Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tips Before You Go On Trip One

I highly recommend that PAPs bring a thumbdrive with them and ask for photos. We asked for photos at the orphanage last time and they gave us some and this time (trip 2) we asked the social worker who kindly took my thumbdrive and returned it at court full of all kinds of pictures...even baby pictures! I also highly recommend paying a driver and translator to take you to landmarks where your child lives. I took pictures of the town, special places and even the hospital where she was born. So many precious treasures that we will have for her forever! You only have one chance to get them! Don't be shy!

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Very Curious Thing

So, many of you who are close to me know that I have always had an obsession with Alice in Wonderland. As a little girl (ahem and maybe even now) it was my favorite movie. I have many copies of the book, etc. etc. When I was in the 7th grade we had to pick Spanish names for our Spanish class and I picked Alicia...the Spanish name for Alice. Anyway, after court on the 9th of February we changed and went back to the orphanage and gave the doctor/director gifts and we all rejoiced about how well court went. ECN's Russian name is A. The doctor turned to us and said with the biggest smile...Alice is very lucky...she is like Alice, Alice in Wonderland.

Some things are just meant to be.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Looking Back and (more importantly) Looking Forward

I spent today thinking about what will happen in the next three weeks and how far we've come since December 2009. I was singing the little song from our video (See December 16, 2009 post) and thinking about what I was thinking then and how happy I am now. E Bee wasn't even born then...but she would be soon. Oh how I wished for her!! Sometimes wishes do come true. :)


*I tried to load the video on today's post but it wouldn't work.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Time is ticking slowly but not as slowly as I thought it would. Things have been hectic here and there has been a lot of illness. Bleah. I am now trying to get over a cold that has rendered me useless. All the uselessness doesn't help me get ready for having a toddler here in a few weeks. I need to pick myself up by the bootstraps and get back in shape...and maybe stop coughing.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Drum Roll Please...

EC!! The mister is not too keen on posting images of her online...but since you've all been following for so long I thought I needed to share. I will leave them up as long as the blog is private and take them down when it is public and maybe put this blog to rest...and start a new private family blog.



Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Most Amazing Thing

Yesterday was our last visit with E and the most amazing thing happened. We went into the reception area and were taking off our coats when the door to the playroom opened. Out runs the cutest girl in a little white onesie and white tights and pink shoes and a gorgeous skirt that was donated to the orphanage by Valeriya. The girl was none other than our EC. She didn't look our direction at first but started to walk the other way when I said "E*****" and she turned and looked over at us and came running at full speed screaming with delight. I got down on my knees and she threw herself tightly into my arms. She was so overcome with emotion that she started to cry while she was screaming and pressing her whole two year old body into me. She just didn't know what to do. She didn't know whether to scream or cry. This my friends is the most amazing feeling that I have ever had.

The facilitator said that in all of her years working in this business she has never seen anything like it.

We spent and hour alone playing with her and feeding her lunch...and then we said paka-paka until March. As you can imagine it was hard to leave her. Thank goodness she is in good hands.


What Happened in Court?

