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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving...and fear

We've been back from Kaz for 2 weeks now. If all had gone as we had hoped, we'd be on our way back for our anticipated Dec. 2 court date...but it didn't happen.

On November 20th, we were notified by our agency that our judge had decided that our adoption dossier was out of date and we needed to redo it. For many, this would have been the death knell of the adoption. Never mind all the updated docs that we had given to the judge in Kaz while we were there...she wanted the full dossier, 30+ docs, all approved by the Kaz Embassy. She gave us until Dec. 9 to accomplish the near impossible...assembling an adoption dossier generally takes 2-3 months, then another 2-3 months to get it approved at the Kaz embassy in Washington, DC. If we can meet her goal, then she says we can have a court date of either Dec. 17, 18, or 19. Sigh...I did a lot of whining and not sleeping for the first few days, then I kicked it into high gear and started assembling a dossier...for the fourth time. Our adoption friends have been a great help...our home study agency and social worker have moved the world for us to update our docs; our friend and personal notary even showed up at our house in her bathrobe late one night to notarize docs for us. Our international agency arranged for emergency translation services so that each document could be translated as I completed the notarization and apostille process, even over Thanksgiving weekend. People we don't even know have hand-carried docs for us from Kaz to the US which they will send to our agency tomorrow to complete our dossier...and yes, after I finished whining and complaining, I did manage to assemble a 25+ document dossier in a week's time. Craig and I sent it via Expressmail yesterday to our international agency. Our new docs and the updated docs that were returned to us from Kaz will be married up, checked for accuracy, and sent to the Kaz embassy this week. We have been told that the person who reviews dossiers there understands our special circumstances and will review our paperwork on an emergency basis. We can only hope...so what do we have to be thankful for? Oh. Just everything.

In the frenzy that existed this past week in our house, I was still able to see what we have to cherish...3 great kids who are frustrated by not being able to have Aniyar and Madiyar here with us...but who also are happy to have Mom and Dad home for Thanksgiving. We watched the Macy's Day parade, stuffed a turkey, made cranberry-orange relish, started our Christmas shopping, enjoyed Max making French Toast for the whole family's breakfast and Kate's Apple Crumb pie. I had the great joy of going to both the library and the Early Bird sales, sharing Family Movie Night (it was "Get Smart", we all loved it) and then reading with my kids before bed.

So much to be grateful for...but I just wish we had been a little closer to 2 other kids who wait for us on the other side of the planet...still waking in a cold sweat at 4am, afraid we'll fail after all of this. Dawn helps...keeping busy helps...and I'm no quitter. We'll play the hand we've been dealt and hope for the best. Tomorrow's goal...write to the boys, try to explain all of this and the new timetable...hmm...how the heck do I do that? See, lots to keep me busy in those very dark hours before the dawn...feel free to send me comments and emails, I'm often checking for cyber support in the wee hours....

Sunday, November 16, 2008

It's good to be home

We had a long but fairly uneventful trek home, arriving in Boston on the afternoon of Friday, 11/14. Fog and rainy weather followed us the whole way but didn't delay us unduly. Our friend Laura arrived just minutes after we cleared customs and walked out to the curb; she drove us home where our kids were waiting to greet us. Our greeting was awesome; our 3 kids and even two of their friends hurtled down the stairs and threw themselves at us as we walked through the door. There were squeals and smiles, tears and laughter, and lots of hugs and kisses...even our normally reticent 11 year old son was in on the action! Any of you who have pre-teen boys will know how rare it is to get an actual hug and an "I love you" in front of peers...but we got all of that...guess we were missed.

We're using the weekend to settle back in and rest from the trip. Jet lag is tough when the time difference is 11 hours. When the trip itself spans two days and includes only 4 hours sleep, it's even more challenging. We got home about 4pm, ordered Chinese food and managed to stay awake until 8:30 before Craig crashed and burned; I was in bed by 9:30. Of course, I was awake again at 4am but the 6 1/2 hours of sleep I got in my own bed helped me feel human again...and large infusions of coffee during the day helped, too. We started the first load of laundry and began unpacking, made our weekend Costco run, and generally tried to figure out what we had missed in the last 5 weeks. Reentry is in process...we even managed to stay awake until after 10:00 last night!

