Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Adoption Vortex

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, " 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!


Anonymous said...

Hi Cindy,

Since you asked for ideas...

How about a late Christmas after you are home again? We don't know the actual day that Jesus was born, and other countries celebrate other days than Dec. 25. You could even celebrate his "half" birthday on June 25.

Just a thought.

Love from Peggy in Virginia

Beth said...

Hi Cindy,

We were in Kaz for Christmas, and just getting to be with our newest member of the family was celebration enough... he was the gift of all gifts.

One thing you might want to know is that New Years is a BIG, BIG holiday for Kaz. Things shut down for at least 2 days, this is when they exchange gifts, and we even saw the equivalent of Santa on New Years. So you will likely still get a Christmas feeling while in Kaz -- just a week later than our traditional celebration.

Wishing you speedy travel dates...


Anonymous said...


It might also be fun to hit the open market one day while in Kazakhstan with a budget for each of you to find small gifts there. Or, maybe you could make this Christmas the one where you celebrate without material gifts...give the boys time to think on it and "give" each other things that can't be bought....just my random thoughts. May the call come this week...and not just because my date is coming up in the contest. Really. :-) Vegas, baby.

Lenore said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to explain all of this, for those of us out here, who know so little about it!!! It's much clearer now, though I have no idea how you have the stamina to get through it all!! It won't be long now!!!!!

Dee said...

You should be able to fly right from Frankfurt to Astana, and maybe layover one day, then go on to Petropvalovsk. That's what I did. I bypassed Almaty altogether on the trip over. I had to kill some time in the Frankfurt airport, maybe 6-8 hours. Then right to Astana, where I spent the night before heading to Petro. Golden Rule Travel was awesome about helping me. I don't know why they always try to send you to Almaty. It's way out of the way.

4texans said...

There are flights from Frankfurt on certain days that stop in Astana on the way to Almaty.

As for Christmas, I like your idea of dollar tree decor/stockings and filling with small things. I bet you could find some neat things over there. Nicholas and Claire loved the Kinder eggs (filled with a toy). I'm sure you could find some chocolates and fruits to fill the stockings.

It's exciting to see another family preparing for their trip!

Anonymous said...

Hi Cindy,

Just a suggestion as far as Christmas decorations go. If you want to bring along a couple of cheapy strands of lights, don't forget to take along an extra electrical adapter for them. Just a thought. :-)

Wishing you all the best and a wonderful trip (hopefully SOON) for all of you!

Rachel said...

We also flew from Almaty to Astana to Frankfurt on our way home from getting Scarlett. Hopefully you can cut out one flight.

We were in Russia (actually flying from Astrakhan to Moscow with Alex) during Christmas three years ago. I was so happy to have him, but still sad to be gone. Thankfully we had a ton of time left on our internet cards, so we had on our local Christian radio station all day...they were doing 48 hours of Christmas music. Maybe you could download some songs before you leave.

It also snowed that day, which was pretty huge for this FL girl! My first white Christmas!