Saturday, December 12, 2009


We got her!!!

Yesterday, we got a call about 11 that we would leave in an hour and go to the orphanage and get Anya.That hour was VERY long, but once it passed we drove to the orphanage. Each trip takes about twice as long (or more) than it did in September because of the snow. This place is very hilly and there are some streets that are still not cleared, and others that are downhill only. They still have the army out clearing the roads and loading the plowed snow into trucks to be hauled off somewhere.

Anyway , got to the orphanage, complete with a bouquet of roses for the orphanage director. Cameron presented the roses to the director, and melted her heart. We got Anastasia in our arms finally, and she was as happy as we were. we got some pictures of all of us, then changed her out of the orphanages clothes(they keep everything except the diaper she is wearing). We got instructions and prescriptions from the doctor, then we got to say goodbye to her old home forever. Very exciting times for all of us. Just a little bit of adjustment for Cameron, but overall he is a model big brother. Very concerned and caring.


We went to the pharmacy to pick up her medicines, and stopped by the baby store again, to get diaper rash creme, then we made it to the hotel, just in time to eat dinner and then go to our room.

Anya wanted to walk all over the room, to feel the cold on the window, and to look at the TV. We figure she hasn't had this much freedom in her life, and definitely never has seen a TV. Cameron gets a kick out of having her run into his arms and let him pick her up.

They played together until around 8:30, which is her regular bedtime. She resisted vigorously until she rocked herself to sleep around midnight. She only woke one time at four in the morning and was back out in fifteen minutes. She finally woke up at nine thirty and was ready to eat and play right away.

We won't be doing anything today, but playing and bonding. I hope to Skype with a few people and post more pictures of her soon. The weather is supposed to turn much colder and stay that way, but Cameron got a snow suit the other day, so I'll take him out later on until he gets tired or I freeze solid.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Oh My

Just checked the weather forecast for here. Most of next week temp will not get into the TWENTIES!!

Yikes! That sounds cold and miserable. This just after I checked Facebook and my Mother in Law posted pics of them at the beach in beautiful seventy degree weather.....

Different day, same story......

We got a call from Oksana. She had spoken to the orphanage and they have elected to keep Anastasia another day for observation. She appears well, and if she wakes up tomorrow OK, they say we can get her in the afternoon.

All this is starting to sound a lot like our flight over, preparation, anticipation, then consternation. I guess it is the way of the Russian people. Kind of a hurry up and wait mentality. It is getting hard to sit still in the room and just wait and wait. We have been here now starting on our fourth day and we have only seen Anya for a total of about fifteen minutes before our hearing. Very frustrating. It is killing Cameron. He is so excited to see her and play with her. We got a letter under our door yesterday announcing that one of the adoptive families is sponsoring a party up in the White Rabbit, sort of a gathering/ game room upstairs for the adoptive families to gather and socialize. He had hoped to have her by then to "show her off". He was crushed when we got the news of the further delay and went into the corner and cried.

This will give us yet another day to go out and shop for clothes and such. Weather reports look like there may be a day of freezing rain and ice coming, then a drop to bitter cold temperatures yet again. We hope to get as our driver Dimitri, since he is jolly and has at least a small grasp of English.

Travel Redux

OK Here is the first installment of the travel tale.

The scene opens with a view of a darkened hotel room. Cue the ringing of a phone....
Our first wake up call. New Orleans Airport Holiday Inn. 5AM.

Cut to a view of the inside of an airplane. the hum of the engines, the murmur of people talking, the rattling of the drink cart going down the aisles. Cameron wants to take pictures of us going to Russia.

(Sad to say, but this is the BEST we will look for the next four days.)

Washington Dulles Airport.   Next scene opens with the noise of airport terminal announcements.  People rushing, jostling. Tension in the air as people rush to their connections.Cameron wants to carry(roll) his carry on, but it keeps tipping over and he gets frustrated and starts whining....

We ahve landed in Washington, it is 9:30 AM, and our connection to Moscow Domdedovo Airport departs at 4:45PM. Our first layover is seven hours...

Hard to keep a six year old entertained and stationary in a place designed for adults to move quickly through.

The flight to Moscow is on United airlines. United is a fine enough American airline company, and the individuals we met that worked with us were uniformly helpful and efficient, but after you have flown Korean airline, you are spoiled forever. We had prepared Cameron and ourselves for the experience Leanna and I enjoyed on our first trip over on Korean Air. Plush seating, gourmet food, amazing service, and exceptional in flight entertainment. The United experience was, well, NOTHING like that. Cameron was let down because he was expecting seat back movies, games and music all designed for individual selection. Each seat with on demand DVD, Nintendo, and 21 music stations to chose from through your individual headphone. What we got instead was one movie selection, ten scratchy music channels, and no inflight games, except for what I could pull up on my phone, which was rapidly losing its charge.

