We had to get up at 3:30 am to get ready to go to the airport. We dressed Kara while she was still asleep. I was very nervous going through passport control with Kara—it was the last Russian area we need to get through with her before I could believe she was all ours. Of course, it was fine. We went on the very full plane and got settled. In a matter of minutes Kara has befriended several passengers with her “hi’s , waves and giggles. Shortly after we took off, Kara had diarrhea—say goodbye to that outfit! It was a very long flight. Kara did great but it was such a long time for her to be confined. Corey walked up and down the aisle with her when she was fidgety. She did sleep some but not much. We didn’t have much of a layover in Frankfurt and our arrival and departure gates were very far from each other. Corey had 2 really heavy carry-ons and I had Kara and a diaper bag. At one point we were on a trolley type thing where you have to hold on to a strap for balance. Kara in one arm and holding that strap for balance was a form of torture. But we made it to the plane on time. This flight was similar to the first—long but Kara was pretty good. The entire trip Corey was trying to get me to let him carry Kara into the airport to see our families but I wouldn’t budge. He must be nuts!! When we were getting ready to land I told Corey that at this point meeting everyone seemed anticlimactic since we were so tired from the trip. We had to go through customs with Kara and after getting our luggage we were off to see everyone. We fixed her clothes and did all those parental things and as we were getting ready to go through the door to them, I was so excited and I was so emotional all I could do was cry when I saw them all. It was one of the most wonderful moments in our lives—introducing our girl to her new family. But on the funny side, when we walked through the door, I felt like a movie star because I think our parents and Michelle all had cameras and they were all flashing at the same time. We obviously have some great pictures of that moment!! Everyone was hugging and kissing and holding Kara. It was so wonderful. The entire time she remained completely calm and sucked her thumb. Until she got in the car seat—oh boy, she didn’t like that. She cried very hard and her Grandmothers were not happy about their girl being upset. So, in a very illegal fashion, we took her out and changed her diaper and calmed her down. She fell asleep at some point and was quiet until we got home. Arriving home was very exciting. Corey bundled her up and carried her into the house. Uncle Don, Zach, Aunt Stacy, Uncle Bill and Allie were all there to see us. Corey very gently introduced her to the dogs and they were fine with her and she with them. Aunt Stacy had brought lots of food, a cake and there were welcome signs and balloons everywhere. Kara was very quiet, completely overwhelmed I’m sure. She ate some noodles and everyone got to hold her. Aunt Jenn and Uncle Ned arrived soon after and they held her as well. I know I’ve used the word wonderful quite a bit but it really was. It was incredible to bring her to her new home and have everyone there to see her—it was just perfect. Pretty soon it was bedtime. We took her up to her room, another awesome moment. I rocked her and we put her to bed together. She went right to sleep. Nana was staying overnight to help us since we were so tired. Kara woke up a few times during the night and probably would have gone right back to sleep but each time Corey and I were there in an instant—even before my Mom who was in the room next to Kara’s. My Mom fed her breakfast and then we took her upstairs for her first tubby, which she loved. Soon after we had lots of new visitors; Aunt Carrie, Uncle Bob & Ryan, the Colaneris, Aunt Suzy and Uncle Chuck, Katie and Alyssa, Mary, Brian & Julia, Aunt Angela and Ellen. Corey woke up sick that day and was soon diagnosed with pneumonia. Despite his being sick, those first days home are days we’ll never forget. Adjusting to parenthood is a bigger adjustment than can ever be explained, but so is the love that you feel for your child and amazingly, it grows everyday. We thank God for the circumstances that led Kara to us and no matter how difficult the road to her sometimes was, it was a journey for which I’ll be forever grateful. I’ll never know how it feels to have my child move within me or be able to say that she gets her adorable good looks from Corey, but I do know how exciting it felt when Lori first called to say we had a daughter, how wonderful it was to share that with our families, how amazing it was to hold her for the first time in a place far from home surrounded by people speaking a language I couldn’t understand and the perfect moment when her Dad and I tucked our little girl in her own crib for the very first time. We were meant to be.
