Monday, December 28, 2009

Last Day in the Apartment---just packing, hanging out and having "girl time" with Auntie Susan

I'm so sleepy, I almost forgot....

Today is our anniversary....and my amazing husband is celebrating it by letting me sleep! Happiest of anniversaries to my husband---his anniversary present is (hopefully) asleep in the next room!

We're Home

It wasn't pretty, and it was LONG, but we made it home! We got into St Louis about 9:00 last night (after a 3 hour delayed flight in DC) and then made the long drive home (thanks, Brad!) getting here about 12:30.

I will post more details (many, many more) soon, along with more pictures. It has been an amazing experience that I know I need to share with all of you. Thanks so much for your prayers and good wishes!

Sleepily yours,

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas from Moscow!

It's EARLY here, and I'm really tired and out of it (something like maybe 10 hours of sleep in the last 3 days!), but I wanted to let you all know the important news. We left Kaluga early yesterday, with all of our paperwork, etc. done there and arrived in Moscow before the agency office opened. Thanks to the advanced planning and hard work of the people at the embassy, and the fact that Karina is a trooper-beast baby and Susan is a trooper-beast aunt, we got our medical exam done, and our US Embassy approval finished before everything shut down yesterday for Christmas. We'll get the Russian consulate stuff done today. Finally, we were able to get our plane tickets changed so that we can leave here on Sunday instead of Wednesday!

After we crashed yesterday afternoon, we all kind of gathered a second wind to celebrate Christmas Eve. Just wanted to wish you all a very Merriest of Christmases from Moscow!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tonight a picture will have to be worth a few words

It's now 9:45 pm. By some hard work, constant running, and some miracles (yes miracles) here (and because we haven't slept more than about 2 hours since we got here) we're headed back to Moscow and the embassy tomorrow at 4 am with Karina. We're hoping to get everything done tomorrow before the holiday weekend. If not, we're prepared to stay over, but hoping that we're done on Christmas Day!

We've GOT HER!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Story is WAY too long to tell right now---it's 6:07 in the morning, and we got into Kaluga about an hour ago. We have to be up in 2 hours to meet with Nadia and see how much we have to do today...

BUT.....after 4 days of travel, we are HERE!

Thanks for all the prayers, good wishes, and angel vibes sent our way---we have been SO blessed on this journey in ways I know that we don't even know.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

weather problems

I hope that you all are safe and warm today! Weather cancelled our flight into Philly. So. We're headed to the airport to throw ourselves on the mercy of the airlines. Trying to take deep calming breaths here.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Heavy Sigh of RELIEF...

Final Exams all graded---check (with HUGE thanks to my superfriend Rene, who took over grading the multiple choice questions on the World Civ final so that I could grade the essays and figure grades)

Final Grades all calculated and posted to the internet---check

Almost all paperwork for the embassy done and ready to go---check

Sinus infection---yep, but started on the z-pack last night---check

Packing---well, I do have tomorrow to get that done...

There's a light at the end of this tunnel! Now to go get some sleep after a nice, yummy dinner with my husband to celebrate the END of this crazy semester!

ONLY 1 day left before we leave on Saturday!

Monday, December 14, 2009


Sorry---that's how I feel right now!

We got home late in the afternoon on Thursday, and I leave Saturday with my sister to head back.

Here's what's happened (or needs to happen) in the week in between:

Grade the set of Research Papers that I hauled with me to Russia that I never had time to grade (finished, finally, this afternoon)

Give finals to both of my classes (finished about 7:00 tonight)

Grade the finals, figure final grades, and post them to the college websites.

Recover from what feels like a sinus infection, but hopefully isn't

Get the paperwork, etc., and "stuff" ready to go and get it packed into suitcases, along with giving advice to my sister on what to take with her

Answer people who ask, "aren't you excited?" with "well, I WILL be, but I don't feel like I have time right now."

I'm sure that there's more...that's all I can remember right now!

AAAAHHHH! Just have to remember WHY we're doing this!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

We're HOME

Hi everybody. Just wanted to let you know that we're HOME. A very smooth trip, no problems, no delays, no lost baggage, just long.

Thanks for all the prayers and good wishes--I'll post more information after a good night's sleep!


