Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Travel Date

I feel like I haven't posted in a very long time, but it really hasn't been that long.

We've just been wrapped in the cocoon of loving on the kids and not having to leave the house.  The suitcases weren't unloaded until today...most of them.  Our's, yes.  Children's, no.

Not that matters now, because we received an email that we are to be back in the country where Alice is on Jan 10th!  12 days from now.  To be honest, at first the idea of getting everything done and having to fly for 9+ hours was not what I wanted to do.  But, I am so ready now.  I haven't gotten anything done, I'm just SO ready to have my family intact.

We will miss daughter #3's ninth birthday while we are away.  I said that we should do something just our family of 7, before we become a family of 8.  She said, "Mommy, we are already a family of 8."  So sweet.  Yes, we are a family of 8 and it's time we look like it!

I went to several stores today to get some things we'll need for Alice in country and when we get home.  We needed a car seat and some clothes for the sweet thing.  I found that according to the weight listed on the clothes at Target, she wears 3-6 month size clothes.  She's 14 months.  I can't wait to get her home and fatten her up!  I bought a diaper bag for the first time.  My first baby, someone gave me a diaper bag.  After that I made them.  It was a lot of fun to buy pink again.  We haven't bought anything pink in 6 years.  I also bought a pink cloth diaper.  She's gonna have to wear what we have, which is a whole lotta blue and neutral.  But, I wanted her to have at least one pink one.

We are shopping for a passenger van since we out grew our mini-van.  That is such a big purchase.  Please pray for Erin to have wisdom as he goes about this.  I am no help in this area.  I really don't care.  Miles, color, etc.  This burden falls squarely on his shoulders and I'll drive whatever he decides.  The Lord has provided so wonderfully for this.  We are beyond grateful for this.

He has given our family so much this year.  It has been a year like no other; one we will never forget.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

I wasn't going to post today...it is Christmas, after all.  But, I did want to fill in a few details.

1) We flew home yesterday and surprised the kids.  They didn't know we were coming home and it was so sweet to see their faces.

2)The judge did NOT waive the 10 days.  The reason for the 10 day wait is to give local residents, family, or the prosecutors the chance to protest the judge's decision to allow us to adopt her.  If there is no 10 day wait period, and someone does protest they will then have 30 days to file that protest.  And all that time she has to wait in the orphanage.  And we have to wait in country, away from the children.  So, as much as it breaks our hearts the 10 day period is best within the laws of the land.

3)We came home without our daughter.  We had to leave for the 10 days because we have 5 other blessings that need us.  AND it may be longer than 10 days.  More than likely it will be 3 weeks before we go back.  This is because of their holidays.  We won't go back until after she has a local passport.  That will keep us from being in the country without an end date.  When we do go back it will only be for a couple of days before we'll break her out of the orphanage forever.  And we'll only be in country for 1 week.  We are blessed and excited that our court date happened when it did.  But, the timing with the holidays set the return trip back a bit.

4)We are planning a full week.  A week full of cuddles.  A week full of speaking English all the time.  A week full of American movies...granted most will be animated, but we won't be picky. 

Merry Christmas everyone.  Whether you celebrate the holiday or not, I hope you have a wonderful day with family and friends.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I would like to announce

our newest blessing...Alice Faith Frye.


Conceived in our hearts in August and officially adopted into our family December 23, 2010 at 3:15 pm local time.

We had court this afternoon.  Our driver was late.  I tried not to panic.  We got to the courthouse and had to wait.  Guess we weren't late after all.  Our facilitator, M, walked us through the court process.  She said a bunch of stuff, but I was too nervous to hear her actual words.  She told me not to cross my legs while in the courtroom.  I do remember that.  She also told us that they made a special appearance for us.  The court is not hearing any new cases until after Jan 10th, but that they were here special just for us!

When we got into the court room we sat down until the judge arrived, then we stood for her entrance.  There was a lot of legal stuff, state your name, your address, etc.  All being translated by M.  Then Erin had to stand and answer a bunch of questions.  How will you care for a sick child?  Will you view her as you do your biological children?  What do they think of what you are doing?  Then she asked me how would I care for this child with all my other children?  She seemed very concerned about me taking on another child when I "have so many already."  I told her that I love my children and when Alice is adopted she will be just like my bio children. There will be no difference.  My daughters are a big help to me and we have family living close by.  (I personally am grateful for any help we get, but I am Alice's mother and I will take care of her.)  We told the judge about my parents and that they are foster parents for 6 special needs kids and that Erin's sister had a son with special needs.  That helped too.

She looked through our family album.  The orphanage doctor stood up and said that we knew Alice's medical condition.  She said that it appeared that Alice was growing closer to us.  A social worker stood and said that from our reaction at our first meeting with Alice she could tell there was an emotional bond with her.  They all said they agreed with us that we should adopt her.

The judge said that Alice needed a new birth certificate with the name, Alice Faith Frye.  Then we all stood and the judge left.  I looked at M.  She said, "Congratulations, you are parents for the 6th time."  I just stood there.  That was it?  Where was the balloons and ticker tape?  Where was the shouting?  It was plain and simple.

