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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Blog open - for awhile at least

Some people who have been so supportive along the way from the "Adoption Community" (from places like http://www.frua.org/ which I think is single handedly the best resource for gathering information and finding answers to questions, support, encouragement, friendship and a good dose of reality as well as some of the Yahoo groups I have been a member of) have asked if I would open my blog again so they could catch up on "The Long Road Home".  So, it is my greatest happiness to open it up again at least for awhile.  There are some humps and bumps and I certainly took my lumps in country but we are home now and ecstatically happy.  Thanks to EVERYONE who has shared the ride - and now, we are just getting started on our life together as a family. 
Another quick update: to those who generously donated to Corbins orphanage, the delivery of 15 cribs, a washing machine, a fax machine and a merry go round should be being made in the next few days.  The cribs had to be ordered in from Moscow so it took some time to collect everything and get the truck ready to hit the road for the 6 hour drive from Khabarovsk to Selihino.
Enjoy and welcome back :)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A perfect day

Well, it's been busy... getting settled in and getting to know one another.  Corbin is a beautiful little boy on the inside and out.  Today he got his first haircut from Aunt Karen - and in following with every other thing he has done on an outing, he was an angel.  Not a peep, not a squirm, not a troublesome fidgit... just sitting quietly with a car in both hands under the cape while the clippers and scissors did their thing.  His little orphanage hair do is now history (it was not hideous by any stretch but it was chunky and scraggly - now it's not).  We have struggled with eating a bit (ok a lot) since we got home.  He doesn't want to eat when it's just the two of us but will eat in a crowd of people (on the plane, at my sisters, with other people).  It's left me a little sad and with a fridge full of rejected food stuffs.  Turns out he really enjoys the NON orphanage fare (so much for keeping things simple and the same).  He has pounded back hotdogs, grilled cheese sandwich, raisins, cheerios, cheese, yogurt (OK thats the same) and lots of scrambled eggs with sausage.  Today, he ate breakfast like a champ, hotdogs and raisins with Ashton and Ella, snacked on cheerios in the car and finished the day off with some veggies, a grilled cheese sandwich and more cheese... that my friends is how you spell relief :)  I know tomorrow might not be another banner day but I'll take this  one.  The only little bump today is another night terror.  He had one on the plane and today another. It's heart breaking - nothing I can do - he isn't really awake, he wants me to hold him and then pushes me away.  He sat sobbing uncontrolably facing the headboard and not wanting anything to touch him... eyes only open a slit.  I just sit with him and talk gently and reassuringly... we get through.  The night ended with meeting the neighbors and their big Sabakas.  He is so not afraid of dogs and is sweet with my friends - it makes me happy.  I don't think I updated after bringing Lyric (our dog) home on Sunday.  He rolled with that as if he knew all about her and was ready to have a huge big dog for his own.  He sat in his car seat with his hand on her back most of the way home and in the morning, he layed down beside her on her bed with his head on her back and said "good puppy"...  I couldn't be more thrilled with this little guy. 
Our day ended with the usual kisses and hugs and the game we play where he gives me his hand and I kiss his palm... and then he does... and then I do... and then I put it on his heart and tell him I love him... and he smiles and says, "good night Mama".
Today was a perfect day :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Meeting my son - Hello Grisha!

I made this montage after trip one... the next one is a work in progress! So glad to post it now :)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Home safe and soundly sleeping

A quickie to say we arrived home on time with all of our luggage yesterday at 3:30 to a crowd of friends and family - what a nice way to land.  My sister had filled our fridge and made an amazing chicken stew - a perfect home cooked meal - comfort in a pot, there were flowers from mom and my grandma, balloons, decorations, and Kelly stayed to share a glass of celebratory wine and stories from over the pond.  I should have slept earlier... and later... Corbin was in bed by 8:30 ish but woke up at 5am... took 90 min to go back to sleep and I had to wake him up at 10.  Napping now - I feel a schedule return coming on and an early bedtime for me.  The ginger check in phone calls have been a welcome diversion and the fresh air walk to get more groceries was riddled with "MAMA!!! Machena!!! Tractor!!! BIG bus!!! Little bus!!!" 
Life is good... his sleeping is coming along... next - better eating - right now he's pretty overwhelmed with his surroundings - eating is difficult to focus on but I guess he'll eat when he's hungry??? Any good ideas from experience??? Here are some pictures from Moscow, one (fountain one) in Khab and then the plane ride home with his first new friend.  In the words of Ronald McDonald... ba da da da da... I'm lovin' it!!!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

GOTCHA!!!


