Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Wow, it’s already Wednesday and this is our first blog entry since we returned from Russia late Saturday evening. Sorry for the delay, but we’ve been trying to catch up on our sleep and get our new little girl oriented to her new life here in Michigan. Today is also our little Grace’s first birthday! We didn’t really do that much other than wish her happy birthday about fifty times today. The family is coming over on Sunday to celebrate with us, so we’re really looking forward to that.

But let’s get back to where we left off. Our flight left Moscow on Saturday at about 1:00. It went just like you would think an 11 ½ hour flight would be with a 1-year-old. She slept a couple of times for a total of about 3 hours maybe. The rest of the time, we just tried to make her as comfortable as possible, which meant walking down the aisles about 100 times, feeding her when we could, and trying everything else we could think of. Needless to say, it was a long flight.

We arrived in Atlanta on-time, went through passport control, customs, and immigration, which took about two hours. When that was all over, we still had three hours before our flight to Detroit left. So again, we walked her around the airport, fed her, and did everything we could to keep her happy. She was soooo tired. She finally fell asleep about a ½ hour before we left Atlanta, and slept the whole flight. She didn’t wake up until we got out of our seats to leave the plane!

We made the long walk to the baggage claim area. When we arrived, the new grandparents were there waiting for us! It was so good to see them after being away from home for 28 days! They helped us with our luggage and drove us home. We got home about 12:30 AM Sunday morning. We figured that we had been up for 34 hours straight. Mom and Dad spent the night, so they wouldn’t have to drive home so late, and so they could spend Sunday with us. Grace slept the entire night, until 9:00 the next morning without waking once!

Aunt Julie came to visit on Sunday afternoon while Mom and Dad were still here. Other than that, we tried to unpack a little, and start to get things organized. On Monday, I did laundry when Grace was asleep. When she was awake, I just played with her. Greg went in to work for a few hours Monday afternoon.

On Tuesday, we had our first outing with Grace to the pediatrician’s office. It went very well. She didn’t scream like she did at the doctor visit in Moscow. That is at least, until we went to the lab to have her blood drawn. She started screaming when they were just looking for a spot to put the needle. She doesn’t like having her arms held down like that. When the needle came, it was even worse. The first try, they couldn’t find her little vein, so they went to the other arm and tried there. They finally finished, but by the end, poor little Gracie was just drenched in sweat and shaking from crying so hard. We felt so bad for putting her through that. We headed home and she fell asleep on the 10 minute drive.

Today, Wednesday, we had our second excursion in the car. We went to our favorite place – Target! We had a few essentials we needed to buy. She did very well, taking in all the new sights and sounds.

We’re trying to get Gracie on a regular schedule of sleeping and eating, so that she doesn’t get overtired or too hungry. Either of those things can make her kind of cranky. Tomorrow we plan on changing it a little more. We’re experimenting to see what works best.

So our adoption journey is coming to a close, and a new chapter is starting with our life as a family. Thanks to everyone who supported us, through your kind words, prayers, thoughts, or even if you just read our blog and never commented. It all means the world to us. This doesn’t mean we’re done posting, but they’ll likely be less frequent. Having this blog has been so helpful to us in so many ways, we can’t imagine going on this journey without it. They say it takes a village to raise a child. We feel that it also takes a village to adopt a child as well. If we can help anyone with their journey, please drop us a comment. We relied on so many others before us and we’d love the chance to do the same.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Last Day in Russia!!!

We had our interview at the American Embassy today. It went really well. We were there with Monica and Little M, and the family from New York. We also met some people from New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, who were adopting with different agencies. When we first got there, we found a very long line of people, and we thought we were in for a long wait. But they let us go ahead of the line because we were there for adoptions. Those in line must have been there for other things, since they didn’t seem to have any kids with them. We had to take a number and wait for them to call us up to the window. There was a really nice man there who just described what all the documents were and what we needed to do with them, so it wasn’t much of an interview really. Then we waited again, not very long though, and they called us up to get Grace’s passport! She travels on a Russian passport with a US visa, the opposite of ours. Then as soon as we’re on US soil, she becomes a joint American/Russian citizen. Now we have everything that we need to come home! We explained it all to her and she’s really excited! Actually, her biggest interest in her passport was with how it tasted.

