Wednesday, April 23, 2008

HOME

After a long, difficult, and exhausting day yesterday, we made it home.

Today was our first day together as a family, and even though we are all still very tired, it was wonderful! We are all so happy, even Eli. Eli was calm and relaxed; he was able to sleep, and he smiled and laughed.

We are so thankful to God, and give him all praise and glory for uniting us with our beautiful, wonderful son.

Monday, April 21, 2008

moscow - trip 3 - day 10

Our last day in Moscow! We are both so excited about finally going home! Overall, I think Eli had a better day today. He was very cranky when he woke up this morning. I woke up to him banging on the side of the crib, and he was fussy. He fell asleep for his morning nap early, a little before 9:00am. He slept for 1 1/2 hours, and after, he felt much better. He was smiling and laughing. He has actually started playing with some of the toys. He is holding them, looking at them, and using his hands to explore them a little, instead of just throwing them across the room.

He slept for 1 1/2 hours this afternoon too. After his nap, when he started getting cranky, we turned on the music again, and it was amazing. He turned around to look, and then relaxed immediately. R and I took turns holding him, and he was sweet and snuggly. He made good eye contact today, even once or twice when he was eating dinner. He did much better today with his bottles. He drank 3 4oz. bottles of formula and 1 4 oz bottle of diluted juice, and he was able to drink them in one sitting, instead of stopping and starting several times. He is figuring out how to suck on the nipple now. So, R and I can see the changes in him in just a week's time. It will be amazing to see how much better things will be for all of us once we are finally HOME.

We have enough SkyMiles now to request an upgrade on tomorrow's flight, so we will be asking/begging at check-in. The flight isn't full, so we feel we have a chance! We're afraid to get our hopes up, but it would make all the difference in our comfort on the long trip home.

We are almost packed, and Anton and Katia are picking us up tomorrow morning at 8:30. Please pray that we have a safe, smooth trip and that Eli has an easy time and isn't too stressed by all the stimulation.

Our next post will be from HOME, and our sweet Eli will be a U.S. citizen! Praise God!



He is the cutest!!!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

moscow - trip 3 - day 9

Another fussy afternoon. Just like yesterday, his afternoon nap was only 1 hour, and that isn't long enough. He is still tired and overstimulated. We have figured out that his limit is about 2 hours of interaction/play, and then he is just drained. It was the same when we visited him in the orphanage. He always fell asleep before our visiting time was over, after we had been with him for about 2 hours. Now, instead of falling asleep, he gets wild.

I tried giving him a bath again before dinner, but it didn't work as well tonight. He splashed for just a few minutes, and then started trying to crawl out of the sink. He ate well, and after dinner, he was fussy again immediately. R tried holding him and walking him around the apartment, and that worked, but only for a very short time. Finally, I remembered that I had downloaded the lullaby cds onto my laptop, so I played one, and that worked instantly! He relaxed and just listened. After about 20 minutes, he fell asleep, and we put him in the crib a few minutes after 7:00pm. We're hoping he'll sleep through the night.



Saturday, April 19, 2008

moscow - trip 3 - day 8

We spent today just hanging out in the apartment. Eli has been so overstimulated and tired, and he still was today, even though we didn't go anywhere. He's experiencing sensory overload, and his brain just doesn't know how to process it all yet. By late afternoon, he was really getting fussy. He only slept for an hour for his afternoon nap, and that wasn't long enough, considering how tired he was. I took my mom's suggestion and gave him a bath before dinner. That helped a lot. He is a total water baby. He splashed and splashed and stayed in there for 20 minutes! I think it helped to relax him. Then we fed him dinner, and he made some eye contact while I was feeding him. I gave him a bottle and then we put him to bed early, around 7:10pm, and after about 5 minutes, he was sound asleep. We are starting to understand him now, and are getting better at reading his moods and figuring out what he needs.

He actually hung on my leg for the first time today! It was so cute. He crawled over and then clung to my pants as he pulled himself up, and he said "ma ma ma". Of course, I picked him up and gave him lots of baby snuggles! He has me figured out already!

All the other families flew out today, and we were so jealous! We're SO ready to come home. Only 2 more days, and then we're on our way.



