Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Home Safe and Sound

We’re home! We pulled in our driveway at about 11:00 p.m. on Sunday. It felt so good to sleep in our own beds and wake up to taking a shower in our own shower! Our flights were all on time and pretty smooth rides. On the flight from Moscow to Chicago, we did have a group of loud, rowdy, drunk individuals who were causing a bit of raucous for the flight attendants. Once we landed, one of them was personally escorted off by Customs Officials. He didn’t have to wait in the long lines of Passport Control and Customs, but I’m guessing those lines were much more pleasant than where he went! I guess it all just added to the adventure of the flight!

I was not really affected by the time difference or jetlag. I bounced right back into returning everything to order from being away for ten days. Now, Greg is another story. He has really had a difficult time. He has not been feeling well since Saturday, so has not had a chance to recuperate from the lack of sleep. Each day he feels a little better though!

I can’t even explain how much we miss our little girl! There’s not even a moment that she’s not in my thoughts. I wonder what she’s doing, what she’s eating, who’s holding her, who’s playing with her… I made a slide show of all the photos that we took of her and I keep playing it over and over again! It helps, but it’s certainly not the same as being there. Each day that goes by, I just remember that it’s one less day until we can be back in Astrakhan to bring her home forever.

I’m heading off to the store to get some supplies to make our photo album for Court. I’ve never done much scrapbooking, but I think this will be fun!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Hello from Moscow again!

We made it safely to Moscow this morning. Galina dropped us off at the Astrakhan airport. The flight was good. No problems, except it took forever to get our luggage. Another plane landed after us and they got all their luggage before ours even started to come out. But it finally did. Mia picked us up at the Moscow airport and the driver took us to the Holiday Inn Sokolniki. This is the same hotel we stayed in last weekend when we were in Moscow.

Greg was happy for the change of Moscow climate. It was a beautiful, sunny day with the high of about 80 degrees. Everyday that we were in Astrakhan it was at least 100 degrees or more! He thought this was too hot! I kept wanting to go for a walk, but he didn’t really want to go. So I would just walk down to the courtyard of the hotel and stand in the sun to warm up. 100 degrees is perfect weather for me and we don’t get it too often in Michigan.

After we settled into the hotel, we decided to take the Metro (subway) back to Red Square. We’re getting pretty good at the Metro! By our next trip, we’ll be old pros. We walked to Arbat Street. This is such a neat place. Some great shops, restaurants, street musicians, etc. We stopped at the Hard Rock Café just to get something to drink. We had been walking for a long time and needed to sit down. We did some shopping and then walked back down by the Kremlin to Red Square. We had lunch at one of the outdoor cafes along Red Square. Greg had the beef stroganoff. Finally, a true Russian meal! I had a bite and it was really good. Different from when I’ve made beef stroganoff. Then we walked through the mall that’s next to Red Square. I don’t know what the name of it is, but it has some pricey stores in it. But I still wanted to just window shop. We went in this one store because I saw a t-shirt that said Russia on the front and I liked it. It was 4,650 rubles!!!!! For a t-shirt!!!!! That’s over $200.00!!!!! It was nice, thick t-shirt material, but still!!!!! Needless to say, I didn’t buy it. After that experience, we headed for the Metro to come back to the hotel.

Greg had a funny experience before we left the mall though. I’m going to let him tell it.
Okay, we’re walking through the mall, looking at $200 tee shirts and such, and I said to Kyley, “We should start heading back soon, because after walking all day, I really need to use the facilities”. She said “Well there’s a restroom right over there”. “But they told us to use the facilities in the plane before we landed because the airport ones are not very desirable. What if these were the same?” Oh well, I figured, it’s an upscale mall, they’re bound to have upscale facilities as well, so what the heck. So I followed the arrow that Kyley had so keenly pointed out. Three corridors and three stairways later I was there, and came upon a room with two doors inside, a men’s and a women’s, with a woman sitting at a nearby table. Seemed a little weird, but hey, we’re not Kansas anymore. As I went to go toward the door she says “eight rubles”. I paused. She repeated herself. Seriously? I have to pay eight rubles (about 35 cents) to use the john? So I paid, but that was only the beginning. I went in and saw a row of stalls on one wall. The doors were a little smaller than ours, the tops only coming to about chest height. No big deal. I opened the stall door and looked in. Then I looked around the room a bit, and looked in again. Um, there’s no toilet in here! There was a stainless steel pan built into the floor, with two places to put your feet and, well, a hole in the middle. That’s it! No tissue, no nothing. So I’m thinking that I’ll have to disrobe from the waist down to make this work, and well, I just might need to buy some $600 shoes if I have to leave mine here. Given the risk, I calmly left and we went back to the hotel as planned. I really miss Michigan!

