The day dawned cold and clear here in Ust at around 16 degrees. When we headed out for our morning walk, the sun was shining brightly but we wondered if a taxi might be a good idea given the chilly air. Ever the intrepid types, we quickened our pace and set our minds on cappuccino instead. We were greeted at the Karona as regulars...they know what we want when we walk in the door now. We chose our dinner items while they made our expresso drinks and didn't tarry long with our coffee. Yuliya wanted us to stop by her apartment and we were hoping to get our DHL package from home (the forgotten phone that Craig's sister Donna mailed to us) so we had a busy morning planned. We didn't go to any markets but we did stop at a street vendor's stall to purchase roasted chicken that looked delicious; 2 plump breast quarters cost us just over $3.00 and will make a nice quick lunch or dinner.
Yuliya's son Vlad was much better today, he's recovering from an infection of some type which caused him to have a rash and spike high temps. Yuliya is staying home from work for a few days until he's well again and she invited us for tea. We played with Vlad, met Yuliya's aunt, and had angel food cake and black tea; while we were there, DHL delivered our package...perfect timing. (It will be so nice to talk to our kids again...email is great but I miss hearing their voices.) The we were off again, back to the apartment to get ready for our trip to Ridder.
Alma joined us for this trip; it was time to review the court documents and collect records from the director and ministry official. We played with the boys while Alma, Natalya, and the director worked steadily, preparing statements and a journal of our visits which we all signed. The office was bustling but the boys didn't seem to mind; the first thing Aniyar wanted was to know if I had brought the GameBoys. He begged me very sweetly, showing me what he wanted by miming playing the game. I laughed and told him he could play if he could tell me the English word for what he wanted and he immediately said, “GameBoy!” There you have it, folks, his first English word that we taught him...GameBoy...sigh...such good parents, aren't we? Anyway, the boys played games, took more pictures with our camera, and Madiyar mastered Super Tux on Dad's computer. Arman was with us today and he was a great help; not only was he able to translate for Craig but he also knows videogames really well so he was able to explain to Madiyar what to do next in the game. The boys both love the videogames and while I'm not a huge fan of too much game time, they serve a purpose right now...as they face the changes that are coming in their lives, the games serve as a distraction. They also show us that the boys are both bright and have good memories; Aniyar now knows all the tricks to get to a new level in the Super Mario 3 game and Madiyar has mastered several games. We also can see that the kids aren't easily frustrated; when they make a mistake or lose at a game, they don't get mad...they just shake their heads and try again. I'm also impressed by how well they share, often swapping games without complaint and negotiating who gets to play what. We can see how these skills will help with their adjustment to school and and their new life.
Have I mentioned that the boys are tiny? Seeing them with other kids here, it's clear that they're small even by orphanage standards. Aniyar probably wears a boys size 6 or 7 and Madiyar might wear a size 8; they're both shorter than our kids at home, too. Don't get me wrong...they are obviously healthy and well fed here; they get 5 meals a day, 3 big meals and 2 snacks. Kazakhstan is working hard to improve the quality of life for its children, both in orphanages like this and in regular schools; the government sees the children as the future...and it helps that the president's wife has taken on children, particularly orphans, as her personal cause. Our boys tell us that they have fresh fruit, juices, rolls, soups, meats, potatoes, pelmeni, and more...and the orphanage has a garden in summer and an apple orchard that the children help to tend which provides more fresh vegetables and fruit. So will Aniyar and Madiyar experience the rapid growth that Tanya and Max did when we adopted them? We'll have to wait and see...but we also think genetics may be a factor here and the boys are just slender and small boned by nature.
Our visit ended late; Alma and the officials were discussing not just our adoption but another that will happen here soon, a family from Pennsylvania that I've been corresponding with. Anne and her husband and daughter will arrive here on 10/27 to begin their process. Like us, Anne has known Borya for 5 years and has been trying to adopt him ever since. I didn't mind waiting for our ride back to Ust...I know how long Anne's already waited, so what's an hour to us now?
Another good day...6 more to go. We're doing just fine but we miss our kids, our dogs and our own beds...still, it's a journey we wouldn't have missed for the world.