Saturday, December 29, 2007

There's no place like home...

At the airport

Enjoying the snow at home
Playing the piano Christmas morning

We arrived home two nights ago after being gone 36 days. Entering the driveway - which was like a winter wonderland was the best feeling. We are loving being home despite the fact that we are all fighting a nasty virus. Our friends Brian and Betsy filled our freezer with food and our neighbor had shoveled our long driveway so we could get in. (SO APPRECIATED!!) Brady is adjusting well - he loves the fish I painted on his wall and is having a blast playing with everything. It was so fun introducing him to his new home. We are working on unpacking, opening mail and I have been fighting a fever and cold. Brady had his first appointment with his pediatrician yesterday. Overall things went well - we will be going back every two weeks for a while as he is concerned about his weight (19 pounds at 18 months) and his allergies. The poor guy had four shots and a ton of bloodwork so he was pretty sore last night. We are trying to hang around the house for a while as both kids appear pretty tired of any type of plane, train or automobile.

We had a wonderful Christmas with our families. Brady warmed up quickly and spent most of his Christmas with huge eyes...I can only imagine the thoughts going through his head - going from an orphanage to enjoying a large dinner with strangers speaking a new language who bring you more toys then you've ever seen. Can you imagine?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Friday, December 21, 2007

Couldn't be happier...

Hello from Minneapolis!!!! We are so thrilled to be here...I was in tears coming into New York. Since our last post we traveled over 30 hours to arrive in Minneapolis just before midnight last night. It was a long couple of days (or should I say a long month) but so worth it now. We were close to not making it home at all (or at least I was close....when we boarded the plane they pulled me off because I was not supposed to have an electronic ticket for Brady - apparently a paper ticket is needed for infants traveling abroad on Aeroflot. So they took my passport and me off the plane and told me they were not sure that I'd be able to fly and when we asked if I could take one of the kids with me they said no! So - Ryan nervously waited with two children under three on the plane - luckily I made it a couple minutes within takeoff but was very anxiety provoking). Traveling internationally with a one-year-old and two-year-old is not something we'd highly recommend however we were very proud of how well they behaved (most of the time). We spent our last day in Moscow at the US Embassy (an absolute breeze) and preparing for travel. The plane rides went overall well - neither kid slept more than 4 hours on the 10 hour flight to JFK but they did fairly well. We felt badly for the couple a few rows ahead of us with an adopted two year old boy who screamed the entire flight. I slept last night for 7 hours in a row for the first time since leaving home...I feel so great. We are going to spend the next few days finishing our Christmas shopping and enjoying our Christmas with family before heading home on the 26th...where I think we'll stay for a while. Thanks so much for all of your support and kind comments during our journey to Russia. We will post some pics again soon.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hello from Moscow and PICTURES!!

We arrived safely yesterday morning after a very exhausting train ride - both kids were awake most of the night and both fell asleep immidiately upon getting into the car on our short drive to Brady's medical appointment. Upon getting off the train we had quite the meltdown. It was so hot in the train that we were all dripping sweat and with little sleep for the kids (or us) we were all a little bitter. Well, somehow in between trying to lug around two suitcases, two carry-ons and a one year old we lost track of Allison getting off the train. All I could hear was her screaming "Mommy" and there were so many men in front of me and I had Brady and a suitcase so couldn't get to her. Well I get off the train and here is our coordinator telling her that she needs to put on her hat and Allie is just tantruming...bad! So in the middle of her tantrum she goes running and I dropped my suitcase to catch her just before she falls way down onto the train tracks as I am screaming in fear....we were quite the site.
The medical appointment was brief and went well - no major concerns other than his food allergies we already were aware of. When we finally sat down to eat yesterday afternoon I chipped a large piece of a tooth which has proved rather unpleasent. Right now the kids are finally napping and then we will have our appointment at the US Embassy and hopefully some time to visit the Red Square. We are so anxious to began our travels home tomorrow!!! We will leave here around noon and be in New York at 6 pm (were 9 hours ahead) and in Minneapolis at 11 PM!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Goodbye to Petro

In less than one hour we will be boarding the train for Moscow. We just said tearful goodbyes to our coordinator here. She gave us a very nice gift of a linen tablecloth and napkins. They are beautiful and a treasure. We are waiting to be picked up by another coordinator who will bring us to the train station. Although we have been so anxious to be home, saying goodbye is difficult. These people have changed our lives in so many ways and we are forever grateful to them. So, we are thrilled to start our venture home but this place will always be close to our thoughts and hearts.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

December 16, 2007

This will likely be our last post before arriving in Moscow (where I promise to post pictures). Tomorrow we will take the 14-hour train ride from Petro to Moscow. Since having Brady we realized how crucial the crib is for him to sleep – we had to ask to get one in the apartment even because he would not sleep in anything else, so the train and plane ride may proof very interesting.

Today we went back into the city for a short time, walked around and then came back to meet with our coordinator about final arrangements tomorrow. The cute comment of the day came from Allison, when I asked her what she wanted for her birthday she said, “Nala (our dog) and go home”. More than we do, I think she misses home but I am hoping a part of this trip will stay with her, hoping she gained a new appreciation for the things she has. I know we have. We are so much more appreciative of running water (that you can drink), prescription medication, my car, my 8-piece set of dishes, a sink in the bathroom, etc, etc.

Tomorrow we will are hoping to make it to the lake one last time and take pictures in the morning. In the afternoon we will pick up Brady’s passport, meet with our coordinator and get on the train....homeward bound...kind of.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

December 15, 2007

Today we walked around by the lake – Lake Omega, one of the largest lakes in Europe. They have a few sculptures, one of their sister city, Duluth, MN. It is a beautiful spot. We took some pictures and then went to the puppet show. Brady lasted approximately 3 minutes so he and Ryan ran around outside while Allie and I watched the rest. It’s obvious that both kids are tired of being cooped up and in the apartment, both had multiple meltdowns this evening, I think mainly because they do not have space to go to play – just one room containing multiple breakable items. We are continuing to try to think positively and get out to enjoy ourselves but honestly, we cannot wait to get to Moscow.

