Sunday, August 22, 2010

And so, we are finally "home"

I don't know if anybody is following my blog anymore, as my last entry was in May. I didn't even know if I would ever write again, but I figured someday, Brody would like to read this blog and I should at least try to end it appropriately.

Tomorrow, on August 23, 2010, Brody Marat will be entering his fifth month of being declared an official part of the Cargill team. The last five months have been hectic to say the least. Brody has traveled to Buffalo, NY to meet his great-grandparents, Helen and Earl. He has traveled to Rainbow City, AL to once again spend time with his grandma Sharon. He has visited Raquette Lake, NY (in the Adirondacks)where he met Christy and Ken and their kids. He has visited Washington, DC where we all reunited with our friends from VA, Michelle and George and their adopted son George, also from St. Petersburg Russia. Brody has ridden on airplanes, jet-skis, boats, canoes, Ferris wheels, swam in pools and did I mention? He had his second birthday on May 25, 2010. This kid already has a lot under his belt.

Brody puts/says three words together now, peels his own bananas and navigates stairwells alone. He has gained four pounds in five months and oh yea, just got over the dreadful coxsackie virus. Shall I continue? Brody is truly amazing. Now, he isn't perfect....did I mention his tantrums? his stubbornness? his "Stop it Mama!" on a regular basis? But he is amazing.

When I look back over my adult life so far, I am really not surprised that I am here today. When I married Scott, he told me that we would lead a "life uncommon" and he was damn right.

I didn't expect to travel to Dubai or Argentina before I turned 40..but I did.

I didn't expect to stand in front of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 and watch smoke pouring from windows before the towers collapsed....but I did.

I didn't expect to ever complete a triathlon (tiny as it was) this year...but I sure did.

I didn't expect my Dad to die three weeks after I returned home from Russia with my only son...but he did.

And I sure as hell didn't expect to live in St. Petersburg, Russia in March 2010 and on the very last day of that month, bring home a boy that I barely knew and become his mother, for good or bad, better or worse..but here I am today.

I am grateful for who I am and who I am yet to become. Bringing Marat home has been another part of this journey. I don't know why we became a family, but it was meant to be. I firmly believe that everything in life happens for a reason. The planets collided, the stars aligned, well, you get what I mean....we are all where we should be, be it as it may. At this very moment, this is where we are in our journey. They are not always easy or perfect lives, but somehow our lives became entwined forever and for that, we can be grateful and that will get us through the most difficult of times. I love you Brody Marat. Thank you for coming home.

ps. Happy Birthday Dad. You would be 69 years old today. I know that you watch over us every day and that you too, wherever it is you are, are home.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Bringing Marat Home to this?

I would love to write and say that things have been wonderful and cheery since my last entry, but far from it. Bringing Marat actually HOME has been the easy part.

Three weeks later, on April 23, 2010, my dad passed away. He had heart problems that had become exacerbated in February, but nobody expected his death so soon.

On April 24, 2010, Scott, I and Brody once again boarded a plane (Delta again, who would have thought?) to Atlanta and made the two hour drive to Alabama to be with my mom. Over the course of that week, Brody met even more people, ate in more restaurants than most 2 year olds have in their life and once again, slept in a different crib. On top of all of these changes, Brody had a somewhat incapacitated mother as I have never experienced sadness at such an intense level. But somehow, we got thru the week and Brody, despite all the ups and downs, weathered the storm.

Yesterday, May 7, Brody had his first surgery. He had a clogged tear duct that desperately needed to be opened so we made the tough (but necessary )decision to have him sedated with general anesthesia so that the doctor could open up his ducts. Again, he got thru this with flying colors and is currently sitting on the couch with his cookies, watching Baby Einstein videos.

Does Brody Marat wonder what adventure he will wake up to tomorrow? Does he wonder what the hell is going to happen next? I doubt it, he just goes with the flow...and that amazes me, i wish I could do the same...he is certainly a tough and inspirational kid...and btw, all of those books on raising adopted toddlers? Or just raising toddlers? OUT THE WINDOW...because i havent found a manual yet on how to bring home a 22 month old from another country, have him attend his first funeral and then have eye surgery all in 5 weeks. I think Brody Marat is figuring it all out just fine.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Bringing Marat Home

And so today, is a simple day.

Today, Brody Marat Cargill woke up in his crib in NJ, as he has done for the last week in a half.

Today, me and Brody Marat Cargill went to run errands, like dropping off samples at a lab and going grocery shopping.

