Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I'm Loving It!!!

I'm Lovin' It!!! We have never been so happy to see that logo. After three weeks of eating the same food at the breakfast buffet in Perm, and my regular yougurt and granola, we found a McDonals in Moscow and enjoyed it like never before. And so did Alex of course...he had a small taste of fries, chicken nuggets and milk shake.

Monday morning we were picked up bright and early to go get Alex's medical results from the previous Friday. He got a clean bill of health but the nice Russian Doctor Boris decided he would probably never be a football player...he is just a little guy but who knows...his feet are huge so maybe he'll have to settle for soccer.

We did some sightseeing after that and got to visit Red Square, St. Basil's Cathedral, The Kremlin, Lenin's Toomb and a few other Russian landmarks. Pretty spectacular place!!! The traffic here is really scary...if there are four lanes, people make them into eight; there are cars going in three or four different directions and the traffic jams are nuts. The day I arrived here from Perm, it took four hours to get from the airport to the hotel when it should have been 1.5 hours.

The embassy interview was a piece of cake - as soon as you show the American passport, you bypass the line of about 500 people in a line outside the building. We had an interview that lasted about five minutes and we were done. Alex will become a US Citizen as soon as we arrived in Chicago Wednesday night. He is already looking very patriotic with his red, white and blue outfit and holding a little American Flag upon entering the embassy.

He is doing wonderful, he is happy and bonding a lot with both of us. He is a great eater and the best sleeper. The last couple of nights he slept for twelve hours straight in addition to a one hour nap in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. We have taken a few walks around the area and he is well behave in the stroller and the restaurants. So long as I have a few cheerios, some gold fish and his juice handy he is a very happy boy.

We are very excited to be leaving tomorrow and can't wait to get Alex home and settled in his permanent environment. The doctors have suggested that he stays home with Chris and me only for a while and not to overwhelm him with a lot of visitors or activities. That will be hard to do but we will do what's best for him. Even though he is adapting quite well, overwhelming him could cause issues later on so for now we will be in a cocoon for a little while. Then, it will be party time!!!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Chris is back in Russia

Chris arrived safe and right on time. It is so nice to have him back here!!! I kept telling Alex that Papa was going to be with us soon and I kept showing him his picture. As soon as Chris knocked on the door I said "That's daddy" and he frozed but it only took a couple of minutes for him to be all smiles. The three of us are doing great and glad that Sunday is almost over.

Tomorrow morning we are doing some sight-seing then is off to our US Embassy appointment at 1:00 PM. This will be such special day for us...Alex becoming a legalized citizen of the United States...Woo - Hoo!!!! And he will be dressed for the ocassion too...Red, White and Blue!

The Zoo...

Okay, so maybe he/she was happy, but by the sound of the roaring it didn't appear to me he was having too much fun. I would wake up in the middle of the night for whatever reason and could hear him/her and I wished I could cross the street and open the cage. Nonsense, of course! I had planned to visit the Perm zoo after I had Alex with me but changed my mind after hearing that it wasn't really the thing to do...especially for an animal lover like me. Enough said I guess since this is way off the Alex subject :^)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What a Zoo!

I have a zoo across the street. When I get to Moscow and have some time I will write about the lion across the street that won't let me sleep.

Alex is here!

I no longer have any time but I have Alex, I got his adoption certificate, I got his birth certificate and I got his passport. Now all I need is to get out of Russia and get home so I can start life with Alex and share the playtime with Chris so I can shower at a decent time. It has been pretty hard these past few days but very worthwhile. Alex is precious, very sweet, and already getting attached to me. He is a typical little toddler (I don’t know why I keep calling him baby Alex…) who wants to grab everything, open it, taste it, you name it! Thank God I haven't had any mishaps but that is only because I don’t take my eyes off him. I'm too afraid to do so.

I went to the orphanage on Monday and spent my usual two hours there. I brought Anastasia the clothes I wanted Alex to wear on Tuesday and from her I got another schedule for naps, snacks, medicine I should give him etc. All in Russian and of course I can’t make sense of any part of it! What an alphabet...The P looks like our R, our X with an extra line has an A sound, and to make it even more confusing, they using a bunch of numbers as letters. I was told today their alphabet has 42 letters. Yeepers! I bet they don't have the A, B,Cs song here...

Monday Roma also had a successful trip to Kudymkar. He left Perm very early, got there at 8:30 and got back to Perm in time to pick me up to go file for Alex’s new birth certificate, which we got on the spot. Doing that saved us a couple of hours on Tuesday morning. Roma picked me up at the usual time on Tuesday and we went to the passport office. We were both trying to figure out what sad story they haven’t heard yet so we would use to convince them that we needed to have a passport on Thursday but after all that, we didn’t have to. The passport official just asked us to come back at 10:00 the next day. I asked Roma to asked her if that was for sure because they only issue them on M-W and Fridays and I didn’t go buy a ticket to Moscow then have the pick-up time be a mistake. Roma told me he wasn’t translating that, and instead he just told the woman that we would see her tomorrow, meaning Tuesday and we got out of there really fast.

