Follow by Email

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Getting Better

We went to the Embassy this afternoon.  Unfortunately, we had to wake up Zac early from his nap to make our 2:00pm appointment that was set for us.  Anyone with a 2 year old knows that you NEVER wake them up early from their naps.  This set him up to be very "delicate" for the afternoon.  

We are happy to announce that the 3 of us became "those people" at the Embassy.  Zac was completely out of control.  Screaming, crying, snot everywhere.  It was quite the scene.  It's kinda funny since he has been such an angel most of the time.  Katie and I were happy to be the ones to give pride to all the other parents whose kids weren't the worst one there.   Nevertheless, we got all the papers that we need along with a visa to come home tomorrow!  We are so excited to close the "adoption chapter" and begin the "rest of life chapter".

We've also learned a few things about our little guy today.  Number 1 is that his main source of tantrums is when something is taken away from him.  Whether it's a toy, a book, my camera, or the park that he was playing at - he really REALLY doesn't like to have things taken away from him.  

Second, is that we've learned that perhaps "time-in's" aren't the best for him.  We tried the "ignore the tantrum" technique this afternoon and it worked much much better.  In fact, we've had a great afternoon and evening with Zac.  We're back to laughing, kissing, hugging, etc.  Whenever the "AH-BOO-DOO" thing comes up, we simply walk out of the room and within one minute he's coming back to find us and play with us again.

Who knows... we're still learning.  

Here's some pictures at the park.  As you can see, he was quite happy at this point in the day.


It's time to "keep it real" as Randy Jackson likes to say:

Today, Zac got up on the wrong side of the bed.  It's a good thing he's been so cute and good the first 5 days, because today he's been a pistol.

Already this morning (it's about noon right now) he's had 3 major Zac attacks.  Up till now, I've been able to hold him tell him I love him and he seems to calm down within 3 to 5 minutes.  This is what's known in the adoption discipline world as a "time in".

Today however, Zac began to hit and flop wildly when I picked him up.  I held onto his hands to stop the hitting whereupon he bit my face!  Holy cow!  It really hurt too.  (I've got a nice mark to prove it).

Hmmm.... So now what in the world do we do?  Holding seems to really make him mad, but I'm thinking alone time sends the wrong message this early on.  During his third attack (regarding nap time) we simply left him in the bed and shut the door.  He was asleep within 3 minutes.  We're hoping that the source of his rage was his being so tired.  We're trying to remember that there is a lot to deal with here.  he's two, he's out of his routine, we have a communication barrier, we're still more or less strangers to him, the list goes on and on.  

It's still very hard as we never had to deal with the hitting/biting thing with our first two kids.  After our "disagreement" we unfortunately have not seen anymore hugs or kisses today.  It's very discouraging.  

As I've mentioned in the past.  There are GPD's and BPD's.  (Good parenting days and Bad parenting days).  We'll see how the second 1/2 goes, but right now we're working toward a BPD.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Doctor Visit

Went to the doctor's today.  The whole thing lasted about 45 minutes max.  As any good doctor visit, it was about 40 minutes of waiting and about 5 minutes of checking over Zac.  He has some skin thing going on, but otherwise is very healthy.  Zac had one of his "AH BOO DOO Zac Attacks" when we were leaving, but most everyone assumed that he had just had a shot or something.  - So no one really minded the scene.

We spent the rest of the day taking it easy.  Can I just say that this kid is amazing?  We really continued to see some amazing improvement in his attachment, behavior and development.  (And it's only been 5 days!) 

Zac is already giving us hugs and KISSES without our asking.  For the first few days we had to ask him, show him, force him.... whatever.  But today, (when things were going well for him) he would run right up to us and smack a big kiss right on our lips.  It's been a wonderful day.
Zac was also really showing off how smart he is today.  He already is understanding and using some English words.  He says, "More please"  "Milk" and "All done".  What's more, he can point to his nose, ears, eyes, and mouth when we ask him IN ENGLISH.  It should also be noted that he can clearly understand a lot of our phrases.  "Come here" "stop" "wait" "Do you want me to pick you up?"  "Stop picking your nose and eating it".  (which he does far too often...)

I'm kidding about the last one, but as far as his progress in such a short amount of time, this isn't the norm is it?  We're thinking that this is too good to be true....
Tomorrow we head to the Embassy.  Hope all goes well!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Monday Morning

Today will be a "Random Thoughts" format.

We woke up at 3:45am Moscow time.  This sounds awful at first, but you must take into consideration that we went to bed at 7:30pm.  (Zac went to bed at 5:45pm)  So we're rested... just really screwed up on our time zones.  The funny part is that we're running on Novo time which we weren't even running on while we were there!  So I'm not sure how in the world we ended up this way.

Today is the "doctor visit".  I'm not really sure what that's all about, but we're getting used to simply doing what we're told by our coordinator/translator.  So far everything seems to have worked out great, so there is no need to question them now.  We're so close to the end!

Zac continues to come out of his shell.  He's a bit fussier, but nothing too out of the norm.  Katie and I were analyzing that a lot of his "extreme obedience" in the beginning was most likely forced from the baby home.  Any parent out there knows that forced obedience isn't really obedience at all.  So we don't really mind that he's acting out a bit.  That's sort of the whole point of parenting:  Teaching children to make good decisions on their own.  So that we won't have to make their decisions for them when they're older.  

Don't get me wrong.  He's still a wonderfully sweet child.  He's just not the "perfect child" that we saw the first day or two.  He's better described now as a "normal child".  

Hey!  While I'm thinking about it, I have a question for the adoptive parents who have gone before us:  
Can you please tell us again about what we are supposed to do at Customs when we land in Atlanta?  We have approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes and I want to make sure that we don't screw anything up.  Thanks in advance!

I'll leave you with a few more pictures:

Fun with Dad
I took this picture myself.  This was taken yesterday when we were at Red Square.  Beautiful weather here in Moscow!  (Go figure)
This is a picture of the funky couch that we have in our flat.  It folds out and although it's not much to look at, it is EXTREMELY comfortable.  (Or maybe I'm just really tired).  Please note my awesome pajamas.  Also please note how "particular" Zac is.  We are constantly finding him "organizing" his toys.  (Although he throws them an awful lot too).

A few more pix


Today, we woke up at 4:00am  (Do you see a common trend throughout our trip?)  Katie and I have decided that this entire trip, we've been in a constant state of tired and hungry.  I'd love to know how much weight we've lost.  I've started wearing a belt with my jeans, because they're falling off.  Of course it could be because they haven't been dried in a Dryer Machine.  