She is ours.

Erin hugged M.  I hugged M.  I told the doctor and social worker, "Thank you" over and over.  M translated it each time.  Then we gathered our coats and headed out.  I was shaking and had tears such that I couldn't see.

We went from there to buy diapers! Then to the orphanage to see the newest small Frye.  She, of course, had no idea that her world had just changed.

I told her that an amazing thing had just happened.  Her old self had passed away.  Valeria was no more.  She was no longer an orphan with no family.  She was Alice Faith Frye.  With 2 parents, 3 sisters, 2 brothers, 2 grandmothers, 2 grandfathers, 6 uncles, 7 aunts, 15 cousins all waiting to love on her.  I'm not counting church family here, too many arms waiting to hold her to count them.


She is very, very much wanted.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I'm a bit jealous

We were able to visit Alice twice today.  The days are beginning to feel a bit like the movie "Groundhog Day".  The days all start out the same with just a few changes to each day.  We get up, check the email, eat breakfast, have devotional time, leave for orphanage.  Come back to the apt, eat lunch, leave for orphanage.  Come back, eat dinner, clean up, read books (I knit), go to bed.

At this afternoon's visit, Alice did the thing that I have been dying for her to do.  She fell asleep while we were walking around...but in Erin's arms!


Yep, she fell asleep on Erin.  Although I love that she did, I have to admit I'm a bit jealous.  I wouldn't take that away from him for anything.  But, I would have liked for it to be me, too.  She fought going to sleep the whole time I was holding her.  I guess Erin is a more soothing walker than I am.

I did make her that hat, though.  I finished it this afternoon before our 2nd visit.  The nannies at the orphanage loved it.  I think.  They kept giving me the thumbs up sign and talking really fast.

We heard from our facilitator, M, that The Vote was postponed yet again.  They don't know when they'll reschedule it.  So, it doesn't appear that it will derail our adoption.  And hopefully more orphans will be found by their families.  We haven't heard this officially from Reece's Rainbow, however.

Court is tomorrow at 2 pm local time.  I'm nervous, but not.  I know that God is in control and He has a plan for us and for Alice.  Court is the last hurdle before she'll legally be ours.  I'll update as soon as I can.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Get a load of this hat!

Everyday they bring Alice to me in the most amazing layers.  I am either laughing about it or irritated, because this is just silly.  Anyway, today, they brought her to me with this hat.  It's a traditional hat for this region, but, well, um...



We got to see our girl 2 times today.  The visit in the morning she is usually a little sleepy and very cuddly. I have no problem with that.  She will sit with Erin for a little while, then she squirms to get down.  Then, she works her way to me.  I pick her up and rock her.  I do my humming thing and she settles right down.  Erin commented on how much she enjoys being rocked.

I must admit, I am quite smitten.  I will sit and rock for almost the entire time we are allowed to be there.  I kiss her over and over.  I have 14 months of kissing to make up for after all.  I tell her, "You're name is Alice and I'm your mama."  Today, I got a little teary.  Thinking that this is the only home she's ever known.  She was left at the hospital.  She had surgery and then went to the orphanage.  She's never known family.  Boy, is she in for a treat because she's about to know family, baby.

After our morning visit we went to what has to be the craziest, coolest, weirdest outdoor market I've ever seen!  It goes on and on and on.  I don't think the picture does it justice.  There had to be at least 1000 booths.  We walked for 30 minutes and covered maybe 1/5th of it.  They sold everything from panties to pots and pans.  Children's clothes to tires.  Everything!



The hat Erin got at the outdoor market.  We're in front of the orphanage.
Our afternoon visit is longer.  So, we've started walking the hallways with Alice.  Today when we asked if we could do that the nanny went and got an extra coat and a blanket!  No lie.


So, we walk for an hour and a half.  We take turns holding her.  Erin gets 2 laps; I get one.  Seems fair since I hold her most of our morning visit. We show her outside.  We let her get some sun...when it's out...which as been one day out of 9.

Our court date is Thursday at 2 pm local time.  At that appointment the judge will either approve or disapprove of us adopting Alice.  If he approves then he will then either uphold the 10 day waiting period or waive it.  We, of course, are praying he waives it and we get to bring her home sooner.  Please be praying for us on Thursday, or Wednesday night depending on your time.  We will probably not be updating until Friday at some point.  Sorry for the delay, just keep praying!

Tomorrow morning is The Vote.  Our facilitator told us that we should be ok.  That we need to have had court before the president signs it into law which won't be until after New Year's.  It's hard not to worry about it though.  If our adoption is not effected, other's will be.  We met a family in the capitol city last week.  Their sons' orphanage is not as nice as Alice's.  They need to get those boys out NOW!  But, their court date isn't until Jan. 5.  We have prayed for this family daily.  Please join us in this.  Their blog is http://www.noknots.blogspot.com/  They are fellow Texans and more importantly, fellow believers.  I have no idea how we'll know how, if anything, this will effect us.  We can't exactly watch the news.  I hope some fellow Reece's Rainbow people will leave a comment or email me the news.

