Sunday, December 27, 2009

We are home

Traveling to Russia: long
Being in Russia: emotional
Leaving Russia: exhausting
Meeting our son, Brody Marat Cargill: worth it all

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas Marat

Today is Christmas Day 2009. In Russia, Christmas Day is celebrated on January 7, so today, was like any other normal day for us....sort of.

We officially accepted our referral of Brody Marat Cargill, which means in about 8 weeks, we will be returning to St. Pete's to pick up our son. Today was oddly enough, almost sunny. Is that a sign?

We had many things to do today...the notary's office, looking at apartments, getting a physical at the Russian medical clinic (I will explain that later) and of course, saying goodbye to Marat. As hard as it was (he walked right up to me today and hugged me! thats a first!), we cant believe we spent an hour on Christmas day with our son. We are parents now. We have a little boy. A little boy who lives far far away. Soon enough, we will be back.

Tomorrow, my birthday, December 26, we leave St. Pete's and fly home.

Merry Christmas Marat. We will have a stocking full of toys waiting for you next Christmas.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


There will be many things I remember about this getting off the plane in St Petes and some security guard taking Xray photos of each passenger. WTF?? Or driving to the Ministry of Education (which handles Russian adoptions) at 9 am on a cold blustery day, thinking "I am really in Russia. Why is it still pitch black outside?"

But what I will remember most is walking into Baby home #4 on Tuesday December 22 2009 at 4 pm and looking around at a clean well-kept "old school" building where my son lives. Ludmilla, his caretaker, greeted us at the door and made us put plastic booties on our feet. When we arrived at a play area, we needed to remove our boots and wait inside. I will always remember shaking like a leaf, thinking I was going to pass out. I had heard stories from others that I would feel this way, but I never imagined it would actually happen to me. My life was about to forever change. I was about to become a mom, in the strangest of ways.

And before I could think another thought, in walked Marat, with his blue eyes and blond hair. He looked at us, wondering who we were. We walked into the playroom and immediately his tears began. And all I could do was laugh, from relief, from joy, from days upon days of anxiety. Here we were, in Baby Home #4 with Marat, 2 days before Christmas.

I figured if he was crying, then it was ok for me to cry too.

And this day, I will always remember.

Monday, December 21, 2009

And so the journey continues.. Russia.

We are here. Tired, but safe and sound. We got in about 8 hours ago and love it. The hotel is great, the city is cool and the entire region is decorated for the holidays. Its beautiful.

We meet our boy tomorrow. And then, the real journey begins.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

And so the journey begins.... Germany.

We are sitting in a Hilton hotel in Dusseldorf (where?!!) Germany because our flight to St Pete's was cancelled, due to one of the worst snowstorms in their recent history. I had a few meltdowns today, but thank God, Scott and I are travellers and our "traveling instincts" kicked in (although if i was such a world traveler, i shouldnt have had meltodwns right?)

Anyways, thanks to my ingenuity (I must say) we are in a nice Hilton hotel 10 miles (how many kilometers is that?) from the airport.

We are rebooked for a flight to St Petes tomorrow. We will keep you posted. Going to bed now, i have had 2 hours of sleep in 24 hours. Nice prep for parenthood.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dear Marat

Dear Marat,

Today is December 17, 2009. According to the adoption world, our adoption agency and the Russian Ministry of Education, we are now one step closer to being legally able to adopt you. You are officially on the international adoption waiting list.

Last nite, as I tried to sleep, I realized it was already 8 am in Russia and that December 17th had already arrived. I wanted to be happy and thrilled because you are now so much closer to becoming our son! And yet, I felt so sad. Sad, because I felt your loss. Your birth mother, your birth father, and other biological family are gone away. They have a story Marat and they have their reasons that they had to goodbye. I have learned in my own short life that everything in our life happens for a reason, but why? What are the reasons? You will ask us and we may never know. But they decided it was best that you be given a new life with a new family, somewhere else in the world.

I promise you Marat, that I will do my best to find out all of the information I can about them, because you will ask me someday and I want to share with you how you came to be our son. I cannot promise you that I will have all of the answers, but we get one shot next week to find out what we can and so, we will do our best.

Now Marat, I don't expect you to be thrilled to meet us on Monday. Its pretty scary stuff, for all of us! Scott and I look different, smell different and we certainly talk different. But, we are ready to meet you and get to know who you are. We hope, as the week goes on, you will want to know a little more about us too.

In the meantime, sleep soundly and stay warm! It's in the low 20's (Fahrenheit that is!) in St Pete's, cloudy with some light snow. Its not much warmer in the US today, it is winter after all.

But in the midst of the dark freeze of the coldest season, there is sunshine. You will see the sun soon, Marat. It will be brighter than you could imagine.

I heard its supposed to warm our hearts and faces on Monday.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

One week

We will be heading to St. Petes in one week. We have an overnight flight, through Germany on Lufthansa airlines. We arrive in St Petes at 430 pm, Russian time.