We tried to sleep fitfully, Cameron and I got a couple of hours at a time. Leanna was all nerves and ears, and the three hundred dollar investment in noise canceling headphones turned out to be a waste for her. She says she slept only about an hour on this leg of the trip. We arrived in Moscow about 10:30 the next day, Friday.

This is where the fun starts....

We get off the plane, and know we have an eleven hour layover. We aren't sure if our baggage is checked all the way through to Vlad or if we have to claim our baggage and take it through customs or not. We approach an airline representative. No english, and no translator. We are good at charades, but difficult higher level communication does not serve our talents very well. They shrug and pass us on the passport control. We make ti through passport control. We are the last onmes through because of the delay at the information (Yeah right) booth. We go through the passport check and can't figure out which flight is ours and which one of the five baggage courosels has our bags. Turns out none of them does anymore. We see some worker wheeling our bags toward the unclaimed baggage room. I run over to him and convince him that these are our bags, and we look at the long line to go through customs.

We go over and talk to the information stand , to ask our question again. This sign is printed in english and cyrillic, so we feel confident we can get an answer,..... no luck. This repre sentative has NO ides what we are asking , so she asks us to wait a moment while she talks to her boss. The boss comes over (Oh shit), and motions us to another area, where no one else is standing. At this point we don't know WHAT is going on, but we roll our baggage cart behind him, and he takes us through two locked doors and motions for us to go through. LO AND BEHOLD- He has walked us out of the customs checkpoint entirely! We couild have carried a case of contraband or a nuclear warhead in our bags nad no one would have known!

We walk into Moscow airport. At this point we are a little more than 24 hoiurs into our travel, and looking forward to an 11 hour layover here. We had tried to locate an airport hotel room to shower and rest, but our travel agent couldn't locate one, and the flight attendants had warnded us against trying to locate one on our own. So, at this point, we try to find a comfortable place to spend the next several hours. (all together now, Yeah Right).

Airports are essentially the same the world over, just different degrees of misery and nastiness. This particular airport is an amalgam of 1970's soviet era bus station vibe, with newer, much more modern gates and concourse areas. We don't discover this though, until we have spent several hours in the bus station section of the airport. We were tired , and disoriented and found the first empty seats and planted ourselves for what we expected to be the most unpleasant part of our trip.

We got something to eat, and watched the people parade go by. Napping is a challenge. the seats are cold, pressed aluminum and impossible to lay or even slump over in. Cameron ended up sleeping on coat on the floor beneath us. Leanna and I took turns watching our bags, and our son, while the other takes short forays to discover, phones, bathrooms, retaurants, and much to my delight, vending machines which sell many tyupes of beer. (we tried a couple).

It is noisy, hot, brightly lit, and throughly uncomfortable. Time seems to stand still. We watch the gray leaden sky turn to red, then black. No sun was seen at all today.

Have any of you watched the movie The Terminal? It is a movie starring Tom Hanks and he lives in an airport for a period of time. Watch it. That was us.

Eventually , time grinds around the clockface and we are getting close to two hours until scheduled departure. It is almost 8 oclock and we are to leave at 9:50. We hear an announcement which mentions something about Vladivostock so our ears perk up. I stumble to the departures screen and see something in cyrillic in red behind our flight number, NOT good. They are announcing a delay for departure for our flight. That much we get. We can't find out the reason for the delay, but at this point, theres not much else we can do, so we wait.

We have discovered the newer, nicer section of the airport. Still pressed aluminum seats but at least no armrests so cameron can lay down an sleep some. We sit next to a Russian woman who speaks good English, and she explains that we are delayed because of weather systems moving across. (cue foreboding music- duh duh DUHHH)

lego man
So, we wait. 

and wait some more.

Finally, we are instructed to go down the concourse and to guess what?   wait some more.

We finally have a gate and a departure time time. We notice out the window that there are a few snow flakes drifting down through the shafts of light. Leanna and Cameron get a sandwich at the terminal restuarant.

We are instructed to board our aircraft after eighteen hours in the Moscow airport. The final leg of our journey awaits.......This is 3AM, after twelve hours on airplanes, and twenty three hours of layovers and delays. I can't tell you how many time zones, cruddy minutes of sleep, or second guesses about what we did to deserve this.