Much to my chagrin, time did not stand still while were were out of the country; the leaves have all fallen off the trees, the stores are all decorated for Christmas, and Thanksgiving is less than 2 weeks away. There are bills to pay and there's work to be done. Tomorrow, jet lag not withstanding, we'll resume life as usual...the kids will go to school, Craig will go to work, and I'll refocus my energies on my consulting project. We bought a turkey today and this week, I'll do the rest of the planning and shopping for the Risley-Schoelles Thanksgiving feast. The kids are starting their Christmas lists and I need to start my holiday shopping. At the same time, I'll begin planning for our next trip to KZ which is only a few weeks away. I think I'll just empty the suitcases and begin refilling them again. I have one last document to update and carry back with us for court; I'll make tentative flight arrangements for early December which we'll confirm once we get word of our actual court date from Alma. (We should hear from her after her November 21 meeting with the judge.) I'll also write a letter to Aniyar and Madiyar, have it translated and fax it to them at the orphanage (waiting is hard and we want to reassure them that we really will return for them soon). In short, there's plenty to keep us busy...but our hearts are still with two boys in Kazakhstan who are waiting not so patiently for our return.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

On our way home...

We're in Almaty after a long day. We woke up to a lot of snow and were delayed about 4 hours getting out of Ust-K but since our flight leaves here at 4am, it wasn't that big a deal. We're grabbing a few hours of rest now in a hotel, will be picked up at 1:30am to go to the airport.

We'll be home on Friday afternoon...more then!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Things are looking up...

No, we didn't get a miracle court date when we went to Ridder today...but all is not lost. Here's how our day went. We left Ust at 7:30am and arrived in Ridder around 10:00 due to the snow on the roads. When we arrived at the court building, we were told to return at 12:15 to meet with the judge who would be hearing our case...OK, that was at least progress. We had tea and soup for an early lunch, mostly just killed time. At 12:15, Alma was told to come back after the lunch break which runs from 1-2pm. OK...more sitting in the car waiting until the judge was finally available around 2:30. At this point, I was pretty sure we were never going to get anywhere but finally Alma got her chance. The judge met with her for about 20 minutes and when she came out, it was with good news. The judge we have been assigned to is the same one who heard the only other adoption case in Ridder...and she granted that adoption. She was also able to explain Ridder's rather lengthy and complex court process so now we know what to expect.

In Ridder, when a case is assigned, the judge has 2-3 weeks to review the file. Then a determination hearing is held in order to let the parties know if there are missing docs or other problems with the case...that's what we had today. The next date will be held on Nov. 21; Alma will represent us at that hearing where the judge and prosecutor will ask any questions they might have re: the case. After that meeting, a court date will be assigned. The judge will allow us to request a date of our preference because of our travel from the US. It's all standard operating procedure, not the conspiracy to avoid giving us a court date that we were beginning to fear so that's a relief.

We're not thrilled with the delay and we wish we had known about this process a bit sooner...but we can go home now knowing that we are still moving forward. We're requesting a court date in early December, just 3 weeks from now. That will give us some recovery time and a chance to celebrate Thanksgiving with our kids. We'll return here for court but it will be a short visit, less than a week. We'll figure the rest out when we get there.

We saw the boys today to tell them the news...Aniyar took it well but Madiyar was frustrated. The poor kid finally got his head ready to make this big change and now he's looking at another delay...we know just how he feels.

OK, that's all the news for tonight. We're exhausted...we drove through terrible conditions coming back from Ridder. Imagine blowing snow, near zero visibility, and next to no plowing of the road...it wasn't fun. Add the stress factor of the last several days to that and you can probably understand why we're pretty worn out. Time for some sleep...tomorrow, we fly to Almaty in the afternoon, grab about 12 hrs rest in a hotel and then we'll begin the 24 hour trip home, arriving on Friday afternoon. Can't wait to see our kids!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

No court after all...

We never got to Ridder today. Alma was supposed to hear something from the court there; she called them several times and they kept stalling her. Each time she called them, they told her to call back later...by 2:00pm, it was clear that there was no point in making the 2 hr trip, especially since the weather was bad...snow, icy roads, and a late start that would have us returning in the pitch dark no doubt played a part in Alma's decision to wait until tomorrow to take us to Ridder. As a result, we have no news regarding a possible court date or anything else.

