Saturday, February 11, 2012

Recap of Our First Visit in our Little Dude's Region

I'm guessing that some of you are wanting more details about our trip since the Traffic Feed shows people from all over the world looking at our blog each day.  Here you go.  This may end up being a lot of rambling interspersed with some photos.  As much as I'd like to think that I don't have jet lag and am totally coherent, this post may prove otherwise.

The majority of our past week was spent on a plane, waiting in airports, on the train, or in a car.  We had limited access to the internet.  We were able to Skype with family a few times, however our boys were too busy playing/having fun to say much more than "hi" on their way past the computer.  During the evening, we tried to spend our time visiting with our host family (the 2 nights we stayed with them) instead of holing up in our room and being on the computer.

While in our little guy's region, we had the pleasure of staying with a family.  They often do this for adopting families.  The family consists of Grandma (Nadia), Mom (Lena), 15yo son (Artyom), and 10yo daughter (Lada).  Artyom speaks fluent English.  Nadia, Lena, and Lada all understand English and speak some.  Occassionally we'd get hung-up on a word or two, but with the help of our phrasebook or Google Translate, we'd figure it out.

10 year old Lada is learning to knit-- which formed an instant bond between us.
Dave and Artyom hit it off.  They spent one evening exploring many of Artyom's interests on the computer as well as walking the dog.
Nadia is a wonderful cook and spent much of her time preparing meals for us.  She often had a pot of tea and a snack waiting for us.  We enjoyed visiting with her during these times.
Lena works long hours as a sales manager but we enjoyed talking with her during her brief times home.

Our first trip to the orphanage was with our adoption facilitator Anya.  The second day, we had a hired driver and interpreter.  Our interpreter's name was Katie.  Surprisingly enough, she had spent 5 months working in the Wisconsin Dells as part of a university exchange program.  She owns a cafe and is mommy to two boys-- ages 3 and 5-- so we had lots to talk about.  This was Katie's first exposure to a child with Down syndrome.  She was amazed how little the differences are between our little dude and her own "normal" children.
  (insert "We're More Alike Than Different" discussion)

While at the orphanage, we met the director (one of 3 physicians).  She spent time reviewing our little guy's entire known medical history with us as well as encouraging us to ask questions.  The questions were to be directed toward our little dude's history, schedule, etc.  After our meeting, she went and got our little guy from his nap.  The way she handled him was very loving and you could see he's comfortable with her.  We met in the "Music Room".  This particular orphanage has music classes for the children and our little guy loves music.

We never saw or heard any other children while visiting.  It's a quite large baby house with several wings.  It has space for 120 children up to 4yo.  Currently, there are only about 50 children residing there.  While orphanages often don't like disrupting the child's schedule for visits, our little guy was allowed to miss part of his nap for our visit on Tuesday.  Our 3 hour drive each way to/from the orphanage made it difficult to time our visit during free-time.  Our little guy usually naps from 12-3pm each day (can this really be my child??!!??-- yay for good naps!).  On Tuesday, we arrived at 12:30 for our visit.  They allowed us to visit until 2pm.  At that time, his nurse came to take him for his nap.  We had a great time playing during our visit, but he was ready for a nap and willingly went with the nurse.  Both the director and his nurse seems to be caring well for-- and maybe even love-- our little dude.  We are very thankful for this.  But no matter how much they love and care for him right now, it would not change the fact that he'd have been transferred once he turns 4yo.  Although our little guy will turn 4 in a few weeks, they will now keep him at the baby house until we come for him.
One of the physicians from the orphanage will be at our court hearing.  We're praying that it will be this kind, loving woman (Dr. Leanna).

The train ride from Capital City to our little guy's region and back again went well.  Both were overnight trips (about 13 hours).  They were smooth rides with many stops along the way.  Often the stop/start was so smooth that we didn't even feel it.  An almost full moon allowed us to see some of the landscape along the way.  Were it not for the Cyrillic script on the roadsigns, we may have often mistaken the rural scenes for Northern Wisconsin.
We were blessed to have a private sleeper during our train rides and were able to rest comfortably.

So what's next for us?  More paper work.  LOTS more paperwork.  Now that we've made our first trip, we can gather our time-sensitive court documents.  This is my mission over the next few weeks.  Once gathered, they will be notarized, apostilled, and sent to our little dude's country.  Upon receipt in-country, they will be translated and delivered to the Minister of Education and Science in our little guy's region.  The MOES will then assign us a court date.  We'll then get visas and tickets for our 2nd trip.  We'll arrive in our little dude's region the day before court, visit him, and prepare for court.  Court will probably be about 7 hours long.  During that time, we'll give our background info, why we want to adopt this little guy, the orphanage director/doctor will present his medical history, the orphanage's Social Worker will speak, etc.  We can expect a lot of questions during this time as he's the first Down syndrome adoption (for our agency) from this region.  Things we take for granted here in the US-- Special Olympics, Easter Seals, day programs, classroom integration, etc.-- are unknowns in their country.  They are very eager to learn why we wish to adopt such a child and how we will provide for his needs.  The comment we received many times during our last visit was "I don't understand your decision (to adopt a child with Ds), but I respect it".

THIS is why we're adopting such a child.

Hang on little buddy.  We're coming back soon!


  1. How will the moratorium of adoption by Americans effect your adoption? I can't tell if this means that adoptions ARE suspended or MAY be suspended later.

    In any case, I'm sure you'll agree it's awesome news-- any measure that protects precious vulnerable children like your little dude!! You can never be too careful (ESP given the awful fates that befell 17+ beautiful Russian kids adopted by YS families who passed homestudies, background checks etc ) z!! I'm sure you'll agree!! Be blessed!!!

  2. He's adorable!!! What a joy it must have been to see him, spend some time with him! So great to see his picture---now we know who we're praying for! Such an exciting time for your family---we will pray for God's timing, as to when he'll be coming home! Paulette