We called the orphanage to let them know we were on our way but were told that since we didn’t make it by the noon hour they told us we would now have to wait until 3:30 to go get Alex as the Director had to leave and would not be back till then. Being that we had over two hours to kill, we decided to grab a bite to eat then head out to get the Moscow tickets. The travel agency was just a small desk at the lobby of a near-by hotel; she was not in a big hurry and did our tickets in between several phone call – Regardless of the Russian, I could tell they were not customers but we couldn’t say anything, not that I could, but we didn’t complaint for fear it would take longer. We had to call the orphanage and let them know that we would not be there until 4:00. That is precisely when the bad traffic starts here so I was growing very concern about getting Alex on Tuesday, and I guess it was evident to Roma that I was getting a bit ticked-off. We did get there at 4:15 and of course had a big commotion with all the caretakers. The shift that is done at 4:00 waited because they wanted to see him off.

They dressed him up and Anastasia told me to give her a few minutes alone with him and also allow her to take him downstairs so he could say good-bye to his little friends. I was in tears the whole time. Happy to get Alex out of there and tears of sadness for the woman who do get attached to some of the kids then have to see them off. I don’t know how they can do this job. May God continue to bless them and give them all the patience and strength this job demands. The worst thing for me was to see quite a few people out of the different windows, particularly the window with three little tiny kids, including the little boy who was outside once and recognized us as Alex’s parents. I can’t stand the thought of what this little three-year old was thinking or feeling as he waved good-bye to his little friend and crib buddy. Alex did not cry but I also was trying to keep him from looking at the windows or the orphanage. I tried to stay focused on Alex on the ride back, but it was quiet for Roma, Alex and me.

As soon as we got to my very small room at the hotel, Alex took over. I had some of the toys that I had been taking to the orphanage during the past ten days laying around my room just to have familiar things around for him. It was like he had been here for a week and I made sure he was having fun. It is such a wonderful feeling to having with me now and knowing we are getting closer to going home.

Bedtime was a whole different story – I could tell he was missing his previous surroundings. It was too much to give him a bath on the first night here, especially after he had just had one earlier in the day. I changed him into fancy pj’s he got from grandma Kaminski and I played the lullaby CD I got from my friend Julie at work. What a God-sent and thoughtful present that was! He was rocking himself and stopped right when I started the CD. A few hours later he woke up screaming at the top of his lungs, just as I was dosing-off and I think I levitated from the bed.
Oh my Heck…can this kid scream?

Today was a whole different story. We got up early, went to breakfast and he had a feast! We played at the playground, I changed several diapers, Alex took a three hour nap next to me which means I watched him for three hours straight. He just so precious! Tonight, as well as last nice, he was pretty active until the phone rang, then he lays down and starts dozing off. I wondered if they had some sort of a ring at the baby house that they rang when it was time to go to sleep. I have asked Chris to call me at the same time tomorrow, it works! He is sleeping now so I get to take care of my stuff and pack.

The last part of this journey starts tomorrow!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Two Days Away!

I have a crib in my room! I just need the baby now. It is 10:40 PM on Sunday, and I just woke up from a two hour nap. Last night I went back to S36 and had a nice dinner, but today I haven’t left my room other than going to the buffet this morning to have some breakfast. It was loud in there today. The Russian soccer team is in town and they were all there this morning, sitting in a table right next to mine. Their food plates were gigantic and they each got up for more at least two or three times. I think some of them may be also staying on this floor. It was extremely loud during the night and I kept hearing people walking pass my room late and talking really loud late into the night.

Getting a crib was a bit of a fiasco. The girl at the reception desk who speaks English was alone at the front desk and couldn’t come up to the floor to translate so I managed to communicate with the floor housekeeper myself, and asked her show me the crib. She showed me a small play-pen that would hardly stay open and only had a very thing pad for a mattress; something that would probably be outlawed in the US and a hotel there would never offer for fear of the liability. I told her to forget it and I went down to the second floor to look for the crib Meghan used. I remember her telling me that she thought it was pretty good. The very few Russian words I have learned didn’t help me any with her. All I understood her say was that she was from Hungary. I finally said Bambino and right then she knew exactly what I was talking about…must be a global word - I thought it was just Italian. In any case, she got it and a few minutes later she brought to my room a really nice and colorful crib along with a nice thick pad, baby sheets, and a baby blanket. I put it together and set it up right next to my bed. I doubt I will sleep the first night little Alex is here. Instead I will be keeping guard all night and watching him every second to make sure he is fine. New Mom you know…

Saturday, April 19, 2008

3 Days and then is GOTCHA DAY!

Saturday is almost over for me, then Sunday, Monday and then is Gotcha Day! I can’t wait. It has been hard these past couple of days, especially today since I didn’t go see little Alex. I tried to stay busy all morning packing some things I know I won’t be using the rest of the time I am here, returning emails and organizing Alex’s stuff. Gee…I even did laundry today! I have a homemade clothes’ line I put together myself and I used the bathroom sink to hand-wash a few sweaters to wear again in Moscow. It is getting warm here but it looks like the temperature in Moscow is still in the low 50’s and a lot cooler than that at night. Next Tuesday when Alex leaves the orphanage, it will be a sunny and warm 71 degrees.

