Thursday, December 31, 2009
So we went to the market and I thought I would share a little more of the differences of day to day life here:
1) Eggs don't come in cartons, they come 10 to a plastic baggie. Unwashed.
2) We bought potatoes that were still caked with dirt, they too are unwashed. Which helps with sales as once you get them home and wash them you can see how green many of them are!
3)Our water finally changed. We had commented on how surprised we were that it was very clear. Spoke too soon, today it was literally brown out of the tap and it doesn't feel safe to even wash dishes in. Now THAT'S more like the Kazakhstan we know and love!
4) No such thing as a gallon or half gallon carton of milk here, all in smaller portions, but juice is in bigger containers.
5) It's cold here, right? VERY cold. Tomatoes are often sold at outdoor vendors. Frozen solid. Many of the indoor ones we have found have been rotted or frozen and thawed.
6) Warm water for a shower. Sometimes. Sometimes not. Sometimes you hop around when it turns very, very cold.
7) NO cheddar cheese anywhere. There is some golden orangy cheese of some sort, but every time we get it, it has a different taste.
8) Clerks standing around in every department to help you, labor here is excessive and yet it is cheap so why not have half a dozen staff to help one person.
9) Meat you can't identify...what animal did it come from? And you look like a happy idiot standing there mooing like a cow or whinnying like a horse...but it does get laughter out of everyone.
10) Going anywhere with 3 Kazakh/Kyrgyz boys who speak English will get you lots of stares. It also scores them huge quantities of treats everywhere they go! The notary, the travel office, the vendors...you name it, they spoil 'em. I am wondering what our local little shop ladies will think at Dominick's version of Walmart, the Corona store will think when we come in eventually with 3 boys AND 2 girls!! They all seem to get a huge kick out of three little voices piping up with "Spasiba!" spoken in an obviously less-than-Russian accent out of faces they expect to sound very different!
We went for a very short visit of about 15 minutes at the orphanage today, as we wanted Irina and Alexander to get home to their families for the holidays. We went up to their family area and into their bedroom. When we arrived Olesya handed me a little flower she had made out of something similar to pipe cleaners. Angela quickly unzipped Joshie and even Matthew out of their coats, and helped Kenny off with his! It was so cute and they all giggled at that. Then Angela sneaked over to her bed, and under her pillow was a little bag of candy...she pulled it out and gave it to us as a gift to share for the whole family with a bit smile on her face! A business had come in for the holiday and brought some little candies, and she wanted to make sure we all got some! We had brought some treats for their family group...a variety of nuts and other snacks. Those girls LOVE pistachio nuts! They grinned back at us and said they would split it all up tonight with everyone in their family group. Then, too soon, it was time to leave and we all zippered back up and after hugs all the way around we soon were on our way back to the apartment.
We did nothing the rest of the afternoon, but play computer games, watch movies and read quietly. We are all really and truly exhausted now...no one is sleeping well, everyone's schedules are totally out of whack, beds are uncomfortable and I sound like an old lady every morning getting up complaining about the arthritis in my back and hips. I always thought it was sort of humorous to hear others complain about feeling the cold in their joints...but not anymore. Man, do I feel it!! Between 20 below weather and a way too hard mattress I can hardly find a comfortable position to sleep in...I am jealous that Dominick gets to go home to our bed for a bit!!
But other than that, we are fine and hoping to spend tomorrow laying around resting and doing nothing...maybe we can all catch up on sleep and get back on a more normal schedule. This is beginning to take a toll on all of us, even though we really have very nice accommodations. Stress, illness (I am still not feeling very well), darkness, exhaustion, it is all catching up with us.
New Years Eve in Kazakhstan is kind of cool, even if you have nowhere to go! We all sat in the dark on our bed the last 15 minutes before midnight and talked about 2009, what resolutions were and if we wanted to make any for 2010. We were all pretty content with life, thankful for what we have and who we are with, looking at big changes in the coming months and being realistic about it all. I was asked if I would give up Diet Coke and I nicely declined :-) Then it was midnight, and the fireworks began...EVERYONE around us in our complex and neighboring complexes were shooting them off all around us! For an hour all we could hear was the crackle of fireworks soon joined by the ringing of the cathedral bells. As we watched the fireworks through the swirling snow caught up in the heavy winds, it was a wondrous and beautiful moment filled with light and sound and gentle togetherness in a land far from home.