This should be longer... after 2 1/2 years of waiting there should be some sort of cerimony for Gotcha day no??? But, I'm exhausted, I've sent emails, finally figured out how to move photos from one camera to a memory stick to my laptop to the stick to sort to attach to emails... I'm spent... and I only had about 4 hours sleep last night...
So for those of you who already got the readers digest version - I apologize... this won't be much better!  Like I said, everyone who has walked these miles talks about the big moment... the one where you drive away, the one where there is no one who can unring the bell... that there is a certain something... a perfectness in it - they are THE right child for you, THEY - the one and only them is meant - scripted somehow in time to become your child - the angels sing, the choirs ring out... yeah - exactly like that... and nothing like that all at the same time.  The bumps in the preverbial road are now expected and almost laughable really (like getting a phone call to say "take a cab to the bus station for your 11:30 pm departure please, or the driver fee has suddenly increased from 3 weeks ago from 2000 rub to 3500 rub, or when I ask as we leave the social worker building, "do we have another copy of the birth certificate - we will need it for boarding the train..." "yes - I have one" only to find out as we are checking in that she asks my friend who knows NOTHING about adoption (Love her for all the other reasons though) if she thinks we'll need a copy of the birth certificate... cuz she doesn't have one and will have to go back to the exact spot that I asked her earlier to retrieve one... oy yoi yoi) but the parts that need to go right continue to do so.  We arrived at the baby home at 12:20 - right when I knew the kids would be going down for their nap... I was prepared to have to wait until he woke up but was gladly given the opportunity to tip toe into the crib room and pluck him from his crib in nothing but his skivvies.  He was surprised... not quite sure what to make of it... but happy and clung to my neck with hugs and kisses just the same.  I dressed him, he was weighed and measured, cards were signed (for any PAP's out there I can't recommend enough taking a couple of greeting - Good luck - Best wishes type cards to have the workers write in for your child), photos were taken, donations handed off... and we left... baba's waving from the step.  In the cards, there are words of encouragement, enderment, and love  (be good, try hard in school, be healthy, play hockey :) we'll miss your smile and laugh, always stay the same happy, funny, curious boy you were here, listen to your mom...) type sentiments... so nice to have for him.  We busted out of the baby home at about 1:30 and headed back for Komsomolsk.  The only good thing about a stop over at "The Visit" hotel is the redeeming proximity to the central park where there is a small amusement park, lots of pigeons, electric cars, and of course, the fan favorite MACHENA!!!  Corbin ran and ran and played - toes in the sand for the first time.  He drove a car, rode a race car "train" and smiled like he thinks he just won the lottery.  Photos attached :)  Everything is so wonderful... and boy does he LOVE baths... had 3 before we left "the Visit" - one because he smelled a little like Kieffer or however you spell it, one because he was full of sand from the park and the final one - a functional bath as a result of a "poo-nami" after dinner... I can now officially identify with the gag reflex required to clean a child up in a humid, small, no window, no ammenities like paper towel type of bathroom... Corbin left dressed in a t-shirt and pull up.  His tummy troubles were the only indication (OK - now that I look at the pictures the trepidation is clearly on his face) of his troubled little mind.  Today, every moment was a wonder... For me, we arrived home to Anna - wonderful Anna who had prepared our celebration with home made apple lemon pie, personalized balloons (you did it Stacey!) enough food to feed us for a week and just her warm welcoming "he's beautiful Stacey... followed later by - he seems so smart - he speaks very well - very clearly... and for him - new words (Bus, big bus, little bus, up, down, all done, all gone, puppy, bird, Peas Mama... the best one of all) and just general wonder to the world.  I told the story to my friends and family about how it feels to have him fall asleep every time on my chest... he comes to me and crawls up, lays his head on my heart and falls asleep... I'm in heaven.  I could ramble on and on... instead, I'm sure you will appreciate the overwhelming desire to go kiss my son and tuck myself in beside him for the night.  Tomorrow is another wonderful day... can't wait to get up to see him smile.
With love from the BOTH OF US!!!
Stacey & Corbin :)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Officially official