This week, I connected with another person who is adopting from Russia, through our same adoption agency. Her name is Michelle and her and husband live in Virginia. She is very sweet and will be traveling the same week as us. Again for the irony...she is my age, and its her first child..a little boy too. The international adoption world keeps getting bigger and bigger.

So on another note, I havent figured out how much info I will share on this blog. Scott and I have heard/read that its entirely possible that our emails/internet connections will be monitored while in Russia. While its possible that is a complete myth, leftover from the days of communism paranoia, we will play it safe and keep things on the down-low. You will know where we are and how we are, but probably not much past that, until we arrive home. I have also decided that I will not post ANY pics of anything other than sightseeing events...I dont need to get thrown into a Russian jail. I mean really, who can imagine ME, sitting in a russian jail? I would be so freaking cold and pissed off, that its not even funny.

One week til we see our son :)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

this is it for the irony

Lets finish this off.... we were checking out of the hotel yesterday, we met somebody who adopted her daughter from St. Petersburg Russia, one year ago. We spent almost an hour talking to her.

Its like God was saying to us "just in case you didnt get that this was 'meant to be,' let me rub it in for you"

See you soon Marat.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Irony times 10?

So yea the weirdness continues...I went and got a massage today (I treated myself even though we have no money right now for splurges) and I picked up the Glamour magazine next to me in the waiting area.

One of the first articles I turned to was featuring Dr. Jane Aronson as one of Glamour's "Women of the Year." Dr. Aronson is the international pediatrician that we are using in our adoption proceedings. Not freaked out yet? Ok try this...

The front desk clerk at our hotel in Palm Springs California is from St. Petersburg, Russia. Yes, right from the heart of St. Pete's.

And oh yea, her daughter's name is Lisa.

Enough said.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The irony of it all

Today we are in Palm Springs, CA. As we flew to Arizona and made the 4 hour drive to CA, I mentioned to Scott that this would be our last trip together (not including trips to russia) without Marat for a long time.

After a very long, but sunny & peaceful day(and may i mention EASY travel glitches at all!) we arrived at the La Quinta Spa and Resort. VERY POSH and very fancy...NOTHING at all that we would choose to pay for our on our own :) so thanks to Scott's job for this treat...LOL, they work him into the ground, he deserves this.

ANYWAYS, we walk into our room and the first thing I see is the coffee table. Sitting on that table is ONE magazine. That magazine is a tennis magazine. Who is on the cover? Marat Safin, a world famous tennis player. I stood there in silence looking at that magazine. I believe in fate.

Of course, throughout our adoption journey, there have been little signs and symbols that I have taken to heart. Everything happens for a reason.

But this??? What are the chances that we would...
check into a hotel room 2 weeks before we meet our son for the first time
and that on our last trip "alone" as a couple
sitting in front of us is a magazine that says "MARAT" in big bold letters??

What are the freaking chances? The chances are such: Marat is waiting for us. We are coming soon.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Anxiety and Anticipation

I feel so sorry for my friends and colleagues at the YMCA. I returned to work today (after being in Buffalo for the last few days) a nervous wreck. I decided to have a meltdown this morning (when I woke up) worrying about the cost of the flights to Russia, the logistics of traveling on such short notice and of course, meeting our this really happening?

Of course its all happening, just much quicker than we ever could have thought. But everything happens for a reason and I am going to assume the reason is that we need to bring our boy home and bring him home quickly!

So lets just get this show on the road shall we??

We fly out Dec 19 thru Dusseldorf (where??) Germany and land in St Petes on Dec 20. We will meet with the Ministry of Education on Dec 21st and hopefully meet Marat that same day. We will leave St Petes on Dec 24.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Marat

Well I cant believe that i am announcing this, but Scott and I are traveling to St Petersburg Russia on December 19th.

I landed in Buffalo today (for Thanksgiving with the grandparents) and there was a message on my cell phone from the adoption agency. As I waited for my luggage to come through on the carousel, I called the agency back. Had we forgotten a document? Did we have to get another set of fingerprints done? Nope to all of the above.

They were calling to give us a travel date. The Russian Ministry of Education got back to us and confirmed that we need to be in Russia on December 21st, where we get our official referral of Marat. This means that we will be meeting Marat soon after (on that day?). We will be heading home on Christmas Eve.

All I can is OH MY GOD. We are meeting our son in one month. This is NOT what we expected. We figured it would be sometime after the new year but not this soon. But when has anything in this process ever been what we expected? I am so nervous! I am so excited! I am so overwhelmed!!

And all I said to Scott when i left this morning was "I cant wait to relax this week, no stress."

So much for that idea :)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

INS approval arrived

"It has been determined that you are able to furnish proper care to an orphan as defined in Section blah blah of the Immigration and Nationality Act."

In the whole scheme of the paperwork trail that we have followed in the international adoption process, getting approval from INS may seem trivial (although if we didnt get that approval, we werent going to be able to adopt Marat!) but I am a total sucker when it comes to this stuff.