Here's Plan B: We're supposed to go to Ridder at 7:15 in the morning to try one last time to get a hearing or at least a new date in the next few days. If that doesn't work, Craig and I will leave Ust on Thursday and fly home from Almaty on Friday. We're discussing alternatives and other options that are open to us and Alma will continue to work on our behalf. We'll leave it to Alma to get us a court date in the next few weeks, then we'll return here for court. We plan to see the boys tomorrow and tell them what's up...it's so hard to leave them hanging this way and we don't want them to think we're abandoning them. They've had more than enough of that in their lives already.

We don't know what else to do...Craig is running out of vacation time and our kids at home need us after more than a month away. We're also pretty much mentally exhausted at this point and it's hard to see things clearly. If we can't pull off a miracle tomorrow, then it's time to go home to rest and regroup, then return to fight again another day.

Today it was in the low 20's here, windy, felt colder than it was. The snow is beginning to accumulate when it's not blowing in your face. Feels like we're in Siberia...no, wait, we pretty much are. There are plenty of clouds in the sky...haven't seen too many silver linings lately, though.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Court day...or not

Today is Tuesday, November 11, 2008, the day scheduled for our court hearing in Ridder...sort of. Alma arrived last night for what we thought was a brief session to review our court speeches but it wasn't quite that simple. (You have to understand that Alma is very efficient and doesn't fluster easily...but when she is flustered, her favorite English phrase is, “Oh, my God!” We knew something was up when she came in and said, “Oh, my God!” three times before she was able to tell us what was going on.) She had been to Ridder earlier in the day to prepare Aniyar and Madiyar and had called the court around 4pm to reconfirm our date and time. Instead of the hearing we had been promised, the clerk instead told her that the judge will make a “determination” about our petition at 9:00am. What does that mean? Even Alma wasn't sure, she called her contact in the courts here in Ust to get the explanation...it's a step in the process that isn't even done in court here and it's basically a review of the petition before it's assigned a date. Sigh...back to square one, right?

Well, maybe...but the clerk also said we might still have our court hearing later today. Anyone out there have a crystal ball? Anyway, Alma says she'll call us as soon as she talks to the clerk this morning but that we will go to Ridder in the afternoon in any case. Yes, we're back to begging...so we'll be dressed in our finest and driving the now snowy mountain roads to Ridder for an event that might or might not happen. It's really cold here now and the road conditions are getting worse. Alma's driver had to stop to change to snow tires yesterday on her trip to Ridder...it seems other cars were spinning out. (Our friends the Gibersons were in the car at the time...pretty exciting, right, Anne?) Anyway, keep us in your thoughts and prayers today as we make the journey into the unknown in more ways than one.

We do have some good news...Alma said she talked with Madiyar yesterday about his rather conflicted feelings and she says he's ready for court. He says he's still nervous but he wants to join our family, both for himself and for his brother. Both boys practiced their court speeches and are ready to go. The director of the orphanage and our friend Natalya are ready for court and so are we...they all still think court is today since this change was a last minute surprise...and maybe it will be. We'll just have to wait and see...as Alma would say, “Oh, my God!” and as my mother would say, from her lips to God's ears...we could use the help here.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Two more days until court

It's Sunday evening and we've had a good day. The highlight was meeting our friend Yulia's Deaf cousin, Natasha, and her husband, Misha. Yes, he's Deaf, too; both use sign...it didn't take long before we were able to understand each other pretty well because American Sign and Russian Sign are very similar. We had tea and chatted for a couple of hours; the similarities between American Deaf culture and norms and what Natasha and Misha described to me about the Deaf community and culture here were striking. It was also fascinating to see our Yulia using using both Russian signs and home signs to communicate with her cousin; they were very close growing up so Yulia is pretty close to a native signer. We all exchanged signs, swapped stories, and looked at photos together...Yulia said she thinks it would only take me a week or so to be able to learn Russian sign but it's a bit more complicated than that...there's still that little problem of fingerspelling and the cyrillic alphabet. Even so, this was a highlight of this trip for me...it really is true what they say in ASL, small world Deaf!