Friday, December 14, 2007

December 14, 2007

Not as much to post today. We intended on getting out but Brady was not feeling well and has had a horrible rash since we got him that we didn’t want to get worse in the wind. The doctors at the orphanage said he reacts to different foods but are not sure what he is allergic to. Today the rash covered most of his face and even bled. Poor thing. So we talked again with the orphanage doctors who provided us with some cream and told us not to feed him any more yogurt. He has an appointment with our pediatrician when we get back but will likely need to do some testing to determine what he’s allergic to (at one time they thought it was milk, another time meat, then citrus, etc, etc). We are excited to bring the kids to a puppet show tomorrow and hopefully stop to post some pictures.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

December 13, 2007

Today we took the trolley out to the big city of Petro, actually a fairly nice little city with a beautiful view of a lake and gorgeous trees. The region looks much like our home in Northern Minnesota, with large trees, forests and a large lake. We saw the sun for the first time since we left home today...what a difference that makes. It is still brutally cold as can be seen in the way people dress. I had thought before coming to Russia that the large hats and fur coats were a stereotype, but they are not. I cannot believe the comments we receive from strangers about Allison not wearing snowpants – someone actually stopped us to wrap her scarf around her poor face because they thought the poor thing was not dressed properly. We had to buy Brady snowpants (although we have some at home...we do live in MN) because we were told they may not let him out of the orphanage without them (a warning to pre-adoptive parents). We also learned that Allie should have tights under her pants because people WILL pick up her pants to make sure...really – it has been done countless times. The first few days I neglected to put tights under her pants. Women would pick up her pants and when they discovered that I had not put tights on her they would shake their heads and wave their fingers and I am pretty sure they were swearing at me in Russian.

We enjoyed walking through Petro today, looking at the city so that someday we can explain to our son what it looks like. Our trolley experience went well again, another piece of evidence against the desire for personal space though. My most embarassing moment of the trip ( far) was when we got on an extremely crowded trolley to come back to the apartment. There were of course no seats available and I got separated from Ryan and Brady and stuck in the middle. I could not hold onto a bar because there were too many people in front of them and was holding my very tired daughter. So the trolley comes to a sudden stop and I fly back, falling onto about 20 strangers with daughter in hand. Whoops.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

One Week Left!

We have just entered our final week in Russia! During this time we will be spending another 4 days in Petrozavodsk and another 3 in Moscow (we leave Petro 12/1 7 on the overnight train to Moscow). While in Moscow we will have Brady’s medical appointment and will meet with the US Embassy twice before flying out on the evening of 12/20 (that gave me the chills). We have been looking very forward to Moscow as we will be staying at the Marriot Grand thanks to Ryan’s aunt Patti who generously gave us Marriot points. We cannot wait – plus we hear the sights in Moscow before Christmas are amazing and I have missed my favorite time of year at home.

With Brady being sick our time here has been pretty uneventful without much to post. He is now feeling much better, some sibling rivalry has begun between the two (I am not sure if it’s better here because of so few toys or that were going to be in really big trouble when we come home). Yesterday (12/13) was a better day, we took the trolley to the main part of the city and walked around, I bought some inexpensive Russian dolls for Allison and she adores them. We came home and later that night walked around the street market near our apartment. The smell gets me every time...I literally had to leave sick – there are fish, meats and fruits outside on boxes everywhere with the occasional dog grabbing one or knocking them into the slush a foot below.

We’ve decided that now that we are all well, we are going to try to leave the apartment more, it costs us less than $1 one way to take the trolley into the city so we are going to take advantage of that during our last 4 days in Petro. I’ve also decided to post daily about our adventures during the last week so stay tuned...

Monday, December 10, 2007

OUCH...that hurt!

What’s that that just hit me? Oh, yeah...a big dose of reality – right in the face! The past couple of months have been so filled with excitement, anticipation and energy along with a little frustration...but overall feelings very different, far beyond the real world. So, we are going along on this high and BAM – it hits, for us it hit around 2am a few nights ago – and it was a very large dose of our first case of a very disgusting Russian flu – caught by our little man. we are in the small, one bedroom apartment trying to keep the two children who we had just been encouraging to play closely, now apart. There has been heavy amounts of crying, sickness and frustration 24 hours a day (some admittedly by yours truly).

Because our 10 day wait is not over they wanted to put Brady back into the orphanage to incubate him, worrying that we would all catch this as well and be unable to travel when we leave for Moscow in 7 days. We really did not want this, fearing that this would only confuse and traumatize him more. As it turned out they were unable to do this due to the fact that they had other children incubated who were sadly in worse conditions. We do have to say that our coordinators here and all the people in the orphanage are wonderful, caring people – they do so much with what little they have, with one coordinator here very late in the evening on Sunday and the orphanage doctors consistently telephoning to check on Brady. I have vowed again and again to not take for granted all of our freedoms and luxuries we have at home.

In other news...CONGRATS to my very dear friends Jody and Laura! Jody was married yesterday in San Francisco, I am so sorry I had to miss being a part of her wedding. My friend Laura had a baby girl on Sunday! I am so sorry I missed your both of your big events – I love you both!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Cooped Up

While we've only been gone 10 days were starting to feel the drag of the wait. When we finally return home we will have been gone 35 days (22 in Russia, the rest spent elsewhere prior to and after for the holidays...were 4 hours from the airport)..we will be home December 26. We are spending most of our time running around the small, one bedroom apartment saying, "no, put that down" or "get off that". We could easily bear the cold outside but it is incredibly slippery and we are not in the friendliest of neighborhoods (either that or it's a little too friendly).

We are getting in some great bonding time. Allison and Brady are getting used to each other, mostly running in circles. Brady is doing very well, he has become more inclined to go to Ryan now and his sleeping has improved a little each night. We are hoping to take a trolley into a different part of the city tomorrow and I'm hoping to bribe the kids with ice cream to stop at the internet cafe to post more pictures.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Introducing Brady James

These were all taken the day of court at the orphanage. I apologize for the delay and the editing (or lack of).

Monday, December 3, 2007

With us at last...

I will (really...I will) be posting pictures later today (we cannot post pictures from the computer we are using here and will be going to an internet cafe later to post them...really).

We picked up our little man at the orphanage yesterday and watched as caregivers, teachers and doctors said their tearful goodbyes. We met with the orphanage director for a while and gave her a very large donation of diapers that were purchased with money kindly supplied by staff members at the school at which I am employed (A BIG THANK YOU FROM RUSSIA TO HORACE MAY ELEMENTARY!!) I had hoped to take pictures of the donation but had to set the large bags down and when we walked into the orphanage for our meeting and when I came out the diapers had already been put to use!

We took the advice of some folks on FRUA (Families for Russian and Ukraine Adoption) and asked if a caregiver or two would write down some hopes or memories of him during his first 16 months. We received four very nice letters - two of them from doctors. I think we will be thankful we did that someday. Right before we left the orphanage director (who is normally a rather stearn woman) pulled us aside and handed me this large bag tied with a ribbon. She whispered to our translator that we are always welcome in Petrozavodsk and that she hopes we will come back to bring home a third child! She then handed me the bag and said she wishes us a warm heart and much health and happiness. Inside the bag was a beautiful winter coat and snowsuit, an outfit, two warm hats and a wonderful pair of boots for our little man to wear next year - it is seriously the nicest winter clothing I have ever seen. Our coordinator was totally taken back - she said she has never seen anyone recieve a gift from the orphanage before. It was a great moment and I could tell our little guy had touched a really special place in her heart as she wiped tears away when we left.

