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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Zac update

Just wanted to give you all an update as far as the next steps.

According to our agency, we can expect about 6-8 weeks until our next trip to bring Zac home. What we're waiting for is an official court date. Apparently, part of the reason it takes this long is Russia has to pull Zac (Paval) from the National databank of orphans. (Truthfully, I'm not 100% as to how this works, but whatever)

Anyway, we've already endured 1 week, so really we only have 5-7 weeks to go. Apparently, we'll get the call with about 2 weeks notice and then we get to start the craziness of booking flights last minute, etc. just like we did before. (Which is NOT the cheapest way to travel).

We'll have him home soon!

Monday, June 25, 2007

An unfinished story

I never really brought closure to the luggage story that developed as we were in Russia. Most of you know that our luggage never made it on our trip. What you may not know is how we finally found it.

It turns out that our luggage made it as far as Moscow. Therefore, on our way back through Moscow we were able to find them in their "lost" luggage area. (Just in time to check them back in) Because we had a fairly lengthy layover in Moscow, we had plenty of time. We meandered through the airport and finally found the luggage area. After showing them every possible piece of identification and airline ticket stub, we were allowed to go into: (music break) THE BAGGAGE CAGE

It was unreal....

It sort of reminded me of the last scene in Raiders of the Lost Arc, when they're moving the boxed Arc into the warehouse and there is like 100,000 square feet of identical boxes. (only in our case, they were all black suitcases wrapped in clear plastic) Unfortunately, ours are black too. You know, you would think that the engineers at Samsonite would try harder to make more varieties of bags....

But anywho, we walk in and there is no pattern - no file system - no number system - no chronical system - it was all so..... Russian. So we started walking through the mess. In what would later be identified as a modern day divine miracle, Katie found both of our bags within 3 minutes.

I took a picture of the back corner of the room. The picture is a little blurry because I turned off the flash. By this point in our trip I had been reprimanded 3 different times for taking pictures in Russia. I was starting to catch on to the fact that they don't like people taking pictures of their airports and their stores. (Go figure)

So keep in mind that this is only a small part of a much larger room. I merely had to hide in the back in order to capture the picture.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Let's talk about Zac

It's time to tell specific Zac stories. As much as I want to post his beautiful pictures all over this blog, I am advised to wait until the adoption is final. (Maybe 8 more weeks?) So I'll focus on his baby home instead. As I mentioned in a previous blog, Zac's baby home was wonderful. Let me take you on a tour:


Here is the inside of Zac's baby home. You can tell that it's very clean and full of bright colors and toys.




Look at all the cute little clothes hanging out to dry.


This is part of the outside playground where the kids play daily. (In the summertime anyway)




This is the main hallway going down the first floor.




The Kitchen where all the kids' food is prepared




The view from the outside.



Here is the bathroom where the kids wash up.



The beds. Can you believe that a bunch of 2 year olds all sleep in the same room? This looks a lot like the sleeping dorm in my fraternity back in college. Even as 20 year olds we didn't handle it very well.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Pictures from trip

It's about 12:30am and I can't sleep. (Darnit) I guess the jet lag thing still has to work it's way out of my system. (Or maybe my body got used to sleeping every other night) Either way, here's some pix:



This is a typical tourist picture that everyone takes while in Moscow. Of course, this is Red Square.


Gorbechev was hanging out outside the walls of the Kremlin. (not really, it was a stunt double)



Me being a dork:


Katie being a dork:


This was our room at our Hotel, the Novokuznetskya. We were very pleased with our rooms. Truthfully, we were very pleased with the whole hotel. Great service. A+




This is the lobby of our hotel.



You smart people may think that this is a Russian style urinal. The truth is that this was in the WOMEN'S bathroom. (yes, ladies: you figure it out) Notice the grips for your feet. (Note to Future Female Russian Travelers: Don't worry too much about this, Katie only ran across this style of toilet once on our trip.)

Home at last

Yes, we made it home last night. All of our flights went fine. We caught up with our baggage in Moscow. (Better late than never). I will say that our baggage experience has taught me a lot for the second trip in as far as knowing what I REALLY need to bring with me. Indeed, a person can survive a long time without their luggage. By the end of the trip, I didn't even feel like I was missing anything.

As I said before, I have tons of stories to share for the next several weeks. But it doesn't feel right merely diving right into the stories.