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

She's OURS!

I don't have much time to post...we have to head out in a few minutes and we have to turn our modem back into the hotel this evening.....BUT I did want to share the news:

The judge of the Kaluga regional court ruled this morning (about 11:45 Kaluga time) that baby K is OURS!

Happy dancing here---it would be serious happy dancing but we're both just REALLY tired! We went to see her after court, and we're headed back for about an hour visit this evening. Then we leave for home early in the morning, and should be back in the states tomorrow night.

Thanks, all of you, for the words of encouragement and prayers! They have meant so very, very much to us!

Monday, December 7, 2009

What a difference a day makes....

This was the view out of our hotel window in Kaluga on Sunday morning: And today, we woke up to a bit of a different view:

It has been snowing lightly ALL day today. They said that this is the first real snow that Kaluga has had so far---and we were here to see it. It has been a bit cold, but not terrible, and just enough snow to make it feel like Christmas is coming! The driving has been a bit crazy (a few accidents that we've driven past), but not too much worse than normal.
We had a good day today---two visits with baby K, dinner at "the Pub" and now we're crashed---court is tomorrow morning at 10 am. I'll keep you posted on what happens!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Kaluga Rocks!

We got to see baby K today!!! She's grown so much in the last couple of months, and she can walk all around the music room in the baby home if you hold her hands. Steve swears that she recognized us, and that's proof that she's a sharp little cookie. I'm not so sure she knew exactly who we were, but she was very glad to see us. We played, walked, sang, and just enjoyed being with her again, even if it was for a short time. We'll be back to see her tomorrow, I have to get my picture taken (for her passport), and then who knows---probably getting ready for court on Tuesday.

A blessed Sunday to all of you.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

We're HERE!

Just wanted to let you all know that we made it safely to Kaluga this afternoon after a LONG journey yesterday (3 hour drive to the airport, 2 hour flight to NYC, a LONG wait in NYC and then a long wait on the tarmac in the plane, and then finally to Moscow about 1:00 this afternoon).

Joyously, NO problems other than the length of trip and that we were both tired to start with. Our luggage made it safely, and we did too. Now crashed in our hotel in Kaluga and trying to unpack and VERY HAPPY to have internet access this time. We're headed out tomorrow to see Karina (about 1 in the afternoon) and then court on Tuesday morning.

Seriously, SO MANY thanks to all of you for your words of support and your prayers. I am just going to try to relax now and enjoy the journey. Love you all!

From Kaluga, with much love,
Carolynn (and Stevie, too!)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Four More Days...

In four days we leave for Russia (Friday, that is--I think that's four days. My brain is sadly in "what the?... Squirrel!" mode at the moment. )

I think the important stuff is done. We have tickets, we have visas, we have pictures for court and clothes for court. All that is really left to do is figure out what to pack and then pack it. I'd really like to tak a bunch of the stuff that we'll need for trip 3 and leave it there, so I'm trying to think of that stuff.

There is, however, all of the stuff of life here that still needs to get done. Two lectures to still finish up, a few papers (about 14 to grade) and all of that to make sure I finish before I can leave. I'd really like to come home and have my final exams ready to give on the next Monday....

I'm making lists. Anything that should be on them???

Oh, and I AM reading people's blogs---I'm just too darned scatterbrained to leave interesting or coherent comments!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

....and the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon....

I realize that the Harry Chapin reference will date me, but I just couldn't resist.....Hope you all have a great weekend!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Just when you think it's safe to be excited...EDITED

I JUST found out that our homestudy agency is back on the new MOE blacklist. This may be an issue. It may not. Please, please pray that it is not.

Thanks. I'm a bit numb right now....

***Edited**** I just got off the phone with Carol at the agency. She said "don't worry" and that Kaluga has not been a region that has paid much if any attention to the blacklist. I'm going to try to "not worry" but I'm afraid that I won't be very good at it!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Plane tickets have been reserved, and visa applications went in the mail (Overnight) this morning. We leave on Friday the 4th and come home on Wednesday the 9th, if all works out as it should. We're going to be flying Aeroflot part of the way, which should be interesting (I flew on Aeroflot when I went to Russia for the very first time in 1996, and it was an experience---not bad, just really interesting!) We also had to pay for expedited visas, since Thanksgiving holidays are in the midst of our visa processing time. BUT: we're GOING! I've been so preoccupied with everything that has to get done between now and then, that I haven't had time to let this all sink in! Perhaps when school stuff gets a bit more finalized (I'm going to have to miss the last week of classes) and I have time to breathe???