R practiced using our new Ergo baby carrier for the 1st time today. He thought it was more comfortable than just carrying all 20 lbs of Eli. I didn't like it as much as he did. I kept readjusting the straps, and never could get a fit that felt really comfortable. Eli liked it a lot though! We'll be using it in the airports on our trip home.

Friday, April 18, 2008

moscow - trip 3 - day 7

Another long and challenging day in Moscow, hopefully our last. No one slept well last night. Eli seemed to wake up every hour on the hour. He didn't cry, but he made lots of noises, and every time he woke up, we woke up. At 6:15am, he was up for good. I tried to put him in the bed between us, but he was too restless, so we all got up.

He was very fussy this morning, and nothing seemed to soothe him. I think he was tired and overwhelmed. Since we had to leave at 11:30am, I put him down for a morning nap at 9:00am, and he went to sleep pretty quickly. Now he cries when I put him down. He has figured out that we come if he cries, so now he'll cry. I'll go in and pat him, and then he'll cry again, but then he'll fall asleep, within 10 minutes, so he's still doing well.

He woke up, and I fed him an early lunch of Gerber chicken and mixed vegetables. He ate all of it. So far, he has eaten everything we've given him. I dressed him in an adorable outfit, and we were off.

It was cold and rainy today. I can't wait to get home to warmer weather! We stopped at the store to get a large box of Cadbury candy as a gift, and then we went to the Ministry of Education. S. met us there. We went in the office and signed the registry book, indicating that our adoption was completed. They congratulated us and wished us well.

Then we went to Red Square to get the traditional family picture! There was a brisk wind blowing, and it was so chilly. We saw a wedding party there, having their pictures made, and I'm sure the bride was freezing. Her dress was very pretty though!

We arrived at the Embassy a few mintues before 2:00pm. There were 9 other families there, including Troy and Rachel! I enjoyed talking to them and seeing Daniel. He is a cutie! We thought it was only going to take 30 minutes, but it took an hour. We were so happy to finally have his passport!

After leaving the Embassy, we went to the office and had a wonderful visit with Carol. It was so great to see her here! The executive director with our agency is here also, and she is also very nice. Eli showed off for them, and it was hilarious! He was being so vocal and so cute. He really likes Irina, and showed off for her too. By the time we got back in the car, it was 4:00pm, and he had not had an afternoon nap. He was so exhausted. He fell asleep before Anton even started the car! He never woke up when we came into the apt, so I just put him in his crib, and he slept for an hour.

When he woke up, he had a bottle, played on the floor, had dinner, and played on the floor more. I could tell he was tired though, because he started getting fussy again. R held him and walked around the apartment, and he really liked that. I put him to bed a little early, about 7:30, and this was the most he has cried yet when putting him down.

Diaper changes continue to be difficult. Each time, he waves his arms and kicks his legs as hard as he can. I'm hoping this is just because he's so overstimulated right now, and not a permanent behavior.

We have the weekend to just relax in the apartment, and we definitely need it. We are all tired and so ready to come home. Everyone else is flying home tomorrow, and we are SO jealous!

This morning



adorable outfit for the Embassy (I did fix his hat before we went out!)


the happy family in front of St. Basil's Cathedral in Red Square

Thursday, April 17, 2008

moscow - trip 3 - day 6

We had a nice day today with Eli! He woke up at 7:00am, after sleeping through the night again. He had breakfast of rice cereal mixed with fruit, and he inhaled it all. He is sleeping and eating so well. It's just amazing! He played for a while on the floor, pulling himself up on all the furniture. His legs seem strong, and his balance is pretty good.

About 9:00am R left, in the pouring snow, to take our paperwork to the Embassy. About 9:45am, I put Eli down for his morning nap, and he fell asleep immediately. All the change and stimulation is just wearing him out! He slept until 11:30, and woke up right after R came back. He ate a good lunch of Russian baby food (a mixture of meat, potatoes, and tomato, smelled like ravioli!) and squash. After playing for a while and a bottle, he was ready for his afternoon nap. We will be working with the bottle. He still hasn't figured out how to close his lips around the nipple, so when he sucks, some of the liquid goes in, but a lot goes down his chin and down his front. He also will not make eye contact while I'm giving him the bottle. He'll make good eye contact with me at other times. While I'm giving him the bottle, he turns his head all the way around to the right, so he can see the room.