I feel the need to talk about Molly some more. Our trip home was an emotional one. Additionally, today has been tough. It's like in movies where the big tough guy is strong during the battle and then after the let down, goes behind the building and cries like a baby. That's the way I feel today. I'm home - there is a huge relief - and now I cry. I cry for little Molly. We've all been crying.

I can't begin to describe the feelings I have .... I'm just sitting here at my keyboard with absolutely nothing to type.

So I guess our funny adventures will have to wait. I just don't feel like being funny today.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Almost home

Hey everyone!

I wanted to post that were in Chicago now. (Almost home) BUT - we ARE back in the states. Whew! What a relief. What an adventure. Katie and I have commented a few times that we are different people than we were a week ago... on so many levels. I have hundreds of stories to share. Realistically, it'll be about 8 weeks before we go back to Russia to get Zac. Additionally, there won't be a lot to before that time. (Other than wait) Therefore, I'll have a lot of fun blogging "Stories of the Day".

I have about 15 minutes before we board our the plane, so I'll start with this one.

Our first flight this morning (which was actually, yesterday afternoon for the rest of you) was an interesting one. Let's just say that the Russian FAA is a little different than the United States. First of you you have to remember than we were in the Novokuznetsk region which really is a remote place. Their airport has one runway strip and there is grass and weeds growing through the cracks. (Making for a bumpy take off) When we got on the (extremely) old plane, I noticed that they didn't have a baggage compartment per se. Instead, they just have open shelves. Therefore, if turbulance comes along, you are wise to cover your head and watch out for falling luggage. Fortunately, the flight was smooth, so my worries were not needed. Additionally, the No-Smoking signs are apparently optional in Russia. About 1/2 way through the flight, Katie and I both looked at each other and said, "Do I smell smoke?" Needless to say, this is usually a question that you don't want to have to ask when flying. Shortly thereafter, I went to the back to use the bathroom and quickly realized where the smoke smell was coming from. I guess that tampering with smoke detectors is not a federal offense like it is here.

Oop! Our plane is boarding. Check back later.

(No time to proofread)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Mixed emotions

It is with a heavy heart that we must tell you all that Molly's referral has not worked out. Currently, we are choosing to keep the details private. What we can tell you is that we are still pursuing our adoption and Zac and couldn't be more excited about him. He is a super-darling, super-cute boy and we are eager to get him home to our family.

Obviously, this is a big change in the last 24 hours. Additionally, this has been a very painful decision. I know you all will have questions when we get back, but the truth is that we may need alittle space. Well.... I don't know. I don't want to scare everyone off either. Most of you know Katie and I well enough to know that we are very open people who love to share their emotions. But, this one will be hard to talk about.

But here's the thing: We do a ton to talk about. ZAC!!! We really want to focus on the positives during this time. We are adopting a wonderful boy right now and his story will continue to be the fun and wonderful story that we've built thus far.

Also, I want to clarify that we have chosen to just adopt 1 for now. Again, this is a big change but Katie and I feel very confident about our decision.

I will share a ton more when we get back. We have amazing photos that I can't wait to post here.

We leave tomorrow morning and won't get back until late Wednesday night. Therefore, this blog will be dark for a few days.

I know that my posts fail to convey the entire adventure that we've had this week. My fatigue and emotion seem to tax my ability to accurately reflect our experience. Believe me, it's been an adventure.... a very very good adventure. My son is one step closer to coming home.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Good Morning!

Hey everyone. I can't tell you what a difference a good night sleep makes. Of all the things they DON'T have here in Novo, they make up for with their pillows. This hotel has the best pillow I've ever slept on in my life. As my wife can attest, I'm kind of a picky pillow person. I'm not sure what it was exactly but it was the perfect combination of feathers and firmness.... and the fact that I needed sleep more than anything else.

Anyway, it's about 6:00 in the morning here. We bullied our way into the computer lab and I even tried to plug my laptop in when nobody was looking. Unfortunately, it didn't work. So we're officially unable to Skype here. It really stinks b/c I would like to talk to my older two kids right now. (I love you guys!)

Today, we're going to see the kids in reverse order. Molly first, Zac second. After that, I'm not really sure what the plan is. More paperwork? Who knows. What I do know is that we leave already tomorrow. It really has been a whirlwind trip.

I love you all and will talk to you soon.

The family is united

Here it is everyone: THE POST.

We met Molly and Zac today. They are truly beautiful children. I don't even know where to start.

