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Archive for April, 2009

Steam Heat

We’ve got a definite crawler now, 10 feet in a line, commando style.  Not the most efficient crawling.  There’s some flapping and some knee slippage.  We’ve also have a talker.  We usually encourage every peep “Eh!” with an echo “Eh!”.  Now there are times you could wish she’d be quiet.  Mostly it’s “ba”, “baba” “ab”, “abba”.  As in “What’s your favorite band?”  “ABBA, ABBA, ABBA.”

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We’ve also seen the sick, cranky G.  Nothing serious — she had a bit of a fever for about a day and a half.  But the personality change was remarkable.  Now we see her nefarious plan.  Be a perfect baby until after we go to court and promise to take care of her, then spring cranky G on us!

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We got out and saw the park again.  Quite a difference in the last 3 or 4 weeks.img_4581

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Karaganda pruning

Karaganda pruning

Oh, yeah.  The heat’s off.  Not in our apartment.  Not in our building.  The heat’s off in Karaganda.  Saturday our coordinator asked us if we still had heat.  Because the heat had been turned off on her side of town.  We knew we had radiators which we could not control, but we assumed there was a boiler in the basement.  Wrong.  Hot water heat is centrally provided.

Later Saturday night we realized that the heat was off in our apartment.  We’ve had a lot of highs in the 50’s recently, but the lows are still in the low 20’s.  We even had snow Saturday morning.  But it’s not bad in the apartment.  I guess it’s the three foot thick walls.  Actually, it’s nice compared to being overly hot.

Why would you have centrally provided hot water heat?  We have a gas stove.  My only guess is to take advantage of the coal in the area.  Maybe there’s a large coal fired plant nearby.

Hot water pipe around the edge of Central Park.

Hot water pipes around the edge of Central Park.

Also, as of Sunday night, we have no cold water.  A translator said, “Oh, I forgot to tell you.  They do that when they turn off the heat.  Something about cleaning the pipes.”  How long will it be off?  Nobody knows, but the consensus is more than a day, less than a week.

So Karaganda has centrally provided hot and cold water lines and hot water heat.  Weird.  Our cold water and our heat are still off.  (It’s Monday night here.)  The hot water is way too hot to take a shower in without some cold.  And the washing machine doesn’t seem to work without cold water.  Can you work out what that means?  All part of the adventure!

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Crawling and Walking

Yesterday we got some crawling!  Not far, but definite crawling.

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I don't wanna sit down!

The baby house doctor has been seeing us there every day, coughing and blowing our noses.  After court, she encouraged us to take a couple days off from visiting the baby house so we could get healthy!  So we took the last two mornings off, but we couldn’t miss whole days.

We slept a little late and spent some time walking through the neighborhood.  Two separate people asked us something in Russian so I guess we blend a little better without the backpack baby bag.

We saw a celebration yesterday outside what I think is the Some Famous Guy Kazakh Drama Theater.  Maybe they’re celebrating the opening of theater season?  There were large groups of school children watching, but none of the teachers could speak English.

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Currently we’re in a 15 day waiting period, followed by maybe 10 days of paperwork here in Karaganda.  This is when many adoptive parents on a two trip program go home.  Our travel partners, Gene and Jill started home Tuesday after court.  WPA usually sends two families at a time.  We’re here ’til the end.

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I found this poem in another blog and made Theresa cry with it.  So it must be good!

Once there were two women…

Once there were two women who never knew each other.
One you do not remember, the other you call Mother.

Two different lives shaped to make you one.
One became your guiding star, the other became your sun.

The first one gave you life, and the second taught you to live it.
The first gave you a need for love. The second was there to give it.

One gave you a nationality. The other gave you a name.
One gave you a talent. The other gave you aim.

One gave you emotions. The other calmed your fears.
One saw your first sweet smile. The other dried your tears.

One sought for you a home that she could not provide.
The other prayed for a child and her hope was not denied.

And now you ask me, through your tears,
the age-old question unanswered through the years.
Heredity or environment, which are you a product of?
Neither, my darling. Neither. Just two different kinds of Love.

~ Unknown

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Theresa had a fever Monday morning, which meant that I had baby house duty on my own.  Feedings, diaper changes, play time.  Oh, the humanity!  Theresa’s fever broke Monday afternoon and we made it to court today with no problem.

Court went fine.  It consisted of us, our translator, our lawyer, a judge, his secretary, the baby house doctor, a social worker and a prosecutor.  There was more standing and sitting than a Catholic Mass.  It was as hot as a baby house and I was sweating through my suit.  The only curve ball was a question about G’s race and the potential for racism.  The judge told us that New Jersey is known for problems with racism.  We replied that we didn’t know that.  He (a Kazakh) replied that we wouldn’t because we’re Caucasian!  There are ignorant people in every state, but we can’t figure out how he got this impression that New Jersey stands out in this area.

Immediately after this our attorney asked us who we voted for.  We replied Barack Obama.  Then our attorney asked us if it bothered us that he was of a different race.  This was apparently to prove that we didn’t have race issues.  But our attorney did this without knowing what our answer would be.  What would have happened if we answered McCain?

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Kazakh Princess

Court was at 11, which made us miss our morning visitation.  Then we had to go back at 3 to hear our verdict read, which messed up the afternoon visitation.  The verdict was “yes”!  We raced over to the baby house for the last 45 minutes of the afternoon period.