The ten day wait came and went without cerimony.  Last night I spent watching beach volley ball down on the river and listening to music POUND from the ferry boat that docked at the beach.  Yes folks I AM in Khabarovsk Russia - not on some tropical beach... Russia... 35 degrees in the swealtering sun.  I am relieved that the wait is over but it doesn't feel real or different just yet because I still can't wrap my arms around him and tell him I'll never go away again.  Not long now but it's still part of the journey to be made.  I did some advance planning for Christmas gifts (surprise family... your pending Christmas gifts are from Russia lol) and bought 2 silver St. Gregory pendants and chains from a very beautiful little historical church by Annas house. St. Gregory is the Patron Saint of Victory in Orthodox... fitting I think.  I will give him his on a birthday somewhere down the road - maybe 18 or maybe when he has his first child... but there's lots of time for that.  So, there will be a little preparatory grocery shopping and cooking to do for him to arrive and tonight ladies and gentlemen, I am going to a Russian night club... again, you heard me right... a night club in Russia.  Now for those of you who know I don't frequent the club scene at home and wonder how or why??? Ole really wants to go... so I'll go... and I'll pray that Vodka is the same in Russian... I'm going to need my fair share of it...
Well, I better go put myself together... Ole came all this way for me, I guess the least I can do is smile and say I had a good time.  Secretly she thinks I should bring home 2 Russian boys... and I laugh...
Dahs v dahn ya!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

This is starting to wear on me...

Today I took a good long look at the calendar... I've been away from home for 3 weeks now and it will be almost another one until I pick up my son.  For the first while there is so much to see and do... now I'm starting to feel like I've seen it and I've done it.  We walk the same streets, shop the same shops, heck we've even started to run into the same people.  They recognize us because we speak English on the streets and now they say hello to us when we are buying milk down stairs.  Tomorrow is the last day of the 10 day wait.  Tomorrow, I will officially be Corbins mom but I won't be able to hug him and tell him that for another 5 days.  I'm getting grumpy and tired.  I'll have been here for about a month when I get to have him for good.  We sat down today to make a grocery list for when he arrives... then I realized that he will only be here in Khabarovsk for about 4 1/2 days... we won't need a lot of groceries for that.  I'm so beyond ready to go and get  Corbin... I'm ready to come home.  This little adventure was fun for awhile but now it's just grating on me and wasting time.  Ole and I run pretty much every day and then walk for about 3 hours after that just to fill hours.  I said to my sister earlier that it's sort of like a 3 week vacation... at the begining, you are so amazingly ready to relax and enjoy the fresh air... week two you are settled in... week three... you are almost embarassed to say that you are ready to get back to your normal life.  Ditto.  So... I'm going to go soak my swollen feet and have a beer... then I'll mark another day off the calendar.  One more to go... 2 weeks until I am home sweet home.
Sorry for the downer... could be the PMS?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Russian Champagne and retail therapy

That's how a girl kills time in Russia.  We are hanging in here - walking, seeing, traveling about and sharing lots of laughs - each day down is one more closer to bringing Corbin home for good.  Thank goodness Ole asked the question about passport pictures... I emailed the horned beast (it's fun to name call... it makes me feel better) and asked if the photos she took on the first trip could be used for the passport and a few other questions and she called me back today to say that the director of the baby home would take Corbin into Komsomolsk to get the pictures done and bring them with her to Khab when she arrives to fly out to Moscow on the 11th.  So... that means that we did NOT have appropriate pictures and she is damn lucky that the director is coming into Khab to save her butt.  I have to give her some photo copies of my documents tonight and I'll ask if she plans on coming to Koms with me and Ole to pick him up - as I will officially be his mother at this point, she is NOT required to come... and I can't imagine that she is thrilled about the prospect of spending 36 hours with me in confined spaces.  Time will tell.  I've got my smile while biting my tongue perfected... only awhile longer...  Well, I think I'm going to have a shower and a nap now.  It's 4:30 in the afternoon but we have been privvy to a few "this NEVER really happens" events such as - the hot water was out for 5 days and last night, a herd of stray cats HOWLED for about 5 hours... closed windows in the humid heat weren't our friend but neither were the cats screaming.  Oh how I fantasized about chasing them with a broom... but it's 5 flights of stairs down in my PJ's that stopped me.
So, yes, I am going to have a hot shower and a nap... thank you very much :)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Friend or foe update?