Second half to come.

Plane takes off, lights go out after security announcements, then dizzy, spinning, fade to black....


So I thought yesterday would be a good day to catch up on the blog entries, and do a little shopping. As it turns out, it was an even better day to just lay around and nap and rest from the previous five days. Two naps and two movies, several chapters out of a book, and the day was gone. Went to bed early, now it Thursday morning, and we all feel much better.

Cameron is busy making decorations for our room. He is determined to have the entire suite decorated for the holidays. Its a good diversion for him, and gives him something to do.

We should hear from the orphanage this morning and see when/if we can go get Anya today. Keep your fingers crossed!!

Its kind of weird here, its been awhile since I've been this far north in the winter. The daylight just starts to peek through at 8AM, and doesn't get bright until after 8:30. Sunset starts around 4:30, and it's dark by 5PM. Sure wish this suite had a fireplace or wood stove included. This is primo snuggling weather.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Can you guess where the car is??

This is the court reporter, me, Leanna, the prosecutor, and the Judge after the court hearing.

See what the weather is like here!!

Vladivostock Weather

We really shouldn't be suprised.

Another glitch in the program......We got to the orphanage, after shopping for food for the suite, and going to the baby store for things to care for Anya, only to find out that she awoke from her nap this afternoon with a slight fever. The medical team felt it would be best to get her checked out by the pediatrician when she comes by tomorrow. Probably a good idea since we could not carry any antibiotics over for her and we need to rule out an ear infection, or an upper respiratory infection.

It was very disappointing, especially for Cameron. He was so excited about getting her home and playing with her. He cried on the way back home to the hotel.

We will talk to Oksana tomorrow and hear what the doctor says about her fever. The possibility exists that we can get her home with us on Thursday. Maybe I'll be able to catch up on the Blog and update the trip over info.
airport delays............
Kharabovsk street scene

Father knows best

Well, my Dad came through with the bestcomment to the blog so far. He commented, "Enough about the snow! What about Anya?"
Dads kind of a cut to the chase kinda guy, so here it is. I will comment in real time for now, and use flashbacks to catch you up on our great adventure of the trip over.

So here's the deal. Made it here. Got to see Anastasia. Went to court. Got awarded custody. Went to bed. Got up and ate. Now we are going to leave in a few minutes to go shopping, since we neglected to pack ANY of the dozen or so boots and stuff we already bought for Anastasia. After that , we go to the orphanage and pick her up. The orphanage  director has agreed to allow us to keep her with us for the ten day period, so we"ll be able to bond and get acquainted with one another. We are all very excited, as you can imagine. The days will be MUCH more full than we expected. Yea!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

dog sleds seem like a good option

As I wrote on my facebook page, I've got enough material just about our trip over for a play or a book. We haven't even made it to Vlad yet. The weather turned nasty and snowy so we were redirected to a town north of vlad. we spent several hours at the airport, then got sent to a hotel for the night. now we have been told for the fourth time, first at 8:30AM, then 12:00, then 4:00, then this time at 8:00PM, to show up in the hotel lobby and a van will come get us and take us to the airport. Each time they send us back up with a new promise of an imminent departure.

It has been snowing since we went to bed last night, now all day too. At least eight inches so far. Cameron has been loving it. We went out for his first snowball fight and we made snow ice cream with the snow off the ledge of our window. Its really very pretty but terribly cold. We planned on buying snow boots when we got here since there isn't much of a selection of snow boots in the stores in Mobile for some reason. We really could use a pair right about now.

I've got a few hours before our next muster down in the lobby so I'm gonna try to download some pictures off the camera and try to organize all the many topics to plan on for future entries.

While Im at it- a little housekeeping.....

I've already been told that I have some typos in here. If anybody knows how to turn on the spell check on these entries chime in. I've been told before that I am a good writer, never have I been told that Im a good speller.

Also, it appears that in my first blog entry I mentioned that I am 44 years old. That is completely untrue. I must've been feeling sprightly that day. Truth is, I'm fourty six now, but after almost four days in the same clothes, no razor and only about ten hours sleep, I'm feeling about sixty six. My bad.

Finally , and worst of all, I mentioned that Ray had volunteered to drive us to New Orleans to drop us off Wednesday. I was vigorously corrected by Rays wonderful wife Janet, on this fact. Janet pointed out that it was in fact she, after a couple of glasses of wine, who volunteered BOTH of them to drive us, and Ray was too much of a gentleman to go back on the promise.  Mea Culpa. We do want to thank them both for the two and a half hour trip over and back on our behalf.