Zac continues to do great.  We've decided he must be feeling a little more comfortable with us, because he's becoming more open to express what he wants. ( This is a good thing, right?)

We've actually been able to pick up on a few of his common phrases.  The most common one is "Ah Boo Doo".  We've been told that this means "I want it".  He says this one a lot.  Yea, he's a 2 year old.  Two other words he has taught us is Sabaka (Dog) and Dome (House).  He seems to have a few other consistent phrases, but we're still trying to translate those.

Anyway, we ate breakfast and watched the beautiful sunrise from our 15th floor apartment on New Arbat street.  (See exhibit A)

It should be noted that we absolutely LOVE our apartment.  Definately one of the best choices that we've made on this trip.  We're in a great location, the price is right and we've got 4 times as much space as a hotel room.  It should also be noted that I don't normally eat breakfast in a white dress shirt.  The truth is that I slept in that shirt because the couch did not have any extra blankets.  I simply put on socks, jeans and that shirt and I kept nice and cozy warm.  (It's like camping... sort of)

Once we were dressed and moving around we decided to go on an adventure walk.  We found ourselves walking down Old Arbat Street.  (2 blocks from New Arbat Street) 

Zac was having a pretty good time.  For the most part he hung out in the carrier as we strolled along the street.  We were thrilled to find a Startbucks and were even more thrilled to see that it was open.  Right when we walked in, there was a display of stuffed animals.  Zac ran up to it and started taking the animals and throwing them all on the floor.  We told him to "please stop".  He continued to throw stuffed animals everywhere and I decided to give him a "time in".  I had the joy of watching his first real temper tantrum.   AAAHHH BBOOO DDOOOO!!! The good part was that although he was really upset, he was not completely out of control.  I held him and told him various affectionate phrases in Russian.  He calmed down within 3 or 4 minutes and then he seemed to be OK again.  (See exhibit B)

We finished our drinks and continued to stroll down Arbat Street.  Zac was a little more opinionated this time and expressed that he wanted to walk.  We had a few "arguments" about holding his hand.  I was a little nervous about him bolting into the street, so I really wanted to hold his hand - He didn't seem to agree.  We've discovered that when Zac doesn't get his way, he plops down on the ground and sits.  (A tactic called a "sit-in", made popular during the 1970's protest era)  So we had a few short "sit-in's" but nothing too major.  

All in all, we had a nice stroll.  We even caught a few cute pictures of our experience.  (See exhibit C)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Here in Moscow

We made it to Moscow!  Here's a recap of today (with pictures):

We woke up early this morning with Zac happy as ever (see Exhibit A)
Actually, that's not true at all.  But I really wanted to post that picture, so I thought I'd make up a story that fit.  OK - here's what really happened:

Our flight was leaving Novo at 7:40am so we had a wake up call set for 5:30am.  Unfortunately, little Zac woke up with a bad phlemy cough around 3:00am.  (Side note:  We've discovered Zac has 2 notable delays.  One of them is walking up and down stairs.  The other one is blowing his nose.  No matter what we tell him or what actions or charades we use, Zac cannot blow his nose.  As a result, the poor kid kept sniffing and sniffing last night which lead to coughing and coughing.  (See Exhibit B)
Needless to say, we started our early morning a little earlier than expected.  We made it to the airport and hopped on the S7 (Siberian Airlines) plane.  Unfortunately, we had one of the "old planes" this time.  Although for the record, the plane we took on our first trip was WAY worse than this one.  Therefore, today's old plane still didn't seem that bad.  

Things were going great for the first 90 minutes or so.  Zac was tired enough that he fell asleep right after take-off.  (See Exhibit C)
I should add that he did wimper a bit during take off and broke out into a sweat.  I'm thinking that he must get motion sick just like his dad.  Anyway, as I said, we were about 90 minutes into our 4 1/2 hour flight and Katie and I looked at each other and said, "This is going great!"  Of course, this led to the turning point in the flight.  Zac woke up and we began feeding him.  For the first time in our knowing Zac, he didn't really want to eat.  This should have been a tip off, but hindsight is usually fairly accurate.  At the time, we didn't have a clue.

We were trying to force a stale siberian bread roll into his mouth when suddenly.... up it all came!  In reaction to this sudden event, my daddy instincts kicked in and I shoved the only thing I could find under his chin to catch the puke:  my hands.  So I let him heave it all out into my cupped hands.  I'm not sure what was worse, having all that puke in my hands - or realizing that the puke was mostly all the mucus from the night before.  MMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!

I could go on and on about the smell and my clothes and his clothes, but I can tell that this post is already getting too long.

Here's the short story.  Within 15 minutes, he was feeling better and we had gotten cleaned up. (Sort of).  I popped in the Baby Einstein and our little kiddo watched a DVD for 2 hours!  Happy as a clam.  (See Exhibit D)
We had obviously had a long day, but really we had only just begun.  We had to deal with the airport, the driving, the passport pictures - but here's the cool part:  Most of the day, Zac hungout with me (dad) on the carrier sling thing that Katie bought for the trip.  Several times, he fell asleep with me just holding him up against me.  (See Exhibit E & F)

In conclusion, it was a long day and our little guy was the ultimate trooper.  On a day were we skipped entire meals and naps - he did little more than throw a few minor tantrums.  For the most part, he clung onto us (showing excellent attachment) and demonstrated tremendous resiliance.  

Tomorrow is a free day here in Moscow.  We'll see how Zac is feeling before we push him anymore.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Today's Update and a note to family

Hey everyone! This time it is me, Katie, writing.

First a note to our family...this trip is really expensive and using Skype in Novo costs triple what it costs just to blog. So, we are not going to Skype until we get settled in our apartment in Moscow. Supposedly, we have free internet access from the apartment. Check in is not until 2 pm, so we will catch up sometime after that. Tell Hallie and Jacob Mommy REALLY misses them and give them gigantic hugs from me (and Daddy)!! I love you guys!

OK, now on to our day. Ryan drove to Kemerovo and back today to get Zac's Russian passport and sign some "other" paperwork. He said other than two almost near death car accidents the trip wasn't bad.