I intended on keeping this short. - it didn't happen. Sorry mom for not emailing you on your own... this is the first and only email I feel like writing.  24 hours full of ups and downs ending on an up after a beautiful ballet and dinner with wonderful people (forgive the spelling errors - I don't care and have had much wine).  Things started to unravel about 2 days ago.  The facilitator came to collect her fee early - the day after court... and wanted the whole amount including the cash donation to the orphanage.  I declined saying that the money was being used to purchase items and I'd check with the agency to clarify the total for her.  Turns out I was right and she was trying to take more money than she was owed.  This didnt' make her happy.  She showed up 1 1/2 hours late to pick up the money - breezed in and wanted to leave immediately.  She said that she wouldn't leave until Sunday night because she wanted a day off... Saturday night after the other family left... the one I have been waiting on since I was told I could pick Corbin up immediately after court.  The facilitator threw a tantrum and told me I could go on my own on Saturday.  I suggested that I walk her out and have a  "chat".  We discussed how she felt the trip has been going. She said fine.  I let her know that I feel like I am being treated as a burden and that she would rather be anywhere else but working with me.  She softened a lot and told me not to worry about her feelings.  I relayed that when her feelings impact how she acts towards me, I can't help but feel negatively.  She also told me that the other family in town told the entire hotel that I posted on face book that I had early custody.  I told her my friends and family knew but that the information was private and that the family had asked for me to keep them up to date so they could celebrate.  Some celebration they had.  The husband discussed my custody with the facilitator and demanded that she attend to them first and not leave (which I had already agreed to) and did a lot of damage (read: gave her fuel to go against my early custody).  So, now, I no longer have early custody. Now, I have to wait until the 15th to leave to pick up Corbin.  I will arrive the moring of the 16th to bring him home with me.  Almost a full moth after I left and thanks to selfish "survivor type" actions of "friends" I am in this situation.  The lawyer who is supposed to be acting on my behalf is (words I'll let you decide upon).  She first tried to make trouble for Anna where I am staying.  She called the MOE and told them that her home had not undergone a health and safety inspection and could be unsafe for the child.  That fell on deaf ears but hurt Anna professionally with the inquisition.  Next, the lawyer came to Anna's home to "prep" me for court which felt odd from the start.  She is not friendly, nor kind, nor personable.  She terrified me, and spent her time outside the court room telling Ole how terrible the agency I am with is and how the facilitator is going to quit.  And quit she did... my facilitator told me (after collecting my money) that she quit... Next came the phone call - or should I say I finally called her for the second time since she didn't return my phone call saying that custody would be delayed.  There were a miriade of reasons - none that made sence until today where she said that the lawyer had called the director saying that I was not staying at a hotel and not using car service and that no one should sign for his care under these circumstances.  Nice to know your agency has people working on your behalf.  The lawyer told them that they couldn't control what I do and they didn't want to sign for me.  So... now custody will be the 16th...after some Russian holdidays.  But the good news is that I shouldn't need the facilitator beyind the signing of the documents earlier that day - I should be able to go on the train with Ole on my own without that (insert favorite word here).  Last night, I responded poorly to the lies, manipulation, and uncarring attitude of the facilitator and lawher.  I yelled and demanded answers... then I became afraid that they would use this response against me.  I emailed my agency immediately telling them about how I'm afraid now that she has quit and "owes us nothing" - heard a one liner back saying they would call her and then... of course... nothing... big surprise.  I can't wait until all of this is final and I can come clean with my agency name and facilitator information.  For anyone who has followed my journey, you can see how long, how unprofessional on both the Russian side and Canadian side things have been.  Would I do this agian? Absolutely not.  Not with my agency.  I question if they will even be around.  I dont' have the fight left in me to even contemplate more disagreements here.  I'm ready to pay whatever she asks for (which by the way has been more increased costs for a "business trip" since my boy is not in the city and requres out of town travel... but this has NEVER been discussed before the completion of my second trip) and she asked for extra translation money.  I am not a fan favorite since I said to take this up with my agency... which I'm sure went well.  My advice? Make your blogs private and for the love ot God, don't trust the people who have vested interest in how your case turns out - other families are not your friends - they will step on you to get ahead - the golden rule is dead.  No one cares about you except you.  This sounds bad and it is... but there is an upside too that I will choose to remember.  Tonight, I saw a beautiful ballet.  The lead dancer signed my program in the lobby and asked for my name.  He immediately asked if I was English - I said yes.  He asked how long I am here for - I said a month... he questioned why... I said I am adoptin a little boy... he thanked me for helping the child and for helping his country.  This is why I'm here.  I can't forget that... I'll silently wait out another 10 days... and then hug Corbin tightly as we RUN from the ugly parts of this trip and never look back.  I'm tired.  I've had a good dinner with good wine and good friends.  honesty comes easy right now.  I can't wait to get home.
SJT