After nap, I gave him a baby "mum-mum" which is a rice cracker similar to the Gerber puffs. He likes the taste, and has figured out how to chew it, but he can't hold it himself. His fine motor coordination is definitely behind. He gets frustrated often, because he'll try to do something with his hands, but then he just can't. This is something else we'll be working on. I also tried to give him a little juice for the first time. I had diluted it with water, because I didn't want it to upset his stomach. He almost choked on it at first! I don't think he's ever had a liquid so thin before. After a few tries, he drank about 1/2, but he definitely likes the formula better.

After dinner, we had another bath in the sink. He didn't cry at all. As soon as I put him in the water, he splashed and splashed! Once we're home, I think he'll really enjoy a bath with lots of toys! He even let me wash his hair without crying.

Tomorrow morning at 11:30am, we go to the Ministry of Education, with a gift of candy, so they can officially remove Eli from the database. Then we have our appointment at the Embassy at 2:00. It's so wonderful to finally be at that part of the process! After we leave the Embassy, we're going to the office, where we'll see Carol! I'm so excited that we'll have a chance to see her and that she'll have a chance to meet our Eli.

He is adjusting so well. He laughs and smiles and is very vocal. Considering how much change he has endured in the last 2 days, we are completely amazed at how well he is doing, and how quickly he is adapting. I can't wait to have him home, so he can really settle into a good secure routine. He is a delightful baby, and we love him so much.

p.s. Sorry there are no pictures today. I was so involved with Eli, I forgot to take any! We'll do better tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

moscow - trip 3 - day 5

Our first day together as a family! And it was a very busy day! Eli slept through the night. He woke up about 6:30am, and we were still tired and not quite ready to get up yet. I changed his diaper, and then put him in the bed between us. He liked that a lot! He lay there, sucking his thumb and snuggling! Then we got up, and had breakfast. Eli played on the floor for a little while, crawling, pulling himself up, and playing with his "Touch and Feel Farm" book, which was a favorite when we visited him in the orphanage. By a few minutes after 9:00am, he was asleep again. I put him in the crib, and he slept for 1 1/2 hours.

When he woke, we all got ready for Anton and Katia to pick us up at 11:40am. When we went downstairs, Katia told us that Anton would be late, because he was stuck in traffic. (We really, really dislike the traffic here.) We went back upstairs to wait, and after about 30 minutes, we were on our way to our medical exam for the Embassy. Even though we missed our appointment, the doctor was still able to see us when we arrived.

The doctor was very kind. Eli hated being undressed! He cried, more like screamed, and that is the most crying we have ever seen from him. As soon as the doctor was finished with his very brief exam and I picked Eli up, he stopped crying immediately! The doctor said that he was very healthy and that he appeared as attached as a biological child. We had already felt that strong bond, but it's nice to hear someone else say it!

After paying our 2800 rubles and getting paperwork for the Embassy, we headed off to the police station to pick up Eli's passport. He is so amazing in the car. He never fusses, cries, or whines. He just looks around, or he sleeps. We now have his Russian passport, which is very cool! One step closer to coming home!

After we left the police station, all 3 of us fell asleep in the backseat on the way to the office! That would have a been a good picture! It was the first time for I. to see him, and he smiled and let her hold him. She explained what we have left to do, and thankfully, it's not much.

We got back to the apartment around 4:00pm. It took us 30 minutes to drive the 3 blocks from the office! Eli started getting really fussy for the 1st time. He was tired, overstimulated, and completely off his schedule. After we talked to my mom on the phone, we gave him his first bath in the bathroom sink! He cried a little, but when I showed him he could splash in the water, he was very excited, and enjoyed doing it! He was so cute!