I got to spend the day with my sweet little boy! Based on the interpreter's suggestion we went to the mall play area for a short time this morning. After a few minutes with the sounds, lights and busyness I could tell Zac was getting over stimulated. We went outside to wait in the car, but the driver was no where to be found. Therefore, we waited outside the mall on a bench. I was having to keep Zac's coat on (to please the Russians-even though it was warm), and keep him off the ground. He was acting out a little so I was having to say, "Nyet" several times. This ended in tears. A combination of too much activity, being tired, hungry and two years old was just too much. Fortunately, the driver then arrived and Zac calmed down with me holding him and singing after a few short minutes.

We came back to the hotel ("Dom" or house according to Zac) and ate lunch. Then I asked, "tee oo-stahl?" (Are you tired?) and he answered, "Da" (yes). Hearing him speak Russian is absolutely adorable! So, he was off to bed for a 3 1/2 hour nap! When he finally got up we played and had a wonderful time together. He even used the English word, "ball" when we were playing. He was also playing silly games where he would make these funny faces and stomp around. I think he and Jacob will have a great time being silly together. And, I'm sure he will make Hallie laugh!

After dinner at the Fork and Spoon Zac took a bath, with little to no fear or apprehension (we have come a long way in a few days) and went to bed. This kid is a pro at going to bed!

We are packing things up to head off to Moscow tomorrow. We leave the hotel at 5:30 am. We appreciate any prayers you might pray for a safe flight and maybe even the new plane again!

Thanks for all the comments and support! More from Moscow!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Random thoughts

It's about 6:15 in the morning and Zac's schedule tell us that he's supposed to wake up around 7:00am. So I thought I'd type a quick one today. I have so many things to share, so instead of trying to tie it all together with a wonderful coherent blog entry, I'll just use a "bullet point" format.

- Zac is amazing. Katie and I are 100% sold out in love with our son. There have been absolutely NO thoughts of "this is hard" or "I'm not sure I can do this". I've never felt more sure about anything in my life. Zachary Pavel is my son. Case closed.

- Kelli asked how big is he? The answer is not very. He's 2 1/2 and he's wearing 18 to 24 month clothes.... and they seem to be alittle big. Actually, they fit well around the middle, but seem to be long. This is the exact opposite of our first two kids. Hallie and Jake are long and skinny. Zac appears short and stout. He has extremely "thick" hands in my opinion. I'm convinced that he's going to be a powerlifter... or a line backer.... or something.

- He loves books and puzzles. We've brought a handful of toys, but these seem to be the biggest hit so far. He's quite amazing with the puzzles. I've been very impressed with how fast he picks up on things. He has NO interest in Play-doh.

- He is talking a lot. He was very soft spoken on day 1, but day 2 seems to be different. There are times where he talks about a mile a minute. And, of course, it's all in Russian - so we have no idea what he's trying to tell us. Sometimes, he'll grab our hand to get our attention and point to something and start going off in Russian. We simply smile and say "Da". That seems to be good enough to satisfy him.

- He got pretty nervous at bath time again last night. Upon my announcement of bathtime, he began to cry but this time instead of running away from us, he ran to me for security. That was pretty awesome. I told him "Do not to worry, Pasha. It's OK. I am here" (Nee-vahl Noisya Pasha. So-Hah-Rah-Sho Ya-Stah-Boi) Those words alone seemed to calm him down. Katie got in the bath with him this time. In the end, he had a lot of fun.

- We popped in a Baby Einstein movie right before bedtime. I think the main reason we did this was simply to see if he would like them or not. (We're already anticipating the 12 hour flight home from Moscow) To our surprise, he loved it. I would have thought that perhaps he's never watched tv before and it wouldn't make sense to him. Or perhaps, his attention isn't refined yet. Or whatever. We put in the "baby wordsmith" DVD and it was awesome to watch him. He sat on my lap and Katie pulled out the video camera. The DVD began saying words like "Dog" and then showing pictures of a dog. Zac began to repeat back "DOG!" (with great enthusiasm) The cutest part is his little Russian accent. He has no problem saying words in English (and is already using some English words - ball, good, duck) but it definately has a Russian flair to it. Very very cute. Don't worry, we're not a big TV watching family. We don't plan on teaching him English via the DVD. We just thought it would be fun to see how he reacts.

So in conclusion. Things are going awesome. I head back to Kemerovo today to get his Russian passport. Katie and Zac will stay here for the day. I'm not happy about leaving him for the day, but I suppose it's the only way that we'll be able to come home. Tomorrow we head back to Moscow.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

more pix

i've come to discover that i can use the desktop and use capital letters - or - i can use the laptop and be able to post pictures. i'm confident that most of you can survive without capital letters. the more difficult task for me is not being able to use parenthesis. i use them a lot - if you can't tell. see? i just use a dash now.

anyway, things continue to go incrediblly well here. we're only 24 hours past gotcha moment and he's continually coming out of his shell minute by minute.

we also went out and hit the town this morning. we went to some fortress thing. aparently used against the kazaks back in the day. we also went to the grocery store and mall. i began to see a little of the sensory overload thing that i hear most adoptive parents talk about. in truth, it didn't look much different than hallie or jake right before naptime. he really is a good little boy. i have not seen any hidden demons come out yet. for the most part he is all sweetness. the only time he has cried was before bath last night. i got in with him though and he quickly cheered up. he even laughed when i poured the water over his head.

here's a few more picture and captions;

We told him to say 'eeeee' it seemed to work pretty well for a great smile.

laughing very hard already

having fun with mama and papa

out together at the 'high point of novo' -at the fortress

already been to church with us. they wouldn't let katie in without a head covering. she borrowed one.

\pictures!! finally

hey everyone!

i finally figured out the picture thing. i hope you enjoy them! things continue to go well here. for some reason, my computer doesn't let me capitalize anything now. it's always something.

zac slept pretty well. at one point he fell out of our bed - which is only about 8 inches off the floor thank heavens. the sad part was that he didn't even cry. although i've seen hallie do that before. maybe it's not that big of a deal. he may have just been really tired.

anyway, we're planning another quiet day today. tomorrow i have to drive to kemerovo again. i'm not really looking forward to that, but it needs to be done.

the bonding thing is going amazingly well. he already proactively gave me a hug this morning. he is also talking with a lot more enthusiasm.

