Thursday, March 31, 2011

Trip 1, Day3 and 4

Day 3, Visit #2
Yesterday we visited Sweet Pea for the 2nd time. I was pleased because I could tell she recognized me when she saw me. She smiled right away. She was dressed in a white jumper type thing that had green and orange birds on it and underneath-- a neon yellow shirt of course!  It is funny how the kids are dressed. No concern for matching, boys get dressed in pink, girls get dressed in (obviously boy clothes) blue. There were 2 other families there yesterday to see their children. A couple from Texas, there to see their little girl and a couple we were actually introduced to us pre-trip by Amy (thank you Amy) who are also on their 2nd trip and we just now found out- they passed court today for their little boy (Congratulations "O" family!!) The visitor room was hopping! We put out a blanket on the floor for Sweet Pea and sat her down. We wanted to see how mobile she was and she surprised us! Not only can she roll back and forth, she can crawl!!! We never expected that. I know  you're thinking, she's 9 months old, of course she can crawl. But due to the developmental delays we expect to see and the fact that she probably never or at least rarely gets time on the floor to do as she pleases, we would not have been surprised if she couldn't crawl. With some effort, she was able to get up to a sitting position also. We had a great time playing with her for a couple of hours. She likes her rattles and everything goes straight into her mouth! We also had an opportunity to see her eat. They brought her afternoon snack into the room. I was holding her on my lap and the caregiver fed her milk that had some cereal type stuff in it-- with a glass tea cup! The caregiver held a bowl under her chin and tipped the cup up to her mouth. Now you're asking "Can a 9 month old drink from a tea cup?" The answer is "NO!!" Just as much dribbled down into the bowl as into the baby. It was sad how quickly she tried to drink all she could- before it was taken away. I was more than a little upset- this is no way to feed a baby. Babies should be held and fed with a bottle by their loving mother, not by someone who needs to get it done quickly because she has 9 more to feed. I had to blink back a few tears and just know I will be able to change this for her. I have read the children eat everything in sight when they are adopted. The older ones (and I only mean 2-3 years old and up) will hoard food in their cheeks or in their rooms until they come to realize the food will always be there and they can have as much as they want.
When we bring Sweet Pea home, I plan to bottle feed her. I know, even in the USA they wean from the bottle by 1 year old. I have 2 reasons. First, it is good for bonding and attachment. Holding her in my arms and feeding her will provide time for us to make eye contact and for her to realize I will meet her needs. Until this point in her life, adults are just caregivers and no one of them is any more important to her than any other one. I want to be the important one (alright, and maybe Joe too :). Second, formula is a good way to get more nutrition into her. She is a little small now, but I guarantee she will be on par with her age group in the US by Christmas. I have read blogs from several other IA (internationally adopted) kids. They sprout up and out, several inches and several pounds very quickly with proper nutrition and love.
Sweet Pea also had a runny nose. She does not like having it wiped!! She seemed to be feeling ok though and we had fun playing with her.
After returning to the Vlad Inn, Joe and I had a bowl of Borscht (love it!) in the hotel restaurant. They have a great bread basket too- some sort of pumpernickel-ish rolls with pieces of walnuts, this sliced brown bread that is sour and a little bitter (I know that sounds odd- but it's great) and then of course--the white roll (haven't tried those yet, can get that at home). There were 3 parties going on last night. It was really loud. I think one was a first birthday party. They had a clown and someone dressed up in some sort of animal costume. We then returned to our room and passed out (from exhaustion, not alcohol).

Day 4, visit #3
Today we saw Sweet Pea again. She was a little fussy. She obviously was not feeling to good. Still had her runny nose and a little bit of a cough. She  also felt like she had a bit of a fever. She did pretty well though considering. I tried to hold her in my arms facing me (like you would if you were feeding with a bottle) and rock her a bit. But she just looked up at me and I could tell she was thinking "What are you doing lady??" She wasn't having it. She was dressed ok today, t-shirt, red turtleneck, yellow dress thing, yellow tights, socks over her tights. No new revelations today. We kept it kind of low key since she didn't seem to feel well. We were by ourselves today, no other families. We have a puffy, plastic book- it's made for babies and you can put pictures in it. We filled it with pictures of Joe and I. No, not because we are vain, we plan to leave it with her for the next 2-3 months so she can look at it and remember us. Anyway, I showed it to her today to get her used to having it and associating it with us. She was quite interested in it. It's the only book (and we brought several) that she actually looked at. The others went straight to her mouth. This one she looked at - and THEN tasted it. I thought that seemed like a good sign, she looked us and hopefully recognized us in the pictures.
We spoke with our IA Doc this am and we were very pleased. She said you can never say a referral has "no risk" for problems, but Sweet Pea is very "low risk" for problems based on the pictures we sent her and the information we gathered for her. This is good news and based on the time we have spent with Sweet Pea, it is exactly as we expected to hear. Yiippee!
On a side note, Clarisse arrived in Florida today with Mark, Amy and Meghan. Hope you have lots of fun Clarisse! Thanks to Mark and Amy for taking her with them! And thanks to Heather for driving her to the airport to meet them. And while we are at it, thanks to Kami and Randy for watching the rest of our zoo. We really appreciate all of the help everyone has given us! 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Trip 1, Day 2