Anything else I should be doing? I have an outfit for court, and the photo album is done. Is there something I'm forgetting????

We now return you to our regularly-scheduled program. Perhaps it's "Pigs in Space???"

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Carol emailed us this morning to let us know that we have a court date: Tuesday, December 8. We may have her home the day after Christmas, if all works out for the best!
Christmas in Moscow, baby! Thanks to all of you for the prayers!!!!!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Under Construction: Nursery in the Works.

Ok, so there was no news this week---apparently our judge is in the hospital (!!!) and they've passed our case on to a different judge in Kaluga. We "might" hear something this week. Might.

So, we take you from the regularly-scheduled program of ................nothing................ to something that might be of actual interest: the progress on the nursery. It's not done yet (I'm a bit OCD about these things, and there's still stuff to do, like hang the quilt on the wall, pick up the pictures I had framed at Michael's and hang them, get organizer baskets, etc.,) but the state of the nursery is much more interesting than just "no news"!

I have to give a huge shout out here to my beloved and talented sister, the Princess Susan. She not only painted the tree on the wall (and I HAVE to tell you that she's not done or she'll kill me!) but she also designed and created the window treatments. Another HUGE thank you to her boyfriend Brad, who donated a whole afternoon of work and his tools to the project of putting together the furniture. They have both been rocks for us during this process, and we wouldn't be anywhere as close to done as we are without them.

Note that I also totally stole ideas from you guys--we have the same crib as Shelley, and the rosy-cheeked doll was part of Kristine's nursery!

Hope that you all have a great week---I'll be back soon!

Friday, November 6, 2009

No news this week...

No court date this week. We did hear that the judge in Kaluga has looked at some of our documents, because we were asked to get a copy of the Homestudy Agency's new license to Moscow asap. It was scanned and emailed on Monday, and the "real" notarized and apostilled document is being carried over this weekend by a family who is traveling with CSS. A huge thank you to that family, if you're reading this; you helped speed up this process for us! I hope that all of your travels go smoothly!

I wanted to post tonight about our 8-Doctor medical exam in Moscow on trip one, primarily because it was so different from what other families have described, and because I wanted to perhaps prepare people who are headed over in the future who may go through the same process.

First of all, Carol had told us that we needed to take with us our actual chest x-rays (not on a CD or DVD), along with a letter from our doctor stating that they were clear of TB. In addition, we took over copies of the bloodwork results for each of us, with each page signed and the results noted by our doctor. It turned out that it was incredibly helpful that we had all of this with us.

On Friday of trip one (we got to Moscow from Kaluga on Thursday, about 2:00 or so), we were picked up by our Moscow driver and translator and taken to what our translator Katya called the "Presidential Medical Clinic". It was very near Moscow State University. I asked if this is where the president goes for medical care; she told me that she didn't think so, but that his staff and government officials are patients there. We entered what looked to me like a gatehouse (in the picture below)