I’m back! That was a story only he could tell! Russ and Monica, we hope you made it safely home! Rai-Lynn, have a safe trip tomorrow! Donnie, enjoy your visit!

By the way, for those of you who are traveling to Astrakhan and staying at the Korvet Hotel, our Internet and telephone bill was only 1250 rubles. I didn’t think this was too bad for a week. I had called my mom once and we talked for about 20 minutes. That was the only phone call. We were careful about the Internet time. We would type everything in Word to have it ready to just cut and paste into our blog or e-mails. We also didn’t put a lot of pictures on our blog for this reason. So if you’re careful, you should be fine!

Mia is picking us up at 10:40 a.m. to take us to the airport. Our flight leaves at 2:40 p.m. We will eventually end up at Detroit Metro at 9:10 p.m. It’s going to be a long day!

I typed this blog in Word and then we headed over to McDonald’s because they supposedly have free Wi-Fi. And the network said it was free when we tried to connect. And we connected, but it wouldn’t give us internet access. So we’re back at the hotel using a ½ hour internet card that we had to purchase from their business center. Our next blog posting will be from home!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Our last day in Astrakhan

Well, here we are in our hotel room on Friday, our last night here in Astrakhan. We just got back from dinner with Donnie and Rai-Lynn. We went to San Pizza again tonight. You really can’t go wrong there. The pizza is just like home and it’s pretty inexpensive. It’s about 9:30 PM here, and according to the clock on the computer, which we never changed to “Moscow time”, it’s 1:30 PM back in Michigan. Russ and Monica flew off safely to Moscow this morning. Their plane left very early this morning. Ours is at the same time tomorrow, so we’ll need to be up at about 4:30 to get ready to go to the airport on time. It’s okay, it’s not like we sleep that much anyway here. We’re really looking forward to being home again.

But of course, there’s a problem with that too. We got to see our little girl twice today, for about an hour each time. The second time was very emotional as we knew that we wouldn’t see her again for at least six weeks or so. Will she remember us when we come back to get her? Everyone says yes, but with her being so young, we’re just not sure. She had more mosquito bites today, and her rashes seemed to be acting up more. It appears she has Kyley’s skin, if that’s at all possible. But she seemed very happy anyway, probably the happiest we’ve seen her so far. There was no crying and she had lots of smiles for us as we played with her, more than any other visit. We managed to capture a couple of them with the camera this time, too. We do know that she’ll still be happy while we’re gone because she has an obvious bond with her caregivers there. Her eyes light up when she sees them, so we know she gets lots of attention and is loved. We just can’t wait until that’s our job to do full time. It seems like an eternity right now, but I’m sure time will fly by as we go back to our normal routines and start the task of getting things ready for her arrival in September or October. Let’s just say September. PLEASE!

We’ll be in Moscow again for one night and we now know that we can get free Internet access at McDonalds there. Which is great because the hotel charges extra for it and McD’s is right across the street. We’re a little worried about what the Internet charge will be here at the Korvet Hotel in Astrakhan. They keep track of how many megabytes we send and receive, and charge us by that. It’s 5 rubles (about 22 cents) per megabyte I think. We really have no idea how much we’ve sent and received, but for those of you frustrated by the lack of pictures on our blog and in our emails, that would be the reason. When we get home, we’ll post more, though we are still not allowed to post pictures of her online until the adoption is completely final.

So long from Astrakhan! Honey, we’ll be back just as soon as we can! Next post will be from Moscow again so stay tuned.

Mom and Dad, we’ll try to call you from Moscow, since our calling card should work there.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

She finally smiled at us!

Congratulations to Donnie and Rai-Lynn! They had their court date today and everything went great! Russ and Monica leave bright and early tomorrow morning. They’ll go back to Moscow and then on home Saturday. We all went out to dinner tonight to the Krem Café to celebrate. Here is a picture of us.