1. We couldn't take any pictures today, so I can't post anything even if I wanted to.

2. We still can't get the Skype going. It's disappointing because all we have to do is connect our computer, but the computer lab people won't let us. They say we can only use their computer, but again - their computers don't have what it takes.

3. I'm officially the most tired I've ever been. All I want to do is go to sleep and then blog tomorrow, but I know you'll all go crazy if I don't post something.

4. Molly and Zac are in different orphanages, so we met them separately. We met Zac this morning. The baby home that he is in was quite impressive. They have about 100 children and it is extremely clean. They only have children up to age 3. It was quite different from what we expected. When we came into the room we were (of course) overwhelmed with emotion. All I wanted to do was grab him and hug him, but I refrained so not to scare him. It didn't really matter, because he freaked out anyway. I don't think the kids there see men all too often, so it was a bit shocking for him to see. Nevertheless, Zac was absolutely great. Katie and I quickly came to the conclusion that he's the strongest, smartest and cutest kid in his orphanage. Even though there wasn't a lot of bonding going on today, it was still awesome to meet him.

5. In the afternoon we drove a very long way to Molly's orphanage. Her orphanage was a little more in line with what we expected. There are 400 children at this home and they range in ages from 0-18 years old. Molly too was pretty uncomfortable was our being there. So being honest, it was kind of difficult to leave without really getting a smile or a kiss from either kid. I suppose our experience is much more normal and realistic. For some reason, I had more of a fairy tale in my mind where the children would run to me screaming "Daddy! Daddy! Take me home!"

6. Don't get me wrong, both our kids appear to be extremely happy and healthy. And to be honest, stranger anxiety at there age is a GOOD thing. If they didn't have that, it may indicate attachment disorders down the road.

7. Funny story. As Molly was sitting on my lap this afternoon, she had a "piddle accident". Because she is "in training" they had here in underwear and not a diaper. Therefore, 50% of the pants I have on this trip have been urinated on. (Quick fix: They wash our clothes for 250 rubles here. (around $7 or $8)

8. We are officially wiped out. It is 7:00pm and I'm heading to bed. 4 days - 1 night sleep.

9. Today has been an awesome day. I've now met Molly and Zac. They are both great and wonderful and will be coming home soon. I look forward to the bonding process so that someday very soon they will be running toward me in dream-like fashion yelling, "Daddy! Daddy!"

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Here in Novokuznetsk

Woah! We made it. There is so much to tell but we've only got about 30 minutes and then we head to see Zac! Yea! Then we'll go see Molly this afternoon.

We'll let everyone know as much as we can after that.

(Message to Family)
We can't get Skype working yet. The laptop in the business center has Skype loaded onto it but it doesn't have a webcam or speakers.... Duh... But take note that it is possible to merely send typed messages to each other. It's a start.

So this is it for now, but we'll mess with it more tonight when we get back.

Some highlights:
1. We officially don't have our luggage. We found some decent priced clothes at the Levi's store of all places.
2. We saw Red Square yesterday. Pictures will come soon.
3. We actually went to the wrong airport last night, but it wasn't that big of a deal - But nevertheless, it added to this craziness called Russian Adoption.
4. I made a friend on the plane last night. While Katie was sleeping, I was invited to the front section of the plane to chit-chat with Sergei. We met while waiting for the bathroom and in know time we were friends. He bought me a shot of Cognac and we played Charades for about 30 minutes. This was b/c he didn't speak a lick of English and my Russian is even worse. But we're buddies now.

Anyway, back to the adoption topic: Like I said, we leave in a short while to head to the first orphage. It's a crazy feeling. Katie made the comment that it's kinda like the 9th month of pregnancy. You really start to believe that it's never really going to happen.

But now it's here. And I can't believe it's really happening.

Last note: I literally have gotten 1 night of sleep the past 3 nights. I don't think I've ever done that before. (even in Jr High when I was full of energy) I actually feel kinda dizzy and have a hard time finishing my...

What was I talking about? whatever. I've gotta go!

The next post should be a BIG one.

Pictures

We figured out a way to get pictures. Here we go:

This is a TV tower. (Somehow I'm thinking it may not produce a High-Def signal)



Vladimir and Katie (did I mention he was easy to get along with?)



