Posted by admin @ 12:34 pm
Shelved under In Country

Going Home Day 13
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Today’s visit with the Embassy yielded us Gabriel’s passport and visa.  Gabriel will be an American citizen as soon as we touch US soil.  We’ve confirmed our flights to Amsterdam and New York.  We had a nice surprise as well, we got to see the Olympic torch pass rite in front of our hotel.  We’re packing our bags and going to go to bed early in anticipation of the long flights.  Gabriel did fine on a 2 hour flight, so we’ll see what over 16 hours of air travel does for him.

We are almost home, one can only imagine how grateful and blessed we feel.  This truly has been a journey that we will always treasure.  We are so fortunate to have all of you to share this with.  Thank you to our families and friends for all your love and support.  Thanks for all the comments and parental advice. 

We would like to send special thanks to Mom and Pops for helping us prepare for this trip and their continued support throughout our journey.  Rj and Michelle for taking care of our precious puppy, Dakota and also for driving to Washington, DC for our visas the day before we had to leave. 

Special thanks to our Aktobe friends, Ben, Karla & Erlan, for the best home cooked meals in Aktobe, Eric, Kami & Lincoln, Agnes & Sacha and Bernadette & Gaia.  Also to Bayanna, who kept us sane, shared the Kazakh culture and danced with Gabriel, thank you very much.  You will all always be part of Gabriel’s life story.

Thank you to Lindsey, Nathan, Gianna and Camille for sharing their 2007 Aktobe adoption story with us.  You’ve helped us prepare for this trip and given us so much support throughout.
 
Thank you to Marge, Ramon, Ellen and Ken for writing the referral letters to our agency.  

We are sure that we’ve missed a lot of people to thank and will remember it as soon as we post this.  We will continue the list when we get home. 

So this will be the last blog entry from Kazakhstan.  Next stop New Jersey, USA!!

Paka!

Posted by admin @ 12:32 pm
Shelved under In Country

Going Home Day 12
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We’ve got two more days before we leave Kazakhstan.  Since we’ve got an open schedule today, we decide to go to Kok-Tobe, which means blue mountain.  To get up the mountain, one takes a cable car.  From what I understand, it’s a nice scenic ride to to the top.  So we go through our morning routine with Gabriel, head down to breakfast and come back up for his nap.  We prepare his things and wait to meet with the other families.

Gen, Gabriel and I go downstairs and meet up with Julian, Sara and Zoe.  Also with them is Greg, Gretchen and Danyar (sorry if I spelled his name wrong), their son.  Eric, Kami and Lincoln follow shortly.  Everyone squares their gear away and off we go.  For the next half hour or so Julian and Sara take us through a series of back roads and shortcuts in Almaty to where the cable car starts.  It’s not a bad walk, even though there are a lot of hilly sections that we passed through.  Along the way, we pass by what appears to be a university, Hotel Kazakhstan and some memorials.  We saw some graffiti at the university that didn’t take too kindly to President Bush, Americans and NATO.  I’ll post the PG rated pics up here. 

As we arrive at the ride, we notice that there is a van parked up front of the place with a cable car logo on it.  This can’t be a good sign.  We buy our tickets and then we are informed that the cable cars are out of service and we need to take the van up to the mountain.  In the van we go and up to the top of the mountain.

It’s nice and sunny with a nice breeze hitting us when we reach the top of Kok-Tobe.  There’s a billboard with picture of some famous actors, who had visited here.  Also up here is an alpine racer ride, some restaurants, mini zoo, a telecom tower and of all things, a statue of The Beetles.  They’ve never been here so I wonder why their statue was put up.  Weird…

All the while, Gabriel’s eyes were wide open.  He was taking in all the sites, and then, he fell asleep.  He was probably out for a good two hours or so.  He woke up right before we were starting to leave.  As we headed for the van, Eric ran to the cable car to see if it was operating.  It turns out, they started it up and we could take it down the mountain.  We all packed in and off we went.  Afterwards, all of us walked back towards our hotel, exchanged some email addresses and went our separate ways.