We have a lot to remember in 2009. We have much to be thankful for. We have had internal struggles and big changes as we contemplate where we are headed in this life and what God wants for us all. 2010 brings new surprises, and hopefully much happiness and good health. It will be a year of exploration and discovery, a year no doubt of frustration and complexity. A life well lived is not necessarily a "safe" life nor is it always "comfortable". My wish for my family is cohesiveness and love. My wish for my friends is presence for them the way they have been present for us. My wish for myself is a sense of sharp focus and direction, of understanding and wisdom, of health and compassion.
And for all, grateful hearts.
Happy Hew Year Everyone!
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
You get two blogs for the price of one today! FREE!!! HAHAHA! Check out the next blog for new pics of our family with the girls, but I wanted to share this with you as well. Here is our story, beginning with our slide show through the years. We have been begged to go back to the beginning by many readers, so here it is...it is long, I am sorry...but 5 years crammed into one post IS long!
This is our New Years gift to you!
Our story is an unusual one, it is of a love that stretched across the miles, it is of knowing for a very long time that you had children that were yours and were left behind. It is about not giving up, it is about waiting on God and trusting that somehow all would work out even when as recently as 2 weeks ago it felt as if we were too late.
Basically, it is a story of faith.
It’s a long one, with twists and turns, so here it goes…
Years ago, our family was looking for a way to give back and thank God for the blessings of Matthew and Joshua. We started by shipping craft supplies and handmade quilts from our local quilting guild to the Lotus Children’s Centre in Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia. Although we loved doing it, we found the lack of communication challenging and searched for an orphanage or child to sponsor in Kazakhstan where perhaps there would be someone who spoke English well and could help us remain in better contact with the orphanage or child so we could better determine what the true needs were.
I somehow stumbled across the web site for the Antares Foundation, and never imagined that first contact would ever lead us to where we are today. After a few emails flew back and forth, it was decided we would sponsor a little pixie named Angela and another boy named “Igor”. We later came to find out that Igor was unavailable for sponsorship and would eventually be adopted by Dee over at Crab Chronicles. When we learned Angela had a sibling, we inquired about sponsoring her even though they were separated and living at another orphanage, named Poludino.
They were then 6 and 4 years old.
I received our first pictures of them separately…Angela’s first, followed by Olesya’s a few days later. I can remember as if it were yesterday sending Angela’s photo to my mom who had barely learned how to turn on a computer and was not yet internet savvy (OK…and still isn’t all THAT savvy! Hahaha! Sorry Mom!). When the picture popped up on her screen, the first words out of her mouth were “Cindy, she looks like your daughter…if you and Dominick had kids, that is what she would look like.”…then “She needs to be your daughter!”. Laughingly I agreed with her but quickly moved on in conversation as we were knee deep in RAD with Josh and not at all thinking we could handle another child…or if we would even survive him! Hahaha!
But something tugged at my heart, and it wouldn’t let go. It never did. Some part of me knew it and tried to deny it, but I had just seen my daughter. My first picture about a year later of both of them together for a sibling reunion ripped me up. The look on their faces, their eyes…something about their eyes spoke loud and clear to me. Seeing them hugging one another, the deep bond that was so obvious, they were my kids and it made no sense to me. But I listened carefully and didn’t “pooh pooh” the idea.
Soon, we realized someone was missing at our table…maybe 2 someone’s. We began the adoption process again, and spent 9 months trying to determine the eligibility of the girls and if there was any way possible they could be adopted. After tons of phone calls to agencies uninterested in assisting in a “less than easy money” situation, I almost gave up. We eventually stumbled upon an attorney who offered to check into it.
Several weeks later, we heard back and the news was not good, or so it seemed. The girls were legally freed from their father due to the abuse and neglect case against him, but their mother was in jail for murder and her rights were not terminated.
