Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Boo Hoo and Boo Boo

Sorry, just haven’t been in the mood to blog over the last few days. Been trying to spend as much time with Grant as possible, and just kind of bummed. Grant left on the train this afternoon to go back to the capital city. He has his U.S. Embassy appointment Thursday afternoon and will be flying home on Sunday (for those of you who might have the same question we did – fill out ahead of time, if you like, the I-600 and Health Acknowledgment forms for the Embassy appointment if one spouse is leaving early, but do not sign either one. And yes, you do need to schedule an appointment – we just emailed for Grant’s. When the leaving spouse gets to the Embassy, they must sign the form in front of an Embassy official, and then the papers will be held in your file until the second spouse arrives back in the capital to finish the adoption process. This is when the second spouse will sign the forms – also in front of an Embassy official. This reminds me – bring a couple of black pens with you in your suitcase – they come in handy!). Even though I am used to him traveling for work, this was a lot harder to see him go. Not only for me, but I feel so bad for Gerry – he is going to miss out on seeing his daddy for the next month. What will go through his two-year-old mind when Grant isn’t there tomorrow morning? And even though Gerry wouldn’t understand if I tried to explain in his native language why his new-found playmate (Gerry loves playing with Grant) didn’t show up, I sure wish I could at least try. And Grant is going to miss out on seeing Gerry for the next month, too.
I do have to admit that I am glad that Grant will get to be home soon – our poor boys (yes, I do mean the cats!). They have been well taken care of (thank you neighbor Gary!!), but we have missed them, and they are so used to being spoiled – I am sure Grant will get no peace when he gets home – 2 cats in his lap at all times! And I am glad that Grant will be able to work on some things around the house - who knew that we would have furnace trouble while over here. Fellow adoptive parents, I should NOT be surprised by this, right!? For the rest of you, it is a running joke (though often not very funny) that families know that they are getting closer to traveling to their little ones because the devil starts throwing all kinds of curve balls at us right before and during our travels. It is amazing and uncanny to read about the flooded basements, broken washing machines and cars, unexpected bills, strange illnesses - just to name a few items - that families report! So a couple of our “signs” were our dwindling water heater right before we got our travel date, and now the furnace during the trip!
And yes, I did write “month” above. Ugh – I will be navigating around three different holidays while in the region (which means offices being closed for multiple days) – which means that I will probably be here an extra week at the least. It is not so bad here, but I am ready to come home – with our son!! Ok, enough of me whining! I am thankful that my Mom was able to come with us and is able to stay for the entire trip. And I am thankful for our beautiful new son – sooo sooo thankful! I am thankful for all of my wonderful co-workers at Ayco, our family and friends, and church family at The Chapel and First Church of God in Ravenna, who have all been so generous and supportive. I am thankful for Reece’s Rainbow and Helping Hands (and dear Henry who has been so helpful over here with our apartment and making sure we have what we need and that we know how to get around) and the other adoptive families (who are so willing to share information) and Eldon at Golden Rule Travel (who came in twice to the Kansas office over Easter weekend to help us get Grant’s airline ticket home even though the office was closed) and and and . . . . I could go on and on about all of the good things – so that is what I will try to focus on for now. And there is a chance that Mom and I will get to visit Gerry twice a day now – woo hoo!!

I also have to report that we survived our first test as parents yesterday. We had such a great visit with Gerry, and he was so active and animated during the morning – we all had a blast. This was all right before his face plant onto the cement when we took him outside – oh, I wanted to cry. Ok, what they say is true – even though I’m a nurse, it is different when it’s your own! I thought for sure I saw front teeth flying across the playground and a one- inch gash inside his lip through all of the blood and tears. I was afraid to look and kept wondering how in the world we could take him to a dentist and to get stitches – and would they still let us adopt him! I am happy to report that there were no missing teeth and just a little hole in his lip that the orphanage doctor/nurse cleaned for us (I think he is a doctor or nurse – he wears a stethoscope?!?!). Gerry did (and still did today) have a fat and bruised lip, but it didn’t slow him down for long. What a trooper; he handled it better than we did! Grant and I were both emotionally drained from the whole experience – but we better get used to these boo boos – especially with a little boy!