Gabriel is really getting comfortable in the baby carrier.  He enjoys looking at things and appears to be content.  We can’t wait to take him home and take him on our hiking trips with Dakota and Milo.

Tomorrow, we head for the US Embassy.  Let’s hope all goes well!!

Paka!

   

Posted by admin @ 12:22 pm
Shelved under In Country

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Gabriel had a hard time with his formula this morning.  Gen and Gabriel were going at it for more then an hour.  He just wouldn’t cooperate.  The breakfast downstairs runs from 7-10 AM, but we didn’t get there till quarter past nine.  After we got back upstairs, I called one of our coordinators to see what was going on with the passport and the medical examination for Gabriel.  She didn’t know what was going on with the passport, as she would need to talk to her boss, but the medical examination was still scheduled for 11:30.  I thought that this would not be possible since he didn’t have his passport yet, but just as long as there is a faxed copy of it, they would do his examination.  What that means for us is one less day here in Almaty.  

Gabriel and Gen went to the SOS clinic along with Eric and Lincoln and the coordinator.  The kids had a medical examination along with an HIV test.  Gabriel was talking up a storm with the nurses, when the head nurse surprised him with a finger prick.  He cried for a bit and settled down.  After that, they dropped the kids off at the hotel and went about rescheduling our flights home and filled out paperwork for the embassy.  

Later that evening, we went to have dinner with Eric, Kami and Lincoln.  At the suggestion of the Sara and Julian, we went to a kebab stand to get some food.  It was absolutely delicious!  I think we’ll be returning tomorrow for lunch or dinner!

Oh, before I forget, on the way to the lobby, there was a pianist and violinist.  We sat down and let Gabe listen for a bit.  The look on his face was great as he loves the piano and seeing a violin for the first time had him mesmerized.

Paka!

 

    

Posted by admin @ 1:33 pm
Shelved under In Country

Going Home Day 09
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It’s Saturday, and we’re going through our morning ritual with Gabriel.  He’s still running on Aqtobe time, so that gives us an extra hour of sleep.  We’ve resigned ourselves to the fact that we will be missing our flight this Wednesday.  We have not heard back from any of our WHFC people concerning the status of Gabriel’s passport.  We still need to get Gabriel’s physical completed as well as meet with some embassy officials concerning his visa but cannot do any of it unless we have his passport.   This is very frustrating as you can imagine.   

So to avoid twiddling our thumbs in our rooms all day, we decide to go for a walk around Almaty.  I put on the Baby Bjorn thing, strap Gabriel in and off we go.  We follow the similar route which Lena took us on the previous day.  We head into a market called Baby City, which as you surmise for yourselves, dedicated for baby stuff.  Since Gabriel’s wardrobe consists mainly of winter clothes and the weather in Almaty is in the 60’s, we try to find a spring jacket for him.  There are a couple of jackets which look like they are a nice fit for Gabriel, but not for the price.  These baby jackets started at $40 and went north of that.  The pricing here, and the entire city is absolutely ridiculous.  The quality is total garbage, yet the pricing is that of name brand stuff.  We run into the Kami, Eric and Lincoln in the store as well.  Eric and Kami are looking for some clothes for Lincoln as well.  We chat for a bit and go our separate ways.

There is a German restaurant up the street that we decided to have lunch at.  As luck would have it, the menu is in English.  The waiter seats us and brings a high chair out for Gabriel.  We order our food and drinks as Gabriel plays with one of his toys.  There is a little girl in the place who walks up to Gabriel and shows him her toy cell phone.  Then Eric and Kami walk in.  They’ve got a case of the munchies and decided to try out the same place as well.  The food was good, but the beer was a bit too warm for our liking.  Afterwards, we head to the supermarket to pick up some supplies and then back to the hotel for Gabriel’s nap.

Putting him down for his sleep time has gotten easier for the past couple of days.  He does his little routine where he’ll play with some of his toys, roll around and make funny noises before he falls asleep. 

