Sunday, September 28, 2008

Back Home

I'm back home again!!! I arrived home in the Detroit area yesterday around 1pm EST after a very long day of flying. No complaints about the flight, plane or food, just long...... The flight from Moscow to Franfurt was 2 1/2 hours with only about 1 1/2 hours in between flights. The next leg of the journey from Frankfurt to Detroit was 8 1/2 hours flight time. I sure was glad to get off the plane, but at the same time wanting to go back to Krasnoyarsk quickly to pick up my Little Princess.

Here's a couple of teaser photos of my Little Princess!! I can't post any identifying pictures of her until she is legally in my custody, or fondly known as "Gottcha Day" on the next trip.

These will have to do for now. Will post again later today with more pictures from Krasnoyarsk and Moscow.
Bye for now... Shannon
P.S. Just wanted to send out a big " Thank you" to Jill for providing taxi service to and from the Detroit airport along with emotional support prior to take off when I was sooo nervous.
Also, a great big "Thank you" to Oleg, Sveta and Dasha in Krasnoyarsk, for making Trip one a very memorable and enjoyable time. Also, Thank you for all the work you do on behalf of me with the orphanage and court system when I am not there.
Once more big "Thank you" to my niece Katie, for watching over the house and Jake while I was away.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Moscow Last Day

Just a quick post before trying to get some sleep for tomorrows early departure. It was a fantastic day here in Moscow. The three of us ventured out and tackled the metro system to get down to Red Square and the Kremlin. We spent several hours touring the sites and of course doing a little souvenir shopping. I got a really nice Matroshka doll and traditional Russian dress for the Little Princess, along with a couple of other little goodies. We ate lunch at the famous Gum Mall and then we mostly window shopped. The stores here are very posh and expensive. It was fun to look anyway.

Dinner tonight, again at the Hotel as we are all tired and need to get up very early to get rides to the airport.

I'm having problems with blogger and uploading pictures, so will have to add them at a later date.

Next post, home......


Thursday, September 25, 2008

In Moscow

It was a very early morning departure today from the hotel, leaving at 4:30am to catch our flight to Moscow. Flight on Aeroflot was very comfortable this time. No problems, even slept about an hour. yipee!!!

Rick, Angela and I are all staying at the Holiday Inn Sokolinski in Moscow. it's a very nice hotel and within walking distance to McDonald's as well as several small malls for shopping, grocery stores and a lovely large park to stroll in.

We are all feeling a bit jet lagged and tired after our quick trip to Krasnoyarsk and all the emotions that go with meeting your children and then having to leave them behind, so we did not venture down to Red Square today. That is planned for tomorrow. This afternoon we did visit all of the little shopping centers and took a walk through the park. The weather was beautiful, even if on the cool side. The sun was shining and the wind was light. All the time in Krasnoyarsk it was windy, cold and rainy on and off, so sunshine was wonderful. We opted to eat at the bar/restaurant in the hotel tonight and then call it a day as 1) we were unable to locate any eatting establishments near us that could handle our very limited Russian. 2)We had already eatten at McDonald's for lunch, so did not want that again for dinner. 3) we were all just too tired to venture out much farther. Dinner was delicious, so not a bad choice afterall.

More from Moscow tomorrow!

P.S. Thank you for all the comments from everyone. It is so nice to be able to stay in touch with everyone while being so very far away.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Kras Day 3

We (Angela, Rick and I,the other family from CHI on their first trip), just got back from a great day. It's 4pm now, so I decided to take a little break and update the blog again before I get too tired and can't think.

The morning started just a little rough for me, as I wasn't able to sleep well last night, and then slept in past the time I had intended to awaken because the alarm didn't go off. I must have forgot to turn it to on after I set it last night. Hopefully I will do better tonight. Anyway, I woke up at 7:22am and was supposed to meet at 8am for our ride to the orphanage. I made it, but without my coffee. Oh Boy!!! I wasn't too cranky, just felt out of sorts for a little while. So...on to the orphanage for my last visit with the Little Princess. I was once again sent to the little office to use as my visiting area. Little Princess and I managed okay, it was just confining for a two year old as the room is only 3 ft by 8 ft, plus desk and office type equipment inside. I wish I could have had someone take a picture of me sitting in there with her at a little childs table with both of us sitting on little tiny kids chairs to play at the table. She looked very cute, but I am 5'9" tall and must have looked like a giant sitting at the table. For the most part it was just the two of us in the room today. I felt a little more relaxed with out the ladies sitting at the desk in there while we were playing. The caregivers did peak in every once in a while, but they must have trusted me more alone today.

