Becoming the 4 McCaffery's

We've created this webpage for our family, friends, and future adoptive families to follow us in our adoption journey to Kazakhstan to become a family of 4. Thanks for reading, we hope you enjoy it!!

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Sunday April 30th

My dear husband and sweet son left this morning around 0700. I miss them immensely already and it’s only 1030. The good news is that Vitalik does not seem to mind a bit. I think it will hit him in a few days, but for now he seems content to have free reign of all the toys that Ian brought from the US and our Kazakhstan toys which consist of: water bottle caps, clothesline ropes, and empty water bottles. I just tell him over and over again in a mixture of Russian and English that Papa et Ian went das vidanya in a samiliot to America to our dom because Papa had to rabotayeah. So far this morning, we’ve played with Leap Pad, Magna Doodle, ropes, caps and clothespins. Even though it’s a bit chilly and overcast we’ll venture out to the grocery store for a few supplies and maybe take a walk this afternoon to stay sane. I watched a bit of the news and there was an interesting clip on the Congo and its numerous crises due to its civil unrest. It was quite heartbreaking and it’s hard to imagine so much hatred and bloodshed exists within a country with such an amazing and breathtaking landscape and people longing to enjoy their homeland. As I was about to turn off the TV to go and vacuum, I flipped to a Russian channel with a cute sabaka that caught Sam’s attention. He loves dogs, and always kisses the picture of our Hanski-Panski when we look at our photo album about our home and our family. Anyhow, it’s some cute artsy film about a man who is a magician and depicts just how much he loves his animals; his beloved goat, cat, and dog..

I’ve already started crying 3x while thinking about Ian. When Sam started playing with his ropes, I thought of how Ian loved to make his “lovee traps” while he was here. Before he left he told me "it was going to be alright, that he loved me so much, and gave me a kiss on my hand like in the book, “The Kissing Hand.” Knowing I won’t be receiving a mere 100 or so kisses and hugs each day will be very difficult for this Mama. Though Sam is giving and enjoying kissees more often each day. While I think it was very beneficial for both the boys to be an equal part of this adoption journey I’m so thankful Ian will be able to return home to his “normal life.” A million thanks to his Grammy’s for allowing this to be a possibility. Right now Ian and Tim are in Almaty wasting time til there 0145 flight to Frankfurt. I hope they get some sleep either at a hotel or on the plane. Ian can’t wait to get to Frankfurt for McDonald’s and I must admit a regular diet coke vs. coca-cola light and a biggie fries sounds might good to this American Girl!

Let’s see, our day, well, we went to supermarket across the street and Vitalik was very excited about having a choice about which cereal and oatmeal packets he’d like to eat. He also liked being able to put the groceries into the cart. I was happy to see that although it was only his second or third time in a supermarket he didn’t go crazy and try to touch and take everything he saw. We then went home and had lunch. It’s still really hard for him not to either be in the room where I’m cooking or not to simply watch me cook from the hallway. But as soon as he’s done, he’s ready to go and play. He says Grace with us, it’s pretty simple. “God is good, God is great, let us thank Him for our food. Amen. But it’s quite cute with his accent. The sun popped out for a bit in the afternoon so I figured we had to go out for a bit; but also because our light in the bathroom, or more honestly described…{ the light bulb dangling from exposed wires and a rusty connection burnt out this morning,} so we then had a quest to fulfill. Our quest took us on a journey for nearly 3 hours. I make Sam walk everywhere as I figure it can only help to give him better tone in his limbs and he’s a little “sveenya” with a very “bolshoi” belly so I can’t carry Bubba all around town. We walked to the TSUM, and went into a few stores. He did very well holding my hand and staying near me with out his hand being held. I found one pair of jeans I thought we’re cool but not only were they 120,000. tenge. Remember, it’s only 124 tenge to $1.00. I think my husband would think they sat a “little” too low on my hips for this 35 yr old Mama to wear to preschool or to the grocery store!! We then ventured into a shoe store. I’m amazed at how expensive the clothing and shoes are here; especially due to the poor quality of the tailoring of the garments and shoes. In addition to the dirt and dust it’s no wonder most citizens of Karaganda only have a few outfits and don’t’ change their clothes that often.

We then came home and I called my Texan friend who is staying at the Cosmonaut and is having a less than stellar adoption process. She is hilarious and a G-d send as it was so nice to gab and laugh in English with someone who knows exactly what I’m going through. With all of the drama she’s enduring, it put me in my place about my woes of being here another 4 wks. We’re going to meet up for dinner tomorrow night at Mario’s Pizza.

Vitalik and I then made a really fancy meal of black olives, ramen, and a banana; yes, we’re living large in Karaganda. Oh yes, I then had a 65 cent beer with dinner. Those who know me well know I’m a beer snob. I’m more of a Shiner Bock, Alaskan Amber, Leine’s Red type girl vs. a Miller girl. Still, this Miller of Moscow beer I splurged the 65 cents on was a nice treat for me on the day of Daddy and Ian’s departure. Sam and I then hit the couch to read some books, and Sam started to drift off to sleep and by 2115 the boy was in bed. It’s now 2200 and I’m about to go and read a Tale of Two Cities. Please keep Tim and Ian in your thoughts and prayers as they venture back home. Pop-Pop, thanks for all your calls, it definitely make each week pass by more quickly. Paka-

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Fri & Sat April 28 & 29

Well, its official, Vitalik is officially Samuel Vitaly McCaffery. I have mixed emotions about this day. Although I’m glad Sam is ours, it was bittersweet having his farewell party at the Detsky Dom. While I’m certain his roommates enjoyed the party, food and fun, I’m also certain they were a bit envious and sad that they have yet to be chosen and may not ever find a forever family. We took a taxi to court. It was hilarious. This roly-poly man with sunglasses cranking his stereo with house music pulled up to the apartment. No need to turn down the radio to find out where we need to go or if Aika’s cell phone rings. His driving tactics were amazing. How we made it in one piece is beyond me. Court was in a cinder block building on a dusty road that looked more like a housing complex vs. a courthouse. The interior was gloomy, dark, and dirty. Our courtroom had its own private jail and the power wasn’t working for the majority of our court proceeding, which was a-ok by me as it kept the room semi-cool. Our court hearing was quite long but not antagonistic by any means. Ian felt it was taking far too long and fell fast asleep while the judge was speaking and slept for a good 1.5 hrs. Our judge was young and thus very careful to address every issue and every legal document. She then took an hour to make her decision. As we left the courthouse we met up with my on-line friend A. Brewer, and it was so nice to see a friendly face and speak English. Unfortunately, A.Brewer and her family are not having a good start to their adoption process here in Karaganda and we wish them all the best. We hope to meet up with them on Saturday night for some pizza, beer, and good conversation. Before court we were told we would not have the party after court but maybe a different day and we’d buy the orphanage their “gift” a different day as well. Come on, this is Kazakhstan, and there are no set rules or plans, so after court we dashed home, got the gifts, headed to the supermarket and then to the detsky dom. Of course this was the day the batteries in my camera died and I shorted out my battery charger, but we did get some candid shots and most of the musical his classmates performed on our video recorder. I began crying at least 5 times while I was there because I felt guilty for only taking Vitalik. There are 2 older children, a boy and a girl, perhaps both, 6 or 7 that have pulled on my heartstrings since we have been here. Whereas most of the children are kind and friendly in his group for hopes of treats or possible adoption, these two were different. Even after they knew we were there to adopt Vitalik, they were still always kind, smiling and truly interested in trying to talk to us or show us things. Of his group I think these two would have the best chance of finding a family via a summer program as their personalities are kind, mellow, and respectful. We had many champagne toasts with the Director, Olga, Aika, and various caregivers. Even if we did not have Aika to translate their thoughts and wishes, I’m amazed how (through facial expressions and body language) we could tell these women truly cared about Vitalik and knew that our heart was in the right place with him as well. I felt just awful as we were walking out of the destky dom for the last time, knowing how many more children will forever remain inside those walls. Saturday morning we woke up to grey and wet skies. We later found out from Olga that there is snow in Western Kazakhstan, I hope it does not visit us here in Karaganda. Not too much to report. We went to a notary’s office signed some more paperwork and that was about it. We walked to the Assorti Café the owner is quite nice and likes to converse with us which always makes our visit a bit more pleasant. She was amazed the boys were the same age and she was pleased to see they behave so well and likes to here Sam speak English. I’m certain Sam and I will be visiting her often in the next 3 wks that we’re here in Karaganda. Looks like Sam and I will plan to leave Almaty for the states on May 27 or 28th. I’m certain tomorrow will be a bit of a rough day for Sam and I, but we’ll just push through as needed.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Apr 26th