We made chicken rice soup again tonight because it's gotten so cold. It snowed a bit last night and today. It's been below freezing all day and will probably stay that way for the rest of our time here. We're just hoping the road to Ridder stays halfway decent through Tuesday; right now, the forecast is for 2-4 inches of snow and temps in the high teens or low 20's for our court day. It didn't seem too cold when we went out for coffee this morning but we felt the difference quickly and were pretty chilly by the time we reached Pizza Blues. We had really big lattes that helped us to take the chill off before we headed back to the apartment. We were expecting Alma to meet with us to go over our court speeches but her schedule changed so she'll be coming tomorrow afternoon instead. We still don't what time we have court on Tuesday but all will undoubtedly be revealed in due time. Yep, it pays to be flexible here in Kazakhstan...more deep breathing on my part...reciting of the Serenity Prayer, also. Only a few more days.

We had a lovely time at our friend Olga's apartment last night. Dinner was very tasty, we made mac and cheese for everyone and Olga roasted chicken and made Russian potatoes. We also had spicy carrot salad (just for me since they all know it's my favorite!), a couple of other salads, homemade pickles that Tanya and Max would have loved, and a spicy tomato sauce that Olga's mom made. Yulia brought dessert, cookies filled with the caramel sauce Kate loves so much and other cookies dipped in chocolate. We had a variety of teas to choose from with our cookies, a nice end to our meal. We got back to the apartment about 10:30 last night, late for us to be wandering around the streets of Ust-K but we were glad to have something fun to do to pass the time and such good friends to do it with. Even so, we really are longing for home. Kate, Tanya and Max, we miss all of you so much and it gets harder every day to be away...we're counting the days and hours now until we're home again.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Preparing for the next step...

Now that we have a court date, we're moving into the next phase of our journey. We're distributing the “thank you” gifts we brought from home to our adoption staff here. (Our drivers are getting Red Sox caps...of course! Our buddy Arman got a Red Sox cap, a Salem t-shirt, and some cheese powder so he can make American mac & cheese for his family. For Alma, we're still thinking of the perfect gift...but it's looking like an unlocked Blackberry might be just the ticket for someone who has to organize all the details that she has to keep track of!) We've already bought gifts for our kids at home (No, kids, I'm still not telling you what we got, it's a surprise.) and also some souvenirs and mementos to bring home from our 3rd adoption adventure.

It's Saturday here; the weekends can hang heavy without much scheduled but we're keeping busy today We've been to the notary's office to sign more documents and with our friend Yulia's help, we've booked our flight from Ust-K to Almaty for Thursday and changed our Lufthansa reservations for our flight home from Monday to Friday. We also were able to buy books for Aniyar and Madiyar with Yulia's help. We even have plans this evening; our friend Olga has invited us to her home for supper. It will be a real party with Yulia, Jenya, Olga, Andrei, and the two of us. I'll be taking pictures as usual and posting the pictures later. In the meantime, here's a pic from the last time we ate at Olga's house in the summer of 2007...remember what a great time we all had?
We'll also be visiting at Yulia's again tomorrow; I'm very excited that I'll get to meet Yulia's deaf cousin who I've heard so much about! Aren't we lucky to have such wonderful friends?

Tomorrow, we will meet with Alma briefly to prepare for our court appearance. We still don't know what time court is on Tuesday but I'm sure someone will tell us when it's time for us to know...in the meantime, I'm practicing my deep calming breaths....again.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Our visit to the Detsky Dom (AKA Ust-Kamenogorsk Children's Home)

One of the things we did this past week was to visit the preschool orphanage here in Ust where our kids from Kazakhstan used to live. Tanya and Max, we saw Mama Luba and she sends her love. We gave her pictures of you both and she was very impressed by how much you've grown! Tanya, she also said that you've become a beautiful young lady. Max, we asked to see Mama Luda, your favorite caregiver, but she wasn't working the day we were there; I left a picture of you for her so she can see how big you've gotten. We asked about Galina Ivanovna, the caregiver who escorted Tanya and the other Kidsave children to Massachusetts in 2003; Galina has retired so we didn't get to see her...but we hear she still takes care of the flowers at the orphanage during the summer, now volunteering her time at the orphanage where she worked for many years. We also saw the orphanage director, Valentina Sergeyevna, who was very happy to see the slideshow I made from some of our family photos. She liked it so much that she asked if she could keep a copy to show some government officials who were coming to inspect the orphanage...just think, now we're all famous in Kazakhstan!

As you can see, we did manage to get a photo of us all; Mama Luba is next to me and Valentina Sergeyevna is on the end. Do you guys remember them? They sure remember you...in fact, Valentina says she still remembers Max because of how much he liked to eat, that he would try to get extra food all the time. Hmmm....some things haven't changed.