And that was the end of that.
Although terribly disappointed…and inwardly very confused as it truly felt God had been speaking to my heart all along about this…we reluctantly moved on. Our reluctance wouldn’t have existed had we known the wonderful son that awaited us, the Amazing Kenny LaJoy!! We quickly abandoned the idea of a girl the moment we saw Kenny’s face, and the day we picked him up at the orphanage we saw immediately how much he was a LaJoy…the spittin’ image in terms of personality of Dominick, so much so that we joke about Dominick having a previously unknown Kyrgyz fling! God couldn’t have placed any child more fitting with a family. We were blessed, we had no regrets, truly. I love Kenny deeply, totally and unconditionally.
But hearts are big, and God doesn’t let go.
Dominick and I recently recalled me standing in the kitchen 2 weeks before leaving as we discussed my taking a side trip to meet the girls in person, and asking him “Can you promise me that if the girls are someday relinquished we can at least try and adopt them?” and his incredulous yet understanding look at me as he said “With what, my good looks?? I don’t see how…besides they are not available and probably never will be.”. I replied “I know, and I hope when I meet them I will think “cute kids, but not ours…that would be the best scenario.”
Some might not understand, some might think Kenny was a “replacement” for who I really wanted and couldn’t have. That is not it at all, and those who know us in real life know our love for Kenny is all encompassing as original and true as can be. LaJoy hearts are huge, and we are 100% certain that God delayed everything specifically because we never would have explored Kyrgyzstan or adopting another child…and Kenny HAD to come home. If you had told me 3 or 4 years ago that we would one day have 5 children AND a 15 passenger van, I would have laughed my…well…something off. Hahah! God always has the last laugh though, right?
We had spent years with Angela and Olesya as part of our extended family. I decided from the beginning that I was not going to be some distant stranger but would be Mom-Away-From-Home, someone they could share their achievements with who would be proud of them, someone who would not send generic letters but letters from a family who loved them, cared about them, and let them know they were not alone. Years of letters and drawings were sent back and forth, Angela would approach Boris and say “Tell Cindy I got 100 on my test!” or “Tell Cindy I made the special football team (soccer)” and messages would be passed to us. Photos and descriptions of our life here, birthdays remembered, Christmas letters and packages sent…even if it often took 3 months to get there and was late, they would know they were not warehoused and forgotten. Sadly, we had far less communication with Olesya because she was in an orphanage so far away.
For over 2 years they were in separate orphanages, and I would get photos of each of them opening their packages and then with the next letter or package I would include photos of their sister for them to save. The Disney Princess photo album that Angela showed us was filled with photos of our boys growing up, of Olesya at varying ages…it helped them remain connected when there was no other way.
When we traveled to get Kenny, I did take that side trip after the adoption was final, leaving all my boys behind and going to Petropavlovsk alone. We had made a commitment in our minds to sponsor the girls until they aged out, and we wanted to be “real” to them. Knowing it would never be less expensive, we took advantage of our location and off I went, secretly hoping that I would be able to squelch that feeling I had been carrying around for years that those faces staring back at me in photos were our own children.
The moment Angela walked down the stairs I myself now have climbed many times this past week, and straight into my arms, I knew. God wasn’t whispering or hinting, God was screaming at me…and I hated it. I spent the next two days visiting Angela and going out to Paludino to take her to visit Olesya. Watching the two of them together was all the affirmation I needed, and I was one very confused and heartsick woman the day I left them behind.
Walking Constitution Avenue and the surrounding area for hours, God got a good chewing out from me. I had learned there was the slimmest possibility that their biological mom’s rights would be terminated. Yea, I was hopping mad, and I had no qualms about sharing my anger. How could this happen? Why was I going to have to spend the rest of my life feeling like this? Through my tears, I told God that we would gladly parent them but we had absolutely no way of making it happen. It was impossible, they were not legally free and we had not a dime to spare for another adoption loan. I prayed and silently ranted and raved, saying “I don’t know why you are laying this on me, when we can’t do anything about it! We are so willing, but you would have to hand it to us on a silver platter.”. Literally…that is what I said.