Moscow Mall



Lots of apartments



Katie at Breakfast

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Sunday Morning 9:30am

We just wandered out of the hotel. (After an hour of attacking our clothes with the hairdryer, we were dry and ready)

Moscow is cool. We ventured down what appeared to be a pretty major street. (A fast paced, downtown street with no stop lights). We found a Citibank ATM that gave us Rubles and spotted a quaint breakfast cafe. We nearly got killed trying to cross the 8 lane speedway. It was kinda like the old arcade game FROGGER. Except that we only have 1 1ife instead of 3. (and we're not frogs)

The funny part is that we spotted (after the fact) a staircase that allows you to cross UNDER the street. This proved to be much safer on our way back to the Hotel.

For breakfast we each had a caramel banana latte. (It was good, but it wasn't Starbucks - but it DID cost as much). To eat, Katie had raspberry pancakes (crepes) and I had Beef pancakes. Yes, that's right - Beef. Actually, it tasted a lot like a runza - But smaller. Everything is small here. When we were trying on clothes last night, we were very disappointed that our usual sizes did not even remotely fit. For example, I usually wear size 33 waist pants. Their size 33's would not even fit past my thighs. Also, their XL t-shirts (which cost $75) looked like it was pulled from my closet back in 1986. (Both in style and in size)

Anywho, after breakfast we found a supermarket (thanks to my newfound ability to read Russian letters) and I think we found a winner! If our bags don't come in today, we'll be able to stock up on a few important things. (socks, razors, deodorant, shampoo, and even stuffed animals for Zac and Molly)

The plan for the rest of the day is:

- Go to the Hotel Business Center and see if we can download pictures. (Right now, we are unable to)
- Go to Red Square
- Leave for the airport (around 6)
- Fly to Novokuznetsk (around 10)

- SEE MOLLY AND ZAC!!!

If we don't get back here before our flight, our next blog will not be until Monday night most likely. (Which is Monday Morning for all you Americans)

Speaking of being an American, Katie and I feel like idiots for not learning a few more common Russian phrases. I guess I was so overwhelmed with the language that I gave up too easily. I should have a least learned to say the phrase, "Sorry dude, I really can't speak a lick of Russian. But have a nice day anyway".

A few stories from Katie

Hey everyone! It's me, Katie. I don't think I have ever posted, but I have some funny stories to share with you. I am keeping a private journal for our children to read someday, but these stories are too fun to keep to myself.

1. I was so proud of myself last night for packing contact solution in my carry-on. I put my contacts in a cup and this morning saw Ryan pick it up to put coffee in it. I said,"Ryan, wait my contacts are in there." "What," he said, "I used this cup to drink some water last night." Ryan managed to drink my contacts! Well, I brought another pair but they are in the checked baggage that is not here yet! Oh well, I am not too blind without the contacts.

2. So we ended up drinking the coffee which was very bitter and we decided to call it "starsmucks."

3. I am writing all of this while Ryan is in the bathroom using the built-in hairdryer to finishing drying our clothes from yesterday.

What a fun and funny adventure. Despite some of the mishaps we are overjoyed to be here and one day closer to meeting our children. We will post some pictures when we figure out how to download them.

Comment #2, Trip #1

Well, here I am. It's about 12:45am on Sunday. (Happy Father's day to me) Which is 3:45pm on Saturday back home. I'm not sure why exactly I'm awake. It's not really morning anywhere related to me... but here I am.

Anyway, I thought I'd take a little time and go into more details as to our first day in Russia. Plus, I'm sort of a prisoner to the hotel room until my clothes dry off.

This is all so.... foreign! (Appropriate word choice) I've been out of the country a few times in my life, but most the time it is to places that are touristy enough that you can still fake your way around. I'm telling you Moscow is something else. (I can't image how much more so it'll be in Novokuznetsk).

As I mentioned before, our bags did not make it here yet - so we spent well over an hour screwing around with that whole thing. Thank GOD that the representative from our agency was still there to great us. It was pretty cool, when we did finally come out of customs and baggage there was a women holding a sign (in English) with our agency name on it. (Soon I'll be coming out with the name of our agency). As of right now, I have nothing but praise for our agency. They're not a huge agency - But they get stuff done! Obviously, they do - otherwise I wouldn't be here right now.

Anyway, the driving in Moscow is a bit more aggressive than Omaha, but I didn't think it was anything out of control. I've been in Boston during rush hour and believe me, Boston is WAY scarier.

I wanted to talk a bit more about Vladimir. One of the first things that we had to do was to hand over some important documents as well as some money to "a man named Vladimir". This made me a little nervous before the trip. Who is this guy named Vladmir? What if we give it to the wrong guy?