We put his pajamas on and fed him some dinner. I had planned to give him a bottle before bed, but he was way too sleepy, and wouldn't take it. He pushed it away with his hand! At 7:30pm, I put him in the crib, and he started to fuss, but he was just too tired. 5 minutes later he was completely out again! I know the past 2 days have been so tiring for him. Tomorrow will be a little easier. Eli and I will be here in the apt while R goes to the Embassy with Katia to file our paperwork for Eli's visa.

I'm hoping to have a calm day with Eli, so he can recover from being so tired and overstimulated.




God has blessed us with a beautiful and wonderful son!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

moscow - trip 3 - day 4 (part 2)

Long and grueling day. Way too many hours in the car. Anton and Katia picked us up at 9:15am. First, we went back to Krasnogorsk to the courthouse. The courthouse was more crowded than normal. Thank God, our paperwork was ready. Then we drove to the town Krasnogorsk to go to the registry office, to obtain his birth certificate and adoption certificate. R and I sat in the hall on uncomfortable metal chairs for almost an hour while Katia filled out forms.

Next it was off to the police station, to apply for his passport. While we were there, we saw Kathleen M., her brother, and her daughter Megan. They are also with our agency. It was nice to chat with them for a few minutes. Then finally, we were off for Kolomna. We had driven a short time when Katia realized the clerk at the police station had taken an extra copy of our court decision by mistake. We had to turn around and go back. This added an extra hour to our time in the car.

When we finally got to Kolomna, it was 4:30pm. Eli had been napping for about an hour. He had been all bundled up, sleeping on the balcony. When they brought him in, he was confused, because we were there and there were lots of people standing around. We took him into a small room to change his clothes. When I laid him down on the couch, I heard him really cry for the first time! He does not like having his diaper changed! R and I working together got him dressed, and everyone talked about how precious he looked in his outfit. The caregivers brought a bag with the items we had left (blanket, beanie pooh, photo album, camera), and they returned the small journal we had left. A few women wrote notes to him in it, so that was nice. Everyone wished us well, and then we left.

He was looking around, taking everything in. There was no car seat in Anton’s car, so he took turns sitting in our laps for the drive to Moscow. He never cried or fussed or even whined. He is a miracle baby! He looked out the window and watched everything. Then after about an hour, he put his thumb in his mouth and fell asleep, making up for the rest of the afternoon nap he had missed. He slept for a while. Then when he woke, we still had 1 1/2 hours left to drive (really hate the Moscow traffic!), so I made a bottle for him in the car. (I had the packets of Enafmil Lipil.) The water was room temperature, not warm, and I didn’t know if he would take the bottle. He seemed to like it just fine. He had a little trouble at first adjusting to the nipple, even though it was fast flow. I think he was used to liquids flowing very fast. He had a little trouble figuring out how to seal his lips around the nipple. He would suck, but some of the formula would go down his chin. I took the bottle out of his mouth often to give him time to swallow. It was a slow process, and it was sad. A baby his age should take a bottle easily. After he drank about 1/2 the bottle, he figured it out, and the 2nd 1/2 went down much more easily.

We finally got back to the apartment about 8:10pm. We were all exhausted. Eli’s bedtime has been 8:00pm, so already his schedule was completely messed up. I changed his diaper, which he had soaked. Even though he had vinyl pants on, his little pants were soaked too and the snowsuit. I dressed him in just a onesie, and he seemed to like the freedom. I put a comforter on the floor and he played happily with the ball we brought. He crawled a little, and at one point, he pulled himself up using the coffee table. He was able to stand there while just holding on with one hand! He’ll be walking soon!

R fixed dinner and we ate quickly while Eli played on the floor. Then I fixed him rice cereal and baby food bananas. He loved it! After the first bite, he put his hand in the bowl and tried to pull the bowl closer. He wanted me to feed him faster! He ate the whole bowl, so no picky eater here! I let him play for a few minutes, so he could digest a little, but he put his thumb in his mouth, and I knew he was tired. Then I put his pajamas on, and he looked so adorable! No bath tonight, because it was just too late. I took him into the bedroom, turned the lights off, and held him for a minute, talking softly to him. Then I put him in the crib, and he didn’t cry or fuss. Nothing! He watched me until I left the room, and still not a peep. 5 minutes later when I went to check on him, he was completely out! He is an amazingly easy baby!