Again, Kara ate like a little horse and was very messy. She walked around the room while we got ready. Corey, however, didn’t want her walking anywhere in the room without us—in case she fell. He was a maniac and this was my first ever so pleasant experience with Kara’s overprotective father (the first of many). Today Kara had to have a physical by the embassy physician. It went well. The Dr. was very nice and her only issue is that she’s underweight. After this we went to the American Embassy to complete paperwork to leave the country with Kara. After her lunch, Kara took a nap and then we were off to Red Square. It was wonderful to be in such a historic place in the country of our little girl’s birth. We took pictures in front of St. Basil’s church, which was extra special because Zachary and his parents have a similar picture. We had pizza for dinner from an Italian restaurant (in which they speak Italian) and Kara had baby food and mashed potatoes. Corey went out with Mike for a drink and I was trying to get Miss Kara to sleep. She wasn’t especially cooperative and this was my first experience with exasperation (both with my husband and with my child). I wasn’t really brave enough to let her cry it out for the first time by myself so we rocked for a very long time. Once she was asleep I packed as much as I could and then went to sleep. We were very excited to go home the next day.
She awoke a few times during the night but went right back to sleep. She woke up at 5:00 am, which wasn’t too bad, because there was a 2 hour time change. Corey and I were exhausted. We put her in bed with us and looked at books. She loved the farm animal book and repeated “dog” when I said it. Daddy was taking lots of pictures of us and videoing. This was the first time that it all seemed real to me. Here we were, all together in the hotel and finally a family and all I could think of was, “What are we supposed to do with you?” Thank goodness many of our family and friends have children and we’ve been able to watch them, so we had some idea of what to do. We fed her breakfast and she ate a lot. I was nervous about how much she ate so I called my parents to make sure we weren’t overfeeding her. Then we all got ready to have the kids passport pictures taken. Her snowsuit was so cumbersome and the car was so hot that I wrapped her in my coat and put her hat on when we went out. So strange to have her on our laps in the car. After we had the pictures taken we went back to the hotel. Kara took a nap and Corey went out to get us lunch—McDonald’s. Tasted pretty darn good too!! After Kara’s nap we walked around Arbat Street. It was drizzling a bit but we really wanted to take her out on our own—just the three of us. We were such the proud parents!! While shopping, I wanted to buy a picture of St. Basils church for Michelle and Don. There was an artist selling a beautiful picture. Corey loves to barter with the merchants and has fun doing it. I’m mortified when he does and generally hide anywhere I can. The artist was missing an arm and had a limp and I was immediately sympathetic. Not only would I not let Corey barter with him, I over paid him and Corey’s never let me forget it!! That night we went to dinner in the hotel with Mike, Chris and Sean. It was our first restaurant experience with our girl—we even took pictures. Sean was 2 years old and they had him in a high chair. Kara was such our little baby that we ate with her on our laps and didn’t even ask for a high chair. After dinner we went back to out room and had Miss Kara in bed promptly at 8:00, after I rocked her of course. She slept well, thankfully.
This morning we had to run around to various places to record the adoptions with the state and get passports for the kids. Chris and I went to eat with Nadia and sign forms. I have no idea where Corey and Mike were. Now we’re on our way to the baby homes. First we go to Kara’s. We were waiting in the room for her for what seems like forever and then her caretaker brought her in to us although she didn’t give her to me for a little bit. She was so cute—still not much hair and in a very pretty green outfit. Her caretaker seemed sad to let go of her and before she did, she brought in a doll and showed us that Kara knew where the dolls hair, eyes, nose and mouth were. Kara looked a bit scared and didn’t have much of an expression on her face. She definitely looked to her caretaker for comfort. After she gave her to me she stayed for a minute to make sure we were okay together. Nadia had told us ahead of time not to try to dress her right away but to let her get a little comfortable with us first so we played with her for a bit. Dressing her for the first time was a challenge. I was trying to take it slow with her but she started to cry and I could just imagine them swooping her away saying “what kind of mother will you be—she’s already crying!!” But we got her dressed. She looked so adorable in her pink overalls and little slippers. We set her on the floor to see if she was walking yet and she took slow, unsteady steps to us. We bundled her up in her snowsuit and out to the car we went. Corey carried her to the car—I’m always afraid I’ll fall. Once in the car, Corey held her first. I was carrying her off the plane to our families so he got to hold her in the car. We took off her snowsuit and put on a cute little while sweater that Nana and Papa had searched high and low for. In minutes she was sleeping in her Daddy’s arms and he looked as content as could be. After she woke up, Corey managed to let go of her and I held her for a while. She was sucking her thumb and playing with a fish. After picking up Sean Albert from his baby home, we were off to the airport. We went into the hospitality room, where Nadia got us food and we fed the kids for the first time. There’s nothing like watching new parents do this for the first time. Corey held her and I fed her and she ate and ate and ate. Then she and Sean walked around a bit. Kara’s so teeny tiny that it looks strange for her to walk. Now we had to get ready to leave. We put Kara into her snowsuit and hat—so cute. I propped Kara against my legs while I was picking things up and she topples over like a weeble and whacks her head on the floor. This was the first time that Corey yelled at me for something having to do with Kara. A tyrant is born—who would have thunk it?? Kara’s first plane ride. These planes are not big so it’s a little smooshy. Kara mostly sat with me. She did great on the plane, with the exception of throwing up on me, but she didn’t fall asleep until we were landing. I wrapped her up in my coat and put her hat on but she was out like a light. We deplaned and got our luggage without a problem and were into the car for the 2 hour car ride back to the hotel. She slept the whole way back to the hotel and even through hotel check-in. We had a crib for our room so we changed her into her jammies and put her into the crib. She started to cry so I rocked her for a little bit until she was asleep.