For dinner tonight, we went to KFC! Wow, what a way to celebrate our last night in Moscow! Grace was a little cranky. Because of our appointments, we had to wake the poor thing up early from both of her naps today. She was absolutely exhausted by dinner time, so we didn’t think she would be able to make it through dinner at a restaurant. There’s a KFC about three quarters of a mile from our hotel. We put Grace in the baby carrier and walked to KFC. (Grace isn’t real fond of the stroller, but she loves the baby carrier!) We were hoping KFC had an English menu. No such luck! But one person there spoke a little English. We were able to order chicken and fries. We brought it back to our room and ate it here. It was pretty good. Not exactly like KFC at home, but close enough.

They pick us up for the airport tomorrow morning at 8:45. Our flight leaves at 12:55 and lands in Atlanta at 4:30. That’s an 11 ½ hour flight. We have a five hour layover in Atlanta during which time we have to go through customs and immigration. Then our plane for Detroit leaves at 9:30 PM, arriving at 11:30 PM. It will be an extremely long day, especially for the little one, but we’re anxious to get it over with and start our new life together. We really need to get Grace on a regular schedule. With all these appointments and flights, she has meals and naps at different times each day so it’s been really hard on her. But we’ll be able to fix that in just a day or two now.

Monica and Little M. will be on our same flight to Atlanta so we’re really happy about that. Our new friends from New York fly out the same day, but on a different flight. We wish them safe travels back home.

So today, on our 27th day since we left home (yes, we’re counting), we are making our very last post from Russia. The next one will be from home!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Baby saw the Doctor

Today is our first full day in Moscow. We arrived at the hotel last night from the airport after 11 so we didn’t post anything yesterday. Luckily, the flight was only behind schedule about 15 minutes, not 3 hours like Andy and Kathy had to endure the other day. Gracie’s first airplane ride was a little rough. It was way past her bedtime, and we had some trouble making formula for her on the plane. It seems they have bottled water at room temperature or hot water for coffee. That’s it. So now we have a better plan for the next flight. She was pretty fidgety for most of the two hour trip, but finally went to sleep for the last fifteen minutes or so. She was exhausted and quite frankly, so were Mom and Dad, but we made it. On the way from the airport to the hotel, our interpreter had me fill out forms for the embassy. It was difficult to write while riding in the van, so I’m not sure how legible things will be, but there are many forms to complete, and Monica had to do hers as well.

Today they picked us up bright and early at 8:00 AM to go to have Gracie checked out by the embassy-approved physician. We were there with Monica and Little M. and another family from New York with their new son. We had to wait quite a while before the doctor got there, so the kids were getting pretty impatient. Of the three, Gracie went last. The exam was pretty quick, the doctor was very nice, and spoke English quite well. But Gracie HATED that exam! She just screamed while we just had to sit there watching in the chairs we were told to sit in. She’s pretty uncomfortable around people she doesn’t know, especially men. And this man had a big bushy mustache, a white lab coat, and was holding on to her while looking in her ears and mouth. It was really hard to watch. When it was over, like ten minutes later, we went back to the van, and she went right to sleep on Kyley’s shoulder. She was wiped out!

We went for a couple of walks today around the hotel here. On one of them we stopped at a local supermarket and got more baby supplies and water. It’s only a few blocks from the Holiday Inn Lesnaya where we are staying. If you go out the lobby door, turn right, go down the street and take the second left, go two blocks and its on your right, on the corner. It has pictures on the side of produce and stuff, so it’s hard to miss.

We had dinner in the hotel restaurant tonight with Monica, Little M, and the family from New York. Kyley and I both had the Beef Stroganoff and it was very good! This hotel is so much nicer than the Korvet in Astrakhan. When we checked in, they gave Gracie a little stuffed animal. There was fresh fruit, a Kit Kat bar, big fluffy towels, and even a robe in our room! It’s nice to be pampered a little after spending almost a month in Astrakhan.

Tomorrow, we get picked up at 1:00 for our appointment at the U.S. Embassy which is our last thing to do before we get on the plane for Atlanta on Saturday. Can’t wait!