We had to have special permission to enter--a lady who works to facilitate this process met us there, got us special passes to enter the compound, and then went with us to the exam.
The "exam" itself was in a very large building that looked more like an apartment building or office building than it did a clinic. We entered the main door, and were taken to a small waiting room that was right across the entryway. We took off our coats, were offered a drink of water, and about 10 minutes or so later were ushered into what I can only describe as a "big ol' conference room." This room was BIG. It was paneled in what looked like expensive wood paneling, some interesting art was hanging on the walls, and in the middle of the room was this very large oval wooden table. We were asked to sit down on a small couch on one side of the table. On the other side of the table were at least 9 doctors, all in their white medical coats. Only one of them was male.
The proceedings then seriously resembled my defense of my master's thesis. The doctors asked us questions, and our translator translated the questions and our answers. We were asked about our childhood diseases, if we had ever had surgery or a blood transfusion, if we had any chronic medical condtions, etc. One of the doctors asked how we handled stress. It would have been like any other meeting with a doctor except there were ALL of them on one side of a table and we were on the other. It was incredibly intimidating. They went through our bloodwork reports with the proverbial fine toothed comb. Steve had a reaction to his TB test, and they asked about the size of the reaction--and then noted it was mentioned on his paperwork. They looked at our chest x-rays (there was a lightbox on the wall behind them). No one smiled. Holy cow.
They then asked us if, one at a time, we would have our actual physical exams. There was an alcove at the side of this large room, and there was a standing screen in front of an exam table. Steve went first, and about 5-6 of the doctors took turns examining him. Nothing was invasive, but they did ask him to strip down to his underwear and checked him for skin cancer, they checked his heart and lungs, the neurologist tested his reflexes and balance, and another doctor checked his eyes, ears, throat, and abdomen. After he was done, I did the same thing. At this point, the doctors did loosen up a bit, and the neurologist actually smiled and told me "relax, it's ok!" (I think that was right before my bracelet fell on the floor and rolled away and they chased it down for me!) There was nothing invasive, but the oncologist doctor did do a breast exam. I will say that there was nothing that hasn't happened in a regular yearly checkup with our own doctor at home. No needles, no speculum, and I kept on my underwear. By the time my exam happened, the male doctor was gone.
At this point, the doctors began to drift away. We just had to wait for them to sign all of the documents, and put their stamp on them. Some of them then actually smiled at us, used their cell phones, and a couple even told us good luck. We paid for the exams, and got back a receipt saying that we were registered with the clinic, and that we could use the clinic for the next 3 months if we needed it (part of the contract, I think). The whole process lasted only about an hour and a half. Katya (our translator) said that this is a new method for doing the medical exams, and that it was quite a bit quicker than in the past. It was nice that it was quick, but it was a bit of a surprise!
The best news of all--we passed!

Friday, October 30, 2009

The lights are on, but is anyone home???

This morning, I went to my office per normal.

I stood outside my office for about a minute and a half, and became increasingly frustrated as I could not get my office door unlocked.

I then realized that I was trying to open my office door by using my car remote clicker. I was actually pointing my car remote at the office door and pressing the "unlock" button.

Thank goodness it is Friday!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Completely Random....

Here's the deal.

My brain apparently has ceased functioning as it used to. I now have a serious case of Adoption Mommy ADD. (AMADD that would be, I'm thinking).

I sat down last weekend with full intention of posting a very thought-provocative, informative blog post about our time in Kaluga. I ended up posting some pictures, that, now that I look at them are like "What was that about? Was some crazy person running around Kaluga with a camera?" Now that I think about how to explain what I was thinking, I am at a loss. I will attempt to post the explanation for all of this sometime, but in this mental state I can't promise when that will be. I just don't know.

The baby furniture arrived Tuesday morning. Steve and our friend Brad spent most of yesterday afternoon putting most of it together. I just wandered in and out and offered to help and made white chili and bread for dinner. It all went pretty well, except for the part where they put the base of the dresser on the wrong end, and then all the drawers would have needed to go in upside down! It was easily fixed, they told me.

I stayed up way late last night making up the bed with the dust ruffle and sheet bumper pad. It is WAY cute--if I wasn't so big, I would have crawled in myself. I was sort of prepared for class today---it went fine, but toward the end of my lecture (about the unification of Germany) my brain just sort of went on shut down, and I found myself repeating myself--a lot! I am worried that my students are concerned about my sanity!

We did hear today that all of our documents are IN KALUGA! Now we're just waiting for the judge to check them over and issue the court date.

And there is SO much to do. I have about 40 papers to grade, find something to wear to court, get the court photo album head is spinning!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Kaluga---Pictures From Trip One

The sign on the gates of the Baby Home in Kaluga---we're almost there!

Tsiolkovsky's grave in Kaluga--more about him to come!

Marker at the southern entrance to Kaluga--we didn't come into the city this way, but Vladimir drove us south out of town so that we could see and cross the Oka River. Kaluga was founded in 1371, so it's an old town!