The weather has indeed been incredibly warm. i'm sure that we hit 70 yesterday. of course, i packed 2 sweaters and a button down shirt. therefore, i had to buy a t shirt yesterday. i should be much more comfortable today.

gotta go! my boy is destroying the computer lab!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Gotcha Day

Today is Gotcha Day. And guess what? WE GOT HIM! It has already been an amazing day. It's about 1:00 in the afternoon and our little angel is taking a nap. I thought I'd take the opportuntity and quickly blog. (For those of you who may not be able to sleep tonight)

First of all, I'd really like to post some pictures, but there continues to be "Siberian technical glitches" going on here. I'm working on it. Really, I am.

We picked him up around 10am. Everybody was packed into the director's teeny tiny office except for myself. I was standing in the doorway looking in. It was about 10 degrees hotter in the office and I was trying to cool off. (Have I mentioned how HOT it is everywhere we go?) These Siberians are a bunch of wimps when it comes to cold. -Totally different than you'd expect.

I looked down the long hall just in time to see Zac around the corner. I crouched down and held out my arms. He gave me a tender smile and walked all the way down the hallway way to me. When we met he opened up his arms and and gave me a gentle hug. Really. I'm not kidding. It was a Hallmark moment. Truly surreal.

He and I talked and cuddled for awhile while Katie was finishing up various "important background questions". Then Katie got to hold him for a while too. He was so comfortable with us. Not overly friendly. Not fake affection. Just very VERY comfortable. And we are comfortable with him. No fears. Nothing awkward. Just two parents with their new son.

We wrapped up details and goodbyes and packed ourselves into the car. Nothing too eventful happened as we were only about a 5 minute drive from the orphanage. We quietly went up the stairs and down the hall. He began to look a little concerned. Understandable seeing as how today is the first day he's stepped foot outside the baby home in 20 months. Nevertheless, he seemed very comforted by our Russian words. (Side note, I can't begin to emphasize how helpful it's been to know Russian better. I've already had full conversations with him! -Do you have to use the toilet? nyet. Do you want more milk? da.

While in the room, we read books, ate lunch and finished with a bottle. "A bottle?" You may ask. Yes, we've read that bottle feeding toddlers is great for attachment and eye contact. He seemed very relaxed and tired at this point where upon I told him (in Russian, of course) that it was time for a nap. What happened next was amazing. He marched over to the bed, crawled under the covers and immediately lowered his bed on the pillow. He lay flat on his back and began staring at the ceiling. Katie and I both layed down next to him as we thought he may need the comfort. He didn't budge. He didn't wiggle around. He didn't fuss. He didn't roll over on his side. He just went "into the zone". Within 60 seconds, Katie and I both watched him fade off to sleep. It was robotic.

Part of me was thinking "SWEET!!!" but the rest of me knew what this really meant. In his world, you don't have a choice. There is one way to take a nap and we just witnessed it. Don't wait for a book. Don't wait for a song. Nevermind all the noise and other kids crying. Just go into the zone and shut off the world.

It broke my heart.

I can't begin to convey how perfect today has been. Katie and I are in complete disbelief. Are we dreaming? Somebody pinch me. I expected disconnect. I expected terrible twos. What we have instead is perfect love. Perfect family love. I know it doesn't always start like this. This is what is must mean to be blessed.

Well rested again

Whew! What a day yesterday. (And what a great feeling it is to have slept all night last night). Katie and I were commenting how these adoption trips (now that we've taken 2 of these) result in a indescribable feeling of "tired and hungry". Our bodies do very strange things when we don't sleep, don't eat much and our days and night flip-flop on us. Not to mention a high amount of cortisol (stress hormone) that our bodies are producing.

My point is that I really understand why blog writers go AWOL during the most important parts of their adoption. But NOT ME. This blogger will persevere!

So, here's my take on court day:

We left at 6:45am (after not sleeping all night - as I've mentioned a few times). We drove for 3 hours across wide open Siberia. The roads were actually pretty good. Four lanes in parts, and two lanes in other parts. Except for the potholes, it didn't feel too much different than driving across I-80 to North Platte. (Katie is reading over my shoulder and telling me that she disagrees. She wants to add that the SMELL wasn't the same, nor was the structural scenery. i.e. their houses and buildings look a little rough).

It is worth commenting (and I mean no disrespect) that Russia SMELLS different. The bottom line is that the air has a permanent "flavor" of smoke and exhaust. The smokers are everywhere. In the buildings, on the street, in the stores.... come to think of it, Zac's baby home is the ONLY place that that we've been that has not smelled like smoke. The exhaust... well, that obviously comes from the cars and factories.

Anyway, we got to Kemerovo (which seems much more developed then Novokuznetsk even though they are the same sized city - 600,000) and drove for about 1 hour before we finally pulled up to the court building.

The tension began to mount and we found ourselves walking down to a basement courtroom. We sat down on some chairs and waited for the judge to come. We saw the judge along with the prosecutor, social worker, scribe and one other random girl that who we never figured out walk down the hall and enter our courtroom. D&A quickly shot up and said they wanted to go first - which was fine with us. We passed the time by telling awkward jokes and pacing around. In truth, we were feeling quite peaceful. (Thank you all for your prayers!)

To our surprise, D&A emerged from the courtroom after a mere 20 minutes. They were parents! So now it was our turn. We walked in and I was surprised to see an actual courtroom. I was under the impression that it would be nothing more than a simple room with a cardtable and 3 chairs. I was quite wrong. We entered a large courtroom with approximately 8 rows of benches. Of course there was the large elevated judges platform and a long desk going down the front of the room for the other participants. The biggest surprise was the caged cell quarters large enough to hold approximately 8 to 10 criminals. Apparently, they hear all types of trials in their courts. We were later laughing about how it might be difficult to be objective in a hearing with the defendants behind bars. Anyone looks guilty in that condition.

Anyway, we quickly got going with the trial. The questions were pretty much as expected. Most of the questions were just double checking facts. (Name, address, etc.) I found that about 75% of the questions were directed at me (the man) and the other 25% were to Katie. All the questions were quite easy to answer. After about 20 minutes, they told us to wait outside for a verdict. We walked out of the room and took a deep breath. Within about 10 seconds (I'm not exaggerating) they told us to come back in. They told us that the adoption was granted immediately and that the 10 days had been waived. Yea! Katie and I both let out a tear or two. It was finally complete.

People began quickly filing out. We thought perhaps it would be nice to get a picture with the judge, but unfortunately, she did not share the same thoughts. So we simply walked out and went back upstairs.