Today, Brody had lunch (meatballs and cheese) and he laughed and he yelled and he threw a few tantrums/fits. Today, I finally let go of some of my anxiety and got my appetite back.

Today is Day #12 since we returned from Russia on March 31, 2010. Scott and I were very sick when we returned (ear infections, bronchitis) Brody was very tired and overwhelmed when he returned. We had all jet lag when we returned. And we all struggled to find out what the next day would bring and if we could figure it all out. Its a process, but we are learning about each other and learning what happens next.

Today is the second week that Brody Marat Cargill lives in NJ and is an official US Citizen.

Today, I am happy to finally write that we have finally brought Marat home.


Red Square Moscow and Other Parents

Red Square Moscow

Traveling with other Adoptive Russian Mamas

On the train from St Petes to Moscow

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

And so the journey almost ends

Today, we visited the US embassy in Moscow one last time and we got Brody Marat's visa to enter the United States. When we walked in that embassy, I felt like we were almost home and got so emotional. There were 4 or 5 other families there, getting their children's visas as well. We also got the chance to visit Red Square and see the Kremlin. Wow, we really are in Russia!

We also found out that one of the subways that was bombed yesterday was a 5 minute walk from our hotel. I cant even process that right now. I can barely process much of anything at this point. All I know is that it appears that we are coming close to the end of our long journey.

Tomorrow, we fly home. Direct flight from Moscow-JFK/NYC. Needless to say, as amazing and resilient as Brody Marat has been throughout this whole ordeal, I cant imagine tomorrow will be easy on any of us. 11 hour flight.

I dont know what I will do when we arrive home. Will I continue this blog? I doubt it. But I promise to write one last time, when we finally and permanently bring Marat home.

Talk to you again from the US.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Cargills are Safe

This is more of an informational post, rather than a baby update.

Many of our friends and colleagues are following this blog and we wanted to let you all know that we are safe, in light of the 2 subway bombings in Moscow during rush hour today. We found out about these bombings as we were getting ready to leave our hotel to head to a medical clinic for Brody Marat's mandatory physical and then to the US embassy. Needless to say, security is heightened and the day has been filled with anxiety, but we are safe. Our hotel is not far from the subway stations that the bombs exploded in.

Our prayers and thoughts are with all of those killed and affected by the horrific acts of today.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Becoming a parent

.....Is the hardest thing I ever did in my life. Now granted, I had some rough times in my life, but havent we all? But this? Wow, no comparison.

And yet, Brody Marat Cargill, is doing exceptionally well. For a little boy who barely knows us and is living out of a hotel apartment, he is laughing and hugging and playing and eating. He is also crying and moody, but can you blame him? I too, am crying and very moody.

I know that this blog is from both me and Scott, but I am sure most of you know that I am the one writing it. So its fair for me to say that Scott is amazing. My husband is the funniest, most patient man I ever have met. Brody is still warming up to Scott, as he isnt very used to being around men, but Scott has made him laugh and fed him and hugged him and its all slowly working. Scott always says that we are a "team" in this adventure, and he is absolutely right....we have been a team every step of the way.

We are on our way to Moscow on Sunday. In Moscow, we have to get Brody Marat's Visa to enter the United States and then have an interview at the US embassy. We leave Russia on Wednesday.

Almost home, almost home, almost home. I am clicking my heels three times and shutting my eyes.

We are almost home.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


on our way to finally bringing Marat home

Monday, March 22, 2010

Packing a Bag

There are 4 bags sitting in our apartment kitchen right now.

One has donations for Baby Home #4 in St Petersburg, Russia.

The next has "thank you" gifts for the caretakers at Baby Home #4 in St Petersburg, Russia.

The next has a variety of important documents that will need to be presented.

And the last bag has clothing...and toddler snacks...and diapers...and toys..and wipes...and what else? what else? did i pack everything he needs? what am i forgetting? Yes, this bag is for our son, Brody Marat. This is the first time i have packed a bag for him. There is so much to think about and so much I could forget..........

Will he be warm enough?
Will he be hungry?
Will he need extra diapers?
What else will he need?

I have decided he will need absolutely nothing else, he just needs to be home.

We are ready. We are set. Here we go. Off to pick up our son.

Friday, March 19, 2010

End of Week Two

Well we are nearing the end of week two here in St. Pete's. The last few days have seemed to drag on a bit, and me and Scott are sleeping more than normal. Probably a bit of anxiety, with a touch of homesickness has set in. We pick up Brody Marat on Tuesday.