One other thing that is worth mentioning: I know that maintaining routines is so important with children, especially for kids that grow up in an institutional setting and are about to have a huge change occur, but it is amazing to witness how in tune kids are with routine. For the past two weeks, we have been visiting Gerry from 9-11:30. We play from 9-10, and then he eats his snack with us at 10. Well, on Sunday the buses were packed (due to people trying to get to the Easter church services) and we just could not get a bus to the orphanage (this was the first time we saw people yelling and fighting over getting a ride on the bus!). Anyhow, we finally got to the orphanage at 10. We figured we would set out Gerry’s snack for him since it was that time, at least by the clock. Wrong! Didn’t we know - we were supposed to play with him for an hour first! So he sat with us and played for exactly an hour, the whole time hanging onto his two banana halves – one in each hand - and not letting his cheerios and juicebox out of sight – but not taking one bite or sip (and this from a kid who sucks down a juicbox without taking a breath as soon as we pull it out of the bag, and who will shove half of a banana into his mouth at once – he loves them!). Guess what? At 11:00 – after his 1 hour of playtime with us and without any prompting – he commenced to eat his banana and cheerios and drink his juicebox in record time. Wow – I have my job cut out for me over the next few weeks – to try and learn as much as possible about his routine at the orphanage. Because if two weeks of a certain schedule can have that much influence on a child, can you imagine what kind of imprint two years of the same schedule can have – and the possible consequences of upsetting that schedule? Yikes!

So, after loading some photos, I feel much better! I know these will make lots of people smile. I wish I could post one of the short videos that Mom took of Gerry during a music group that he had with some of the other kids in his class - they were all playing the xylophone. Grant was kneeling right behind Gerry - it was a good thing Grant had his glasses on or he might have lost an eyeball! Take care everyone!

Spiky hair after a water "fight" with Daddy.

Paint-with-water books. Of course he likes them - it involves water! (thank you Grandma Saunie!)

"Thank you Auntie Maggie for the bib - it helps keep my clothes dry during water play!"

"Pop rocks rock!"

"I LOVE to wash my hands!"

"And dry them, too."

Last photo of the two of them together for a while. "Hope to see you again soon Papa!"

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Introducing . . . .

Gerald Thomas Clark! (Gerry)

Now we just have to wait until May 5 (when the appeal period is up) and we can start to work on getting his new birth certificate and passport. This may take a few days, mixed in with the May 9th holiday here. Then we can take little Gerry with us back to the capital city in this country, and hopefully we'll be able to return to the U.S. around mid-May. :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day 17

We splurged this morning and took a taxi to the orphanage – none of us wanted to feel like a sardine (it’s much less crowded on the bus on the way back to the apt. because the orphanage is very close to the beginning/end of the route). It was the best $5 we’ve spent in a long time. The fare was only $3 but I was so giddy about not having to ride the bus that I gave the driver a $2 tip!

Grant got off the bus on the way back from the orphanage today and did some sightseeing. Here are some of the sights that he saw, including a train factory that used to be the main industry here during the time of Lenin (because this was a main area of coal mining and steel production for the country). We can see the smokestack on the factory from our apartment. Now there is minimal production occurring here today.

A path that Grant took on his travels today.

A mechanics garage (with all of the potholes, I’m sure it is a popular place!)

This may be a part of one of the downtown hospital grounds. (?)

Feeding the birds (“rats with wings”).

For quite a bit of the morning we played in one corner of the playroom because some of the bigger kids were practicing for the show that they are putting on soon. We’ll have to call our facilitator and see if she can find out when it will be and if we can attend.
Who would have thought that 2 ½ hours playing with a 2-year-old could wear us out so fast! It is hard work – but we love it!! When we took “Robert” back to his groupa today, he was not a happy camper. As soon as Grant put him down, he cried big crocodile tears. :( Boy was it hard to walk out of that room. We’re looking forward to tomorrow morning already!

