We started our morning with breakfast with all of the families that were with us in Karaganda: the Makoskes the Fox-Shaddocks, the Brookses, and of course us! We ate at the American Bar and Grill and boy, did the food taste good. We had pancakes, omelets and oatmeal---maybe another time or place and the food would not have tasted that good, but for us today---it was delicious. We have such a connection with these families having lived through this experience, and we feel blessed to have such great new friends.
It is finished! Our adoption is final and complete. We have jumped through all of the hoops that this country could have us jump through, having left the U.S. Embassy today with Aliya's Kazak passport stamped with a U.S. IR-3 visa, allowing her to enter the country, and granting her provisional rights as a citizen of the U.S. We have done our visitation period, we have been approved by a court, we have endured an appeals/waiting period, we have obtained the golden passport, we have mucked through the sludge of "lost" embassy paperwork, we have passed a physical with a western doctor, and today at the U.S. Embassy, we got our final sealed package of paperwork (not to be opened until in customs at LAX). There will be no more appointments and no driver will show up to whisk us away---until we leave that is. What a huge relief and weight has been lifted!! We will of course have follow up post-placement reports to be completed by our social worker over the next few years, but Aliya is a permanent Nelson and we couldn't be more thrilled!
The day dawned bright and sunny---we loaded up the kids and headed off to the beach for some fun and relaxation. Aliya has never visited the beach before--she crawled happily in the warm white sands. The boys frolicked playfully in the waves and Cassidy warmed herself under the sun while building a giant sand castle. At one point we had to put up our umbrella, for the sun was just so hot. We treated ourselves to ice cream, and Cassidy wore hers happily on her face for hours. We headed home slightly sunburned--but with warm and happy hearts and sand between our toes.
As Friday comes to a close, we begin a countdown that sees us leaving Karaganda in five days---early Wednesday morning. We have finally let ourselves start to get excited about the prospect of seeing "a light at the end of the tunnel" on this trip. Until now, we have not dreamed too much of being home, and only now are we starting to let our thoughts drift to 426 Chestnut Lane. The day though has not been without excitement (why would we want the entire process to be drama-free?) and so once again we are asking again for your prayers.
Tomorrow is February 8th and the official end of the appeals/waiting period that we have been in. What does that mean? It means that Aliya will be officially and without a doubt OURS!!! Now we've felt that way since our court date, but I suppose there was always a remote chance (although we've been told it never happens) that someone could appeal the judge's decision.
You know you've been in Kazakhstan too long when:
We have made it through January and were happy to welcome February!! Today we were able to take Bestemor and Bestefar and the boys to see the baby house where Aliya spent her first eight months. It was a quick visit, and some of our favorite caregivers were off today, but it was so great to be able to share this piece of Aliya's life with them.
We have packed up and gone out twice now---all 8 of us!! It is no small feat getting on 14 boots, 7 jackets, 1 snowsuit, 9 hats (remember Aliya has to have 2), 18 mittens (again--Aliya with 4), and 8 scarves. By the time we are all dressed, we silently pray that no one will have to go potty!!
Well, they are here and I am happy! My quiver is full---my chicks are all in a row, where I can see them, touch them, hug them and guide them!! I don't think I truly realized how much I missed those boys until they walked through the apartment door at 2 am last night!!
It has been 2 days since the court declared Aliya ours. And she truly feels like she is ours--not because a judge said so, but because she is here with us and she has found her place in our family. Immediately after court, the four families split into two groups, the men went with Lena to the store and the women went to the baby house. It was time to celebrate!! It is customary to have a party at the baby house for the caregivers and with the director and doctors...