Sunday, August 28, 2011

Wednesday, August 24th

We visited Sweet pea today. She remembered us right away today. We were able to speak with her caregivers regarding her schedule. She gets up at 0630 and goes to bed at 9pm with various naps and meals in between. They had her all bundled up again. As we stood there talking about her schedule, I held her in my arms. It was so hot; She was in her usual 2 layers of clothes with a hat and all. I had sweat running down my back, she didn’t make a peep.
We got to take her outside again. The caregiver told us she could walk with assistance. Joe set her feet on the ground and held her up by her hands. She took a few cautious steps at first but then realized she could trust this guy to hold her and –and then she was off! She loved walking and would smile and laugh. We had a great time with her. I forgot to mention on Tuesday, Clarisse found her tickle spot. Every time Clarisse tickled her belly she would double over and giggle. It was so cute to watch and I wonder if anyone had ever done that before. Again the three of us took turns holding her and walking her around.
We had picked up the DOE social worker on the way here. We are driving her to her family members home in Vladivostok so she can be at court bright and early tomorrow morning. She will be the one who says it is in Sweet pea’s best interest to be adopted by us. Yesterday, we drove the social worker, her daughter and her grandson to the store. It was not really out of our way and as our interpreter said- you do not say “no” to the social worker.
Anyway, we found out later she told Ivan she was very impressed with how Clarisse interacted with Sweet pea and how Sweet pea responded to her after just meeting her yesterday for the first time. She also thought Clarisse was very pretty- just like her mother and I looked too young to have a daughter that old. Haha since my oldest is 24! Of course Joe teased- I may look to young to have them, but I look to old to have Sweet pea! He’ll pay for that!

After that we returned to the hotel where we ate at the Vlad Inn restaurant and then struggled not to fall asleep before 8pm. We failed, but at least we came close this time.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

interpreter and driver picked us up at 0800 to go to Ussyrisk to see Sweet Pea for the Tuesday morning we woke up bright and early to get ready and eat breakfast. The first time in 5 months. It is a 2-hour drive, longer depending on traffic and if your driver will only drive the speed limit.
When we arrived we met with Tatiana, the chief medical director for the baby home and another doctor who also works there. We were able to ask them any questions about Sweet pea. We had asked pretty much everything on our first trip, so I asked if there were any changes. There were. Sweet pea had had pneumonia and was hospitalized for 2 weeks in July. WHAT!?!? When she returned, they said she had lost some of her abilities, the things she could do. WHAT!?!? They said  she was given breathing treatments and medicine at the baby home when she returned and some sort of electric therapy. WWWWHHAATTTT!?!? All I could think of is ECT given to psych patients. I usually do not play the “I’ve been a nurse for 20 years” card, but today was the day and followed it with WTF did you do to my baby? Ok, I said it in a nice way, technically she is still theirs, not ours yet. I said I was curious and asked to see the treatment. I could tell they thought this was odd, but agreed. So, we took a little walk back to 1974 and they showed me the nurse’s office. Turns out it is more of chest percussion with heat sort of thing to loosen up secretions. They also showed me an “antibacterial” machine that they sprayed stuff into the kids noses and throats- I know, I know all of these technical terms…I guess something was lost in translation.  Our interpreter was pretty good, but I think some of the medical stuff stumped her. 
Anyway, on to see Sweet pea. The baby home was being renovated, so the music room we used to visit with Sweet pea on the first trip was being used for childcare. We got to go to her gruppa. We got to see all of the babies and they were very interested in seeing some new faces come into the room. But, we only wanted to see one face, and there she was up front. I waved to her and she just looked at me. I think she somewhat remembered, but wasn’t quite sure. They picked her up and brought her over to us. She is so tiny. They claim she gained a kg and grew 5 cm. I don’t see it. Such a little peanut! I was also relieved to see she looked much better than I expected. They had also said she “would fall asleep while playing”. But she was alert when she was with us. She seemed to catch on after a few minutes…these are the people who tickled me and brought the good toys! They let us take her outside after we dressed her in another layer of clothes. Right, it’s only 72 degrees outside (Fahrenheit of course!). We pushed her around the grounds in a stroller for a little while before we took her out of it. We wanted to get our hands on her! The 3 of us, Clarisse, Joe and I took turns fighting over her…I mean holding her. She seemed much more comfortable. I brought out her favorite book from our first trip, a plastic bath book with big bird on it –from the dollar section at Target. What a deal!
We only got to stay for an hour and a half. Joe and I had to go to downtown Vladivostok to get our medicals. Even though we went and saw our own doctors twice in the past year to get all kinds of tests we did not need, you still have to repeat it here. They will at least accept our X-ray CD and copies of blood work results. Once we got downtown, just before we went into the building for the medical, the interpreter asked us if we had 30,000 rubles. From where? The ruble fairy? We just arrived in town yesterday. We did not have enough rubles. Luckily we did have enough money on us to exchange. We started running  (literally) around looking for a bank. At this point I realized, I’m not really in such great shape anymore. I vaguely wondered if I had a heart attack on the street—would I flunk the medical? I made a pact with myself to start exercising more.
We found a bank, exchanged the money after waiting for 20 minutes and returned to the building the medical was in. As we were walking in, one of the doctors was walking out, she told us to hurry; they were getting ready to leave, as we were very late. We ran up the stairs (only 1 flight thank goodness) and into a large room, like a ballroom. It had a couple tables with people only at one of them- the doctors.  They ushered us into the next room and there was one screen with a bed in front of it (for Joe) and behind it (for me). The interpreter told me to go behind and some guy followed me. He was talking in Russian and indicating to me to take off my shirt. Well, I almost did, but it occurred to me, I have no idea who this guy is or what he is saying. I was in a private exam area and I was reasonably sure he was a doctor, but you never know. The interpreter came over and confirmed it was ok. He did a quick exam, had me touch my fingers to my nose and looked at my back. He asked if I had scoliosis. No, I didn’t. I have had back pain and went to see my doctor about it last year. She took x-rays and said I was fine. She suggested getting a new mattress and doing back exercises (there’s that word again). I didn’t do either…but I might. I didn’t mention this to this doctor, but I did consider asking him if I could develop scoliosis by walking around airports for two days carrying a 25# carry-on bag and sleeping sitting up.
We headed back to the hotel after that and had dinner at the Vlad Inn. They have pretty good food.  Then we crashed! We have not conquered the time change yet, asleep by 6:30pm. The best part about that is, you’re up and wide-awake at 3:30am. We really only have 2 channels here, the British BBC and an Australian one. Sometimes there are others, depends on the satellite, it makes for a long night.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