Well, after getting in to the Vlad Inn at 5pm yesterday, we finally got to our room and decided to lay down just for an hour or so before we went to eat dinner. Yeah. Next thing we knew, it was the middle of the night. No dinner. Luckily, after reading dozens of adoption blogs, I knew to expect this. We were prepared with our protein bars and about 4am (Vlad time) we had tuna fish from a little snack pack.
We had breakfast at the Vlad Inn restaurant this am. For anyone coming here in the future, the Greek Omelet was very good! It is decently priced (adoptive parents get 25% off) and we got plenty of food.
After that, we were picked up by Ivan. First stop was the MOE (Ministry of Education) although I have also heard it called the DOE (Dept of Education)-- I think it is the same thing (?). It went fairly fast. We spoke with a lady who asked us some questions about ourselves and our lives. They were all things she probably knew the answer to already since she had our homestudy. I had heard somewhere that this was just a formality. If they had any doubts about us, they never would have given us a referral in the first place. She gave us the official "ok" to go and meet our referral. Yiipppee!!
The baby home Sweet Pea is in- is approximately 2 hours outside the city. A little less, but far enough, so we will only get to see her once daily from 3p-6p. On the way, we stopped to pick up a translator, Lana. Watching the landscape go by made the trip go pretty fast. I forgot to mention yesterday they are expecting The Asian Summit--or something like that next year. In preparation, Vladivostok received monies to fix up the city and they are re-doing the roads---ALL of them- at once! The roads are entirely ripped apart, but they still use them, it's a little bumpy (understatement). Driving is not for the faint hearted either. In Michigan, if you have a road with 3 lanes going a particular way--it is divided into 3 lanes and you choose one to drive in. Here, the 3 lanes are all one big one.  You can drive anywhere in the lane, pass on either side, use the shoulder if you need to. Things get a little tight some times, but I haven't seen any accidents.
Ok, back on topic--we arrive at the baby home. They brought the baby up right away. We are a little late and they have been waiting for us. They bring her in and she is so cute!! We were hooked at this point, everything else is just a formality. She is a tiny little peanut, she looks more like a 6 month old than a 9 month old. We expected that. I knew her weight and height and other vital stats. It is expected for every 3 months in the baby home, the child will be developmentally and physically behind by one month. From the blogs I have read, it is amazing how much they grow (physically and developmentally) in the first year they are home.
Sweet Pea allowed me to take her from the caregiver right away although she was looking around and seemed confused. She didn't cry, but she was definitely a little weary of us. The caregiver gave her a rattle and that seemed to hold her attention and break the ice for us a bit. We have video to share when we get home. We cannot post anything until the adoption is final because she is not our child at this point.
I held her and we played with her- just talking to her, playing with her rattle. We brought a few little toys and books. It was fun to watch her focus on the toys and explore them--turning them over and looking at them, shaking them and of course, in true baby fashion, she tasted every one too- putting it into her mouth and biting it. She has 2 lower front teeth so far. She gets spoon fed in the baby home and is given liquids in a cup with someone helping her. No sippee cups here.
She got a little concerned when I gave her to Joe. The caregivers in the baby homes are all women. The kids may never see men at all, so often they are afraid of them as men tend to be taller and larger than women and have deeper (scarier :( ) voices. She was about to cry, but we were able to distract her with the toys and talk her out of it. We watched the videos we took of her on the car ride home. She was quiet and reserved at first, but she warmed up and in  the later videos, she is responding to our cooing and evens babbles back at us a bit. She made more eye contact by the end than she did in the beginning. (Important point!) She was content to be held the entire time. When we tried to take away a particularly tasty book about Big Bird (we only wanted to give her another toy), she started to fuss and try to reach it. We, of course, melted and folded like a house of cards and gave it right back to her. she running the show already?
We are back at the Vlad Inn. Ate some dinner and will be going to sleep. We are having a hard time connecting with people at home. The time difference means you are fast asleep while we are awake and vice versa. We are still coping with the jet lag too.
We finally figured out how to get some of the pictures taken on the Iphone into the blog...
Feel free to comment, We enjoy reading them...
On the jet way in Detroit. We're really going to Russia!

A "brontosaurus" in Chicago O'hare
Decorated bench in Chicago
Hey diddle diddle the cat and the fiddle...
The instructions on how to eat my dinner on Asiana Airlines
Hmmm....what's the brown stuff in the middle? Meat? Soy? Other?
"Put rice into veggies, add Korean hot paste and a few drops of sesame oil, mix and enjoy!"