This begins part 2 of the day. This was something that we were not prepared for. I don't recall any bloggers talking much about this "2nd half" of court day. After yesterday, I know why too. The "secret 2nd half of court day" is not fun. It involves waiting, waiting.... more waiting.... followed by some ....waiting. And then we waited. Do you get the picture? I'm not even sure what we were doing most of the time, but I know that I spent a lot of time waiting in various government offices. The funny part is that only myself and D (the male half of D&A) had to do this amazingly fun task. The women, on the other hand, had the "easier" task of sitting in a cafe for 3 1/2 hours all the while listening to Russian Disco music in the background. Katie described it as "worse than Gitmo torture" The intent was that they wouldn't have to "wait" like the men. The irony was that that's all they were doing. Waiting. So basically, by the end of the day (5:30ish) the whole crew was really tired of waiting.

We were all exhausted. But the day wasn't quite over. We had to begin the 3 hour trip home. (Which unfortunately turned into a 4 hour drive as a result of a grocery trip and 2 smoke breaks from our driver).

A long day, but what a great day it was! The journey has been awesome and I wouldn't trade a thing.

Today, of course, is the REALLY BIG DAY. Gotcha Day. I'm realizing that we're going to go get him in 2 hours! Holy Cow! I'm so excited.

Last note: I've changed the blog back to public. Tell your friends!

What you've all been waiting for

The verdict is in...

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to announce that Zachary Pavel Horner has officially been adopted by Ryan & Katherine Horner. The 10 day waiting period has been waved and they will be picking him up tomorrow morning from the Baby Home at approximately 9:00am.

I'd love to tell more, but I am exhausted. As I mentioned, we were up all night and we just got back from Novo 15 minutes ago. It takes 4 hours (not 3) to drive ONE WAY. So not only did we have court AND a bunch of paperwork chasing to do afterward, but I've also been in a smokey minivan for 8 hours today. I'll post more tomorrow morning before we get him.

In the mean time, I'll post a picture collection that I downloaded to blogger before I left. Yes, we can now offically show him off.


Monday, April 21, 2008

On our way to court

Remember how I said that I wanted to blog everything? Let me tell you, these big moments are so hard to blog about.

It's all happening so fast.

We flew all Sunday night. (as I've mentioned) We cleaned up in less than an hour, saw Zac, then went back to the hotel and slept for 7 hours. Now we're really really messed up with our sleep. We basically woke up at 8:00pm Novo time, came down and blogged but had to hurry and eat dinner because the Fork & Spoon closes at 10:00pm. (The Fork & Spoon is a "Boston Market" type of restaurant that is 50 yards from the hotel. It's too close, inexpensive and yummy not to eat there).

By the time we got back, the computer lab was shut down for the night. It didn't open back up until 6:00 Tuesday morning. (Which is now) Of course, we were up all night. We may have slept 1 or 2 hours. After a while, we gave up and watched movies. (Napolean Dynamite and Mission Impossible 2)

We leave for court in about 30 minutes, so I'm trying to type like crazy. (Sorry if there are typos. I pride myself in double checking for errors, but that might not happen with this post). Surprisingly, I'm not too nervous. The big relief was right after we came into Novo. One of the first questions I asked Lena was "Has anyone ever been turned down at court?". Her answer was "Never". That was a huge relief.

I'm not sure if my picture posted or not. This computer that I'm using is weird. It's very difficult to nagivate through because most everything is in Russian. (Cyrillic). Additionally, it won't pull up any pictures or icons. Most the time, I have to guess what I'm clicking on. Or go off of memory.

I can't convey enough how well everything has gone on this trip. I know we've gathered up a lot of prayers, but this has exceded my expections. Clearly, God has been working miracles. I told Katie that it's times like this were having faith is EASY. Some of the things have been small. (Getting our luggage). Other things have been pretty big. (Getting us to Novo on a brand new plane. - Even Lena said that she had never seen or heard of that plane before. Were we the first?) And other things have been down right HUGE. (The way Zac was yesterday). He was so incrediblly wonderful. It's a given that I love him no matter how he acts, but we had so much FUN yesterday. He laughed, played, talked. It was awesome. We have some great video. I watched that a lot last night too.

We have court at 10:00 a.m. this morning (9:00 p.m. CST-please pray!) and then we apparently have to sit around for 3 hours while Lena does "paperwork". Then we have a 3 hour drive home. I probablly won't post until late tonight. (Early Wed morning for you all)

Then we get him Wednesday morning. AAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We saw him!!!

YEA!!! YEA!!! YEA!!!

We saw him today and everything went great. He was happy, healthy, fun.... the list goes on and on. I can't believe how much he's grown! (But kids do that, I suppose) We were able to see him for about an hour and a half today. (And we managed to capture about 45 minutes of video).

I'd love to post some of the video but our internet connection here is done by using "their computer" in the computer lab. Therefore, it's really difficult to do. Sorry. I'll figure something out soon.

We played a lot with Zac! And what an active 2 year old he is. Holy cow! Once he fully warmed up to us. (which took all of 10 minutes) he began throwing a ball with us, stacking blocks, playing peek-a-boo. The biggest hit was playing "food". This game involved handing us different plastic toy foods and we would pretend to eat it. Then we'd give them back and he would pretend to eat it. VERY cute.

At one point, he even stated, "Nyet Mama". (He's two, what better word is there besides NO?) But it was so cute when he said Mama. He even called me Papa at one point. Actually, he's talking quite a bit. Our small Russian vocab has helped a lot. Now I wish we knew more. He's very responsive to the orphanage caretakers when they speak Russian to him.

More to come later.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

We're here

We're in Novokuznetsk! Today has finally arrived. We're headed to the baby home in 10 minutes! We're going to see Zac!

I actually typed up this nice blog post on the plane and saved it as a Word doc to load onto the "computer lab" computer that they have here. But time won't allow me to do all that is necessary.

The gist is this: Zac, today is April 21st, 2008. Today is the last day that you'll ever be considered an orphan. The nightmare is over. It's time for you to come home.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Sunday Morning

Last night went well.  Katie and I both crashed right at 10:00pm Moscow time.  Katie slept thru the night, while I made it all the way till 11:00pm.  Hmmm.... not exactly what I would call a full night's sleep.  I did manage to find 4 more hours of sleep from approximately 2:00 to 6:00.

