Ok, maybe it’s my first initiation as a new mother, but I’m already behind on my posts. MANY APOLOGIES to all of you!! It’s been such a crazy amazing two days that I finally have found a few minutes to fill everyone in.
Well, Thursday was the best day of our lives. We tried to enjoy what we knew may be a last lazy morning, sleeping in and then having breakfast and cappuccinos at the hotel restaurant, but we were so happy and excited that it didn’t matter. Our drivers picked us up at 10:10 to take us all to the baby house to get the babies. We stopped at a local bakery to get three cakes, one each for our babies’ caregivers (Aidan and Clara were in the same group) and one for the baby house director. I should mention that the cakes here are so beautiful. The decorations are so detailed and lovely - our cake for Aidan’s caregivers was yellow with beautiful flowers and butterflies, and the doctor’s cake looked like a big basket of strawberries, for example. Then we headed off to the baby house, for the final time. It already seemed like a dream! When we got there, we all gathered in the music room. Shaylen was brought down by her caregivers to Kris and Dan, but Scott and Ann and I had to go up to the babies’ group to get Aidan and Clara. Well, our interpreter had gone upstairs to the babies’ group ahead of us, and she said that when Aidan saw her he was excited at first, but when we he realized we weren’t with her, he started crying. So, the only day we saw him crying was the day we came to take him home for good!! That was a good thing, though, because that meant that he was upset when he thought we weren’t coming to see him. He settled down as soon as we scooped him up!!
We took all the babies back down to the music room to say goodbye to the caregivers and doctors. The doctors looked at our photo album and commented on what a beautiful home and family (and parents!) Aidan would have. The dads had to sign something, presumably releasing Aidan to us, and the baby house director then gave a speech, thanking all of us for adopting these children and for making the long journey here to become their parents, and wishing all of us much happiness and health in our lives. Aidan’s favorite caregiver came down to say goodbye – she hugged and squeezed him and pinched his cheeks and gave him a big kiss. It was very bittersweet for her, we could tell, and we felt for her and all the wonderful people who take such good care of these babies. They all took the cakes (and gifts we had brought) back to their offices and we all say goodbye. We then changed Aidan into his “big boy” striped shirt, overalls, shoes, and red polartec, and then stuffed him into his huge penguin snowsuit and hat (they are very particular here about having babies completely covered outside). We left the baby house and went right back to the hotel. Aidan slept the whole way back to the hotel, and once we got back to the hotel, we took off his snowsuit and he was drenched in sweat, head to toe!! So we changed his clothes and he was a happy man. We families had scheduled a thank you lunch to Olga, Assia and the drivers at 2:00 at the hotel, and of course he finally fell asleep in his crib 15 minutes before 2:00! I went to the lunch at 2:00, and Scott let him sleep for about half and hour, and then brought him down to the lunch with his bottle. The lunch was so nice – Olga, Assia, and Andrei, the driver with the best English, each gave a lovely t0ast, wishing all of us much health and happiness and expressing their gratitude for coming so far to adopt these beautiful kids. Ann and I each gave a little toast as well, for all of their kindness, and hard work, and patience for all of our (well, mostly my) silly questions. We had chicken and potatoes and chocolate pudding and wine and champagne, and it was a very special long lunch that we all enjoyed.
In the evening, we figured out how to make cereal (not too hard!) fed Aidan, gave him a little bath in the sink and put him to bed – all fun little victories. Scott is very good at getting the little guy to sleep. He has the special touch. He slept fine all night – from 9 to 630 – but Scott and I didn’t sleep at all! We kept waking up to make sure he was ok and was still breathing. I sort of felt like a zombie by the time we had to get up at 6 a.m. to get ready for our 8 pick-up for our 10 a.m. flight. Now I do know what everyone means when they say you never sleep again! :)
Aidan woke up happy to see us, which made us feel great! The rest of the trip to the airport and waiting for the plane became sort of tiring for all of us, though. Luckily, Olga and the drivers took care of getting our tickets and checking our baggage, so we really just had to wait, but Aidan was getting tired of his snowsuit and getting hungry and pretty fussy. I tried to wait to give him his bottle until take off, but about 5 minutes before we got on the plane he made clear that he wanted it, so I fed it to him then, as we’re standing in line to go to the plane and Scott’s having to mess with showing all of our tickets and passports and his birth certificate. So then we have to walk across the cold tarmac to the airplane, and a helicopter decides to land right then, and is whipping air at all of us as we’re making a mad dash for the plane! Once we got on the plane, we all sighed in relief. Aidan did very well on his first plane ride. He liked to look out the window, and smile at the little boy in the adjoining row, and play the seat back in front of us. He slept a little bit too. I gave him another bottle because he was acting hungry about halfway through the fligth, and then tried to give him some water to suck on as we were landing, but he didn’t want that. The flight was nice, we had calm sunny weather the whole way and there weren’t any unplanned stops in Atyrau or other cold remote location.
When we got off of the plane, we met Ann’s dad, who has flown here from New York to help her this last week and help her on the way home (Hi Poppa!) and our drivers. The traffic here is horrendous – everyone is on the roads for the upcoming holiday next weekend (New Year is just like Christmas here - tree, gifts, the whole works), at least that’s what Dima, our driver, says. A few people celebrate Christmas, too, so they are on the roads too. It took forever to get to our apartment due to the traffic, and because we had to stop and get Aidan’s picture taken for the Embassy (he did well posing, he's a natural). Our apartment, though, is very nice. A modern type kitchen, big living room with plenty of space to lay a blanket down for Aidan to play on, two bedrooms and a modern bathroom. We’re also within walking distance of the Ramstore – a mall that really is like a mall by our standards, plus it has a HUGE grocery story like home. The only downside of the apartment here in Almaty is that it is a 5 floor walk up with no elevator, so bringing our luggage (and groceries) up was sort of a trick.
Last night we put up our lovely Christmas tree (a foam wall sticker) and hung our 3 red velvet stockings underneath it with scotch tape. Then we decided to go on an outing to the Ramstore, and we bundled Aidan up and walked over there. We had pizza and Basken Robbins ice chocolate almond ice cream (delicious!) and then bought a few necessaries at the grocery store, along with some Christmas candy and a 2 foot tall fake Christmas tree. We put Aidan to bed when we got back without his bottle because he was so sleepy. For all of you people who may be worried out there, he did eat a whole bowl of cereal and a jar of carrots before we went shopping. And, we ended up giving him another bottle at 3:15 a.m.! So he’s eating plenty!! We also have had our first couple dirty diapers!! So I guess we’re parents now.
Well, we’re happy to be here in Almaty, one step closer to home!! It’s Christmas Eve morning here, and we miss all of you and wish each and every one of you a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! When Aidan wakes up, we’ll decide which holiday (and later, we’re sure, mortifyingly embarrassing) outfit to put him up today and tomorrow! We're listening right now to our favorite Christmas CD, which, as I write, is playing "Oh There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays."
Scott, Jeanette and Aidan