We have all been waking up late these days, 0800. The boys go down around 2000 and are usually asleep by 2030. We, of course are bored out of our wits, because we then are stuck in our bedroom for the rest of the night. We do have good couple time as we giggle about the silly things the boys have done during the day or our daily frustrations about living in Kazakhstan. I’m really going to miss Tim and Ian. I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning knowing we were one more day closer to their departure. As my relationship with Sam improves I’m less nervous about spending an additional month in Kazakhstan. I just want to have everything go smoothly and get out of here as soon as we can. Tomorrow is our court date. We were supposed to go with the Orphanage Director and pick out a “gift” for the Orphanage, we even asked our translator about it and still, we have heard nothing. I’m certain it will be left until the last minute as will buying Tim and Ian’s tickets to Almaty and the groceries needed for the party at the Orphanage after court. That’s just how things seem to work here in Kaz. This morning, Tim went and bought our lawyer and the judge some “gifts”, V.S.O.P. Hennessey and some Cigars. The boys and I hung out at home and colored, played with beads, and giggled. I think we’ll venture out today, if only for a walk as it seems to improve everyone’s mood. Maybe we’ll even head over to “trash park” for some fun in the dirt!! Vitalik took a nap around lunch time so Ian and I had a picnic lunch on the blankets in the main room of our apartment. I was starting to go a bit stir crazy so I took a short stroll around 1500 and it was a bit warm for pants and a long sleeve shirt so I don’t know how natives can wear sweaters and coats without sweating to death. When I came back, the boys wanted to jump off the couch again. It kept them entertained for an hour so that was nice. I clicked through our ever so limited TV Channels and watched a bit of of a really poor Dubai soap opera and BBC World over and over again, while Tim played Free Cell. We then went to the Assorti Café for dinner and took an early evening stroll, which was nice, as I love that time of the day no matter what part of the world I may be in. Can I just say how thankful I am that Tim got me an IPOD shuffle for my 35th birthday? I love having my favorite tunes from various periods in my life to lift my spirits when I’m feeling a bit blue or homesick. I’m enjoying Sam’s company more and more each day as he becomes more attached to all of us. As much as I detest having to stay here for a month, I know it can only strengthen our bond so I’m hoping that will keep me grounded when I want to pull my hair out due to frustration or boredom.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

26 Apr 06

I forgot to mention the sweet thing Ian did last night. After Vitalik had his bit of drama for the evening and was put to bed, Ian rolled over to him, kissed his hand, and had his spider puppet, “taranchi” come and give Vitalik a kiss too! He said, “I wanted him to feel good.” What a sweet boy. It gives me hope that someday they’ll truly trust and love one another as all family members should. Although the day has been sunny, we have yet to go outside and its early afternoon. This is not to say we haven’t kept busy. The boys both spent some time on “the chair” the official time-out place in our grandiose apartment in the morning, but by lunch they we’re the best of friends. Believe it or not, Mama is allowing her boys to jump off the furniture into a huge pile of blankets. Of course, this is a big hit with the boys and it’s helping them to bond as brothers. Plus, we’re all aware of our limited fun activities during the day, and if it helps to pass the time and improves the boys relationship; how can I say no?? Daddy has been trying to figure out the best way home for Ian and himself. Right now, he arrives in Almaty at 1030 on Sunday morning and then they don’t leave Almaty until 0145 Monday morning. We just found out that the flight then has a stop in Astana prior to departing for Frankfurt. Tim is trying to figure out a way to simply jump on the plane in Astana vs. flying south to Almaty only to fly back north over Karaganda and back to Astana.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Tuesday April 25th

Sorry no pictures yesterday, we tried but after 3 failed attempts via Blogger on our dial- up internet service we called it quits. I’m hoping tonight to have better luck and to post many photos, including a few of our ever efficient helpers who decided it would be nice to hang some of our clothes on their homemade clothes lines vs. using the metal drying rack that came with the apartment.. I also forgot to thank Pop-Pop and Grammy Mim for calling the other day and making us feel a little closer to home.
Another sunny day had us venture outdoors all afternoon. We drug out the double wide stroller and lugged the boys down the very non-stroller-friendly Karaganda sidewalks and walked from our apartment, around the big park, all the way to Sam’s first orphanage, Nezabudka, and the Hotel Cosmonaut. Amazingly, the boys feel asleep during the bumpy ride and double side-by-side strollers must be scarce in Kazakhstan as we received many puzzled looks this afternoon. The Hotel Cosmonaut was quite nice. The concierge, a beautiful young woman with a cute bob-haircut and beautiful Russian ice-blue eyes was very friendly and spoke broken but quiet understandable English. The rooms were an ample size and quite clean. The staff was very friendly and the hotel itself had many quasi-Western amenities; a work-out area, a beauty salon, and a nice restaurant as well as some nice greenery areas outside where children could run around and their parents would feel safe allowing them to do so. We were considering having Sam and I move there after Tim and Ian depart, as it would be nice to be around more adopting Americans to swap stories, frustrations, laughs, etc. Unfortunately, living in a small room with no real space to play, no stove and/or microwave with which to cook, or having a washer just wouldn’t be feasible with a 4 yr old boy for 3 weeks! I also like living across the street from the grocery store and the park is about a 10-15 minute walk away. Sam and Ian act more and more like brothers every day vs. simply roommates. Most of the time they like to parallel play but when we have them play alone in the main room they seem to have a blast. They also like to be a bit silly at meal times. As an example today’s meal time tomfoolery was having Ian wear his napkin, (a dish towel) around his head like a babushka or Moses. Vitalik then had to do so and decided his looked better as a scarf. Sam loves to copy anything Ian does. Sam really likes it when he does something that Ian thinks is really cool. It’s going to be a bit of a reality check for both of them once we get home and live in a real home again with real rules about what’s appropriate and what’s not. For some reason Sam is still interested to see if our rules and disciplinary tactics might change. So each day, usually towards nighttime he tests them and each day he figures out that we are not pushover parents and although we give a ton of love and support, we also expect our children to be kind, respectful and thankful children

Monday, April 24, 2006

Monday, 24 April

Hello, it was another sunny day in Karaganda and a bit warmer too, which is always a bonus in my mind. We didn’t venture out of the house until about 1430 and took a walk to the big park with the lake. The boys drew with sticks in the sand and played kick the empty Coke bottle while watching 3 Kazakh boys swim in the very cold and very dirty lake. They seemed to be having a great time. All the power to them by making the best of what they’ve got! I was envious of all of the runners enjoying an afternoon run in the sun. I know not being able to run on a daily basis has added to a bit of my grumpiness about being here for what seems like forever and a day. I really miss my daily runs amongst the Amish Farms. I miss my extended family, my friends and my daily life in the United States. We found out today Tim and Ian will depart early Sunday morning for Almaty. They should arrive in Almaty around 1030 and don’t depart for Frankfurt 0145 Monday morning, so I think they’ll have to spend the day in a hotel or be quite bored in the Almaty airport for hours on end. We had read that there was an evening flight that they had hoped to take, but no such luck. It’s really sinking in that I’ll be leaving Ian for nearly a month. Don’t get me wrong, I love Tim with all of my heart, but we are accustomed to leaving one another on a regular basis due to his job. Now my Ian, well, I’ve never been away from him for more than 2 days in his entire life. I will miss him dearly and although I know he will be safe and happy to be at home with his Daddy, his Grammy Mim and his Honey, his friends from preschool, his house, his toys, etc.; as a mother I feel a great sense of abandonment about leaving him for so long. After our afternoon jaunt we headed to the Assorti Café 2 blocks down the street for dinner around 1800. We ran into about 4 or 5 American families either beginning or ending their second trip. I believe the majority of them are adopting infants. One couple had their son, Calvin, with them. He was a little peanut, but adorable and very inquisitive. It was the first time we had seen and spoke with Americans for more than 30 seconds, which was nice. I can see where having some American companionship would greatly enhance the adoption process while in Kazakhstan. In some ways it may be easier just having the 2 of us here. I plan to really hone in on his sign language and English as well as working on proper behavior within a family environment. A quick question for any of the Kazakhstan yahoo group readers: has there been any news on the adoption of Liam and Aidan, they were on the RocktheKaz blogspot or the Hunt adoption blog? There was also a nice story about a family adopting 3 older girl siblings from Livinsky Orphanage in Karaganda? Any news would be greatly appreciated as our internet connection is so dang slow I never get a chance to surf and get updated on how families are coming along. Time to go as it’s nearly time to tuck our boys into their lavish sofa sleeper for night-night!! Paka-

Sunday, April 23, 2006

A day at the park, 23 Apr

Today was a nice day for the most part. Even though it was still a bit brisk, we decided we would take advantage of the sunshine and walk to Mario’s Pizza for lunch and then walk down to the big park with the lake and let the boys run around a bit. Mario’s was, as always, delicious but then again after multiple meals of cereal what wouldn’t taste yummy? Of course this was the one day we didn’t haul around our camera, which turned out to be a bit of a bummer later in the day. While walking to the park we noticed the “carny” rides were working. We could all use a bit of fun so we headed to Fantasy World. Both boys had their first taste of cotton candy and loved it, as did their Mama. They also had their first Bumper Car experience, but were more interested in driving their cars vs. bumping into one another. We then went outside to enjoy the sunshine, music, and the Giant Ferris Wheel. Sam did not enjoy the Ferris Wheel whatsoever and while it didn’t come close to our level of safety standards it was nice to get a bird’s eye view of the city of Karaganda. Sam is generally fearful of things he hasn’t experienced before. He is not afraid to run full-speed into a wall, was afraid of being within 10 feet of the lake or more than 5 feet off the ground. He is quickly realizing that we’ll keep him safe in these ventures though. After watching Ian on a ride, he was willing to try it out himself. He never got the guts to jump on the trampoline ride, but he’s getting braver. It is strange that so many things are “firsts” for him, even though he is 4 yrs old. It’s fun to watch him experience things. Sam is acting more and more like a child vs. a robot. He shows much more emotion, both positive and negative. I think going from no real attention or intellectual stimulation to as much as we can give him as a family has been great for him and he treasures it greatly. Unfortunately, he still has a bit of the institutionalized personality in him and he is somewhat afraid that his new found attention will leave, thus he tends to still cling to one person or game for a good part of the day. On a lighter note, Sam is a ham, who has a wonderful laugh, smile and cracks us up daily, but he definitely doesn’t like being told “no, having to wait his turn, etc.” He’s a smart little guy and likes to see if we’re going to be consistent with our rules and discipline and to his dismay we are. It’s funny to think that having your child act out is a good thing, and while we’re not jazzed at going through the terrible 2’s once again, (even though they were quite mild with Ian) we don’t get as frustrated or upset about it because we know it will pass and in just a short while he’ll be a well-mannered, fun-loving, respectful boy just like his brother. As always I love my daily trips to the grocery store. I get to practice a bit of Russian and the workers are always so helpful and kind. I decided to venture out and purchase one of the dried salami looking meats, but I wanted to make certain I purchased, beef vs. pork or horse!
So, I politely ask Please, malinkee ruski, (a small amount of Russian) da karova (yes cow=beef) nyet sveenya (no pig=pork) They laughed and smiled but knew what I was getting at and handed me a long stick of meat and I hoped for the best. Surprisingly both boys enjoyed the salami, as did Tim and I. It will be nice to have some meat, cheese and bread as an added meal to our limited cuisine while in Kazakhstan. We hope to venture out once again tomorrow and hope to add some new photos. PS. Thanks again to everyone who adds notes to the blogs, sends us emails and gives us a bit of home while we’re so far away.