I wrote most of this after court...now I share it with you in hope that it will help another pre-adoptive parent...
Today, February 9, 2012 at approximately 11:30 A.M. (4:30 a.m. EST) the judge said “da” and announced the name of our beautiful two year old daughter, ECN. We will return to Pskov in approximately one month to celebrate becoming a family and finally bring our girl back to the US.
After two long years waiting, we finally have our daughter.
We were very nervous before court and didn’t get much sleep the night before. Our translator met us at 9:30 this morning and we walked the 10 minute walk from the hotel to the Pskov Regional Court. The day is very cold and there are pile of snow and ice everywhere. We went through security and then walked into the small court room. There was the judges table with three seats in front facing us, and a seat to the right (facing across another seat in the room) for the prosecutor and one to the left (assuming that might be for the defendant in other cases, facing the prosecutor). To the left of the judges table sat a court reporter or a clerk of some kind. The Mister and I sat on the right side of the general seating in the front row. The Mister sat at the aisle, then the translator (between us) and then me. Behind me sat the orphanage director/doctor and our facilitator and behind that sat the social worker. The judge came and everyone stood. She said that the prosecutor was running late, meanwhile she would go over the procedures while we waited for the prosecutor to arrive. She told us the procedures. The Mister stood and gave his name, birth date, home city and occupation. I was then asked to do the same. The prosecutor arrived and the judge announced the court and then introduced the people presiding. She asked if we agreed with the members as announced, the answer was "yes". She asked if we had any objections. The answer was "no". The court asked if there were any other documents that would like to be submitted to the court and the Mister requested that we add our medical records from Moscow. He brought her the documents. She then announced the particulars of what the court session was about (we are here today...blah blah). At that point the judge asked who would like to talk first and the Mister went to the podium with the translator. He gave his speech that was approximately six pages doubled spaced stopping between sentences for the translator. At one point during the speech he told the judge that he would like to give her the binder with photos from our first visit and notes and photographs from family and friends. He then gave the binder to the judge and continued with his speech. The judge looked interested through the binder. The judge interrupted on a few occasions with a small question or comment. After his speech the judge asked him about 5 or 6 questions. The questions were as follows (that we recall): Do you have any concerns about her medical conditions? Is the leave you are taking from work paid and will not affect your earnings? Will we tell ECN about her biological family? If later in life ECN wants to meet them, how will we react? Then the prosecutor asked him questions. These questions she asked were as follows: How old are our parents? How old are their other grandchildren and how many are there? Will these other kids take away from the attention to ECN? I was then called to the stand. After my speech the judge asked a few questions. The questions were as follows: Is the home safe for children? Are there any concerns about her medical condition? When did the adoption process begin (when was the first application? When did we get the referral for ECN? When did we meet her? When did we take the Hague education courses?). Did we get any other referrals in addition to ECN? The prosecutor asked me a few questions but I only remember: How will you communicate with your daughter? Then the doctor spoke. He went over her medical history, her current development and the history of possible adoptions for ECN. He also spoke a lot about possible conditions she may have. He then said that he was in favor of the adoption. Then the social worker spoke. She talked about the family situation and their interest and inability to adopt her. She said that she was also in favor of the adoption. The prosecutor spoke and she said based on facts such as our incomes, families, etc. she said she supported the adoption. The judge and the prosecutor left. The judge returned in three or four minutes and said the court was satisfied. She asked us if we had any questions and wished us the best of luck.
We rejoiced with the doctor, our facilitator, our translator, and the social worker.
We were not reminded to bring the social workers gift so if you are going to court ask if you need to bring gifts with you!
The whole process took about one and a half hour.



Sitting in our hotel room in Moscow, the Radisson Slavyanskaya. Outside it is bitterly cold and I mean BITTERLY. Weather.com says that it is -13 degrees Fahrenheit and I believe this is true. It is 12:30 p.m. Our goals for today are eat, relax and nap...repeat. Our driver meets us at 4:00 a.m. for our drive to the airport. Our route is as follows: Amsterdam>Atlanta>Jacksonville. Soon we will be home and we will leave in less than one month to finally bring our daughter home.


Friday, February 10, 2012

As You Requested...