Afternoon meal that we splurged on at the Black Bull restaurant! We had "Buffalo Wings" and "Onion Rings" as our appetizers (ok, we were really hungry at this point!)

Part of the Cosmonaut Museum in Kaluga--Tsiolkovsky, the Russian father of space travel, was from Kaluga, and the Cosmonaut Museum was located there in his honor and named after him.

Part of the main cathedral of Kaluga. The cathedral was built in the late 1700s for Catherine the Great's visit to the city. It's amazingly beautiful inside, and recently restored (some restoration is still taking place).

The view from the Cosmonaut Museum. Nadia told us this is part of the Kaluga reservoir

The WWII Victory monument about 4 blocks from our hotel in Kaluga. It looked really cool with all the lights at night. I'm hoping for a better picture on our next visit!

The view from our hotel room window of the Cathedral of John the Baptizer. We went to church services here on Sunday morning, and you could hear the bells ringing twice a day for services while we were there.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

One Month

We have now been home from Russia one month. One month and no news. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Squat.

The first couple of weeks were relatively easy. We were both SICK and we had an amazing backload of stuff to get caught up with, and then daily stuff that just needed doing.

But the last couple of weeks have been tough. We celebrated K's birthday last weekend by going out to dinner and registering for stuff at Tar-zhay and Babies-is-us. It was fun to shop (without spending much) but there were so many things that are still "wait and see." What kind of diapers, what kind of bottles, etc., etc. It all brings home that she's not here with us.

And I'll be honest. I am NOT focused on my job. I still do it, and I think I'm doing an ok job, but I just do not care about it like I used to. I have let some things slide that I normally wouldn't (granted, I did need to let some things slide!), but my heart is just not there. Even teaching Russian history is not as much fun as it used to be. I have papers to grade that I just don't even want to read (ok, granted, grading is NEVER fun, but I don't think I've ever put them off this long).

It doesn't help that so many caring people ask, "so when are you going back? Do you have any news?" I know they are trying to show that they care, but after answering for the umpteenth time each day, I feel like people are just tired of hearing, "nope."

This IS tough.

Sorry for the rant...I do feel a bit better now.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Steve's Posting--Karina's Odyssey

This was my beloved husband's letter in the church newsletter a couple of weeks ago. Just thought I would share it with you all, since it touched me so much!


The Odyssey is an epic poem by the Greek poet, Homer, (not Homer Simpson, just in case you were uncertain about that ;-) ). In this poem the hero Odysseus, goes upon a long and eventful journey, with perils and adventures along the way as he tries to make his way home, to a loving wife and son. There are many obstacles in his way, some of them seeming to be insurmountable, but Odysseus doesn’t give up, but just keeps striving to move closer and closer to home, in spite of those obstacles.

This past week felt a little like that for me, as Carolynn and I made our way nearly half way around the world, a journey of literally thousands of miles, in search of a little girl who was waiting for the ones who would give her love, a home, a family. There were some obstacles to overcome (long flights and the accompanying jet-lag, not always knowing what was coming next, some language barriers, and the nagging concern that there were people who still could say “No, we’re sorry, you aren’t healthy enough or young enough, or something… enough”). We also didn’t know what we would find as far as Karina’s health was concerned. While we were hoping for the best, and praying for God’s healing, there was a chance that something that had already happened could have done permanent damage (though we should have remembered that with God there is no permanent damage, just as without God there can be no permanent joy).

Being in a place where there are lots of signs around you, but most of which you can’t read, was a reminder to me of just how much it would stink to be illiterate (I even found myself searching the billboard ads to see if there was a word or two I could recognize). But for all of that, we had many blessings along the way as well. Two young Russian men, who though they could have taken care of their business with us in 2 minutes and left us there to wait alone for our contact, instead stayed with us until it was certain that we had made our connection as we energetically hammered away at the language barrier between us. There was a beautiful worship experience at the Russian Orthodox Chapel (2+ hours standing up, so not for wimps, but a full house with many young people and children in attendance). We also met a young woman who was trying to restore a church in her region, to try to combat their local crime problem. The priest told us to give the offering that we were going to give to his church, to this woman instead. It felt like a real “God thing”, being able to be an answer to prayer is always cool. J Nearly all of the people we met along our journey were friendly to us, some of them over and above what might normally be expected. We found the orphanage staff to be helpful, and genuinely concerned for the children in their care (this made it a little easier to face having to leave Karina behind this trip, though that was still very hard). The orphanage itself was getting ready to celebrate 70 years of service on their anniversary (which just happened to be the same day as my birthday, hmmm…). It was pretty clean and in relatively good repair (better than either of us expected to find).

