Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Hodge Podge Post

OK...whew...after the past couple of heavy posts I had a lot of odds and ends to share with pics and information, so I am creating this hodge podge post which veers from our typically well-organized (don't laugh) thematic approach and will offer a little information as well. So here goes nothing:

This is one of the ENORMOUS fish we saw, waiting for someome to come along, take it home and hack it up with an ax!! I am talking about the item on the left, not the Abominable Snowman on the right! HAHA!

Anyone hungry? Guaranteed none of these will thaw if left outside for months!

Cold?? You wanna talk COLD??? This is ice on the INSIDE of our windows!

What do you do in Siberia when you are bored? If you are Kenny, you work on origami!!

And here is the artist himself, looking quite dashing in his Christmas attire!

We have had many questions about how we proceed from here, so let me fill you in. As it stands now, we do not yet have a court date. We are awaiting one document from the states, and it should arrive January 30th. We may not be able to go to court until then. Additionally, we are waiting for documents to be sent from here to Astana and back before we can go to court. We are in the midst of holiday season, and though they do not recognize Christmas on December 25th, the New Year is their big holiday, followed by Russian Orthodoz Christmas on January 7th. Basically, we have no idea when we might complete court. To top it off, we just learned that the judge here who handles adoption cases is changing positions and a new judge will be taking over as of January 1st. This may effect our time frame as well, as a new judge might need a bit of time to get up to speed.

Once we go to court, there is a 15 day post-court waiting period, then the girls' documents can be prepared which will take a couple of weeks. Once they are in our hands, we can finally leave Petropavlovsk and head to Almaty where we will be for a couple of days. The girls need mandatory medical exams for our appointment at the US Embassy. Then we can fly home which will take a couple of days and involves a very early morning flight from Almaty (2:20 AM or 4:00 AM, we can't remember which at the moment), and a 7 hour layover in Frankfurt.

Our plans have changed from our original version. I will remain here with the boys and Dominick will return for 2-3 weeks to handle work issues, get the girls application for insurance handled (we only have 30 days from the court date here or they will be declined), get paperwork for the Embassy appointment gathered and get a couple of other documents notarized and apostilled, and get some clothes for the girls (thanks to a couple of friends whose help I have enlisted! Thanks Jane and Jill! At least he won't be bringing back Carhartt's or something similar! HAHAHA!). Our grand total time left is....::::drum roll:::: a minimum of 5 weeks and a maximum of 8 weeks.

Wow...that sounds like a very, very long time. Well worth it, but a looooonnnggg time, especially knowing it will get even COLDER here in January (How in the world that is even possible, I don't know!). We will be nursing it along for schoolwork for Kenny and Josh, Matt has enough for the time frame and we will come up with stuff for the other two somehow.

Many have asked for our story to be posted, a brief synopsis...and photos. We will be doing so after court. Don't worry, you'll get the whole scoop.

We are doing well, but man do we miss our friends!! Other than the cold, we are fine in our apartment and are not missing "place" as much as people. I am personally missing English language books and magazines, REAL Diet Coke, hugs from women I hold dear, and church services. Dominick misses his bed the most, sunlight, familiar smells and drinking out of something other than a shot glass...oh yea, and a cheese grater. Matthew misses Legos, Kenny misses his friends Willy and Wesley, and his blankie which we didn't have enough room to pack as it is much thicker than Josh's, and Joshie misses his buddy Zack a lot.

Things we like are: These shortbread sort of cookies from Dominick's store that have chocolate layered on the bottom. we have now nicknamed "our" stores "Walmart" (Dominick's with blue letters) and "Target" (Mine with a read front). We love all the new sights and sounds we are experiencing every day, we actually are getting used to the odd pizza crust here that is more tortilal like than crust like. We enjoy hearing the church bells ringing in the cathedral behind us. We love Irina and Alexander who are so warm and doing such a great job for us here. I love little markets we can walk to in 2 minutes, Dominick is enjoying his new "friends" who grin when they see him at the Kaz Walmart...all these Russian ladies who think he is so funny. The cookie lady in particular must love to see him coming and have no clue it is cookies for 7 or 8 of us with Irina and the girls visiting, and not just him!