Well, let me tell you: Vladimir is the nicest guy in the world. Yes, we all have used that phrase before, but this guy really is. So now we know: The nicest guy in the world is from Russia. As we stepped into his 10'-14' office, we were greeted with two walls full of children's pictures. One wall was entirely of infants and toddlers. Those were all the babies that have been adopted out by his agency in the past 14 years. The other wall was entirely filled with pictures of beautiful young children and even some older ones. These were the pictures of the same children as they were growing up.

"You see" he said. "I have one requirement during this whole process". You must send me one picture each year of the children as they grow up. That is fair, yes?"

I can't tell you how cool it was to see the faces of all those children. Yesterday's traveling was quite the adventure and it was easy to loose sight as to why we're really here. Our time in Vladimir's office brought us back to focus and made all the fatigue and stress go away.

We walked out of his office with huge smiles on our faces.

After that, we had dinner at a nice Russian place across from our hotel. (By the way, Russian food is very good near as I can tell. Once again, we'll find out how authentic everything is after we arrive in Novokuznetsk)

OK - I'm tired again. I'm going to try to go back to sleep. More to come later.

Greetings from Moscow

Hey everybody! We're on our way. We got into Moscow today and will be on our way to Novkuznetsk tomorrow evening. I didn't really sleep on the plane, so I'm super-duper tired. Therefore, I can't really think in complete thoughts therefore I'll just type bullet points.

1. Our trips were.... OK. We had a 3 hour delay on our Chicago flight. We showed up in Toronto with 10 minutes to spare and ran all over the airport looking for terminal 3. It took us an hour and 20 minutes to get there. You may think that we missed our next flight, but it too was delayed 3 hours.

2. We showed up on Moscow this afternoon but our bags did not. So we're soaking our clothes in the bathtub so that we won't stink tomorrow. (Yes, I'm blogging naked right now)

3. We tried to buy some clothes at the "discount store" 2 blocks down from our hotel. Neither of us could find a pair of jeans for less than $175! Thanks but no thanks.

4. Our Russian Coordinator is incredible!!! The coordinator is the person that an agency works with on the Russian side. His name is Vladimir and in a short amount of time, Katie and I both fell in love with him. He is the nicest guy and is truly thinking of the orphans at all times.

5. Moscow is a lot different than I thought it would be. It's a big city, but they have no big buildings. No sky scrappers, just a ton of run down apartment complexes. We've already taken a handful of pictures. We'll post them later. We're counting on waking up around 2 or 3 in the morning, then we'll have all sorts of time to blog some more. Right now, I can hardly see straight. It's 10:00pm here - but 1:00pm back at home. My body is wondering why I never slept from the night before.

6. Also - The flight from Toronto to Moscow (on Aeroflot) was surprisingly wonderful. I had only heard bad things about Russian airlines, but the plane was big, new and spacious. A nice bonus!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

It looks Russian to me

Hey check it out! Look what I found on the internet today:



(It says Novokuznetsk)

Yea, I know the letters look funny. It's kinda like when you're typing but all your fingers are off one key. They use mostly the same letters that we do, but obviously they use them all wrong..... What? You say, WE'RE the one's that have it wrong? How could it be?

Anyway, in all seriousness, wish us luck as we try to nagivate our way around a foreign land.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

What to wear

We're so happy that we're traveling to Siberia in the SUMMER. Just for fun, we checked the weather forecast there so that we could determine what exactly we're going to wear. Next week's forecast had a low of 36 DEGREES!!!

DANG! That's cold! I guess we won't be packing all those pairs of shorts like I thought.

SIBERIAN SUMMERTIME... Why would I have thought any different?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Getting organized

I'd like to thank you all for the encouraging posts on my last message. It was uplifting to hear everyone so optimistic that the IRS will act in a timely manner. (right....)

Anyway, we're gearing up to travel to Russia! Whew! Talk about emotions: Scared, excited, nervous, exultant.... (I subscribe to a word of the day blog)

But seriously, we've got some interesting issues around here. For example, we're trying to figure out all that we need to run our computer while overseas. First of all we've got to plug it in. This requires an adapter as well as a voltage converter. (Actually, the computer already has a converter - but Katie's hairdryer requires one. In the last few days I've been made aware exactly how important a woman's hairdryer is to them) Secondly, we've got to connect to a phone line. Or do we have wireless? Then of course, I had a bunch of issues with setting up my remote access system for work. And lets not forget that my laptop is a Mac, so I had some compatibility issues with the work stuff. Additionally, I had to practice putting both videos and pictures on the computer and immediately converting everything so that we'll be able to email the crew when we're overseas.

