Our Adoption From Kazakhstan

Friday, June 29, 2007

Grandma Meets Olivia

Well, David made it home just fine last week. He said he wasn't feeling great at first, but is doing better now. I did OK without him here, but I missed him. There were some boring times, but I felt safe and tried to keep myself busy with the other moms who are staying. I did continue to visit Olivia every day. She looked at me like, "Where is that big guy with the glasses?"

Last night, mom got here at about 11 pm and I was so happy to see her. We visited Olivia today and it was love at first sight. Here are some pictures of them playing. We just had lunch and we're going for our first walk. That is always an adventure here because of the traffic and the way people drive.

Thanks for your messages and responses. You can ask questions too and I'll try to address them in my writing. Sometimes I'm not sure what to say. Also, please put your name on you post because I can't always tell who has written.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Good Times and Bad....Adventures in Kazakhstan

Olivia is officially our baby girl! Our court appearance went very well. We were nervous and had to answer a few tough questions, but overall everything was great. After court, we took our translator and coordinator to lunch. Zhanara is our translator (front of the table) and Irina the coordinator (behind Zhanara). Irina does not speak Engligh and the menu was in Russian, but the translator made it all OK.

I can't believe that everything is final. David left Thursday night, so I had to tell Olivia the news by myself on Friday. She didn't seem impressed! I do think it is funny that so many changes are happening in her life and she really has no say or right in any of it. I can't wait to tell her the stories when she gets a little bigger.

When I got home from taking David to the airport, I realized there was no water in the apartment. It was also really hot with no AC. I was feeling really sorry for myself lying on the bed when I noticed an air conditioning above the bed. I can't believe we didn't notice it before. So, now I have air conditioning, but I had to wash up like olden days. I filled a pot with bottled water (instead of river water) and washed my face and brushed my teeth. Luckily, on Friday morning, I had water again. We think the city is trying to conserve energy, so they randomly cut off water to sections of the city without notice.

Then, last night I had a great dinner with some of the other parents who are here adopting. We did a pot luck and met at Sarah and Fred's apartment to celebrate all of the positive decisions we had in court. The food and conversations were so good! The picture you see of us smiling is 5 minutes before we had our big adventure. The elevator was not working when we arrived for dinner, but afterwards, we decided to take it down. It went down, but did not open. At first, we laughed a lot. Then, we got scared. I said "Is there ventilation in here!" We tried prying the doors open, pushing buttons, jumping up and down and screaming "Help!" Nothing was working and then the elevator buttons which had been lit up went out. It was 11 pm and I thought we were going to have to spend the night in there. It was tiny and hot and there were five of us crammed in there. Finally, a lady heard us. She said something in Russian and left. She came back a few minutes later with tools to pry the door open. That did not work. We could hear her talking to some other people and guessed they were saying, "There are some Americans trapped in the elevator!" After about 20 minutes (which is really long time to be trapped in an elevator), Fred decided to jump up and hit the ceiling, which we had already tried to open. He thought if we took weight off of the floor, the doors may open. We thought it was a stupid idea. When he showed us what he meant, the doors opened. I have never been so happy to get off an elevator. I can't believe I've spent so much time here worrying about falling cranes and open, deep man holes!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Pictures From Astana

Olivia is doing great. She is crawling all over the place and just yesterday she started pulling up to her feet. She recognizes us and gets really excited at our arrival, which makes us really happy. She loves playing with the other baby whose mom visits at the same time. Yesterday, Olivia became fascinated with the door to the play room. Here is a picture of her peeking out of the room. I just had to go out and take her picture.

Today we took her to get passport pictures. It was a short drive, but we figure Olivia has not been a car since her birth. She was very quiet and observant. The big trucks scared her a little, but mostly she was just curious about the world she has never seen. This is a picture of her trip to the photo store. Don't get upset about the lack of car seat. They don't use car seats here at all. Most cars don't even have seat belts.

Some of you asked for more pictures, so here are some good ones.

This is the view from our apartment. Astana is a pretty modern city. We have enjoyed it, but we'll be happy to come home. Our apartment is on the 12th floor on the "left side" of the city. We are in the area where a lot of construction is going on. This view shows the older section of town where less construction is happening. But if you look closely, you will see cranes above the buildings.

Tomorrow is our court appearance. We will petition the judge to give us a positive decision for the adoption of Olivia. We both will give speeches in front of the court and answer questions posed by the judge. We are really nervous, but excited for this to be final. After the decision, David will come home. I will wait here for the required waiting period and visit Olivia every day. Thank you for keeping up with our story and sending comments and e-mails. I look forward to reading what you all have to say. I miss everyone at home.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

We Have a Court Date!

Today is Thursday, June 14 at 5:00 pm. We finished our official bonding period early this week and now have a court date for June 21 at 10:00 am. David’s flight was for that morning at 4:00, so we’ve had to change that. No problem, though he is still on standby for a couple different flights. It is pretty hard to get in and out of this country. They seem to have only a few flights every week to select places in the world.