For dinner, we go meet Eric, Kami and Lincoln, along with a Canadian family who had adopted in Almaty, at a Chinese restaurant.  They adopted a cute little girl, who’s name I can’t think of at the moment.  We took the food to go as it was close to Gabriel’s sleep time. 

Paka!

Going Home Day 10
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Gabriel woke up crying at 3:30 AM this morning.  Gen comforted him for about 15 minutes before he went back to sleep.  He got up an hour later then his usual time.  After he was done eating we got ready ourselves and headed downstairs for breakfast.  There we met up with Eric, Kami and Lincoln.  We discussed what the plans were for that day, and we decided on lunch with the Canadian family we met, along with another family that was in Almaty as well.

The café that we were to meet up at was in the same area where we had bought souvenirs a couple days earlier.  It’s about a 15 minute walk from the hotel.  So I strap on Gabriel and off we go.  When we get there, Kami is outside with Lincoln getting some fresh air.  We head inside and meet the other family and their daughter.  We spend an hour or so lunch with them and head to the Green Market, which is basically a big flea market.  We walk around for a little bit and head back for Gabriel’s nap time.

Paka!

Posted by admin @ 1:36 pm
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Going Home Day 06
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We’ve left Aqtobe today and it feels bittersweet. On one hand we feel kind of bad leaving all the new friends we made here behind.  On the other, it’s just time for us to move on and get started on the next chapter of our lives with Gabriel. 

We got up early this morning not knowing what was in store for us on the airplane.  As we each took turns getting ready and watching Gabriel, the tension of the trip was starting to build up.  Our bags were already packed and at the door.  The knock came and Cerick was here.  Gabriel was sitting on the couch when he came in to help with the bags.  Gabriel leaned over too much and took a header off the couch.  Good thing for us he’s a tough kid.  He cried for a minute and got over his fall.  We put on his jacket and got the rest of our things and left our apartment for the last time. 

The ride to the airport was an uneventful one.  Both of us were still thinking about how Gabriel is going to be on the plane.  Cerick pulled into the airport and helped take our bags inside the terminal.  Bayana helped us get checked in at the gate, and we found out that we had an overage in our luggage.  No problem, we were expecting that.  We headed to the cashier and took care of the fee.  As we passed through the security checkpoint, the clerk who checked in our luggage started screaming at us.  Apparently, we were not allowed to take our carry-on bags on the plane.  I was not a happy camper at this point.  One of the bags had my laptop and confidential paperwork and that definitely could not be checked in.  I quickly re-arranged the carry-on’s and took out my laptop and paperwork, went with Bayana to the cashier to pay the penalty fee for excess luggage and went back through the security checkpoint.  In our haste, we couldn’t say a proper goodbye to Bayana, so we felt bad as we made our way to the waiting area.  Things just weren’t going well, and I hoped that this was not a sign of things to come.

Our plane wasn’t going to leave for another 20 minutes, so we took the time we had to feed Gabriel.  After he finished, the shuttle bus arrived to take us to the tarmac where our plane to Almaty awaited.  We waited for the second shuttle since everyone made a beeline for the first one and got packed in like cattle.  We made our way onto the second one and made for the plane.  One thing about the people in Kazakhstan is that they do not believe in lining up.  For example, at a coat check, you can be the first one in line, but three people out of no where will totally ignore you and cut in front to give their coat.  This happened to us as when we tried to board the plane.  It didn’t even matter that Gabriel was with us, some even pushed Gen with him strapped to her.  I thought Gen was going to knock out the guy before I did!  Luckily for us, the ticket agent at the line so our plight and went to us to get our tickets.  We climbed the stairs, which felt as sturdy as jello, and entered the plane.

The plane was a small one, an Airbus 880 I think.  We were assigned seats 22 A & B, the window and center seats.  Gen and I hoped that the plane would not be full as with our first trip here, but this wasn’t the case.  The plane was packed!  As we moved slowly toward our seats, I noticed that we were going to be seated rite behind the engines.  My hopes of him sleeping were immediately erased.  We get to our seats, and I notice that there is a very large man, easily 300 plus pounds, sitting in the aisle seat.  I’m praying that he’s not in our row, but luck is not on our side today.  He gets up with an effort and lets us into the row.  Gen hands me Gabriel as she straps in.  I hand her Gabriel as I strap in and that’s when I notice that this very large man is occupying my seat as well.  The only thing that’s stopping him from rolling over and smothering me is a very small armrest.  He’s already claimed the armrest for himself, and I can feel his arm in my ribs.  Luckily for me, it’s only a two hour flight.