I made an amazing discovery today.  All along this journey I have said I won't adopt again.  I felt the work was too hard, the journey too rough.  But, I realized today when holding her; it was worth it.  Rocking her; the paperwork seems small.  Kissing her sweet, little cheeks; the scary seemed long ago.  Looking into her eyes; knowing what life has been like for her and what it will be like is honey to my soul.  She is worth it.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Erin's Observations...Day 8

Well, here goes my crack at blogging…it’s my first attempt.  Day 8, I believe, and it has been a good day.  Just got off the videophone with my family back home.  They’re in good hands with my sister’s family…thanks, Sis.  Henry is at my mom’s, and is probably living high on the hog knowing my mom. 

We saw the sun today.  It felt good on our faces.  Alice got to the see the sun today, also.  The nurses in the baby room at the orphanage let us walk with Alice around the halls; it was probably one of the few times in her 14-month old life she has been out of the baby room.  There is one nurse in particular who has been quite kind.  She tries hard to communicate with us.  We are able to get a few words understood between the two of us in the spoken form.  The rest of the communication is on paper.  Emily and I think about what we want to ask the night before we visit, then I go to Google Translate and get the proper translation.  I write the translation down and that’s it.  Problem is that very few conversations naturally end without the person that you are speaking to not speaking something back.  At which point I kind of shrug my shoulders and the conversation is over.  But, at least I was able to get my question across.

I’ve been keeping a tally of things I wish I had brought with me.
·         A good English → Russian dictionary with phonetics,
·         A power converter for my electronics,
·         A few DVDs,
·         Peanut butter,
·         and black pepper (if I’ve seen it, I haven’t recognized it).

The people here are not much different than anywhere else.  They’re not especially kind, nor overly rude.  They mind their own business.  I did expect that more people would speak English since it is the international language of business, but not so.  This would probably be a little more enjoyable if we could speak the language.  As it is we feel a bit helpless, even trapped at times in the apartment. 

Our apartment, in the region, is quite nice.  Much better than what we had in the big city.  It reminds us of a Las Vegas lounge with all the levels in the flooring and the accents (not that either of us have ever been to Vegas).  It has plenty of room and pretty much all the amenities we could ask for minus a clothes dryer. 

I’ve tried to get some understanding of their sense of religion.  They have religion, everyone does, but to be fair, I haven’t ventured far enough out among the people to gain an understanding.  How much do they fear God?  Sex is a big seller here, even more than our malls in the U.S. (believe it or not).  I’d have to be covering my son’s eyes often when just driving in the car.  Not a surprise has been the abundance of alcohol made available.  One of the grocery stores we visited frequently, which was small – about six or seven aisles, had one of their aisles dedicated to just alcohol.  Our driver told us that drinking is entertainment for them.  After writing all this, I realize that, sadly, the U.S. mission field has just as much harvesting to be done as here.

Got to go, bye.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sweetness--Day 7

This smile was on her own...no tickles this time!  What a thing of beauty!
We were able to visit Alice this morning, but not this afternoon.  We got to the orphanage right on time.  It snowed last  night so everything is clean and white.  We were told about a side entrance we could use.  The orphanage is huge and has tons of twists and turns.  I am thankful for the side entrance.  We just walk outside around 2 turns and we are there!  We knock on the window and they let us in a door.  We take off our shoes and get out the blanket to sit on.  Then we wait.  They know which child we are coming for and go "get her ready".  This part seems to take forever!

Me, waiting for them to bring me Alice.  I stand looking out the doorway that leads to her groupa until they arrive.
Today they brought her in the same outer clothes she was wearing yesterday.  So, it makes it harder for me to remember which picture was taken on which day.  My brain is a big bowl of mush!  She was wearing 2 onesies, footed fleece over-alls, a long sleeve shirt, a fleece jacket with a hood that we must keep on, and socks covering her feet.  Um, yeah.  She stays warm, but when we hold her our body heat plus hers makes her sweat.  I took off the hood and put on a hat that my niece made.  That seemed to help a bit.

Today was pure sweetness.  She let us hold her.  I mean really hold her.  The times before she would squirm and want to get down after a few seconds.  Yesterday, she would make her way to me.  But, today, she let us just hold her.  Cuddle with her.  Rock her.

In my family we have a little melody of hums that I remember my grandmother humming.  My mom hummed that song with me and all my siblings.  I hummed it with my children.  I've been humming it with Alice.  I want her to remember me.  So, today when I started that song, she got very still.  She remembered me!



We sit in this little room on the floor with the toys we brought with us...for an hour.  Today, she liked the toys, but really just wanted us to hold her.  We've seen her 5 times total and I believe she's starting to recognize us. What a blessing.

Erin's holding her, but I'm holding her hand...see how tiny she is?