But by far the greatest blessing of all was being able to meet Karina, who though she was also meeting us for the first time, seemed to gather us in to her world and accept us as if it were always meant to be. Though she was teething she still was a trooper, keeping a smile on her face most of the time. And teaching me that it really doesn’t take any time at all to be in love, and to also be able to see the joy in Carolynn’s face as she held her and played with her, helped us both to feel this long odyssey was still headed toward a home where God will continue to bless us all as we travel this road together.

Thanks so much to all of you, for your prayers, and encouragement, we are one step closer to “home”. And we thank God for this chance to share this joy with all of you.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Happy Birthday, Baby K

Today is Baby K's first birthday. It has been difficult to think of much else today, since we would have really liked it if she were here to celebrate her birthday with us.

The wait has not been too bad until this last week. Probably because we've both been so busy since we got back from Kaluga that we haven't really had time to process all that happened yet. What with the LONG trip home, and then being sick as soon as we got home, in many ways it has felt like I just woke up from this very strange dream in which I dreamed I have a baby in Russia!

I know that we haven't waited a long time, especially compared with many other families, and I can't imagine how difficult this is (or has been for them). My prayers are with all of you who are still waiting for your child to be a part of your family. I will have to say that THIS waiting, between first and second trips, is different from waiting for the first trip to even happen. In some ways, this is easier--we know what we're waiting for, and why we're waiting. On the other hand, there are ways in which it is more difficult--we know her now, and in some ways don't understand why she isn't already here. I know that, perhaps just a year from now, we'll look back on all this and say that it was just part of the process, but now it is just not that much fun at all.

So, Happy Birthday, baby K. Know that there is a family who wishes you were here, and who can't wait to get you home so that you can blow out your candles, eat cake, and be loved and hugged to pieces!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Trip 1--Days 1 and 2

At SVO in Moscow! We're met by Dmitrii and Victor, two great Methodist guys!

The video monitor on the plane---we're finally here!

On the plane to Moscow---I'm guessing this was early in the flight, because Steve looks really well-rested!

September 18 and 19---We leave for and arrive in Russia for Trip 1

(Ok, yes I know this is a bit late--wanted to at least give you some info on what we did while we were there, since my laptop was not behaving properly in Russia!)

The trip over was interesting--we were able to fly from the new Springfield airport to Atlanta, and from there non-stop to Moscow. We got to the Springfield airport WAY early, because they wouldn't let us pre-book our seats (many thanks to Lin who not only drove us there, but picked us up on the homebound trip when we were seriously delayed in Atlanta by weather).

We also found out, belatedly, that there's no food service inside security yet in the Springfield airport--if you want to eat, you have to do it on the other side. We settled for bananas and snacks that we'd brought from home.

The flight from Springfield to Atlanta was on a teeny plane--not as small as the puddle-jumper I used to fly from St. Louis to Columbia, but almost. There actually was a flight attendant, this time.

In Atlanta we had a few hours to wait for the Moscow plane. We made use of the time by finding our way to the international concourse (the signs in the Atlanta airport are somewhat confusing--they need to have signs that say "look behind you") and by having something to eat. We chose TGIFridays because we could sit at a table and have someone wait on us--a step up from the food court food. The rest of the time we just waited, read, and tried to rest up for the journey.

The plane from Atlanta to Moscow was ok---very crowded, with lots of Russian-speaking people. It was at this point that Steve commented that he probably should have reviewed his Russian language tapes a couple of times. Both of the movies (Night at the Museum 2 and Star Trek) had Russian characters--go figure. We both slept a little. When we arrived in Moscow, they "took our temperature" to see if we had swine flu as we were getting off the plane. This was completely non-invasive. They just pointed this thing that looked like a radar gun at us as we were walking off. I didn't see them stop anyone. I guess that we all passed---or we weren't speeding, anyway!

