Posted by admin @ 4:04 am
Shelved under In Country


 Sorry for the blog being late, we’ve been having “communication” problems here…

 Gabriel will be ours today, stay tuned for an update later, but for now, enjoy Days 14 & 15.

Appeal Day 14

Just one more day before Gabriel is ours!  We are very excited about his imminent arrival! This also means that we will be going home very soon!  I don’t mind it at all out here, but we just need to be home with him already.

As for Gabriel, he continues to amaze us.  Today, he was vocalizing, and actually said DaDa and MaMa.  We don’t know if he actually meant it, but we would like to think he knew what he was saying.  The little guy has come so far with us, and it’s only getting better.  I can’t wait to see how much more he’ll bloom when we get him first here in the apartment, then back home.  Gabriel had a high energy drive today and wanted to do all his regiments, from tummy time to dancing.  He also found some time to woo the ladies in the room, from Gaia to Irina, the translator.  Our boy is a big flirt, and it looks like he’s on his way to break a lot of hearts when he gets older!


Appeal Day 15

Today officially marks the end of our appeal period, yay!  Tomorrow, we’ll head to the orphanage for a normal visit.  During that time, our coordinators will get the final judgment of the courts and present it to the head doctor.  They will then call us to the main orphanage and have us sign some paperwork that will finalize Gabriel’s adoption.

Gabriel was in such a good mood today!  I think he knows that he’ll be busting out of that place tomorrow.  He was talking up a storm when we were playing catch, he was laughing and smiling and he was so sweet to both of us.  We broke for lunch and told him to get some rest for our return in the afternoon.

For our lunch break, we met up with Ben and Karla, Bayanna, and Bernadette at a Turkish restaurant called Istanbul.  Afterwards, Bayanna took us to the mosque, which is built right next to the mall.  At the mosque, we were introduced to the Imam and his assistant.  They took us on a tour and spent sometime to explaining Islam to us.  They were both quick to denounce terrorism in the name of Islam and stressed that Islam is about tolerance and peace.  The Imam thanked us for stopping by and invited us to convert to Islam.  We thanked our host and headed back to the orphanage.

When Gabriel was brought out to us, Gen’s suspicions were true.  His eyes looked so tired and when we asked his nanny, she said that he did not sleep.  He was waiting for us to come back to be with him.  Gabriel was all smiles and laughs though, and his energy levels were surprisingly high.  He was dancing, hopping up and down in the walker and was very vocal. 

When it was his feeding time, his food did not show up.  As it turns out, the head doctor was in the orphanage today doing an inspection.  The staff was on high alert and on their best behavior.  He came into the play room and looked around and greeted us as well.  So Gabriel’s food did not come in until 5:00 pm, which is when our visit was up.  We had to hurry because our ride was waiting for us already.  Gabriel obliged us by eating his food quickly and without a fuss.  He was very hungry!  

Since this is our last afternoon session here, it was time to say an early goodbye to one of the translators at the orphanage.  Irina, who is part of Bernadette and Agnes’ group, was so helpful to us when our translators no longer attend our visits.  She went above and beyond her duties to help us out, and we are very thankful that she did.  Irina will not be at the orphanage in the morning because she needs to take care of her son.  His school will be closed tomorrow and no one will be able to take care of him.   Gen and I showed our gratitude by giving her a gift and some pictures of her Gabriel.  We wish her the best as we said our goodbyes.

We celebrated our last evening of being baby-free at our favorite Kazakh restaurant with Ben, Karla, Bernadette, Agnes, Bayan, Eric and Kami.  We ordered our usual traditional Kazakh dish, beshbamark with beef.  Bayan ordered a horse meat appetizer.  It was quite tender and delicious.  Gen even tried it.  I also tried the horse tongue and intestines….yummm!!!!

We are now home and preparing Gabriel’s escape outfit.  We’re hoping to get a good night’s rest as it may be quite a while before we can get another.


Posted by admin @ 11:30 am
Shelved under In Country


Gabriel’s gotcha day is getting closer!  If everything goes well, he should be coming home this Thursday.  Gen and I have been preparing the apartment for his arrival.  We’ve been cleaning and buying groceries and supplies.  Our coordinators here are already booking our airline tickets back to Almaty for next week, which is a positive sign that we’ll be getting out of Aqtobe soon.  When we go back to Almaty, that’s a whole different story as we need to meet with someone at the US Embassy and have Gabriel’s medical examination performed.