Gabriel settles into Gen’s lap and is in awe of his surroundings.  He’s playing with the tray and the magazines in the seatback.  He stares out the window looking at the other plane that’s parked on the tarmac.  Gen takes out Gabriel’s bottle of juice as the pilot takes the plane towards the beginning of the runway.  The pilot throttles the engine up to what sounds like half power as the plane lurches forward for take off.  The bottle goes into Gabriel’s mouth as the engines scream to full throttle.  The plane lifts off the ground, engines roaring and our stomach’s swimming in a little zero g.  All the while, Gabriel is sitting back and drinking from his bottle contently.  Gen holds him up a bit so that he can have a last look of his hometown.  We won’t be coming back here for a while, so all of us take in a final glimpse of our temporary home. 

The plane finally reaches its cruising altitude and Gabriel isn’t fussing at all.  He’s playing with his toys and doesn’t seem too interested anymore with his surroundings.  Next thing you know, he’s sleeping.  In fact, he doesn’t wake up until the plane is on approach for landing!  In goes the bottle as we drop in for landing. 

We decide to let everyone get off the plane before us to avoid the chaos.  Gabriel is just hanging out and taking in everything.  As we make our way off the plane, all the flight attendants are cooing at Gabriel.  I know he’s enjoying every minute of it, especially when a cute stewardess is doing it. 

After all of us exit the baggage claim area and make our way into the terminal, we are greeted by the head coordinator, Svetlana.  She appears to be in her late 40’s and has pleasant facade.  She brings us to our new temporary domicile called Hotel Alma-ata.  The neighborhood which this is situated in is so much more pleasant than the one we were in when we first arrived.  Of course the prices are comparable to NYC.  Food isn’t cheap around here and since we don’t have a lot of things like a stove or microwave, we have to eat out now. 

Gen, Gabriel and I get situated in our room.  The hotel has cribs available as well, so one is sent up to us.  We get Gabriel acclimated to the crib as he absolutely hates it, which I don’t blame him, when he’s placed in there.  We give him his toys and play with him, all the while inching away every time he’s placed in it.  He sleeps comfortably now in and will play in there, but cries once he gets bored and wants out.  For a 10 month old baby being exposed to hundreds of new things in one day, he’s taking everything in stride.  He’s got such a laid back personality, exactly like Gen’s. 

His eating is still an issue, but we’re all working on it.  He absolutely hates the formula, so his feedings with it are 40 minutes at a minimum.  Gabriel loves his fruit puree and his juice and has no problems eating and drinking the stuff.  I think once we get home, his diet will stabilize and he’ll be just fine…

Our in country WHFC representative, Lena, comes to the hotel later that afternoon to greet us.  She shows us a place where we can have dinner, sets up some things for us to do tomorrow and bids us adieu.

As for how long we’ll be here…that’s still up in the air.  We haven’t heard about the status of Gabriel’s passport.  The SOP here in Kazakhstan is everything is on a need to know basis, and since we don’t understand the language, we aren’t told everything.  It’s unfortunate that we’ve been misled and outright lied to several times, but bottom line is we’ve got Gabriel.  A couple of days here is just a drop in the bucket at this point. 

Paka!

 

Going Home Day 07
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Gen and I are awakened by Gabriel’s cries around 6 AM this morning.  We go through the usual routine and he’s happy, of course after the power struggle he has with Gen over the bottle of formula.  We get ready for today’s events and head downstairs for the “free” breakfast.  I shoot off a quick sms to Eric and Kami to meet us in the restaurant.