Little Princess and I played with the remainder of the toys that I had left in my bag for her, and then played with almost every toy on the shelves in the room. We had a great visit. She even had the biggest grin for most of the visit. She is so curious about everything, it is just adorable to watch her try to figure out toys or how to work Mama's camera. I think she liked that more than the toys sometimes. When I first met her, she would not look at the camera when I wanted to take a picture, today was a total different story. She would look right into the lens and put on this big goofy grin. What a little ham already. Half way through our visit today she also spotted the outfits that I had brought to try on for size. I was very worried about how I was going to approach her about trying on the outfits, but I guess my worries were for not. She saw the clothes and right away wanted to put them on. At two, she can already dress herself with some help. We tried on two of the three outfits, as I put the third away knowing it would be way to big for now. She is just out of twelve month and into 18 month clothing.

Little Princess may be small for her age, but she sure does not seem to be behind in any other way. She is talking in one and two word sentences. Her motor skills seem right on target, and boy can this kid climb!!! I am going to have to do more baby proofing of the house than I originally thought. :) We had about 2 1/2 hours of play today. Just as I and Little Princess were both getting a little tired, one of her caregivers came in and saw her yawn so she took her back for a nap, and then it was all over way to quickly. Now it will be a couple of months before I can see that sweet little face again.

Well it is time to go and meet with Oleg and Sveta for briefing on trip 2, what to expect, what to bring, which documents to prepare, etc.. Yes, more documents. Hopefully these will be the last besides post placement reports. After our meeting the three American families from CHI are getting together for conversation and some dinner here at the Hotel. Tomorrow, Angela, Rick and I fly back to Moscow. Saturday we then should be flying back to the States. Hopefully we will get in a little site seeing in Moscow tomorrow afternoon and on Friday.

Paka Paka from Russia


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I've Arrived in Krasnoyarsk

I arrived in Krasnoyarsk on Monday, safe and sound, just very exhausted. It has taken a couple of days to figure out how to establish an internet connection so that I could update the blog. Here I am finally connected and it is Tuesday evenning, so I will back up my story for a couple of days.

Saturday 9/20/08, I left Detroit as scheduled flying on Lufthansa airlines with connection in Frankfurt. The flight over to Frankfurt was very smooth. No complications what so ever, just very cramped for space on the plane making it impossible to get any real rest. The flight was about 7 1/2 hours. The second leg of the journey from Frankfurt to Moscow was also very smooth with no problems. My layover was minimal with only about 30 minutes to wait before boarding the next plane. The terminal was fairly easy to manouver through to find a connecting flight, just large. They have a tram or monorail type vehicle to get you from one terminal to the other. This flight was about 3 hours long maybe a little less, again no sleep. I arrived in Moscow at 1230pm on Sunday 9/21/08. Once off the plane it was time to go through passport control. The line was long to get through and somewhat confusing, but after about 15 minutes I finally just went and stood in a line. Most books and information that I had received about passport control, all said to go to the right for foreigners, but on this day, they had everyone go to the left, foreigners and Russians alike. Anyway, 1 hour later I was through. My translater made it very easy to find her with a sign for CHI, so no problems after that. Once I found my agency representatives I found out that the itinerary that I was given in the US was not the one to be used for this trip. No problem, I can be flexible... so on Sunday night I flew out of Moscow and to Krasnoyarsk. The flight was a "red-eye" flight leaving at 9pm and arriving at about 6am on 9/22. The plane was very nice. This time Aeroflot and a new plane. I did manage to sleep about 1 hour, but that was about all. Now remember, I left Michigan on 9/20, now I'm arriving in Krasnoyarsk on 9/22 at 6am with only 1 hour sleep. Oh boy!!! and I still had a whole days worth of meetings to go to. Luckily the adrenalin of going to the Ministry of education (MOE) and meeting my referral kicked in to help me through the day.

Monday: meeting with the MOE went very well. I didn't know what to expect, but the two ladies that work in the department were very nice. I think I relaxed a little after the first 5 minutes. While at the MOE you are asked some basic questions about yourself and what you do, and why you want to adopt. After the questions the ladies give you the referral that they have chosen for you, along with some basic information. You are then asked if you would like to meet this referral. Of course I said yes!!! I was then given permission to visit my little one that afternoon at the orphanage.

