We arrived in Moscow at 11:00 a.m. on March 27th. We have already lost track of what time and day it is! Before we left home we had been up for over 24 hours so exhaustion was setting in. You would think that we would have been more organized and ready to go since we had over 3 months wait in between trips one and two. But so many things depended on having our actual departure date. After (THANKFULLY) receiving that date a week and a half ago there were a billion and one things that had to take place that we felt we couldn’t do before hand. As a reminder to myself and other PAPs here is some of what had to take place:
• Purchase airline tickets and coordinate dates and details with agency
• Verify visa were correct (this time we had a one year multi-entry business visa which is good until September 1. If this is feasible or advisable by your agency do it! We appreciated this time that we did not have to send our passports through the mail less than a week before leaving the country!)
• Coordinate the daily schedule for 3 active children for 25 days and make sure everything was covered and explained thoroughly. (so thankful for family and friends!)
• Tie up loose ends at work – not easy for Justin or I to do
• Have a couple of minor emotional breakdowns
• Meet with our small group from church to have dinner and be reminded that while it is so hard to leave, it is always rewarding when you listen to what God has put on your heart.
• Polish off the double layered frosted chocolate chip cookie cake thing that was brought to the gathering. Feel it settling in the hips and thighs with the other stress foods that have been consumed over the past 3 weeks!
• Pack and unpack and repack 4 pieces of luggage, a stroller, 3 carryon bags and a mommy purse. (We hope on the way home we will be able to leave one of the bags in Vlad and only have to deal with 3 pieces of luggage since we will have some other precious cargo with us! This is the last journey for that bag no matter what – it seems to be hanging together by a thread!) It is an art to try to get your luggage the correct weight. Leaving the country is not hard at 50 lbs or less. This is very doable. But on the Moscow to Vlad flight we can’t be over 44 or maybe it is 42 pounds. This is just not possible for us on our way out. We will have to pay an overage charge on 2 bags on our way out tomorrow. We are hoping our Moscow facilitator will help us at the check-in counter at the airport so we don’t get ‘over’ over charged. And just for my family’s reference, no it is not because of my clothes or my shoes that our luggage is overweight! Lol We actually are taking a lot less things for US this time around. The issue is with the items that we wanted to leave in Russia for various people. Since we are certain this is our last go around, we want to leave a good impression or at least attempt to. Justin and I both feel convicted that those of us with positive adoption stories have to be advocates for those children who are still waiting for forever families. The negative stories do so much harm to this process. Our photobooks that we are leaving behind weigh probably 4 or 5 pounds alone. But we both agreed to not stress out over having to pay a little extra to get everything over there. (Wow, can you tell what was a source of a lot of stress over the past couple of days!?! That is one long bullet point!)
• Deal with what we thought were just springtime allergies going around our family. In the midst of my chaos on Friday, Madison’s school called to have me pick her up since she wasn’t feeling well. Thankfully the doctor’s office has a last minute cancellation. Turns out we have strep. Got antibiotics for Maddie and Justin and I.
• Attended the Edison School Fine Arts night from 6:30-9:00 Friday night even though we were not even packed. I won’t lie, there was a part of me that came very close to letting Justin take Brady to the event while I stayed home to keep chipping away at the packing and last minute details. Thankfully I knew in my heart that being there to watch Brady and his friends was much more important than the other stuff that needed done. (At that point it became apparent that we were not going to be going to sleep at all that night before our 3:00 a.m. departure from home. Sleep is overrate anyway right?!?!? ) I am glad I went. To see all of the children fearlessly get on stage in front of their peers and perform a variety of talents was awesome. Brady did a short and sweet piano solo. And for a couple of hours I stopped thinking about leaving and enjoyed the moment.
• Putting the children to bed and saying goodnight and goodbye. This was something I dreaded very much. It is very emotional for us. Brady is growing up so fast. He did not cry but made sure that we knew that he loved us and that he was going to miss us. He is very excited to meet his little brother though and his love for life just makes us proud. He is so confident that every little thing is gonna be alright! Madison was a heartbreaker. She cried so hard. She said “You will always be in my heart mommy.” I couldn’t hold her tight enough! We both just cried and cried. But in the midst of it all, she also acknowledged so sweetly and maturely that while we were both sad right now it was going to be completely worth it to have Baby B home. She wants to see him right away on the webcam – hopefully she doesn’t have much longer to wait! We also decided that she and I would be email pals while we are away. So that gave us something to look forward to as well. Little Blake began to feel sad and nervous for the first time that night. He said he didn’t understand exactly what was going on. He doesn’t know this but we were so close to taking him with us. While selfishly I still sort of wish we had, it is best for him to be at home with Brady and Madison. Perhaps in my spare time over the next couple of weeks I will do a post about how I know that so certainly. Anyway, after being reassured that we were returning and that he would be with Brady and Maddie he felt so much better. He asked if we were returning with B and we told him that we sure were. He said in the cutest little voice “Don’t lose him ok?” We won’t lose him Blakey – we promise!
• After the kids were asleep we set up the ‘advent’ calendar for them. We got this idea around Christmas time. We took our wooden advent calendar that counts down the days to Christmas and made it a countdown to day 25 when we return home. Some days there is a note on cute paper that reminds them of certain things (do homework; be respectful; practice piano; brush teeth, etc…) and lets them know how much we love them. On other days there are notes that give clues to where a little surprise is hidden (candy, game, new DVD for them to watch together, bubbles, ect..). We did all of the prep work early so the only thing we had to do was hide the little surprises.
Wow, this entry is getting long. It is funny how this brings back memories from our trip with Blake. Justin would be sleeping (he stays up late – I get up early) and I would be typing away on the blog entry because I had NOTHING else to do! I think we will both feel better having caught up on some of the sleep that was lost. Tomorrow we will check out of the hotel at noon (this is the same hotel we will stay at on our return – good to have a visual so we know what to expect) and head to our medical evaluation. This is new to the process since the last time we went through it. Our agency has us do it in Moscow. Some agencies have you complete the process in Vladivostok. We will then leave the medical appointment and head to the airport for our evening departure to Vladivostok.
As a note to self (and perhaps other PAPs), we learned today that as of April 1 the process at the US Embassy is changing slightly. Because the number of adoptions being processed is declining, there are some changes (I believe in staffing) that are going to take place. Our facilitator here has told us not to worry. He will have between April 1 and our return on April 14th to figure everything out. As long as it doesn’t extend the time needed to process the Visa then we will be fine! Chances are, had they not mentioned it we wouldn’t even notice the change – so we hope.
I feel like I have so much more to say! Better stop typing now. The next entry will likely be from Vladivostok!!! Paka, Paka (Bye Bye)