The movement through passport control and customs was the fastest I have ever seen it be at SVO. We must have been through in about 30 minutes. We did have to wait for our luggage, but even that was not a huge problem--we were just glad it made it with us!

(OK, at this point it has now become day 2--you lose so much time when you travel east!)

Now the story gets sort of different from many other peoples'. You see, (1) we were supposed to be met by "someone" from our agency, probably a woman, and (2) we had this coat. Ah, the coat story!

Time for "flashback" sequence here: about 7 years ago, I went on my first mission trip to Russia. One of the guys on the trip, Mike, has such a heart for Russian missions, and was just there about a month or two ago. They had met a man that trip who was working with the church in Russia who needed a winter coat. Mike asked me if I would be willing to take a coat over, and of course I couldn't turn him down. We had stuffed this rather large coat into the top of one of our suitcases (thanks to my amazing packer of a husband). Mike had told me that he would have someone meet us at SVO when we got there to pick up the coat. So.....

Back to the story---we're waiting in SVO (we actually got there early) for these people. And we waited. And waited. Finally, Victor and Dmitry (who I knew from before and was very glad to see) showed up to get the coat. We talked in their ok English and our pitiful Russian for quite awhile, (actually Steve and Victor started sharing pastor stories) but they were clearly worried that there was no one there to meet us. So they were going to wait with us. That was very cool. So we were all standing around. For awhile....

Finally, this poor guy comes up to us and asks if we are the Burbees. He's clearly distraught, and says that he's been waiting for two couples. He's been looking for two couples together, and hasn't seen them. Of course, we've been standing there talking to Dmitry and Victor. We don't look like who he's been waiting for. His only clue was that we had our ex-rays with us, and they were clearly labled "BURBEE". Now the problem was what had happened to the other couple.

Ok, I had talked with the wife of the other couple that week, and knew they were coming over for court about the same time we would be there, but didn't think they were coming that day. We didn't know them to see them, and hadn't met them on the plane. After waiting around, and then Ivan looking around and talking to the people at the airport, he finally decided that they weren't coming that day, and there had been some misunderstanding--but there were several phone calls made to various people to make sure that they weren't being left there. I can say this to all the people who are with our agency--they aren't going to leave you behind at the airport unless you are hiding someplace! Ivan was very thorough. (They did arrive the next day, in case any of you are still worried!)

We told Dmitrii and Victor goodbye and headed for the van with Ivan. We then made the about 3 hour drive to Kaluga. Let's just say that most Russian drivers are pretty aggressive, and Vasilly our driver is no different. I told Steve that I will never again complain about his driving! I actually don't remember much about the trip to Kaluga--I do know that we drove by Vnukovo (I saw the airplane out by the airport), and that after we got out of Moscow the traffic wasn't too bad. We both dozed on and off for awhile.

When we got to the hotel in Kaluga, we met our Kaluga translator, Nadia. Nadia is Ivan's grandmother, and a former college professor of English. We checked into our room, and then Nadia took us to dinner at "The Wall". For those of you who haven't been there, the elevators at the hotel are tiny, and they sort of clank/rattle as they work. A bit disconcerting the first time you use them, but you sort of look forward to it after awhile. "The Wall" was ok--we were the only people actually eating there (it was at an odd time--about 4 or so in the afternoon), and we were entertained by videos of a guy named Robbie Williams singing pop songs in English. The food was ok, too...the soup was good, and the main courses were pretty decent, with sort of odd names (I had the pork deja vu--that's what it was called. We wondered if it was pork that reminded you of pork you had eaten before. It didn't.)

After dinner, Nadia took us to the grocery store to buy water and a few basic supplies. The grocery store was well-stocked with nice looking (and some expensive) items. Bottled water was very reasonable, and we got some milk and bread and other stuff. We walked back along the main street of the city (Kirov Street) and looked at the large amounts of reconstruction going on (even the hotel was under "restoration" while we were there!)

When we got back to the hotel we both crashed---hard. Before we even had much of a chance to try out the modem we had rented from the hotel. It would continue to frustrate and not work while we were there, but I think the fault was with my laptop and not the modem. We did get our money back, after much insistence from Nadia with the people at the hotel. However, after sleeping for about an hour or so, we both woke up about 11:00 because fireworks were going off near the hotel. We found out later that it's part of the way that some people celebrate weddings!