The weather here was gray today. Rainy with melting snow, temps in the high 30s-40s. Spring has definitely sprung in St Petersburg and it isnt always pretty.

We had quite a day yesterday. After visiting Brody Marat in the baby home, our driver (and his wife) took us to a ski resort, about 15 miles outside of the city. Our driver went skiing and me, Scott and his wife went ice skating on a beautiful outdoor rink. It was chilly, but sunny and very peaceful. Had it not been for our driver (who speaks decent English) we could never have navigated this resort alone, as nothing, and nobody spoke a word of English. We were definitely outside of the city limits here, and it was well worth it!

This weekend, we will enjoy our last full weekend in St Petersburg, probably finally going to the Hermitage. For those of you who dont know what this is, visit It is the premier museum in St Petes and probably in the world...a must see.

Tomorrow, Saturday, ends our 10 day waiting period after court. The ten days went by quicker than expected. I feel so lucky that we lived in St Petes for this time. And as he had hoped, no glitches during this period. It appears that Brody Marat is almost our son, whether he likes it or not.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Red threads

I am sitting here in a coffee shop on Nevsky Prospect, relaxing and blogging and facebooking and emailing. Isnt technology incredible? We are really enjoying living our lives here. Dont get me wrong, I get homesick of course, but if we had to spend three weeks anywhere, this place isnt bad.

We have seen Brody Marat one time this week, and have two more visits ahead. Gotcha Day is next Tuesday! He is doing fine. Not really interested in us, as he cant understand a word we are saying, but somehow, we have managed to entertain him for the one hour time slot we are given with him, before any major meltdowns have occurred.

When I got home the other day, I noticed something odd. A few months ago, I bought both Scott and myself silver bracelets, containing a red thread in them. This red thread idea comes from a Chinese proverb that says we are connected in life to people thru invisible red threads. When the red thread unravels, you are (more than likely) connected or reunited with those you were longing to see. Well after my visit wtih Brody yesterday, I realized that my bracelet was missing. I have worn this bracelet nite and day for months and all of a sudden yesterday, it disappears and I havent found it since.

I was more than happy to see it gone for good :)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The End of Week One

So its Sunday nite and we have ended Week One in St Petes. I am pretty exhausted, and we dont even have Brody Marat yet in our apartment...uh oh?

We got to see him a few times last week and he is doing as well as can be expected, considering he has a cold, is teething, and doesnt know why some crazy American couple keeps staring at him, making him do "baby tricks" and only visits for an hour a day. The one thing I will say is that he now officially looks like an orphan. Now that our adoption is legal, the baby home doesnt dress him in his "sunday best" anymore. Purple tights, green open toed shoes, blue plaid "shorts sets"...I could go on and on. From what I understand, we get to keep the outfit that he is in the day we pick him up, as long as we replace it with a new donated outfit. I will absolutely be doing about a keepsake!

We also FINALLY got some sightseeing in...Peter and Paul Fortress, Church of the Spilled Blood, some WWI Russian battleship. Very interesting, I post pics soon, I promise.

Many emotions, stress, excitement, happy, sad. But overall, a very succesful and quick week has ended. Two more to go.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Settling into life in St Petersburg

Today is our third full day in St. Petes and now that we have been approved in court (all four families traveling this week thru our agency have been approved, so its cause to celebrate) we can relax a bit. We also have nothing else to do, but visit Marat for one hour each day, so we are taking advantage of living city life again.

Because we are living in an apartment, we are in an area where there are many other apartments, shops and restaurants. Kind of touristy and kind of residential.

Finally, after the "December madness" trip where we did nothing but sleep, visit Marat and handle administrative tasks, we are getting to really hang out in Russia!! We found an awesome coffee shop (one of MANY), we found a mall (not the typical "mall" but a cool shopping center) and best of all, a full fledged grocery store. Now, listen, I am NOT a cook (ok i am sure that most of you reading this know that by now) but god damn it, I had THE BEST time in that grocery store today. I was actually giddy!

We stocked up on bread, juice, the essentials. But, next time, I am going to buy frozen veggies and Barilla (yes Barilla) pasta. 1/3 of the store probably carried "american" brands and the rest, well it was pretty easy to figure out what we were buying.

This is why Scott and I travel. Going to museums is fun, and checking out all the tourist spots is essential. But when you get to visit a local grocery store...well, something that simple gives you insight into another land, another culture, another way of daily life.