Right after breakfast today I talked to a couple from St Louis who had court here a couple of weeks ago. They went home for the ten-day waiting period and just got back here last Wednesday. Nice people who just adopted two very adorable little boys. They and Megan leave for Moscow tonight and have embassy appointments next Monday. Boy! Do I wish I was leaving with them??? I am so happy for them and for the three kids they are taking home.

This afternoon I am going back to Banana Mama – the Babies R Us of Perm – to shop for some baby food and formula. After that I am going to stop at a Museum just a couple of blocks from the hotel, then I think I will be checking out an acrobatics show I read about in the English Perm paper. I am not doing anything tomorrow outside the hotel, and Monday I will be going back to see my boy.


Friday, April 18, 2008

Four Days...And T G I F!!!!

Thank Goodness is Friday!!! I am getting a little anxious and ready to get back home. Perm is nice and the place where I am staying is great but it is getting to be a bit much. I can’t put into words how much I am looking forward to Gotcha Day and flying to Moscow with Alex to meet Chris.

The plan is still the same; Roma told me today that he will be leaving to Kudymkar really early on Monday morning, probably 7:00 AM. That means he will be able to get to the courthouse before lunch and get back to Perm around 4:00. Perhaps a bit too late to take the court decision to the passport office so the plan is to deliver that paperwork first thing Tuesday morning and right after we get his birth certificate from the department of Vital Statistics.

After that is off to the baby house to get my precious little boy. Yahoooo!!! Anastasia told me that the reason Alex didn’t want to eat again today is because he senses he is leaving the orphanage. I personally don’t think he has a clue. I did tell her today that it probably wasn’t a good idea to give him two full cups of juice just before lunch – he drinks that stuff like is going out of style so when we try to feed him the lunch, he is too full to want to eat much.

I feel a lot better today but Alex is about the same as he was yesterday. He did play more today, we walked the hallways, he didn’t cry out for Anastasia when she came to check on us, and today he was infatuated with my necklace and hair. He is so curious and wants to grab everything in sight. I can already tell that I will be able to do absolutely nothing other than to watch him when I get home…and I can’t wait!

Today he got a hold of Roma’s cell phone, he put it to his ear and made a noise like he was saying hello in Russian. At first I thought it was just in my head but when he did it a second time Roma thought that perhaps he has watched the caretakers do it so he is just imitating them. Very possible I guess. I saw two of them today on their cells when Alex and I were strolling down the hallways of the baby house.

I still don’t know about this weekend and Roma won’t be here to take me to the orphanage on Monday. I offered to call a taxi from the hotel but he recommended against it. Today he will try to contact someone he knows to see if they can take me there and pick me up a couple of hours later. On Monday, I will deliver the clothes he will wear on Tuesday when I pick him up. I am sure Anastasia will have him looking really handsome on his last day at the baby house.

I know Anastasia is happy to see him become part of a family and have a much better life and future, but I could tell today that she is already very sad knowing he is leaving in just a few days. I can tell they are very attached to each other and I feel very sad for her. It also breaks my heart to think that Alex will be confused and will wonder about her for the next few days. I am sure it will be a day filled with a lot of emotions for everyone. I have a picture of her and Alex that I took just a few days ago and I plan to frame it and give it to her to keep as a memory. Baby Alex will soon forget all about this place but for me, I will NEVER forget the place that gave us our son, or Anastasia the wonderful woman who loved him and cared for him the first fifteen months of his life.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Still Thursday...

It is almost 5:00 PM in Perm. Today was not such a good day for Alex or me. I went to breakfast and shortly thereafter I started to feel sick and nauseous. I ‘m not sure why because I ate the exact same breakfast I have been eating since I got here: Cheese and boiled potatoes in sauce and two cups of coffee. We got to the orphanage around 11:00 and Anastasia had Alex all ready for us in the big music room and told us that he too was getting a cold and had had a bad night.

It was easy to tell that our little boy was not feeling well at all, but fortunately he did not have a temperature. The resident Doctor seems to think that he could also be feeling a bit nervous due to all the attention he has been getting lately. Something I am sure he is not used to at the baby house. I am not stopping of course, but I am also being very careful not to overwhelm him.

Next on my list of icky things: today was fish-day at the orphanage. They brought the usual soup with carrots, potatoes and bread, and some sort of fish concoction that he didn’t like. It also didn’t help my nausea. As soon as the tray shows up, he goes right for the cup of juice and doesn’t stop until it is all finished; although today I took the cup away from him when it was half full and refilled it with the water and juice that I bring every day as contraband. Getting him to eat was impossible. I assumed it was a combination of the yucky fish and being sick. He had a toy in one hand and his cup on the other and kept hitting the table pretty hard which I took as ‘I don’t care what you say or do; I am not eating this chow’!