April 22nd

Once again it is cold and rainy here in Kazakhstan, thus yet another day inside our humble abode. We all woke up late this morning about 0830, one less hour for us to be climbing the walls. Sam loves anything ‘banan.” Banana yogurt, Banana oatmeal, or just plain Bananas make his day. It’s very difficult because Ian is losing weight and Sam is simply too chubby, yet we can’t give Ian more food and Sam less for fear of Sam thinking we’re punishing him. Plus, anytime anyone goes into the kitchen Sam is there in a nano-second thinking some sort of food is on the way. Once it’s just Sam and I, I’m hoping the weather will be more temperate so that we can take long walks and do more outside activities at the park to pass the time and decrease his belly. I’ll also be able to regulate his food a bit more. Thank goodness both of Ian’s Grammies are great cooks, so I know they can fatten him up a bit. The big news of the day is that BBC World, our only channel, actually has interesting programs on the weekend vs. their limited news program that repeats itself every ½ hour. The sad fact is that we watch it over and over again just to hear some English and watch some TV to help pass the time. It’s now 6 hrs later and we have yet to leave the house as it’s been a bit rainy and chilly. The boys amaze me, I’m internally going crazy and they seem to be having a ton of fun playing with soda bottle caps, clotheslines, clothespins and plastic “slinkies” that Olga purchased for them yesterday. Today, they have made many secret traps and are improving their cap flinging skills. Sam is making some emotional progress in that he gets a bit frustrated when he needs to wait for his turn or stay by his Daddy when his Daddy needs to speak to Ian alone. Not that we’re happy that he sometimes gets cranky, but we figure it’s better for him to show positive and negative emotion vs. no emotion whatsoever.

Friday, April 21, 2006

April 21st

Once again it’s cold and gray in Kazakhstan. In order to stay sane with 4 people in a 500-600 sq ft. apartment we have to think of goofy games to pass the time. This morning’s activities consisted of bath time, which Sam adores so much so that he can be undressed in less than 3 seconds, no exaggeration. The next game was named the “Icky Sam Shuffle” It started out simply as the boys running to Mama in the chair and then Mama lifting them up in the air a bit, but then Sam turned into Icky Woods and was a dancing machine with many silly faces; it was hilarious. Our photos today consist of Daddy taking his turn and giving the boys much better rides than Mama could give. Sam is definitely going to be the next linebacker or offensive lineman for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. He reminds me a lot of Rudy Rudebacher from Notre Dame. His fortitude is amazing and he is also a little comedian--what a wonderful combination. Ian is definitely our serious and sensitive one, though he has an amazing imagination and loves to tell us stories. If you looked at the two of them, you’d think Ian was the one who has been living in the Orphanage. Poor Ian is too slim; it’s good his Grammy Mim and Honey are coming to take care of him and his Daddy as I know they’ll both be well fed, loved, and spoiled!! It’s interesting to watch the boys together, even when they become annoyed with one another, within 5 minutes they’re secretly checking out what the other one is doing and within another 5 minutes they want to play with each other once again.
We had our interview with the social worker this afternoon; it ended up being Ian, Nell, Tim and our translator Aika sitting across a conference table from 4 very serious looking people. They asked us about 10 questions: how long we’ve been married; if we would leave the same inheritance to our new son as Ian; why we’re adopting etc… One lady, who is apparently the deputy of the director (the director was on vacation), was very caught up on the fact that we are adopting despite the fact that we are capable of having more biological children. She kept shaking her head negatively and speaking Russian with a look of disbelief in our answers. We’re not sure if she ever believed us, even though we tried to convince her that he would be treated equally. She just couldn’t understand why anybody would do that. I guess it’s cultural—we’ve heard that very few Kazakh people adopt—if they aren’t able to have a biological child, many won’t consider adoption as an alternative. I think that’s sad for the children. At then end, the deputy director (not sure if that’s her actual title) asked if anybody had any more questions (in Russian of course); the other three interviewers shook their heads no, then spysibo (thank you) and das vidanya (goodbye). We didn’t get any feedback at all, so I guess we “passed”.
While waiting for our interview, we met the Rose family briefly. They had their interview before us. We wished we had more time to talk with them but they were being led out as we were preparing to go in for our interview. Since most of the American families are adopting infants, we haven’t seen many Americans here—just a few at Johnnie Walkers—but we didn’t get to talk to them before they left. Infants are in a different orphanage called Nezabudka, where Vitaly was until he turned 4 yrs old last fall. Older children are not adopted as often as the infants, so we didn’t run into any adopting families at the orphanage where Vitaly was. Although we understand that many people want to adopt younger children, there are so many wonderful children at the other orphanages too.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

20 Apr 06

Hello All
We don't have anything new except that our coordinator called last night and confirmed our court date is 28 April at 3PM. That erased some of the hope we had that it would be earlier, but this is what he told us to expect from the start. The only potential issue is the expiration of the license of the US adoption agencies that did our home study. The home study was done almost a year ago, and since then, their license came up for renewal (31 Mar 06). They renewed it, but just got it back from the state of Delaware last week. Since Kaz viewed this as an expired license, we had to have them FedEx a notarized and apostilled copy of the new license to our coordinator here. Our coordinators handled this, but it makes us a little nervous that it will be lost in the mail. Kaz wants everything notarized and apostilled, even if it came from a federal or state government to begin with. It's better to be safe than sorry, so we'll have the new license (hopefully) by our court date.
We were also told that our interview with the social worker (who will testify at court) may be this Friday afternoon, but we won't know until 1PM Friday. Otherwise, it will be next week. Thanks for all the support we've received. We will try to reply when we can.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

April 19th

Once again we took a walk around town and decided to visit the department store across the street from the TSUM. I’m thankful the weather is nice enough so we can take a walk each day or I’d go nuts sitting in our apartment watching BBC World over and over again as it’s the only English speaking channel we have. Our days are incredibly boring, but each day the boys are becoming better brothers and Vitaly is becoming more secure about becoming part of our family and becoming his own person as well. We have no real news to report. The highlight of the day was walking to Mario’s Pizza for dinner which was once again delicious and cheap. We might get really adventurous and ride a bus tomorrow as both boys are very excited to do so, plus it might help to pass the time.
Tim’s turn to narrate:
The bus is very very cheap—20 or 30 TG (about 20 cents) per person, but we haven’t found a route map anywhere. We haven’t even seen a city map, although we haven’t tried to ask for one either. Most of the locals take the bus everywhere. There are big city buses that only come every 30 minutes and other vans and minibuses that come more often. We think the smaller buses are privately owned like taxis and they’re a few cents cheaper. Some are diesel and some are electric, but they all look pretty old and are always packed with people. You can barely see light through the windows as they drive by. It may be an adventure.
We’re still waiting for our interview with a social worker, which we thought would be last week, but they were apparently too busy last week. Now, we have no idea when it will be. Our coordinator has told us we will go to court next Friday, but he also said “no later than next Friday” which leaves a glimmer of hope that it will be sooner. If it isn’t until Friday, Tim and Ian will probably stay with Nell and Sam until Sunday evening then leave Karaganda to catch our originally scheduled flight out of Almaty at 0145L on Monday. It will be a long day of travel, so I hope Ian will sleep on the plane. He didn’t sleep at all on the first leg last time, but slept the entire second leg. We have a 6 hour layover in Frankfurt to make the day even longer. Not quite long enough to go to a hotel, but way longer than ideal. The obvious issues are getting tickets to Almaty, changing Nell’s return flight (she will now stay for the entire process) and getting Sam/Vitaly a one-way ticket to the US. Nothing a few phone cards can’t solve, but we have to take a total guess at when they’ll be able to come home. Nell has to wait 15 days for the court’s decision to be “final”, and then wait in Karaganda for the paperwork (adoption decree, birth certificate, Kazakh passport etc) to be complete before going to Almaty. Unfortunately, these things have to take place in series--one after the other. We can’t start on the paperwork until the court decision is finalized and Nell can’t go to Almaty until the paperwork is complete. Once in Almaty, she has to meet with a doctor and the American embassy to finalize some things on the American side. Then they can finally come home. We can’t count on anything being overly expeditious (a lot of things are based on a number of “business days” which are only Tue-Fri in Kazakhstan), so the whole thing could take a month after Tim and Ian depart. Guessing on a departure date for Nell and Sam is tough, so we’ll probably end up having to change the tickets again on some later date. Leaving Nell here is certainly not ideal, but we all agree that it’s better than sending him back to the orphanage after living with us for 3 weeks. Every time we mention the “Detsky Dom” (orphanage), he freezes up and gets really nervous. I’m not sure he’d trust us again if we put him back in there after he lived with us for this time. On top of that, we need to sell our house, buy a house in Colorado and move by the end of June. All that makes sitting here staring at the apartment walls even tougher. It’s worth it though.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