The orphanage actually looks great; it's been recently renovated and everything is freshly painted and very clean. The bathrooms have been updated and the children all have new beds, new cupboards, etc. We see the government making a real effort to improve conditions for children here, both in the orphanage system and in schools in general...it's especially gratifying to see the improvements in this orphanage which means so much to us.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Finally...a date!

Yes, it's true, we do have a court date! Alma called us this morning to tell us that we have been scheduled for court on November 11, next Tuesday. Right now, it looks like we'll be able to leave Ust-K on Thursday, Nov. 13 and will arrive home on Friday, November 14.

As planned, we went to Ridder today, not to plead for a court date but to visit the boys; as you can see, it was cloudy and damp but our hearts were light as we made the trip. (Aren't the mountains beautiful shrouded in clouds?) The boys were happy to see us and to hear our news. We talked with them about their appearance in court and reviewed the questions the judge may ask them. It's clear that Aniyar is totally excited to get this show on the road while Madiyar is still struggling with the enormity of the changes he's facing. His nervousness and ambivalence are understandable and we're trying our best to help him deal with his feelings. We've told him that he can write to his friends and also email them as the orphanage will soon have internet access. We told him we'll give his friends addressed and stamped envelopes so that they can write to him. We've also told him that we will bring him back to visit Kazakhstan just as we have done with Tanya and Max. We feel we've done all we can to show Madiyar that we'll help him maintain his ties here...now we'll leave it up to him to sort things out. In the meantime, the caregivers and the director will play an important role in the next week in helping Madiyar and Aniyar to prepare for the hearing. We'll all be nervous...but at least we'll get our day in court!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The wheels of justice grind slowly...

Well, not much has changed here in Kazakhstan. We're still waiting for a court date but at least we have a bit of news. Alma called last night to fill us in. While our adoption petition has been in Ridder for a week, it still has not been referred to a judge. Alma doesn't know why this is, they say they're still reviewing the docs and they don't seem in a hurry to complete the process. While it's usually only 7-10 days between bonding and court, it could be as much as a month before they assign us a date...in Ust-K, the courts are accustomed to working with adoptions and schedule them within a 7-10 day window after the petition is filed but in Ridder where they've only processed one other adoption, they don't seem to be interested in observing that convention. Without a court date, we're caught in limbo...we can't go home until after court but we can't stay here indefinitely. We have a return flight home scheduled for November 10; unless a minor miracle occurs pretty quickly, it seems clear that we'll have to change that date...but to what? It's a dilemma.

I'll admit I've been worried about how this would impact our chances of success. The good news is that Alma says she is sure that we will be able to adopt the boys; our paperwork is in perfect order. Eventually, we will have to be given a court date; since we have the support of the ministry of education and the orphanage director, she is sure we will succeed...the only question is when.

We're going to Ridder today to meet with Natalya, our ministry official there, who will go with us to the courthouse. She will intercede on our behalf with the court officials since she knows everyone there...hopefully, she'll be able to convince them to help us. After we finish begging for a court date, we'll go to the orphanage to see the boys for the first time in a week.

Keep your fingers crossed for us--Dee

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Wednesday morning for us, election night for most of you...

When I got up this morning, Craig was already tuned into CNN and getting the early elections results from home. With the 11 hour time difference, we'll be able to watch the coverage most of the day here. At home, we usually have to go to bed before the final election tallies are done so it's kind of cool to be able to see it all unfold this time. We're watching CNN Asia which has been doing extensive campaign coverage for days now...since CNN is one of only two English channels we get here, we feel well informed. (OK, the truth is we're getting pretty sick of the whole election thing and will be happy to see some new CNN programming starting tomorrow!)

No, we don't have a court date yet. After calling and sending messages to our coordinator through other adoptive families here, we finally caught up with her Tuesday afternoon. She told us that the court in Ridder says it's reviewing our file and isn't ready to assign a court date yet. No idea why that is since she says our paperwork is in perfect order but they do have the right to review and can't be forced to give a court date at this point. Alma is making use of her court contacts in Ust who are calling the Ridder court and trying to push things for us so there is a chance we'll hear something today. If not, Alma says we'll all go to Ridder tomorrow to meet with officials and try to convince them to schedule us. International adoption is always an adventure...and it never seems to be lacking in drama.