Two stories:

1.  One might think that our biggest language barrier would be with the Russians.  In fact, we had an interesting encounter with our fellow Americans D&A.  We had just arrived at the hotel when D told us.  "We could make a lot of money here starting a cow wash".  I let out a good fake laugh and tried to make sense of what in the world he had just said.  I assumed that somehow this comment had something to do with me being from Nebraska.  Katie, who's social skills are better then mine, politely asked him "What?"  whereupon, he said it again.  "We could make a lot of money here starting a cow wash."  

Then it hit me.  D is from Boston.  He was, in fact, saying "car wash".  Indeed, there are lots of dirty cars here in Moscow.  We shared a laugh over that one.

2.  We went out this morning to the grocery store.  (See below)

We bought ourselves a nice little breakfast.  Some meat, cheese, bread and milk.  It all tasted wonderful... except the milk.  The bottle of evil... er... I mean, milk looked close enough like what we thought a bottle of milk should look like.  (See below)

But don't be fooled people!  This stuff may look like milk, but it smells like feet and tastes like liquid sour cream.  If anyone can read Russian, I'd love to know what in the world this stuff was. It should not be available for consumption.

Travel update:

We're leaving tonight for Novo at 10:00pm Moscow time.  It's a 4 hour flight and we loose 4 more hours.  So we'll arrive at 6:00am Novo time.  I have no idea if we'll go to the Baby Home right away in the morning (I hope!) or if we'll have to wait for the afternoon.  Either way, I'm thinking that my next post will be made some time early Monday morning US time.  (Late afternoon for us)

Don't loose too much sleep running down to check your computer every hour.... Nannie.

Picture update

We had dinner with D&A tonight.  Everytime we're in Moscow, we make it a point to go to this cute little restaurant right down the street from the Holiday Inn.  (In other words, we chose not to venture from the same restaurant we ate at last time)

In Moscow

Greetings from Moscow everyone!  I'm not sure whether to say Good Morning or Good Evening right now.  My body's clock is very messed up right now.  More on that later.

We are VERY thankful to say that we arrived with little to no events.  Our 11 hour Delta flight from Atlanta to Moscow was surprising wonderful.  (Wonderful being on a relative scale).  Our plane had these cool touch screen tvs on each seat which allowed us to select from around 12 different movies.  We took notice that (if we get the same type of plane going back) they have some kid movies that can be watched in Russian language.  Maybe Zac will watch "Bee Movie" in Russian???  We're not really holding our breath...

The big news is that OUR LUGGAGE CAME WITH US this time!  Yea!  By the time we got through all the flights, Katie and I were very psyched up that things were going so well.  Traveling here for a second time has been significantly less stressful already.  It's not really like we're "Russian Travel Experts" or anything, but everything we've done so far has been a repeat of trip one.  (Same airport, same hotel, etc.)

I was commenting to Katie that because of my (very small) knowledge of Russian language this time around, I find myself understanding quite a bit more.  It's not really the words so much, it's the sounds.... if that makes sense.  The language doesn't "scratch" on my ears as much this time.  I feel like I'm merely listening to more of my Russian language CD that I have in my car.  Just an observation I guess.

At the airport, we found 3 other adoptive couples from CHI and EAC plus we've met up with D&A.  Of the 3 new couples, all of them were on trip #1.  They are all going to different regions, so our adventures will most likely go part ways from here.  Nevertheless, we had quite a little American "party" going on by the Passport booth.  

We checked in at the hotel and although it was only a little after noon, we immediately crawled in bed and fell asleep.  Probably not the best thing to do with the whole jet lag thing going on, but we have decided that our philosophy is:  Sleep when your tired.  Sleep when you can.  We just made up this new found rule, so we'll see how it goes.

So apparently, we slept for 2 hours and now here we are.  It's about 4:30pm Moscow time.  It feels like morning.  I'm ready from breakfast... I mean, lunch..... I mean, dinner? .... I guess.... something.

Anyway, 2 other random funnies:

1.  When we arrived in Moscow we immediately met up with our translator (Tanyja).  We exchanged hello's and I began showing off my Russian.  "Zztrasta-wi-tya!" I said.  (Hello)  Whereupon, she says, "kahk-da-lah?" (How are you?)  and I meant to respond "Ha-ra-show" (fine) but unfortunately, I said "Hol-og-na" which means "cold".  Which really didn't make sense, because we were inside the airport and as anyone who has been to Russia knows, they keep their buildings really really hot!  So she looked at me like I was an idiot.  But then we all laughed because I realized my mistake.

2.  After my 2 hour nap, I went down to the front desk to find an internet cable.  While in the elevator, a Russian woman mumbles something to me in Russian.  Deep down inside, I'm actually proud of this because this must mean I don't look "too American".  (i.e. Big white tenis shoes, baseball hat, etc)  I proudly tell her "I'm sorry, I don't speak Russian" in the Russian language.  But she goes on and mumbles something again.  I politely respond in the identical way, "I'm sorry, I don't speak Russian"  (Yeez -ve -nee-tee  Ya-ni Ga-Vai-yo-Pa-Ruski)  She finally blurts out:  "I just asked you which one is the main floor?  I mean, do you at least speak English or something?!?"

Ahhh... It's good to be back in the USSR.

Friday, April 18, 2008

In Atlanta

We've made it to Atlanta.  So far so good.

The only thing worth reporting is that we had our bubbles taken away by TSA.  We tried to explain that kids love bubbles and that we NEED them for proper bonding, but they just looked at us like we were weird.  Go figure.

Next post will be in Moscow!

(We love you Hallie and Jake!)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Last post from home

I'm pondering whether or not to go to bed right now. Even if I try, I doubt I'll sleep.

Anyway, we've got a wonderful 5 hour layover in Atlanta. I'm guessing that I'll blog something while we're there.

Leaving Tomorrow

I'm really going to try hard to blog A LOT during our trip. It seems that all too often we adoptive parents build up to this big moment and then completely fall off the face of the earth during "THE trip".

The problem is that my mind is going 1 million miles a second. It's like drinking 8 Mountain Dews and then trying to sit down to read. Not an easy task.

I look back at my blog entries during our first trip and I realize that I missed about 94% of everything that happened. I'm going to try harder this time. I'm also packing my video camera on my carry on (instead of the guitar). Point being: I'm hoping to post some cool videos during our trip.

Random factoid: If I'm reading things correctly, Wednesday's forecast in Novo is 77 Degrees. (Yes, that's Farenheit..... I suppose I didn't need to say that. Duh. Of coarse that's Farenheit. If that were Celcius, we'd all be dead.

Anyway, I'm thinking I need to pull out all the snow suits and pack my shorts!

