Friday, March 26, 2010

Our last visit

Boy did we take tons of pictures and short videos on this day! We just wanted to soak up every second we had with Connor not knowing exactly when we would be back. At the time we thought we would be back mid-June because we had been told he had to be one year old at the time of court. With all of the delays we had with Travis in the back of our mind we weren't completely sure what would happen. We were so lucky to be back at the end of May and be bringing him home mid-June! We got so lucky the second time around.
He loved the buttons on my sweater. Early on we could tell how curious and inquisitive he was.
We could also see that everything found its way into his mouth! (This is the total opposite of how Travis was!)
Daddy and Connor enjoyed playing around with his Diamondback's hat. He looks pretty cute. This week he has been wearing his own baseball hat around the house. He loves hats!
It was evident that these two adored each other even after only spending few hours together over 4 days.
It was hard to leave this little guy behind. I got a little teary eyed and I could tell Daryle was holding back a bit. We knew we had to get home to Travis and we also felt that Connor was in a very good place. As we left we hoped and prayed that we would be back in no time at all. Those must have been some pretty powerful prayers because we were back in just two short months!
While we were there Daryle enjoyed taking Tyson out for his nightly walk outside. Notice how I am dressed appropriately for 20-30 degree weather. (Don't worry, my scarf and coat had been cleaned after the incident on Tuesday!)
Now notice how my crazy husband is dressed!! Anatoly called him "hot man" because he stopped wearing his coat. I guess he wasn't cold. Whatever! That's Daryle, a perpetual rebel.
For those of you who have stuck with me through this trip down memory lane, thank you! I mostly just wanted to document some of our memories. I realized that I hadn't done that a year ago, I think it was mostly in part due to the fact that so much has to be kept confidential. Now that he has been home almost a year and we have done 2 post-placement reports I think it is ok to write down some of these details. I really don't think anybody is going to hop on a plane and come get him and take him back!! Who knows it may just help someone who is going through their own adoption process.
Our adoption of Connor was an amazing experience from day 1. We weren't really sure if we would have more children and then all of a sudden one day a light bulb went on in our heads and we realized we needed to go back. It all went so quickly. We know how lucky we are. I read other blogs all the time and there are A LOT of families out there who started the process at the same time as us or BEFORE us and they are still not home with their child yet. I can't explain why this happens. However, I do believe with all my heart that we all have a destiny and things do happen when they are supposed to. Having faith (and lots of it!) is what got us through both of our adoptions. I'm not saying it is an easy road, it isn't for everybody. What I do know is that my boys are perfect for us and they fit into our family as if they were our biological children. I honestly don't even know the difference, these are our children in every way. The love is unconditional all the way around. I may not have stretch marks or have carried my children for 9 months or actually given birth. However, when my final days do come I can't even begin to imagine what the stretch marks on my heart will look like because that is where I have carried these boys from the beginning. And when it comes down to it, that's all that really matters anyway. That we were all loved and we were a family.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Third visit, one year ago

Look at this sign, this was taken from the main road and points the way to the baby home #17. It is nestled among several other apartment buildings in a neighborhood type area. On this particular day we did not get to go to the music room with Connor because there was some sort of meeting going on in there. So, we got to go downstairs to a completely different room. It was an odd room with paneling on the walls, a small couch and not much else. It seemed to have been decorated in the 1960's, I sort of felt like I was in the Jungle Room at Graceland. (If you have been there then you know what I mean!) We did get a peek in the room that was adjacent to where we were. Here is what we saw.

It appears to be some kind of physical therapy/sensory type room for the children. While we were there they brought a few children in and then closed the door so we couldn't watch them. We were told that all the children get a chance to go in this room a few times a month. I thought it was a pretty cool room actually. I wished we could have taken Connor in there on our visit though, that ball pit looked like a lot of fun!Then they finally brought Connor out to us! We let him sit on this little horse, he wasn't too sure what to do with it though!
Love those two bottom teeth!!
This giant bear was in the corner, I just had to get a quick picture of him by it. I don't think he saw the humor in it though! He looks a bit scared.