After a very nice lunch of typical Russian cuisine (very delicious might I add), we were off to the orphanage, Oleg our CHI representative and Sveta my interpretor, and myself. First stop was at the orphange directors office to speak with the social workers. I was given all the information that they had on how my little one came to be in the orphanage, family background, etc... Once this meeting was over, we headed to another building where my little one is living. Here we met with the orphange doctor to discuss her medical information and then to speak to a caregiver as well. During the discussion with the doctor, they brought in the sweetest little girl all dressed in a very cute little pink and white dress with big white bow on top of her head. This precious little girl came walking right up to me and held out her hands to sit in my lap. That was it.....seeing those big brown eyes of hers melted my heart and in that very instant I knew she was to be mine. Nothing else the doctor said after that made any difference. Sveta did have to take her from me for a few minutes so that I could finish up with the doctor and also ask a few questions of the caregivers. After the formalities, we were able to sit on the floor and play for about an hour before our time was up and my little princess had to go to her groupa. It was so cute, on the way out of the orphange the caregiver had little princess hold my hand and walk me to the door. Little princess didn't want to let go. It almost broke my heart to already have to leave her behind.

It was back to the Hotel after the orphanage. We tried to get my computer to connect to the internet that evenning but no such luck, so I just sent out a couple of emails from the businesss center, had some dinner at the hotel cafe, and then back to my room to crash for the night. Sleep...finally sleep.

Tuesday: That brings us to this morning... I woke up at 5:15am and was unable to sleep anymore. Both anxious to go back to the orphanage and wanting to get the computer to work. Tried again with the luck. Had breakfast at the Hotel, which by the way, I am staying at the Hotel Siberia, and a large breakfast buffet is included with your stay for those travelling to this region. The Hotel is very nice and new. It is actually part of a new convention center. This week is a big meeting for the military people here, so lots of uniforms walking around. I was wondering what was going on up until someone told me today. :) I thought there seemed like a lot of military personnel for this one area of town. I think I was just too tired yesterday to really put it all together.

Anyhow, at 930am my driver Dasha arrived to take me to the orphange for my visit today with the little princess. Today I was by myself with no interpreter as she was busy with another family that is here. The orphanage staff are all very friendly and helpful even if we can't speak the same language. This morning my little princess came to me all dressed up in her winter coat and hat and cold weather clothes so that we could go outside for a walk around the orphanage. Originally I thought they told me I could take her for "a walk around the orphange", thinking around the block. Whoops..not exactly what they meant. after a few frantic hand gestures, I realized that I was not supposed to go outside the fenced in area. I quickly brought the princess back inside the fenced yard and we played on the outside play equipment for a little while until we were both cold and noses starting to run. Once inside we played in a very small office for about an hour. Unfortunately the orphange is being renovated right now so play areas are very limited. It will be very nice when it is all done, just lots of painting and dust, and furniture all moved around right now.

As for the Little Princess, she was much more playful and active today. I even got to see several big smiles. She loves to put things together and take them apart. She is very smart (mama bragging already) and has the cutest giggles. Can't wait until our visit tomorrow, although it will be the last for a couple of months. I am not looking forward to the next wait. I am already praying that I can complete the next set of documents in lightning speed so that I can receive a court date very soon.

After the orphanage, I came back to the hotel and had a nice nap (almost 3 hours). At 445pm the phone rang and got me up out of the bed, thank goodness, or I would have missed the whole rest of the day. The call was from Sveta that she was here with the other family that is here from CHI that I was supposed to travel with. ( I'll tell that story in a different post). Anyway, finally got to meet them along with another CHI family here on trip 2 (another single Mom). We all had coffee here at the hotel, then time for the one family to call it a day. The family for trip 2, myself, our interpreter and a couple family here from Spain all went out to dinner at the German restaraunt downtown by the Hotel Kras. we had a great evenning sharing stories and good German food, all speaking in Spansih ,Russian and English. Quite interesting!!!! :) I had a really nice time and enjoyed all the company. Once back at the hotel we were finallly able to get help in getting me online. So here I am, and after a very long post I now have you all caught up to date.
It is now 1230am and I must get some rest as I have an 8am pick up time to make in the morning for the orphanage and my last visit with the little princess.

paka for now....