I think Gabriel is sensing his imminent departure.  His reluctance to return to his room with his nannies is evident whenever our sessions end with him.  Today was no different, his eyes light up when his nanny carries him in and he’s laughing and giggling.  We brought the Baby Bjorn in today to condition Gabriel for his rides in them.  We kept him in it longer and he loved every second of it.  This is a great sign for us, which means we will be able to move him around easier when we travel.  One of the other mothers at the baby house also tried out the Baby Bjorn with her daughter, Gaia, and found it very comfortable.  I think she’s going to be picking one up when she goes back to France.


This afternoon Gabriel was a bit tired when he was brought in.  Gen thinks that he isn’t napping in between visits because he’s waiting for us to come back to see him.  These kids are pretty sharp at such a young age.  I think he knows what’s going on…


On another positive note, Agnes, Sasha’s mom, had a successful day in court for his adoption.  Her fifteen day appeal period starts tomorrow.  Two other families will be having their court session, Bernadette this Thursday, Ben and Karla Friday.  We wish them the best of luck.




Posted by admin @ 2:23 pm
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Appeal Day 11

We’ve got a busy schedule today.  First off, we’ve got our two visits with Gabriel, then a musical concert of traditional Dombra music and song and finally dinner and a show at an Armenian restaurant. 
Our visits at the orphanage went well.  Gabriel was very playful during the morning session.  He played with toy stuffed dog and then he made the rounds with the all the other babies in the room.  He then worked out on the walker and did some tummy time.

We shortened our afternoon session with him about a half an hour to attend the concert.  I guess Gabriel knew we were leaving early because he was giving us a hard time from the moment we got in there.  He was a cranky baby!  He didn’t appreciate my copying his complaining either, as you can see from the pix below. 

Later that afternoon we went to the concert to enjoy some dombra music.  It was very interesting.  Afterwards we went home to look presentable and went out to dinner show at an Armenian restaurant. 


Appeal Day 12

Nothing much to say today, so I’m putting up just pictures.  We did have a home cooked dinner and crepes for dessert courtesy of Ben and Karla, thanks again!! 


Posted by admin @ 10:13 am
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Appeal Day 10

Today is Gabriel’s nanny’s last day before she goes on holiday.  Lyazzat is one of the best nannies in the baby house.  One of the translators said Lyazzat mentioned that Gabriel is one of her favorite babies in the baby house and that she is going to miss him.  We showed our appreciation by giving her a gift bag of goodies, ranging from makeup to chocolate along with some pictures of Gabriel. 

For the past couple of days, Gabriel has been very fussy with his afternoon feeding of porridge.  It doesn’t look all that appetizing, and I don’t blame him for fighting it, but he needs food in him.  It was a surprise that he finished his bowl without making a big deal over it.  He must have been very hungry.  We switched Gabriel’s juice drinking from a sippy cup to a bottle.  He hasn’t used one since he was younger, so we were worried that he wouldn’t take it.  Sure enough, he had no problems taking the bottle.  The true test will be when we fill the bottle with formula.  We’ve got 2 weeks to experiment with his feeding before we get on the plane to go back home, so we should be in good shape by then. 



Posted by admin @ 12:26 pm
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Joel and I have been worried about Gabriel’s arrival.  We’re trying to figure out how we are going to give him a bath, where are we going to put him to sleep, is he going to get sick the moment we leave the orphanage, etc…Both of us didn’t get any sleep last night worrying about this.  I guess now more than ever, we wished we had the comforts of our home.

Gabriel greeted as us this morning with his usual smiles.  He analyzed the attendance in the playroom to see if there were any new faces.  He seems to always be aware of his surroundings.  He was eyeing the walker so we put him in there.  He started jumping the second we put him in it. 

We headed back to our apartment for lunch.  We didn’t do anything exciting for lunch.  I was tired from my restless night’s sleep and took a nap.  Joel prepared some pictures that we needed to get printed to give to Gabe’s nannies.  One of his favorite nannies is leaving for a month vacation tomorrow and we wanted to give her a gift before she left.  She expressed to us that she will miss Gabriel and that she was saddened that she wouldn’t be here to say bye to him.  We were very touched and comforted to know that Gabriel was loved before we came for him.  She was very sincere.

Gabriel was visited by Gaia (Bernadette’s beautiful girl) on his blanket today.  Gaia will be moving to France when her paperwork is completed.  She has the most amazing eyes and Gabriel was stricken by them.  I sat both of them in front of me.  Gabriel instantly put his right arm around Gaia, pulled her closer to him and went in to kiss her on the cheek.  We couldn’t believe our eyes.  Our little boy was putting on the moves.  Gaia was being quite the lady herself and was ignoring Gabriel.  Gabriel remained persistent and tried and tried again to kiss this beautiful little girl.  Needless to say, Papa was very proud of his little Casanova.