We walked to Arzan yesterday, the big Costco-type store Arman took us to last week. My dear husband convinced me to walk there, assuring me we could take a taxi back. Hah! It was a long walk over a bridge, through the woods, along a crazy busy highway and over rocks and stones on the narrow shoulder but we arrived safely and the shopping was fun...as for taxis for the return trip, there were none. We made the return trip on foot and with shopping bags, stopped for coffee in town and then finally got a cab back to the apartment. When we told our friends here that we walked to Arzan, they were stunned...they assured us that no one walks that far here! Yeah...tell me about it. After realizing that we logged about 10 miles walking yesterday, I've informed Craig that we won't be walking to Arzan again and that I sense there are more taxis in our future.

Today, we'll finally get to the pre-school orphanage to visit Tanya's and Max's former caregivers. Arman will pick us up at 3pm so we do have something to look forward to. We'll try to post pics after our visit.

Some of you have asked about our kids at home. They're doing very well with Aunt Donna and Uncle Woody holding the fort, waiting as patiently as they can for Mom and Dad to return. We are so blessed to have our family and our friends taking such good care of our kids, our critters, and all the little things that have popped up in our absence like clogged plumbing, missing paperwork, bills, etc. Everything is being handled efficiently and our kids are missing us but are secure and safe. They had a great Halloween...this year, we had a witch, a Jedi knight, and a woodland fairy.

Monday, November 3, 2008

It's Monday...and still no word.

We made it through the looong weekend with not too much more whining on my part. Sunday was broken up for us thanks to our friends here...while we didn't get to the Comfort store, we did go to a ski resort about 30 km outside of town. No, there's no snow yet...but they have horseback riding and a lovely cafe. We took two cars, Yulia, Jenya, and the kids rode in their car and Olga and her boyfriend drove us in Andrei's car. It was a beautiful day with temps in the high 40's-low 50's, sunny and clear and the air was as clean as Yulia had promised. Jenya and Andrei decided to go horseback riding and some noble steeds were brought down the mountain...at the last minute, Andrei offered his horse to Craig who had mentioned that he'd like to ride a bit. Suddenly, Craig was mounted and following Jenya up the trail on a horse that wanted to canter instead of walk. As they disappeared from sight, Andrei told us that the ride was an hour...I knew Craig didn't realize that he was in for an hour's ride and told them so. We all giggled a bit but thought it would be fine...until Yuliya found out. She was concerned that it was too cold and the ride too long...so she whipped out her cell phone and called Jenya on his cell phone, ordering him back early from the trail. Craig wasn't sure what was happening when Jenya suddenly turned his horse around and headed back toward the horse stalls but he followed along...good thing the ride ended when it did as Craig was a bit saddle sore already. After the ride, they joined us in the cafe where Yulia had shepherded the rest of us. We enjoyed a snack of hot green tea and crepes with sour cream and sweetened condensed milk and then we headed back outside. This time, Andrei convinced Olga to ride with him, just a short loop because Olga is afraid of horses...but she did well if you overlooked the expression of abject terror on her face. We left the resort and got back to Ust around 2pm.

Hmmm...what to do with the rest of the day? Of course, a walk and coffee at the Korona, then leftover Chinese food for dinner. Kids, we had our family movie night here; Dad and I watched “The Spiderwick Chronicles”. Our evening was brightened considerably with a phone call from our kids, always a mood lifter. We also had a call from another adoptive family from Ireland; they have a son from here and are adopting a baby girl now. Their son was born in Ridder and they were calling to ask if we would take pics of the town so they would have a few photos of his birthplace. We spent some time after our movie selecting and copying pics of Ridder to a memory stick for them; we'll give them the photos we have. We know what it's like to crave information, pics, even small details about our adopted kids' early lives.

It's Monday evening now. We've passed another day walking, shopping, drinking coffee, and chatting with other adoptive families. Craig finally convinced me to walk to the Comfort store, a bit of a hike but what else were we doing? The store is another indication of the changes here; it's filled with light fixtures, small appliances and electronics, home repair supplies, bathroom fixtures, and even some grocery and household items; none of these things were easy to find here a few years ago. We bought a bar of soap and some gum...we know how to party. We've finished our dinner, more homemade soup and some bread, and leftover mac and cheese.