We love the simplicity of life here, the stripped down version of our own lives which is more clutter free...and yes, at times more difficult. I love my plastic orange cups we bought to supplement our meager supply here...and my beloved butter knife that Joceleny and Sven surprised us with when they found a set of two and shared one with us. I LOVE steam heat, the apartment is so cozy inside!

The one thing I miss more than anything though is feeling like a "grown up". I have always told everyone I have ever spoken with that the best way to get through this experience is to let go of any illusion of control and let yourself be the toddler you need to be so your "handlers" can do their job well and not have to fight you every step of the way. You do your research, you trust the team whose hands you are in, and get out of the way. It is harder than it sounds. You can't go anywhere at will, you can't communicate with anyone, you can't read ANYTHING...not signs, food labels, newspapers. You can't drive, you can't order in a restaurant easily, you can't find things to do on your own. You need help with literally every single thing you do. 8-12 weeks is a loooonnnggg time to purposely infantalize yourself.

After our court date, we will visit with the girls every other day rather than every day. Trying to think of things to do at our apartment with the limited resources and time we have is going to be a bit of a chore when you are not very creative as I am not! But it is best to visit here, it is a more normal homelike existence and the girls visibly relax when they are here. Anyone have any ideas, feel free to post or email...I can only think of a few things and also could use ideas to keep the boys from becoming potato heads!!

That's it I guess, there's your hodge podge. I hope that answers a few questions that I have been bombarded with in emails.


Anonymous said...

Hi Cindy,

I only have a suggestion of things to do while you wait after court.
Learn english.
Start preparing for life "after Irina".
Organize study visits where you, Irina and the boys teach useful words to the girls.
Check where they are, and start building on that.
The more they learn before the next unsettling period, the better.

Also, I wanted to say, that I have been reading your blog for at least, probably more than a year.
I think you are certainly one of the best, most aware parents I've ever met.
I'm sure you'll do a great job with your kids.

Also, thanks to your blog, I've found another person's blog, which had another blog there, and I've started learning and reading about therapeutic parenting.
Funny enough, it has helped me a lot with my kids.
So in a indirect way, you helped me getting better at my parenting.

Hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a great time out there with your family!

Lots of Love to all of you,

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the hodgepodge, for the sharing, for your openness with us and with the children. I am delighted with happiness that you have decided to adopt the girls, and, although we would love to have you all home now, I think, given your roller coaster ride, that the new plan for staying through will keep the girls steadier and heartened.

Love and joy,

Heather said...

Cindy, Checking in daily and so is my mom! She wanted to tell you to make sure you post daily because she loses sleep worrying if you don't! Too funny! She told me to PM you w/ that info! Honestly, I am so excited for your family and so happy for you. Congratulations, mommy! BTW, we got our acceptance letter this week for Saner, our newest addition from China. Wahoo! I loved seeing all the pic of Kaz. We always wish that it was just a quick weekend trip away so we could visit! Funny how you want to go back to visit a place that isn't luxurious or a vacation spot. But it became "home" in a weird sort of way. I know you understand what I'm talking about! sorry 4 the long post...should have PM like mom said!

Anonymous said...

I have some ideas of what to do while waiting. Is your Internet access expensive? Can you download audio books from your home library? Our library allows that. You tube videos can be entertaining. Have your children write a play and work on acting it out. Old fashioned games such as charades might be fun despite language barriers.

Warm wishes for a joyous Christmas.


Anonymous said...