We called for Anastasia to see if we could get something other than fish, but this is no restaurant and she was busy so I kept on trying. She showed up just a few minutes later and pretty much just shove-down a few tablespoons of the soup and bread while talking to him really fast, but she too gave up on feeding him the fish. Every time she tried, he would close his lips really tight…it was actually cute and funny. Whatever she was saying to him in Russian included the words Mama and Arizona and he just starred at her. I want to bring her to the US with me. He sure listened to her!

I had planned to meet Meghan (the lady from Seattle) and her son at the pool at 1:00 PM but I didn’t make it back until closer to two. I went down anyway and hang with them until a little bit ago. I didn’t want to miss the chance at the pool, sauna and steam-room. Weirdly enough, it is by reservation only plus you have to pay to use it. The nice thing about it is that during your reserved time, no one else is allowed in there so we shared the expense and had the entire Wellness Center to ourselves for almost two hours.

My last mishap of the day? I accidentally broke a big bottle of Pepsi in the bathroom as I was trying to throw it in the garbage can. I called housekeeping and they did a good job cleaning it up and making sure there wasn’t any glass left but now I am paranoid, especially since little baby Alex is going to take over this place in five days.

I have been taking medicine all day and still don’t feel very good. I will be skipping dinner tonight, keep on drinking a lot of mineral water, continue to take more medicine and will pray that I feel better in the morning. I am looking forward to a nice and long visit with Alex tomorrow and hopefully he too will be feeling a lot better. I don’t think I will see him Saturday or Sunday, although Roma told me today we were going to try but I am not sure what he meant. Who knows, maybe we are sneaking-in the back door…

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Five Days Now

It is Thursday at 8:15 AM. This thirteen-hour difference from Phoenix is confusing but trust me, in five days Alex moves from the baby house to my arms!

The internet was down all day yesterday so I was not able to write on the blog or returned any emails. Alex and I had another great day; I think they are preparing him for AZ...he was in shorts and a T-shirt during most of our visit. I really love this little guy and he knows it! Yesterday he was doing all the entertaining and showing off to Mama big time. Anastasia told me they have started to call him Alex and he has been responding. I call him Alex at the same time I pronounce his Russian name--hopefully he will make the connection.

The Opera House was incredible. The celings were all hand painted by some Italian artist and the decor is all in white and gold. Pretty amazing place. The play was the Silfida Ballet from Sweeden and it was also wonderful. After the show Marina and I met Roma at Coffe City for a late snack and coffee, then I came home and went to the business center since the Internet was down and I was not able to use my laptop. Overall, it was another good day in good 'ole Perm, Russia.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

7 Days to Getting Alex

Today when I went to see Alex Anastasia, my favorite caretaker, was there and she and the doctor gave me Alex’s daily meal menu and nap schedule. I am thinking this is what HE SHOULD be eating, but no necessarly what he eats right now, otherwise he would probably be a few sizes bigger. I did find out yesterday that he is still on formula and not having any milk yet. I also got a long list with all his immunizations.

He has been doing great; today he was VERY active and enjoyed digging through the backpack I bring with me every day. He has figured out that’s where I keep some toys (…and Goldfish, cookies and juice. Shhh). Today we played with stickers. I wanted to see if he would be able to peel-off the stickers and put them in a blank piece of paper, which he did and had fun doing. He also took out his sunglasses from my bag and put them on, and then took my sunglasses and put them on me. We took a long walk up and down the orphanage hallways, both of us wearing shades. It was quite the sight!

In the afternoon I ran into the single woman from Seattle, who has been staying here a week longer than me waiting for her new baby. She and her adopted son, also from Russia, were bowling so I joined then for a little while. She is really nice and her fourteen year old boy is a lot of fun! Later in the afternoon the three of us went to the mall and visited the Russian version of Babies R Us; we had dinner at Southern Fried Chicken, which is just like KFC, then walked to another mall, and them home.

Tomorrow night Marina, Roma’s girlfriend, and I are going to the Opera House. The show is a Turkish play with a title I can’t pronounce. I am more excited and interested to see the inside of the three-hundred year-old Opera House than I am on the actual play. They just had Romeo and Juliet and La Traviata here a couple of weeks ago; that would have been great to see but we have to settle for the Turkish romantic opera; I am sure it will be great!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Big Day

Two BIG events today: Alex got to be out of the baby house on a bright sunny day in Perm and HE WALKED without any help! On the ride to the picture’s store he was checking out everything that moved and getting his new pair of shades on and off. The ride to the picture’s store only took about 10 minutes, but getting this curious boy to pose for the pictures was not as quick. He kept giggling and pointing at his own face in the computer screen and the photographer was not too thrilled. She was finally able to get him to hold still and took some really good pictures for his passport and US visa. I told Roma to take the longest route back so Alex could be out of the orphanage a little longer. We were only gone for about an hour.