Saturday, September 20, 2008

It's Time to Go!!!!

Did you see the ticker??? No more days left until time to go. Yippee!!! Suitcase is packed, tickets, passport and visa are in hand. Now I have to shower and get dressed..must not forget that part. :)

Thank you all for your prayers and well wishes. Next post....Moscow!!!


Friday, September 12, 2008

Travel Dates

Just a quick post to update everyone on my travel dates for trip #1. I'll be leaving Michigan 9/20/08 and returning on 9/27/08 provided everything goes as planned in Russia. While in Russia, I get to complete my 8 doctor medical visit in Moscow prior to heading to Krasnoyarsk. I will spend the night in Moscow on 9/21, to complete my medical eval. on 9/22. The evening of 9/22 I believe I will be flying out of Moscow and headed toward Krasnoyarsk to arrive the morning of 9/23. Once in region I will have a meeting with the Ministry of Education to officially receive my referral and get permission to visit the orphanage where she is at. The next couple of days I will spend visiting the orphanage and completing paperwork to petition the court for adoption, provided all goes well. The plan is to leave the region on 9/26 to begin my journey back thru Moscow and then fly home on 9/27.

Other good news to pass on is that another family working with CHI will be travelling to Krasnoyarsk for their referral trip the same week as I am. How wonderful is that?? Now I can relax a little about going on this trip by myself, as I will have another family to share this amazing adventure with.

I am still so excited I can hardly stand it. (But I will, cause I can't wait to go.. :) ) So far, I have managed to purchase the plane tickets to Moscow, and get my visa paperwork on its way to get completed and back to me by the 17th. I've also gone to the bank to get my order in for new money. Oh, and also notify my boss, so she can find a replacement for my shifts at the hospital. With most of the major things on their way to being completed, I can concentrate on packing lists and maybe even putting a few things in the suitcase. By the way, Thank you to all of you for your suggestions on what to bring for the little one at the orphanage. Okay, now I need help with what to bring to make my lap top work in Russia. I have an HP lap top. Also, should I purchase an international calling card, or try to figure out this Skype thing that everyone talks about, or both?

Thanks again everyone for all of the well wishes and please keep the suggestions coming. For some strange reason, once you actually receive your referral, a wierd phenomenon occurs where all of the ideas and plans that you had in your head for packing get completely lost in a euphoric fog. :)

Take care,

Monday, September 8, 2008

Happy Dancing!!

It's really hard to believe that I actually get to type these words now as I am still in a state of shock... today is the day to start the major Happy Dance... and to praise the Lord, as today I got "The Call".

Anna from CHI surprised me late this afternoon at work with the mystery call which started "is this a good time to talk?" I was really disappointed that I actually had to say No, I'm in with a patient, and can I call you back. But believe me, I had this gut feeling that I knew what the call might be, so as soon as I was finished with what I needed to do for my patient, I sprinted to my locker to find my cell phone so that I could call her back. you already know, yes my gut feeling was right. I was still speechless when she told me about my soon to be little Russian Princess. It was just amazing. I'm sure I had every ones attention at the Nurses station though as I was talking to Anna with tears streaming down my face. At first they must have thought something was terribly wrong, until I nudged one of my co-workers and spelled out on a piece of paper that I was getting my referral at that very moment. She quickly got a great big smile on her face and spread the word to everyone else. Hugs and cheers followed!!!

Anna was able to tell me that my referral is 2 years old, her name , along with a few medical details that she thought I might want to think about over night. Nothing seemed to be unexpected, or anything that I wouldn't be able to handle, so I told her I didn't need to think about it. Just let me know when I need to go!!! I can't wait to meet her. I believe I will be leaving for Russia on Sept. 20th, to be in Krasnoyarsk by Sept. 22nd. More details to follow on the exact dates of travel.

Oh my much to do now. Isn't it always like that for everyone??? Wait, wait, wait and then huuuurrrryyy up here we go. Okay everyone. it's time to request the packing lists, and list of questions to ask the doctor, etc.. Also what have most of you taken to play with and then leave for a 2 year old?

Thank you so much to all of you who have been praying for me all this time. Now I just ask for continued prayers for a safe journey and that my precious little Russian Princess is doing well and thriving, and that our meeting goes well.

Take care all, and God Bless everyone of you!