This was my part of the speech...
I am blessed to be standing before you today talking to you about the most important thing that I have ever known. As a little girl when my sister asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I always said “I want to be a mommy.” Today, I hope to be able to make my dreams of motherhood come true. I will never forget how I felt when I first saw ECN's photo. I knew from that very moment she was meant to be our daughter. My husband and I have been together a long time and we have the deepest love that I have ever known. Having ECN in our lives will make our love even more complete. Every morning we say “good morning” to her photo, a photo that we hung in our room the day after we learned about her. Every night we stop and say “good night” to her photos that we have hanging in our hallway. We have waited and dreamed of her since August 18, 2011, when we were first told that she might be our daughter. We first met ECN on October 10th, our wedding anniversary and we will be with her tomorrow on her 2nd birthday. The fact that we have been together on these special dates makes me even more sure that we are meant to be a family. We can’t wait until she is with us and so that we can dedicate our lives to her. Our family and friends have all been so wonderful and are so excited to meet ECN. Recently we had a huge celebration in anticipation of ECN becoming part of our family. All our closest friends got together and brought gifts and celebrated our impending parenthood. Everyone is so happy at the possibility to have her in our lives. I look forward to being a mama to this little girl and I promise to take the best care of her. I have written my vows to her that I would like to share with you.
This part was in my diary
"your honor, I would like to read to you from my diary"
To My Sweet ECN
I vow to be the best mama that I can possibly be
To teach you to be a strong and loving woman who respects the world and all of the people and animals within it
To teach you to love yourself and where you came from
I vow to take care of all of your physical and emotional needs and to tell you I love you every day (even when you are big and may think you no longer want to hear it)
I vow to keep my promises to you and to listen to you when you need me
To comfort you when you need it
To take care of all of your needs before anyone or anything else
I vow to show you amazing places and things and to give you a warm, loving and safe home and family
But most of all, I vow to give you my heart and my unconditional love
I can’t wait to be your mama.


Birthday Girl - ECN is Two :)

Yesterday our little girl turned two!!! It was a joyous day for us. I woke up and thought about how her birth mother must be feeling. I hoped that she wasn't too sad and I thanked her for bringing this beautiful, special child into the world.

We spent the morning going to stores to find gifts for E and the children. We were also looking for juice, cookies and bananas for the kids. Let's just say there was no luck on the bananas. Apparently they are hard to come by in places covered in two feet of snow. The bananas were either too green or completely black. We met with our team at 11:15 to go to the orphanage. When we opened the door there were about 6-8 babies blocking the door and one caregiver was trying to put E'S hair in a little bow. Our hands were full with food and presents so we had to squeeze past the kids to put down the presents. When we opened the door, E let out a squeal of happiness, but by the time we got to the other side of the baby room after finding a safe spot for the bags she was having a complete meltdown complete with the biggest tears you have ever seen. I assumed that she hated having her hair fiddled with and didn't want the bow. Daddy picked her up and kissed her, mama rocked her and hugged her...she was having NONE of that. The meltdown was going on and she was MAD. The nurse came over and said that everyone in the orphanage came by to wish her a happy birthday and tell her that mama and papa were coming to see her. When she saw us and we didn't pick her up she started crying. We felt horrible (but I still think it was getting her hair done while we came in that made her mad). Poor baby. Daddy picked her up and carried her around and lifted her high so she could touch the stickers on the wall. The caregivers dressed her in the same plaid dress she wore on our last visit in October. She looked adorable. They also decorated the baby room with balloons. We played with her and the other children. Then it was yum-yum time. At that point we knew that we wouldn't be able to stay for cookies and juice. After yum-yum is nap and we were told that we only had one hour (the kids have colds). So we decided to let E open her gifts. She loved opening presents! The first one was a pull toy duck shape sorter and when she opened it she started saying "cawk cawk cawk cawk" and immediately jumped down on the floor to play with it. We then had her open her second present which was a board book and she loved that too. I put her birthday hat and pin on her so we could take some photos of her with her presents. We let her play a bit and then it was time to say paka-paka.

After we left the orphanage we hired a driver and translator for a few hours to drive us around Pskov and show us important sites. We took quite a few photos. The highlight for me on this special day was seeing the hospital where our girl was born. For all of you in the process, I recommend hiring a driver to see the special places in the city, and hopefully the place where your child was born,

We went back to the hotel and celebrated with piva for mama and papa and a delicious plate of cheese and bread.

Today we are going to the orphanage at 11:15 again and then we have the train tonight. You can bet we will not pass E today...but will pick up and squeeze her as soon as we walk in.

We don't have definite plans yet, but it seems that we need to be back in Pskov on March 13-14.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

I Write the Words...

My face will probably hurt tonight from trying not to cry all day. Everyone has said so many kind words to us. We have the best friends and family. Our Russian family has treated us with such kindness. They have been so sweet about my speech. I hate to toot my own horn, but I pretty much had everyone crying. They have asked me for a copy to put on their website, and the social worker for the Russian government who represented us has asked for a copy to frame and hang in her offices. I'm just saying. I could pretty much bring the world to its knees with my words. :)

If that doesn't do it I will bring in my handmade gifts.


