Archive from March, 2013
Mar 27, 2013 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on DAP Appointment and Waiting to Leave

DAP Appointment and Waiting to Leave

Our DAP (Department of Adoptions and Protection of children) appointment was originally scheduled for Monday, March 25th at 10:00 am. Due to the weather here (aka snowstorm of the century), the DAP was closed on Monday. So, the incredible Serge said he would get them to squeeze us in on Tuesday.
We got a phone call from Eugene, the driver, at 7:40 am Tuesday morning. He said he was on his way to our apartment. We gathered our things and were ready when he called again at 7:55 to say he was almost here. We went downstairs and met him at the corner. I’m sure it was easy for him to recognize two Americans, standing outside the apartment building, so he pulled over and motioned to us and introduced himself. The snow he was driving through was unbelievable. We’d never survive this in Alabama. It would be like the end of the world! Finally, we arrived in the vicinity of the DAP. Eugene said it was be bad to park too close, so he found a nice spot on what looked like the sidewalk to me and we walked a couple of blocks from there.
When we arrived we met Serge, who I recognized from pictures that had been posted by other traveling families. We talked to him awhile. He answered questions and gave us a brief synopsis of what to expect in the appointment. It would be brief. They might ask some questions and they would approve for us to visit the orphanage. Soon the other adopting families arrived and we walked to the door of the DAP and waited to go inside. When we got inside, Serge called our name and we were first. We went upstairs, from one office into a smaller office with a neatly dressed lady. Since our child was “un-officially” pre-selected, it only took a moment for her to locate Our Little Girl and hand the identifying info to Serge. He translated it for me, but there wasn’t really any new info. She has Osteogenesis Imperfecta (Brittle bones) and what they call a “mental delay.” (I don’t think there’s a child in any orphanage who doesn’t have a mental delay! It comes with the territory. She will have plenty of time to catch up!) Serge and the DAP lady chattered hurriedly in their native tongue. Serge quickly asked me how I found this child. I told him that I saw her on Reece’s Rainbow (he had told me previously that it was ok to say this.) Then, he asked why I wanted a child with special needs. I said we felt this was something God had led us to do. (We discussed this previously as well.) He continued chattering to her in their native tongue and she handed me a paper to sign and then a notebook to sign. That was it. Somewhere during this brief meeting, Serge made a phone call to check on Our Little Girl. Is she still in your orphanage? Is there a family there to pursue her adoption? No. Ok. We have a family who are asking permission to come. So basically this appointment tells us she is still available and they are granting us permission to go and meet her. At this point, no one else can select her.
Of course, once we get to her region, we will meet with the regional social worker who will give us more background information, maybe some medical history, and will check that all of her papers are in order. Please pray that everything is correct. Typically, if there are paperwork glitches, they can be worked out during the process but it would be really nice if everything was in perfect order up front and ready for her adoption!
Serge tried to get our official permission papers yesterday so we could get on our way, but it didn’t work out so we will leave tonight. It will be an overnight train to her region and we will hit the ground running tomorrow to meet her. Basically, they will bring her in and let us meet her. They will ask if we want to adopt her? We will say, “Yes.” Then, we will leave and start the paper chase that will last all day long! I have our backpack with snacks and water for the trip on the train tonight and the busy day tomorrow. My camera is charged and ready for our first meeting so I can get a couple of quick snapshots. If you want to see them later, you will have to be in our private face book group because they can’t be posted or shared on any public site.
Today we’ve been hanging out here at the apartment. We walked back to the buffet for lunch and then to a “nearby” grocery store (It’s like walking from my house to the Piggly Wiggly, I think!!) Now, we will wait. Someone will call us around 3 and update our plan. We expect to go to the DAP between 4-5 and get our official papers. Then, we will catch the train around 7:00. I don’t know when we will be settled enough to get internet. It may be a day or so, but I will check in again as soon as I can. Keep praying for us!
Funny thing…. as we were walking back from the buffet, a group of 3 ladies stopped us and asked a question in Russian. I said, “I don’t speak Russian.” They smiled and one lady said, “Good! Neither do we! Can you tell us where to find Domino’s Pizza?”
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Snowy sidewalks

Walking around town

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Around the neighborhood

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Lunch! It’s a pickle, fried potatoes, mashed potatoes and chicken Kiev.

