Monday, July 5, 2010

Ok, time to write down the experience. So much to tell, but I was exhausted beyond anything I've felt since Caleb was a newborn.

Day 1- Tulsa airportDay 2, getting ready to leave Houston after being on the phone and online 6 hours the night before to get the right tickets.
After our flight left Houston, it was so nice to finally be on our way; really on our way. We were able to rest a few hours and sat behind the cutest little boy who was 5. Anytime I meet a child Hannah's age, I think of how she would be doing things like they are. We also sat beside a man who didn't speak to us until I kept asking him questions, about 20 minutes before we landed. Come to find out, he and his wife adopted in '02 from Khasakstan. Funny how things like that happen.

We didn't know what we were doing in Amsterdam, and didn't take time to exchange $ for Euros, finally figured out their system to find where we were supposed to get our tickets, waited in line for a while, only to discover no one was there to help us, and wouldn't be for a while. We got to go outside to get some fresh air, and just relaxed for a few minutes. Praise the Lord, the lady checking people next to us told them they couldn't check baggage, but had to pay 50 Euros for their first bag. Oh, dear, we had 3 bags to check, plus a stroller, plus 3 carry ons, which she said had to be less than 8 kgs. Well, we knew we were way beyond that. Favor from God caused the man who checked us in only to request we lighten one suitcase, which had been fine in Tulsa, and everything else was good. At customs, I got checked in a way no woman should be checked in public. Wow! I prefer the in-a-booth-off-to-the-side- nothing-too-personal check, but that was not to be.

Next stop, Riga. We were able to sleep about an hour on the plane, and felt much better after. I had started knitting a scarf for my brother in Tulsa, since I didn't have to think about a pattern, could be productive, and take up travel time. By the time we got to Riga, I was almost finished! We found the most authentic Latvian food at Lulu Pizzeria. I tried to take a picture for the kids, but it didn't come out so well. We then had a 6 hour lay over. So, we sent something to the kids via post- little red boxes, as opposed to our big blue ones, found some empty seats, after I accidental ran over a Russian man's toes. He wasn't too pleased with me, and my apologies didn't do much for him. Thank God for ear plugs! I was able to put them in take a little nap. I got to finished my scarf, which became helpful to me, since I forgot to leave a jacket out of my suitcase. Amazingly, at 11:55 when we took off for Tbilisi, with children still awake, lights on brightly in the cabin.
The moon was really bright, and very close to the horizon. Buddy hadn't seen anything like that before, and was amazed. It was like dusk at 11 pm. We were in the land of the midnight sun! We sat by a sweet lady who spoke no English, and we couldn't speak to her, but it didn't matter, since all we wanted was sleep and for the plane to land so we could get on our way! Getting ready to land in Tbilisi.

Do you see the sad recurring theme in our pictures? YES! 3 plus days in the same clothes! Every time I smelled bad odors, I checked to make sure it wasn't me. Thankful, I smelled the best of the odors I experienced!

Robin was on a plane leaving as we were entering, so we never got to see her. However, Giorgi, our attorney, was waiting for us, and let us speak to her on his phone. After that, it was a whirlwind of activity- getting to our apt, trying to rest, getting clean again (we have a shower and actually got hot water yesterday), then getting ready and waiting for our driver. We didn't have a watch or clock with the correct time, so we thought we were late going to see Hannah, which would make us late for our drug screen, late for lunch and court. However, we had plenty of time, and I should've just relaxed and enjoyed our time more. I hated the feeling we were going to miss something which would ruin our court appearance. We were told the judge was leaving the 7th, had been booked very tightly, and we couldn't reschedule our hearing. All was well though.

This is where I'm sitting now.
The entrance to our apartment

We got to explore the courtyard outside our apartment while waiting. They have grapes all over, a pear tree, some cherry trees, and another fruit I'm not sure the name of. There are birds singing all the time. One of them sounds like a rubber squeaky toy. I kept hearing it and thought Buddy was doing something.