At the end of this visit we started to get a little sad as we knew we only had one more visit left until we had to leave for home without our baby boy. As we were leaving on this day we were greeted by a most handsome man as we were walking out the doorway. It turns out he was the orphanage director. (You always hear about these people, delays are always blamed on them. They tend to be mysterious people to adoptive parents.) He was quite tall and was wearing a blue suit. He had sandy brown hair and the most gorgeous green eyes. He carried himself quite well, like he was somebody of importance. He introduced himself to us, shook our hands, and asked if we had any questions for him. No, we didn't. We were in shock, it was if the president or the pope or somebody was standing in front of us. Our translator asked him about the lapel he was wearing on his suit and she later told us he had a position in Parliament. I'm not too sure exactly what that means, but evidently he wears a lot of hats over there. We met him again at court in May, he was still as handsome then as he was on that cold March day! We were quite impressed, he made a good impression that's for sure! I am sure he is enjoying (or has enjoyed!) the nice expensive bottle of liquor we brought him on our court trip. (Haha! Wink, wink) In the end, if it got Connor home a few months earlier it was surely worth every penny! Around this time we realized it was because of the relationship this man had with Alla that we got to meet Connor before he was one (a big "no no" in Moscow) and it got to count as our first trip. In May we learned that because Alla knew him we got court bumped up earlier because this man would be on vacation in June. If we didn't have court in May we would have to wait until September for court. She convinced him to have court earlier rather than later. I didn't mind too much when we were asked to bring a gift for his daughter and wife on our third trip, that backpack and bottle of perfume were worth getting Connor that much earlier. We for sure had angels watching over us through the whole process! (I know some people might look at these gifts as "bribes" but it is true that in Russia they are looked at as "gifts". In fact when we were with Svetlana we gave her a box of chocolates as a gift for staying with her in addition to what we paid her. She rushed to her room and gave us a box of chocolates for Travis. Gift giving really is a part of their culture.)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Second day with Connor

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing

Second Visit One Year Ago

Today I will share some pictures from our second visit to meet with Connor. We passed this church every day on the way to his baby home. I thought it was pretty plus when we got close to it I knew we were almost there!
Also on this particular day it was snowing! It only snowed this one day while we were there. We got a kick out of it, being that we don't get snow where we live. This was the view from our bedroom window, it was so pretty!
Connor was in Baby Home #17. From all appearances it seems to be a "good" orphanage. It was very clean and bright and they had lots of toys that were musical and brightly colored for the children to play with. For most of our visits we were in the music room. One time we saw a harp in there, they also had a piano, stereo system and some type of background that might be used for plays or performances. It was a large room. Around the edge of the carpet along the windows were these cute little chairs for the children to sit on.

On our way to the music room in the hallway were some bulletin boards that looked like this.
I don't know whose artwork this is, but I would like to believe it was from some of the older children who live in the baby home. (They are there until they turn 4 and then they move on to a different type of home.) Outside the window we noticed that somebody had built a snowman outside where the children go to play.
This was another view out the windows of the music room. You can see it must be a wonderful play area for the children in the warmer months of the year. We were told they play out there a lot and have lunches in the covered areas.
At last, we got to see and play with Connor again! He was more smiley this day!

We were already falling head over heels in love with this little guy. He has the cutest giggle and such a bright smile. Those two bottom teeth were just as sweet as can be too! We had an extra long visit this day, I think about 2 hours. He got really tired after about an hour and a half and then he fell asleep on me. It was the best feeling! I got to carry him down the hall, down some stairs and into the area where they put him to sleep. I didn't get to see his bed, they stopped me at the door. It sure was more than I saw in Travis' baby home. I think that by getting to see some areas of the home it made me feel a little more at ease knowing we would soon have to leave him and return home to Arizona to wait for court. I look at this picture and turn and look at him now and it is amazing how much he has grown and changed in one short year!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The first day we met Connor

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing

365 days ago exactly

I can hardly believe it was one year ago today that we met this darling little boy that would change our family forever!
Look at those eyes!!
The look on his face here made me want to pick him up, hide him in my coat and smuggle him right out of Baby Home #17! He looks sort of sad.
Last night I was looking back at my posts from last year while we were in Russia. There is a lot I didn't mention! I am going to recap some of it here so that I don't forget some of these stories. The day started out with a nice breakfast and we got ready for our driver to pick us up. My stomach wasn't feeling too well and I actually got a little sick before we left. I figured it was due to nerves. I told Daryle and he figured it must be nerves too. One reason I was nervous was that the night before Alla had been to see us and had told us all about Connor and showed us this little black and white photo of him with a bonnet on his head. He was only a few weeks old in the picture. We had this big conversation the night before about something that could possibly be wrong with him. I don't remember exactly what it was, but it worried us and scared us all night long. When Alla came that morning we were told, "OH! I had him mixed up with another child! He doesn't have that at all! No worries!" Ok, great, that doesn't change the fact that we lost sleep worrying about this! Oh well, water under the bridge at this point. So, off we all go with our driver and Alla to the Ministry of Education. My stomach still wasn't feeling too well and Daryle kept looking over at me. Now, the driving in Moscow is pretty crazy and getting carsick is nothing new to them. I think my face started turning green and Daryle kept asking me if I was ok, I kept insisting I was. I was willing it to go away. Well, needless to say, it didn't work and I started throwing up right there in the car! I was trying to catch it (gross, I know!) and then Alla saw me and said, "Oh no! WHY DIDN'T YOU SAY SOMETHING!!" I was so embarrassed I didn't know what to say. I opened the door and finished. It was all over my sweater, pants, scarf, coat and boots. Alla asked me if I needed to change and I said I guess so. Then she said, "Well, it's too far and we will be late!! We can't be late for this appointment!" So I said that I would be fine, she said Ok. All I could think of was how totally embarrassed I was. I wasn't sure if it was the driving, something I ate or nerves. I think it was the combination of all three actually. So, we finally pull up to the Ministry of Education and we get out of the car. That is when I lost it and just broke down crying. I couldn't stop. Alla kindly took me to the ladies room where I could "wash up" a bit. We went in there together. This is when the funniest thing happened. She took out her brush and brushed her hair. She looked at me and said, "You need to say to yourself, I am zee most beautiful voman in zee verld!" I cracked up laughing, decided I totally liked this woman and I was able to get myself together. I went out and sat with Daryle while we waited to be called into the office. Then Alla came over to me with this tiny vial of something and gave it to me. I had no idea what it was. Daryle said, is it mouthwash? I asked Alla and she laughed and told me it was some perfume! Oh great, now I knew how smelly I was!!! AHHHH!! I sprayed some on and then we were called in. We were instructed to act like we knew nothing of this little boy who was to become our son. We answered some questions, were showed a picture and were asked if we wanted to meet him. "Of course!" we said with enthusiasm. So, off we went to go meet him. Fortunately, there was time to stop back home so that I could change. From then on I got the front seat.... on all 3 trips!!! Poor Anatoley, we were sure to give him an extra tip that day!