Olivia is doing great! She is crawling around like crazy, only falling every now and then. She has become very cuddly, especially toward the end of our visit when she is getting tired. The new schedule in her new big baby room is a little different and she still is adjusting to the change. We suspect she is also teething by all of the drool and chewing.

Last night, we made dinner for some friends here. I tried fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans and salad, but with unusual ingredients and a gas stove, it was a little different than home. It was still good and nice to treat everyone after all they have done for us. We are trying to occupy our time with watching some movies and TV series that we borrowed. Last night we watched “The Office” with Stephanie and Jake. Then we walked home (I guess it is home for now).

Most things here are within walking distance, even though there is public transportation (buses). Today, David and I walked a couple of miles to get lunch at an outdoor market. They serve bread, shish-ka-bob, and plov. Plov is a local dish of rice, carrots, raisins, chickpeas, and some type of meat. I don’t ask about the meat! It is actually really good. People stand in long lines at this particular market to get the food. The reason why people here are so skinny is because they walk miles, to get food, go to work, visit. We have walked a lot, if for no other reason than to entertain ourselves.

Speaking of entertainment, here are some of the things we do. We have become fans of NCIS, something we would never watch at home. After the first episode, we said it was so bad that we would never watch it again. Now, we are big fans. We have watched it sparingly so that it lasts a long time. We have played about a thousand games of Hearts on the computer. I have played so many that I’m convinced I can beat my dad now, although David said last night that I still should not try to “shoot the moon” on him because it would never work.

I'll try to add pictures later. I need a faster computer for that!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Everything Going Well!

Our visits with Olivia have been going very well. The past few days she has been much more cuddly. She lets us hold her and sing to her. Yesterday, they moved her to a new baby room, the one for older babies. At first, I was worried that she would get less food or care there, but everything seems to be fine now. We are sharing the play room during our visitation with another mother and her new baby. We are getting along really well (the babies too). We're even planning on meeting for dinner this weekend. It is good to have someone to share worries and spend playtime with. Here is a picture of our new family. David and I look a little tired, but Olivia looks very cute and rested! We are scheduled to go to court on June 20. After that, David can come home and I'll stay and continue to visit.

In our spare time, we have been trying to find things to do. We walk a lot and I found a friend to run with. We have found a few good and not too expensive restaurants, and Sunday we visited the Pyramid of Peace and Agreement. We climbed to the top of the pyramid with an English-speaking guide. The four sides of the pyramid represent the four main religions and the top of the pyramid represents heaven. It was really interesting.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Eight Days Down, Seven To Go

For the process here, you have to spend 15 days bonding and then you go to court to make the adoption official. Today was day eight! We have seven more days of bonding and then we wait for the court to give us a date.

Our visit with Olivia today was very good. We spent most of the time in the play room. We spend a lot of time just looking at her and talking to her. She babbles a lot and loves to look at the other children playing. She is trying to crawl and is very determined to get where she wants to go. She does a lot of diving head first, cries, and then does it again. She seems to be more alert already and is getting stronger from playing and being given the chance to explore.

I am going to try and download a picture of the three of us playing today. This computer has a slow connection, so we'll see if it works.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

She Loves To Read

Olivia loves to read! We taught her how to turn the pages in the book when we read to her. Every day before we leave, we read "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" and "Brown Bear." She pays very close attention. I will try to put a few pictures here. So far, I have only been able to get on one at a time.


Olivia Rose! This is our little girl. Her given name is Gulnara, which means beautiful flower. So, we chose Rose as the middle name and Olivia as the first. It is funny, because we didn't use any names off our original list, but this one seems to fit her better than any of the others. Isn't she cute?

Olivia is getting used to us being around. The last two days, she has cried when we layed her down for her nap. We are leaving her with a bear, but today she threw it and reached for us. We get to visit every day for two hours from 10:00 am-12:00. At 12 she naps. This is 2:00 am your time. Two days ago the caretaker said I could try to feed her. Well, she was too distracted looking at David and the other babies (which she does all the time), so the nurse took over when I was not fast enough. They are really fast because they are used to feeding a lot of babies in a short period of time. We are happy that the babies seem to get plenty of food, although we will be happy to get her home and eating what the doctor recommends for her to gain some weight.

Yesterday (Friday), we were not allowed to visit, because it was the National Day for the Protection of Children. They had programs and visitors all day, so no adoptive parents were there. Instead, we walked around the city and participated in some of the activities going on downtown. Then, I went to a girl's night with my friends Stephanie and Emily and David found some locals with an X-Box.

We are feeling so happy right now! I hope everything continues to go as well as it has the past several days.

Hello to everyone at Jouett. Have a great summer. 5th grade teachers, have fun in Alaska! FBC, thank you for your prayers. Jouett students - HI!!! I miss you. Don't forget to leave a comment if you would like. I would love to hear from you and what you are up to!