But after a lot of work, I think I've got it all figured out. If I royally screw everything up, at least I've got two trips, right?

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Did I mention?

I believe that I announced that Molly and Zac are from Kemerovo. In fact, the region is Kemerovo but the city itself is Novokuznetsk. (Pronounced: Noo-voo-koozsh-nick)

We've been spending all sorts of time on the internet finding out about the city, the sites, the hotels, the orphanages. It appears as if there are 5 different orphanages in the city of Novokuznetsk. Around there, they call them baby homes (BH). So we have BH#1, BH#2, BH#4, BH#5, BH#95. I suppose you're all wondering what happened to BH#3. So are we. Additionally, I'm sure you're really wondering how in the world #95 got its name. Once again, so are we. Perhaps we'll find out this bit of trivia while on our trip.

It turns out that Molly and Zac are from separate homes, so we'll actually be able to visit 2 out of the 5 homes while on trip #1. Needless to say, we'll take pictures to post on this site. (Don't worry, we won't post any of children).


One a side note: Way back in 2004, I ended up doing my own taxes by hand. This is because the software I was using (TaxCut) was terrible and screwing everything up. Being a CPA, it wasn't too difficult of a task. But here's the catch. Like an idiot, I forgot to make a copy of it. And because I did it by hand, there is no way to get it back without going through the IRS. This really hasn't been a problem for me... until right now. It turns out that one of the last steps is to show all your up to date financials... including our last 3 tax returns. ARG!

Fortunately, we don't need it until the 2nd trip so I've got alittle time. I submitted a request to the IRS yesterday and they told me to expect about 1-2 months. 1 month will be fine. 2 months will be cutting it close. I'm counting on the IRS to not be very busy this time of year. We'll see.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Full plate

Yesterday was a 100% full adoption day. We got the official travel day and so I spent most of the day figuring out how to apply for a visa, reserving plane tickets (which is not easy!) so on and so forth.

We also have to round up more paperwork (surprise, surprise)

We're stressed, but it's fun. It's all about the adventure right?

Oh and by the way, we got a call yesterday to be part of a musical review show in New York that would take place in November. Geesh. Sounds cool, but obviously we'll have to pass on that one. Oh well. It's a good thing we aren't trying to become professionals with our music.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Monica Eby

I wanted to share a cool story from the concert. Of the 5 bands we had, Monica Eby (pronounced EE-BEE) was the only one that I didn't know personally. She was actually recommended (highly) by one of the other bands, Sean Keith.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I met her in person about 4 minutes before she went on stage and she quickly asked me how I got her name and why I asked her to sing. I told her the short story and she asked, "So you didn't know that I've adopted 3 kids?" I told her I had no idea. How cool is that? It really added to the already great atmosphere of the night. Although the weather stunk, it really was cool to hear people's stories and feel the vibe of support from the audience.




As far as the adoption, it's been a stressful couple of days. (If I may be honest here) We've spent the last few days looking at Molly and Zac's medical records and talking to a few "specialists" about the findings. In short, things look fine. Nevertheless, it really messes with your mind when you have the power to deny your referrals. We can't help but be worried about every little detail that may be perceived as a "risk".

I do realize that none of us have guarantees in life.... But seriously, these decisions that we're making this week, will knowingly impact the rest of our lives. It sounds big, but trust me, when your going through it... it's bigger.

Again, don't get me wrong. We've already accepted our referral. We're trusting God as He's shown us he can be trusted over and over again. (But being human, we still secretly worry)

Do I sound like a terrible person? (Don't answer that)

I think this is one of those things that a person cannot understand until they go through it.

So ANYWHO, now that we've accepted the referral, we make Trip #1 plans. Our (awesome) agency will be calling us back tomorrow with the preliminary itinerary.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

So much to say

There is so much going on right now. So much, in fact, that I feel that I'm missing a ton of things with this blog. The stranger part is that I'm not sure if I want to blog things. If you look way back at my first entry, I said something to the effect of "why would anyone want to blog? It only creates something that can be used against you."

I can't help but feel paranoid that "they" are watching and if I SAY something wrong or DO something wrong that "they'll" take away my kids. And yes, in a short amount of time they have become "my kids". I look at those pictures all the time. I've hung them up at work. I keep another copy in my pocket. I've memorized their faces. I can see them when I close my eyes.