Tomorrow, off to visit Marat again for our "one hour slot" and then to a baby store to get some items and then we are on a search for a fitness center. I am so not kidding....i will be lifting weights and wrestling with the best of them soon enough :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Adoption Day

Scott and I are officially parents! Today was the court date to finalize the adoption and for two people who are lawyers (ok, one a former lawyer) it was VERY stressful!

Having practiced family law for a few years, I thought today would be a piece of cake. Not quite. Both Scott and I were grilled by the judge. We each took turns standing at a podium, as the judge asked us question after question after question. Granted, some of the questions were easy" "Why did you choose to adopt?" Other questions, not so easy: "What do you know about the recent murders of adopted russian children by their American adoptive parents and what do you think of this abuse?"

TRUST ME, it sounds like an easy question, but when you are thrown a question like that and you have a judge, prosecutor, social worker and the head of the orphanage staring at you, not so easy.

The only glitch we experienced was that the social worker hadnt completed her due diligence...she couldnt produce copies of documents verifying that they had in fact tried to contact Marat's biological family prior to the adoption. The judge was not happy. AT ALL. She wasnt yelling, but was very upset and almost yelling, in Russian...I think our translator left some stuff out, as the judge was talking a mile a minute and he couldnt keep up with what she was saying.

But in the end, after 45 minutes, a judge in St. Petersburg Russia approved us as fit parents and gave us permission (in 10 days) to offically take Marat home. When the 10 day waiting period has expired, I will post pictures.

In the meantime, get ready to meet Brody Marat Cargill.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Monday, March 8, 2010

Back to Russia

We are here, back to St. Petersburg. The days are longer, the sun seems to shine more and there is less snow. We had no travel problems and tomorrow we see Marat for the first time since December!

Wednesday is our court date, when we officially adopt him. Thats it for now. Sorry, its short and sweet, but I am tired and just wanted to give an update for all those "following the cargills......"

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Some lyrics from my favorite Dead song of all time. Seems to fit my life right now

Ripple in still water
When there is no pebble tossed
Nor wind to blow

Reach out your hand if your cup be empty
If your cup is full may it be again
Let it be known there is a fountain
That was not made by the hands of men

There is a road, no simple highway
Between the dawn and the dark of night
And if you go no one may follow
That path is for your steps alone

You who choose to lead must follow
But if you fall you fall alone
If you should stand then who's to guide you?
If I knew the way I would take you home

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Saying goodbye

One week from today, we will be on our way to St. Pete's for our final trip. On our way to pick up Marat. And as happy as I am, as excited as I am, as crazy as I am, this week is all about saying goodbye.

Today, we said goodbye to Scott's family. Next time we see them, we will be parents. Today, we said goodbye to good friends who will be taking care of our home while we are gone. Next time we see them, we will be parents. Tomorrow, I say goodbye to work. Next time I see everybody, I will be a parent. I even said goodbye to my "I dont wake up before 9 am on Sunday" rule today. After all, the next Sunday we are in NJ, we will be parents....And I assume Marat doesnt follow the 9 am rule (one could only hope).

I have lived 38 years on this earth, taking care of myself for almost half of them. And now, in just a few weeks, I am going to be taking care of a child (a toddler for gods sake!). That child will be depending on me for many things and for many years. How did THAT happen? When did i decide to become responsible for a little boy living in Russia whom I barely know? When do I officially say goodbye to that selfish part of me who has nobody to worry about except myself?

Its a strange transititon...maybe like giving birth, but without the hormones and the weight gain? One day, you are one person....the only one you have ever known and the next day (mid March to be exact) you go and pick up this 22 month old from an orphanage and you are a person that you can only hope to become. And oddly enough, on that very same day, as I cross a threshold into another life, Marat will be crossing his own threshold and saying goodbye to the only life he has ever known.

So until we land in russia one last time, goodbye for now. Its time to start the final journey of bringing Marat home.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The irony of Ash Wednesday

I went to Catholic grammar school and Catholic high school. I am baptized, confirmed and married by the Catholic church. I am also very liberal and over time, have come to disagree with many (most?) Catholic traditions and how the church has evolved (or not evolved?).

And yet, when it comes to my darkest hours and most stressful days, I still turn to God and ask for his help. I don't go to church, I don't even belong to a church, but I do things my own way and believe that at the end of a day, a year, even my life, I did the best I could.

But today, I went to church. Its Ash Wednesday. My colleague at work, an Irish Catholic (who also adopted her son) mentioned she was getting her ashes today and I thought "What the hell? I haven't been to church in a while and I could use an extra blessing." And so I got my ashes.