Still no word on our court date; we've been trying to call our coordinator this evening but haven't reached her. Sigh...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Need to Know

It's my humble observation that most Americans are control freaks...we need to know what's happening, have a plan, see forward movement toward our goals, get answers to our questions, etc. We're not very patient, either...we want everything to happen as quickly as our fast food order is prepared. I'm certainly guilty of this, anyway...and for someone like me, being in KZ can be both a blessing and a curse.

I already told you that we still don't have a court date and that means we are in limbo until at least Monday. On Friday, the weekend loomed rather largely with nothing scheduled and no news to report...sigh. OK, that's fine, we got up Friday morning with a good attitude and Plan B; we had places to go and people to see even if we didn't have our court date. I was feeling better after a pretty good night's sleep and we headed to the notary at 8:45am. We signed a new power of attorney which will allow our representatives to file our adoption with the Ministry of Education in Astana once our adoption is granted (from my lips to God's ears, as my mother would say!) and then we hopped into Arman's car to go to our planned visit at the pre-school orphanage. We were surprised when Arman headed back to our apartment; I asked him if we were still going to visit the orphanage and he said yes...but in the afternoon at 3pm. Okey-dokey...apparently, the reason for the change of schedule and the change itself was on a need to know basis and we didn't need to know until the last minute. We found ourselves back at our apartment at 9:30.

Luckily, Craig had something to do...Alma has a small netbook computer that she needs changed from English to Russian and Craig agreed to work on it for her. (Yes, even in Kazakhstan, Craig is still the Go-To Guy for computer problems.) After a couple of hours of tech support for Craig and reading for me, we walked into town for lunch at the Korona. We bumped into more of Alma's Americans there, all of them adopting from the babyhouse here in Ust. We whiled away another hour or so chatting with them and then headed back to our apartment so we wouldn't be late for our orphanage visit. Arman arrived at 3:00 as planned but as soon as we got in the car, he said we weren't going to the orphanage; he said there was a conference or meeting going on and it was a bad day to visit. OK...time for Plan C. Arman was great, he helped us with a few errands including ordering our photos to be printed for court but by 4pm, we had nothing else to do.

What do these Americans do when the going gets tough? Why, we go shopping, of course! Arman took us to a store that he says is like Wal-Mart in the US...actually, it's more like a warehouse store (think Costco or BJ's) where many items are sold in bulk, the first of its kind here in Ust. It was a lot of fun browsing there...we bought everything from DVD's that will play in Russian and English to foods like smoked string cheese and plov (a Russian dish that's like fried rice with bits of meat and veggies). Most exciting of all, I found the Korean spice needed to make spicy carrot salad at home...and Kate, I also bought shashlik seasoning. We can now make our own shashlik kabobs on the grill!

Saturday, we made our cappuccino walk into town, had our coffee and then walked straight back to the apartment. We had plans to spend the afternoon with our friend Olga (we met her in 2004 when we were adopting Tanya and have kept in touch via email; she also helped us arrange our visit to the boys and translated for us in 2007) and we were looking forward to seeing her. Olga picked us up at 1pm and we went to lunch at a Chinese restaurant, another first for us here in Ust. The place was very nice; the food was excellent and served in massive quantities. We ended up with a large bag of leftovers to bring back to the apartment. After lunch, Olga took us to pick up our court photos and helped us correct an error they had made in the printing; it's so nice to have friends who are also translators! Olga dropped us off at our apartment around 4:30 and we were in for the night, wondering what in the world we would do with ourselves until Monday. Yulia called and saved the day; she wants to pick us up tomorrow and take us to the Comfort store that Craig has been hoping to visit, then out of the city for a walk in the fresh air of the forest. She say the air pollution is bad right now and we need to get out of town for a rest...smile...that's our Yulia, always taking care of us.

OK, the truth is, we're a bit restless and anxious. We'd be a lot happier if we knew our court date and had our goal in clear sight (see, there's that control thing I was talking about!); we miss our kids at home and worry about the boys who are waiting and wondering in Ridder. The suspense is killing us and there's not a darn thing we can do about it...around here, if you ask why there are delays, people shrug philosophically and say, “It's Kazakhstan.”...but we also realize how lucky we are. After all, we have gotten this far and we're not without support. Even as the temperature drops and fall slowly turns toward winter in this part of the world, we're surrounded by the warmth of our friends here in KZ. That and the love our family and friends at home will help us go the distance...just keep your fingers crossed that Monday will bring news about our day in court!