December 25 2003

Merry Christmas! It is Christmas morning for you and Christmas evening for us.

We weren't sure if the babyhouse director would allow us to take the children today.  We were waiting for a call from Olga at 9:15.  She said she'd pick us up at the usual time and we'd go shopping for our celebrations.

We went shopping this morning for all the party stuff. We picked up 3 cakes, a ton of fruit, some cookies, Juice and 5 bouquets of flowers. Natasha picked us up about 9:45 this morning and we loaded all the gifts we had brought for the caregivers. My Gosh, the car was full before we went shopping. After we picked up all the party stuff, the car was packed. I had flowers on my lap, Ann and Olga also had a lap full of flowers and food. It was actually kind of funny.

We got to the orphanage and unloaded this mass of gifts, food and flowers. We had stuff stacked in the hallway and on the chairs.

First we presented the head doctor with her bouquet of flowers and bottle of cognac. The gifts for the doctors were not our choice. Flowers and cognac are the standard.  This took only a moment or two.  Then we brought gifts for the caregivers to Anthony's room.  We also brought cake for the caregivers and bananas and cookies for the children. There were only two caregivers on duty.  They insisted we come back later and eat the cake with them.  (You know me, I never turn down sweets).  From there it was to Katherine's room to drop off the gifts for the caregivers, cake and cookies and bananas.  There was only one caregiver on duty there.  A lot of the children had gone on a field trip.  Katherine was there and of course overjoyed to see us.  When we dropped the bags of stuff and then left to go to the party with the doctors, she cried.  We didn't have much time to feel bad since we had to keep moving. 

The party with the doctors was tea, juice, cake, cookies, chocolate, oranges and apples. Everything was very good and the company was good as well.  It's really kind of a shame that you don't get to spend time with these ladies until the end.  They were very nice and the know your children well. They asked us questions like What do we like about their city, What don't we like about thier city, What food did we like best, Do we miss home, Do we have other children and how do they feel about our adopting.  We asked how long they had been working in the orphanage and they all said about 6 to 8 years.  They said 7 years or so ago when the Soviet Union collapsed the orphanage was in ruins. The government was giving them 22 tenge a day for each child. That's to feed and clothe them.  22 tenge is about 10 cents.  They said the orphanage then did not have central heating. The children slept in winter coats.  They filled jugs with hot water and surrounded the children with them when they slept.  These doctors and caregivers brought in food and clothes to help care for the children.  What a success story they have today. Although it is sad that some children do not have parents or other family to care for them, it will always be a fact of life. These doctors and the caregivers truly care about these children and have provided a safe, healthy and happy environment for them.  We told them that as best we could.  We wound up talking about Brad and Janet Ball and their daughter Aislu.  They are remembered fondly at the orphanage and by Natasha and Vadeem. The doc's talked about how Aislu said good-bye to everyone and hugged everyone before she left. She really understood what was happening.  The head doctor asked if we knew of the fate of Aislu and Laura Babbit's daughter.  We said that although we had not met either of these families we had been in contact with both and that the children were happy. Both families had sent pictures that we brought to the babyhouse. The doctor asked that we not forget this orphanage and that we send pictures and updates of the children. They said our whole family must come back when the children are older.  That is something I think we would like to do one day.

After tea with the doc's we went back up to Anthony's room and had cake with the two caregivers there.  I think only one of them had been at the 50th Birthday party.  The other, Tanya, is very nice. We'd met her before several times and she uses as much English as she can.  We had cake and found out Tanya has a five year old daughter and she's been at the babyhouse for 9 years. She asked us questions too.  How do you like our weather?  Our food?  What is different in the buildings in Karaganda then in the United States?  Like is the wallpaper different, the furnishings, things like that. Interesting question.  She asked if we drank Vodka and said we were very boring people because we didn't.  We laughed about it.  Tanya said she hoped Anthony's journey home would be as sweet as the cake we were eating. I liked that sentiment.

We got Anthony changed and said good-bye. We went to Katherine's room and she was just eating lunch.  We waited for her to finish and just as she was done, her roommates came back.  So we got her changed and she got to say good-bye to everyone. Her caregivers said they were sad she was leaving because they loved her so much, but glad she had a family to go to.  Katherine is not much for good-byes. It was a wave and a big smile and out the door we went.  She was ready to go out without her coat and hat. 