Today we visited the Baby Home two times. And she SMILED at us two times!!!! We were so happy! We have tried so hard to find something that would make her smile. She did great today. We read the photo book that we made for her a couple of times. We are going to leave it with her, so she can have pictures of us while we’re gone. We also gave her a little doll that we are going to be leaving with her. We brought a disposable camera with us and are hoping to leave that as well, so that her caregivers can take pictures of her between now and when we return to take her home. We took a lot of pictures today and Greg took some video also. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the smile part on the video. But there will be lots more smiles to come.

Tomorrow is our last day to visit with her, since we leave first thing Saturday morning. This is going to be so hard, leaving her, but we know she’ll be in good hands and we’ll get back here as soon as we can to bring her home forever.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Signed the papers!

Today was the day! We signed the documents to officially adopt our daughter. She is a beautiful, nine month old little girl. She has blond hair and big, blue eyes! Now begins the hard part of waiting until we can bring her home. We get to visit her two times tomorrow and we’re hoping we get to see her on Friday, too. This has been such an emotional week, but now we know it was all worth it!

By the way, we received information from our international adoption doctor. She had some concerns as we did too. She had some things for us to try to get more information on. Some of the things we were able to get answers on and some not. While our little girl is very small for her age and behind in her development, she doesn’t seem to have any health issues that can’t be taken care of when we get home.

Today we got to visit with her outside. This was nice to have the fresh air, although it was about 100 degrees today. We stayed in the shade under a gazebo-like covering. We were allowed to take pictures for the first time today, so we took lots of them. We hope to take more tomorrow and some video as well. She did much better today. There were no tears. A couple of sad faces that looked like tears were about to come, but we were able to divert her attention to something else before the tears came out. Greg held her for quite awhile today and she was fine! Everyday that we have been there, she has been very interested in the jewelry that I was wearing. She just loved the necklace today and didn’t want to give it up. I told Greg this is only the beginning. Now he has two females who are “in need” of lots of jewelry. I’m assuming this love of jewelry will extend to other accessories and footwear, of course!

Another couple arrived last night, so now there are three couples here. They are on their second trip and have their court date tomorrow. Good luck! We all went out to dinner and just got back. We went to San Pizza. They have an English-translated menu and some employees who speak English. Although they can give you an English menu, the prices on it are not current ones. They give you their regular menu, so you know what the new prices are. However, the regular menu is in Russian, so you have no idea what Russian items go with the English items. This is the second time we have been there. Prices are also pretty reasonable. We would definitely recommend it!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Third Day in Astrakhan

It’s Tuesday, our third day in Astrakhan. It seems like much longer. We haven’t spoken much about the city here. It’s very different than what we’re used to. Most of the buildings here seem to be very old, and many have had little updates over the years. There are wood sided structures that look like they have never had paint on them. There are wires and pipes running everywhere on all the buildings, and from building to building. Many roofs are of plain corrugated metal with makeshift downspouts. There are many sheds made of heavy gauge plate steel everywhere that look like they can be lifted into place with a crane. We’re told that these are mostly garages, (they’re about the size of a parking space) but some people use them for storage or even to live in!

There really doesn’t seem to be any concept of landscaping here. The ground is either covered by buildings, paving, or just left to be whatever grows there, so it’s a combination of bare dirt and weeds. There are many trees but they don’t seem to get trimmed, so many buildings have a kind of overgrown look to them. We’ve seen a few places that have flowers planted, but they’re usually just mixed in with all the other vegetation.

They have central heating plants so there are above-ground heating pipes that run everywhere, mostly along roadsides. There are usually at least one pair of roughly 16” diameter pipes, crudely wrapped with insulation, held on with ropes, along every street. And the pipes extend to every building in the city it seems. Not sure why they don’t put these underground.

The main roads are mostly asphalt while the minor roads are just dirt. There are no lines on the roads anywhere. They just use the right half (roughly) to drive on. If there is no oncoming traffic, the street just kind of becomes one-way. Scary. Without lanes, the cars just go kind of go everywhere and are literally inches from each other most of the time. Cars and small vans cut in and out of traffic with no apparent rules at all. Surprisingly though, we haven’t seen many accidents. We both decided that we would never want to attempt driving here. We have a driver that takes us to the orphanage and anywhere else we need to go that is adoption-related. Otherwise, we’re pretty much on our own.