We then took him on his first car ride (other than when he was taken from the hospital to the orphanage at 4 months old). We had to run into the busiest (and only) supermarket. He did really well but had huge eyes the entire trip. We thought when we got to the apartment he would take a few days to warm up, that he would likely be quiet and reserved for a while (that was how he was most often when we visited him at the orphanage). WOW - were we wrong!! He ran up and down the hallway until nearly 10:00 at night, laughing and giggling the whole time, stopping only to eat (and eat and eat!!). Ryan finally got him to sleep by laying and blocking him from getting out of bed, putting him back in his bed numerous times after he tried climbing over him. Our makeshift crib (two large chairs together) did not work for a moment as he boosted himself over the back of one within seconds. He is very busy and we are absolutely loving every moment of it!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

здравствуйтё (hello)

Hello from Petro. We are currently experiencing technical difficlties (ok, and possibly some operator problems also) so please excuse the delay in not posting pictures...they'll be here...I promise!

We visited our little man twice now since arriving yesterday. Our visits with him have been great - I think he remembered us but it has taken him a little while to warm up. Yesterday we spent a couple hours getting reacquainted and introducing him to his sister. She fell quickly in love with him and began crying when we had to bring him back to his room saying, "no, we take brother with us" to the caregivers. Brought tears to our eyes. He played with Allison very well today and by the end he was following her around and she was calling him her "secret agent" (no idea where that came from). He now runs to me when our coordinator asks "where's mama?". He is not talking at all yet and has been given a diagnosis of "delayed speech development". It really seems though that it will come at any time. He makes some noises and responds well to other noises (so we are not concerned about his hearing).

Our 10 days were not waived (we did not expect them to be) so we will leave Petro on December 17 (we have to stay the mandatory 10 day waiting period and then an additional week to get his passport) and then we'll take a train to Moscow (where he will have his medical check-up and we have our appointment with the US Embassy) on the 18th and 19th, flying home December 20th. He will become a US citizen once his little feet touch US New York.

We will not be able to see him tomorrow (Sunday) but we are going to be able to take him back to the apartment with us Monday - whoo hoo! We will spend Monday picking up and delivering orphanage donations, talking to his doctors and getting any information that we would like from his files (were going for as much as we can). It should be a great day and hopefully I will have by then figured out how to get pictures posted.

Friday, November 30, 2007


About two hours ago (noon Petro time) we were declared official parents of our little man by the Supreme Court of the Region of Karelia! We are so excited!

We were told the judge arrived at her conclusion in "record time". The entire proceeding took just under two hours (typically a minimum of 3 in this region). It was a little intiminating, with difficult questions asked by both the judge and prosecuter. In the end the prosecuter explained that it is his recommendation that we be granted the adoption. After all questions were asked the judge went into her chambers to make her decision - she came back and read that she is granting our request and I was an awesome moment. It all went much smoother than any of the social workers, adoption workers and translators expected. We are going to see him shortly (we haven't been able to see him yet this trip) - we'll get to bring our daughter along and we cannot wait to watch them interact for the first time...the video camera will be rolling.

The trip has otherwise been alright - we are quite jetlagged but the adrenaline is keeping us going. Our little princess did really well on the flights but not so well on the train. She is definately struggling with the time change - she slept only an hour or two of the 14-hour overnight train ride...apparently testing our patience to make sure were ready for another one. We got here just in time to drop her off at a babysitter's and get to court. (The babysitting went very well - she stayed with a woman who spoke English and her daughter - she didn't want to leave after court!) We just got to the apartment and took our first shower since before leaving and now were getting ready for the orphanage. This city is covered in snow - really pretty and it is only light here from 10 am - 3pm!

Thanks for all the kind thoughts and prayers! Hearing the judge declare he's ours was so similar to the day I heard the doctor say, "yep, it's a girl"...that same feeling, just different words.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Leavin on a jet plane...

Ready or not we are outta here in the morning. It is unreal that we are leaving in less than five hours for the airport (what on earth am I doing on this blog...why am I not sleeping?!?). We will be posting much more after court Friday (hopefully with pics galore). It has been to say the least a crazy week and I think it is a small miracle we are able to leave here at all. For now I am off to comfort a two-year-old who will not sleep because she's "too scared"... the next 36 hours may be very long, I know that light at the end of this long tunnel is coming soon.

Off to bring our son home...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Finally...An Itinerary

So...we have not left yet. We have schedueled, canceled, rescheduled and rearranged flights and train rides the past few days but have finally (hopefully) arrived at our schedule. Our major ordeal has been around that we need to have a business visa this trip and that takes quite a while to prepare. We have to fly to New York tomorrow where Ryan will take a two-hour cab ride to pick up the visas and get back to JFK for us to fly out to Moscow - then we'll hop on the quickest way via train, plane or automobile to get to Petro - changing into our suits on the way and arriving just before court - hopefully in time to get all the documents notarized that we need in the region which are needed for the judge. So...UGH! We are stressed to the max and very overwhelmed. It has been an extreme rat race the past few days. We cannot keep up with everything so I apologize to the friends and family whose calls and emails we haven't responded to. Our basic itinerary is:

Depart Mpls to NYC on Wed. at 6 am, arrive in NYC at 10am and depart again at 5:45 pm. We will arrive in Moscow around 11am Thursday and somehow get to Petro by 7am the next day.
We are coming home December 20 - I will post more on times at a later date.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Hmmm...what might we be thankful for this Thanksgiving day? How about
A COURT DATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That's answer to a prayer (or should I say numerous prayers). We are so excited, busy, frantic and OVERJOYED! What a day to get this news. We heard yesterday that it was possible that we would know very soon but to get this news gives us the greatest reason to be appreicative today. Our court date is set for November 30!!!'s not a typo - we will be in court pettitioning to adopt our son a week from tomorrow! We need to be in our region on Wednesday! We have yet to book flights, etc. but will post more as we know it, including iternerary, etc....oh and yes - we will be able to post pictures just as soon as court is final (a few days after our arrival). For now - I'm all smiles all the way down to Minneapolis to eat some turkey and surprise our family with this grand news.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Call Me Picasso...

Our Little Man's Room!

...and of course we couldn't start that without painting a new room for the princess of this castle. We've been working on these rooms for weeks and finally finished them tonight.

We do not (unfortunately) have any new news but expect to any day. The waiting in between trips is not something I would wish on my worst enemy. We are just grateful we do not (hopefully) have an extended wait.

Thanks again to those you who've provided us with kind words, prayers and support in recent weeks...this has been one of the most trying times in our lives and we are so thankful for all of your thoughts and prayers!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Missing our little man...