The room we use every day to visit with Alex was busy with a new couple from the US that just arrived in Perm yesterday. The resident Doctor told us we had to use the large music/play room which is about five times bigger than the visiting room. Alex loved it and so did I. I could tell he is really familiar with this room; I walked to the far end of the room to grab some toys and Alex just got up and started walking towards me. Up to know he has been walking around holding hands or hanging on to people but today he was all over that room showing off to Mama. I wished so much that Chris was here to see him. Roma did get a great video that I will be showing to him.

We had a great time playing with the toys, the piano, and going in-and-out the play-house. Blowing and catching bubbles was definitely the most fun for him today. He would giggle really loud as he was trying to catch the bubbles. I fed him a bowl of chicken noodle soup for lunch and some gold fish crackers and baby apple juice that I brought in as contraband. We had a terrific day and today he even cried when the caretaker picked him up to take him away to nap.
On the way out Roma and I ran into the resident Doctor again who told us they had installed the DVD player and the kids were having Movie Day this afternoon.

This evening I will be talking with a couple who are missionaries from the US living here in Perm, and whom I met online a few months ago. They have a Kids Club for the orphanages that house older kids. Today I am going to talk to them about bringing the show to Baby House Number 6.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Alex Riding Around Perm

Today Alex is going for a ride around Perm. Roma and I will be picking him up at 10:00 to go get his passport pictures taken. I am so excited to take him out for a car ride. He will be all bundled up and there will be no stops at the park, which I really wanted to do. The temperature dropped from 69F to a very cold 19F in just one day. Chris sure planed this trip right! He is back in AZ where the temperature will be close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

On a different note, it has been three days since our court date and I get to pick Alex from the orphanage first thing next Tuesday, so I am starting the countdown! We will have to wait until the following day to file for his passport since that office is only open M-W and Fridays. We should have the passport back on Friday. Alex and I will fly out to Moscow on Sunday where we will be meeting with Chris. Our meeting at the US embassy will be Monday or Tuesday; we will have a bit of time to check out Red Square and all the other tourist spots in Moscow.

8 days to picking Alex from the orphanage. Yeah!!!

Friday, April 11, 2008

More pics

Enjoying some sun...

Getting closer with Papa!

First Day as Mom and Dad

Boy, Oh Boy…we need a van! We don’t even have Alex with us yet and we are already hauling so much stuff. We were up early and were happy to get and read so many encouraging and supportive emails from home. Our visit to the baby house yesterday was our best one yet. To start things off we had to stop at a separate building to get our pass for the baby house that allows us to get by the grouchy guard. There were a few different couples also visiting that day, plus two from our hotel and us. We counted that a total of at least seven kids will be leaving this baby house in the next couple of weeks to become part of loving families! We arrived at the soon-to-be former casa de Alex around 11:00 and visited for about 3 hours. The work is still going on so it was loud all over the place but I thought it was great because it made it feel pretty lively. They brought Alex to us in no time at all. He looked rested and was happy to see us. We have been visiting with him in the same room every day so he is now pretty used to the toys in there and knows what to grab where.
A few minutes later my favorite caretaker came in with a tray full of warm food…a hamburger patty, rice and chicken noodle soup with lots of bread in it. We put him in the high chair and let him have a music toy he likes and started to feed him. I was told by the doctor back in Phoenix that he should have more protein that carbs right now so I made sure he ate all the meat and the chicken in the soup, but I also fed him quite a bit of the rice plus all the carrots from his soup. Today for the first time he ate most of his food and that was so great to see. A caretaker had told us a day or so ago that he wasn’t a good eater but I highly doubt they are able to sit with the kids for an hour to make sure they eat everything. They just don’t have the time.

After dinner we played for a couple of hours or so, and then it was time for a nap again. Darn! I didn’t have to ask for an additional ten minutes this time. Anastasia came by and told us we had ten more minutes before she came to pick him up, so my trick of asking for those additional ten minutes with him no longer works. Time with Alex at the baby house flies, and we can’t wait to take him home and spend more quality time with him. Yesterday he was all about Chris; he was sitting on his lap touching and feeling his face a lot. He was also imitating everything that Chris did, including putting one of the toys on top of his head; it was so cute! The difference is so obvious already and everyone at the orphanage, including the resident doctor who comes by during every one of our visits, mentioned the difference in Alex’s attitude and demeanor.

Although we want to take him home right now, this ten day waiting period will actually be a blessing. Bonding with him while the only people he has ever known are around, is going to be a lot easier on him than if we had shown-up the day after court and had taken him from the only people he knows and loves. Plus, now I get to introduce him to a few new meals while he is still eating his regular meals from the baby house.

After the baby house we went to the Central Market and bought baby Alex a pair of Russian leather boots to wear when he leaves the orphanage. We stopped at a sports stand to look for a hockey jersey and the first thing we saw was a Phoenix Sun’s Steve Nash jersey number 13. Good thing we are not superstitious! Roma drove us around Perm and stopped at a couple of malls. We bought a DVD player and some children’s CDs for the baby house then later in the evening we went out to S36 for dinner. The place was packed and the food was great. We even got to meet two players from the US who play here for the Perm Region basketball team. It was a great day and we were so thankful to God for all the blessings we have received on this trip.

