December 23 2003

Today we had to meet with a woman from the Custody Office. Kind of like our DYFS (Division of Youth and Family Services).  She was poker faced and scary. A woman to be reckoned with. She asked a lot of questions. Pretty much all the questions the lawyer asked and what the judge will ask tomorrow.  They say she asked more questions that will be asked at court, but that it was good practice for us.  I did not know I needed practice getting clammy hands and sweaty armpits.  She did not give you the warm and fuzzys. She threw us off with a question about re-adoption. This means we adopt the kids, get home, change our mind and put our children up for adoption to somebody else. It was really out of left field for both of us. We were both appalled. Svetlana was there and I think she started laughing at me because my eyes almost popped out of my head as Olga was explaining what they meant. We are one the first couples to have to submit to her questioning. Jim and Suzanne met with her a couple days ago. Their interrogation was a complete surprise to them.  At least we had a little warning.  Natasha said that the Custody Office is used to meet with prospective parents, then the laws changed and it was not necessary. Now it seems that it is going back to being the norm and parents will need to answer the Custody Office questions.  They did tell us that things will and do change often during the adoption process. No biggie.

We spent our morning visit in Anthony's room. There was some type of event going on in the play room.  It was a little strange, with all the other kids watching. I pretty much played with them all. It is so hard to be in a room full of children that get very little attention and play with only your own.  Nowadays Anthony is cruising around, making lots of grunty noises and raspberries.  The children in his room are starved for attention and you just want to give them all a few minutes of giggles and smiles.  There is one little girl that is just as cute as can be. Not sure of her medical history though. She seems a bit mentally underdeveloped, cute all the same. Her picture is on the site tonight.  There was a girl in a playpen who had a tear running down her cheek.  Olga was in the room with us and she saw the little girl. She immediately came to the rescue.  Pulled her out of the playpen and started loving her up.

Ann and Katherine did their daily outing, while Anthony and I spent our morning inside. He really enjoyed being out of his play pen and moving about in his room. It was still feeding time and he was obsessed with the food. Wanted to crawl over and see if he could snag a treat or two. It was really funny.

We sat and read a book. He just hung out on my lap. It was good. He did grab the book a few times just to look at the front. It had a baby chicken on it and it was fuzzy.

He definitely wanted to get out and walk around the halls. I kept him in the room so as not to disturb the officials that were visiting. He was not to thrilled with that. He seemed to not understand why were visiting in his room. Lots of giggles and a few more steps.

When Katherine and Ann came in from their venture, she was pretty mellow. She likes going through Olga's purse, Olga lets her. Katherine sat with Olga for a long time while Ann and I sat on the floor playing with all the kids in Anthony's room.  It sure makes you want to bring more of them home with you and just love 'em all up.

Ann outside with Katherine.  My trip outside with Katherine was same old same old. We walked around the building, looked for dogs and birds.  I think the birds get their fill on the garbage laying around on the ground throughout the city. They don't need my stinkin' bread crumbs, but I gotta tell ya, they're still in my pocket.  As Katherine and I were just about getting ready to come in, two of her caretakers were coming out.  They were walking down the driveway.  When they saw her and she saw them they all broke out into huge smiles and tons of chatter ooo's and ahhh's.  It is Katherine's new outdoor clothes.  Now, I have to say that since we brought her coat to the babyhouse, I do not take her down to her room to get changed.  This means she does not have on as many clothes underneath the snowsuit as she would if we had changed down there.  I simply put the snow suit on over what she is wearing.  Anyway, I was holding Katherine and I lifted up her foot to show the two caregivers the new boots and I got snagged.  Caught with not having put on tights underneath the snow pants.  I got the clucking of the tongue as an admonishment.  I tried in the universal sign language way to win them over to my side by giving the Sssshhh! sign (finger to the lips) with what was hopefully an apologetic look on my face.  Oh Well, is all I can say.  When we walked back into the building, Katherine got oohs and ahhs from everyone walking the halls.  She very proudly shows off her new snowsuit.

We ate lunch at the Inter-Food cafe. Yuck. We ordered french-fries, filet chicken (not), filet chicken with walnuts (not) and filet chicken with mushrooms (not). They take the whole chicken and grind it up. This is what they called a chicken filet. I did not eat mine neither did Ann. It was pretty bad. This was our first experience with food that just did not taste good.  Heck, it didn't even look good.

My wife is a bargain shopper. We went to the Hyper-market today to pick up some diapers and some food stuff for the apartment. At home she has a bargain shopper card for every grocery store within 10 miles of our house. When we were checking out at the cashier, Natasha signed us up for a frequent shoppers card. Our first international grocery discount card. You save .4% with every purchase. If you shop after 8 pm you get 2% off you purchase. We saved 22 tenge this trip, that about 15 cents. I thought this was pretty funny.