I posted the song above before but it applies so much better now. ..I love it but cannot get through it without tears. I had thought the first week would be the most difficult after leaving our little guy but as it turns out the longer were apart the more difficult the waiting becomes. I cannot imagine the struggles and pain of those who have waited so much longer (for some the wait is a year and beyond). I am so anxious to go back to see him. Work, school, every moment that goes by is a struggle to focus. We were told we would hear when our release letter and other documentation made it from Moscow to Petro. We had thought that would be around the end of last week but still have not heard that it has arrived. Once that happens we will be assigned a judge who will look over our paperwork and assign a court date. Our agency and those we worked with in Russia are so FANTASTIC - we are confident we are in good hands...we just miss our little man.

In the meantime I have been a little nuts...I am doing my best to cram 6 weeks worth of grad school and work into two weeks as it's likely I will miss the last month of my final semester in grad school. I am so thankful that I have very understanding coworkers and professors. We are also trying to get a lot of Christmas shopping in early and will be spending the next couple weekends at more craft shows selling jewelry for our adoption. Speaking of gratitude....not many husbands would miss an entire fishing and hunting season to help their wife sell jewelry (or watch their daughter while their wife sells) despite a large amount of harsh teasing from his buddies. (I promise guys you can have him back next season!)

Monday, November 5, 2007

Holiday Cards for Russian Orphans and other thoughts...

I got this in an email earlier - the cards are adorable with the benefits going to a great cause:

Your purchase of these holiday cards, drawn by children who grew up in Russian orphanages,
will benefit our very successful Bridge of Hope program, which brings older Russian orphans to the U.S.
for a homestay with a host family, attendance at day camp, and the opportunity to find permanent adoptive homes. Over the past ten summers, 90% of the children participating in the program have been adopted.
Each year, we must raise $300,000 so that 75 Russian children can have hope for the future.
Every dollar of your purchase will be dedicated to Bridge of Hope.

We do not have a lot of other new news. I spoke with our adoption agency today who shared she has heard nothing yet of a court date although she did state that when we do hear it will likely mean we will be leaving in about two weeks. Our jewelry sales went well this past weekend although looking at the big financial picture is difficult still. Although our sales have been helpful it is exhausting to spend the entire weekend working to return to a 15 hour workday Monday. One look at the little man's picture though makes it all seem worth it. It is crazy how all the work, all the financial worries and all the intense emotions seems to just fade away when we look at a picture or video...his smile is so contagious. I keep thinking about the moment our plane touches down in Minneapolis with our little guy and our daughter in our arms. I cannot imagine a better moment in life!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Happy National Adoption Month!

November is National Adoption Month...check out for details and a calendar of events.

We are keeping busy in attempt to keep our mind off the fact that are really missing our little guy and are dying to know our next travel dates already. Last weekend we started painting his room (pics to come). I have been busy trying to get ahead with grad school stuff in case we leave before the end of the semester. Unfortunately Ryan has been busy fixing our car. While I was feeling guilty about missing trick-or-treating in class last night Ryan was busy consoling Big Bird because as they were to leave for trick-or-treating the breaks went out on our car. My poor Big Bird.

This weekend we are hitting the fundraising head on (again) as we are going to St. Cloud for another craft show to sell jewelry. Other news is that we have decided on bringing our daughter with us on our second trip. Petro does not waive the 10 days so our stay will need to be 3 weeks. I cannot imagine leaving her that long - 6 days was long enough. We are nervous about the flights and 14-hour train ride but feel that we are still making the best decision. Last weekend we showed her pictures of her brother for the first time (we did not show her beforehand just in case) and explained to her that she will be going to Russia with us next time. She does not of course fully understand yet but she is starting to talk about him more. At Target today we had the following conversation:

"Mama, I get this shirt for brother"

"No, honey. That is too much money."

"No Mama. Not too much money. Get for brother."

"Do you have money?"

"Yes Mama. In your purse."

Then we had a good ol temper tantrum when I explained that actually there is no money in the purse and that we cannot get the shirt for her brother. this may seem like a funny way of showing some acceptance for her new brother but I'm thinking were getting there!!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Have a Happy Halloween!

...from Big Bird

Saturday, October 27, 2007


As promised below are pictures from our first trip. I wish we could post pictures of him but we are not allowed to until court is complete.

On a 7-hour layover in New York

On the train from Moscow to Petro

Us in front of St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow:

Our little man's room:

Friday, October 26, 2007

Alive and well...

Yes...we are alive and well. The only major malfunction (besides jet lag) is my computer (and USB drive) which decided to quit working in Russia and it appears I brought the wrong adaptor so sorry for the late post (I will definately be better the second trip...promise). We arrived back around 2:00 this morning and are doing great. We are loving seeing our daughter and thankful we came back on Friday to spend time with her over the weekend. I will post pictures over the weekend as we are in another hurry to get home and I still am struggling with the USB drive. But here are the last highlights from trip number one:

* We were able to spend twice a day with our little man for both days in Petro. He warmed up quite a bit to us and every time we visitied him we fell more in love with him. He is super sweet. On our last day I spend about 20 minutes rocking him with him just clenched to me - he is just thriving for attenttion and love. We also spent some time in his playroom with the other children his age. They are all so wanting that attention and the orphanage workers are so overworked - it was hard to see.

*We signed all official paperwork our last day there with the Ministry of Education. All our documents are set to go. They were waiting for one more item from the orphanage and then will be sending that off to Moscow where it will get processed (which takes 3-4 weeks) and then a court date will be set (pray for SOON!)

*Leaving the orphanage and Petro was hard - the feeling of having two children on totally opposite sides of the world hit very hard. The train ride back was very jerky and we did not sleep well. When we got to Moscow we did our 8 doctor medical appt. - 8 doctors in 3 hours with little sleep and no shower - quite an experience and not my favorite part of the trip!

*We stayed on the 22nd floor of an apartment in Moscow our last night - struggled to sleep due to the constant sound of sirens and noises.

*We then spent 24 hours traveling. Many of you may disagree but let me say - we do not know traffic in this country - it took twice as long to travel in Moscow as it did to fly from New York to Minnapolis! Literally no movement for 90 minutes!! The ride home was long - we did not sleep on any of the flights or layovers so we are tired. It was wonderful to see our daughter this morning. Our plan is to show her the video we took of her brother and explain to her (as best you can to a 3-year-old) what will happen next.

Thank you all for your thoughts, prayers and kind words - having support from family, friends and the adoption community has been what has held us together!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Our Little Man...