I boarded the plane a few hours later feeling sick to my stomach, realizing I would never again know the kind of peace I had walked in 3 days prior.
I couldn’t even talk about it with Dominick much when I got back to Almaty, all I did was cry so avoiding the topic was best. I did ask him once if we could sell our house if the girls indeed became available. He said “You know we bought at the right time and we would never find another house to hold that big of a family for anything near what we could afford. We just can’t make this happen.” When I got home and made our first call to our moms, I broke down in deep sobs as I described what I was feeling to my mom. I think at that moment it was the one time she regretted the life she had as she wanted so badly to offer to help us financially and yet was powerless to do so.
The next day I opened my email, and there was God, in living print.
I had written about the girls on the blog, had poured my heart out. Someone whom I had never met reached out and offered to help. Without going into personal details, we found ourselves the recipients of the greatest gift imaginable, one that made the impossible possible. Just accepting the offer was a journey in itself, a difficult one that required a lot of introspection and humbling of ourselves so that the opportunity was not missed for two young girls to have a family who would love them dearly. Needless to say, we are forever grateful and still can not quite take in the generosity of someone. As it was explained, and I paraphrase liberally here “You offer all you can, and we offer all we can…it is what God calls each of us to do. You actually have the harder part…the paperwork and the day to day raising of them. When God’s people pull together and give all of what they can, great things can happen!”.
Si x months later, we learned the mother’s rights had been terminated.
Two years and reams and reams of documents later, we are here.
How hard it has been!!! The aching on both sides of the world, the hunger to hold one another. I know some might not understand after the first week’s experience, but we do. How easy it is to understand why Angela reacted the way she did! Why Olesya responded in kind for fear of upsetting the one constant person in her life! But years of long distance love won out, reacting lovingly and not out of anger and frustration won out, treating an 11 year old with the respect she deserved won out. Fear was overcome, anger was put aside, hope was reborn!!! We all allowed ourselves space and time to heal, we gave each other the gift of patience and understanding without judgment. We offered a “do over”. Others may never understand…but we do…all 7 of us…and that is all that matters.
I am so thankful to have such wise children, all 5 of them.
As I write this on the eve of our court date, staying home from our daily visitation so that I don’t pass on the little stomach bug I have so the girls will not be sick tomorrow, I am so happy. Sure, I am uncertain of what the future holds, none of us knows what our family will look and feel like in a week, a month, or even a year. It will feel strange for a long time to come and I am working my way out from under the worry of “what will I do?” that is natural and normal for anyone whose family instantly grows from 5 to 7 overnight, and they are fully formed beings with thoughts and opinions of their own. To deny the existence of those feelings would be once again trying to “sell this” as a fairy tale. I have wondered the past 24 hours about what am I going to do with 2 kids at home this age who are not ready for school yet and are old enough that most of their normal activities would include language. I have worried about the best way to work on teaching English. I have thought long and hard about how to integrate Angela’s love of sports into a family for whom sports is a sideline, at best. My thoughts have roamed to how Olesya will make her place among us and what I might do to assist her and be aware of her more girlie side.
But beneath all of that is an approaching sense of “rightness”, one that will be so welcomed after the previous years! The hugs, smiles and warmth are genuine. The love is based upon old dreams and ideals, but will be replaced gradually with a steadfast “real” love that will never waiver which is rooted in reality. Watching the closeness slowly develop this past week, the comfort level between us all as it grows…the shy smiles which have grown to broad grins, the standoffish pats that have grown to big bear hugs, the feigned disinterest which has grown to a fervent desire to show us every single good grade they have received and to share with us every drawing they have made in the hopes that we will reward them with our own delight at their accomplishments. Real love takes time, it take patience…it is not a fairy tale but it IS wonderful. We may have lost much of their childhood, a fact I have often grieved. But we gain the rest of our lives together.
So, there you have it, the entire story such as it is. It is a story that has many facets and told from other perspectives it would take on a different meaning, I am sure. For me though, it comes down to faith…to faith that what we felt God had told us was true, faith that if we offered ourselves up willingly somehow we would be used, faith that love would prevail. I admit that faith wavered two weeks ago, or maybe it is better to say I wondered if the faith had been misplaced and we were being drawn here for other reasons I didn’t quite understand.