She loves to hold our fingers.
I was able to take some quick measurements of her head and foot.  I would like to make her a few things.  Her head measures 16.5 inches around and her foot is 3.5 inches long.  Just in case there's anyone reading this that would also like to make her a few things.  Just sayin.

Alice also received two Christmas gifts before we left.

Sock Monkeys are a big deal in my family.  This one is from her Grandma Beckie.  I'm not sure Alice is as into it yet.  She did chew on his face and arms.

She received this doll from Grandma Frye for Christmas.  Alice liked the hair.  I  know this because she, well, chewed on it.

Holding Monkey's hand
Sunsets are a big deal to my dad and me.  So, Dad, here's the sunset from our apt window.  By the way, it's 3:30 in the afternoon.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Ahhhhhhh-Day 6

We were able to visit our girl two times today!!  I will say that today has been a really great day.  We have had alright days and a couple really bad days, but this day has been awesome!

We were able to see her from 10:30 until  11:30 this morning and 2:30-4 this afternoon.  I think she likes me.  I may be just hoping and praying for that, but when we lay her on the floor, she scoots around until she's in front of me then she'll reach out to me.  In my mind, of course, this means we have bonded and life is good.  The fact that she'll often do this for Erin is besides the point.  Erin also said it seemed she likes me.  Again, my brain took this and ran with it!

We were also able to receive a wonderful gift.  Take a look:

video

I promise it was innocent enough.  I was just rubbing on her leg and she started grinning and then giggling!  So, we turned on the camera and tried again.  And she did it again!  I kept telling her thank you, thank you.  What a treasure.

Look at that face!
We were also able to see the kids on the webcam and that was wonderful.  I love hearing their voices and answering their questions.  They are so excited to have us bring Alice home.  I love that.  They all looked healthy and we heard that one of the littles had broken something.  We finally got it out of the older ones what it was.  Yep.  That one is gonna cost us when we get home.  We are very blessed to have family taking care of our babies and bigs.

My niece also told me that a co-worker of hers is going to donate 2 years worth of baby girl clothes to little Alice.  How wonderful is that?  The Lord is providing yet again!

Thank you to all of those who have helped us get here.  We know that without that, we wouldn't be here.  Thank you.

We are blessed to be able to see a 3D image of our adoption into the family of Christ.  During this process I have felt stretched to the end of myself.  And just about that moment, the Lord has sustained me and lifted me up.  That smile in that picture was worth all that we've done.  What a gift.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Money Shot--Day 5

Here's my girl!  My hair is crazy because of the constant putting the hat on and taking the hat off, just thought I'd throw that in.

Ever seen a more proud Papa?


She loved this toy!  I think she may be teething because she would grab it and chew, chew, chew.


The hat's a bit big, Brenna (my niece that made the hat).  She's tiny!

I can't even put into one post all that happened today.  And frankly, I'm too tired to write more than one.

We left our apt at 5 am.  After being awakened at 2 by very loud music from downstairs.  Then at 3 by my phone ringing...a friend from home that didn't know we were here.

We got up and finished packing and getting ready.  Then we both had a quiet time and were ready when M and S, our facilitators, arrived.  I took some motion sickness meds because I get very car sick and was advised that it was a rough trip.

About 15 mins into the drive I realize I hadn't taken it soon enough and I got very ill.  So, I laid down on the back seat and slept for about an hour.  When I awoke, I realized I had shut my skirt in the door.  It was caked with mud and torn in one place.  Good thing I don't believe in omens!  I couldn't stay awake because of the medicine and because of the constant nausea.  They drive crazy here!  Traffic laws are more of a suggestion.  I slept most of the 4 hour drive.  We finally got the town where Alice is.  We went to the social worker's office and M met with them to get us permission to met Alice and accept her referral in person.

From there we went to the orphanage.  We were led around and around this place.  I couldn't believe that I was about meet my daughter.  I almost started crying, but held it in because I was afraid they would see it as a weakness.  Finally we were led into a small room.  Us, Erin and I, and our 2 facilitators, and 2 other women.  Everyone but Erin and I stood off to the side so as to not scare her.  They brought her to me very bundled up.  I was expecting that, but it's still weird to see.  

She looked exactly like her picture!  I asked permission to hold her and I couldn't hold back the tears.  She's just beautiful.  I mean, look at her!  Have you ever seen anything so sweet?  I kissed her and hugged her.  S asked why I was crying and I said because I was happy and because she was beautiful.  He translated that to the 2 women.  Then, because I felt I should, I gave her to Erin to hold.  We had about 5 minutes with her.  Then they took her back to her groupa, I still am not sure what that is.  We went with the other 4 people into another room to meet with the orphanage doctor.

She gave us some info about our girl we didn't know.  She was left at the hospital by her birth parents.  She had heart surgery before she was a month old and was taken to the orphanage at 28 days old.  I am so thankful her birth parents signed the papers we need to be able to adopt her.  They asked us to formally agree to adopt her, that we know about her Down Syndrome and heart issue.  We did!  I found out later that the 2 women with us were the prosecutor and a social services rep.  They were observing us and our reactions and will testify about us at court.  I asked M if they liked us and she said, "Yes, didn't you see how we got to go first everywhere?"  I hadn't paid attention, but we were fast tracked in front of another family.