Sunday, March 27, 2011

We're in Seoul, Korea

We arrived in Seoul about 1 1/2 hours ago. It is 0600 Monday morning right now here--about 3pm Sunday in Michigan. We took Asiana Airlines from Chicago to here. Very nice. Joe said the seats were more comfortable, with more leg room than home. The flight attendants looked like they had all been cloned! All young, pretty, thin and dressed exactly alike in their tan suits. They were virtually interchangable. We got on the flight at 0100 (which was 0200 at home for us). We ate right away. I had a hard time understanding the flight attendant-- all I heard was beef or "mghkydc"- I have NO idea what she said, which she was holding in her hand. Since I don't eat meat, I pointed to the tray which looked like veggies and said " I'll take that" I have a picture of it-- but I can't post it on the IPad (we're still learning). Anyway, it's a Korean dish called Bi-Bim-Bab. It came with instructions on how to eat it! It was ok, rice and marinated veggies (?) and some brown stuff, which I don't think was meat--- but I'm not really sure what it was. It also came with green pasta with seaweed (bland), yucky soup- they melted a little block of something in hot water (I'm not a fussy person!) and fruit. It filled me up. And, as expected, a really good cup of tea! We slept pretty well and all in all, it went fairly fast for a 13 hour flight (somehow they shaved off an hour from the scheduled 14 hour flight). The Seoul airport is nice, new and modern. We wanted to get Transit Hotel while we are here for 5 hours-- but the timing isn't working out. There are places
where you can take a shower, so we are waiting for that to open at 0700. We are not so pleasant smelling at this point.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Chicago O'Hare

We are in Chicago O'Hare Airport. I was loving it here. They have awesome art all over the airport. See pictures. But, we went to eat at Chili's where the hostess was completely rude and through the security checkpoint where the TSA people were completely rude- not to us, but to other people and then Joe buys a pop and the lady who sells pop is rude. I'm not liking it so much anymore!
Anyway, back to our story. Last week, Lorien calls me again. Another referral. I called Joe. We look at the email, the medical info looks good----but the picture -- well, I've taken some pictures in my day that didnt really flatter me. The referral was a 9month old girl, but the picture was of her as a newborn. We asked for more pictures/info and hired an IA doc (Internatioal Adoption) to look over the info. We did not get our hopes up. I was so upset when we lost the sibling referral ( more than I expected considering we had never seen them and didn't even know their names)--so I tried to stay neutral. However, this past Monday at 10:28, we received the pictures of this beautiful baby girl. We sent everything again to the IA doc-- but we knew, this is it. That was Monday, today is Saturday. What a whirlwind week. and, if you ever want a real kick in the teeth, try buying planes and visas on a Monday for the upcoming Saturday!! Ouch! But here we are, in Chicago, waiting for our 14-hour flight to Seoul, Korea. We will be down for 4 1/2 hours there and then a 2 1/2 hour flight to
Vladivostok, Russia where our little Sweet Pea waits for her Mommy and Daddy-something she has never known.

Edit: We couldn't add the pictures from the IPad. We'll try again when we get to Vlad.

We are on our way!!!

Welcome to our blog. Joe and I started this blog to share our adoption journey with our family and friends. It's also a great way to record our story to share with Sweet Pea some day. We actually started all of this 2 years ago on 9-9-09, my birthday for anyone who doesn't know. That's when we wrote the first check (the first of many!) and filled out the application (the first of many!). Then we spent months gathering all of the paperwork and documents we would need and completing our home study with a social worker. We requested a little girl, under 24 months with minor correctable needs. Our completed dossier (all that paperwork) was sent to Russia in July of 2010. Within 2 weeks, we were offered a 2 year old little boy. Apparently many more little boys are available- something we didn't know previously or it might have changed our requests. But, at this point, we had our hearts and our minds set on a little girl-- not to mention a thousand dollars worth of girl Gymboree clothes (stock alert--buy Gymboree -and I recently discovered Carters too!) we decided to wait for our girl.
So--then--we do not hear ANYTHING for months and months and months. Out of the blue in February we receive an email from Lorien (from the adoption agency). "Are you interested in siblings?" A girl born in february 2009 and her little brother born in february 2010 were available. We thought about it-for about 5 minutes- checked the bank account(there's no 2 for the price of 1 in adoption!) and said "YES". We started to prepare and even told the family at Sophia's birthday party (did you keep our secret Melanie?). But, 4days later I received a voicemail from Lorien asking me to call her. I couldn't call. Just by the sound of her voice, I knew it wasn't good. I made Joe call. The sibs were not available yet, not all of the family had signed off. Just a mistake. We could wait, but it might be a while. We would be first on the list for them, but would continue to wait for a single girl too.
we are being called to board now. I'll finish this post when we arrive in Chicago.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


We will post later today