More waiting...18 Apr 06

Not too much to report today. It was a bit windy, but we still took a walk to the big park which has some older rides and was full of paths and trees. The park itself isn’t open for the season yet, but the vendors and workers were busy cleaning up lots of leaves and trash. The boys were able to run around a bit and it was good to be outdoors. By American standards, it is certainly unsafe. Most of the equipment is missing boards etc. It took a lot of parental oversight, but the boys were able to climb on some of the things. We also stopped by trash park and they boys played once again and enjoyed themselves among the never ending dust and dirt. Thank goodness we have a washing machine!! It looks like a lot of people are cleaning up the outside areas and the grass is starting to grow—I think the dust problem will decrease as the dirt and trash are replaced by grass and plants. We are all really bored and seem to be climbing the walls waiting for the days to pass. Eating the same meals over and over again is getting a bit old as well. Everyone has had their moments of grumpiness, but we’re all trying our best to grin and bear it!! The boys spent most of the down time playing with their new toy cars. They also love bath time every other day—they’d like to do it more often, but it takes so long to get hot water back after a shower or bath that we can’t all be showered until 11AM if they take a bath after breakfast. Well, I wish I had some really fabulous news to report, but no such luck, maybe tomorrow. Paka (Bye)

Monday, April 17, 2006

Monday April 17th

Sorry if yesterday’s post sounded a little grumpy. I have been going a bit stir-crazy the last few days as we haven’t left the house much and with 4 people in less than 600 sq ft, it gets a bit crowded and starts to drive me a bit nuts! The weather is improving daily. That being said, I am glad I did not bring any clothes that I won’t feel guilty about throwing in the trash once I return home in mid-to-late May. I am very thankful for the sun and warm weather, but I feel like I’m living in Steinbeck novel with all the dang dust!! My dad called last night; it’s great to hear a bit of home each week, as I rarely hear English except occasionally in the grocery store. Every once in a while, Kaz really gets to me and I b-tch to myself about this place or Tim and I laugh about our meager existence these days. In the end, we’re all learning to become a family of 4 which like everything has it’s ups and downs--thank-goodness it’s mostly ups. Today we ventured out and walked to the TSUM--a big building full of small shops. I may venture into some of them when it’s just Sam and me. It’s still so strange to not have access to anything. We’re so accustomed in the States to being able to go to a store, pick the product that we need and purchase it. Here you can look at everything behind glass panels and they may or may not have it, which can be a bit intimidating at times. Sam rode his first escalator today and was a bit nervous; he also heard his first bell tower clock and that threw him for a loop as well. We also had a bit of home as we went to Mario’s Pizza Shoppe. The pizza was quite good, though much different than in the US. Tim got us 2 pies and a ½ litre of pepsi for the 4 of us and it was about $10. He also purchased another pepsi for 86 tenge and instead of 14 tenge change, he got a stick of gum, not a pack, but a stick. I guess you had to be there, but it was hilarious. Granted its 129 tenge to the 1 US dollar, but just the thought of gum for change had us giggling. We walked home through some of Karaganda’s side streets and saw numerous apartment buildings and various “trash parks” as Ian likes to call them, and of course, we had to play at yet another one! The boys got their first “present” from Papa yesterday two toy race cars and they were in heaven for hours. We found out yesterday that our court date is set for Friday 28th of April. We’re hoping it will get moved up as we have completed our 14 required days of bonding. If it did get moved up Tim and Ian would still leave on May 1st, it would just mean that Sam and I would have less time in Kazakhstan alone.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Sunday 4/16/06

Last night, the boys went to bed with no crying whatsoever. Now the question arises: who snores the loudest? Today Sam woke up either a bit sleepy or sad. He did not like the fact that Ian was on the truck that he usually drives. He also didn’t like that Ian had the rings that Sam usually holds in his hand. He tried to grab the rings from Ian and we told him, “No Vitalik, you need ask Ian with your words, you need to say please.” He tried to work us over and wouldn’t budge. So we let him through his pity party and went on with our morning routine. Of course he was torn between staying grumpy and joining the rest of us for breakfast. Of course, Sam chose to come to breakfast. I received a smile because I forgot to put his spoon in his oatmeal and I knew all would be well. We went to the Children’s Theatre today. We were able to take 6 children from Sam’s class, we had hoped to take all of them, but I don’t think they have any sort of bus and since no one uses car seats or seatbelts for that matter, it probably was better they didn’t all get crammed into one vehicle. All the children seemed to enjoy the show and then we bought ice cream cones for everyone and they were very pleased. We had hoped to sit with them in the sun and eat together, but it was already 12 and since lunch is at 1215 or 1230 they went right home. Even taking them to the play made me feel a bit guilty, having them see all the other children attending with their parents must have really hurt their hearts a bit. Ian is very homesick and I don’t blame him. I think Vitalik’s world is blossoming while Ian sees his as a bit depressing as he misses the comfort of home; school, a nice house with all of his toys, a big back yard where he can play, a safe neighborhood to ride his bike, etc. Honestly, I’m surprised he lasted as long as he has before missing the creature comforts of home, as I was missing them the second we landed in Kazakhstan!! The boys are in the bath now and soon to bed. We will find out on Tuesday when our court date will be. Tomorrow ends our official 14 day bonding period. And while we hope our court date will be earlier than the 28th, we’re not holding our breath. The only good thing about the whole process is that Sam is learning each day what it means to be in a family.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Saturday, 15 Apr

Last night we had a bit of crying again from Sam. After about 15 minutes, I went to pick him up and give him a hug and put him back down but as soon as I was about to put him down he was already snoring away. I think he just needs a bit of reassurance that we’re still there. Our sleeping situation is far from ideal. The boys have to sleep on a pull out sofa that isn’t very comfortable and we’re in the next room on a futon that is starting to wreak havoc on both of our backs. Toady started much better than yesterday, Vitalik was more at ease with us and acted more like a son than a visitor. He enjoys both giving and receiving affection and is starting to speak more words. He has no interest in books at this time, but I think that will change down the road as he seems to enjoy doing or trying to do everything Ian does. I feel in love with Sam today. I was having a really hard time with the fact that for the first 2 wks I was not “in love” with Sam. I knew I cared about him, and wanted to protect him and keep him from harms way, but I honestly couldn’t say that I loved him. I think it was due to the fact that I am a very emotional and touchy feely person and even though I read about how institutionalized children don’t like to make eye contact, or give/accept affection, it was still very hard for me and Ian to bear. I now know in my heart that everything will be okay down the road, even if that road will be a bit bumpy at times. I just wanted to speak about having those feelings because it really concerned me that I could be such a sappy person and yet not feel “true love” for my beloved Sam right away. This afternoon we ventured out to the “Trash Park.” The boys had a great time sliding down the slides and climbing over semi-broken playground equipment. I call it Trash Park because not only is there an abundance of litter but because the apartment complex trash bins are located next to the park and are either overflowing or being burnt vs. being taken to a local dump. Still, it was great to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. On the way home we stopped at the supermarket to pick up some mini chocolate milk boxes for the boys and Sam was in complete and total awe. I went back to the supermarket solo to purchase a few more things. For all of the things I don’t enjoy about Kazakhstan, their people make up for it once you break the initial barrier. I have a friend at the supermarket, a Kazakh grocery clerk who likes to practice her English and help me with my Russian. I think I may stay the entire time with Vitalik as I fear leaving him for the 3 or so weeks will cause him to reconstruct the walls we have been bringing down. This will be very hard for me as I have never been away from Ian for more than 2 days. I know he’ll be safe and happy with his 2 Grammy’s and his Daddy, but I will miss our special daily routines. I adore Olga our Orphanage liaison and she has given me her home and cell phone numbers and promises to check up on me and stated I can call her day or night. Having access to a computer will help me feel connected to home as well. I feel better knowing I can get by on my very limited Russian, and most things are either walking distance or a quick bus ride away. Plus, with the nice weather, there’s always “Trash Park and Dilapitated Disney to keep us busy!!

Newsflash….. Sam did NOT finish all of his food. He even offered it to us. Dinner tonight was quite fancy, fish sticks, pears, and bread and butter. We’d like to think he was just being the thoughtful boy that he usually is, but more than likely he didn’t care for fish sticks and figured that was the best way to get rid of them. That’s ‘it from this side of the world. I’ll attach some photos of Trash Park and Sam, in awe of cooking some bacon.