There are LOTS of stray dogs and cats roaming around. Apparently, not many Russians keep pets like we do, so they treat them more like just wildlife, kind of like we would treat squirrels.

We visited with our child twice today, first in the morning for about 40 minutes. It went reasonably well. There was some crying, not at first, but after about 20 minutes. We think it’s just because we’re strangers and she’s not used to us. She especially doesn’t like it when I (Greg) hold her, probably because there is only one male at the orphanage, a doctor who only works the night shift. Kyley has been holding her and I have been holding the toys or books, etc. And most of the time, she seems content with that. After our visit, they took us to a store to buy a few toys for the child and things to keep in our refrigerator for our lunches. It reminded us a little of a Sam’s Club. Except for the restaurant in the hotel (it’s kind of like a restaurant, anyway) there really are none nearby. They’ve told us we probably shouldn’t venture out on foot after dark so we’ve been somewhat confined to the hotel in the evenings.

Our second visit with the child seemed slightly better than the morning visit. It’s hard to tell, but she seems to be warming up to us a little. She seems to really like it when Kyley sings to her. She liked the little musical lion we bought for her at the store. We almost got her to smile today, but it’s not quite there yet. Toward the end of our visit, she seemed very tired (rubbing the eyes) and cried quite a bit. That signaled the caregiver to come take her and end our visit. We only get to see her in a meeting room. They don’t let us see where she sleeps, probably for the privacy of the other kids.

We’re waiting for our pediatrician to email us back her comments from the medical information we sent her yesterday. They tell us that we should make a decision on whether we want to adopt her by tomorrow which includes selecting a name for her. We don’t want to make our decision until we hear from the doctor though. Wow, this is a lot to process all at once.

A tough day!

Sorry for the delay in posting. We have been having difficulties getting Internet service here. We finally got the hotel’s computer guy to help us set it up today. They don’t have wireless, so when we asked at the desk about Internet access, they just handed us a cord! Well, as it turns out, we needed to set up some sort of “proxy server” for the cord to work, and now it does. The computer guy didn’t speak English so he couldn’t tell us what he did. So it may not work when we get home, but that’s OK, we’ll worry about that later. Anyway, we just posted yesterday’s entry (see below) now that we have everything working. So here is today’s (Monday’s) posting:

What a day! We had no idea what we were in for. We went to the Ministry of Education first thing this morning, along with Russ and Monica, another couple that are here, to get some information about the child that was referred to us. They went in first, when they were done, it was our turn. We need to stop for a second here and say how lucky we are to have them here with us. This is their second “first trip” and they have been so helpful since they’ve been through this before. Thanks again to them.

The brief description of the child given to us by the officials there seemed to indicate only some minor health issues. Then they asked if we wanted to see the child. We said “yes”, of course. So we signed some documents that expressed our interest in traveling to the orphanage to visit the director, doctor, and finally, see the child. Then they drove us to an office where the document was notarized. Then back to the MOE for more paperwork, and finally to the orphanage! Whew. All the while it’s like 90 some degrees and there is NO air conditioning anywhere here, including the van we were riding around in all day. Oh and did we mention, men don’t wear shorts in Russia?

We met with the director, doctor, and some of the caregivers first, and later they brought the child into the room as well. Our adoption consultant and translator were of course with us too. Unfortunately, the health issues of this child turned out to be much greater than expected, and we ended up turning down the referral and heading back to the MOE, more or less devastated. We can’t even explain how difficult this was, and we had literally minutes to make the decision.

When we returned to the MOE we had to explain why we turned down the referral and they were able to find another one for us. We had to go through all the same things; MOE, Notarize, MOE again, then off to a different orphanage! Our new referral was much younger than we expected. (We’re not allowed to give any specific information). We’ve sent the health information, which was better this time, to our international adoption physician in Ann Arbor. She will review it and send us back her evaluation, based on the information we provided.

So we return to the orphanage tomorrow (Tues) to spend more time with the child. We’ll let you know how that goes. We need to try to get some sleep tonight. It hasn’t been that good so far, especially for one of us. Guess who!

Monday, July 21, 2008

In Astrakhan now

Let me start off by saying Happy Birthday to my cousin, Charity! We’ll celebrate when we get home. Have a great one!