Happy Holidays to Team LaJoy,
We remember our time in Karaganda fondly with out daily hunt for Coke Lite and packages of a "cappacino-like" coffee from Nescafe and the delicious sweet rolls that local women would bring to the baby house and sell for about 15 cents each!
I am filled with hope as I read about your decision to adopt the girls. You are a strong team and the experience of parenting girls will not only make you stronger but will bring unexpected joy.
I thank you so much for allowing us to follow your trip it brings back so many emotions about our own adoption decisions.
Merry Christmas!
From Sue, mom to Eric Vitaly from Karaganda and Rachel from Kurgan in cold snowy upstate New York

Anonymous said...

Have Kenny share his origami talent with the girls. His work is awesome.

J said...

Why can't the family learn Russian while you are there? It makes the stay so much more fun and interesting and is not as difficult as people think. My 11 year old and I learnt enough Russian within weeks to be able to have a simple conversation, and we spoke nothing but Russian with our 4 yr old for about 3 months.
We now look back very fondly on those days.


Anonymous said...


I am so happy for all of you that I can't even begin to express it in the wrtten word! I'm doing my happy dance!

Here is my idea for keeping busy, along with all of the other ideas posted above, and I don't know if this would be appropriate or allowed, but what if the whole family were to put together a coupld of scrap books/memory books for Irina, Alexander and other friends that you have come to know whil there. With pictures of the your family, the girls and letters from all of you, stories, etc. inclue drawings. In the Native American tradition we would have Kenny make some of his beautiful origami purses, then take paper and make wishes/blessings and fill each purse with a blessings from each of you and present them in ceremony to each person, they would keep these 'Medicine Pouches' through out life to give them strength in times when they feel that they may need it. Like a pouch of love, to physically return to whenever they want to. Maybe a photo album and journals, you may not be able to print out the photos now, but can return home and then send them back.

I know that I probably won't be seeing you at the next T.E.I. class, but you will be there in spirit with us.

God Bless you all, every one!

Anonymous said...

I have found myself speechless (imagine that) after reading the recent blogs. I am so happy for the certainty you are feeling - all of you, including the girls. As far as I am concerned, you have done everything right! Because it is your life! You looked at every angle that would impact each and every one of your family, girls included. Had you not pushed through and directly addressed the wounds (yours and theirs) with the girls there could have been a totally different outcome. That outcome would have been what was meant to be as well did what I have seen you do since I first met you - you stepped out of the box, maybe you even broke some "rules" that others have put in place but you did what you knew you had to do from your heart, while using the wealth of knowledge you have gained through the years and by counting on your faith! I think by stepping out of the box, by asking questions of yourselves and the girls honestly and directly, no matter how painful, you have moved mountains!
Thanks for sharing so much with so many, for allowing all of us to feel so much, to shed tears, to feel God at work! Missing you and wishing you a joyous Christmas and celebration of the birth of new members to your family! LaJoy to the World...! Love, Miss Joan

Kath said...

Hi Cindy!

My cousins are tracking Santa on Norad's site, and as soon as I saw he was in Kaz I just simply had to email you, and wish you and all the LaJoys a happy Christmas, and I'm so glad to hear things are starting to get a bit better! I'm praying for you all.

Merry Christmas!

Sandy Yager said...

Your posts are so full of heart and soul. I am often brought to tears by what you write. What better time than Christmas to share such a powerful story as yours. We hope to be there soon and will maybe see you in Kaz.
Sandy Yager

Anonymous said...

Like Miss Joan, I'm happy it all worked out too. But if it hadn't, opening wounds and then leaving her behind would've been one of the most tragic things I could see happening to a vulnerable child. If the outcome had been different, 'stepping out of the box' would've had a much different result. Now that you're adopting, I'm sure both girls will continue to open up and share/process through some of these memories with you both.

Merry Christmas to your new expanded family! I can imagine a lot of fun times ahead with 5 kids! Take care.

Kathy B. said...

Cindy, have been off work a while and just getting back on-line and getting caught up. So happy for the change in situation. Keep us posted and hope you get to court sooner. Blessings from Louisiana!
Kathy B.