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Friday, August 29, 2008

One more bump in the road

Well, we had hoped when we got our LOI that we would be done with delays but it's happened again. We got a call from our agency this week that was good news and bad news; the bad news was that our coordinator in Kazakhstan wants us there on October 12, a full 2 weeks later than we had been told before. The good news is that we're still moving forward...our boys are being transferred from their boarding school orphanage in Ridder to Ust-Kamenogorsk and will arrive in Ust on October 12. We assume this is because we will be doing our required 2 week bonding period in Ust. We are actually a little disappointed that we won't be bonding in Ridder...we were looking forward to exploring a new area of Kazakhstan and spending time with our boys' friends and teachers...but at this point, we'll take whatever we can get.

On the positive side, we know Ust very well and have many friends there. We also know we can find our way around to our favorite shops, restaurants, etc. Best of all, our friend Yulia has offered us a place to stay again; her mother's apartment is the same place we stayed last summer when we visited. Yulia was our translator when we adopted Tanya in 2004 and the ties we formed with her have remained strong. She is one of the most generous people we know and we are honored to call her and her family our friends.

We still have to work out some kinks that this latest delay has created. We need to change our flights and adjust our mindset to leaving later than we had hoped...we won't be home for Halloween with our kids as we had hoped and we'll be in for colder weather in KZ than we were expecting (winter arrives early there and in November, we could well see quite a bit of snow!) Craig's brother has been planning to visit us for Halloween week for months now...we're bummed that we'll miss his visit but the kids are thrilled that Uncle Dale will be coming to help them celebrate the big event in Mom and Dad's absence. We've told the kids that Uncle Dale really likes Halloween and he's somewhat of a master at decorations and costumes...and for those of you who don't know, we do live in Salem, MA which is really the center of the spooky universe at Halloween...our kids are used to turning our living room into a haunted house each year and they were worried that they wouldn't be able to pull off the special effects without us. No worries...I'm sure the kids will have plenty of help preparing for the spooky fun!

Craig and I are just so ready to go...we would board a plane tomorrow if it would do us any good...but instead, we're taking several deep breaths and reciting the Serenity Prayer...for the millionth time. I'm updating a few documents for court...for the 4th time...but I'm not bitter or anything...and we'll have our visa photos taken tomorrow. So much of this process requires patience...and I refuse to be beaten. My mother always said I was stubborn and she was right!


Kazakhstan requires that adoptive parents prepare a dossier before they are invited to travel and given a referral of a child. The dossier must be translated and certified by the Kazakhstan Embassy in Washington DC prior to being submitted to the Ministry of Education (MOE) of Kazakhstan in Astana, the entity that controls and maintains the databank of all orphaned children in Kazakhstan.

According to the Kazakhstan law, orphaned children are required to be registered with the Ministry’s Database for at least six months before they are eligible for international adoption.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Time to get ready

Now that we have a firm travel date, there is so much to do to prepare! I've researched airline schedules and fares; we're currently holding seats on Lufthansa leaving Boston on September 28. We will be sending our passports off to the KZ embassy next week along with our visa applications. We're still waiting to hear about any documents that will need to be updated again...it's always something!

We're leaving our kids home this trip, a first for us but since school begins before we leave, it's a necessity. We're so lucky to have friends and family who have offered to help while we're away! Aunt Donna (Craig's sister) has volunteered to fly in from Oregon to stay in our house and care for our kids...she's a brave woman to step into our crazy family life. What an incredible gift she is giving us...we can go to KZ with complete peace of mind, knowing that our kids are well cared for at home, following their normal routine and sleeping in their own beds.

We're busily stocking the freezer and shelves with extra food, paper goods and household supplies since we won't be home to make our weekly run to Costco. In addition to the new backpacks and clothes we always purchase for the start of the new school year, we've purchased fall jackets, warm pj's, and cozy new blankets for our kids' beds...we probably won't be home when Autumn's chill really arrives in New England and we want the kids to have what they need. I'm also writing a survival manual for Aunt Donna which includes our daily schedule, house rules, chores, and a calendar of appointments for the kids...it's 10 pages already and I'm still writing...I had no clue how complicated our lives are!

Most of all, we're talking each day about what it will be like for Mom and Dad to be away for a month. Since Tanya and Max have both suffered abandonment in the past, we know how important it is for them to get used to the idea of our absence and to be reassured that we are coming home again...and let's not forget our Kate who doesn't even do sleepovers with friends! We have Aunt Donna and Uncle Woody's picture on our fridge and we talk a lot about how much fun it will be to have them staying in our home. I've asked each of the kids to include something in my survival guide about their likes or dislikes so that they feel a bit more in control of things; we've made a list of comfort foods that Aunt Donna could prepare when Mom's cooking is being missed. We've purchased an unlocked phone and found a plan that will allow us to talk to the kids every day from KZ and we're discussing the best times to call each other. We've always done email updates to family and friends whenever we've adopted but this time, I decided to do a blog so Kate, Tanya and Max can easily follow our journey and comment on our postings. The widgets I've put on the blog were chosen for our kids...they can check as often as they like to see what time it is in KZ, what the weather is like, etc. The kids all have access to a computer so whenever anyone needs to feel closer to Mom and Dad, we'll be only a click away.

Craig and I are pre-packing, setting things aside that we want to bring along and checking to make sure our converter still works...it wouldn't do to not be able to charge up our various electronic devices like our laptop and phone. I have a bag full of travel items and toiletries that we've found useful on our past trips as well as small gifts for Aniyar and Madiyar. We're planning our clothes for fall travel and picking out our court outfits. We're also beginning the process of collecting clean $100 bills to carry with us; KZ is still a very cash based economy and credit cards aren't much use outside of the major cities. We aren't worried about food items...we've been to KZ enough to know that we can get almost any type of food we need or want there (with the exception of peanut butter which we will bring along). We also have come to really enjoy the local cuisine and are looking forward to some of our favorite dishes...I can taste the spicy carrot salad now!!!

We haven't forgotten our boys in KZ either...with the help of my internet friend, Anne, we've arranged for the boys to take English lessons along with Borya, the boy Anne is trying to adopt, and Zaira, a girl our other internet friend Tina would love to adopt. (Thanks, Anne!) We hope this will help Aniyar and Madiyar to pass the time until we arrive...only six more weeks. Now where did I put my Russian phrase book???

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Finally...an LOI!

Who would have ever thought a government-issued, boilerplate document could be a thing of beauty? Well, I have to say that this particular document is just gorgeous to us. It's our long-awaited letter of invitation to travel to Kazakhstan for the purpose of adopting, issued by the Ministry of Education in Ust-Kamenogorsk after months of waiting. This is the magic document that gets us visas and the right to visit the boys! See the tiny number in the bottom right hand corner? That's the most magical part of the whole thing...it gets sent electronically to the Kazakhstan Consulate where our adoption visas will be issued.

Of course, there's a downside to everything...the ministry made the effective date of our LOI for late September so we can't travel until then...but we'll take it at this point!