Boy, did we sleep last night! I went to bed at 10:30 p.m. and woke up once during the night at about midnight, but went back to sleep. That’s great for me! The day started with a really nice breakfast at the hotel. It was free! Well, it was included in our room rate, but it was still good. We didn’t need to leave for the airport until 2:30 p.m., which only gave us a few hours, but we decided to be adventurous. We asked for specific directions for taking the Metro (the subway system) to go to the Kremlin and Red Square. We found the Metro station, got on the correct train, and made it off at the right stop. Yeah! We walked all around the Red Square and saw Lenin’s Masoleum and St. Basil’s Cathedral. We didn’t have time to go in the Cathedral, so we’ll have to save that for the next trip. We walked around the outside of the Kremlin and then down part of Tverskaya Road. Everything was very fascinating to see! The architecture of the buildings is just unbelievable. We (Greg) took a lot of pictures. It started to rain, so we went inside the mall and grabbed a bite to eat. We did a little window-shopping, but that’s all we had time for. Then we made it back on the correct train and got off at the correct stop. Yeah!

By the time we got back to the hotel, we only had a few minutes before it was time to leave for the airport to go to Astrakhan. On the way to the airport, our driver picked up another couple, also with CHI, that would be traveling with us. They have been here before, so they have been a wealth of information! Thank you! I’ve got to tell you about this plane ride. First, they shuttled us to the plane in a tram. Then we get on the plane. No kidding, it must have been at least 100 degrees inside that plane! I can tolerate heat very well, but this was too much for me. We sat in the plane for about 25 minutes before it took off and some cool air started coming in. Greg had sweat just dripping down his face. His hair was all wet. The rows in the plane were very close together, to squeeze as many in as possible. When Greg sat in his seat, there wasn’t enough room for his knees! The tray tables would hardly fold down all the way because we were so close to them. So we’re in this very HOT plane and also in very close quarters with each other. Are you getting a picture of this? Luckily, at least the heat did get better and made the close quarters more bearable! The flight was good. No problems. When we got off the plane though, they made us board a bus to get to the terminal. It was all of a 100 ft. ride. We didn’t really get that one. It would have been quicker to walk!

We were met at the airport and brought to our hotel. We didn’t get here until about 8:30 p.m., so we’ve been hanging out in our room and typing this blog post. We have a 9:00 a.m. appointment at the Ministry of Education tomorrow. We’ll be leaving here at 8:30 a.m. Wish us luck!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

We made it!

We’re here in Moscow! Safe and sound! We are absolutely exhausted. We have been up for about 30 hours straight. Neither one of us could sleep on the plane. Both of our flights were good! Pretty smooth take-offs and landings! Only minor turbulence. The flight from Chicago to Moscow went through Newfoundland, past the south tip of Greenland, direcly over Iceland, and through the Scandinavian countries, north of Oslo. The plane had TV sets on the back of each seat that would show the progress of the flight graphically on a map, along with data like the time left to go and the current time in both cities. Greg thought that was pretty cool!

Our interpreter and driver picked us up at the airport and brought us to the hotel. Above is a picture. It’s about 85 degrees here today and cloudy. Moscow is a very busy city with lots of cars and people out walking around. And this is Saturday! We’re wondering what the work week is like.

After we arrived at the hotel, our interpreter helped me exchange our money. Greg waited in the hotel lobby with the luggage while we walked across the street. We went into this teeny, tiny place about the size of a phone booth. Both of us squeezed in. It was dark inside with just one person sitting behind a bulletproof glass wall. They exchanged my money, so I guess it was alright. It was just the strangest place to hand over a bunch of money. Then Greg and I were on our own. We really don’t know where in Moscow we are and we’re both so tired that we didn’t venture too far. We had lunch at McDonald’s. It’s right across the street from our hotel. It was pretty much the same as our McDonald’s, only everything was in, you guessed it, Russian! A Big Mac is still called a “something Mac” so that’s what we ordered. The person that took our order even spoke English somewhat. Then we walked down a brick paver plaza. It ended at some kind of amusement park. There was an admission charge to get in, so we just peeked through the gates. Then we walked around a bit. Greg was taking a bunch of pictures the whole time. I don’t know of what.