After there we went to the notary.  Not at all like the notary we are used to.  Here they are lawyers that draw up official forms.  They drew up 4 forms for us.  One of them being a request for a new birth certificate with her new name on it.  But, the don't have the name "Alice" in this language and don't have the "th" sound for "Faith".  So, her birth certificate in this language will read "Elice Face".  No lie!

From there we went to another stop to apply for something.  It was after 1 and we hadn't eaten all day.  It gets a little blurry from there.

Our driver came and got us.  We went somewhere and got a modem so no more internet cafes for us!  Yeah!  Then we went to our new apartment to drop off our luggage.  This one is way nice.  I'll post about that on another day.

Then we got to go back to the orphanage to spend some time with Alice all by ourselves.  We got lost in the maze of hallways.  They are CRAZY!  Finally found her groupa.  They led us into the same small room from before and brought us a blanket to lie on the floor.  This was really hard on me having to wait for someone to bring me my baby.  It's tough knowing that she's under the care of someone other than her family.  When they brought her to us we played with her on the floor and took a ton of pictures.  The lighting in the room was poor so we were unable to get any video this time.

She rolls all over the place and even rocks on her arms.  She loved the rattle we brought and chewed on it.  She would roll over to me and I'd hold my hands out to her.  After a while she started to hold on to my hands.  I would pick her up and hold her close.  I whispered in her ear, "Your name is Alice and I'm your mama" over and over.  I can't wait until she knows it.  She started getting tired toward the end of our time.  So, I just held her more.  We will be able to visit her 2 times a day everyday until our court date.  

We went to the grocery store.  It was packed, but thankfully not scary like the other one!  When we got home I started a load of laundry and ate yogurt and a snickers.  Erin ate a bag of chips.  It was the first food we'd had all day.  We are simply too tired to fix anything that would be good for us.

Not sure where I got the energy to write all of that.  And believe it or not, there was more to the day!  Hopefully tomorrow will be less eventful.  Enjoy the pictures of our girl.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

In Country-Day 3

It's sad how much I look forward to coming to this same cafe to be able to get online!  I miss everyone so much!

We had our SDA appt this morning.  We arrived a bit early and were able to buy some souvenirs.  The guy was very nice, spoke English and even gave us a map from his car!  While we were waiting Erin asked the facilitator why none of the men around here grow beards?  He said it was just a cultural thing and that usually only Muslims grow beards.  Then he told Erin that he looked Muslim! We're pretty sure he was giving Erin a hard time.

We went over to the SDA building (which I have a picture of, but haven't uploaded it yet, sorry) and entered the side entrance.  We waited until our turn and then went up a flight of stairs with our facilitator.  We entered a room and a nice woman asked us to sit down, well she said something and our facilitator told us to sit down.  She got out a file and spoke with our facilitator.  He confirmed Alice's birth date and where she was born.  Then he confirmed that her birth parents had sign the abandonment letter with the proper time having passed since then.  All that to say, it was Alice we were accepting the referral for and that she is free to be adopted.  They had a picture of her when she was given to the orphanage.  I had a print out of the picture from the Reece's Rainbow website  the one on this blog.  I got it out and she let me trade.  I now have Alice's baby picture!  What a treasure.

Then he asked us to tell a bit about ourselves.  Erin said his age and that he works for HP.  That was translated for us and they seemed impressed by that.  Then we were asked how many children we had and if any had special needs.  When Erin said "5" the woman said "Oh!"  You can understand that in any language!  Then we were asked why we wanted a child with special needs.  Erin said we love children, we have a good home and we will love her.  He makes me proud.  Then they asked me to tell about myself.  I said that I'm a homemaker and I homeschool the children.  He (our facilitator) said "Oh, that's good.  Nothing but drugs and and guns in the American schools, no?"  I didn't feel it was the proper time to explain that that was not exactly true or get into the reason we homeschool.  So, I just nodded.

We had been told yesterday that we wouldn't be able to pick up our referral until tomorrow and that meant we wouldn't be able to see Alice until Monday or Tuesday.  But, because of the vote our facilitator said or did something and we get to pick up our referral this afternoon and leave for Alice's current city tomorrow!!  He said to be ready by 4 am for the 4 hour drive.  I'm so excited. 

Last night we met with 2 other American families who are also adopting at TGIFridays!  I had cheese fries.  It was wonderful.  We had a great time and were able to ask a bunch of questions.  One of the families was a lady, Meridith who was on her 3rd adoption!  This was her 2nd trip to get #4 and 5 adopted kids.  She will have 8 children all together.  She knows quite a bit of Russian so she was helping us figure out different things.  She also showed us how to use the Metro--subway.