When we went this afternoon, one of Katherine's care givers asked us to take pictures with her. It was pretty funny, as this not one of Katherine's favorites.  (She is not one of our favorites.  She's the mean one that grabbed Katherine away from me (Ann) and tried to give me another child.  This was to scare Katherine into not making too many bathroom trips) We obliged.  We took pictures around the New Year tree. (It looks just like a Christmas tree to me)

Katherine and I (Bill) went outside this afternoon. It was funny. We wandered about for a while, taking pictures of all the stuff around the orphanage. I thought this may bring her some short term comfort if needed.  Pictures of some of the things that are familiar to her.

We saw some kids traveling the ice by way of cross country skis. She was intrigued by this and we had to stop and watch every single person on these things go by. She would wave at everybody and smile and say something (a little grunt under her breath). Not too many people responded to her. She seems to be really coming out of her shell. This is awesome.

The snow suit is pretty funny. We put the suit on over her dress. She was definitely ok with that. She kept her gloves on right up until the end. She took them off and handed them to me. I, not wanting to get in trouble, briefly scolded her and made her put them back on. Her care givers did say "She does not like to be dressed too warm". This is an example of that little trait. I guess the culture here, as Ann has said, is "Keep 'em bundled up tight". That will probably change when we get home.

Anthony took quite a few steps this afternoon.  He took a big spill when he was walking between Bill and Natasha. Big tears.  This is the second big spill he's had in our presence. That we can still count is a good thing.  He wants to walk everywhere, he wants to know what Katherine is doing most of the time and he has taken to throwing himself into the ball pit.  He thinks it is the funniest thing.  I think he is also getting some more teeth since he has taken to biting with a vengeance. This is not just the exploratory "I have to put everything in my mouth" type of biting.  It's more like I will crush anything that comes between my jaws of steel.

Anthony and Katherine both had a few smarties this afternoon.  If you want to see a little girl suck up to her mommy, you should have seen Katherine giving me the puppy dog eyes for just one more smartie please!!!!  Anthony just decided to sit still as long as those sugary things kept coming. And for all you Mom's cringing at the thought, I did not give him packages of whole smarties.  He got a few small pieces.  Can't be worse than anything they've put in his system here! 

While Bill and Katherine (I almost said Bill and Ryan) were outside, Olga and I had some time to chat.  It's really the first time we've been able to do that.  One of the things she said was they (Kazak's/Russians) were made to believe that Americans had stereotypes about Russians.  One was that all Russians drink Vodka.  I said, 'Well they do'.  She said, 'Well that one is true'.  Then she says that all Americans think Russians walk around with bears on a leash.  WHAT?  Where does that come from?  I dispelled that notion.   Anyway, we go to court tomorrow.  We're nervous. I know.  No need to be. Olga says she is going to be nervous too, as she get nervous at all these official things. So she says 'Don't be alarmed if I start speaking Russian to you!"   Oh Great!!!   I say, "Just don't make me Laugh."   She says, "Don't you two, especially Bill make ME Laugh".  So Bill has decided that just before we go into court tomorrow he will ask Olga if she keeps a bear at home.  Olga will fall off her chair.  I should videotape it. 

We talk a lot about the English language with Olga.  She is very interested in all the different ways to say things and the right way to say things. We were discussing the word goofy. She wondered if muzzy meant the same thing.  Apparently there is some British cartoon named Muzzy, but we said we'd never heard of it.  So we got to discussing the differences between British and American English.  I used 'daft' as an example of a British word we'd never use. But than I had to explain the definition of 'daft'.  Of course I say 'airheaded' and that makes no sense to her. So we try stupid.  Then we start throwing at her 'Not the sharpest tool in the shed' and 'Not the brightest crayon in the box'.  She just thought those expressions were the cat's meow.  'Da' is yes in Russian. I often respond to questions here with Da, Da, Da.  A habit I picked up from Natasha maybe?  So I did it tonight and Olga did it too.  She says to me she has found that she is not only copying my English, but my Russian too. Saying Da, Da, Da.... Pretty Funny.

I have decided I would like to bring Olga home with me.  She is another person that would simply blossom in the United States and she is a joy to be around.

Since we have court tomorrow, I need to stop typing so Bill can upload the website.  I would like to say one last thing.

Congratulations to my Mom for successfully calling Karaganda this morning!!!! This is quite an achievement and was two very frustrating weeks in the making.  We were positively thrilled to get the call this morning and can't wait for more!!!!!!

Keep us in your prayers.  Your 10:30pm (EST) is our court time. 

God Bless!

© Bill Delmedico 2013