Here we were, we had just met out newest son! We fell in love with him from the moment they brought him to us. We could tell right away that he would be the perfect brother for Travis. It was evident early on that the two personalities would gel perfectly. We were relieved to have finally met him, to have fallen in love instantly and to be that much closer to bringing him home!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Has It Been A Year Already??

I was looking at the calendar today and suddenly realized that just one year ago Daryle and I left for Russia on a wing and a prayer, literally! We had lost our original referral just two weeks prior to leaving and went on this trip completely "blind". I can remember feeling a sense of peace about the whole thing, I just knew we were going to meet our child. Then I would feel weird for feeling that way and would think that maybe I should be more scared. What if we went on this trip and didn't meet our child? Then I would think, no, of course we are going to meet him or her. It was a crazy mental battle all the way there. I figured it would be fun to go down memory lane this week and post about what we did each day a year ago this week. For us this is the whole "labor and delivery" story! Enjoy!

Here was Daryle on the plane leaving from Atlanta to Moscow. We couldn't believe we were finally headed back to Russia to meet another child of ours.
This was how we spent the entire first day at Svetlana's apartment. We waited all day to hear from our coordinator. It was very quiet and was actually a good day to just rest up since we were a bit jet lagged. Daryle enjoyed cuddling up with her dog Tyson.
We enjoyed this nice view out the window of our room. We were too scared to leave the apartment since we didn't really know where we were at this point. Thank goodness the following day we became braver!
This was her front door, it was so welcoming! The doors over there are different. It was padded and the locks are very different to work. She actually gave us both a lesson and made us show her we could figure it out before we went to bed that night! You can even see the white chalk marks she made by the lock as a "cheat sheet" for us.
More of our room, pardon the sloppiness!
It is so strange sometimes when I reflect back on our adoption of Connor, it was such a different experience for us. With Travis we went through such emotional turmoil that it literally took me 3 years to recover from the craziness. (Those of you who know me that this is NOT an exaggeration at all! Seriously.) Every day I would think to myself, "I remember last year/2 years ago/3 years ago right now that &*$## judge was doing this and that..." (you get the picture). However, with Connor it was completely different. We didn't carry his picture around with us for 10 long months before meeting him. We found out about him one night and met him the next day. While we waited for court we had tons of pictures and short videos to get us through and the wait was only about 2 months. It wasn't until earlier today that I realized we were over there one year ago today. With Travis' adoption it was all consuming for us. With Connor it was all so surreal. Now I have a hard time remembering what life was like "before Connor", it feels like he has been here forever. He was without a doubt the missing person from our family. Today we did our second post placement report that will be sent to Russia. It is amazing to me that God has entrusted these two boys to our care, and the manner in which they each came to us amazes and humbles me each and every day.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

This was Connor's first St. Patrick's Day. I love this day, it is so much fun to wear green and celebrate being part Irish. I remember growing up my dad would wear this giant button that said something about being Irish for a day and it had a big mug of beer on the front. It used to sit on his dresser all year long just waiting for March 17 to roll around. My brother and I would tease him about not being Irish, since he is German. However, my mom is part Irish so of course that meant my brother and I were officially Irish too. My poor dad was the only one "left out" so to speak! Well, fast forward to my life now and I am the only one who is Irish in my little family so I must carry on the Irish traditions. I am a little obsessed with making sure we all have something green to wear each year, and now the leprechauns come to our house and leave little goodies around. They also turn our milk green! YIKES! To top it off, I surprised myself a couple of months ago when I realized that we gave our boys Irish names, so I guess even though they are Russian I sort of passed on some of my Irish heritage to them both in an indirect way. Funny how those things work out, isn't it?