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Our apartment building. We are on the fifth floor.

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Snow plow?

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Public transportation is on the move again. I don’t feel inclined to try it!

Mar 25, 2013 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on We Have Arrived!

We Have Arrived!

Here we are, in Our Little Girl’s country, in snowy Eastern Europe! Now before I continue with my blogging, let me give you the usual disclaimer. I am a detail person. I blog for two primary reasons. The first is as a personal journal so I will remember every detail in years to come. The second reason is so that my mom, who I usually talk to 8-10 times a day when she is just living next door, will know exactly what we are doing on the other side of the world. So, if you don’t want details, feel free to skim. Otherwise, get ready for our next adventure!!! (Remember, I won’t be sharing Our Little Girl’s real name her or the name of her country or any pictures until after court, which is probably about 3 weeks away. If you already know this info, please don’t publish it anywhere on the internet. If you want more info, you can ask me to put you in our private face book group and I can share it with you.) We left rainy Alabama with the well wishes of family and friends on Saturday, March 23rd. Just before we headed to the airport, I was surprised to see a couple of friends (and their little guy) pull into our driveway at 7am to bid us farewell in the rain and pray with us one more time on our porch. Then, we went next door and I said good-bye to Emma. 🙁 (Ok, I said good-bye to the rest of her family too, but mostly Emma!) My parents followed us to the airport and we got checked in with no problem. I was telling the lady at the check-in desk about the reason for our journey and she was about to cry. Folks are always amazed when I share what God is doing in our lives. We hung out for awhile in the waiting area and then Michael and I said good-bye (and good luck!) to Russell and Laura and to my parents and we were on our way!! We had no problems going through security. It was actually the only time we went through a security checkpoint during the entire journey! I was surprised but very thankful. I think that was just another way God is going before us on this journey because I was not excited about the possibility of being frisked again in Frankfurt like last time! (If you haven’t heard the song, Whom Shall I Fear? by Chris Tomlin, go check it out on youtube or itunes because it’s my theme for this trip. The lyrics say, “I know Who goes before me. I know Who stands behind. The God of angel armies is always by my side.” He is definitely going before us on this journey!) We made it from Huntsville to Washington, DC-Dulles, had an expensive airport lunch, hung out at our gate for 5 or 6 hours, had a doughnut, surfed the web and wondered if our flight on the last leg of this journey would be cancelled due to snow! We boarded for Frankfurt, settled in, watched some movies and TV shows (Wreck It, Ralph, The Life of Pi, Everybody Loves Raymond, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and While You Were Sleeping. There was a wide variety of entertainment choices, obviously!) They fed us something not-so-tasty. I napped a little and we made it in only 7 1/2 hours. We were only supposed to have two hours in Frankfurt, but Our Little Girl’s country had experienced a massive, freak snowstorm (highly unusual for this time of year!) and the airport had been closed the last couple of days. The airline didn’t know if we would be able to land if we flew in. So, we waited for more information. Finally, after 4 hours, we received word that we would be allowed to land here in the capital city!! Another nice tidbit is that when we arrived in Frankfurt, we met up with another traveling family from our group, Reece’s Rainbow, who are on their way to adopt two children. So, we traveled with them the rest of the way.
It was about a two hour flight. They fed us something they called breakfast even though it was 1:00 on the afternoon. (It was breakfast time in Alabama, I guess!) When we got to Our Little Girl’s country, all we could see was snow!!! At the airport, it was all snow except for one strip that the pilots show aim for! Our pilot did a great job and everyone applauded as he slid us in safely! I felt very emotional at this point. I’m not sure if it was from the safe landing or the fact that I am actually in the same country now as Our Little Girl!! I wonder if anyone will tell her we are here. 🙂 As I looked out the window of the plane, there was snow piled everywhere! Wow! This Alabama girl has never seen so much snow in all my years put together! It’s pretty cool despite the inconvenience.