Our little man...we met him yesterday for the first time - it is still so surreal for us. So...a brief overview of our very exciting day: We were brought to the orphanage around 11am. Walking up was a little eye-opening. The orphanage is set amongst many very run-down apartments with a couple old, run down slides and graffitti on the walls. Walking into the orphanage is this immidiate feeling that everyone there is working so hard for these kids, every doctor and caregiver took as much time with us as we wanted. When we arrived we spent about one hour talking with the doctor, reviewing his social and medical history. A few concerns were discussed and then we were brought to a play room. I don't think I will ever forget the moment that occurred next. I was talking to one of our social workers when I saw her jaw drop. I turned around and in came walking this very cute, very small little boy...our little man. He is just adorable!! Ryan and I both gasped. It was a great moment. He is much smaller than we expected - he looks similar to many of the 9 month old children we know - both in weight and height. This was initially a concern however he appears to be doing well in so many other ways. We played for about 2 hours in a few different rooms. We also spent 30 minutes watching him have a session with a speech pathologist! He was able to complete all the tasks she asked of him, picking up blocks and stacking them, etc. During our play time there were a few times when he would put his arms out and run at me, giving me a hug!! Talk about pulling at your heart strings. He sat on both my lap and Ryan's (although he had never been around a man before). We gave him a blue teddy bear and a soft picture book with pictures of our family - he held onto those for dear life. We got to bring him into his crib for naptime and we then left for a couple hours and returned in the evening. He was just as cute and cuddly when we returned. As it neared bedtime he snuggled in my lap with his teddy bear for about 15 minutes. It was such a great day!!

So this morning (9am here) we are getting ready to go to the Ministry of Education to register some paperwork and name him!!!! We will be going back to the orphanage and then will be leaving for Moscow around 6pm tonight for another long 14 hour train ride. I think this ride will be so much more difficult because we are leaving him behind although we are also looking forward to seeing our daughter - and other familiar faces! Once we get to Moscow we have to do our 8 Doctor Medical (yep - that's right - we each have to meet with 8 doctors who speak Russian...looking forward to that!) We then will spend tomorrow night in Moscow (where I will post again) before heading home.

Monday, October 22, 2007


We have very little time to post because...WERE GOING TO MEET HIM IN 30 MINUTES!!! Things have gone fairly smooth so far. We will post pics and other information later tonight (its 10:30 Monday morning here).

A brief update:
Got to Moscow after a very long 9 hour flight from New York yesterday morning. We were greeted by two sweet ladies and a driver who gave us a great tour of Red Square as we had some time before we got on the train. We took a 14 hour train ride from Moscow to Petro. We were then greeted by Ann who took us to her apartment where we are now - I just took my first shower in 3 days - very nice. We are meeting with two social workers in just a few minutes and then going to the orphanage...we can hardly wait - this is one of those days that will certainly go in the top 10 list...make that top 3!

By the way - if any of my fellow adoptee bloggers can comment on how I change this site from Russian to English we'd much appreciate it :)

Friday, October 19, 2007

In less than 24 hours...

We will be on our way to Moscow. We are so excited and nervous. It looks like all of our paperwork is in order and we are so ready to meet our son. We are disappointed that our new friends Marie and Shane will not be able to make it after all (they were going to be on the same flight to meet their son but were told only recently that they will have to continue to wait)...we will miss you guys! We will spend the next few days on planes, trains and automobiles to get there (leaving at 4:30 am Saturday to get there around noonish Monday) will all be so worth it. Apologies go out to those phone calls and emails we haven't returned the last few days...can't wait to post our pictures and details from abroad!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Where in the world is Petrozavodsk?

So, I realized my map to the left leaves a little to be desired so here it is enlarged. Petro is on Lake Osega - near the Finland border. Petrozavodsk (Russian: Петрозаво́дск; Karelian/Finnish: Petroskoi or Äänislinna) is the capital of the Republic of Karelia, Russia, with a population of 266,160 (2002 Census). It stretches along the western shore of the Lake Onega for some 27 kilometers. We are very excited about the region. It's sister city is Duluth, Minnesota (only a few hours from here and one of favorite places to visit).

It is hard to believe that it is less than a week from us meeting our little guy. This past week is a very big blur. Allie is super excited about visiting Gramma and Grampa. She has every toy packed ready to go (which is helping us). Last night I explained to her (again) that Mommy and Daddy will be in Russia meeting her brother and she says, "I know mama and you gonna miss your Allie" with a big smile on her face, patting me on my shoulder. Tonight she helped me pick out a teddy bear to bring to her brother. She gave it a big hug and said, "you go to Russia with Mommy and Daddy" and then put it in my suitcase. (Where's the video camera when I need it?)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Our itenerary

Here is a brief version of what we will be doing on this first trip:

Oct. 20th - leave US
Oct. 21st - Arrive to Moscow before 1pm, train to petro
Oct. 22-23 - Stay in Petrozavodsk where we will meet our son!!!
Oct. 24 - doctor visit in Moscow
Oct. 25th - leave Moscow

It seeems so surreal that we are leaving in less than a week. We have a variety of emotions going though us (none of which at all resemble calm or collected). We have spent the weekend packing, getting last minute paperwork together and reserving hotels and apartments in Moscow and Petro. The most difficult thing (gulp) will be leaving our daughter while the best will be meeting our son for the first time (Wow - this is so different than being pregnant) and then again knowing we will have to leave him there...ugh - I can't imagaine how that will go.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


We leave Oct. 20 and will return Oct. 25! We are super excited and stay tuned, more excitement to follow!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


IT'S THE CALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Our NEW destination: Petrozavodsk, Russia
Our Little Guy is 15 months old and ADORABLE (we can't post pictures until court is complete) I realize many of you are looking for an explanation. Trust me...we are as surprised as anyone that this is happening.'s what happened:

I was recently in touch with a woman who had swithced agencies when adopting from Russia. She suggested I contact the agency she had swithched to. We have loved the agency we had been using... they work very hard to ensure these children are placed into good homes however at what I believe is really no fault of their own, they had to extend our wait time. So...I decided to place a few calls to check on how much time and money is lost when switching agencies...really not thinking we would go through with the move. In fact after speaking with other agencies I figured I was pretty happy with what we had. My last call was to the agency the woman I had been in touch with had recommended. So...after an introduction the phone call went something like this:

Her: "What age and sex are you hoping to adopt?"

Me: "A..."

Her: "Let me guess, a boy under 18 months."

Me: Sigh (here it comes...the wait time conversation, this is where she tells me we have another year to wait and everyone she has waiting is looking for a little boy). "Actually, yes"

Her: "Really? And your paperwork is all ready? I actually have a little boy who is one-year-old coming off the database tomorrow. I just needed to find him a family who is ready to go by the end of October."

...She went on to explain that she should have some basic medical info and a picture (what we received yesterday) soon and we would then need to make a decision. The agency is very small but we happened accross it at the right time (when everyone else seemed to be looking for little girls or older children).

CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!?! The remainder of the conversation was followed by many squeals and pinching (this honestly felt like a dream). So...this is a God else do you describe this?!? We have since been incredibly busy rescheduling some things and scheduling others (doctor appts, international doctor preadoption consultation, updating our home study, getting immunizations, etc., etc.). We complete each and every task with such smiles and excitement. Our day has finally come.