What all the well-dressed little boys are wearing here – so of course I had to get some for our little guy. Grant was not too impressed about buying tights for his little man.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Days 14, 15, and 16

Hello everyone!
Happy Birthday Miss Morgan!!
(The internet was working great tonight so I was able to post lots of pics - three days' worth! They are not in any particular order since I kept adding more and more. Enjoy!)
Long time, no post :) Grant was sick again yesterday - bleh! (but thank goodness he is feeling much better today! Must have been something he ate or drank - uh oh. He didn't get to go to the orphanage today though - bummer)
We have good news - our adoption court is this Friday - yippee!!!
I just have to say that I absolutely love the people here! At least I think I do. I must; I mean, I keep total body hugging complete strangers every morning on the bus on the way to the orphanage. :) I swear that I've even kissed a few without even knowing it! We are getting the hang of it now, though. When we first got here, we would let 2 or 3 buses go on without us because we thought it was too crowded. Not anymore - nosiree! People have their faces mooshed against the windows because it is so crowded, but we've figured out that if you push as you get on, it's "easy" to fit 8 or 9 more people in (think giant vertical mosh pit). Now, the real trick is getting to the front of the bus (it's really a van with seats) when it's your stop and you only speak English. "Eez-vee-neet-yeh (excuse me), eez-vee-neet-yeh, EEZ-VEE-NEET-YEH!" Oh heck - "STOP!" Or trying to get your money or another passenger's money to the driver when one hand is gripping your backpack/bag and your other hand (or at least a finger) has a death grip on the ceiling bar and there's no way you can move either one. It reminds me of those icebreakers at parties when you have to pass an item on without using your hands - I wish I had a video! We'll have great core strength though by the time we are ready to come home - it really is a great balance workout!
Mom and I were all by ourselves today in the playroom with the little one. The Spanish couple that is adopting had their court today so they didn't come to visit. During the last couple of days, caregivers have been bringing in little groups of kids to practice songs and dancing. I think maybe they are going to have an Easter program??? I sure hope we can attend!
The weather was beautiful today - sunny and close to 70 degrees (yay - it dried up most of the rain that we've had lately). I had an interesting experience. They let me dress "Robert" for going outside to play (this was fun!). Remember, it is almost 70 degrees outside: socks, thermal tights, insulated pants, more socks over the cuffs of the pants, long sleeve shirt, hooded sweater jacket, long winter coat (about 3 sizes too big so his hands were inside the sleeves and it hung down to his knees), and last, but not least, a thick winter hat with ear flaps! They must really love our little guy because this is how they make sure that the kids don't get sick from the cold. I made a boo boo though. When we came in from outside, I took most of "Robert's" outer layers off (he still had on a long sleep shirt and socks and thermal tights) and then went to the lobby to hang up my coat(I was sweating like crazy with my coat on!). Oh no! There was a window open about 6 feet up the wall and a nice breeze blew in - right above "Robert's" head! Danger, danger! One of the workers ran over super fast and shut the window immediately! So much for getting the "mom of the year" award :)
As you can see, our little guy is quite the monkey and water bug. Can hardly wait to get him home and let him play in the bathtub - he'll have a blast!

Lots of rain lately.

Part of the city on the way to the orphanage.

"I'm gettin' the hang of this standing up thing."

Buddha belly!

"I'm a little monkey! I climbed up this high all by myself - Dad was behind me just in case."

Oops - we taught him this. Bad parents, bad parents!
Sweet boy.

More Buddha belly!

Even more Buddha belly! (notice the wet spots on his pants - this was AFTER the pics below)

"This water play stuff is my favorite - especially when I make a mess!!!"

Apartments and fountain next to the 107 bus stop (the bus we take to the orphanage).

Pothole outside our apt. - very clever "caution cone."

Good ol' 107 - this was a light day! Notice the foggy windows!
One of our favorite restaurants downtown - because it is cafeteria style and we can point to what looks good. Sometimes we guess well, other times not so much!
The norm.
"I'll beat you, Mama!"
One of these days he'll figure out that this means "more" - for now, we get the point.
Most of it ended up in the pan - and they wonder why you're all wet when we take you back to your room! :)
"This Playdoh is strange stuff."
All bundled up on a frigid 70 degree day!
"This might be fun if I could move."
"Now this is what I call fun!"
"I think it is hilarious when Grandma sneaks up on me!"
"This ball is bigger than me!"
Our handy dandy dryer :)

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