Finally our flight was called and we all went out to the bus that brings us to the plane. Once we were all on the bus, they announced that the plane had technical difficulties and we had to go back into the airport. Our flight was delayed repeatedly and we didn’t depart until almost 3:00am. Due to the delays, we no longer had time to go to the hotel before going to the baby home and court.
After landing, we went to the airport bathroom. A very pretty room with holes in the floor to pee in!! Next we went to the baby home to see Kara, a requirement for court. We waited for about 10 minutes and they brought her in. “Hi baby, nice to see you again!!” I held her and she just looked at us and sucked her bottom lip in. Moments like these are hard to explain, because it sort of feels like we’re watching someone else’s life. We were excited and nervous, but all under a big layer of tired. After about 3 minutes, Rema came back and took her away. Then we went to court, a very strange and slightly scary process. And let’s remember, we haven’t showered since we left the United States on SATURDAY!! We went into the courthouse and we were with the Judge, Nadia, a court recorder, Rema, the director of the baby home, the Prosecutor (I don’t know why she’s called that) and DeNara, from the Ministry of Education. The proceedings were in Russian and Nadia translated as they spoke. We had to answer questions, what we thought about Kara, how we were going to incorporate her ancestry into our life, why we would be good parents. Rema had to answer questions about our visits. At the end, the Judge gave us pictures of Ufa to share with Kara.
Now we waited in the car while Mike and Chris had their court appearance. I read a book and ate slim jims—yumyum and Corey and I walked around Ufa a bit and took pictures. It looked pretty in the snow.
After court, we went to eat at a nearby restaurant and then went back to the hotel in Ufa. Later that night, we stayed at the hotel in a small gathering area and had snacks and drinks. Corey and Mike stayed out a bit too late and drank a bit too much and were exhausted in the morning.
Corey and I got some sleep between flights—almost too much. When we woke up, we were alone at our gate. They had changed boarding gates for our flight but we made it. So far this trip, I’m not even nervous yet. Amazing considering how nervous I was last time!!
We arrived in Russia and waited at passport control for about an hour. Seemed like forever since we were quite tired by this point. We were next in line when the passport control officers brought a group of first class passengers from another flight to the front of the line. Corey was annoyed but I pretty much begged him to keep his mouth shut. First of all, they can’t understand us and second of all, I don’t imagine Russian prisons to be a fun place!!
Nadia’s helper, Anna, met us at the airport. In the car we met Mike and Christine VanScoy, who were adopting Sean Albert. They seemed really nice and we were glad to have the company. By this point we were physically tired but so glad to be back in Russia. After our long wait to come back, it was a comfortable feeling to be back there. Anna took us to the Belgrad Hotel in Moscow. It was 3:30pm. We put our things in our room and met Mike and Christine 10 minutes later to walk around Moscow. Corey and I hadn’t seen it before in the daytime. The weather was nice, about 35 degrees. We went to Arbat Street and went shopping for souvenirs. We bought Kara a matroyshka doll that I really took my time choosing. It’s beautiful and depicts various Russian fairy tales on each doll. After shopping, we planned on going to a Tex-Mex restaurant, the Armadillo, where Mike and Chris had eaten on their first trip. We had a hard time finding it and walked for quite a ways!! The restaurant was decorated with a Mexican theme and everyone spoke Russian—very funny. We had the “Twin Pig” platter, bbq spareribs and fries. I called Connie from the credit card phone at the restaurant because the phone in our room wasn’t working (imagine me having phone trauma!!). After dinner we took a taxi back to the hotel because we were so tired. The taxi driver saw us coming—Americans who don’t speak Russian and don’t know where anything is--$50 for a 2 mile ride. Oh well, live and learn. We went up to our rooms to sleep for 2 hours before being picked up to go to Ufa. As usual, in Russia I couldn’t sleep. I had a really bad headache because I had been hit in the head by the taxi door! Corey, as usual, was snoring away. We decided not to shower until we got to Ufa, before going to court (this becomes important a bit later). We were picked up at 11:00 pm. It took a while to get through security and baggage check—in country flights are a little scary. We had to sit for about an hour. During that time, Nadia translated our medical letter into Russian.