Therefore, I'll tell you that my blogs will be mostly facts and timelines. I just can't get into the emotional and personal side to it. I'm usually a very open person, but this is.... OK, who am I fooling? I'm just being a GUY.

This week, we have two apointments with medical doctors who specialize in international adoptions. Once we get their opinions, we will have to officially accept the referrals. Then we plan our trip. We're hoping it will be within a couple of weeks.

Hang on kids! We're coming!!!!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Concert pics



This is Katie and I and "the band". I think this is in between numbers when Katie was sharing our news of our referrals.




Yea, it was cold. I think we hit into the 50's at its lower point. It's a good thing it wasn't a "global warming benefit".





Sean Keith and band. They rocked!!!





Matt and his daughter. This guy was a huge reason that the concert went so well.






The Confidentials. Also rocking out. They were great!






Some people dancing and having fun.

We did it

Well, the concert finally happened last night. Although it did rain for quite a bit of the afternoon, about 3:30, the clouds broke up and we started setting up. It never did rain during the event, but the temperatures did drop down into the 60's. Additionally, at one part of the concert you could tell it was raining to BOTH the North AND the South of us. (Divine intervention was clearly at work).

Therefore, I think our numbers may have been down alittle, but I think the overall consensus was that the concert was great.

Over $3,000 was raised for the causes that we detailed out on our website. The official dollar number will be determined later this week. We have a few details to work out.

If I had to guess, we had probablly 350 people there at the concert's peak. Of course, there were people coming and going at night, so maybe total people was closer to 400-450. No matter, our hope was to raise awareness, raise dollars and perhaps change the life of 1 person. If 1 couple was motivated to adopt 1 kid - then it was all worth it.

Plus we all had FUN. The bands were great.

My sister was the event photographer, so I'll get the memory card from her today and post pictures later.

Thanks to all.

(Now we've got to put this behind us and get going to RUSSIA!!!!!!)

Saturday, June 2, 2007

GAMEDAY

It's Saturday: The day of the concert.

Accuweather is back to sunshine today. Weather.com says rain, but I'm going to choose to ignore that. I've found accuweather to be better. Being an ex-pool manager and ex-concrete business owner, I've been an intense weather watcher for many years.

This morning Hallie has her first dance recital. (Yea, we tend to go 100 miles per hour around here) So first on the list is to get flowers for my beautiful ballerina.

Then it's time to be a VOICE..... of the Voiceless!!!! (but no longer The Faceless)

Friday, June 1, 2007

Lots of stuff

Thank you to all of you who left messages. This is a super exciting time.

I can't begin to describe what yesterday was like. The excitement is SO HIGH. I must say that certainly the birth of my two biological was exciting - BUT as a DAD I didn't get to experience everything in its fullest. But with this, I am experiencing the rush just as much as Katie on this one. We are 100% equal in this experience.

Some may say that adoptive parents miss something in the experience, but so far, I disagree. The adventure that we're going through has been just as exciting (albeit different) as the birth of Hallie and Jake.

Today, we're running around trying to figure out what to do next. We've sent pictures to 2 different doctors who call themselves "International Adoption experts". (2 heads are better than 1, right?)

Sorry I can't post pictures for you guys. (Says the blogging community) Maybe some other day. In the mean time, I'll just post a picture of the family in Hawaii:




OK - back to more important stuff: It turns out that Molly and Zac are from the REGION of Kemerovo, NOT the city. In fact, they are from the CITY of Novokuznetsk. (yea, it still takes me about 10-15 seconds to rattle that one off. Maybe I'll just start calling it "Novo". Then again, I don't want to make anyone mad during this crutial time in our adoption).

It looks like Novokuznetsk isn't too far from the city of Kemerovo. Additionally, it looks like the city has a population of 500,000 therefore, I think we'll be able to fly in direct from Moscow. But I haven't confirmed it yet.

Another interesting thing I found was that on March 19th 2007 a massive methane explosion ripped through the Ulyanovskaya mine in Novokuznetsk killing over 100 people. Clearly, the people of this region will still be greatly impacted by this when we go to visit.

Last: The concert is tomorrow! We're totally ready. The bands are ready to rock. And the weather.... well, it looks like a mystery. Right now, the plan is to go for it outside and see what happens. So wish us luck!

See you there! (unless you live far away)