PS. We hope everyone has a Happy Passover and Happy Easter!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Friday, Apr 14th

Last night went better than expected. We had crying for about 15 minutes, we think from shear fright. Ian did his best to comfort Vitalik. He told Sam not to be afraid, that there were no monsters, no fires, no strangers or trap doors in our apartment and then kissed him and held his hand. We left them alone and they were both very quiet for 15 minutes. We went to go check on them and Vitalik was still awake. We kissed him goodnight and then 10 minutes later he was snoring and Ian wanted to be closer to him and within minutes they were both sound asleep. Friday was very boring in my mind but the boys had fun with empty soda bottles, water bottles, and mama’s overnight bag. I’m having a hard time staying indoors all day. The weather is getting warmer, but there are not a lot of child-friendly activities available at this time. Sam again tried to push our buttons, but we made it quite clear that although we love him dearly and shower him with affection he still needs to mind us and be respectful at all times. The boys are improving daily about looking out for one another and seem to be enjoying each other’s company more and more. Both boys still love bath time and Vitalik loves to get clean, brush his teeth and put lotion on. Vitalik also loves to be in the kitchen whenever I’m washing dishes or cooking food. Not to much to report today, our big excitement for the week-end is our plan to go to a life-size puppet show. We are providing tickets for 6 children in Vitalik’s group. It will be nice to see some of the children once again and it makes me happy to know we’ll be shedding a bit of happiness their way.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Our first overnight

I forgot to mention how much of a style manic Vitalik was. Daddy loves it when he wears his little pink corduroy pants and matching hot pink boots with hearts on them, so much so that he had to take a photo of them!! Look out Delia Mae, Sam is a fashion wonder in his own right!!!  Actually, hopefully starting today Sam will live with us until the court date. Yes, it’s official--if all goes well Vitalik will someday in the near future be Samuel Vitaly McCaffery, a.k.a. Sam, the Bull. I think we’ll simply call him Vitalik until he has a clear understanding of English and his new name, but he is definitely a Sam. I wish you could hear him speak; Tim just melts when he says, “Pease Papa or Papa in a questioning-like tone when he’s trying to scare him during the “boo” game. Vitalik was once again a style maniac in his faded Levi’s and some turtle neck with yet another heart on it, Daddy was oh so pleased. He said he didn’t want to stay the night tonight, so we’ll see how things go. Once again he was stoic and Ian then grabbed his hand and they walked down the stairs to the main hallway where Vitalik began to walk rather quickly as if to say, “Let’s get out of here Ian.” Again it took him about 10 minutes and our playful Sam returned only to face his first disciplinary action. He had no interest in staying on his chair for time-out, we moved him to the bedroom and there Daddy made him wait and then he was cold to Papa for about 25 minutes and then was once again A-OK. We were due to meet Olga at the Notary @ 1200; at 1245, Ika knocked at the door and said it was time to go. She explained to Sam that it was only for a quick trip and we’d be back home, so he was less nervous, but still a bit quiet. After signing away our lives, and giving up our passports for the day, we returned to the apartment for many games of “BOO”, Leap pad and Magna Doodle. I can see how this is going to get very old as there are no outdoor activities and it’s not as if we can go to Chuck E. Cheese or Story Time at the Library. I’m really bored and feel a bit trapped in our cinder block abode today. My big excitement for the day will be to walk across the street and purchase the ingredients for spaghetti, yippee!!! Off to do more puzzles. Well, we were told we had to go back to the Notary’s Office as we needed to give some more Powers of Attorney to our translator and coordinator; earlier in the day we did it for our lawyer and orphanage representative, Olga. We meet Ika and Sasha at 1715 only to find out Olga still has our passports and has not given them to Ika. I’m not worried about Olga having our passports, as she’s a sweet as can be, but it’s just another example of needing to “go with the flow” while in Kaz, thus, no 2nd trip to the Notary today. Maybe tomorrow or maybe not!! The weather is starting to be pleasant once again, though the natives still dress like its 20 degrees. We took Sam on a short walk around the block and he was a bit fearful and at the same time intrigued with all of the new stimuli. He likes wearing my baseball cap and to ring the doorbell while Ian opens the steel door with our castle-like key. Poor Sam is still overwhelmed by food, overwhelmed he can watch it being cooked, that it is in amply supply and that he can have more if he wants. He also eats every scrap that is given to him. We’re trying to decrease his initial portion size and make him wait until Grace is said to commence and then he may not be excused until everyone has finished eating to try and show him that eating is enjoyable and not a race against the clock. He was shocked Ian could leave some spaghetti in his bowl and not receive any sort of discipline. I had to show him that we’ll simply keep the extra spaghetti and put it in the fridge until tomorrow. He was terrified to put on his pajamas, even after Ian changed; perhaps he thought he was going back to the detsky dom. I’m not certain how bed time will go this evening, keep your fingers crossed.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

April 12th

We thought we were going to meet with the social worker today, but like most things in the workings of Kazakhstan judical system, nothing is ever a certainty. That’s a very frustrating concept for most Americans and type-A personalities like myself, still every day gets better with Sam. I think we’re quite certain his name will be Sam. He looks like a Sam to us, mostly we call him Bull, as he will eat everything and anything and nothing seems to slow him down or frustrate him. Our son now possesses two distinct personalities, that of an orphanage child and that of a young child becoming part of a family. Today we went to a park with a man-made lake and run down amusement park. The park wasn’t open yet, but it was good for the boys to get to run outside a bit. The lake reminded me of Altus except that it wasn’t 100 degrees and this lake was full of trash. It was nice to see people out taking walks, running and riding their bikes. Still Vitalik was stoic, our translator Ika was with us. Even though she is very kind, I think he still associates her with the Orphanage and thus will not become the same little boy we love to see and play with from 10-1800. As soon as he entered our apartment our son emerged. Laughing, smiling, and speaking much more. He now loves to play the “boo” game with Ian and Papa and will of course, roar, like a lion, just like his brother. I’m so glad the stoic boy leaves once he comes to stay with us during the day, but I feel bad that as soon as we get ready to go back to the detsky dom, the stoic Vitalik arrives once again. It really makes me wonder about leaving him for the 3 or so weeks. As much as I’m ready to go home, the thought of him building all of his walls back up to defend his sweet little self, just tears at my heartstrings. They told us Vitalik had a bath yesterday so when it was time to have Ian take a bath, we weren’t certain if he’d want to bathe or not. As soon as Ian clothes were off, Vitalik wanted to join in. They love their bath time, just bonding as brothers and practicing pouring water into coke and diet- pepsi 1 liter bottles. It’s also nice to see Ian want to have things done just for brother or simply to share with brother and Vitalik is always good to return the favor.

Oh, we tried to have eggs, bacon and cereal last night for dinner, but the eggs just looked and smelled different, so I once again made up my dinner to-go food bag and set it outside of the garbage can and sure enough it was gone in the AM, just like the beef salami. Our bacon was SO good, I can hear my rabbi denouncing me already, but I can’t help it, I love bacon and shellfish. Tonight we may just go out again or have some muesli, bacon and fruit, our new staple. I also wanted to thank everyone for sending us email and little messages via our blog site. We love reading them each morning and it’s very frustrating that our internet is so slow that we can barley get our blog published and check our home email account in under an hour. We do appreciate you reading about our adventures and sending us notes from home. Janiece, I promise to wake up earlier and send you an email. Beth and Jeff, we really miss our neurotic Baby-Dog coming to greet us each morning. And to the family member of the Hunt Adoption Blog, we hope Karina, Riley, and Mom and Dad are doing well and will be stateside soon!! Also, I hope the 3 older girls from Livinski are homeward bound and I’m hoping the parents of Aidan and Liam are on their way back to Kazakhstan from Austin. PS. I love Shiner Bock!!!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Tuesday, 11 Apr

We went to the Orphanage to see whether Vitalik would spend the day with us or if we’d have to visit with him at the Orphanage. Luckily, he could come home with us again today. Today he really enjoyed watching me wash the dishes and tried doing so himself. He also is in total amazement of being so close to so many different kinds of food. He’s better at keeping his food on his plate vs. hoarding it all in his hands but he does still eat it quite quickly. It’s also hard for him to only hold one crayon at a time; in the beginning it was due to his fear of them being taken away, now it’s more to test us, as he smiles his little sneaky smile while he arches his shoulders. Again the big hits of the day have been paper air planes, lasso ropes, and shaking partially filled water jugs. We may venture out for a stroller ride this afternoon and try to find a semi clean playground. He’s excited to have a banana later in the day. The boys do well playing together and sharing Mama and Papa’s attention. Vitalik also loves to copy Ian’s every move. We tried once again to get Vitalik to rest, but to no avail. We did have a bit of a bonding time and we tried to get him to relax by watching The Lion King 1 1/2. Poor thing, he can’t seem to relax, he had no interest in the movie, but rather to covet his string and make certain it was in perfect condition vs. being bundled up. He so wanted to fall asleep on me, but I think he’s just to excited and still a bit nervous about his new surroundings. I’m certain some of his obsessive-compulsive issues come from his rearing in the Orphanage, but hopefully we can get him to let relax a bit when he is finally ours and in our home and our surroundings on a regular basis. We took off his green shirt and put it up on top of the couch and he constantly had to check to see if it was ok and if it was folded well. Poor thing, I’m glad he’s a neat freak like his mommy, but not to that extent. He speaks more English daily as well as speaking to us in Russian, which is great. Our food choices are growing a bit thin--tonight we’re getting all crazy and having eggs and bacon and cereal. There are some hot dog looking sausages and some hard salami type meats, but no true deli meats to speak of and what I wouldn’t give for a spinach salad with raspberry & walnut dressing!! No new pictures today, just some of the Orphanage and apartment.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Our first home visit

Today was Vitalik's first visit to our apartment. He was here from 10AM to 6PM which is a lot longer than our previous 2 hour visits. The car ride went a lot better. He didn't cry at all. When we were in the car, he was very alert--we don't know if he was tense or just taking in the outside world he never gets to see. After a peanut butter and jelly and corn lunch, the boys got a bath. Possibly the first bath for Vitalik. He was scared to go in, but quickly realized it was a fun adventure and both boys would have liked to be in there all day, but we ran out of hot water. After naptime, we promised we would have him take a nap. Vitalik refused to nap, much to Nell's dismay. His mischevious side came out--always checking for approval with a smirk before sneaking out of bed. Not that we blamed him, but we didn't want him to get in trouble for being tired later at the orphanage. Both boys are getting much better at sharing and seemed to enjoy themselves, with minimal conflict over certain toys. Vitalik doesn't really show affection yet, which is hard for us, especially since Ian is so affectionate. He does accept hugs and kisses and will give them if you ask, but I don't think he really knows what that means. We don't know if he is excited to see us or just excited to get a break from the orphanage. I am sure all will be well with time. We don't know whether we'll be able to bring him to the apartment today (Tues) or not. I guess we'll find out when we get to the orphanage (aka baby house).