We’re so thankful to God! We feel blessed beyond belief, and we’re looking forward to tomorrow, our first day as a family.

moscow - trip 3 - day 4




We FINALLY have Eli with us! Praise God!!!

We had a long and grueling day. We left the apartment at 9:15am, and finally reached Kolomna to pick him up at 4:30pm. Due to the never-ending Moscow traffic, we did not get back to the apartment with him until 8:10pm. We are all exhausted, but very happy to be together.

Monday, April 14, 2008

moscow - trip 3 - day 3

We were not able to pick up Eli today. We are very disappointed. We have already been here 2 days, and have not seen him yet. We miss him so much. Hopefully, we will be able to pick him up tomorrow.

This morning, Katia and Anton picked us up at 9:00am, and we went to the office first, where I. greeted us warmly. She made copies of our passports for the police registration, and R gave her the 1800 rubles to give to the courier later today. Then we got the bag that Lisa had left for us (thanks again!!!), and we were on our way.

We drove to Krasnogorsk to the courthouse. Traffic was not bad, and it only took about an hour. We both thanked God for the rain that was falling. It really helped reduce the fumes on the drive. When we arrived at the courthouse, we waited in the lobby while Katia went and talked to the judge's secretary. After about 15 minutes, she returned with bad news. Our court decision had been printed, but it had not been stamped and signed, so she could not give us the copies we needed. Of course, one of those copies is for the orphanage director, so that he can be released. She said the copies will be ready for us tomorrow morning.

We are so disappointed, but I was not surprised, because paperwork issues seem to be so common. Because our court date was on a Wed., our 10 days were not over until today.

There was a huge grocery store right near the courthouse, so we decided to go there since we had time. We got groceries for ourselves, as well as the 2 cakes to take to the orphanage tomorrow.

After, we drove back to the office, and filled out all the paperwork needed for the Embassy. Normally, we would have done that later in the week, but Katia had the great idea of taking care of it now, before we have Eli with us. We were happy to at least have accomplished that today.

When the Embassy paperwork was done, Katia asked if we wanted to do any sightseeing, since we had the whole afternoon free, but I wasn't feeling all that well, so we decided to come back to the apartment and just rest this afternoon. We'll take a nap, so we can be well rested for Eli!

Please pray that all paperwork issues will be resolved and that we'll be able to take him tomorrow.

Friday, April 11, 2008

it's time



We're all packed and ready to go. We're leaving tomorrow at 7:00am. We're picking Eli up on Monday, and we're very excited!!!

Please keep us all in your prayers.

Friday, April 4, 2008

home, for a few days anyway

We made it home safely. Yesterday was a long day. It was so hard to leave without Eli, and I probably cried for half the flight. Now that we are home, and I have actually had some sleep, I am feeling better. I have a lot to do this week, but I feel good about that, because everything I have to do is about bringing him home! Only 9 more days until we are holding him again!

Please continue to keep Eli in your prayers.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

moscow - trip 2 - day 6

In about an hour, we'll leave here and head for the airport. I am tired and also upset. I have been dreading this day for a while. I knew it would be hard to leave Moscow a 2nd time without Eli, and it is very difficult. Even though we will have him with us in 10 days, it just feels terrible to leave without him right now.

Please pray that God will be with him and comfort him until we pick him up on April 14.

Next post will be from home!

moscow - trip 2 - day 5

We got up at 6:00am, and I was feeling very tired and anxious. We got dressed, both in black suits, said a prayer before we left, and then met Katia and Anton at 9:00am. Traffic was very heavy today. It took us 1 hour 10 minutes to get to the courthouse. The diesel fumes were very heavy. My eyes were burning, and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Some of that was anxiety though, I’m sure.

We arrived at the courthouse, and then waited an hour. We entered the courtroom, and there were 2 tables, one on each side with 3 chairs each. On one side sat Katia, R., and me. At the table facing us were the secretary, the prosecutor, and Galina, the social worker from Kolomna. There was a lecturn in the middle of the room, directly in front of the judge.

