Friday, September 30, 2011

8-doc medical

Well - let me say this, I had heard the 8-doc medical was not as imposing as it may seem and boy they were not kidding.  Tanya and Sasha picked me up at 10am and off to the clinic - like one of our hospitals.  I had blood taken first for some tests.  As usual with me, it was difficult to find my vein so they had to call in a special nurse to help.  Always happens when I give blood too.  They say I have small veins - who knows.  Anyway, after that, off for x-rays.  As I was getting x-rayed I realized, I don't think I have ever had x-rays before.  Never broken anything or even came close that I can recall so no need I suppose.  Good thing I am not modest.  Had to strip down on the top - all the way.  Tanya was there.  I guess I could have asked her to step out but honestly - that was the least of my worries.  We were done with testing around 11:15am.  Tanya said we would now wait for the blood work and then meet all the doctors.  We went to a small waiting room, right next to what can best be described like an American board room with a long wooden table and chairs all around it.  We were the only ones there today.  That made Tanya sad because she said that normally there are at least 2 families and sometimes up to 5 there at the same time.  She said it just indicates how slow the international adoption process has become in Russia. Then we waited and waited and waited and waited.  Around 2pm, the man, Andrei, who was helping us, went to find some of the doctors.  He came back with 3 signatures on my form, without them even needing to see me - Narcologist, Psychiatrist, and Urologist.  Hooray!  So, 3 hrs down and 3 signatures without even seeing a doc!  Good.  Then we waited some more.  About 2:30, the internist came in listened to my heart, looked at my wrists and ankles and signed the form.  Glad to know my wrists and ankles passed the test!  Hooray.  Halfway through.  Then came in a doctor specializing in infectious diseases - she looked at my papers, asked if I ever had any head injuries or surgeries.  When I responded no - she signed the form.  5 doctors down - 3 to go!  Around 3pm, Andrei went in search of them.  He came back with 2 more signatures - the Dermatologist and the Pulmonologist.  Fantastic.  Within a few minutes, the Oncologist came in, asked if I smoked, I said no - and guess what - he signed the form.  One vial of blood, one set of x-rays, 8 signatures and about 4hrs later and I am declared healthy and fit to adopt.

After the medical, Sasha dropped Tanya and I off at Red Square.  It was great to see everything through her eyes.  St Basil's Cathedral, the History Museum, Ascension Gates, Lenin's Tomb.  We also walked through the GUM (pronounced goom) which is a huge shopping mall that borders Red Square - very very expensive, with shops like Hermes, Van Cleef&Arpel, Lacoste, Gucci, etc.   Tanya gets ice cream there with all her families so of course we had ice cream.  After that, we watched the changing of the guard at their Tomb of the unknown solider.

Then it was time to say goodbye - which was hard - just knowing my trip is coming to an end.  I hated not seeing Audrey today.  I so look forward to getting that call from Carol that a court date has been set.  I don't think it will be less than 4 weeks from now but am hoping not more than 8.  They all think about 6 weeks which puts me in the middle of November.  Sdending prayers about that.

Tomorrow, Sasha picks me up at 7am for my 12hr flight back to Houston, 6-hr layover and then should land in Nashville around 10pm.  Cannot wait to give Clare so many hugs and kisses.  She will be sleeping by the time I get home but I will absolutely be waking her up.  :)

Hope all is well back home!  I will write again when I know more about a court date. Until then - as they say in Russia - paka!

The famous Bolshoi Theater (from the car of course);  Tanya said it is scheduled
to reopen in October, after 6 years!  I guess the wait for tickets is months and months!

St. Basil's taken from the front - in Red Square

Ascension Gate, one of the 2 entrances to Red Square.
We saw 3 bridal parties today!

The changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Day 4 and a sad goodbye

Day 4 of visiting sweet Audrey but also the day I had to say goodbye to her for about 6 weeks.  She was pretty tired today.  We arrived at almost 2 o'clock today after visiting the notary and the office in the morning.  I think they maybe woke her up for our visit because she just seemed more groggy today.   I felt like maybe she recognized me when they brought her in (perhaps wishful thinking) and maybe even a hint of happiness to see me?   We had a lot of snuggle time today, knowing that she was going to be without me for awhile again.  She was very cuddly today and just curled up in my arms, sucking those middle two fingers.  It was heartbreaking to say goodbye.  Of course there were tears - or as Sasha my driver says - sad eyes today!   I know all of us Russian adoptive parents go through this.  The agony of thinking she might feel abandoned again in her short little life.  She finally meets this person who gives her so much love and attention, even for just a short while each day, and then soon it is gone again.  Certainly she is too young to remember me when I get back but of course I dread the thought of her little heart feeling any sadness or loneliness again.  I just keep reminding myself that we will have a lifetime together - or at least 18 years until she goes off to college.   6 weeks will be just a distant memory before we know it.  Until I can return, I will be praying for her safekeeping and for her to be showered with the best love her caregivers can offer.

Tomorrow is the infamous 8-doctor medical appt and then back home on Saturday.  Trip 1 is almost done.  November will be here soon and Audrey should be an American citizen and officially my daughter just in time for a great Christmas in Nashville!

Until next time!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day 3

Sitting at the lobby bar, having a glass of wine and eating a salad at the end of another great day!  The day started with a trip to a photo shop to have a picture of Audrey cropped for her passport and visa.  Then we were off to exchange money.  The dollar is dropping so Tanya thought it was time to do a larger exchange.  Guess what - 5 exchanges, no rubles!  Or at least they said no rubles.  Tanya said they sometimes hold the rubles when they know the rate is dropping so they have to pay out less.  Nice.  We finally found one though - but already a lower exchange rate, although no commission.  Then - off to see Miss Audrey.  Traffic was good so the trip was only about 70 minutes this morning.  Audrey was a stunner again today.  Same yellow shirt as yesterday but this time, a beautiful doiley on her head along with pinkish tights and of course the yellow booties.   As you can imagine, it takes a special kind of girl to rock a doiley on her head and Audrey was fierce in it.  She could make doileys runway fashionable!  Anyway, we were able to spend almost 90 minutes together today which was great.  I held her and rocked her, gave her some belly play-time and some wheels on the bus too.    We practiced sitting up, which needs a lot more work, but she can roll over both front to back and back to front.  She demonstrated that for me twice today which was great to see.  She gets better each day at grabbing things with her hands but like most things, it will improve with time.  She still is very quiet although I heard a couple babbles today.  Her face isn't expressive but she hasn't had too much to express yet in her short little life.  I am so looking forward to getting her home, feeding her well,  giving her some fresh air and sunshine and lots of love and attention.  I just know she will blossom.

The ride back into Moscow took a little less than 2 hrs (better than yesterday).  I was able to take a few shots of sites from the car.  Tanya also took me to a beautiful cathedral called The Cathedral of Christ the Savior (picture below).  It has an amazing story that Tanya shared.   When Bonaparte fled Moscow in defeat in the early 1800s, Alexander decided to build a Cathedral to honor Christ as their Savior, saving them from defeat.  It took 20 years to build originally and stood tall until 1931 when Stalin ordered it demolished by dynamite.   Thankfully in 1990, they decided to rebuild it in its original glory.  Construction started in 1994 and completed in 2000, with complete restoration as it stood originally.  A beautiful and very symbolic building for a beautiful city.

Tomorrow, we are off to the notary to sign some papers for my court date and then off to the babyhome to see Miss Audrey before I leave for 6 weeks or so.   Is the trip really drawing to a close already?  I will be so happy to be home and to hug sweet monkey Clare but so sad to leave Audrey.

St. Basil's Cathedral on Red Square as taken from our car passing by...  

The American Embassy as taken from our car, passing by

The amazing Cathedral of Christ the Savior - not in the car this time!  :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Day 2

Where to begin with a fun day 2...  First, I forgot one other funny story from yesterday.  Note of caution - Day 1 was much funnier than Day 2.  Maybe that is why I subconsciously saved an anecdote from Day 1 for today - just in case so Day 2 entry wasn't too boring.