One amazing thing for us is all the trees in the city! In OK, if you're going to build something, you cut all the trees down, build your building, then plant tiny trees to take the place of the beautiful ones you cut down.
We had a very nice time at the foster home. For me, it was emotional seeing the grandma and foster mom. They've poured out much of their time, love, and efforts these past 2.5, nearly 3 years of her life! They've given her a chance to be in a family, to experience more than she ever would in the orphanage. Gratitude was overwhelming. Then we saw Hannah. It was a little surreal when we saw her. After all that waiting, here she was. I think we were both so tired, we had no energy to do anything but just enjoy her, getting to know her. She was sitting in her little chair, eating a sucker, looking at a Russian book about a fox. She had her picture book of us from 2 years ago when the Spahrs had taken her gifts (Thank you soooo much, Martha!). It looked well loved. She let me play with her, tickle her, show her the camera, which she really liked. Irma, her foster mom, was a little concerned I was too small to take care of her. I made the mistake of sitting in a child's chair. A lot was not in there comfortably, but enough that I looked too fragile to take care of her. She said I looked like a belly dancer! Funny thought. I picked her up and held her with no problems. She actually weighs slightly more than Caleb. When I gave her to Buddy, she was content and enjoyed talking to him and playing with the camera. There are no men in her life, so he's a big treat to her. Irma brought out a platter of desserts that looked too good to ever dive into, but I did. Their sweets are not sweet, but their tea and coffee are strong!
We actually had more time than I thought we would, which I was thankful for. Nini the social worker and Lika, our translator are both wonderful people. Nini has been looking in on Hannah for 3 years, and was sad to think she'd not hear about her after she left. Thank God for blogs and face book. Hi Nini!
Then it was off to the hospital for drug screening. They had fun with Buddy's name, and questioning of the cuts on his arms. Working with stone, you can't avoid it.
Next was lunch at Robin's favorite place, not sure of the name. We're really enjoying everything we're eating. I had cheese bread, a bread with beans in it, and a salad with rice, cucumbers, peppers, corn, crab, and dill. Buddy had spinach balls with nuts, and eggplant with onions, and a dish of sauteed onions and peppers in a sauces. Nice!
Court was interesting, to say the least. The man from the social services agency showed up in jeans, needing a shave. The judge was a lady, and she was very intense. All business, very thorough. She read over every document, listed every document we had. Very particular. She wanted to make sure we did things right, that it was for the benefit of Hannah. At the same time, she was very concerned that we wouldn't be prepared to care for her. That maybe we hadn't been prepared or realized the extent of her needs, that we needed psychological training to deal with the adoption. She spoke very fast, and most of it wasn't translated. I'm sure it didn't really concern us. She asked why we were adopting, why from Georgia, what our children thought of it, (Hi, children!) and if anything to add. I don't think we talked fast enough, because she kept interrupting Buddy when he spoke. Was she getting the answers to her questions? Did it sound like we really knew what we were doing? The next thing you know, Bidzinia and Giorgi were talking at length about the history of Georgian adoptions, the history of our case, sharing what had happened with the Hauflers, (Hi Hauflers!) who joined us for court. I'm so glad they did, because we needed the moral support! I kept feeling like I was going to throw up. I'm sure it was from being tired and hungry, but I didn't! She asked something about bring her back to Georgia, which we'll do when she's older. Then Giorgi was telling us we had a choice- did we want to sign the document that would waive our right to change our minds, or did we want to wait 14 days where we could change things? Not really a choice in our minds. Happy to sign, and that was it! Her parents had no rights, and now we did.
Lika, our translator
The court building
When we got back to the apartment after court, I put in earplugs, lay down, and that was it for the next 6 hours.
When we got up, we called the Hauflers and met for dinner. We ate at no. 12, which had great creamy chicken soup and vegetable pie for me. Creamy pumpkin soup and toast with smoked salmon. We did take pictures- on the Haufler's camera, since I'd taken out my sd card to download pictures and forgotten to put it back in the camera!
I really enjoyed driving through the city at night. The lights and buildings are impressive. I'll have to take video as we drive today.
I can't get our web cam to work on skype, so we can see the kids, but they can't see us. We hear really well, but it's not fun for them not to see us. They were thrilled when they saw the pictures of Hannah! When we came back from dinner, we skyped the Urbans, who are still in Ukraine! this time, the mic wasn't working, so Charissa talked, and I typed. Finally I figured out the problem, but we were ready to go to bed.
We do have a/c, and got a good night's sleep. Being up at 6:30 will make it a long day, but it'll be fine. I feel caught up.
Today is going to visit Hannah, taking her to the Dr., and sight seeing. We do have a lot to cram in before Buddy leaves Thursday morning. We're considering changing flights until later, but not sure if it'll work.
Buddy wanted me to mention seeing a group of Orthodox priests at the airport at 4:30 am. Wow! way too early to be up! Also, Hillary Clinton was in the area where we ate dinner last night. It's the oldest part of the city dating back to the 4th century. Pictures are on the Haufler's camera. :(
Sleep well, hope you aren't asleep already after reading this novel. I have to get it down for Hannah, and so I won't forget.


Charissa said...

Great post. I loved every detail, especially the stories about the Russian toes and the belly dancer. ha! Good you're writing it down because you just might forget it someday. So glad you guys decided to hang in there. Hannah is quite a prize.

Molly said...

This post was fantastic! I' am so glad you are getting it all down for Hannah!!
I laughed when you said that the woman worried you weren't strong enough to take care of your girl. Doesn't she know mommies can move heaven and earth when it comes to their babies?

Mary said...

Wow, sounds like you had an adventure getting here! I'm so glad that you made it in time, though, and that you are now officially Hannah's parents (the description of your court experience sounded nerve-wracking!) Congratulations on your new daughter!

Also, I loved the long update - ROG is one of my favorite countries (I was trained to sing traditional Georgian folk music by some Georgian ex-pats) and I've been longing to go there for years (I've had 2 trips canceled out from under me due to political unrest). Your description of the country and your pictures of Georgia allow me to live vicariously through your experience :-P

The food sounds really good! I've heard that Khachapuri (the cheese bread) is really amazing!

Anonymous said...

I follow Reeces Rainbow and noticed that you were from OK and your little girl has arthrogryposis. I wasn't sure if it had been surgically corrected or if her arms or legs were affected. My youngest daughter has a syndrome that left her arms fused at the elbows. There is a doctor in OKC that corrected it when others said it couldn't be done. Our OT said that what he can do for arthrogryposis is amazing. Anyway, I just wanted to pass on the info and his name. Dr. Rayan.

Congratulations and God Bless.

Rhonda Sloup

Hi~I'm Alysha said...

Wow! Now that was a jorney! :) In the end, I'm so glad God got you all there safely..It looks very beautiful there..I loved the culture of Ukraine, I'm sure the Georgian culture is one to love too. So different, but a welcomed change. Nice that you guys got to meet up with the Haufler's; After years of traveling this road I bet it was a blessing to be able to see where it lead to together :)

Mama said...

Wow!! What an adventure! I'm so happy you are finally with your daughter after so long. I do have a silly question did you manage to be able to bring knitting needles with you on the plane? I have thought about bringing crochet stuff, but wasn't sure how to bring my hook without being arrested. :)