The judge asked us our dates of birth, occupations, and education. She asked R’s salary. Then Galina spoke about Eli and his medical history. Then we were asked to state our petition to the court. R went first. He stood up and went to the lectern. He said we decided to adopt from Russia after meeting other families who had adopted from Russia, and seeing how beautiful and healthy their children were. He said that Eli was born on our wedding anniversary and that Eli entered the baby home in Kolomna on his birthday. He said the first day that we met him, and he saw me holding Eli, he knew that more than anything, he wanted to be Eli’s father. (You could hear the emotion in his voice when he said it, and I had to choke back tears.) Then he said we were respectfully asking for the honor of being his parents.

He had to remain standing there while the judge asked him how large our house was, and if it was a private residence. Then he was allowed to return to his seat at the table. Then it was my turn. I was a little surprised, because I had thought only one of us would have to give a brief speech. So I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to say, but I spoke from my heart, and God gave me the words. I said “ Your honor, we already love him very much, and we very much want to be his parents, to be a family.” Then the judge asked me if I had any doubts, and I said “No, none at all.” Then she asked me if he recognized us, and I told her that he smiled at me when he saw me. Then finally I was allowed to go back to the table and sit down.

(**For all of you who are waiting on court dates or waiting to travel, one thing you could do to pass the time is to work on your brief speech! It's not something you want to do unprepared! R and I had discussed it ahead of time, so we had an idea of what we wanted to say. It needs to be about your feelings for your child, that you think he is special, that you have already bonded to him, that you want to be his parents, things like that.)

After I sat down, Galina spoke, and then the prosecutor was asked if she had any questions, and she said no. She gave a brief statement recommending that the adoption be approved.

The judge went out for just a few minutes, then she returned and granted our request to become Eli’s parents. We were so relieved and thankful to God that our prayers had been answered. She did not look at us or smile as she read her decision or when she said congratulations.

We are happy that court is over, but we will not feel total happiness though until Eli is with us. As long as we are apart, our family is not complete, and we miss him very much. After being with us for the last 2 afternoons, we wondered how he was feeling today after lunch when we didn’t come. Only 11 more days, and then we won’t have to be apart anymore.

After we left the courthouse, we had to go to the notary to sign a power of attorney. This will allow Katia to handle some paperwork for us during the 10 day waiting period while we are in the US. After driving for a little over an hour, we arrived at the notary, and it only took about 30 minutes.

After we left the notary, it was early afternoon, so Katia suggested some sightseeing. First, we went to the highest point of Moscow. There was an overlook, with a fabulous view of the entire city. It was amazing, and I’m glad we had the chance to see it. There is a ski jump there, which was unbelievably high.



Then we drove to the New Virgin Monastery. It was built in the 15th century, so it is very old. Peter the Great’s sister, Sofia, was imprisoned there. It is still a functional monastery, and nuns still live there. There is a large park there with a playground. It is not far at all from the Smolenskaya district where we will be staying on the next trip too. Katia said we can bring Eli to the playground if the weather is nice, and that could be fun. There was a large pond beside it, which is what was left of the original moat. Even though it was warm enough to walk around without a jacket, the pond was still frozen over except for the edges. We watched the mallard ducks walk around on it! We walked all the way around the pond, and it was nice to get some fresh air.



We returned to the apartment. I posted a quick blog entry, and received some wonderful supportive comments. (Thanks, everyone!!!) Around 5:00pm, we got an email from Lisa, and she and Joseph were up from a nap and ready for some company. We knew her building was close to ours, and we had a map, but the streets and alleyways in Moscow are so confusing. We got a little lost, and ended up going the long way around, but we found them! I was glad they were waiting for us outside, so we knew for sure we had the right building.

We had not seen Joseph since he left the orphanage in Kolomna, and after only 3 days with Lisa, the change was obvious. He smiled and laughed. He crawled. And even his loud crying was a good sign, because he had been so quiet, too quiet, when we last saw him in the music room in Kolomna. He looked like he is adjusting well, and we were happy to see that. I wish I had remembered to take my camera, so I could have gotten some pictures. He is so cute!

Soon I will pack everything, and we leave for the airport tomorrow morning at 8:30am. I’m very ready to go home so the time can pass and we can return! I miss holding Eli so much. Only 11 more days.