So...the reason for not posting anything until now (the phone call took place about a week ago) is for a variety of reasons - first, we really wanted to be sure this was true. Also, we really only got the official call late yesterday and accepted the referral this morning. We spent time emailing and getting in contact with others who have used the agency (all very positive responses) and verifying the referral would actually occur. Secondly, while we are ESCTATIC, there is a large sense of guilt for those I have become close to in this waiting game...especially to those who have been waiting longer. So...I really felt the need to get in touch and explain this to those people before making our big blog announcement.

We are so happy to be able to share the most exciting and uplifting piece of this journey with all our friends, family, coworkers, fellow adoptees and bloggers...we will be posting prior to and while in Russia so keep tuned in.

Monday, September 24, 2007

You Tube video

Below I thought I'd share a video I found on You Tube (you have to double click on it and it will bring you to You Tube to watch it). It's great for us parents in waiting as it illustrates the feelings a child has leaving the orphanage. It gets me thinking of how hard it will be if our little guy is very upset to leave the place he has known all his life while we will be so thrilled to finally have him in our arms. In thinking about it I think we will have to acknowledge the loss or grief that our child may be having despite all of our excitement. It is not easy to think of it this way...I want to picture our little one clinging to us with happy smiles, sharing the same joy we will have. Anyway...just some random thoughts. Not much new on the adoption front although in the past week I have received emails from two different couples in Minnesota also adopting from Russia AND who have been assigned to our region - Tver. One of the couples submitted their dossier shortly after we did so there is a good chance we will be traveling together. We are hoping to meet up with them next time we are near Minneapolis. It will be great to keep in contact with each other as we wait and hopefully as our sons grow.

International Adoption Workshop (intro)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

We have no news on the adoption front but not a day goes by that were not thinking of our future son who is waiting for a family - below is a poem I found today:


I hold you in my heart and touch you in my dreams. You are here each day with me, at least that's how it seems.

I know you wonder where we are... what's taking us so long. But remember child, I love you so and God will keep you strong.

Now go outside and feel the breeze and let it touch your skin...Because tonight, just as always, I blow you kisses in the wind.

May God hold you in His hand until I can be with you. I promise you, my darling, I'm doing all that I can do.

Very soon, you'll have a family for real, not just pretend.

But for tonight, just as always, I blow you kisses in the wind. May God wrap you in His arms and hold you very tight. And let the angels bring the kisses that I send to you each night.
--- Unknown

Sunday, September 9, 2007

busy, busy

I wish there was more to post on the adoption front. I did speak with our adoption consultant last week and she assured me that despite the slow down in our region they did not anticipate moving us regions. The hard thing for us to swallow is that our region may no longer be waiving the 10 day waiting period (for those of you not obsessed with the Russian adoption scene - there is a 10 day waiting period after you adopt your child that the judge may or may not choose to waive). In the past Tver has been a region which nearly always waived that extra 10 days however they have switched judges and this might not be the case anymore. The hardest part about that will be leaving our daughter for an EXTRA 10 days...I can't imagine how difficult that will be. Life outside of adoption has been busy. I have started my last semester of grad school and am back to a full work schedule. So I leave the house at 7am and do not return until 9pm most nights - with the exception of a quick occassional dinner. December 10th will be a happy day for me!!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Yeah PBS!

This Friday PBS will be airing the first in a two part series on "Arthur" in which Arthur's friend becomes a big brother when his parents adopt a little girl from China. The producers spent hours with families who have adopted. Yeah PBS! (For show times check out )

Sunday, September 2, 2007

IAD (Intl. Adoption Doctor) and other stuff

So we have done some searching lately for an international adoption doctor. Services seem to vary greatly from hiring a doctor to come to the orphanage to using an array of procedures to tell if the child has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. We have decided to use the University of Minnesota's adoption clinic ( They have a great repuatation and are easy access to us. I have also been in recent contact with a doctor there who is doing research on children under 3 adopted from Eastern European countries. We are not sure whether we will participate in that. We are glad to have made the decision about who to go with however do not yet know to what extent we will use them (for instance - we haven't decided if we will have the child examined for FAS features). Not a lot new on the adoption front - often people in Russia take vacation for most or all of August so we are hoping and praying things will pick back up in September. We are a little discouraged that our region has been very inactive. As Rachel said to me in an email earlier today, "this process is not for the faint of heart". So true!

In other news we have been keeping busy with many house projects...some planned and some not. We PLANNED on painting our kitchen cabinets, walls and living room and did complete this massive undertaking :). We DID NOT PLAN on our electricity in half the house to stop working and for the septic to give...long story short our very nice friends Kami and Chad (an electrician) came over and for the mere price of pizzas spent hours looking into our electrical problem. Well...we ended up finding a "secret room" attached to our closet which had a light dangling from it and burned some wires - we could have lost our whole house!! The septic is another story - the roots to our neighbors large tree have dug into and pierced a whole in our septic line - part of which is under the house!! So...needless to say most our labor day weekend has been spent digging! At least we had good weather! I am also getting preparing to go back to school...the next few months will be very busy for me as I work on my last semester of grad school :) and my workload heads into full force. The good thing about that is that when I am that busy time will seem less until we meet our son!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

This weekend we attended a wedding and picnic put on by our regional coordinator for our agency. We had a great time meeting other parents-in-waiting and adoptive parents...there's something so therapeutic about sharing similar joys and struggles. It is a rush to listen to the travels of others going to meet their child(ren) for the first time knowing that this will soon be us. I felt so selfish complaining about the wait time to adopt our child when speaking with parents anticipating a three year wait for their child from China. Were looking forward to keeping in contact with other Minnesota adopting families. Some things we learned today: it can be 40 below 0 in January in Russia (drastic even for Northern Minnesotans), nearly everyone advises against taking your child with you to Russia (little Al will stay with gramma and grampa), to not be alarmed by the potential small size of our child and that we are not the only ones struggling with this waiting thing!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

On the adoption front...things are quiet. Not a lot of news as we wait. I did talk to our consutant from St. Louis today. She stated that while they are no longer updating families where they are in line, she will notify us when we are second or third in line so we have a couple months to prepare. She felt our wait time was still around 10 months from April although she anticipated this would decrease as accredidiation should occur soon. While we would love to have our little guy home by Christmas it does not look like this will happen. We keep focusing on that more time will allow us to continue fundraising and time for me to complete my masters degree and thesis (this January - yeah!!). On another note, we had our fourth jewelry fundraising sale this was very quiet where we were but we did well fundraising. We were able to visit with friends and relatives there and so appreciate all of our friends and family who came by to see us including my folks, Ryans dad, Donn, Shar and Cristrian, Laura and Jade and Mellissa and Khrystine - it was so great to see you all and we appreciate all of your support! So..I am taking the advice of friends and adding a guest book to the blog - so say hello or comment if you wish...this spot has been therapeutic for us and we are happy so many of you have signed on to follow our journey.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


I decided to post answers to our most Frequently Asked Questions about our adoption...if you have more to ask, please feel free.
  • Why Russia?