But that’s OK because God never told us we were to always understand, we were never expected to be perfect. Lord knows I am so far from that it isn’t even funny. The cool thing is though, that God uses us all if we allow it. Our imperfect, flubbing it up, sometimes totally wrong selves can be used for extraordinary things sometimes. I make mistakes with my kids daily, I often don’t show the appreciation for my husband that I should, and I know there are many who look at me as far from the example of Christianity they think I ought to be. They are right, I am sure.
But it does all come down to faith, doesn’t it?
Our entire family, both new members and long since joined members are stepping out on faith again today as we promise to legally become a family and to care for one another forever.
I love my family.
Thank You God for the chance to have Angela and Olesya join us forever.
I’ll do my best.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Monday, December 28, 2009
Our small delay is that we will not be going to court tomorrow, but at 2:00 PM the following day. Looks like we are likely to be this judge's last case in this position as she doesn't work the next day for the New Years holiday. So, we will be in court in the middle of your night! If anyone can't sleep at around 1:00 AM Mountain Time, send up a little prayer for us.
We had a fairly uneventful day, yet it was rich in small, quiet ways. We spent the morning working on school work with the boys, organizing the mad scramble of paperwork they had strewn all over the place. When I completed Matthew's log sheet for school I realized he had done a lot more than I had thought! It was nice to see all the boys spread out on the floor, working on writing, reading books and doing math worksheets together. We didn't end up going out until later for our visit with the girls after their classes were over.
Walking into the RBS it was immediately apparent that the power was out, and someone was working on the system. We were taken to the girls bedroom where they have a table in the center, and we were waiting for Irina to arrive after speaking with the medical staff about the girls medical reports. We have some questions and hope to get answers soon...nothing to worry about but typical translation issues with strange diagnosis we need to get a better understanding of.
Here in the soft evening light we all looked at a photo album Olesya showed us that was hers. It had in it pictures of her and Angela that we had sent, similar to the one Angela has. She named her friends shown in groups with her, and she had taken great care to arrange leaves around one of the pages, and little hearts cut out around others. It was then that Angela stopped tackling Matthew (these two are quite a pair and I am so pleased to see the obvious enjoyment they get from being with one another) and went to a drawer and pulled out a stack of something. She brought it to me and showed me every single letter I have ever sent them.
Five years unfolded before me on paper, as she took almost every letter out and wanted to show it to me. She pointed at the hearts I had drawn like a kid myself on the bottom of one, a rainbow picture Matthew had drawn and sent on another, and then showed Irina the first photos they had ever received of us. They were precious to her, they were a connection to someone who cared about them...they were worth every single moment it took to write and package them.
Seeing her face light up, watching as she so carefully directed me to look at certain ones and explained to Irina what they were, I saw so clearly that the girl we met the first week was not the one for whom these letters and photos were so treasured. This girl standing before me had already had her family in her heart for a very long time, had carried us in much the same way we had carried them all those years and miles away. Where we had their pictures on bulletin board and fridge, they had ours in albums and drawers, pulled out every so often to dream and hope of a very different future.
Someday I can't wait to talk with them both, when language has been acquired and distance has been placed between then and the new "now". I will share with them more deeply all that we have been through, all the sleepless nights, the confusion of that first week for all of us, the admiration for the ability to change course when "stuck" and reach out to try and trust a family one last time. I will ask when they lost hope that we were ever coming, and tell them how hard it was for us to keep hanging in there too...but that they were too important to give up on. Maybe they already sense that.
I have mulled over that terrible, heartbreaking first week, and believe it or not I am giving thanks for it now. I know, I am crazy...what else is new. But I sincerely believe we were largely at peace the entire time because some part of us knew it would be OK, even though I didn't really see it. I think that this very rough beginning took us to places emotionally with each other that would have taken months, if not years, to reach otherwise. I can see how in our effort to reach her and her to reach us, we all shared what our fears were in an honest and open way. I learned Angela is a person I deeply respect and with whom I can be the "straight shooter" I always am and she too will respect that in return.