God has blessed us so much, and we are so grateful.

court

Today at noon, the judge granted our request to become Eli's parents! Praise God!!!
He was definitely with us in the courtroom, and gave us the right words to say. Our hearing went smoothly, but it was one of the most intense experiences of my life. We are very happy and relieved, and we're now extremely ready to have him with us. Only 11 more days.

Thanks to everyone for all their prayers and wonderful support. We are so grateful for this blessing.

(I'll post more details soon.)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

moscow - trip 2 - day 4

Today was a day of very mixed emotions. We started our day with a prayer before we left the apartment, and then Katia and Anton picked us up at 10:00am, and we headed out for our last visit to Kolomna. Traffic was better, but it still took us almost 2 hours to get there. I was feeling very tired in the car. A combination of jet lag and emotions, I think, knowing this was our last visit with him.

When we arrived at the orphanage, we discovered we were allowed to take Eli outside. His caregiver brought him out in the stroller, and he was dressed very warmly. We took him out, and pushed him around the playground. It was very sunny outside, and even though it was chilly (about 45 degrees), it was good for him to be outside in the sunshine and fresh air. After a few minutes, I took him out of the stroller, and just walked around carrying him. Of course, he liked that much better! I sat on the swing with him, and we swung gently for a few minutes. He seemed to like that too. After 30 minutes, we took him back inside, because we didn’t want him to get cold.

After we came back in, we went upstairs to find Katia, so she could have the music room opened for us. We were standing in the hallway, talking to the doctor and Katia, and his caregiver came to take off his outer layers. For the 1st time, he turned away and resisted her. This was new behavior. We feel he’s very bonded to us already, which is good and bad at the same time. We feel he will attach easily once we have him with us, but for the next 12 days, he will not understand why we are not there. It is very difficult.

We went downstairs to the music room, and played with him for almost 2 hours. He was very quiet at first, but he warmed up. He made some baby sounds, and even said ma-ma-ma! He loved that lamb rattle/teether that my sister got for him. He liked to shake it and listen to the noise. He crawled a little, but he was tired after going outside. So much stimulation. He was sitting on the floor next to me, and he started rocking again, this time more forcefully than he did yesterday. I picked him up immediately, and he sat in my lap or R’s for the rest of the visit. That was fine with me, because I love holding him. He put his hand up and explored my face, touching my mouth and teeth. He was making good eye contact again too. Toward the end of our visit, R was holding him, and he fell asleep. His thumb was in his mouth at first, but then it fell out as he fell more deeply asleep. He was completely out again! I hope he falls asleep this easily once he’s home! Instead of the caregiver coming downstairs to get him, we were allowed to carry him upstairs. We gave him to the caregiver right outside his baby room, so we didn’t see where he has been sleeping. We left a small journal behind, for the caregivers to write notes for him if they wish.

He was wearing a Carter’s onesie and pair of pants that my mom bought and that we left on the 1st trip. Those were a 12 month size, so the clothes that we have should fit him perfectly. I was so glad to see that they were using the things we brought.

It was very hard to leave him this time. These last 2 days have gone so well, and we feel so attached to him. It felt good to know that was our last visit, and that in 12 days, he’ll be with us forever, but we miss him so much already. This process is definitely a marathon and not a sprint!

We found out today that we will need gifts for 10 caregivers. We had already bought for 7, so I’ll buy the items for the other 3 gifts as soon as we get home. I think our week at home is going to fly by, because we’ll be so busy. That will be a blessing.

On the way home, we stopped at a grocery store that was about 1/3 the size of the convenience stores we have at home. We got more water (a 5 liter bottle of Bon Aqua), which we like much better than the brand we bought on Sunday, frozen broccoli (yum!), eggs, and orange juice. It was 213 rubles, which is about $10. Not bad. I enjoyed the broccoli for dinner. I had really been craving a vegetable.

We have court tomorrow morning at 10:30am (2:30 am US time). Please pray that everything goes smoothly. Also please pray for Eli. I know he will be confused when we are not there tomorrow. Please pray that the Lord takes care of him and holds him close until we return.