Our first interpreter left us the number of another interpreter that will help us with our trip to Astrakhan tomorrow. I just called her to find out the specifics of the next leg of our journey. She said that our flight doesn’t leave until 5PM so hopefully we’ll have a chance to see a little more of Moscow before we head out.

Stay tuned, the next post will hopefully be from Astrakhan! It’s about 85 degrees here today and cloudy. Moscow is a very busy city with lots of cars and people out walking around. And this is Saturday! We’re wondering what the work week is like.

After we arrived at the hotel, our interpreter helped me exchange our money. Greg waited in the hotel lobby with the luggage while we walked across the street. We went into this teeny, tiny place about the size of a phone booth. Both of us squeezed in. It was dark inside with just one person sitting behind a bulletproof glass wall. They exchanged my money, so I guess it was alright. It was just the strangest place to hand over a bunch of money. Then Greg and I were on our own. We really don’t know where in Moscow we are and we’re both so tired that we didn’t venture too far. We had lunch at McDonald’s. It’s right across the street from our hotel. It was pretty much the same as our McDonald’s, only everything was in, you guessed it, Russian! A Big Mac is still called a “something Mak” so that’s what we ordered. The person that took our order even spoke English somewhat. Then we walked down a brick paver plaza. It ended at some kind of amusement park. There was an admission charge to get in, so we just peeked through the gates. Then we walked around a bit. Greg was taking a bunch of pictures the whole time. I don’t know of what.

Our first interpreter left us the number of another interpreter that will help us with our trip to Astrakhan tomorrow. I just called her to find out the specifics of the next leg of our journey. She said that our flight doesn’t leave until 5PM so hopefully we’ll have a chance to see a little more of Moscow before we head out.

Stay tuned, the next post will hopefully be from Astrakhan!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

This is it!

Oh, my gosh! Can you believe we leave tomorrow? I think we’re ready. At least, we’re as ready as we’re going to be.

Yesterday we finished up the last two documents that we were waiting on. We needed a few documents notarized, so Greg and I had to meet to have that done. Then I headed to the Office of the Great Seal to them apostilled. I only had fifteen documents and the line wasn’t too bad, so that went pretty fast.

I started putting things in suitcases today. I’d put something inside and then I’d go weigh it. I can tell you I will be using every ounce of the 40 pounds of luggage that I am allotted. I’m hoping Greg can use a little less. That way, I can put some of my things into his suitcase!!!

Thank you for all of the calls and e-mails today! It means a lot to know we have so many friends and family praying for us! Our next blog entry will be from Russia. Yeah!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Only three days away!

It’s been another busy, hectic week!

But let me start out with something fun! My mom and I went to Chicago on July 9th and 10th. We took the train. We went to see ‘Jersey Boys.’ It was phenomenal! The music was unbelievable. We would have sworn it was Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons actually performing. Of course, we covered every inch of Magnificent Mile. We had a nice relaxing trip. I almost cancelled because of everything that needed to be done for our Russia trip. I am soooooo glad that I didn’t! It was just what I needed.

Back to the rest of the week… As of right now, we have gathered all of the documents that we need to take with us, except for two. I have been promised by Greg’s doctor that I can pick up his medical report and doctor’s license tomorrow. The other is our Home Study Addendum for the child’s age range. This has been just awful! It’s really hard to do something that you don’t really want to do and, on top of it, not knowing the reason that you have to do it. God bless, Alanna and Hands Across the Water. They have bent over backwards to help us through this. If you’re ever looking for a Home Study Agency, I would highly recommend them. If you ever have to go through something like this, please feel free to e-mail us and we’ll be happy to share our experience.

I’ve been holding off getting the documents apostilled until I have all of them. That way I can do it all in one trip. My hopes are to finish up these two documents tomorrow morning, then I can head to get them apostilled tomorrow afternoon. Cross your fingers!

The extension approval of our I-171H form arrived today! Yeah! We are so lucky to have friends! (You know who you are). This never would have happened without you! FYI to those of you who someday have to do this – Be very careful with the expiration dates on all of your documents. Double check all of the dates yourself! DO NOT rely on the expiration dates that someone else gives you. Of course, I should have known this, but I don’t want anyone else to have this same problem. USCIS requires three months processing time for an extension of the I-171H form. Check that date!