The Court is Satisfied...

I have waited so long to post this message...
Today, February 9, 2012 at approximately 11:30 A.M. (4:30 a.m. EST) the judge said “da” and announced the name of our beautiful two year old daughter, ECN. We will return to Pskov in approximately one month to celebrate becoming a family and finally bring our girl back to the US.
After two long years waiting, we finally finally have a child of our own!
For all of my friends "in process" I will post more about court later. We are going to see our girl this afternoon so I don't have time to write all the details!


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Curly Bee

Our Bee has grown so much and her hair is longer and curly. WHAT an active girl! She's going to be a handful and I can't wait! So wonderful seeing her today. It was an adventure for sure (that included me getting splashed with soup). We met with our people to review our speech and court proceedings. There was not a dry eye in the house. Tomorrow I am going to be a hot mess. Please have us in your thoughts if you are unable to sleep and awake at 1:00 a.m. At that time we will be telling the judge how much we need the Bee and the Bee needs us. Hugs and more hugs.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sleeping and Waiting and Waiting and Sleeping

We were awake last night until something like 3 or 4 a.m. I think at 3:30 I was doing the robot dance around the room and singing Domo Arigato. I just couldn't sleep (isn't that what you do when you can't sleep?). This morning I slept until almost 11:00 and check-out was 12:00 so I quickly took a shower and got my stuff together. We then walked over to a huge shopping mall so I could look for some anti-slip boots, but I didn't want to spend $400 so we may look again in region. Truthfully I don't think it's the boots that are the issue. I'm just not good on ice! Anyway, the odd coincidence is that the shopping mall had GLASS ELEVATORS (see previous post) and I made sure that we took them. They were really pretty with lights on the top! They had the normal buttons for open doors <|> and close doors >|< but they also had a button that had a swirly pattern on it that I really think meant "take me through the ceiling!!" Actually it lit up when the elevator was going. We bought some water and snacks in the mall market and bought some gift bags and had lunch at a cafe. We were so thirsty. The mall was like 1000 degrees and we had on so much gear because it is 6 freakin' degrees outside. This hot cold hot cold thing is making us dehydrated and it's hard to find water around here! We got water in the cafe, but the bottles were TINY. We Americans like our liquids dang it! We stocked up on water at the market so we should be good for a bit.

Our driver is picking us up in an hour and a half to take us to the train station. Whoopee!!! Until then we are hanging out in the lobby waiting for time to pass.

Hey Allysa B. P! On our first night here we had a late dinner and the music in restaurant (slow instrumental) was mostly Christmas music, but they played Dream a Little Dream and I serenaded the mister at the table. Last night while we were walking down Arabat we heard another rendition of Dream a Little Dream. :) I think it might be magic.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Bizarro Doctor Factory