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Sunday 9 Apr

This morning we met with our lawyer, who is the father of our translator and coordinator. He was very nice and explained to us the “proper” answers to the questions that may be asked of us in court. Some caught us off guard, others seemed fairly typical; of course we’d like to answer them the way “we” feel they should be answered, but this is not our country and we need to do what we need to do to bring our second son home. Yes, we said a few posts back that we’d have a name for him. We still do not. Ian likes Owen, Tim likes Sam, and I’m not in love with either of them. We wish we would have a better grasp on his true personality prior to giving him a name, but by Wednesday afternoon, he will have one as we have been informed that will be the day we’ll need to make it official! Our visits to the orphanage are becoming a bit bland. It’s just simply getting a bit old sitting in the same room, with the same puzzles, crayons, etc. We just can’t wait to bring him back to the apartment and have him experience family life vs. being under constant supervision. I think he’s enjoying himself more, but he is always conscious of his surroundings and if he is acting properly. I have yet to hear a child cry in the orphanage and there are a few who speak a bit of English and like to practice with us as we leave and enter each day. I’m going to ask Olga, our orphanage liaison person if we can go back into Vitalik’s group and take a group photo. I still need to get some photos of the Orphanage. I enjoy my talks with Ika each day about life in Kaz vs. in the States. How life has changed for the better and for the worst in post-USSR republics. Some aspects of our lives are incredibly the same and others vastly different. To me Karaganda and the bit of Almaty that I viewed reminds me of a mixture of the Bronx in regards to the air pollution and trash and any European city except that there has been no restoration to the apartment buildings and government buildings for hundreds of years. I’m happy to report besides the initial stoic response from eye contact with people, people that we’ve actually met have been very kind and helpful. I wish many more Americans could travel abroad to less affluent places to see how truly fortunate we are in regards to the everyday simplicities we possess.

The boys did really well this visit, they played well together and separately without coaxing from anyone. I think Ian has made the realization that life with his brother will be great and that our love for him has not diminished one bit even though the amount of attention may be divided at times. I think even though Vitalik is about 2 months older than Ian, Ian will definitely be a big brother and protector--that’s just his style. We found some more food to eat. We found sunflower seeds and pistachios and Ian will eat both, which is good as I was a bit worried about his protein level. I cooked up some ground “beef” or we’re hoping it’s that, to add to our pasta sauce. It smells normal, but we’ll have to wait and see. I also bought some eggs and pre-wrapped bacon, so we can have a big breakfast/meal instead of constantly have Honey Nut Cheerios. We’ve now switched to the Moscow version of Honey Nut Cheerios and Ian loves those as well. I also found some Raman type soup and that seems to be my staple. They had some huge fish, no lie it was 2ft long, scales and all in bubble wrap at the grocery store yesterday, I so wanted to see someone carry it out of the store!! It has been really cold that last 2 days, some stereotypical “ruski” style hats have been worn about but mostly they’re random colors to accent everyone’s black/brown coats. Ian is in love with Herbie the Lovebug and can’t wait to turn on Delia’s toy that sings the love bug song. The big excitement for next week will be to go to the department/everything store a buy a few gifts for the judge and secretary and our lawyer. Perfume for the secretary and some Cognac for the men. We are hoping the weather warms up a bit so we can take the boys to some “carnival-type” fun park and perhaps just take some walks in the stroller. We’re feeling a bit cooped up. Our driver and translator will take us anywhere, but it feels a bit strange to have to depend on others to get around and we feel a bit guilty that there lives revolve around carting us to and from the orphanage especially on the week-ends when we’re certain they’d rather be with their own families.

Our second visit went well, the boys played together and alone and Ian tries even more to teach Vitalik and ask him questions about his opinions on certain subjects. One sign of living in Orphanage is his ability to tune things out. Sometimes while he’s doing a task and we say his name 2 or 3 times, he simply tunes out things to concentrate on the task at hand. We can only imagine how chaotic it must be at times and what a young child must do to find some inner peace. He did make a pretty bead necklace and was quite happy to have his picture taken in his newest creation. Of course he immediately put it in his pocket for safe keeping and would check all around prior to taking it out and playing with it a bit. We tried to show him he can trust us by having him hand the necklace to us, we look at it smile and give it back and thank him. He had fun using stamps today and loved washing his hands. We’re not certain if he likes us taking on more of a caretaker role or if he felt relieved we got off the ink prior to returning to the group so he would not suffer any disciplinary action. I took some photos of his bathroom and while I’m not impressed with the newspaper toilet paper they do try to keep them “clean” by having separate combs, toothbrushes and towels. They seem to clean things with straight bleach but in Orphanage bathrooms no one flushes their toilet paper et al; it goes into buckets and then gets thrown out when need be. While my logical mind can understand that it may be a necessity due to the wear and tear it may have on their older sewage pipes, the thought of the germ spreading contamination does get to me a bit. We found out we will meet with the child advocate/social worker on Wednesday, hopefully that will go well. We’ve been “instructed” numerous times on our “proper” answers and all should go well. We did learn today that after Vitaly (Vitalik is more of a nickname) becomes officially ours, and we must return to the States he will live with Olga until the paperwork is ready and I can come back either to Karaganda or Almaty and bring him home. This makes me feel better as I adore Olga and know in my heart she will treat him with love and respect. A neat thing happened today, Vitaly came running after us after our afternoon visit had ceased and came to give us more hugs and kisses, which was neat to see. We will be able to take some photos and videos of his group, but more than likely not until our court day party as they don’t wish to cause any extra pain and sadness to his group mates. I’m so proud Ian wants to include them in our visits as well, as he does have one of the biggest and kindest hearts of any child or adult I know. I know it would be hard for me as well, hanging out with all the children on a regular basis. I want to give them as much affection as I can, perhaps decreasing the pace that the majority of their hearts will harden due to their living situation and overall existence by not having a family or any true close bonds. My lighter comments for today’s post is that our water in the apartment has two-- settings Icelandic and Volcanic and I can only wash my hair every 2 days as the water makes it feel like either straw and I can’t get through it with a comb, brush or weed-whacker. Natural curly hair and Kazakhstan water do not make such a good combo!!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Yes, its good Tim wrote yesterday because I was in no mood to do so. I just woke up annoyed. Annoyed that there is no grassy area outside where Ian can play, annoyed that the car exhaust is doing havoc on my eyes and Ian’s nose, annoyed that my second son is in desperate need of a bath and has to wipe his backside with newspaper vs. toilet paper. It was one of those mornings why I could see why so many people turned to alcohol or cigarettes to deal with their daily existence. Then our visit in the morning was a rough one. It’s really hard trying to bond with a new child to have him learn to trust us and enjoy our company and still make certain your own child feels safe and secure in his position with in his current family. It gets better each day, but with the mood I was having, the whole situation just annoyed me. By lunch all was well, I stopped being the spoiled American traveler and instead of being annoyed, was thankful, that I have a safe, clean, and friendly environment in which to raise our boys. We still can’t decide on his name. I think Samuel will be the winner, and we’ll simply call him Sam. I like the way Ian and Owen sounds, but he simply looks more like a Sam. It’s really hard to find something that flows well with Vitalik and McCaffery. Tim feels it’s really important to keep his given name his middle name. I’m just hoping he doesn’t have a negative association with it as it was from his birth mother who abandoned him. We meet with the lawyer tomorrow, so by Sunday’s post he’ll have his official name. So far so good as far as last night’s “organic” chicken is concerned. I think as “ethnic” as I’m willing to go is the pot-sticker type perogi looking things in the frozen food section of the grocery store. I found some nutella and feel like I’m in 7th heaven!!

Today’s morning visit went much better. Vitalik saw us coming down the hall and ran to us with a huge smile on his face. It’s great to see him ease up a bit. Life is very structured for him and he’s very cautious whenever he sees a caregiver or hears Russian. The children are so disciplined, a bit too much, and you know that’s saying a lot coming from me; as compared to most American families we rear Ian in a somewhat strict and discipline manner. We played ball as a group and then began coloring and doing Lego’s as a family. It was really nice. Vitalik loves being held more and more and seems to like soft little kisses on his super soft cheeks and neck. His shoes would fall off while we were dancing and it’s as if he was afraid someone would see that he didn’t have them on properly so we’d have to stop and then we’d start back up with more lovees. He’s becoming much better with signing and I think it will really take off once he starts “living” with us in the apartment vs. being in the orphanage. I’m going to try to take some photos of the Orphanage today. I feel like we’re whisked in and out quickly, but I’ll just take my camera along on my daily bathroom run!! Playing in the same room is becoming a bit old, but each visit is better for all of us.

