I awoke the following morning to two pictures in my e-mail inbox of the most precious, tiny little girl. I’ve always had a mental picture of what I thought my daughter looked like, and these pictures were so incredibly close!
When I got to the office, a Fed-Ex package with very sketchy medical information was waiting. At 15 months she weighed 14 pounds, was anemic, and had some other typical Russian diagnoses that are too complicated to explain here (if you’re interested in reading about referral medical reports, you can check out www.russianadoption.org/topten.htm). I went by myself into an office, shut the door and watched the three and a half minute video, which showed a beautiful little girl, obviously a little scared by being in a room with so many people, but following every move very intently. During the last minute, she was in another room with only a few people and was obviously more comfortable, she smiled, giggled and completely won me over!
Since I had 18 months to prepare for this moment, I knew I had to think with my head and not my heart. I ran out and got the video dubbed and overnighted it to a doctor who specializes in evaluating international adoption referrals. Dr. Alla Gordina is Russian physician based in New Jersey who runs an international adoption clinic, and has seen hundreds of these tapes. She watched the video and told me that the baby looked pretty good – severely malnourished, definitely has rickets, but didn’t see anything that “lots of Vitamin M – mommy – wouldn’t take care of”!
She did want more information, since we got so little, and my agency was able to set up a call between my doctor and the orphanage doctor in Kazakhstan. Dr. Gordina told me she’ll need a lot of work – physical therapy, occupational therapy and a lot of one on one attention, but thinks she’ll do fine.
I accepted her referral October 21, and got my dossier re-done (for the last time) in record time. I am now four days away from leaving the States to meet my daughter!
I’m excited, scared, nervous, thrilled, and can’t believe I’m almost there.
Apparently, around the corner from the apartment I’ll be staying in is a cyber-café, so I’ll be updating and sending pictures too! Stay tuned...
Wow, this has been an amazing few days! I left Los Angeles
Saturday afternoon at 3:20 PM PST, and flew 10 hours to Frankfurt Germany. I had a two and a half-hour layover followed by another six-hour flight to Almaty Kazakhstan, which is where I am now. I arrived around 3:00 AM and was met at the airport by the most wonderful woman, Galiya, who works for my agency and is handling the adoption details in Kazakhstan.
She brought me to the apartment that will be my home for the next three weeks or so. For $30 a night, I have a two-bedroom apartment with a full bathroom, kitchen and living/dining room.
I was awake until about 5:00 AM, unpacking… and pacing, knowing that in a few hours I’d be meeting my daughter!
I was picked up at 11:00 AM, ran around town a bit – registering my passport, exchanging dollars into tenge, and after driving 90 minutes to a little village called Karakastek arrived at the orphanage where my daughter is living.
Words can’t describe the feeling as the beautiful little girl who will soon depend on me for everything was walked into the visiting room! For the past month I’ve had two pictures and two videos of her that are worn out from watching over and over again, and here she was. They placed her in my arms and she buried her head in my neck. I was in heaven.
We played and got to know each other for about four hours, and then it was time to leave. When I got home last night, I was totally exhausted! But I was being picked up at 9:00 AM in the morning to go back to the orphanage!
On the way Galiya had to stop by the courthouse to pick up the final decisions for two other families who had their court date the day before. When she came out, she told me my court date was Thursday! That’s the day after tomorrow! That means on Friday, I get to bring Alison back to the apartment.
Unfortunately, Kazakhstani law requires a 15 day waiting period before the decision is final, so we’re not leaving here for a while, but we’ll have a couple of weeks to get to know each other before we get on a plane to Moscow. Yes, Moscow. We have to go through the U.S. Embassy in order to enter the U.S. But more about that next time. I’ m exhausted....