We got back to the apartment and the place was tore apart in about 3 minutes flat.  We had to make adjustments to be sure items not intended for children under three were put away. Even some items that are intended for children under three had to be hidden.  The package of Anthony's diapers is apparently a great stool for Katherine. We had to hide them on the top shelf of the closet. We played and explored and peed and pooped.  This is what 2.5 year olds doo (pun intended).  Both children went down for a nap.  Nap time was easy.  OH! Did I say both children? How about three of them. Katherine, Anthony & Daddy all napped for a bit.  We went to bed late last night and have had two hugely emotional days.  Daddy was whipped and that he actually fell asleep was a miracle. But he did. I took a few moments to write in my journal and then low and behold Katherine was up, which meant Daddy was up.  We woke up Anthony.  Didn't want him to not sleep tonight.  Everyone had a snack. And by the way, that's the first thing I realized that I just gave up as a parent of a young child.  My own free snack time.  I can't eat my cookies and chocolate in front of them and this apartment does not lend itself to sneaking a snack in the kitchen. I'll just have to get my junk in while they sleep.  More play until dinner time.  I made Kraft Macaroni and Cheese from the USA.  Katherine liked it.  Anthony did not. He ate some, but he was more interested in his egg and banana. 

Katherine had a little poop accident and we took that opportunity to take a bath.  HOORAY! A clean child.  She started to cry when I put her in the tub.  I told her that bath time at our house was the most fun time.  That when Ryan was little we used to sing the Rubber Ducky song.  That was my intro and then I broke into Rubber Ducky... She stopped crying.  I even had her laughing and participating.  See... my singing isn't all bad.  If I can use Ryan as a benchmark he didn't realize how bad my singing was until about 7 years old. I have years of bad singing left in me!

If Katherine was going to be clean, so was Anthony.  In he went.  He didn't really want to sit down, but if I let him stand in the tub he was OK with it.  We got him cleaned up in a jiffy then warm and dry and in his jammies.

We hung out a little longer.  First time I've been with my children when they've had bare feet. How's That?!  I taught Katherine how to tickle Anthony's toes.  We had a lot of fun with that. Before bed we gave both the children warm Kephir.  Kephir is liquid yogurt that they give to all the kids.  Bill gave Anthony his in a bottle.  It's the first bottle he has had probably since November.  That boy looked like he died and went to heaven.  I think he may get more bottles than cups. Katherine sucked hers down.  I tried the Kephir.  If you like yogurt, you'll like it.  I actually liked it warm more than cold.

Bed time was kind of tough.  I probably made it harder than it needed to be.  I laid down with Katherine and she twisted and turned and took the covers off and put them on and got her puppy dog and had me kiss him and put him under the covers and took him out from under the covers and put her feet on the wall (she's never slept next to a wall before) and sat up and laid down and took her PJ's off and put a t-shirt on and kissed me and patted my cheeks and sucked her thumb and twirled her hair and kissed me again and gave me the dog to kiss... do you get the idea?  Bill had put Anthony in his crib and he was doing OK. Katherine had just about stopped scooching. Guess what happened?  The phone rang. Anthony cried, Katherine was up blah blah blah. 

After Bill got off the phone he put Katherine to bed and I put Anthony down.  We left the room. In this apartment, you walk from the living room into the master bedroom.  The crib is in the master bedroom. Through the master bedroom you can get to the second bedroom, which is also the computer room.  We had closed the door between the living room and master bedroom.  Bill heard noises in there. He went to check on Anthony and found Katherine poking him through the crib rails.  Bill says Anthony was standing up holding onto the bars like he was in prison and Katherine was poking him in the head.  Sound like they've been brother and sister forever doesn't it?

Bill put Katherine back to bed. I put Anthony back down and all has been quiet enough for me to type this page.  It's 10:45 on Christmas night.  We've had the best Christmas gifts anyone could ask for.  We are truly blessed, truly tired and truly emotionally wrung out.  At least we're not completely new parents.  We've both done this before so it makes it a little easier. Tomorrow will be quite an adventure.  No Olga, No Natasha, we're home alone.  That's kind of scary, but very exciting.

We hope you all have had a Very Merry Christmas!

© Bill Delmedico 2013