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After Court

Starting tomorrow, we’re in a fifteen day period where, in theory, a relative can show up and claim G.  We’re told that this never happens and will not happen, but she’s not officially, officially ours yet.  After that, we’ll be waiting on various pieces of paperwork, first here, then in Almaty.  So our best guess is 25 more days in Karaganda and 5 days in Almaty.  This is our 27th day in Kazakhstan!

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A Quick Note

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Just a quick note to say that pre-court went well on Friday.  “State your name.”  “State your full name.” “Do you still want to do this?”  “Do you have anything to add (to the 8 inch pile of paperwork)?”

Court is on Tuesday.  Theresa and I have had our speeches vetted by the head translator.  Her only issue was how she was going to translate “blowing raspberries”.  As directed, my speech will be factual (names, birth dates, education, jobs, salaries, marital status, financial status, who will care for the child, etc.) while Theresa’s will be mushy.

Theresa and I have been passing a cold back and forth since before we got here.  She’s got it now and is trying to sleep it off this Sunday afternoon.  I’m surfing and reading.

We’ve eaten Ukrainian and Georgian again, but no good, new food discoveries.  We tried Chinese yesterday and wished we hadn’t.  Theresa had “Crunchy Spicy Chicken”.  Obligatory Monty Python reference: “If we took the bones out, it wouldn’t be crunchy, would it?”  Luckily, no one got the Spring Suprise.

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Turnover

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First family photo!

Several days ago baby S in our room went home with her adoptive parents.  We didn’t meet them, she was picked up after our visitation time.  Since then we got three new arrivals, two of them yesterday.  So yesterday afternoon we briefly had 15 babies and 14 cribs.  Graduation time!  Two one-year-old sisters, U and V, were promoted to room 5.  U and V were not the oldest in our room, but they did have the best motor skills.  They were the best crawlers and walker drivers in the room and they could even walk holding onto something.  As I mentioned in the last post, room 5 recently sent two children home with adoptive parents, so they had space.

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Today we found out that we have “pre-court” tomorrow.  Pre-court is where we go in front of a judge and (I think) he questions any possible irregularities in our documents.  Then we’ll find out when our (real) court date is.

Today marks our third week with G.  We honestly weren’t counting the days or anything.  We’re in our little groove with marathon mentalities.  Theresa’s got a Zen sounding mantra “I’m a leaf in a river”, meaning: if you’re not in control, enjoy the ride.  The last week really just slipped by.

But the fact that it was a week past the two-week bonding requirement did have us wondering this morning when pre-court was going to happen.  A family that we think arrived and started bonding just 1 day before us already had their pre-court and court and have gone home!  (They’re on the “two trip plan”.)  So Zen attitudes not-withstanding, it was nice to get the good news today.

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Get down on it!

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Shiny chin disease!

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Playing "Maple Leaf Rag".

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New Friends

This morning we peeked in to find G sound asleep.

Ouch!

Ouch!

She had a large pressure line across one eyebrow.  But she seemed well rested and was in good spirits.  I know my neck doesn’t do that.  I guess babies are more flexible.

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Afternoon picture

There’s nothing new in terms of baby tricks.

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Didn't help. Didn't happen.

Today I think two college girls hit on me. (Theresa thinks so too, so there.)  I was sitting on a bench inside the City Mall outside the Ramstore (a grocery) while Theresa was inside.  It started with “Hello!” from a bench across the way to long distance small talk.  They had to confer with each other before each response.  Eventually they said “Come over here!” patting the bench beside them.  I went over to talk but stood.  Soon after, Theresa came out of the store and I introduced her to my new friends.  “You married?”  “Yes.”  “…Super!”  See ya later kids.  OK,  maybe they were just interested in practicing their English.

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Right, daddy.

This afternoon we met two families returning for their children.  Ben and Chanda and Jennifer and her mom Joan were both visiting their little boys in room 5 who they haven’t seen for a few weeks.  They were here for a few weeks in February and March and then went home on the “two trip plan”.  Tonight they take the boys to the airport and fly to Almaty.  A few days of paperwork there and they’ll be on their way home.  We had dinner with them at Mario’s pizza.  Surprisingly, Jennifer and Joan share some close mutual friends with Theresa and her family.  And here we were meeting in Karaganda.

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Sunday (when we weren’t returning to the baby house in the afternoon) we had lunch at a brewpub.  The brewpub boasts a total of two kinds of beer and they were out of one of them!  The beer was good, but I thought the meals (shish kebabs) were over priced.  The big win was discovering chechil, a smoked cheese eaten as an appetizer with beer.  On the way home we stopped at the grocery to buy more chechil!  Some of this will be coming home with us.  I can’t find a picture online that looks like it does in the grocery here.  But chechil is an Armenian, mozarella-like cheese that is pulled into strands about 1/8 of an inch thick, braided and smoked.  When served, the strands are split into hair-like pieces and a wad of “hair” is served in a bowl.

Appetizers specifically for beer seems to be a common concept.  We’ve seen sections in grocery stores and on a couple of restaurant menus.  So far we’ve seen dried fish and squid, chechil, nuts (less commonly), croutons with strange flavors (chicken, salmon, crab, ham) and chips.

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Greetings from G

Hi everyone. G insisted that we post this picture today!

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