Finally back to sleep. It was a LONG two days, but we're here! We had some good news from Nadia about baby K this afternoon--apparently she's sitting up on her own! YAY!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Hands and Feet.....

I think that I'm ok in posting these can't see anybody's face, but you can see some sweet little hands and feet!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Oh, my goodness...where do I even start???

So....I guess I should start with the big news first...because you all have been so very patient with me for the last few weeks. I'll explain the blogging absence in a bit, but I'll get right to the point here:

We got back from Russia LATE Saturday night. While we were there, we met the sweetest little girl in Kaluga, and we have officially signed the papers to petition the Kalgua court to adopt her. So, now we work on finishing up some "not quite so timely" paperwork, and getting things here ready to journey back for court.

We're both fighting colds (not sure if they came from Russia or since we've been home), so just basic stuff has been a bit of a struggle this week. Now that the weekend is here, I've decided that I HAVE to get you all caught up with what's been happening. I can't post all of it tonight, since my brain is a bit snot-filled, but I can give you some of the basic details, and then fill in other things later.

I stopped posting right after we had our fingerprints done--this was basically because we had sent the medical information that we had about baby Malibu to an IA doctor here in the US (in St Louis), and the IA doctor called us that week with an incredibly scary, worst-case-scenario report. We were both shocked, but we decided that we would pray about things and see what we felt led to do. We also managed to get hold of Dr. Togoyev in Russia, and asked him if he would follow up with some of the questions that our IA doctor had concerning bloodwork, etc. In the meantime, we received our visas, our fingerprint approval, and a bunch of other stuff that we needed to be able to go. And, there were just so many signs that we were supposed to go. We asked our close friends and our church to pray for baby Malibu, and to pray for us. But it was something that was very uncertain, and so we didn't feel comfortable telling everyone what exactly was going on---in part, because we weren't really sure. Up until the day we left, we knew we were supposed to go. We just didn't know exactly what we would find or what we were supposed to do about the referral, or how we were going to feel about potentially not accepting the referral. Looking back, I can see what a huge amount of stress this was--but at the time, we felt like we needed to keep things quiet from most people, mainly because it needed to be our decision.

The good news---God answered all those prayers! We met a little girl about whom we had really no doubts. The doctors' reports about her answered so many of the questions that our IA doctor had raised, and Dr. Togoyev's evaluation of her (which basically was the icing on the cake) was "take her home, love her, and she will be good." He said that he thought she was a completely different child from the one he had seen in June/July---she can sit up on her own, can stand up if you let her hold on to your fingers, and she is very responsive. I can't post pictures let, but let's just say that she is definitely a cutie-patootie!

So...more details later about our adventures in Kaluga and Moscow. We kept a journal for the first couple of days, but then we got tired and distracted by Malibu and sort of let that fall by the wayside. However, I will attempt to put those memories back together, so that I don't forget them, and so that I can share them with you all.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fingerprint "Challenged"

Yesterday, we went to have our fingerprints taken (again)--this time for the FBI clearance. By my count, this is the 5th time we've been fingerprinted since we began this journey. And I have a sneaking feeling it won't be the last.
Anyway, to explain. We had made an appointment at the Police Station in Springfield to have this done. They do the prints onto the card, and then you mail them to the FBI for processing. And of course, you pay for both services.

We got to the police station early, which was kind of good because there was almost no place to park. We ended up parking about a block away and walking. We were still early, but that was also good, because they went ahead and got us in (some other person had missed their appointment). Steve's were great--in fact, the technician told him he had perfect fingerprints. Mine were a different story. She did most of mine three to four times, and said, "well, I hope this is good enough." Apparently I have "fingerprint problems" :-( and I had been drinking huge amounts of water AND used moisturizer. I'm just hopeful now that the FBI will accept them!
The coolest part was that the technician who did our prints has a niece who was adopted from Russia--so she was very positive about the whole process, and was very patient with me and my fingerprint challenge. Amazing how God brings blessings into even the most frustrating of situations!