For those of you who have faithfully been keeping up with our blog, you will remember the great loss I felt when we left the Dastan Hotel in Aqtobe to stay in apartment.  I thought the breakfast spread there was the cat’s meow.  Needless to say, that has now changed.  There is a cook to make eggs now, the spread is almost three times the size as that of the Dastan, and the bread is actually fresh!  Happy days are here…

Gabriel had his first foray in a high chair and he did surprisingly well.  We kept him occupied with some toys and gave him small pieces bread.  When he got bored and cranky, I took him out and walked him around the restaurant.  Breakfast came to an end and we headed upstairs to put Gabriel down for his nap. 

One of the best things we’ve discovered about Gabriel is his ability to immediately sleep after fussing around for 5-10 minutes.  Sometimes it’s hit or miss on the length of his naps, but for his bedtime, he’ll sleep for a good ten hours.  He also has been speaking more and more.  He’s perfected calling Gen, Mama but he’s downright cheap calling me Papa.  I’m gonna have to work on that with him…

Lena met with us before noon to take us around Almaty.  We hit a local bazaar and picked up some souvenirs.  Gen, Kami and Lena went into one of the shops and I hung out at the entrance with Gabriel.  The ladies who manned some of the stands started cooing at him and he immediately turns on his charm.  I tell you, this kid is good.  He’s only 10 months and his tradecraft with the ladies rivals those of some grown men (This means you Ken.)  Gabriel bats his big brown eyes, flashes a smile, and his dimples send the ladies overboard.  There were 6 or 7 ladies around him and he had them all eating out of the palm of his little hand.  Better watch out ladies, this kid is gonna leave a lot of victims in his wake…

After the bazaar we head for the Silk Road Center, which is one of the shopping malls in the area.  All of us take the escalator up to the top floor to grab some lunch in the food court area.  We take a seat near some university students drop some of our stuff and head over to the food stalls.  There is a burger place which is called King Burger, which probably infringes in some way to the real Burger King in the states, and order burgers.  There is a 10 minute wait after the order, so we head back to our seats.  I pick up Gabriel and give Gen a chance to catch her breath.  She’s been hauling him around in the Baby Bjorn the entire time and her back is starting to ache.  As I’m sitting there, I feel Gabriel fidgeting around and I look to see what he’s doing.  He must have some radar or something because he’s holding hands with an attractive young lady.  Her friend is smiling at him as well.  She gives him a piece of candy and goes back to what she’s doing.  Gabriel, quite pleased with himself, turns back to me and settles into my lap with a big smile on his face. 

We finish up lunch and head to the bottom floor, which is a supermarket.  We pick up some supplies and hop a cab back to the hotel.  Eric and I drop the girls and the kids off in the room and head across the street to a local café to pick up dinner. 

When I get back to the room, Gabriel is having his bottle with Gen.  He’s putting up a good fight tonight as they’ve been going at it for over forty minutes now.  I feed Gen some of her dinner and let her finish up with Gabe.  When she’s done, I take over and put him to bed. 

Tomorrow is another day…

Paka!

 

Going Home Day 08
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At breakfast, we met a family from Belgium who adopted an adorable two year old.  They have been in country for three months due to some unfortunate mishaps, but are happy they will be leaving soon.  We wish them the best as they leave for their embassy to try to get everything moving faster.   Today, the kids are to be taken to a photo lab to have their pictures taken for their passports.  Some information has been de-classified and presented to us, we may be heading home as early as Wednesday.  As usual, I’m not going to hold my breath on this…

It’s my turn to wear the Baby Bjorn today, so I strap on the contraption and Gen puts Gabriel in it.  It feels awkward at first, but once you get you to it, its fine.  Originally, Lena had planned to take us out to the mountains for a little bit of a getaway, but she fell ill with stomach virus and could not join us.  Must have been something she ate.  We then put plan B in to play, go for a nice long walk around the area with Gabriel.  We invited Kami and Eric as well and join up with them in the lobby.  The weather in Almaty is beautiful.  It’s springtime here and it’s at least in the 60’s.  Back in Aqtobe, it was still cold and there was ice, snow and standing water everywhere as things began to thaw out.  Gabriel seems to be enjoying the weather as well and he’s getting some much needed sun. 