Anyway, yesterday Tanya was telling me how in Russia, adoptions are much more secretive.  Many parents don't even share with their children about their adoption.  Much different than the United States today where most adoptions are very open.  I mentioned that it would be hard for me to keep mine private, if I wanted to (which I don't but if I did) because of Clare's ethnicity.  Tanya had the perfect solution!  Just tell everyone I am married to an Asian man.  After awhile if they ask why they have never met him, I can share that he travels quite a bit.  If they continue to push or ask why I don't wear a ring, eventually I just tell them we are divorced now.  Problem solved!  :)  I shared that while that is certainly one approach, for me it is probably easier just to share that Clare (and Audrey) are adopted and I am single.  Good ol' Tanya!

Back to Day 2, today started with a trip to the hospital to see Dr. Mouradov.  Handsome!  I had forgotten something yesterday (again, perhaps that was my subconscious kicking in again) so we had to swing by there today to drop if off.  It was really just a quick visit on the sidewalk but I did get another hug which was fun.  Then off for the real business of the day - to see Miss Audrey!

Yesterday, the 30 mile drive only took an hour.  This morning - it took 2 hrs.  Ouch.  Audrey was dressed in a lovely ensemble once again, complete with knit yellow booties, a yellow hat, yellow shirt, red tights with $ signs all over them and let's not forget the keep-the-core-warm onesie.    Despite the attire - completely adorable.  We spent the first part of the visit taking pictures that would be used for her passport and some for court on Trip 2.  Then she and I did some leg exercises and also began to practice sitting up a bit.  Time to flex and strengthen all those muscles.  She was in a good mood - quiet like yesterday but still observant.  The most heartbreaking and heartwarming part of the visit was her first smile for me.  I was giving her amazing little cheeks these soft butterfly kisses on each side.  She loved it and gave me the best smile.  I saw all 4 teeth on top because she smiled so big.  It totally made me melt in love and then it made me cry as I thought that for 8 months this sweet little angel never got butterfly kisses on those amazing cheeks.  While they take great care of her, no one massages her little legs or rubs that beautiful head.  No one caresses her forehead, down her nose, helping her to relax. No one has loved her the way her mommy can and will.  She has been waiting so patiently for me and here I am - finally - giving her all the butterfly kisses she can take!  For all you moms out there, give your kids big hugs and kisses.  Wipe away their tears and share their smiles.  Enjoy every single moment.  I have with Clare and I will with Audrey.  For you moms still waiting to meet your little one, hold on.  It is worth every bump in the road, every tear, every delay, every unexpected twist - just one smile after a few sweet butterfly kisses is all it takes!

Okay - what else - ooh the ride home.  30 miles, 3.5hrs in Moscow traffic.  Ouch!  We went to the office to get some paperwork that I need to have notarized on Thursday then back to the hotel.  Tomorrow, we will get Audrey's passport picture processed then off to the BH for a visit.  Haven't done much sightseeing yet.  The days have been full.  Tanya thought maybe tomorrow after our visit.  Thursday sounds like the last day I will see Audrey as I have the 8-doc medical on Friday.  Taking lots of pictures so I will be able to look at them during the long wait before court.

Hope all is well back home.

Monday, September 26, 2011


Today I met my daughter.  She is beautiful and sweet and quiet and interested and questioning and just so wonderful!   The day started out by visiting the Department of Education where I learned about my referral (everything I already knew) then off to the babyhome.  The traffic thankfully wasn't bad so it only took about an hour.

Pause for product advertisement - Hooray for 24-hr "less drowsy" dramamine.  Worked like a charm for the crazy Moscow traffic and as advertised - with less drowsiness.  Back to regularly scheduled blogging...

Arriving at the babyhome, they quickly brought peanut in to see me.  She looked just like her referral picture.  A beauty for sure.  I held her and played for about 20 minutes before Dr. Mouradov arrived to help me with her evaluation. All checked out really well.  She has the expected delays - nothing that won't be improved with lots of love and attention, along with some wheels on the bus action to get those muscles used to moving.     Some small other little abnormalities but again - nothing we can't overcome as a family so I am thrilled and look forward to bringing her home - hopefully by the end of November, early December.