We decided on Russia after exploring an array of options. We truly felt a calling to the area. We have ansectors from the area and we are allowed to adopt infants (not true of all foreign adoptions).

  • Have you met your child yet?

No. We will not meet him until our first trip.

  • Will you get a picture?

Doubtful, most Russian adoptions do not give pictures to families however the region we are adopting from does do this occasionally.

  • Do you have to go to Russia?

Yes, twice. The first trip is our "referral trip" where we will meet the child and accept or decline the referral. We will be able to send medical reports back to the University of MN adoption clinic for review prior to our acceptance.

  • Did you consider adopting from the U.S.?

Not so much. We really saw this as an opportunity to add to our family while also helping a child who is in need of a home.

  • How old will he be?

We have requested a boy between the ages of 6 months (the youngest you can adopt from Russia) to 18 months.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Shirts and fundraising...

These shirts are too cute (found at - a fellow blogger talked about the site and it's attentiveness to adoption issues! The first shirt says "Yes, I am still adopting. No, I haven't heard anything yet". The second shirt is difficult to read but states "WARNING: I am in love with a child I haven't met yet. I am in the process of adoption. I am subject to cry at any moment. Please bear with me until my referral comes".
On another note...we had our third fundraising sale this weekend. It was ok...I guess you take the good with the bad. We met very nice people and many who took our card to look at our blog here - if you did - thank you so much for your support!! I go - this is my therapeutic venting for the day - if someone says hi to you - say hi back!!! UGH! I cannot believe the amount of people that do not say "hi" when spoken to OR the amount of people that feel it is okay to say "don't you know there are kids in the US?" My response, "Yes, I am aware of that. We are so fortunate to live in a country though where there is not a high need for adoption of infants while in Russia 700,000 children wait in orphanages". Still...I am sure people can hardly hear me as I'm grinding my teeth in frustration. Yet - there are others who are so supportive - people who stop to ask about the process or stop to introduce me to their adopted amount of sales can make up for moments like that. The amount of love and support from strangers to not was so much more when I was pregnant than it is now. So this is my soapbox (for today): if you know someone who is adopting - show her just as much excitement and joy as you would if you saw a big round belly on her...she needs and deserves that!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Tag - I'm it!!

I was tagged by Rachel with this questionnaire - so here we go!!

5 things I was doing 10 years ago:
1. Enjoying my first year in Northern MN
2. Driving a Volkswagen jetta
3. Working on my social work and education degrees
4. Living in a cute little apt. overlooking the lake and university
5. Working in residential treatment

5 snacks I enjoy:
1. Coffee!!
2. Pizza - any kind, any time
3. Spinach dip
4. Pringles
5. Mocha ice cream

5 things I would do if I were a Millionaire
1. Pay off our debt - then check to see if there was anything left :)
2. Adopt a couple more little guys
3. Pay off the debt of our friends and family
4. Help the AIDS foundation in Africa
5. Help others adopt orphans around the world

5 bad habits:
1. Talking too fast when I'm nervous
2. Eating when I'm stressed
3. Over worrying
4. Pushing the snooze - for 30-45 minutes!
5. Eating before bed

5 things I like to do:
1. Swim
2. Hike
3. Cross country ski
4. Go to the amusement park or zoo with Allie
5. Drink coffee by the lake with a good friend

5 things I would never wear again:
1. A two piece that does not cover my tummy
2. Rolled jeans (except on a dare - remember Betsy?)
3. Super high curled bangs
4. Any type of perm (not a good look for me)
5. Any multi colored neon items

Hmmm....who's the lucky one to get tagged....I'm going to pass this on to my fellow Tver adoptee Carrie!! Enjoy!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Catching up...

It has been a little while - what have we been doing? A lot! We returned late yesterday after a whirlwind of events. We left suddenly after my Grandmother passed away. We traveled to Minneapolis to help with funeral arrangements and be with family. It was a hard week. My Grandmother was full of life and spirit and speaking at her funeral was one of the hardest things I've ever done. She had been so excited about our adoption and I am sad our little man will not have the pleasure of knowing her. Immediately after the funeral we headed North for a jewelry fundraiser. We have had great increase in our jewelry sales and are considering starting a website just dedicated to selling it...I even sold to a couple of people who are looking to sell it in their stores / boutiques!! We then headed further North for some much needed relaxation time. I am sure those of you in this waiting stage can relate to the feeling that the adoption never really leaves your mind...thinking of our son who we have not yet met sitting in an orphanage is very, very difficult sometimes. Getting back to reality is always hard...Ryan continues to search for employment and time will tell whether we will remain in our home. I was hoping to hear news about our agencies accreditation but no word yet. It also does not appear that things in our region are moving along very swiftly as there have not been any referrals there for quite a while therefore we may inquire about switching regions if this does not pick up after summer months. I am posting a pic from our trip...Allison had a blast up North - she caught her first fish, paddled her first canoe and ate way more raspberries than she could count. A special thanks to Tom, Pat and Patty who were very hospitable while we stayed with them!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A little brother?!?

Common questions in our house right now are, "Go get brother now?" and "I go Russia too?" do you explain the Russian adoption process to a 2.5 year old who has difficulty waiting 30 seconds for her sippy cup?!? We try to avoid detailed conversation around her but she is really curious and very excited to say the least. She is loving picking out the little fish we are putting in his room and when we see boy clothes she begs to "get if for brother". We continue to tell her it will be a "long time" (as we pray it won't) but then again I told her it will also be a "long time" before her friend's birthday party next weekend. Poor thing! My mom sent this adorable t-shirt in the mail today - she loves it! We can hardly wait to see the interactions between the two of them!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Gratitude, Gratitude, Gratitude...

"What I know for sure is that what you give comes back to you"
...Oprah Winfrey

So...I sent out a small email and made a call or two in regards to our adoption fundraiser rummage sale. We were floored and humbled by the responses - we received donations from everything from kids clothing to an elliptical machine!! We raised over $500 to aid our adoption during our rummage sale yesterday!

We want to single out appreciation to those who donated the hall we used and also to Kim, Paula, Jan and Shaylee for their generous donations! Thank you!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Clarification about Russian adoption...

On a chat group I belong to for families adopting from Russia a clarification was posted to all of the recent discussion about Russian adoption. As the media has increased their recent coverage as accreditation begins, questions have arisen from others around us about our own adoption. (By the way - if your interested, I just entered a new link to one of our favorite sites called "WOW Russia"). This is what the poster stated:

"Folk, just to clarify something. Russia has never been closed to adoptions,either to US or other nationalities. Adoptions have continued unabated,although at lower levels for US families, all along. It is also worth mentioning that although Mr Putin is doing his best to increase adoption rates in Russia, because of the high numbers of children available and the culture prevailing there.... And now for another myth which needs to be killed off: the individuals 'on the ground', orphanage staff, doctors, social services, are extremely supportive of international adopters - we were asked repeatedly during our visit if we knew other families we could talk to! - they have the same goals we do - get the kids into stable, loving homes as soon as possible. What gets in the way is this huge bureaucracy which, while initially built to protect the children,has grown out of proportion and is staffed by individuals who are so far removed from the front line they consider this just paperwork. We have experienced acts of extreme kindness and support in Russia.... I am pleased to see some of the blockers removed which will allow more US families to adopt. I wish you all well in this fabulous life journey we are undertaking."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Congrats to My Hubby!!