We walked for a bit from the restaurant.  It's like New York.  Very fancy and with lots of lights.  (I did take pictures but haven't had the time to upload them yet.)  When we went into the metro we rode down the longest escalator I've ever seen in my entire life!  I got fairly dizzy, but managed to not throw up on Meridith.  Figured it was the least I could do since she was showing us around and all.  We took the Metro to near our apartment.  We said good night to her and started walking.  It was around 10:30 at night.  I was afraid because I've always been taught you don't go walking around at night, in a foreign city.  But, there were no scary people out and in fact, there were a lot of people just hanging out.  Weird.

We made it home safe and sound.  I slept soundly for the first time since we left Houston.  I've been having a bit of trouble with jet lag and haven't slept much.  But, the Lord knew I needed to sleep good for today.

So, after we finish here at the internet cafe, we are going back to our apt to pack up.  We will meet with our facilitators again around 3:30 our time to get our referral.  Then we are going to back downtown to wander around and hang out.  We will then head back to our apt so we can get up at dark-thirty.  But, since it gets dark at 4:30 in the afternoon, anytime is dark-thirty.  I brought my sunglasses.  Because where I'm from even in the winter you need them.  Here you don't.  We haven't seen the sun since we landed!

Sorry if this is not worded right.  My computer battery is dying and I need to hurry...no time to proof-read.

I will try to update tomorrow.  Not sure what if we will have access to the internet.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

In Country-Day 2


We were on our own yesterday.  We did talk with another family in country for their 2nd trip adopting their son.  We have tentative plans to met up tonight for dinner.

What we look like when we leave the apartment...did I mention it's cold?  And it gets dark around 4:30!
We went to a coffee house that said wifi.  Everyone here smokes and every place smells like smoke.  So did the coffee house.  We tried to order off the menu which had some words in English.  But, they really only had 3 of the things that were on the menu.  We were unable to connect to the internet for some reason.  So, we sat there while Erin finished his coffee.  Then we walked about 2 more blocks and went to the underground mall I mentioned yesterday.  While there we stopped in the drug store to get a razor, shaving cream, and I was looking for some eye-liner as we had forgotten those things.  They had 2 security guards on duty.  Mind you, this is a fairly small store.  These men watched us like hawks!  One even followed me around as I looked at the cosmetics.  I ended up not buying anything because the make-up was very expensive.  At the grocery store they also have a lot of security.  There is a sort of balcony that runs around the entire inside of the store with guards watching your every move.

Yesterday I said that I would be figured out soon enough…well it took exactly 2 days.  We were at the grocery store after we had gone to the mall and a small café.  Erin was checking out and the scene was picture worthy I thought.  So, I took a few steps back and took a picture.   
The offending picture

The manager (I think-he was very young and stern looking) came up to me and gestured to my camera and said something in a different language.  I quickly stuck it back into my pocket (I was afraid he was going to ask to keep it) and looked at him—think deer in the headlights.  I said in a very small voice…”English?”  To which he said something in disgust and walked away.  I knew I would stand out like a sore thumb.  The first night we got here Boris asked if we spoke the language here and we both said no.  I almost said I speak English and Texan, but I didn’t…figured it would be a joke lost on him.

The elevator to our apt.  Yep, it's as small as it looks.  And it creaks, a lot.

Our apartment is very small, but nice.  I am very grateful for it.  It has 2 doors.  One locks and is the outside door and the other does not and we can’t figure out why they have it.  There is a small entry way with a coat closet.  The bathroom is off of that.  It is small, but ours.  We have a shower, toilet, sink and washer.  I am doing a load of towels now and it holds exactly 3 towels.  It’s small.  There is another door that separates the entry from the rest of the apartment.  Again, not sure why it’s there.  In the main room is our bed, 2 chairs, a small table and a TV with cable.  The TV does us no good, however because we can’t understand the language and we didn’t bring any DVDs.  We were told we should be able to get BBC, but we don’t and I’d rather not watch it anyway.  There is a small kitchen (it’s not much smaller than mine back home, but that’s another post) with a small table and a refrigerator.   

Me, writing the blog on the computer in the kitchen.  You can see the drying rack in the nook behind me.
Both the main room and the kitchen have these little nooks.  Almost all the apartments have them.  The one in the kitchen has a vacuum, mop and drying rack.  The one in the main room has the heater and potted plants.  The heater works very well.  In fact, I was burning up last night.  The kitchen has a gas stove and oven.  We’ve figured out the stove, but not the oven.  So, the frozen pizza we bought Erin the first night is still frozen.

Erin has a final today.  He is finishing up his last college course so he can sit for the CPA exam.  His final is supposed to be Saturday.  His professor emailed him the exam and he got it yesterday.  So, among all that we have going on, he has been studying.  He took the test today and he’ll email it when we get to the café with wifi.  
Erin and I working on the computer in the internet cafe.

I’m really looking forward to that part of the day.  It’s a chance for me to connect with my friends and loved ones whom I miss so much.  We will try to do a live chat with the kids today.  I hope it works and doesn’t make me miss them even more…if that’s even possible.