Posted by admin @ 11:17 am
Shelved under In Country


Last week, it felt like time was going slow…But today, it felt like it was just flying.  Next week our appeal period will be finished and we will be taking legal custody of Gabriel.  And not a moment too soon, as Kazakhstan will be celebrating their new year.  Similar to the Chinese, this will be the year of the rat.  The Kazakhstan people really know how to celebrate, and this party will be next week starting Thursday until Tuesday!  We already know that Gabriel’s paperwork will  be delayed, putting us an extra two or three days more here, but just as long as he’s out of  the orphanage and in our arms, it doesn’t matter.

Our morning visit with Gabriel was a lot of fun.  He was so full of energy!  He was bouncing up and down in his walker and was rolling all over his blanket.  Gabriel then settled down for a snack (baby food) and some juice. Next thing we knew, our morning session with him was up and his nanny brought him back to his room.

We broke for lunch and went out with Ben, Karla, Eric, Kami and Bayanna to a Kazakhstan restaurant in the old section of Aqtobe.  What makes this place unique from the other place was the table we sat at.  The restaurant owner modeled the section to look like a Yurt, which is a hut like home which Kazakhstan nomads still use till this day.  The food was good and the company was great.  The owner of the restaurant came by our table and asked Bayanna how we liked it and he said we were always welcome to come by and enjoy the food.  Before we left the restaurant, a promoter sitting next to our section invited us to attend a concert of traditional Kazakhstan music this weekend.  We happily accepted as this was a great opportunity to learn more about the culture.

After our lunch, Bayanna took us to a small art gallery across the street.  This gallery has received some notoriety as a lot of Aqtobe’s famous artists have their work on display.  The president of the country had also visited the gallery to see the artwork.  This was a nice opportunity to get an interesting look at other facets of life through artwork here in Aqtobe.   

We returned to the orphanage for our afternoon session.  Gabriel was a bit mellow this session, but still greeted us with a big smile.  One thing we’ve noticed more and more is his reluctance to go back to his nanny after our sessions are over.  It really warms our hearts to see that he has really made a bond with us.  Even if either one of us have to leave the room to use the restroom, Gabriel’s eyes follow us intently.   When we return, he flashes a huge smile and gets all giddy. 

One of Gabriel’s nannies, the one who absolutely adores him, is leaving on holiday at the end of the week.  She told the translator present that she feels so sad that she won’t be around to see him before he goes next week.  You can really tell that she really cares for Gabriel and she is genuine with what she says.  Gen and I are going to get some pictures printed out for her and give her something nice to show our appreciation for taking care of him.

Posted by admin @ 10:32 am
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We had another great visit with Gabriel today.  He was all smiles and laughs this morning when his nanny brought him in.  We then started his morning workout routine, which includes stretching, dancing, tummy time, crawling practice and time in the walker.  He’s getting stronger and stronger each day and it’s great to see the improvement. 

This afternoon, he was in a very playful mood.  He had a lot of energy, so we put him in the walker.  He enjoys jumping up and down in it and playing with the toys built into it.  His favorite translator, Bayanna, was with us this afternoon for a little bit.  You can tell he really likes her because whenever she talks to him, he really lights up.  Bayanna was here today to also spend time with Carlos and Rosa’s daughter.  For those of you who don’t remember, Carlos and Rosa had gone back home to take care of their other two children while Maria’s appeal period was in effect.  Her nanny told Bayanna that Maria was depressed that they haven’t been around.  We all took turns playing with Maria to cheer her up.

Afterwards, Gabriel spent sometime hanging out with Sasha, Agnes’ son.  Sasha is also from baby room three, which means he is also a music lover and a dancer.  Gabriel and Sasha were dancing to the tunes played from the walker. 


Posted by admin @ 12:14 pm
Shelved under In Country


It’s Monday and it’s Gabriel’s tenth month birthday!  We cannot believe how much progress he’s made in just over one month.  We are confident that he will catch up developmentally and physically in no time.  He is a happy baby and even happier when there’s music playing.

It was a fun session with Gabriel today.  He was so happy to see us and was all smiles and giggles.  One of things that we were concerned about when we go back home was how he would react on the trip.  Thanks to his Tito DohDoh and Tita Marissa, he got a Baby Bjorn.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with this device, it is a carrier/harness which allows you to carry a baby hands free.  I thought for sure that Gabriel would be screaming the moment we put him in this thing, but he absolutely loved it.  He was laughing and wiggling his legs non-stop.  This is a very positive sign when we transport him…

Gabriel’s habit of grinding his teeth has been getting worse.  It’s gotten so bad that you can hear him grinding it from ten feet away.  We’ve tried giving him a teether, teething biscuits, and our fingers, but nothing seems to be stopping his grinding.  Anyone have any tips to stop the grinding?  Let us know because we don’t think his dentist will be too happy about this.