All year long I work hard to get the "perfect pictures" for the yearly calendar for the grandparents and uncles. Today did not go as planned. I am going to do some serious cutting and pasting for next year's March page. Connor was not having any part of it today! Of course in the best picture they weren't dressed yet so they were not wearing green!
This was Connor enjoying his Lucky Charms that the leprechauns left him. Do you see the cereal actually sticking to his face?
This was my attempt to get a picture of Travis... you can tell Connor was already in action with his hand getting in the way!
Here he was, this is how most of the pictures were turning out. Oh well, memories, right?
This one just cracks me up! Travis was being so patient with a very upset toddler. ( I am dreading the terrible two's that will be upon us this summer! I better stock up on the wine and margarita mix...)
These glasses make Travis look like a deranged leprechaun! lol
Finally, I just held out my hand and hoped for the best. Not too bad! Of course Connor looks the best and is smiling like nothing was ever wrong. Let me see now, oh that's right, he is in mom's lap, right where he likes it!! LOL
Let's hope and pray that the Easter photo shoot goes much better than this, the calendar is supposed to be of the kids, not me!

Happy St. Paddy's Day to you all! Cheers!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sometimes boys just need to be boys

I am so excited we have finally reached Spring Break! The boys are both growing and getting so big right before our very eyes. Sometimes I just wish we could freeze time and at other times I find myself of dreaming about things we can do when Connor gets "a little bit older". Right now Travis has learned how to read and he is doing quite well. However, I think a certain younger brother may be right on his heels, even though he is 5 years younger!
He still loves to wear his heart glasses from Valentine's Day!
He even puts books back on the shelf when he chooses a new book. (A mother and teacher's dream child!)
As you can see, Connor LOVES books! He turns the pages, looks at the pictures and names things. Sometimes Travis will read to him, it is really quite cute. It is so nice seeing them be able to actually do things together and have fun at the same time.

Yesterday if the "Mother of the Year" committee had made its rounds I am sure I would have been on the list of "How could you let your children do THAT?" list. Oh well. I protested at first, and then I gave in. They were laughing and having so much fun, how could I stop them? So I just decided to watch them and let them be boys. You might be wondering what I was actually letting them do. Here it is:

Yes, they were listening to music from Sesame Street and jumping off of the coffee table. Connor was so cute with his hair going straight up in the air! He is so funny! As you can see, Travis had a pretty good time as well. I am sure he figured he had better enjoy this because normally mom would NEVER allow this! lol They had a good time and nobody got hurt. Phew!

That's about it for now. I am looking forward to spending the next two weeks with my boys. How can I resist these two adorable faces?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

New Look

So, how do you like the new look? I am not sure, I will continue to play around with it. Right now my eyes feel like they are going to pop right out of my head. Any advice or suggestions are welcome! I like blogs that are easy to read. Like everything, this is a work in progress.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

5 more days...

We only need to get through the first 5 days of the work week and then we are off for 2 weeks!! I am so looking forward to it, so is Travis. Connor has no idea, but he will enjoy it once he figures out he can sleep in and play in his pj's in the mornings! I just need to get my report cards done tomorrow and then it should be smooth sailing.

I can hardly believe that Travis will be turning 7 at the end of the month. It seems like it wasn't that long ago that I was sitting at my kitchen table in my house in Memphis crying because we still hadn't received "the call" to go get him and we would be missing his very first birthday. I remember being so very sad on that day. However, now that we have had 5 birthdays since then I think we have more than made up for missing the first one! LOL Last year Travis got a little bit "cheated" out of his birthday because Daryle and I were on our first trip to meet Connor. We got back to town the night before his birthday and then we blinked and Easter was here. So, this year I promised him he could have a birthday party. He decided he wants to have it at the bowling alley. Last Monday, on March 1, he announced to his ENTIRE CLASS that he was having a party at the bowling alley. I could have died! That was NOT what I had in mind!! I am not inviting 24+ kids to the bowling alley for goodness sakes. Finally, tonight we had a talk and we have narrowed the list down to 7 boys from school and then our usual guests (people that I know will come, or at least will RSVP in a timely manner!). I think I am safe now, and we should not have more than the limit of 12. Phew. I must say I was having a heart attack for a minute there! It didn't help that Travis brought down his friend to my room after school. They had their arms around each other's shoulders and this boy gave me a thumbs up and said enthusiastically, "I'm SO in for this party!" Good thing he was already on the list.