Our SDA appointment is tomorrow at 10 am. Please keep this in your prayers.  I have been praying that it goes off with no surprises.  I have no reason to think otherwise, but I a little nervous just the same.  Something about not knowing the future, I guess.  I spoke with the woman from America last night and told her when our SDA appointment was.  She said it would probably be Monday before we would be able to see Alice.  Although I knew that that was a possibility, I had hoped I was wrong.  It feels like we are wasting time.  Everything has gone so fast with this adoption that now it feels like I’m moving through water.  Not my timing, but his is what matters.  The date was chosen for a reason and the time I meet her will be for a purpose.  

Thanks for reading and praying and telling others about what we're doing over here.  It helps and means the world to me!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

In Country-Day 1


Well, we are here.  By the time we leave, hopefully I’ll be able to say where “here” is.

We left our house at 5 am on the 12th.  We got to the airport with plenty of time for our 8:20 flight.  It was so exciting!  We went to the counter to check our bags and they told us our flight had been cancelled.  The ticket counter had already booked us on a later flight.  It was supposed to leave at 10:30. No, big we’ve got plenty of time.  Then we went to the customs office to declare some things.  Everyone looked at us like we had 2 heads.  I guess most people don’t declare anything.

Erin at the food court
Then we walked what seemed like the entire length of the airport to find our gate.  Since we had plenty of time we stopped and ate breakfast.  It was very relaxing and fun.  When we got to the gate we found out our new flight was not leaving until 11, wait…they just changed it to 1!  Erin went to make sure it wouldn’t affect our connecting flight in Chicago.  It would, so we tried to find another flight.  We walked the length of the airport again to change flights.  She found us one that was leaving a bit sooner and would give us a fighting chance of making our flight.  There was a “blizzard” in Chicago and they were having trouble with the flights.  But, we were told that the international flights almost always get out.  So, I texted family to let them know.  We started praying.  Then we walked back to the gate, if you’re counting we are up to 3 changes of gates.  As we checked in we found out that that flight had been cancelled and they had booked us on the 1 o’clock flight, but that it was leaving at 10:30!  Yep, the second flight we were booked on…at the gate at the other end of the airport.  We had about 20 minutes to spare before that one boarded.  Erin checked at each change that our luggage was coming on the same plane we were.  Smart man.

Our flight from Houston to Chicago was neat.  Each seat had a TV screen in front you.  But, it would cost $6 to watch it!  We didn’t.  We talked, read and I watched the ground.  I love to see the ground from up so high.
Inside the airport in Chicago
 
The landing was a little scary.  The winds and the snow and the wings seemed to wobble.  Gulp!  O’Hare is a really pretty airport.  The weather was really nasty.  At least it looked that way from the airport…we never ventured out in it.
On the plane for Frankfurt, at O'Hare airport

 
The next flight to Frankfurt, Germany boarded right on time.  It was tough to walk past the business class and see how nice they were going to have the 7.5 hour flight knowing what we would have.  I’ll tell ya.  But, we had really neat seats; in the back and a row with just 2 seats and an empty space next to it.  So, I was able to put our coats in that space and not on us.  We sat on the runway for what seemed a long time while they de-iced the wings.  Yep.  Scary again!  When they spoke over the PA system it was in German first, then another language, then English.  Erin leaned over to me and said, “We’re not in Kansas anymore”.  Our seats were very warm.  But that was the only down side.  I took about 3 naps on the flight trying to escape jetlag. 
We landed in Frankfurt.  Another scary landing, I thought.  We didn’t roll up to the airport like we do in Houston.  We landed and taxied a bit.  We got off the plane on the ground and loaded a bus.  That drove us to the airport.  Once we got in the airport the first thing that hit me was a very different smell.  I can’t describe it, but it was very different than what we are used to.  We were herded to go through security.  So, we took off our coats, took our laptops out of our bags and I removed the baggie of essential oils I had for the trip.  Erin made it though no problem, but I set off the metal detector.  So I had to stand in a small area where a female agent used a metal detector wand and her hands to make sure I wasn’t trying to sneak in a bomb, I guess.  She was very through.  It was my boots that had set it off.  So, I had to take off my boots and have them x-rayed as well.  The airport in Germany was like a weird maze.  Up these stairs, down these.  Down this hallway, up this little tiny walkway.  We found our gate and sat down.  By this point my brain was starting to sizzle.  I was worn out and just wanted to be still.  I haven’t ever flown 3 flights in one trip.  But, we weren’t there long until it was time to board the bus to take us to our flight to the country were Alice is.  On that bus, we met a family from Texas that is adopting as well.  That was neat.  It was nice to hear English spoken around us!

The plane was a lot like what we’d seen, but a much older one.  I couldn’t stay awake!  I think I slept the whole time.  The landing was REALLY bumpy.  I’ve decided I don’t like landings.  I’m a slow learner, but, yeah, I don’t like them.  Too scary.