Our VISA arrived yesterday. Yeah!
Our FBI Fingerprint Clearance reports arrived yesterday. Yeah!

Thanks to my Mom and Dad for picking up the copy of our CPA’s license for us. Then they also took me out to lunch at the Common Grill in Chelsea. One of my favorite restaurants! Mom and Dad, you’re the best!

We’ve packed some toys and books to play with when we get to meet her. We’re bringing a few snacks to have during our time together. We’ve packed a couple of outfits in different sizes so that we can know what size of clothing to have ready for when she comes home.

Everyone keeps telling me to pack light! For those of you who know me, this is VERY difficult! I don’t wear the same outfits in a month, let alone in ten days!

This is continuing to be such a wonderful journey. Thank you for being a part of it!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


We have been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to post everyday. So here is the week-at-a-glance.

On Wednesday, we found out that we had an extremely important document that was expiring on July 8. I spent most of the day getting everything together for this. After many phone calls and computer searches, I had everything ready. Greg had to sign it, so I drove up to his work. He signed it and then we sent it off overnight mail. After that, we went to the police department to be fingerprinted for our FBI Clearance Check. These two things took the whole day!

On Thursday, I filled out all of the paperwork for the FBI Check and overnight mailed that along with the fingerprints to the FBI office. I contacted the Go To Russia Travel Agency. They e-mailed us some possible flights. I sent them on to CHI to make sure they were okay before I booked them. I spoke to another person at the travel agency about our travel visas. I filled out those applications on-line and overnight mailed all of the necessary information to Go To Russia Travel Agency. I had to drive to HATW (our home study agency) in Ann Arbor with the forms for our state police clearance reports. I contacted both my doctor and Greg’s doctor for appointments for our medical reports. Finally by 8:30 p.m., we were ready to drive to my parents’ house for the holiday weekend.

What a beautiful 4th of July! The weather was gorgeous. My family took our 1911 Ford Model T in the Eaton Rapids parade. Then we went back to my parents’ and had a family barbeque. In the evening, we went to the parade in Mason. We were just spectators for this parade!

We came home late on Saturday. We ended up going to dinner with some friends. I happened to mention that we had some problems with the expiration of one of our documents. Luckily, our friend works for a U.S. Senator. She said she would check on the status of our documents for us on Monday.

Sunday was a day with no plans! Yeah! We ended up finishing up some home projects that needed to be done and went grocery shopping. On Sunday evening, I started going through our dossier documents to double-check expiration dates, updated forms, etc.

Monday was back to the hecticness! (Is that a word?) I started with a phone call with our friend at the U.S. Senator’s office. After I faxed her some information, she was able to make some phone calls. She’s going to do some follow-up in a couple of days, but it looks like we might be okay on this. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I spoke with Marilyn at CHI and found out that we also need chest x-rays. So I contacted our doctors’ offices and made those arrangements. Marilyn also gave us some disturbing news about the child’s age range of our documents. Nothing is final right now, so I’m trying not to fret about it. If you know me, then you know that I always fret over the details. So even though I say I’m not going to fret, I REALLY AM FRETTING!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Picture This!!!!

First of all, notice that this is the first blog entry that we’ve had in months. That’s because we’ve had nothing to say. We’ve just been waiting and waiting and waiting!!!

Okay, now…. picture this! Today, I’m at the salon getting my hair colored. My stylist and friend, Lindy, has just finished globbing my hair and he sent me over to have a seat while I wait my 20 minutes. Not a pretty picture! I left my purse, which has my phone in it, over at his station. All of a sudden I hear my cell phone ring. How I heard it I really don’t know with all the hair dryers and talking, etc. I hurried across the room to get my phone and it’s Marilyn from CHI with THE CALL!!! So here I am with the call I’ve been waiting for with a bunch of hair dye on my head. Once I hung up the phone, I had to tell Lindy. He was so excited for us that he announced it to the whole salon. He told everyone that he felt like he had just delivered a baby! So a whole salon of people that I don’t even know found out that we’re going to Russia before Greg even knew!!!!

We’ve been waiting so long that this is almost hard to believe! We are so excited that I can’t even explain. Now we have a whole bunch of things to get done in 17 days. This will keep me busy! We’ll keep you posted. Thank you so much to all of our family and friends for your prayers and support. Keep them coming!