At 4 PM, the girls meet up with Svetlana to take the kids to a photo lab to have their pictures taken for their passports.  More information is released to us which pretty much discredits the initial reports we got that morning.  It looks like we are going to be here longer.  Eric and I hang out in the outside hotel dining to enjoy and adult refreshment drink while the girls are gone.  They come back and we hang outside for a bit to unwind.  At the refreshment stand, we meet a Canadian, who was originally from Kazakhstan.  He speaks perfect English as well.  The girls head upstairs and we soon follow suit.  Tonight we decide to try the local pizza delivery service for dinner.  When we get the pizzas, they are tiny, but their price tags are not.  They did hit the spot though…

Paka!

Posted by admin @ 1:35 pm
Shelved under In Country

Going Home Day 05
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According to Joel’s log, it is day 51 in Kazakhstan, our last full day in Aktobe.  We spent most of our day doing laundry, packing and cleaning the apartment.  Gabriel was oblivious to everything as we stuck to his daily rituals.  He was a very good boy today.  He finished 23oz of formula, only 9oz shy of what is recommended by his pediatrician.  He’s also eating some veggies with pasta, juice and lots of fruit puree.  We’re very happy with his progress.

It was a beautiful sunny day today and we were able to take Gabriel for a last stroll around his hometown.  He seemed more comfortable than the day we broke him out of the orphanage.  We kept talking to him as he took in the sights.  The sidewalks were clear of ice and snow but it was muddy.  Gabriel kept his focus on the cars and buildings while we maneuvered through the mud.  Five minutes into our walk he started talking.  We have no idea what he was saying but I think he was reassuring us that he was enjoying his walk.

Uncle Ben, Aunt Karla and Bayanna visited us later in the afternoon to say bye to Gabriel.  Gabriel also enjoyed his last dance with Bayanna.  We will truly miss them.  They have been very helpful and kind.  They will always be part of Gabriel’s life story.

Our pick up time tomorrow is at 8:30am.  The flight to Almaty is about 2-1/2 hours.  We are not sure about the internet connection at the hotel.  We promise to update the blog as soon as we can.  We don’t want to receive anymore hate mail from Gabriel’s fans for the delays in our blog.

Enjoy some pix that Joel took of Gabriel’s bath, our apartment and views from our apartment.

Good night to all! 

Paka!

Posted by admin @ 11:23 am
Shelved under In Country

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Gabriel seems to be settling into a little bit of a routine.  He got up around 6 AM this morning and had 4 ounces of formula without too much of a fuss.  Gen supplemented that with some fruit puree as well.  Gabriel then does his thing in his play area with either Gen or me. 

When Gabriel is playing with his blocks, we can see his love for music.  He loves to bang his blocks together in rhythm, and plays the wipes container like a bongo drum.  When we show him some simple beats, and he copies what we are doing.  I’ve also shown him how to throw his blocks as well.  It looks like he favors his left arm when he throws, so it looks like he maybe a southpaw. 

We had a little bit of a breakthrough for his evening formula.  Thanks to Aunt Karla and Uncle Ben for the Kefir they gave Gabriel, we mixed it with his formula and made 8 ounces.  Slowly but surely, Gabriel drank every ounce of it. 

After Gabriel went to bed, we started organizing all our things for our return trip to Almaty.  We are donating a lot of Gabriel’s stuff and are keeping our fingers crossed that we won’t be hit with an overage with our luggage.     

Paka!

Posted by admin @ 3:00 pm
Shelved under In Country

Going Home Day 02
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Like clockwork, Gabriel turns to check on me at 6am this morning.  He cracks a smile and I immediately acknowledged him with a kiss.  He’s getting more comfortable in his new sleeping area.  I hate to break the news to him that it’s only temporary.  He’s been through so much.  I reassure him at every chance that Papa and Mama aren’t ever going to leave him.