For those of you who followed along on my first adoption, you might remember that no adoption journey is complete for me without some weird meat story.  Well, after leaving the babyhouse, Svetlana and Tanya needed to go back inside and complete some paperwork so Alexander (aka Sasha, my driver) and I were hanging by the car.  Then - guess what happened - you won't guess - he opened his trunk, pulled out a loaf of rye bread, a hunk of salami and made me a salami sandwich on rye, right in front of the babyhouse, at the trunk of his car, on the street.  Yup - sure did!  Like I said - for me adoption and weird meat stories go together like Sonny and Cher or PB&J or Starsky&Hutch or whatever fabulous duo you can concoct.

On the ride home, we started discussing baby names.  The fun continued as Svetlana and Tanya are absolutely enthralled with any name held by a former actress/starlet.  Their favorites, which they more than enthusiastically shared with me were  - Grace for Grace Kelly, Elizabeth for Elizabeth Taylor, Vivian for Vivian Leigh and Sopia, as in Sophia Lauren. You can imagine the sheer giddiness when I shared, unsuspectedly, that I was going to name her Audrey.  Oh the joy they had found!  Audrey, Audrey Hepburn they shouted - how fabulous.  I swear - I was in some weird twilight zone - giddy myself from exhaustion, joy, and sheer terror at truly being a mom of two.  Soon I was right with them - yes, Audrey, Audrey Hepburn!!  :)

OOh - I almost forgot one other funny part of the day.  "Audrey" has Mongolian spots all over her back and her whole bottom is one huge Mongolian spot - literally!  Her entire butt is bluish gray.  So, I am telling Svetlana all about it and her response - hmm - I guess no string bikini underwear in her future.  I busted out laughing.  Good point.  Hopefully I don't need to worry about her wearing thongs anytime soon though and hopefully the spots fade by the time she does.  What a day!

Tomorrow and Wednesday, I visit peanut again at the babyhouse.  I don't know what happens on Thursday - maybe more of the same and on Friday I get poked and prodded during the infamous 8-doctor medical exam.  It really isn't as bad as it sounds, or so I have heard from other adoptive families.  Then on Saturday, I fly back to Nashville to see sweet Clare and await a court date.

I will have more pictures of Moscow sites soon but thought I would share the irony of being so far from home - yet home seems just around the corner.  Recognize any of these?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Arrived safely

I am all checked in at the Marriott Grand - safe and sound in Moscow!  Flight was perfect and on time.  It was quite a production getting on the airplane though.  Tons of security.  We had our passports checked 3 times from the gate to the airplane.  Right before we boarded, we all had to walk down this narrow hallway - about 10 of us at at time.  They told us to leave our carry-ons and purses, etc on the wall and then go stand on the opposite wall, across from our things.  It was bizarre.  Then, they brought out a police dog who went down the hall, sniffing all of our stuff - first down one way, then down the other.  Well, this crazy dog, a sweet German Shepherd, stops at my Coach purse and puts the thing in his mouth and prances off down the hall with it.  I was scared to death that they were going to think there was something in there but then all the cops started laughing, saying he had good taste in purses.   Oh my gosh, seriously?  I am stressed enough already - I don't need to be scared I am going to get hauled off by airport security or the TSA!  Anyway, it was all fine.  The flight on Singapore was great.  Not too crowded so no one was in the middle seat which is always nice.

The Marriott Grand is a gorgeous hotel!  Wow.  There was an orchestral quartet playing in the lobby when I checked in.  Much more luxurious than the Courtyard and for the same price - except for the internet in the lobby.  The Courtyard has free lobby wi-fi.  I have to pay here per day but then have wi-fi anywhere in the hotel, including my room.  Probably worth it for me.

Tanya and Alexander are still my translator and driver, same as last time.  THey are picking me up, along with Svetlana at 10am to go to the Dept of Education to get information on my referral and then off for the dreaded car ride to the Orphanage.  Dreaded because I get so car sick - hopefully my excitement about the day will outweigh any nausea. Just in case though - I found some 24-hr less-drowsy dramamine so I will give that a whirl in the morning.