I am the person who walks thru Immigration at Newark airport, after being out the country for a week, and gets tears in my eyes when I see the American flag hanging near the sign that says "Welcome to the United States."

I am the person who gets goosebumps when the US Immigration officer stamps my passport and says "Welcome Home."

I am the person who will bawl her eyes out when we land in Newark airport next year, with Marat in tow, and he becomes an American citizen as soon as those airplane wheels hit the ground.

I guess this is why I am the person who is telling my blog world that INS approved our application to adopt a child. Oh and did I mention that I cried when I read it?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

the risk you take

Wow, ok, so I understand the cathartic nature of blogging now! I am hooked.

So one month from today, Marat becomes legally available for international adoption. I called our agency a little while ago to check in on the status of trip dates, knowing full well there is no status update. There cant be, he isnt available for adoption yet. But we did find out that we wont be traveling until at least sometime after the Russian Christmas (January 7) holiday because all major government agencies will be shut down in Russia during that time. We are given a 2 week notice as to when our first trip date will be.

The social worker reminded me that because Marat isnt legally available yet, there is always a chance that this wont work out...he could be adopted by a Russian family or for whatever reason, not released for adoption (looming family members out there who wont sign off on his adoption). She said that although rare, it happens. We knew this all along, but her saying that really hit me hard today...Just one of the many risks you take in adopting internationally....

no pics will be posted of him until December 17 , lets just get through that date :) and then you can all see our son.

Monday, November 16, 2009

the process so far

Hi again all.

First let me say that I really have no idea what I am doing "blogging." So, if you ask me a question and I dont respond, its because honestly, i dont know how to use this blog thing (yes i am 98 years old)!!!

Anyways, I want to answer some overall questions that people have for me. See below.....

"When will you travel to Russia for the first time?"
Your guess is as good as mine. I have no idea. We assume sometime after christmas, as Marat is not officially "released" for international adoption until December 17. Our first trip to Russia will be for about one week. This is when we meet Marat and interact with him and find out any other info on him that we can (social history, etc) from the "institution" or "baby home" (as its referred to in Russia). However, I will not be offended if anybody says "orphanage" its ok....that's technically where he is living right now.

"Do you adopt him immediately after meeting him?"
Hell no..if it were so simple...we will return back to the US after our first trip and wait, yet again. We will wait to be assigned a court date, where we will return to Russia and officially adopt him in Russia. We should get assigned a court date about 6-8 weeks after we return from our first trip. This means we will travel to Russia two times.

"And then you are heading home with Marat after the court date?"
Hell no...yet again :( Russian law requires a 10 day waiting period which means that we do a "whole lot of nothing" waiting for that period to expire. Now we can visit Marat during this time, but we cant take him back to the hotel with us or anything like that.

I am hoping that Scott is able to stay in St Petes with me during the 10 day period (and not have to go back to work for a week) because I am not leaving St Petes again...which means that I am staying through the month (total trip time is about 20-25 days) alone or with Scott, it doesnt matter to me. Ok, thats a total lie, it matters a lot because I am a little freaked out to stay in Russia alone, but I am not thinking about that leave and come back AGAIN is too much $$, stress and emotions!! Plus, i freaking hate flying. It doesnt matter that I have flown probably 100 times in my life....still hate it. I should be a real comfort to Marat on the plane ride home to the US huh?

But, some people DO travel for a third trip. Not very common, but it does happen.

Once the 10 day period expires, we pick him up at the baby home (also known as GOTCHA DAY in the adoption community!)

But we dont head to the airport yet!! Instead we fly to Moscow where we get Marat's passport and immigration papers in order...thats another couple days and then, finally we head home.

Thats it...please ask me any questions you have. no question is silly

Sunday, November 15, 2009

And so today, I begin. I never thought that I would be a blogger; after all, who really wants to read my personal diary??? No offense, but there are a lot of boring blogs out there, so I will try to keep mine brief and to the point. The other adoption bloggers out there inspired me, so here I am today, writing my first entry. When we travel to Russia, it will be a wonderful way to communicate with all of you who are wondering where we are and what is happening. And of course, see pictures of Marat.

We have finally completed the dossier, the international package of documents required to adopt a child internationally. We accepted a referral for a 17 month old boy named Marat last month. He lives in St. Petersburg, Russia. We have 2 photos of him, a DVD that is about 4 minutes long and a growth chart. That's it. After looking through this tiny bit of information and having Dr. Jane Aronson ( review it as well, we decided this was our son. Well honestly, I knew it was our son when I opened the Fed Ex package and saw the pictures of him. But if you dont know this already, Scott and I are very cautious practical people. So ok, we sleep in huts (with indoor plumbing only, thank you very much) in central america and visit the gold souks in dubai for vacations, BUT, we wanted this referral to be "right" and thus, the delay in telling everybody. But I knew immediately...I really did.

And so, please come with us on our journey to Russia to bring our son Marat home.