We started the morning wrestling Gabe to take his bottle with formula.  Children here are given kefir which is fermented yogurt.  Before all the moms out there give me a hard time about weaning, the kefir given at the orphanage is not available at the stores.  Well, Gabriel won the wrestling fight and we gave him the apple cereal instead.  It’s really breaking my heart.  He is so skinny and can really benefit from the formula but I cannot stand force feeding him either.  I put some formula in his afternoon snack and he ate it.  I’ll have to get creative with his other feedings too.

Aside from eating, he has adjusted really well in his temporary home.  He loves his Labrador stuffed puppy that Grandpa and Lola gave him.  He copies us when we say “arf”, his sounds like “ar”.  He also gives his puppy kisses.  His nannies gave him lots of kisses so he knows how to kiss.  He’s discovered the textured wallpaper in our living room and he also gave that a kiss.

Gabe has been sticking to his nap and sleeping schedule.  We are absolutely happy about that.  We can always tell when it’s nap time because he starts sucking his index finger and thumb.  He uses his left hand to cover the other.  I think he used this tactic to hide his habit from the nannies.  All we do is take him to bed when he starts doing this, lay next to him and he is out in 5 minutes.

Today is Kazakhstan New Year.  In town, there is a festival going on.  Gabe and I could not partake in the festivities because it was drizzling and cold.  Joel did go with Ben, Karla, Agnes, Eric and Bayan.  He took tons of pictures that we can share with Gabriel later.

Paka!


Going Home Day 03
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Gabriel has been making great progress with his formula.  This morning, he took most of it with less fuss than usual.  It’s a great sign that he’s getting more comfortable with us. 
He woke up early today, at 5:15 AM, but that was because he slept early.

It’s Easter Sunday today so Happy Easter to everyone!  To celebrate, we dressed up Gabriel.  We wanted to take him outside for a walk in the park, but it was a bit too cold for him.  This was supposed to be our last day here in Aktobe, but we decided to spend a couple of extra days here because Gabriel’s passport will not be ready this week.

Agnes, Ben and Karla decided to come by and say hi to Gabriel today.  Agnes, Sasha’s mom, wanted to see Gabriel before we leave.  Ben and Karla made Gabriel some mashed potatoes to try and get him to eat a bit more.  I have to say that we are truly lucky that we’ve made great friends here.

Paka!

Posted by admin @ 1:47 pm
Shelved under In Country

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It’s about 7:15 AM and I hear a baby crying.  Gabriel has just woken up and Gen is taking care of him already.  Taking care of him was nothing like what we were doing at the orphanage.  His feeding hasn’t been easy at all, due to him not taking the formula.  Other than that, he’s been sleeping well and enjoying his freedom.

Gabriel is slowly exploring all the new sights and sounds in our apartment’s living room area.  He’s feeling the walls, touching the carpet and he sometimes jumps at the noise our neighbors make.  We gave him a bath today and he didn’t like it all.  After he was dry though, he was back to his usual self.  He also got his first exposure to Baby Einstein.  He was so engrossed with watching it!

This will be a short one today, gotta take care of the kid. 

Paka!


 

Posted by admin @ 1:36 pm
Shelved under In Country

Gotcha Day
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Our alarm goes off at 7:30 am this morning.  Gen hops out of bed like it was on fire and gets ready for the big day.  I roll around trying to catch a little bit more sleep and made a mental note to set the alarm earlier.  Why do you ask?  Because according to the schedule given to us by the orphanage, Gabriel’s day starts at 6 am.  This isn’t a problem for me because I’m usually up by then, but I can’t help but think about how much he’s changed our lives and he isn’t even home yet.

Gen and I go through our morning routine and head downstairs to wait for our ride.  We walk down the street, which is still covered in ice, and meet the car.  Our translator isn’t in the car, which is nothing new to me, but I thought since this was the big day she would be there.  I brush aside any negative thoughts and get into the car.

The ride to the orphanage is a quiet one, well at least for me it is.  If someone said something, I wouldn’t have noticed…I was too busy thinking/stressing out over today’s events.  We arrive and head upstairs to wait for the children.  When we open the door, we’re greeted by all sorts of decorations and something written in Cyrillic.  For a fleeting moment I thought that this was a farewell party for the children, but I’m brought back to reality when I realize that these are for the New Year party in that “magical” playroom.