Our interpreter took us to a DVD rental place today. I picked out a few from the pictures of the actors and could tell that one was the newish Herbie movie. Ian really enjoyed his afternoon movie between visits and keeps telling everyone he is Herbie the Love Bug. DVDs are only 1$ a piece. Eat your heart out Blockbuster! Ian did a great job initiating play with Vitalik during our afternoon visit. Vitalik seemed a little down or tired in the afternoon, but he is so disciplined to be agreeable, we couldn't determine what was wrong. We asked "are you happy?". He nodded yes. "Are you sad?"...yes again. He seemed to say yes to everything. I guess that is common with the children at the orphanage. We had a pizza dinner planned with another American family but that fell through. We were going to go anyway but our interpreter and driver are very nervous for us to be alone. The driver was going to wait outside while we ate our unplanned dinner, but he had other things to do. So we ate more pot-stickers in the apartment. Ian had fruit, oatmeal and cereal--his mainstay so far. Nell and I stayed up and watched "An Unfinished Life", picked for the picture of Morgan Freeman. It's tough to stay up since Ian's bedroom is the living room, so he got to sleep in our room until the movie was over. It is becoming a lot like groundhog day--we hope to be able to bring Vitalik to the apartment soon. Thanks for the emails and comments. We really enjoyed Grammy Mim's phone call in the morning. I guess the phone works!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Friday 7 Apr

Hi all. This is Tim—Nell fell asleep without adding to her saga, so this will be short and sweet. On Friday, we received the last of the medical reports on Vitalik. He has been given a clean bill of health. What a relief! Visitations went pretty well. Vitalik is getting used to being held. On the first day, he was scared to be held, then he began to tolerate it, but yesterday he really seemed to enjoy being held by Nell and giggled the whole time. Ian has been a trooper but occasionally gets sad because he isn’t getting 100% of our attention. Last night, we went to a café to eat. I ordered the Dijon Schnitzel (they have an English menu), but I received a hamburger-looking patty with red peppers on mashed potatoes. Exactly what I expected except there was no Dijon or schnitzel. I guess we have to learn more Russian. Ian ordered dessert pancakes which turned out to be crepes with cream, fruit and jelly—he loved it! Nell liked her chicken but all of the food here is “organic” and does not look at all like meat we are used to. We are still trying to determine what part of a chicken it came from. We hope to start bringing Vitalik to the apartment to visit soon, and then will ask to keep him overnight a few times next week. We’re a little nervous with the language barrier, but I am sure we can work things out with our interpreter if necessary. Vitalik is learning English, but he always whispers when he speaks English. My favorite is when he says “please Papa”—it sounds like “tupees papa”. He is repeating everything we say, in a soft whisper, but I am sure he doesn’t understand what the words mean. He is making much better eye contact, which was a concern earlier in the week. Although we were enjoying some mild temperatures, Saturday will be more like winter. Temperatures are supposed to drop to -10 degrees C. Luckily all the buildings we have visited set the heat very high.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

April 6th

We only got to spend about an hour today with Vitalik during our first visit. Sasha, our driver had to wait for some paperwork at the DOE and thus was late. We still had a great hour with our new little friend. Each visit improves his trust of us and his longing to smile and be happy. He is no longer afraid when we pick him up, and actually likes it, and he’s better with us giving him hugs and kisses. Bless Ian’s big heart, he keeps asking to play with the other children in Vitalik’s group. A few came by our room today, and the look on Vitalik’s face made it very clear that he didn’t want any one invading on his private time. All the children in his group are so kind, and friendly. They like to say the Amerikins, Talya’s Mama and Papa. Already being a mom, I long to give them affection as well, but I also understand why they want us to stay separate as I can see how it breaks their hearts to know we aren’t there to take them to their forever home. We thought we were going to meet with the lawyer today to finalize paper for court and thus needed Vitalik’s new name. Tim’s vetoed my traditional Irish names and I’m not to into his monosyllabic choices, so for now, we’re thinking it will be Either Owen Vitalik McCaffery or Samuel Vitalik McCaffery, and simply call him Sam. He looks like a Sam, but to me Sam McCaffery, sounds like some cheesy salesman, but I also like the sound of Ian and Owen. Who knows, there’s always Seamus Flynn…. I ventured out today for an afternoon walk and became quite saddened by the general living conditions of Karaganda. Some of the buildings are quite lovely if the money was available to refurbish them, but most of the buildings are quite decrepit and run down. There is no grass and the pollution from the cars and buses is horrendous. Mostly what saddens me is the trash; it’s not just littering, but garbage from homes everywhere. I found an area that had some run down metal playground equipment, but it would still have been fun for Ian had there not been so much trash and garbage. I was fearful there might be glass hidden under the leaves. I also think it’s sad, even though this may sound a bit ethnocentric that people don’t smile more especially since once you start to speak with them they are very kind and nice. This afternoon we went back to the Orphanage and played for a bit inside with balls and then we were able to play outside on their playground which was old but still fun. I thought we were going to go out with their group, but their group then decided not to go out, I hope not due to our going outside. Of course they bundled Vitalik as if it was 20 degrees, but we all had a good time. I played with a few other children, but their caretakers were quick to tell them to leave us alone. Vitalik let me help him a bit on some of the toys, but has no interest in holding hands. He gives us hugs and kisses before leaving but has to be prompted. His caregiver did say that he now waits for us to come, which is good to know he is enjoying our company. It was good to see the younger children having fun regardless of their living/playing conditions, but you could see the wear and tear it has taken on some of the older children. It’s hard to enjoy spending time with Ian and Vitalik knowing so many other children are lonely and would love the simplest form of affection, like a smile, a handshake, or a simple compliment. Uncle Erin, do you like me at the helm???? .

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Weds, 5 April

Here are a few photos from our home away from home. We live on the first floor corner of the apartment building. We live off Blvd. Mira, which I was told means peace. It has a ton of trees and hopefully will bud soon and get some green into our world. Next is the first door of 3 to get into our apartment door. Ian is a budding scientist in our down time from visiting the orphanage. He uses the rope we brought for our clothesline to find out what will weight it down and what won't. He also makes traps, mostly "lovey" traps for us. He's really into being a spy these days, which is hillarious since we're in the former USSR. Both of our boys love to do crafts and investigate things as you can see from some of the photos above. Notice how Vitalik will not let go of his ball on while watching Daddy help fix his "samilyot" airplane. We were glad to get a nice photo of Vitalik with us actually smiling. You should be able to double click on each photo to enlarge it, we just kept them small for an easy upload.

We’re all almost on a normal sleeping schedule, though we need to wake up around 0600 so that we can dial-up to the internet and add posts to our webpage, read our emails and surf a bit. Ian is in love with his morning breakfast of Honey Nut Cheerios and yogurt. Thank G-d he loves yogurt, because all we can find for him to eat here is oatmeal, yogurt, canned corn, milk, cereal and apples and bananas. The fresh fruit selection is limited in regards to quantity and quality with vegetables being even scarcer. I have yet to find fresh carrots and spinach. The two yellow and orange bell peppers we purchased were close to $4.00. Other items are incredibly inexpensive like bread, milk, yogurt, cheese, Tide, and treats. We purchased something that reminds me of pot stickers or dim sum’s shu mai, but we’re not certain what type of condiment to sprinkle on them. I tried balsamic vinegar and that was good, Tim likes them plain, and I found some no-brand soy sauce that we’ll have to try tomorrow night. There are also good breads that have meat and cheese or veggies and cheese in them, but we have yet to purchase any of these. We’ve also decided everyone wears black, brown, or navy because it hides the dirt. The water is less than clear and let’s just say that our white /light colored clothing has a slight tinge to it. Still, we’ve found the people to be very helpful if we try to ask for something and our translator, driver and orphanage coordinator are wonderful. Today we met with Vitalik’s Dr. at the orphanage and she told us about his history. He has no siblings, his birth mother is a single woman from a broken home who lived with her mom and sister and one day took off and then dropped Vitalik back home @ 3months and then disappeared. Vitalik’s Grandma tried to raise him the best she could but in 2003 she brought him to his first baby house and explained her situation and asked that if he were to be adopted to be notified that he went to a good home. This made me feel good and Olga promised me she will pass on the news that if all goes well, Vitalik will live well with a family that will cherish him forever.

Everyday our visits with Vitalik get better and better. He is still shy, but very caring and thoughtful. Yesterday we bought each of them a ball. We left Ian’s at home today and when Vitalik saw that Ian didn’t have a ball during our visitation, he ran back into his caregiver to ask for a ball for Ian too. He also went to get some Lego’s when Ian was a bit sad that he couldn’t play ball as well as Vitalik. He laughed much more today and smiled a ton. He’s a little ham and I think all will go well down the road. Vitalik is very independent and if he falls down or bumps his head, he just keeps on going. He also is very resilient and doesn’t seem to mind if he can’t accomplish something on the first try. I think this is due to the fact that he is simply so glad to have had the opportunity to be given the chance to play on his own uninterrupted. He’s warming up to our hugs and tickles and being picked up, but isn’t quite certain why we do these things. So the boys will be good for each other in that Vitalik will teach Ian to keep going/trying when things get tough and Ian will teach Vitalik how great love can be and how to show it and receive it. Today we’re off to watch a musical put on at the Orphanage. We hope to bring Vitalik’s group some fresh fruit sometime soon, as they don’t seem to receive any. I think we’ll bring him home to the apartment next week and I can’t wait to give him a proper bath, hair washing and clean his ears. He loves to play and loves being able to drink fresh water. Wow, this trip has made us thankful for so many things we have at home, but also we’ve learned we can do without a ton as well. I’ll try to post some more photos of where we live and of our little man soon. We were hoping to see the musical today by Vitalik’s group, but the music teacher didn’t show up, so we had a bit of a longer visit and it went well for the most part. We were bad parents and forgot to bring Ian’s ball to the orphanage and Vitalik cherishes the ball we gave him and loves to keep it close, even when we’re doing another activity like coloring or working on a puzzle. He is slowly realizing that once we give him something it is his and we won’t take it away. He has been using his please, more, and drink signs, and says please, more and mama, papa, and Ian in the most adorable accent. He still likes to say spysibo, thank-you in Russian. Today we worked more on taking turns and sharing the ball. It went well overall and when he didn’t want to give Ian his special ball from us, he again went back to his room and brought Ian his favorite ball from Monday. It’s hilarious to hear Ian say, nyet spysibo, for no thank-you. His giggles and smiles are increasing and his trust for us as well, it has been great to watch. Ian was a bit sad that he pushed him out of the way to get the ball. It’s hard for Ian, because he has been taught that pushing is unacceptable. When Vitalik does it, we tell him it’s wrong, but we also explain to Ian why he probably does it and that slowly we will correct his behavior as well, but first he needs to be able to trust us. Ian sees it as Vitalik getting to break the rules. So today I made certain to correct Vitalik for pushing and for touching the camera after I asked him not to do so. This way Ian could see that there will be no favorites in our home. We all crashed about 2000 and then the phone rang; it was a friend I met on the internet who had her court hearing today. She was hilarious to talk to and is very happy to be going state side very soon. She adopted a girl who is 6 and we’ll meet for dinner on Saturday. Well I need to hit the hay…. Thanks for reading our daily novellas.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