Trip #2-The trip of a lifetime Saturday, March 16, 2002
We’ve been flying for just over 2 hours and we just had dinner. It was pretty good but let’s face it, I’ll eat just about anything when traveling. We left at 7:00 am, my idea, definitely not Corey’s. Of course, there was no crazy traffic and we arrived at the airport at 11:00am, 5 hours before our flight was to leave. Michelle and Dad stayed with us at the airport until 11:45. I made a few phone calls while we waited at the gate, since we had 4 hours to go. Have I mentioned how wonderful my husband is!! The flight was uneventful but just as uncomfortable as usual!! Getting ready was strange this morning; I was so sentimental. I looked around and thought how different things will be when we’re back home. No more just me and Corey—our baby girl will be with us and our lives will have changed forever. In part, they already have, since that day in September when Lori told Corey, “It’s a girl!”
Saturday, March 16, 2002 Left JFK, NYC at 4:15pm Arrived Frankfurt, Germany Sat., 11:45pm NYS time Sun., 5:45am Germany time
Sunday, March 17, 2002 Left Frankfurt, Germany Sun., 2:25am NYS time 8:25am Germany time
Sunday, March 17, 2002 Arrived Moscow, Russia 5:25am NYS time 1:25pm Moscow time
Friday, March 22, 2002 Left Moscow, Russia Fri., 7:00am Moscow time Thurs., 11:00pm NYS time
Friday, March 22, 2002 Arrived Frankfurt Germany 8:35am Germany time
Friday, March 22, 2002 Left Frankfurt, Germany Fri., 10:35am Germany time Fri., 4:35am NYS time
Friday, March 22, 2002 Arrived JFK, NYS 1:20pm NYS time
Time Differences: Germany is 6 hours ahead of NYS Moscow, Russia is 8 hours ahead of NYS Ufa, Russia is 11 hours ahead of NYS
While we are there, I believe our itinerary will be as follows: Sunday night - Fly to Ufa. Monday - Visit Kara, court date and then run around getting documents (amended birth certificates, etc.). Tuesday - Finish up any documents we need, pick up our daughter later that day, fly back to Moscow. Wednesday - Free day in Moscow to sightsee and figure out what we do with a baby. Thursday - Go to embassy for Kara's physical and get her passport. Friday - Come home with our girl!!
And if I go,
while you're still here...
Know that I live on,
vibrating to a different measure
--behind a thin veil
you cannot see through.
You will not see me,
so you must have faith.
I wait for the time when
we can soar together again,
--both aware of each other.
Until then, live your life to its fullest.
And when you need me,
just whisper my name in your heart
...I will be there.
There was a time Papa and I did not think we would be blessed with the joy of sharing our life and love with grandchildren. Little did we know God had a plan for our family. He chose four special babies from half way around the world to be loved and cherished by our daughters, their husbands and us, their Nana and Papa. This blog is being written to remind our grandchildren of special times their Nana and Papa shared in their lives. It begins with Kristen’s and Corey's journals to the adoptions of their daughters, Kara Michelle from Russia and Emily Xian from China. I did not include the journals of Michelle’s and Don’s sons, Zachary Ryan and Alexander Peter from Karaganda, Kazakhstan, as their parents gifted us with bound books of their long journeys to their sons, which we cherish. In 2007 God surprised us. Kristen and Corey became pregnant with their third daughter. Our sweet girl, Amanda Lynn, became our Guardian Angel when she was born into Heaven January 16, 2008. Although not of this world, our granddaughter Amanda will live in our hearts forever.
I hope you will follow my blog and share in the memories made with our grandchildren. As my Dad always said, “It is all about memories.” And truly, it is.