Spring Break Siberia BABY!!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"Charged" up to go

I'm laughing at how many batteries we have had to charge up this week in order to be ready for Friday's departure.

1. My cell phone
2. Katie's cell phone
3. The International cell phone that we rented from rangeRoamer (We'll let you know how this goes.
4. My laptop battery
5. My second laptop battery
6. My iPod Nano
7. Katie's iPod Touch
8. My video camera battery
9. My second video camera battery
10. My still camera battery

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Court is one week from today. We leave in 3 days. We're totally packed. We could leave in 20 minutes if we had to.

While we wait, why not post another picture of our "little Pasha"?


Monday, April 14, 2008


Here's a picture of Novokuznetsk that I found on the internet:

Obviously, this picture was taken during the summer, but it continues to amaze me how much the terrain in Novokuznetsk looks like Iowa.  You would think that things would be much more different on the "other side" of the world.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

He loves me.... He loves me not.

There is a little boy at our church who was born within a week or so of Zac. Over the past 10 months, I find myself frequently staring at him and daydreaming about Zac. I can tell that I must be sending "creepy vibes" his way, because he'll catch me looking at him with FAR TOO MUCH love in my eyes and then he'll usually hide behind whoever's leg he's standing by.

Today, I tried to be a little cooler when I saw him. I said, "Hey Austin! Can I have a five?" (holding out my hand) He simply shook his head and said, "No".

Oh. Well, I did ask him if I could give him a five - I suppose he has the right to say no.

I couldn't help but think about Zac and our first encounter. (for those that don't know, Zac didn't exactly warm up to us on our first trip) Will we pick up where we left off? or will he be a whole new happy kid?

I guess I'll just have to wait 1 more week to find out.

By the way, we leave Friday - We'll see him Monday - Court is Tuesday - Gotcha Day is Wednesday.... hopefully. Gotcha Day is subject to change.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


My latest and greatest worry:

Having our flights cancelled at the last minute and missing our courtdate. (Has anyone heard of someone missing their courtdate? What happens?)

With all this mahem about the FAA pulling entire fleets from service, I'm a little freaked out. (Until we have the kid home, I'm going to continue to worry.... I know I'm not supposed to worry, but that's just the way it is)

Anyway, I looked and we're taking a Canadair Regional Jet to Atlanta and a 767 to Moscow. To my knowledge neither one of these fleets have been pulled... yet. Once we get to Moscow, I'm not too worried about Russia cancelling any flights on account of safety.

In fact, I looked up what type of plane we're taking from Moscow to Novokuzenetsk. I was fortunate enough to find a picture of the actual plane.

See below:

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Flag: Check

No epic stories today. (Sorry)

We're checking off just about everything on our "to do" list before we leave next week. (Yes, I said next week!)

Aside from the typical list, (tickets, reservations, visas, packing, blah, blah, blah) we did something kinda cool. We ordered a flag to be flown over the U.S. Capitol in honor of Zac. We debated as to which date to fly the flag: Court date, Gotcha date, Coming Home date.

We decided on the Court date (April 22nd) as everything else is contingent upon our 10 days being waved.

I just thought this was kind of a cool thing to do. Too bad we don't have a flag pole...

Monday, April 7, 2008

Visa Story

We got our Visas today. This is a relief as a person actually has to send off their passports for a few days when applying for their Visas. It's a little nerve-wracking to part with your passport the week before you leave for Russia.

But nothing happens around here without a good story. It goes something like this:

The scene: Ryan sitting in his office. He is at his desk when he suddenly picks up his phone. He dials the number to the Russian National Group and plans to find out if they have yet received his Visa application.

(Fade in)

Receptionist (with a thick Russian accent) : Hello? Russian National Group.

Ryan: Hi. I'm traveling to Russia and I sent an application for a Visa last week and I just wanted to call to confirm that you had received the application.

Receptionist: No.

Ryan: (bilwildered) Uh..... (awkward pause) Aren't you going to ask me what my name is?

Receptionist: What is your name?

Ryan: Ryan Horner

Receptionist: We do not have it.

Ryan: OK. (another awkward pause) That's a problem, because I have a Fed Ex confirmation saying that a Lena signed for it on April 3rd.

Receptionist: I will call you tomorrow.

Ryan: No. We have a problem here. You have my passports and I'm leaving next week for Russia. Do you or don't you have my passports and visa application?

Receptionist: One moment please.

(1 minute pause. Ryan looks back at his computer screen and proceeds to read a few emails while waiting for the receptionist. Finally, the receptionist picks the phone back up.)

Receptionist: Yes. We have it here.

Ryan: (very much relieved) OK. Good.

Receptionist: We will process it tomorrow.

Ryan: (quickly resuming his previous emotion of frustration) But, I paid EXTRA money to have the visa processed the NEXT business day. We've already established that you received our application on April 3rd. You need to process this today.

Receptionist: (With little emotion) Fine. We will do it today. I will call you at 4:00.

Ryan: (Wondering what 4:00 has to do with anything) Fine. Thank you very much.

Receptionist: You're welcome. Good bye.

Ryan: Good-Bye.

(Both parties politely hang up the phone. Ryan continues to work for appoximately 30 minutes when a co-worker unexpectantly enters the scene with a Fed Ex package. Ryan opens it and is completely surprised as well as confused to find his passports and Visas inside. Apparently, the visas were indeed processed as they were supposed to have been.)

Ryan: What the.....? (long pause) Unbelievable.

(Fade out)

Friday, April 4, 2008

Thinking More about Zac and less about ourselves

Imagine for a moment…

You have met the person you've dreamed about all your life. He has every quality that you desire in a spouse. You plan for the wedding, enjoying every free moment with your fiancée. You love his touch, his smell, the way he looks into your eyes. For the first time in your life, you understand what is meant by "soul mate," for this person understands you in a way that no one else does. Your heart beats in rhythm with his. Your emotions are intimately tied to his every joy, his every sorrow.

The wedding comes. It is a happy celebration, but the best part is that you are finally the wife of this wonderful man. You fall asleep that night, exhausted from the day's events, but relaxed and joyful in the knowledge that you are next to the person who loves you more than anyone in the world…the person who will be with you for the rest of your life.

The next morning you wake up, nestled in your partner's arms. You open your eyes and immediately look for his face.

But IT'S NOT HIM! You are in the arms of another man. You recoil in horror. Who is this man? Where is your beloved?

