I sometimes forget that we have many blog readers who do not know the Kazakhstan adoption process like the back of their hands, and I forget to write about the nitty gritty details that some would find interesting to learn about. I need to bring you along in the adoption vortex with me! I was reminded by a friend today that, in the words of Ricky Ricardo, "...you have some 'splainin' to do!". So, keeping in mind that with international adoption NOTHING is firm, here is the plan as we know it thus far:
1) We wait for the Letter of Invitation to arrive, then we can immediately book tickets for the 5 of us to travel to Petropavlovsk, Kazakhstan. If it is like our previous trips, the time between "the call" and us stepping on the plane here in Montrose is about 2 weeks, as we need to apply for visas from the Kazakhstan Embassy in Washington, DC for Dominick and I. Because of their dual citizenship none of the boys will need visas as they will be traveling on their Kazakhstani and Kyrgyz passports when entering and exiting the country, which they are required by law to do. When in Germany (or wherever we layover) and in the US they will use their US passports. So, if you can believe this, altogether we will be traveling with 8 passports to keep track of!
2) We do not have travel plans yet, but if it follows along with our previous trips we will have 6 flights one way to arrive in Petropavlovsk. We will fly from Montrose to Denver, Denver to Frankfurt, Germany where we will hopefully spend a day or two and give the boys a rest break before continuing on to Almaty, Kazakhstan where we may again have to spend a night before heading on to Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, and then another flight to Petropavlovsk. Whew! Probably 3-4 days of travel just to get there, depending upon flight availability. Why am I already tired just reading that?
3) No, I have no idea yet how much luggage we will be taking. I do know that school work alone will merit one suitcase!
4) The day we arrive in Petro, or if we are lucky the next day (so we can catch our breath and rest a bit) we will be taken to the Ministry of Education to be interviewed and officially matched. We then proceed to the Regional Boarding School (orphanage or RBS for short) where we will begin a 2 week visitation. We are not certain exactly how that will be structured but we are assuming it will be a couple of hours a day. We have no idea how much freedom we will be allowed, if we will be able to leave the orphanage during visitations or not. We are prepared not to leave, but it would be great if we could.
5) Once the 2 week visitation is completed a court date can be requested. How long that takes to get is any one's guess as it requires all parties to be present and the court docket to have space for us, so it could take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks. If we are to get "the call" in the next couple of weeks, it puts the end of our visitation close to their holidays, so we don't know how that will effect everything. At this stage, we are assuming we will be there for Christmas and maybe Thanksgiving if we were to hear very soon, but less and less likely we will be on the plane for Turkey Day.
6) We go to court where it is just as it would be here, representatives from the orphanage will be present, a social worker, attorneys, etc. We will be questioned thoroughly in Russian and through an interpreter we will answer. The boys will dress up for court day but will not be required to participate. However in the past they have had questions from officials about their lives in America and we are preparing them for more of the same.
7) Assuming all goes well and our petition is granted, we are officially a larger family!! We are then free to leave to return home, without the girls, as there is a post-court waiting period of 10 days (or is it 15??) and then their documents will be prepared for travel. About a month after arriving home, I alone will travel back to Kazakhstan to bring them home. That may change as time goes on and there is the possibility I might remain behind if it proves more cost-effective and/or efficient, but for now the plan is for me to return home then go back to Kaz when the waiting period is over.
8) After they come home we still have to do a "re-adoption" here in the courts in Colorado, several post-placement reports (along with all the other boys' reports! Sheesh! I need a full time secretary just for that!), and getting social security cards issued, etc.
Our plan for now is not to put the girls in school anytime soon after their arrival home. We saw how beneficial it was for Kenny to remain home all summer before going out into the "real world" and we want the girls to have that same chance to decompress, acquire some functional language, and begin to understand how a family operates. They have so much change to deal with, we want to take it slow and easy, and to have time for all of us to gel together as a family and build relationships.
The sheer logistics of a trip like this with our entire family is a blessing and yet requires an incredible amount of planning and preparation. In the past we never had to worry about schoolwork as the boys were either too young for school or it was during the summer. We also have not had a trip take as long as this one will be, and we have been fortunate to barely miss new requirements each time as procedures changed from 1 trip to 2 in both Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
So at the moment we have a new girlie bedroom that is filled to capacity with every piece of luggage we own as we will need to determine which pieces work best so we have the least amount of luggage to take. We have winter coats and gloves and games for the boys strewn about along with all kinds of other paraphernalia for the trip like wet wipes, reading material, DVD's, and lots of other junk waiting for the word to come.
In the meantime, I am beginning to wrap my mind around the fact that we are not likely to be home for Christmas (I hope!) and how we will handle that with the boys. It is not a problem for them, they are perfectly fine with being gone and even in a place where Christmas as we know it is not celebrated. But we don't want to ignore it and also don't want to haul anything else over with us in terms of gifts for them. We might hit the dollar store and get some paper decorations and stockings that will be lightweight and packable, and then if we are there over Christmas we might just find some small things and have stockings for them. If you have any great ideas please pass them on!
So there you have it, you have now entered the Adoption Vortex with us!