We will miss Alex today and tomorrow. The baby house is closed to visitors Saturdays and Sundays. Chris and I will take it easy today; he leaves for Phoenix tomorrow at 4:00 AM which means Roma and I will be dropping him off at the airport at 2:00 in the morning. Yikes!
I hate to see him leave now that baby Alex was getting closer to him plus I won’t feel as safe here alone. I will continue to visit Alex every day and Roma already told me that his girlfriend Marina will have a couple of days off next week and is already planning to spend some time here at the hotel and running around with Roma and me. Perm is a great city and the weather now is really nice. This whole week they have had record temperatures and we love it! Yesterday it was a whooping 66 degrees! I just looked outside and it looks like another warm sunny day to be out and about.

Alexander William Kaminski

Thursday, April 10, 2008


After two journeys far into Russia and miles of paperwork we are now the proud and joyful parents of Alexander William Kaminski. We can't wait to go to the baby house and tell baby Alex that he is coming home with us!!!

We left early yesterday morning and drove four hours to the town of Kudymkar. Court was scheduled for 2:00 PM and we were to arrive at 1:00. At the hearing it was only the Judge, a Prosecutor, a Court Reporter, a Social Worker for the Perm Region, our translator and us. The Judge openned the court session by re-stating our petition then asked us to introduce ourselves. After the short introductions we were asked to give our statements to the court so we each got up, talked about Alex, our experience during our visits to the orphanage on both trips, our desire to bring him home and our motivation for adopting a child from Russia.

Chris had to give a full speech on our jobs, finances, the layout and safety of our house, our kids and how they were doing in school and their feelings on the adoption. There were several questions to both of us from both the judge and the prosecutor regarding our beliefs in disciplining children and she made one last statement about Russian children being abused and sometimes even killed in the United States.

As soon as she brought this up my heart started going a hundred miles an hour. There was a case in Utah of a couple who killed their Russian adopted down-syndrome child just a couple of weeks ago, and the news of it is still fresh in their minds here. I have heard that if/when something like this were to happen, following adoptions are often delayed and even cancelled so we were really nervous. Chris did most of the talking and was asked for closing statements or additional requests. The Judge asked me if I had something to add so I got up to the podium and talked about Alex and our feelings for him, summarized our visits, his medical needs, and I also acknowledge the awful news from Utah, which by the way, I only found out about two days before court. The Prosecutor and the Social Worker gave their closing statements, which supported our adoption, then the judge called for a fifteen minute break.

She came back and read a long page that summarized everything that had been petitioned, then told us we were now the legal parents of baby Alex. This was a very emotional moment for both of us and all I wanted to do was jump up and down but I had to keep my composure until she left the room. The Judge lady, the social worker and the prosecutor were all really nice, and we felt so lucky and thankful for our coordinator/translator who did a remarkable job and ensured we had a smooth process.

We can't wait to go visit our son today and tell him he has a Papa, a Mama, a brother and a sister, grandmas and grandpas, aunts, uncles and a bunch of cousins who can't wait to meet him!

Life Is Terrific!!!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Wednesday's Visit

We had a great visit with Alex today. We got to the orphanage at 11:00 and stayed until 1:00. They had him dressed very cute and he seemed pretty relaxed and happy to have us there. After a couple of hours playing and one-on-one attention that he is probably not used to, he started to rub his eyes and we took that as a hint that it was nap time and we had to go. The caretaker took him upstairs and stood by the window with him for a few minutes. He was really jumpy, smiling and waving Pacah, the Russian word for Bye-Bye, several times. We loved seeing him happy and enjoying the time we spent together.

On the way into the orphanage this morning, there were some small kids enjoying some outside time with a few of the caretakers. A little three years old pointed at us and said out loud, ‘there come Alex’s parents again’. It was so cute but sad at the same time. We were later told he is an orphan with a major medical issue and would probably never be adopted. It is heartbreaking to think about him not having a family of his own and we will be praying that perhaps someone out there does find it in their hearts to bring this beautiful little one into their family.

Tomorrow we will miss going to the orphanage to see baby Alex. However, tomorrow is a very BIG DAY for us. Court is scheduled to begin at 2:00 PM and we are supposed to arrive at the courthouse at 1:00. The town of Kumdikar, where the court is located, is four hours away which means this will be a whole-day event. We met with Roma this afternoon and prepared our court statements, reviewed all the documentation and read our entire home-study several times. I am very nervous about being in front of a Russian judge but I’ve heard that although they seemed pretty tough, they understand what we are trying to do and all we have done to get to this point. We also know they are doing their best to ensure the integrity of the process and their main focus is what’s in the best interest of the children. That is something we definitely admire and appreciate, and one of the reasons we decided to come to Russia to adopt our son.