You ask questions of the new man, but it quickly becomes apparent that he doesn't understand you. You search every room in the house, calling and calling for your husband. The new guy follows you around, trying to hug you, pat you on the back,...even trying to stroke your arm, acting like everything is okay.

But you know that nothing is okay. Your beloved is gone. Where is he? Will he return? When? What has happened to him?

Weeks pass. You cry and cry over the loss of your beloved. Sometimes you ache silently, in shock over what has happened. The new guy tries to comfort you. You appreciate his attempts, but he doesn't speak your language-either verbally or emotionally. He doesn't seem to realize the terrible thing that has happened...that your sweetheart is gone.

You find it difficult to sleep. The new guy tries to comfort you at bedtime with soft words and gentle touches, but you avoid him, preferring to sleep alone, away from him and any intimate words or contact.

Months later, you still ache for your beloved, but gradually you are learning to trust this new guy. He's finally learned that you like your coffee black, not doctored up with cream and sugar. Although you still don't understand his bedtime songs, you like the lilt of his voice and take some comfort in it.

More time passes. One morning, you wake up to find a full suitcase sitting next to the front door. You try to ask him about it, but he just takes you by the hand and leads you to the car. You drive and drive and drive. Nothing is familiar. Where are you? Where is he taking you?

You pull up to a large building. He leads you to an elevator and up to a room filled with people. Many are crying. Some are ecstatic with joy. You are confused. And worried.

The man leads you over to the corner. Another man opens his arms and sweeps you up in an embrace. He rubs your back and kisses your cheeks, obviously thrilled to see you.

You are anything but thrilled to see him. Who in the world is he? Where is your beloved? You reach for the man who brought you, but he just smiles (although he seems to be tearing up, which concerns you), pats you on the back, and puts your hand in the hands of the new guy. The new guy picks up your suitcase and leads you to the door. The familiar face starts openly crying, waving and waving as the elevator doors close on you and the new guy.

The new guy drives you to an airport and you follow him, not knowing what else to do. Sometimes you cry, but then the new guy tries to make you smile, so you grin back, wanting to "get along." You board a plane. The flight is long. You sleep a lot, wanting to mentally escape from the situation.

Hours later, the plane touches down. The new guy is very excited and leads you into the airport where dozens of people are there to greet you. Light bulbs flash as your photo is taken again and again. The new guy takes you to another guy who hugs you. Who is this one? You smile at him. Then you are taken to another man who pats your back and kisses your cheek. Then yet another fellow gives you a big hug and messes your hair.

Finally, someone (which guy is this?) pulls you into his arms with the biggest hug you've ever had. He kisses you all over your cheeks and croons to you in some language you've never heard before.

He leads you to a car and drives you to another location. Everything here looks different. The climate is not what you're used to. The smells are strange. Nothing tastes familiar, except for the black coffee. You wonder if someone told him that you like your coffee black.

You find it nearly impossible to sleep. Sometimes you lie in bed for hours, staring into the blackness, furious with your husband for leaving you, yet aching from the loss. The new guy checks on you. He seems concerned and tries to comfort you with soft words and a mug of warm milk. You turn away, pretending to go to asleep.

People come to the house. You can feel the anxiety start to bubble over as you look into the faces of all the new people. You tightly grasp the new guy's hand. He pulls you closer. People smile and nudge one other, marveling at how quickly you've fallen in love. Strangers reach for you, wanting to be a part of the happiness.

Each time a man hugs you, you wonder if he will be the one to take you away. Just in case, you keep your suitcase packed and ready. Although the man at this house is nice and you're hanging on for dear life, you've learned from experience that men come and go, so you just wait in expectation for the next one to come along.

Each morning, the new guy hands you a cup of coffee and looks at you expectantly. A couple of times the pain and anger for your husband is so great that you lash out, sending hot coffee across the room, causing the new guy to yelp in pain. He just looks at you, bewildered. But most of the time you calmly take the cup. You give him a smile. And wait. And wait. And wait.

--Written by Cynthia Hockman-Chupp, analogy courtesy of Dr. Kali Miller

T-minus 2 weeks...

We're leaving 2 weeks from today. So much to do, so little time. And yet I would leave tomorrow if we were able to.

The "Zac dreams" are happening about every other night now-a-days. It's fun to be able to "see" him so often.

I'll update more later.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Making Plans

OK - Let's get back to subject of adoption. (Oh yea! That is the purpose of this blog isn't it?)

Today was fun. We booked our flights. We're choosing to fly Delta this time. Delta has, by far, the most direct way to fly from Omaha to Moscow. We'll go Omaha to Atlanta to Moscow. Last time, we went Omaha to Chicago to Toronto to Moscow. We're hoping that the fewer connections will decrease our odds of loosing our luggage this time around. We'll see. At the very least, I'll be packing a smarter carry-on this time. (Like that'll be hard to do...)

Another change this time around is that we're going to stay in an apartment while in Moscow rather than a Hotel. As some of you may know, Moscow is the most expensive city in the world. Additionally, the end of April is a big travel time for them because of their Easter (using the Orthodox calendar) as well as May day (which is big for them). The result is that a suite at the Holiday Inn costs $545/night! Yes, that would be dollars, not rubles.

Therefore, we're opting for a "cheap" apartment at a mere $270/night. Practically a steal!

Food Court Musical

I received the following YouTube link from my friend Andrew in response to my post about spontaneously breaking into song. I just about exploded from laughing so hard.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Truth be known, I've been carrying a secret with me. I'm not sure why I didn't share this on the blog last week:

Although we did get our courtdate last Tuesday, we still did not have official confirmation that our region had received the official letter from the Databank saying that Zac had been released.

Therefore, we were very tenative about our April 22nd courtdate.

Well, today it's official. It was confirmed that the letter was received from the Databank. We're officially traveling to Russia! We even started booking flights and hotels (apartments) today. I can't tell you what a huge weight has been lifted.

Tonight will be the first night in over 9 months that I won't have to go to sleep wondering "Will tomorrow finally be the day that Zac is released?" It's almost like that thought has become me. It defined me.

Well, not anymore. That chapter has officially come to a close. It's been a good chapter. Not exactly an easy chapter. Certainly a very confusing chapter. But in the end, I have come to experience a deeper understanding of patience and surrender. These are good attributes to carry around, I have learned.


These are our visa photos. Aren't they awesome? We are thinking about making copies for Christmas cards next year.