Our final airport was the craziest yet.  We walk in from our bus, that brought us from our plane to the airport, and there are these lines that say “Visa” and “Non-Visa”.  We didn’t need a Visa to get into the country.  And since there were what seemed like a million people in line at the Visa counter, we went to the Non-Visa counter.  She scanned our passports and let us in.  We have since found out we were supposed to fill out a card at the Visa line we may need later.
 
We went to the baggage claim and waited.  We were nervous our baggage would get lost.  I prayed at each take-off that our bags were coming too.  We stood there for 30 minutes watching bags that weren’t ours go by.  I looked at Erin and told him that I thought we were in trouble.  He agreed.  Finally, I saw one.  I almost shouted for joy.  Then the other!  Yippee!  I contained myself.  Didn’t want to seem like the “weird, loud American”.  I’m sure I’ll be found out soon enough.
 
Then we walked down this little hallway and…more security!  We had to x-ray our bags again!  Next, was the scariest 30 minutes of my life to date.  We walked past a ton of people, some of whom were holding signs with people’s names on them.  Not one had the name “Frye”.  I felt like I was walking in a dream.  Slowly with a ton of details.  No one was here to get us.  The airport smelled of cigarette smoke and stale people.  There were signs in a different language.  A man approached us and asked if needed a taxi.  I told him no.  He asked Erin, who said no someone was meeting us.  He followed us around asking.  There was nobody there to get us.  I was tired and now, scared.  Erin made a sweep of the people with the signs…no “Frye.”  He tried the “information” desk.  They had a hard time communicating.  I emailed Reece’s Rainbow director.  But it was 6:30 am in America.  I emailed the facilitator we had here.  Erin made another sweep.  I sat down.  I thought of crying, but decided I was too tired.  Our facilitator emailed back that there was supposed to be someone.  That made me feel so much better!!  She asked where we were standing.  I had no idea!  Um, in the middle?  Next to the stand that said…uh, I don’t know what it says.  But, I emailed back that I was wearing a bright yellow hat!  The hat my sisters had made fun of because it was so bright.  He found us!!  He was late getting there, that’s why we couldn’t find him.  He pulled out his phone and called Yulia, our facilitator, and gave me the phone.  It was nice to know we had someone here.  Our driver didn’t speak English.  He took us to our apartment.  It was about a 30 minute drive, I guess.  

This country isn’t very pretty.  I think that is because it’s just winter.  The trees are bare and there’s no color.  But the people.  I enjoy watching the people.  They are very bundled up, but the women wear the highest heels I’ve ever seen!  The older women look just like a stereotypical Eastern European women on TV.   I see them trying to create beauty around them.  Almost every window has a potted plant.  
An apartment building


There are a ton of apartment buildings.  Most look old and, to my modern American eyes, run down.  We stopped at an eight story apartment building and got out of the car.  We were waiting on someone to let us in and I thought show us around.  A man walked up and said, “Well, hello my American friend!”  I wish I had taken a picture of him…he was wearing silver tennis shoes!  His name was Boris.  He spoke some English, not much.  His job was just to let us in.  He showed us the apt, the driver asked to be paid, we did, then they both left.  We were left there, no food, and no way to contact anyone.  We didn’t understand the maps.  I changed clothes and laid down for a nap.  Erin paced.  We were homesick, missing our blessings, and beginning to question what we were doing here!  

3 hours later our bell rang.  An older gentleman named Nikko was at the door.  He was supposed to pick us up at the airport and show us around.  But, he was helping another couple who are also adopting.  So, he had sent the other 2 men.  It was nice to hear that.  He gave us a cell phone to use in country.  He drove us to a large grocery store.  Ok, large for this town, maybe, but not for Texans!  He showed us where the milk was.  Then he said he had to go and we would need to walk back.  Ok.  He left!  We walked around a bit.  We picked up a few things…sugar, a large bottle of water, butter (this we knew what it was because it had cows on the package), milk, a frozen pizza, and cheese.  I don’t know how much it cost.  We just handed her what the number on the scanner said.  

The people aren’t what we are used to.  They park where ever!  On the sidewalk, behind someone else-even if that means in the street.  They don’t seem very friendly.   They may be if we understood what they were saying!

It’s very cold, but we have a lot of layers on, so it’s not too bad.  Our apt has a very good working heater.  We aren’t cold inside, just outside.

We are at a café with wifi. We just returned from an underground mall.  Not like the malls back home.  It reminded me more of a flea market.  The stores are just booths, some large enough to walk in, but not as big as the stores in the mall back home.  All the clerks, in the mall and the grocery store sit down while working. We bought a backpack, a razor and a translation dictionary!  We should have brought that with us.  We really need one!  

Sorry this is so long.  I wanted to get as much detail in as I can.  We are hoping to Skype with the children back home sometime today.  But, as I write this it’s 3 am there!  So, that will be later.  Not sure how often I’ll be able to update, but will as much as I can.

 Just being able to do this has done so much to soothe me.  I miss the kids so badly.  Hopefully this will help them not miss us too much.