! We're leaving late Friday night, actually early Saturday morning. We're heading out at 1:00am, driving to the Atlanta airport for our morning flight to NY. Since I haven't mentioned it yet in this paragraph, I really wish we could leave right now!

I think about the baby and wonder what he/she is like, what he/she is doing, which orphanage he/she is in. I can't wait until I have a sweet face on which to focus my love, thoughts, and prayers. Just a few more days.

Monday, February 4, 2008

packing and more packing

We had a great weekend with my sister A. We went to Target, and got the rest of the items we needed for our trip. We got toiletries, and lots of snacks. We also got a little Winnie the Pooh, very soft and snuggly, to match the blanket. I'm hoping the baby can have it in his/her crib. Right now, our luggage is all food and baby stuff. Tomorrow, I'm going to have to make room to cram in our clothes!

I spent all day today packing. It's a good thing I started early, because it took a lot longer than I had hoped. I started out putting everything into 1 duffel bag, then 2 small suitcases, and then finally, the duffel and 1 small suitcase turned out to be the right combination. There was a lot of packing and unpacking and repacking! I'll be able to finish tomorrow.

We meet our baby 1 week from today! I can't believe it! We are so excited, and so grateful to God!

Friday, February 1, 2008

excited, exhausted, and then excited again

What a day! As soon as the email from C. arrived, my heart just started racing! I couldn't believe we were really going! Immediately I started trying to book a flight. My excitement quickly turned to panic when I realized the flight we really wanted was no longer available. We were hoping to be on the direct flight from Atlanta to Moscow. I found a few options, but I wasn't sure. I knew R would be home in 15 minutes, so I waited for him to come home, and then we made the decision together to fly Delta from Atlanta to NY to Moscow. We really wanted a direct flight, but this is the next best option, and the price was good. Once the flight was booked, we started to breathe a little easier.

R had taken the rest of the afternoon off, so we could get everything done. Then we started working on the visa application. I called our agency, and K. walked me through the form, and that helped. R proofread everything twice, and we quadrupled checked to make sure we had everything in the FedEX envelope - passports, return airbill, money order, applications with photos, travel confirmation and voucher. He took it to FedEx and sent it on its way. We did next day processing, so we're hoping to have our visas by Thursday at the absolute latest.

Then I took care of our travel insurance and printed all the documents for our carry-on.

About 4:00pm, everything was done, and we gave each other a big hug! We were both so happy but also completely drained and exhausted. For the last 2 weeks, neither one of us has slept well. We went right then and took a long nap. We collapsed into the bed and slept very deeply for 2 1/2 hours! After we got up, we ate some dinner, and now we're just letting it all sink in. We're going to Russia! We meet our baby in 10 days! (I will be counting the hours!) It is so amazing, and we feel very blessed. Everything has fallen into place. We are so thankful to God.

P.S. We're taking the weekend off. No computer Saturday or Sunday. Tomorrow we're going to see my sister. We're all going to Target to pick up the last few items on our packing list, then have dinner, watch a movie, just hang out and relax. We're going to spend the night at her new house, and come home Sunday afternoon. It will be so nice to spend some time with A., especially before the baby comes. This will be our break from all the tension of the last 2 weeks. I can come back refreshed, and then finish my packing on Monday!

MOSCOW, HERE WE COME!

We got confirmation! We are traveling on the 9th!
We are excited, overwhelmed, and rushing around trying to take care of things!
More details soon...