Why congrats you may ask...on Wednesday evening Ryan officially graduated from his six week intensive police officer skills training (which he started immediately following his lay off). The pic is from his graduation ceremony we were able to attend. I haven't posted much on this mainly because I'm a little paranoid about throwing out that I'm alone with a 2-year-old for all to see. Allison is very happy to be with her daddy and we are super proud of him!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Accredidation & Fundraising Stuff...

So...I have been waiting a little bit to post - truthfully because I have been hoping for better news. The great news is that 8 agencies have been accredited recently (on July 4th) the not so great news is that our agency was not amongst them. We are confident however that it will not be long before our agency receives this. In the meantime we have been busy working toward funding our adoption. So far we have worked on organizing an adoption fundraiser garage sale, sold over $300.00 worth of items on ebay, begun sales of bracelets and even sold a vehicle....Ryan's red ranger. That's right - the 1989 red Ford Ranger Ryan was known for has been sold.

The demand and appreciation for the bracelets has been so great that we decided to began selling them at art and craft fairs and we have also ordered a large quantity of necklaces and earrings to match. It was a tuff decision as a lot of start up money was needed. So far we have booked the venues below - so for our friends and family (or others in the adoption world) scattered throughout Minnesota - come see us!

July 21: Walker, MN
July 27 - 29: Two Harbors, MN
August 11-12: St. Cloud, MN
November 2-3: St. Cloud, MN
November 30 - Dec. 2: Duluth, MN

I wanted to shout out thanks to two good friends - to Betsy for helping by selling our bracelets (very successfully!) at her place of employment and to Jess for giving us some very cute and gently used little boy clothes!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


For all of you at least a little familiar with international adoption you are aware of the incredible costs. As we now wait and pray for accreditation and to receive our referral we are struggling to find ways to support our adoption. Most of you are aware that recently the nonprofit agency we both work for was forced to close. Fortunately Amy's position is one of three that will remain as she's contracted to work in the schools however Ryan was officially laid off this week. Having paid for 1/3 of our costs to this point and knowing that a little boy waits for us (and us for him)we are keeping on. We would love to hear any ideas from our creative family and friends as well as suggestions from the many new friends we have met in this process. So....if you have a suggestion please leave it in our comments and we'll keep track of them. One thing we have decided to do is to sell bracelets...hence the bracelet picture and donation button to your left. We just started our counter below and found we got over 50 hits on our blog in one day! Glad to know we are so interesting :) so we figured at that rate we could actually fund our adoption on these my wonderful husband has agreed to shave his head if we sell 2,000 bracelets! Bald is beautiful and I promise to post pics here. Other things we have done thus far include:

*Applying for adoption grants (no luck yet)
*Took out a loan against our home (helpful but still short $20,000)
*Selling any item we could possibly do without on ebay
*Adoption bracelets

Thursday, June 14, 2007

No news is not always good news...

I spoke with our adoption consultant in St. Louis today. It all boils down to no real new news. It seems everyone anticipates re-accrediation to happen with Russia soon however NO agencies have it right now. Our expected wait time if accrediation does not happen soon is 10-12 months from the time we submitted our dossier until when we actually bring our little guy home. So - since we sent our dossier in around the first of May we believe a very approximate time frame for our first trip will be around December - March with our final trip 2-3 months following that. She also stated that it is likely that our 500 - 700 page dossier is now completed being translated however we will not be contacted by Russia now until we get "the call" for our referral. We of course are praying for accrediation to happen soon - not only for our sake but for the good of all the children and families who are having to wait this out. So while I do not right now like the phrase "no news is good news", I do have greater appreciation for the statment, "patience is a virtue".


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Sad Stats...

Since ending the school year (both grad school & elementary school) I've picked up more reading of others blogs who are adopting and the many great adoption web sites. So often were asked "Why Russia?" or "What are the needs there?". So I've decided to post some recent findings and stats about Russian orphans...

More than 700,000 orphans are living in 2,000 state-run orphanages. Of those, 95 percent have a living parent unable to or unwilling to care for them. That doesn't include the estimated 2 million to 4 million homeless orphans living on the streets and in railway stations.

Of those who are not adopted and leave the orphanage between the ages of 16 and 18

  • 50 percent of the girls become prostitutes
  • 40 percent of the children become addicted to drugs or alcohol
  • 40 percent commit crimes
  • 10 percent commit suicide


  • Just 1 in 10 former Russian orphans becomes a functional member of society.
  • 132,500 children are abandoned to the state in Russia every year, up from roughly 67,000 in 1992.
  • Nearly 4,640 Russian orphans were adopted by Americans in 2005, down from a record 5,865 in 2004.
  • 13 out of every 100 children adopted by Russians are eventually returned to the orphanage.
  • 40 million children in the former Soviet Union are living in poverty.

Sources: Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation, the Commission for Children at Risk, Human Rights Watch, European Children's Trust, Rosstat Agency

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Cute letter...

I recently found a sample letter suggested a child give to the family and friends of his/her family. It is a good example of what is often recommended for children trying to attach to their new families. We have been doing a lot of reading about attachment struggles of Russian orphans and of course want to ease our sons transition while showing him we are not going anywhere.

Dear family and friends,

You must care very deeply for me to be reading this note. I can’t wait to meet you, but there are some special things you should know about me. I am only just learning what it means to have a mommy and daddy and how to be part of a family. For this reason, please allow my parents to do all my caretaking, including holding, comforting, and feeding me. You are welcome to play with me and smile and talk to me. My mommy and daddy have been told by experts that this will help me learn as fast as I can how to be a happy and healthy part of my new family.


Hope all is well with all of you! We'll keep you updated!
Ryan & Amy

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Our first blog...

Welcome to our first blog! We are hoping this site will serve as a way for us to capture moments through our adoption process as while as update our family and friends with news and even pictures while in Russia and back at home. We have started by recalling all the memorable dates up until this point. We are now in the "waiting stage" and many people who have gone through adoption recommend coping with this stage by journaling the that is what we are doing here. Our agency expects our very approximate wait time to be between 8 - 10 months from the time our dossier was sent in until we bring our little guy home. Our first trip to Russia will be about 2 - 3 months prior to this. We figure that puts us somewhere around the new year. Looking forward to sharing this journey with all of you!