Not much else to report right now.  Off to grab some dinner and then get some rest before the big day tomorrow.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


So, stuck in Houston for my 6-hr layover.   I didn't think it would be so bad.  I figured that I would get my luggage from continental and then thought I would recheck-in with Singapore Air and then off for some airport shopping, maybe an airport pedicure and some lunch.  Doesn't sound too bad, does it?  Well - I didn't realize that you can only check in for flights somewhere between 3-5hrs early depending on the airline.   I called Singapore Air and for them, from Houston, check-in is 4hrs pre-flight which means 2 things.  First, I am stuck with my huge suitcase for at least another hour but worse - I cannot get back in to the terminals to shop/eat etc until I check back in.  Hmm.... Didn't think about that.  So, thankfully there is a marriott in between the terminals so I am using their free internet while sitting in their comfy lobby.  

Clare had a great first night at the Robertsons - or at least Heather is making me feel better by at least telling me that.  Today they are at the ball field watching Drew play football and Brooke cheer.  Heather sent me a cute shot which I attached below.  Looking forward to meeting Clare's little sister in about 36hrs.  Finally!!!

More to come from Moscow.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Trip 1 (round 2)

I am leaving tomorrow for Moscow.  Off to Houston at 8:50am, six hr layover at Hobby and then Moscow bound on Singapore Air!  I am a total ball of emotions.  Everyone keeps asking me if I am excited.  The answer yes - but I am also feeling so many other things it is hard to sort through it all.  Absolutely excited to meet my new daughter on Monday.  Nervous about all the possibilities and why things might not go as I hope.  Sad to leave Clare for a week.  Grateful to have this amazingly loving, caring, supportive group of friends who will take such great care of Clare while I am gone.  Mournful of the 3 referrals who weren't meant to be mine.  Hopeful that they are finally with their true forever families.  Anxious about what Moscow will be like on my own, without the comfort of my mom this time around.  Scared I will get carsick (again) on the dreaded ride out to the orphanage (dramamine packed this time!).  Questioning why I can't be one of those lucky people who choose not to eat when they are stressed versus eating and gaining the 5lbs I have over the past few months.  Another adoptive mom called it "wait gain".  I thought that was fitting.  So how I am feeling - who the heck knows...  What I do know is that I love Clare with all my heart, love my family and friends and have fallen in love with this beautiful picture of a sweet angel over the past few weeks.  The rest is out of my hands and God's plan for me will be revealed soon enough.  So maybe that is it - I feel in love and faithful.  More to come from Moscow.

Friday, September 16, 2011

One more week!

The time is almost here.  This is my last weekend at home before I head back to Moscow next weekend to meet a beautiful little girl.  My flights are booked.  I leave on Saturday the 24th and return home on Saturday, Oct 1.  I decided to go Singapore Air from Houston this time.  Only $730 RT to DME and then I booked a 2nd RT to get me to Houston but all in it was less than $1000 which is MUCH cheaper than United or Delta.  So excited.  The Marriott Courtyard didn't have the adoption rate available so I am at the Marriott Grand this time around which I hear is just as nice too.  The nursery has been changed from a boy's monkey jungle theme to a beautiful girly owl theme.  As I have said in other posts, the nursery is an emotional hurdle for me and helps me believe it is all real.  When I changed it from a girl's room to a boy's room with my last referral, it really helped.  So while it is not necessarily cost effective to keep switching it with each referral, each time I need to remain hopeful that this is the one!  So - 4th time is a charm right? 
This last week will be painful to keep waiting but I have my referral picture on my computer and stare at her sweet little face only about a million times each day.  Looking forward to meeting her soon and holding her in my arms.  Praying she is my daughter and Clare's baby sister!

More to come!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Gotcha Day #3

As I continue to wait patiently (or not so patiently) to bring home my 2nd child,  what a tremendous break in the stress to be able to celebrate Gotcha Day #3 with my Sweet Monkey Clare.  On September 2, 2008, in Uralsk, Kazakhstan, we officially became a family and Fatima Ibatova became Clare Fatima Reardon - my daughter!  She is the most amazing, funny, beautiful, smart, caring, observant, ballet-loving, mermaid-addicted little angel and I am so in love!  Being her mom is the most amazing gift and I treasure her each and every day.  Love you Clare!  Now let's get you a brother or a sister already!!

Our first picture together

Sweet Clare - the first day we met

3 years later and a total Kazakh Beauty!