We made it inside the airport and stood in a long line to have our passports stamped. Again, God was going before us because I didn’t know what the guy would ask. I was hearing him ask several questions to people ahead of us, so I was thinking of possible answers. When we approached him, he looked at our passports, said, “So, you came through Frankfurt?” I said, “Yes.” He simply stamped our passports and said, “Welcome to U******!” Yay! We claimed our bags, including the stroller which I’ve been able to simply check at the gate each time so it didn’t get abused as much as our other luggage! As we exited in the lobby, there were people everywhere. Some were holding signs, most of which were in Russian or the local language. Then, I saw the most wonderful sign which said, FRYE! (and the other family) It was being held by an angel who suddenly took charge for these poor, jet-lagged travelers, helped us with our luggage, went and got his car, loaded us up and we were off!!
The ride from the airport was quite the adventure. If you wanted to go somewhere, you had to have a four wheel drive or it was impossible. Our angel, I think he said his name was Yuri, said this was the first day the road has been re-opened so we came on a good day. 🙂 We were still driving in snow everywhere. You couldn’t see a road. My camera was wedged in my backpack, so I didn’t get pictures, but don’t worry. The snow isn’t leaving anytime soon, so I will definitely get pictures later! On another road, the snow had turned to dirty slush and it looked like were were driving through two inches of mud! Cars were on the side of the roads, surrounded by snow. The far right lane of the road was closed because it was lined with big rigs that couldn’t go anywhere. When we got into the city, it was definitely a four-wheel drive ride through the snow. It was hard to tell if there was a road anywhere! Yuri stopped to get the keys to my apartment. Then, he took us to exchange money and buy a few groceries. The other couple, C & J, were with us, so we went to their apartment first. Nico met us there and gave us local cell phones with the numbers listed for all the team we will be working with in country. Then, they took us to our apartment, helped with our luggage, walked us in, showed us around and made sure we knew how to lock the door.
It’s a great little place. The lady who actually lives here is named Karen. She is an American who moved here about seven years ago. She is also a friend of our church missionaries, Ron and Galina. Part of Karen’s ministry here is to open her apartment, free of charge, to adoptive families while they are in the capital city. She is currently out of town, but should be home briefly tonight before leaving again tomorrow. It has everything we could ask for! There are restaurants nearby and a grocery store right down the street. We will go out and explore a little this afternoon (not far because I don’t want to get lost and in all this snow, everything really looks the same!!) It’s a lot like being in Latvia. Everyone walks a lot (but there are also an awful lot of cars zooming around!) The buildings are beautiful and hopefully the food is good.
For now, I’ve had a nice, hot shower and a banana. Michael is still asleep (going on 14 hours) and even though I slept til 9, I’m thinking a nap might be a good idea!! As for the adoption journey, today is what we Alabama folks call a “Snow Day” and the adoption department is closed. Otherwise, we would have had our appointment by now. Hopefully, they will reschedule us for tomorrow. It will just put us one day later than originally planned. If we have our appointment tomorrow (on Tuesday), then we will pick up official papers on Wednesday, take the overnight train to the orphanage and meet her on Thursday!! I will be here at this apartment until then. I don’t know what the apartment or internet or weather will be like when we get there, but I know Who goes before us, so I won’t worry!
Random tidbits:
I talked to Galina (our missionary’s wife) last night. If public transportation gets up and running, she will come and visit us.
I found some of those little round cookies like Ron always brings! Yum!
Last night we saw a tow-truck with a crane attachment on the back and it was hoisting a car up out of the snow!
Michael found some yummy, bacon flavored potato chips.
We brought a Magic Jack phone adapter with us and it works beautifully to call home through the computer!
I am a bit stuffy headed this morning thanks to all the travel and changes in weather, but I have Benadryl. (and immodium and tylenol and tums and advil, etc, etc, etc!)
Prayer requests: Pray that we will get our appointments rescheduled for tomorrow. Pray that we will we well rested and my head will clear up. Pray for Our Little Girl! We’re coming soon!!!

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Our Kitchen

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The View Outside Our Window