Posted by admin @ 11:43 am
Shelved under In Country


It’s Saturday…Gen and I along with the other families are not allowed at the orphanage because of International Woman’s Day.  That means we are left to our own devices.  Fortunately for us, Ben and Karla, our new friends from Missouri, invited all of the families to their place for breakfast.

Ben and Karla prepared a totally kick ass, All American breakfast!!  Ben made a very cool baked egg concoction, consisting of hard boiled eggs, cream and butter.  Karla whipped up some pancakes and home made blueberry syrup.  Yummy!!  Unfortunately, Gen burned her hand when she was boring some hot water out of a kettle and the lid fell off.  Steam hit the top of her right hand and got her good.  Now she’s got a nice blister forming and it should burst any day now…

We went back to the apartment to take a break for a couple of hours.  For dinner, we headed to the bowling alley for some beer and pizza.  Ben, Karla and Eric bowled while we hung out and watched them.  All of us were still pretty bummed out about not being able to see the kids, but were glad that tomorrow we would be with them.



Sunday, and finally we get to see the kids.  Gen and I hurry downstairs of our apartment and meet our ride.  Eric and Kami are just as excited as we are as we head over to the orphanage.  I can’t help but have one of those bad feelings about today’s visit, like it isn’t going to happen.  I quickly dismiss it as we get out of the car and walk into the orphanage.

We walk down the corridor to each of the baby rooms.  Bayanna pokes her head into each one and tells the caretakers that we are here and to bring up the children.  We try to enter the playroom and the door is locked.  One of the nannies goes up to Bayanna and says something.  A heated exchange takes place and I already know what is happening.  Apparently, the nanny says that all visits are canceled for the day per the head doctor.  Funny, no one mentioned it to us before we got there.  Bayanna goes downstairs to look for the head doctor, who of course isn’t there because of the holiday.  In the meantime, the nannies bring up the children, while we are still in the corridor outside of the playroom.  If this is going to be a short visit, at least Gen and I get to see and hold Gabriel. 

Bayanna comes back with the key to the room and explains the situation.  It seems that one of the nannies took it upon herself to cancel the visits.  Bayanna reminded the nanny that by law, we were allowed to miss two consecutive visits during the appeal period.  She also said that she would verify the nanny’s story with the head doctor.  Next thing you know, the nanny magically pulled out the key to the room and “allowed” the visit to happen.  Par for the course, as things go here.  We also found out that the reason we were not to see the children on Friday.  The nannies were celebrating the holiday by drinking.  Nice…

All of us are relieved that we can stay and be with our children.  Gabriel looked a bit peeved when he saw us.  Kind of a where have you been look…it was priceless.  That  lasted only a minute or two.  After he got over it, he was back to his normal self.  He was bouncing up and down in the walker, dancing up a storm, and was trying to crawl even more then usual. 

Someone then mentioned to me that there were vodka bottles in the trash.  I found that hard to believe, so I got up to take a look.  Sure enough there in the basket were three very empty bottles.  I know drinking and driving do not mix, so I assume that this postulate also applies with child care and children?  I am very disgusted at this flagrant disregard for our children’s safety.  There is a time and place for drinking this vodka and I’m all for that.  But it absolutely has no place in the orphanage.  I would love to chew someone out, but it would just fall on deaf ears and it may impact the timeframe that we can get Gabriel out of there.  For now, I’ll just bite my tongue, and wait till he’s out of there.  Ok, I’ll get off of my soap box now…


Posted by admin @ 12:27 pm
Shelved under In Country

No visit today….BOOOO!!!!  They are celebrating International Women’s Day tomorrow and had to close our playroom for visits in preparation for the holiday.  We are so bummed out.  We did not find out that the baby house was closed until after our driver dropped us off this morning.  We waited over an hour for our coordinator to get us a cab to take us back to our apartments.  We were then told that we can see him in the afternoon from 4-6pm.  At 4pm, after waiting outside for 20 minutes they told us that our afternoon session was also cancelled. 

We ended the day with pizza and beer with our friends at the Business Center.  At least, we were able to celebrate Carlos’ and Rosa’s successful court hearing.  They are leaving tomorrow for the Canary Islands and will return for Maria in 2-3 weeks.  We wish them well and hope to see them before we return for the states. 


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