quick note and Update really soon!!!

Yes, we are at Ussuriysk Baby Home #3 and VMI.  

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

We finally got the call!!! Trip #2

We thought we would be going back in June. Every class I set up at work and every meeting invite I accepted, I cautioned “I’m waiting for the call to go get my little girl from Russia, I might not be here.” But June came and went. Same thing in July, but July came and went!  The first week in August, we heard there was a possibility we might go the first week in September (what?!). Ok, at least that’s a plan. But on August 9th, we got the actual call. Our court date is on August 25th and we leave on August 20th. ELEVEN DAYS!! That’s all the notice we get?!?! After waiting all summer?! Ok. We’ll make it work.
And we almost didn’t. Joe left the country for work just a few hours after we got “the call”. We didn’t have any issues getting our visas, but we paid through the nose for them, almost $2000 for the three of us, Joe, Clarisse and me. The airline tickets, they’re another story. We had a reservation at Delta and Aeroflot. We were going to fly to JFK, Moscow then on to our final destination, Vladivostok. When we went to pay for the flights, we were told Delta cancelled the reservation!!!! And the same tickets were now $2000 more PER PERSON! We did not have another $6000!! We were expecting more notice for this trip and hoping for cheaper tickets than we had already gotten. Joe spent all of Monday going back and forth with the travel agent and checking in with me in between working to find us better-priced tickets. And we did find tickets, only $300 more per person in the end. The problem with these tickets you ask…with the transfers and layovers, it was a looonnnngg flight. Our first flight left Detroit at 1000 on Saturday morning. We arrived at Dulles Airport in Washington at about 1130. Painless so far. We had a 5 and ½ hour layover. We left Dulles at 5pm, still excited and ready to go! We arrived at Moscow Domodedovo Airport 9 hours and 40 minutes later. I was not as impressed with United Airlines as I had been with Asiana last trip. The seats were small and cramped, the staff had attitude, although a few were nice. I wished for the perfectly cloned attendants of Asiana, always at the ready, offering me perfectly brewed tea.
So, we’re at Domodedovo Airport after about 16 hours of travel, very little sleep and we are at the front end of  a 12 hour layover.  Joe had fibbed to us a little bit about how long this layover was. I guess he knew we wouldn’t take it well.  We had to collect our luggage from United and check it in at the Transaero Airline desk (this is our in Country airline).  We had 5 large bags in addition to our carry-on backpacks. We get that done and start heading to our gate when we realize, we forgot to collect our stroller that we had checked!! What great parents we are! It’s been a few years since we had a baby and baby stuff to worry about! Joe tried to talk to the lady at the information desk, the one who is supposed to speak English. But he couldn’t make her understand that we forgot our baby stroller at baggage claim. Probably because nobody does that!! So, we resorted to accosting our fellow passengers. Joe noted one lady he recognized from our flight; he had heard her speak English and Russian very well. She went over to the information desk and spoke to the lady and got us the answers we needed. Never fear, we retrieved the missing stroller and it never left our hands again…which really wasn’t plan “A” as now we had to lug it around for the next 12 hours. We found some chairs and set camp. We tried to nap while sitting up and not getting robbed.  We ate 2 very expensive meals. We wondered through the shops with people speaking in Russian to us while we nodded and smiled. We finally boarded our next flight. Only 8 hours until we were in Vladivostok. For those of you keeping score, the entire ordeal took 37 hours +/-. Ouch.
Needless to say, we were tired and crabby getting on this flight, looking forward to another cramped neck after sleeping sitting up. Joe herded us to row 11 seats A, B and C….and what? This must be some mistake…these are really our seats!!? These were the comments made by Clarisse and I as we saw and came to realize we would be sitting in the good seats! Premium economy. Not the highest class, but they were wider seats (instead of 3 in a row, there were 2) that leaned back further and had foot rests. We would actually get some rest!! This flight went much faster and before we know it, we were in Vladivostok. As we deplaned, we noted, among the many people waiting to pick up their family members, one man held a sign that simply stated “Sanchez”. Our ride was uneventful and once again we checked into the Vlad Motor Inn.
Even though we got here at 4:30pm, we laid down, intending to sleep for a few hours and then get up for dinner. At 9:30 we woke up, mumbled about food and then all three of us rolled over and went back to sleep until 5am the next morning.