As I sat in a packed church, half listening, I thought about my father, who has been dealing with health issues. I thought of Marat and wondered what he was doing at that moment. I even thought of those suffering in Haiti, and wondered why things like that happen in this world. And then I got my ashes and went back to work.

And when I got back to work, and checked my cell phone, I saw that the adoption agency had left me a message.

We have a court date.

We are going to Russia in three weeks to adopt our boy and bring him home.

And what was the irony? That message had been left as I was sitting in church, for the first time in a long time, getting my ashes.

I may consider going to church a little more often now.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Waiting Game

I know that everybody is wondering where i have been and what is going on, so here it is in a nutshell....nothing is going on and I right here in NJ.

When I was in Alabama last week visiting my father (because he is having some health issues), the adoption agency called my friend Michelle, who is on the same time track as us and who we travelled "with" in St Pete's. The agency told her that some courthouse is being moved in Russia, so we are all on a bit of a delay. Really? That's not a good enough reason in my mind. But what can I do?

Scott told me that a year from now, we wont even remember if we picked up Marat in March or April. I agreed with him.

But on Feb 23, March or April seems like a long ways away...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Radio Silence

So I am finally recovering from jet lag and emotional craziness after spending 4 days in Russia.....although I am still VERY tired. Since we arrived home, it has been non-stop, between setting up Brody's room (some call it "nesting", I call it exhausting), going back to work and just establishing a routine again!

So what in the world did the Cargills actually DO while in Russia besides visiting Brody Marat?

Day One
Met with the Russian Ministry Of Education which provided us with our official referral of Marat. I expected a scary "old school" communist lady wearing a uniform and I got an administrator, younger than me, braces and all, wearing a nice sweater. She even (almost) smiled as she spoke to us in Russian and our interpreter translated. "We have this boy available for adoption (as Marat's face appeared on a computer screen) Are you interested?"

Later that afternoon, we met Marat for the first time, and as you know by now, the rest (with him!) is history.

Later that night, we met up with another couple from Virginia, George and Michelle, who ironically enough are adopting a little boy as well through our same adoption agency. What a great time we had, sharing our adventures. Despite our exhaustion from the trip and the day, it was cathartic to share this journey with people going through it too. They will probably be in Russia again in February when we are. We feel very lucky to share our experiences.

Day Two
Slept in...thank God. Daily 4 pm appt with Marat at the orphanage. One hour with him exactly. On the dot. No going over. That was it. 4-5 pm. Now THAT was Russia for you :)

Day Three
I have no idea what we did. We had our 4 pm appt with Marat again. That's all I remember. God, what a week!

Day Four, Christmas Day
The day began at 9 am. It was pitch black outside and cold. Our driver picked us up and we headed to the Notary's office. It was time to sign the paperwork. We officially accepted our referral and now it was time to sign documents to generate the court process to adopt Marat.

Again (because I guess I lived through the Cold War? What was i thinking?!), I expected scary "old school" nasty ladies wearing long dresses and speaking loudly. Nope....not at all. In fact, I felt like I was at "DC37" again (for those of you who don't know, that was when I worked in NYC as a matrimonial attorney for a union/legal services plan) Actually, the notary's office was NICER than DC37. Go figure. Somebody even wished me a happy birthday (one day early)

We left the notary's and went apartment hunting. Again, from having watched WAY too many movies, I expected dingy, small apartments. Uh...well guess what? They are nicer than my condo...

The day continued with visiting Marat at 4 pm. Today, an English speaking pediatrician came and examined him and gave us a clean bill of health. We simply have a very skinny, but overall, healthy little boy. What a Christmas present! This was by far the oddest and happiest Christmas we have ever had.

Finally, we stopped at the European Medical Center on the way back to the hotel because we are required to have a Russian doctor examine us and do blood tests (even though our US doctor has examined us TWICE so far and we have another appt tomorrow) So we all know what I was picturing right? Nurses in big white hats, cement walls with no windows, insane patients screaming in the halls. And guess what? I was right...

Kidding! Again, all of my stereotypes shot to hell. The doctor was great, the nurse was professional and if all medical clinics in Russia run as well as this one did, I would be happy to fly to Russia for all of my future medical care.

So in a nutshell that was our week. And now, we wait.

We wait for the Russian court system to give us a date to go back and officially adopt Marat. Should be in about 6-8 weeks, if all runs smoothly.

So expect radio silence from me for a while. Until then, nothing to do, but "nest" I suppose :)