April 4th

4th of April
We woke up this morning at 0400, and finally got on the internet to update our webpage and answer some emails as we just purchased our Nursat card. We feel like we’re living in antiquity as we have to use a dial up internet service. The best bang for your buck with the Nursat card is from 0200-0800. We then hung out and waited to go and visit Vitalik at the Orphanage. He was excited when we got to his room and of course had to get the plane and some bouncy balls with which to play. Vitalik is going to be a great soccer player as his kicking ability is amazing. He also possesses incredible fortitude and resilience when it comes to figuring out objects, toys, etc. He also doesn’t seem frazzled when he doesn’t figure it out the first time. Both Ian and Vitalik loved that I brought paper and crayons as they both love crafts. He also loves to look at his book about our home, Ian’s friends, and mostly our “sabaka” Hanski-Panski, a.k.a. Baby Dog. He started to smile much more and we even heard him laugh. He feels the most comfortable with Tim. We brought an apple and goldfish and you would have thought we brought the fanciest pastry know to man. We taught him, “please”, “more”, “drink”, and “thank-you” today with sign-language and he even said please, more, water and papa in broken English it was too cute. Ian does really well and then becomes a bit overwhelmed. I think it’s a bit hard to share mommy and daddy, but mostly, he wants Vitaly to feel as comfortable with him as he does Vitaly. He also is still off on his time as he is ready for bed by 1500 but we still have to have visitation from 1600-1800, so by the end of the visit, he’s not at his best. I’m hoping this will change in the next couple of days. We took Vitalik in a car to buy him a few outfits and shoes for when he comes to stay with us at the apartment. He is terrified of cars, after putting on a ton of clothes, tights, corduroys, shirt, sweater, winter coat and boots, and hat, he started crying to no avail. Children only come out of the Orphanage to see the doctor, and since he had just been to the Dr and had bloodwork done, getting in with us was no fun. He was ok once we were in and going and enjoyed going to the store, as for us, it was no fun as it was once again 100 degrees in the store. Although it appeared to be one store, it was really multiple stores that have individual check-outs. Clothes and shoes are a real rip-off compared to home. We went back to the Orphanage and the boys played with their toys and we were able to take one photo with Vitalik where he actually smiled. Tomorrow we meet with the Dr. and Thursday we’ll meet with our lawyer to finalize things and we’ll have his official name.

Monday, April 03, 2006

First days in Kazakhstan

Again sorry for the long post. It took us a couple days to gain internet access.

Photos: Ian's power nap at Hotel Kazhol. It was cute to see him in a crib again, our street sign in Almaty, our hotel, we were on the 5th floor right in the middle under orangish arch, and the view from our hotel window....

Sat April 1st

Sat in the USO in Frankfurt, Germany for nearly 6hrs and enjoyed the break. Ian met some nice soldiers for whom he made crafts. Ms. Pat’s goodie box has been a life saver! Our flight from Frankfurt to Almaty was uneventful in that Ian slept the entire way, which was great because we all needed some sleep. Our service on both Lufthansa flights was wonderful. Thoughtful and efficient waitstaff and the food was quite tasty as well. Landing in Almaty was fine, customs was fine no shake downs, all I can say is that the workers were somewhat sullen or simply chose not to smile, perhaps due to cultural differences or perhaps because it was 0130 when we arrived and of course our little buddy was going strong after his 6hr power nap!! We met Igor and Nikolai and “Jack” at the airport and then they took us to the Hotel Kazhol, which was a bit run down, and some of the clientel we’re perhaps “working” vs. sleeping, but the beds were comfy and breakfast was plentiful and tasty. Our only real problem is we were overcharged for our tickets for our flight from Almaty to Karaganda, but I think we’ll be able to work something out, if not, still we arrived in Karaganda with no problems, so I’m happy. My only real complaint about Kaz is the amount of litter and smoke. The parts of Almaty we saw werre simply poor and run down, it didn’t help that it was overcast and raining either. We discovered the mountains after our 5hr nap and they were beautiful.

Sun April 2nd

Spent the day sleeping and taking a walk in Almaty, which is not pro-stroller. Could not find a grocery store to purchase non-bubbly water for Ian, so we had to drink water from the mini-bar, which was still cheaper than what we’d pay for water in the grocery store at home. I’m very thankful we had no “issues” in the Almaty airport with luggage or shake downs. Ian loved that we got to ride a bus with no seats to the plane. The plane was much more spacious than I anticipated and more comfortable except that everytime we’re indoors it’s at least 95 degrees! It was funny how on the airplane, there were no safety videos, the overhead compartments have no doors, the waiter didn’t care if your carry-on’s we’re stowed correctly beneath the next seat and once the plane took off it was free reign. A little boy would run up and down the aisles as his mom simply read her book and had no fear about other people getting mad or “playing with him” People are on the one hand closed and yet very loving of their native children, I was amazed.

We were met by Chingis, his sister, Ika, our translator, and Olga, who speaks some English and will work with us at the Orphanage and Sasha our driver. Ika’s English is amazing and she’s stunning. Chingis is nice and Olga seems like a nice grammy figure. Sasha is quiet so far. In Karaganda, we simply got off the plane and then they wheel in your bags and you show them your claim ticket and your done. It was a ghost town. We traveled a long road surrounded by grassy plain into Karaganda proper. Our apartment is huge by Soviet standards and is quite cozy after you walk through the dingy hallway and through our blue steel door. I’m very pleased with our home away from home while in Kaz., especially since it’s $50/day. Our only fear is that our court date might be very close to our departure date which is not what we had anticipated. But we’ll have to wait and see. So far we have had a great adventure and our son is an amazing traveler. He loves every part of the trip, even things we as a adults might get frustrated about, he simply rolls with the punches and is happy simply to be together.

Monday April 3rd

I woke up and took a bit too long in the shower/tub and now Daddy will have to wait for hot water. Ian slept well and is now eating his quality breakfast of a day old “squishy” apple which he loves and goldfish. I think we’ll lose some pounds here. We’ll venture to the Supermarket today and we’re off to the Orphanage in about an hour. We have yet to find out Vitalik’s true health status and still remain hopeful. More to report later..

We met up with Olga, Ika, and Sasha around 1000, an hour after they said they’d met us. Olga is sweet and stated how nice I looked, we laughed as I stated a shower can do miracles… We first went to the supermarket which is literally across the street from our apartment and there is also a bank exchange which is nice. The supermarket has everything, some things are very cheap, milk, yogurt, water, coke, tide, other things are expensive, fruit, veggies, and meat and cheese are about the same. We then purchased some yummies for Vitalik’s group at the Detsky Dom. I’d say there were about 12 kids in Vitalik’s group and they were from 4-6 yrs. We saw Vitalik and he came to us, but only because we had treats. He is very shy and did not open up to us too much. Tim got him to smile a bit and of course Ian wanted to play with him at once and was a bit disappointed that he didn’t want to play with us. Daddy tried to give him rides in the air, and he became very scared. He has only been in a car 2x and found it quite fearful. He’s a peanut, a good 6 inches shorted than Ian, so at least I know Ian’s clothes will fit him. The director of the orphanage was very nice, and has been waiting for us for a long time, she thinks that after a few days, we can bring him to the apartment and stay with us to better the bonding process. The orphanage which means little camel, I can’t remember the name as of yet, something with a K, The orphanage is nicer than I expected, they live in family groups, each group has big bedrooms-- for one for boys one for girls, a bigh wash room, a nice play/eating area and a homework room. My heart went out at once to so many children in Vitalik’s class. We both loved this little girl, who was Kazakh and delayed in speech and but full of life and smiles. She loved doing string crafts like Ian and playing ball and receiving hugs. The older boys were nice too, they shared with Ian well and they liked to put on plays. I was amazed at how disciplined they are when it comes to putting away their things and helping each other. One older child put a bib on the special needs child and I also feel for a older boy with a crossed eye as he was kind and just pulled on my heart strings. We’re to go back to the Orphanage today in a bit and we then plan to eat a nice dinner at home and then hit the sack. We went back to the orphanage and met with Vitalik just as a family. He took us to his room and we played a bit with this special airplane of his and it was interesting and a bit heartbreaking. The good news is that he is acting like any 4 yr old would act who didn't speak someone else's langauge and goes from being 1/12 to 1/2. He is very curious and likes to try and figure things out for himself and does not give up when he doesn't get it the first time. Ian of course wants to help him and play together with him and being a lovey child wants to hug him and be close by him at all times. Vitalik still a bit unsure and growing up in a culture that is not overly affectionate and being 1/12 not used to receiving so much attention. I had a really hard time watching Ian trying so hard and not having Vitalik return his love, but I understand why. He has a special bond with Tim already. He loves to take Tim's wedding ring and try to twirl it and hold it as if he was holding a million dollars. It was also the first time he had ever been able to play with toys at will and for a long period of time His health seems typical of orphanage children, poor skin tone, fragile hair, but noting a healthy diet and exercise can't cure. They don't go outside too much as there is no real grass to play and the air is not too clean. Of forget my last post about losing any weight, the supermaket has everything and many more treats, thank goodness I brought my pilates tapes. Ian is a great traveler and loves all of our adventures, he loves our key to the apartment, as it looks like something from the middle ages, or to him, it's a "spy key" and our steel door to our real door of the apartment has to do with being a spy and going on special missions as well ,too funny. Well, I've got to run, we'll try to post some pictures tomorrow. Thanks for reading and keeping us in your thoughts and prayers...