January 13 2004

I would like to start off by saying "By the time most of you read this we will be on our way home". That is such a wonderful thing to say. I do not have the words to express my joy for heading home. It has been a long journey and Knowing everything I knew at the front end, I would do it again. Knowing what I know now, I may do things differently.

Our morning was as routine as it can be on your last day in Kazakhstan. Ann and Anthony were up bright and early 6:30. Ann wanted to shower while the water was still hot so she put Anthony in the bathroom with her and took herself a nice shower.

Katherine and I did not get up until 8:00. Go Bill and Katherine. It was not the usual feeding frenzy. Katherine had grapes, dry Cheerios and bread. None of this really excited her. She just kind of picked at it and was done.

We put Anthony down for an early nap, he was tired and we are trying to plan a plane sleep for him. God laughs when we make plans. Ann and Katherine walked over to McBurger to get some lunch. I was feeling brave and asked her to bring me back the Chicken Menu. Their trek was uneventful.

The lunch. Oh my! Ann, Katherine and I did not like the chicken menu. It did not really taste like chicken. Neither Ann nor I could really identify the taste. To me, it was a cross between deep fried fish and french toast sticks from Burger King. Not really a combination I enjoy. Ann tried to cut Katherine's for her so she would eat some of it. No doing! Katherine just would not eat it. The fries were not really anything to write home about either. I think this falls under the category of light lunch. It was enough to keep us upright until our next meal. I said to Ann that "I am looking forward to the food on the plane". You know I have gotten desperate when I get to the point of thinking that Airline food is good.

Katherine took her nap. Ann and I just sat around talking about all the things we miss from home and all the things we did and didn't like about our trip. Perhaps when we get home we will fill you in on those details after we have settled back into our reality.

About 2ish this afternoon there was a lady walking around outside our apartment calling for what we think was her pet. It had to be the strangest sound I have ever heard. We were sitting here and it sounded like she was singing at the top of her lungs. We opened the window and tried to tape the sound, we will know for sure when we get home. She had a rhythm going that words cannot describe.

Sasha was picking us up for our final meeting with the Lawyer's and a visit to the US Embassy. He was pretty much right on time. Ann and I, of course, were chomping at the bit to get there and get it over. This is the last piece of official business we had to do prior to heading for home.

The meeting with the sister's lasted about a half an hour. It was pretty straight forward. We settled all our unpaid bills. They gave us Katherine and Anthony's passport's and official copy of the court proceedings. Asked if we had any questions. We did ask about Svetlana's husband. Apparently his death was an accident. He was in his apartment and there was a fire in the basement. The firemen knocked on his door and told him he needed to evacuate the building. They think he went back inside his apartment to get some of his personal effects and never came back out. By the time the firemen remembered he was in there it was too late. They busted down his door and there he was, on the floor dead. They think it was the smoke that got him. He was 64 years old.

They told us about what would happen tonight at the airport and all about the VIP service. Essentially you get to sit in a more comfortable area while you wait to board your flight. Not sure because we are not there yet. Sounds good to me though.

We walked to the US Embassy, it is right across the street from the lawyers office. The guards were Kazak/Russian. I thought that was interesting. You pretty much can't bring anything into the building. I left the back pack with the guard and we headed upstairs. They ask you to fill out an adoption survey. It really was not a survey. The questions were; Who is your adoption agency, how much money did you spend while you were here, how much was your adoption and what is your email address. I did not give my email as I don't really want spam from the US Embassy in Almaty. We sat for maybe 10 minutes. They called us up to a window. We had to sign a couple of paper's and swear that the documents were true and correct to the best of our knowledge. No problem. Until it got to the point of the exit visa's and passport stamps. I was hanging right there (tired, hungry, cranky, upset, stressed, discontent and feeling like I had a knife in my chest from the heartburn I've had for a week now) until the lady behind the desk said "When you get to the US INS Customs agent and they stamp the kid's passport's 'they are officially US Citizen's'. My eyes starting tearing up and I got a little chocked up. The thought that went through my head was "It is real, they are really our kid's'. Oh my God! I did not expect to get so overwhelmed by such a simple statement. Hey guys, "They're ours now, to protect and raise and love now and forever". I do not know why it did not hit me before this. You would think it would have happened at court or when we brought them back to the apartment in Karaganda or even when we took them on the plane to come to Almaty. I do have to tell you, the thought never really crossed my mind until that Lady said those words. It is still getting me and I know it is not the heartburn.

We met Andrew and Mindy Piper at the Embassy, they are going home in the morning also. When Andrew saw Katherine walk into the building he was bursting. He had already gone through security but wanted to run back though to see Katherine. She saw him and it was pretty much physical restraint until we passed security. She was screeching and pointing and carrying on like no tomorrow about seeing him. For those who don't remember, Katherine and Andrew spent most of their lives together in the orphanage in the same room. I thought they were going to tear the place down once they were on the same side of security. It was really neat to see her play with him, chasing each other around the Embassy, laughing and laughing and hollering at each other and just plain old having fun.

There will be several families on our flight out of here in a few hours. One fella' is traveling to Newark as well. So we will have a little company on our 6 hour layover in Germany. We have not decided what we will do for 6 hours other than wait for our flight home.

Done- On to dinner. We ate a place called Dublin's something or nother. We went with Jim, Suzanne and Sarah. It was really good food. They still did not figure out the service end of it yet. We asked for Katherine's meal to brought out when it was ready, not to wait for everybody's meal. Her meal came with ours. I will say, Bill's opinion, this was the best restaurant I've eaten at since being in Kazakhstan. We did not spend much time in Almaty but this was the best. The food was tasty, they even brought mustard to the table. The adults all had BLT's for dinner. I ordered chips and salsa and hot wings. The hot wings were lacking taste. They tasted like Chinese ribs. Oh well, you can't win 'em all.

We are outta here! The next time I update this website it will be over a High Speed cable modem. We may update it Thursday as we get home about 4 in the afternoon Wednesday and will need a night or 2 to decompress, do laundry, eat Gran's good cookin', love up our Ryan and Sarge and Daisy, sit on our couch, sleep in our bed, drive around the block in our car with the kids strapped in car seats...... You get the point. Please look for an update Thursday. Hey, we will be in the same time zone as most of you. That is awesome. 

© Bill Delmedico 2013