We passed the 8 doctor medicals today. For those of you in process and wondering what this means...here's what happens. First, a guy in a velvet purple jacket and cane welcomes you to his factory...Seriously, the process took 5 hours, but this included waits for doctors and waiting for a letter from the director (required by our region). You are with a translator so you're not on your own to figure out what to do. The first doctor was the psychiatrist who basically said "I hope that you don't drink too much." Then we said "no." Then, "I hope that you have good relationships with each other and family." Then we said "okay." and then he said "done." He counts for two doctors as he signs off as the doctor that talks to you about drugs and alcohol as well as mental health. The next doctor was the general physician who took my blood pressure, listened to me breathe, listened to my heart, tapped my belly and told me I was fit and very young looking (I think she needs to see an eye doctor). I can't recall the order of the others, but the neurologist checked our reflexes, looked at our tongues and had us follow her hammer with our eyes. The infectious disease doctor asked us if we had childhood vaccinations. The pulmonologist listened to our lungs and looked at our x-rays. She told me that my heart is too small (this place is odd I tell you). The dermatologist said "do you have problems with your skin?" We said "no" and she said "I'm not going to look at you" and signed the papers. The oncologist does a breast exam so be prepared. John said her office mate couldn't help but stare at my boobs (I mean who can blame her...I am so young and fit,right?). She also checked lymph nodes. We also had to do labwork (they said Russians don't trust our labs), but don't worry the needles and syringes came straight out of new packages. I think she took three vials. No big deal. Anyway, you basically go up and down the tiny crowded elevator (sadly, not an awesome glass elevator) going to different doors with lights on them (red or green) telling you if anyone is with the doctor. Unlike U.S. doctors where they come out and get you, these doctors wait for you to come in the office and they tell you to come in or come back. The office for the exam is actually their office...I mean it's a tiny room with a desk, a chair, maybe a plant, and an exam table. They often share this office with one other person. It feels like your going to see your professor except this professor might probe you a little or ask you odd questions (my college professors didn't do this, maybe yours did). There is a tiny divider that blocks the door from the room (so when the door is open everyone doesn't see your boobs...or like me I suggest you quickly turn around so you face a window instead of a door where people are outside waiting in chairs for the light to turn green). The process is scary, not because of what they do but because I had a horrible fear that they would find some deal-breaking issue I didn't know about. I don't think anyone can help but worry about this. Anyway, in the end there's nothing to worry about really. It's just some kind of freaky medical Willy Wonka thing. Oh, I didn't mention that the doctors/nurses still wear ridiculous high heels and fancy clothes under their "fitted" lab coats. My doctor at home wears orthopedic shoes. Sticklers for fashion even at the medical center.

After our probing by the Oompa loompas we walked down to Arabat for dinner. We ate at the pizza and Sushi restaurant again...the pizza is good...no waitress in a kimono this time :( We did a little shopping and came back to our hotel (but not before I slipped on the ice...see I told it would happen). No worries, I am fine. In fact BETTER THAN FINE. We leave tomorrow night and take the overnight train to our region. SOON BABY BEE!! SOON!!


Sunday, February 5, 2012


Hi everyone! We arrived safely in Moscow this morning (it is 5:23 now) and came straight to the hotel where we have been sleeping! The ride to the hotel was quite nice as the snow was thick on the ground and the Moscow river was frozen over. People were playing with dogs and ice fishing on it. We can see the river from our hotel window so I took a few photos...and will take more when we venture outside. The temperature when we arrived had warmed up to a toasty 5 degrees. It felt great outside after being in the hot airport. The flight over was long as we went from JAX>ATL>JFK to Moscow, but it was uneventful for the most part. We had a different driver pick us up than last time. His name is Mark. We missed Dimitry but Mark is very nice and took us to exchange money and showed us the closest grocery and restaurants to our hotel. Dimitry just called to make sure that we are set for our medical exams tomorrow. We probably won't see him on this leg of the trip but hope to see him before we leave. The mister is sleeping...he didn't sleep on the plane as much as I did :) That's about it! We will relax tonight and have medicals tomorrow! Stay tuned for more news as it unfolds.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Friends Rock

Hi! I just want to thank our friends J and L for rocking our world with the best baby shower ever!! We had so much fun! It was a beautiful garden party with all of our friends. It couldn't have gone better and the weather was amazing! Being surrounded by people you care about on an important day is heartwarming. We are blessed to have you all in our lives. I will post pictures as soon as I can!! The Mister loved the croquet...and I loved that the "mama to be" could drink champagne :) How often does that happen at a baby shower? More to come on this soon.


Update on Nothing

Just to update you on the nothing that I have but I now have nothing news...this is the answer to my last question about the 10 day wait versus 30 day wait...life was much simpler when there was NO 30 day (stupid, dumb, annoying) option. Anyway, this is the response to my email...

"*after speaking with a facilitator in-country* He says it will most likely be a 30-day wait, but no one will know until after court."

Not exactly helpful...looks like we are going with plan A and bringing everything but the kitchen sink...just in case we end up staying...but we probably won't be staying...but we might be...or not. If you are confused, just think how we feel...

What's that ticking? Oh, just our countdown clock.