Gabriel is finally brought in, for the last time by one of his nannies.  He’s got a serious look on his face, like he knows that something big is happening today.  Gen picks him up from the nanny and begins to shower him with hugs and kisses.  We sit down and begin to play.  A little bit later, our translator and coordinator walk in with some documentation which needs to be signed.  As we finish with the documentation, we are told to dress the children in their new clothes and jackets and get ready to leave.  We tell our translator that we have gifts for the children’s nannies and would like to go down to the baby room to distribute them.  As we pass out gifts for all of Gabriel’s they all have a look of bewilderment on their faces.  Unfortunately, it turns out our translator didn’t inform the nannies about this being Gabriel’s last day here.  Things get emotional as we say our goodbyes and give thanks to the two nannies that are present.  We run back upstairs to gather the rest of our things and say our goodbyes to the other families there.  Agnes will be staying for the rest of her appeal period with Sasha and Bernadette will head back to France to prepare for Gaia’s arrival.

We run into his nanny again on the way downstairs and she says goodbye again.  It’s too bad I don’t understand what she’s saying, but she looked very emotional when she talked to him.  Some of the nannies and nurses that were upstairs waved bye to Gabriel as we made our way to the exit.  As we get outside, Gabriel’s eyes get wide and he looks around.  I’m pretty sure that he hasn’t been outside much in his life and this is very alien to him.

As we get into the car, Gabriel looks scared.  He’s very quiet and the look on his face is similar to when we first met.  Gen gently reassures him that everything is going to be ok as he looks out the window.  Our coordinators take us to the main baby house to meet with the head doctor and to sign some more adoption papers.  He says something to us along the lines of a congratulations as we complete everything.  We shake hands and leave to go back to the apartment.  It’s a whirlwind of a day for Gabriel, but this is just the start.  Our coordinators inform us that we need to go to the Department of Vital Statistics to pickup the kid’s birth certificate at 3 PM. 

We head back to the apartment for a lunch break.  Poor Gabriel is sweating his butt off.  We peel him out of his snowsuit and let him plop down on his blanket with his toys.  He’s still scared and not comfortable with his new surroundings.  Both of us take turns to calm and reassure him that he’s going to be ok.  Even when it’s time for him to eat, he won’t because of all the changes happening. 

We then try to put him down for his nap and he won’t have it.  He’s bawling his eye’s out and screaming at the top of his lungs.  This didn’t happen at the orphanage so Gen and I get immediately get stressed out.  We take turns holding him and after 45 minutes he falls asleep in our arms.  As soon as we lay him on the bed, wouldn’t you know it, he starts up again!  It takes another 10 minutes before he’ll sleep on the bed.

He wakes up after his short nap and we get him ready to go out again.  We layer his clothes on and put him in his snow suit and off we go to get his birth certificate.  After that’s done, we are informed that we need to go to the notary to sign more documentation and we also need to book our tickets to Almaty.  He ate such a small amount at the apartment and hasn’t had a full meal since the orphanage.  He’s a trooper though and isn’t fussing at all.  He’s looking around and checking out all the new sights and sounds. 

I expected that we were finished once we left the travel agent, but we still had more things to do.  We went to an electronics store to pick up an all-in-one printer as our donation to the orphanage, and had to make a trip to another office that was going to process Gabriel’s passport.  He was taking everything in stride and didn’t cry once in the car.  In fact, he fell asleep for 45 minutes. 

Finally, we get back to the apartment.  Gabriel is placed on his blanket and we try to get him to relax a bit before his feeding.  He’s still stressed out about his new environment and won’t eat much.  Later that evening, Ben and Karla stopped by to meet Gabriel.  He was a bit shy at first, but started warming up to them before they left. 

After some fussing he finally went to sleep and Gen and I had a couple minutes to catch our breath.  It’s been very overwhelming experience today for all us, but the main thing is he’s finally out of the orphanage and here in our arms.

More later, but for now, Paka!


 

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