Thank you for all the support, prayers and good wishes!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Emotional visit yesterday

The visit to the orphanage yesterday was filled with a lot of emotion. We are trying to keep a consistent schedule with our visits to Alex so we have been getting to the baby house around 10:00 every day. Yesterday it looked like he had been sleeping when they brought him over to us. He had a new outfit I had brought over the day before and he was wearing a rather fancy pair of Disney shoes with the word Princess on them. Very cute for a very boyish-looking Russian boy!

We played on the floor for a little while, fed him lunch which consisted of meat, mash potatoes and a big piece of bread all mashed in what looked to be some chicken broth. The food did not look very appealing this time and he only ate about half of it. What he does finish in a matter of seconds is a cup of apple-looking juice at room temperature that they give him every day. I think he is always really thirsty and can’t wait until he gets his share of it at lunch time. Yesterday and Monday I try to give him some fresh bottle water but he spits it right out. I am concerned he doesn’t get that much to drink and when he gets this cup of juice he drinks it all at once because he is so thirsty.

Watching him drink so desperately, watching his un-appealing food and watching his little and pale frame really hit us hard yesterday and I couldn’t help breaking down. Roma had stepped away for a minute at the same time the caretaker came around to check on us while Alex was still eating so I asked her myself, in English and pointing at the zippy-cup, to bring another cup for Alex. She did and again, he drank it in a matter of seconds. I kept asking about why he didn’t drink water or whether he drank milk, but really didn’t get an answer.
So heart breaking and so very sad…

His main caretaker is very caring and baby Alex seems to be quite attached to her. But our dear God, she has to take care of another twelve to fifteen kids at the same time. I can only imagine how at times this would be very frustrating for her. Lord, please continue to bless her and give her the strength she needs. I wish so much I could just sit with her for a few minutes and ask about Alex’s routine, what he eats, how and where she bathes him and so much more, but a few minutes with us is a few minutes she would be taking away from another of the many precious, and some of them ill little boys and girls living at Baby House Number 6.
We will never forget this place and I don’t know that I can go back home and just pray to God and ask Him to protect and look over all these souls. I now feel an attachment and commitment to this place, but I personally don’t know where I go from here and what I will do after I leave this place behind.

They took Alex for his nap after we visited for a little over two hours. I have gotten these words down in Russia pretty good: Ten more minutes, please??? She always says Yes twice, so we get 20 more minutes with him on each visit. Yesterday I wondered if she figured that out because she did try picking him up about 30 minutes earlier than the day before. We can’t wait to bring him home. What a joy that will be!!!

On the bright side, the inside paint job looks like it will be finished soon; the smell of paint was either almost gone or we just got used to it. They have smoothed-out the walls outside with cement and fixed all the cracks. It looks like the outside is also going to be painted. We saw them replacing the old wood windows with nice, double paneled aluminum ones. Pretty soon all the snow will be gone and with the large number of trees there are, I am sure it will be pretty green in another month or two.

Preparing for Court

Time for a nap but I will have lots of updates later on our visit with baby Alex, the Doctor and Roma regarding court on Thursday.

Our Living Quarters at the Amaks

My kitchen for the rest of the month!

I guess there is no use for asking to have the ten-day waiting period waived because it just doesn’t happen in Perm. Chris will be going back to Phoenix on Sunday and I will stay here until the end of the month. So…these are my living quarters for the rest of the month. The hotel is great, nice restaurant, the service is pretty good, and there is a bowling alley, a swimming pool and a sauna that I won’t be using since it costs US$40 for just an hour. I have been using the gym to kill an hour or so in the afternoon and today we are taking a walk to a grocery store down the street so I can eat something else other than granola and raisins. Chris is still enjoying the morning buffet but I know it is going to get old really soon, although, they do have some new food items every day. Today it was tongue and of course he tried it but I just couldn’t. Tomorrow night dinner is at Casa Mia and after court we hope to celebrate with Roma at S36. That restaurant is my favorite one so far.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Today in Perm