We have an understanding, she and I, and the words were spoken out loud "You have to let us parent you and Olesya or it will never work...we WANT you to have the chance to be the child you have never really had the chance to be.", and that needed to be said. It is interesting to watch now as she plays with all the kids and has already immediately cast aside the aloof teenagerish attitude and squeals, wrestles, plays tag and giggles with the rest of the kids. I think she is overjoyed to be able to be the kid, and our assertiveness in taking over control of the decision once she reached out to us let her know that we ARE the parents, and we will make the best decisions possible for everyone...that she can trust us to be fair and loving in all we do, and now she can relax and not worry about being the grown up. I have no illusions that we won't be facing this issue again, but we are much further down the road because of our experience and she feels more certain that she is making the right choice for them as well.
Olesya is seeing quickly that Angela doesn't have to be the only one to mother her anymore, and as Angela relaxes in that role, Olesya is freer to be herself and not always feel tied to Angela's leading. This is healthier for both of them and hopefully it will continue when we get home. Olesya will take a bit to create her special place in our family, as Angela is such a tomboy and so easily fits in with the boys that Olesya will be the more typical girlie one. She is softer...but not too soft. She gets right in there with the horseplay with them all, but tends to hold back a bit and be less rambunctious. She is freer with physical affection and more comfortable with it...at moments in fact seems to gobble it up without being too clingy. I dearly love hearing her yell out "Anzhela!!". The gentle side is there, but she will definitely be able to keep up with the less-than-dainty antics of the boys (and Mom!) around her!!
But today, I had one of those subtle breakthroughs...the ones no one else notices but the participants while others are wandering around you. We got ready to leave, and the girls went down to the front door then out onto the steps in the dark. We all got quick hugs and just as I turned to head to the car, Angela grabbed me again and held on...and on...and a little tighter before letting me go and saying "Das Vadanya...Zaftra!"..."Good bye...tomorrow!" It was the first time she has truly let go with me, where I felt the shift deep inside of her almost as if she was saying all that words could not say. Yes, we understand one another, she and I. The love was there, the understandable fear had to be overcome. She knows too that I understand that her fears were very rational given her life experiences. The elephant in the room was acknowledged and shoved out of the way quite unceremoniously. It had to be, we have some loving and living to do, and we already have lost enough time.
Isn't God simply amazing? Isn't the power of love and forgiveness just the best thing in the entire world? The things God can turn around blow me away. Two weeks ago, I thought Angela was too stone-like too move. I was never mad at her, I was heartbroken for both the girls and us. I knew there was a kid inside there whom I had once known, but wasn't sure if she was too far distanced to ever reach. Two weeks ago I turned and watched through my tears to see Olesya's face pressed against the glass of a window as we drove away from them, all the while thinking it was the last time we would see one another again.
As I look back on it, we have climbed a bunch of Everest's to get to this place and time...but perhaps the biggest mountain ever was the one standing in the way of Angela's heart.
God moved that one too.
And we stand aside, part of it all, and shake our heads in wonder.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
And no, I won't hit my own blog a couple hundred times to say we did it! :-)
The girls made Joshua a cute poster with a puppy drawing on it and all our names, and they even brought him a present...this stuffed Kitty Kat! They are really so sweet and at Christmas made everyone (including the Oborn's) each a little heart with drawings and our names on them. They also made us a beautiful Christmas card. On a visit prior we received a little key chain with "I Love You" on it. Of course, these little momentos mean the world to us and will long be treasured.
The kids all had fun climbing the blow up mountain and huge blow up slide. Unfortunately the little cars were not charged so they couldn't ride them. We began again the training that was reminiscent of our first weeks with Kenny as Olesya began asking us each for gum and candy, bouncing back and forth between Mommy and Daddy to see which one might give in. No means no in LaJoy Land, she'll get that eventually :-) The environment and circumstances make it hard though, as we are trying to mix up our visits with some trips out of the orphanage and apartment, and so they see us spending more money than we normally do for this kind of thing. But we have explained more than once that we are not a wealthy family and they will not get everything they want...a difficult thing to combat when we are 100% certain they are being told that very thing from their friends at the orphanage. But Angela seems to understand and I think Olesya does as well...but what the heck, she's a kid and gotta try, right? Hahaha!