It’s Monday night not Sunday; I’m not sure why the blog is one day behind. We spent three wonderful hours with Baby Alex this morning. He is doing great and was all smiles shortly after he was dropped off by the caretakers. I wondered if he remembered us, or if he was too sleepy to worry about the two strangers in the room. I’d would like to think he knew exactly who we were and was probably thinking ‘where the heck were you two for the past ten weeks’!!!
This time the caretaker was not holding him when she came into the play room…he was walking with her help and it was so adorable. He even took a couple of steps by himself! I don’t think he has grown much in the last ten weeks, but he is definitely more aware of his surroundings, wants to grab all the toys around and really enjoyed playing catch with his daddy. We were also able to feed him his lunch which actually looked pretty good. They brought a tray to us with quite a bit of food and juice and he ate most of it. I brought some juice, cheerios and crackers and was told later that was a No-No…, so I won’t be doing that tomorrow, even though he loved them. Last time we were here we asked and they said it was okay; we were not sure why the rules changed but…Oh Well!!!
The caretakers at the orphanage were wonderful to him and to us. One of them kept talking to us in Russian and for some reason she thought we understood everything she was saying, or thought we should. They came to the room to check on Alex about every thirty minutes, and later told Roma that they were really happy to see him with his new family. I can’t ask for enough blessings for these wonderful women at the baby house. They seemed so dedicated, cuddled with him, kissed him and hugged him every time they came around, and you can tell he has a strong attachment to them as well.
The place was also getting some nice upgrades, new paint as well as some work to the floors. We figured this was the reason why we didn’t see any little kids around…the smell of paint and thinner was pretty strong just about everywhere. It was sure great to see the pride they take on the place and the effort they are putting into it to make it a better for all the little ones.
After a great three-hour visit we headed back to the hotel, rested for a while then went on to complete the required medical paperwork. We came back to the room and watch Gone Baby Gone, and at least for me, it was a mistake to do, especially since we are here to take our baby home. Chris crashed right after the movie and I am having a hard time going to sleep so I thought I would write for a while. I am still experiencing some jet-lag and my three hour nap this afternoon didn’t help me any.
Tomorrow we will visit Alex again from 10:30 to 1:30, then meet with the coordinator in the afternoon to start preparing for court on Thursday. We are hoping to go out to dinner in the evening and have some real food instead of the granola and raisins we have lived on since we arrived here. We do get a breakfast buffet in the morning which Chris loves, but I just can’t have meat balls, cabbage and curds that early in the morning. I am sticking to their great coffee and bread, then granola for lunch and dinner. ..Yuk!!!!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Last Monday

Silvia from the agency called shortly after I arrived to work last Monday morning. I knew as soon as she said her name and giggled, that she was calling with good news and that was the case! We had to be in Russia the following Monday (today)!!! I managed to contained myself but it wasn’t easy. I can’t even put into words the happiness and excitement I felt, and all I wanted to do was get off the phone and call Chris. Silvia gave me some of the details, including the court date of April 7th. For us this meant sending our Russian visa applications to New York that same day and getting the one-day expedited service. Fortunately, I had those all ready as well as the pictures that go with the applications because we knew we would probably get a short notice before travelling. Another call came on Tuesday letting us know that the court date was actually set for Thursday April 10th.
Chris was delighted with the news and started working with the travel plans right away. He did an amazing job getting our reservations made and approved by the agency by Tuesday afternoon. Tuesday and Wednesday we both had to work so we packed and prepared for the trip in the evening. We did get a call from the agency again Wednesday about another document Russia had asked for at the last minute. This was a bit nerve-racking. The agency had to sign-it, express it to our home-study agency in Tucson, and I had to pick it up there, and then take it downtown to have it apostillled. A thousand thoughts went through my mind of course, but it all worked out perfect and I had the document, with the golden seal from the state late that afternoon.
We left for Russia on Friday at 7:00. We had several connections to make and a long wait in Chicago, but overall the whole trip was very smooth. All our flights were on time and we (and our luggage) made it to Perm at 3:00 AM Sunday morning. It was nice not to have to go through Moscow and spend the night at their domestic airport as we had to do ten weeks ago. Instead we flew directly from Chicago to Frankfurt, the Frankfurt to Perm.
Just before we arrived to Perm another flight had arrived from Middle Asia so our pilot was instructed to stay on the runway until they were done with those passengers. We thought it was going to be just a few minutes but we ended up waiting for about 30 minutes. Later we learned that every single person on that flight was questioned and their entire luggage checked. I was the first person in line when it was our flight’s turn at Customs.
After an extended starred from the Customs Officer he stamped my passport and gave me the green light. However, another Customs agent took my passport and questioned the reasons for our visit. I had been warned about this and I was told to say that I was a tourist, which I did, but he didn’t buy it. He asked me if I had some proof or documentation about my trip and I told him I had an entire book in my suitcase and I think that threw him off. I was referring to the adoption book which has copies of every document I have supplied in the last 6 months. He asked me what I meant by ‘a book’ so I just told him that I was here with my husband to finalize the adoption of a child. I thought he would question the fact that I had originally told him I was a tourist but he didn’t. I also pointed at Chris hoping that when he came through he wouldn’t be questioned and that worked. A few miles from the airport we got stopped at a police checkpoint but this time they just talked to our Coordinator and after he showed all his paperwork we were let go. We arrived at the hotel around 5:00, slept for about ten hours, went out to dinner and then back to sleep until now. Roma will pick us up at 9:00 and we get to see baby Alex again in four hours and we can’t wait!!!

Back in the USSR - Bendito sea Dios

Thank you God!!!After 30 hours of traveling, we are safe in Perm! All the flights were on time and we made it to Russia without any issues. we even got to turn our seats into beds on our flight from Chicago to Germany and that made a huge difference. We are still exhausted and feeling the jet-lag so we are heading to bed now. I will post the events of the trip and our Monday visit to see Alex tomorrow night.