We made a list today and will add to it tomorrow of the things we need to make clear to the girls, family rules such as "When Mommy says no, don't go to Daddy expecting a different answer." and "In our family we always say please, thank you and I am sorry.".
Here is the inside of the Turkistan, they are readying themselves for the huge New Years celebration which is when Ded Moroz (their version of Santa) and his niece come and distribute presents.
The walls inside the Turkistan, love the little guy in the car with the Kazakh flag (Jocelyne, I DID get a picture of it!)
Here is Ded Moroz and his neice. I found a tiny little porcelain doll of her today for less than $3 bucks. Thus far, that is our only souvenir purchase!
One of my nicest surprises when we arrived to adopt Joshua 5 years ago was how long and beautiful his eyelashes were. It was unexpected and today I still think he is the cutest little guy! It seems his role as baby of the family is safe, as the girls too treat him as if he is quite the sweet little brother...and he is.
Today we changed from every day visitation to every other day, so this was our first "off" day and since it was a tad bit warmer(I think about 5 below 0) we spent it with the Oborn's walking Constitution Avenue which is booming during the summer and quite a pleasant place to people watch. We passed by the old soviet style hotel I stayed in when I was here 2 1/2 years ago. It was long walks on Constitution Avenue and neighboring streets where I laid my heart out to God about the girls...it was very meaningful for me to return and as we stumbled upon a Catholic church service when we opened the door thinking the church would be empty, it offered me the perfect opportunity to sit in a pew in this simple little church, while listening to a single nun play a keyboard and sing in Russian "Oh Come All Ye Faithful". How appropriate for us that was, and Jocelyne and I both agreed upon leaving that we had just had our "real" Christmas.
Tomorrow we visit the girls here at the apartment, and we go over questions we might be asked in court with Irina. We are nervous and hope that at least this one stage of the adoption goes without a hitch. We are owed that, don't you think? Court is on Tuesday, we don't yet know what time but we do know that sadly the boys can't go. We might find a nice restaurant to go to so they can dress up and we can all celebrate somehow...the day ought to be marked with something appropriately special!
After court, assuming we have a happy verdict, we will post the first clear photos of the girls.
Hope you all have a Happy New Year week!
Friday, December 25, 2009
We had a great holiday, which included learning we have a court date for December 29th! Our document is supposed to be here on December 28th, earlier than we expected (and yes, those of you who caught it I did have a typo saying January 30th for the document to arrive). That is only 4 days from now! Then about 4 weeks from the court date we should be able to head for Almaty then home...so looks like our stay will be a tad bit shorter after all.
We hope all our friends and family are having a great Christmas as we know that right about now you all are up, opening gifts, and enjoying the company of loved ones. Although ours is over and we are settled in for the night, we are thinking of you all and sending out love.
Here is our Kazakh Christmas!:
Kenny got doll house furniture!! He was thrilled and it came with plastic walls to make rooms. He loves playing "family" and wanted furniture for his wooden house he is building back home so we found this little set here and he spent a couple of hours playing with it already.
Christmas dinner...or part of it. We did have fried chicken tenders, apples and oranges, crepes and wannabe french fries as well. The girls had never had Kracks before which are a Russian version of Pringles. Pringles are $600 Tenge which is $4 US Dollars a can. Kracks are about a buck and a half and taste pretty similar to Pringles.
As you can see, they LOVED them!!!
But Josh put them on over his sweats and modeled them anyway. I will not post the other ones which are SO FUNNY as the boys are naked wearing only their new underwear and pretending to be on the catwalk. I will save those to blackmail them wtih girlfriends someday...hahaha!
I wish we could post our first family Christmas photo, as it shows clearly how far we all have come from Day 1. Soon enough though, as court is near!
Merry Christmas everyone! Enjoy your turkey and ham, and think of the Salami Family when you do!!