Monday, May 23, 2011

Getting "psyched" up!

We're making progress, blogger friends! This morning Joel got his blood drawn in preparation for his upcoming physical this Thursday. Clarion's physical is scheduled for this Friday. Slav and Sergei have their physicals scheduled for the middle of next week.

This afternoon we headed to St. Louis to visit our friendly psychologist. He handled our evaluation back in 2008 when we adopted Slav and Sergei, so he knows the routine. The requirements have changed slightly since our last adoption, but I think we have everything ironed out. He has step-by-step instructions with meticulous detail. We'll pick up the completed documents early next week. Then we can check that off of the list.

The documents we had apostilled a week ago made their way to our agency. Our facilitator said that everything was in order with all of them and went ahead and Fed-Exed them to Vladivostok so that Lana can get started on the translations. The remainder of our documents should be ready to go within the next ten days to two weeks. We're still waiting for state clearances and Clarion's FBI clearance. We're hoping and praying that they arrive in our timeline. It's all optimistic, of course. All things will happen in the Lord's good time. Thanks be to God! We'll keep you posted. Blessings to you all!


Joel & Clarion

Monday, May 16, 2011

What a day!

Greetings, Blogger Friends, Fellow Adoptive Families, and everyone else who lands on this page! What a day! It was a good day, mostly. I put the picture at the top on this post, so you can pretty much see what I was up to today. I had 23 documents apostilled in Springfield, IL. I dropped them off a little before 10am and they were ready a couple of hours later. It gave me time to do some shopping and have some lunch at the Cozy Dog Drive-in. Those docs will be off to our agency tomorrow. Between getting back to work, getting re-adjusted to Central Daylight Time and working on documents, this is pretty much what we've been up to.

On my way home I stopped off in Carlinville, Illinois where our county seat is located. I had to get a "certified" copy of the deed to our house. That actually ended up being a pretty easy task. If I would have stopped on the way to Springfield, I could have gotten it apostilled as well. Oh well, it can wait for the next batch of documents, which will hopefully be ready to go by the first week of June once our medicals, psych and clearances are ready.

Speaking of clearances, I was very excited to see an envelope from the FBI in my mailbox. The good news is that I have no criminal record. I was basically certain of this already, but it's good to see it in print. Clarion wasn't so fortunate. No, she's not a criminal either. However, the FBI rejected her prints. For those of you doing this stuff for the first time, check those prints. Make sure they're clear and that the technician rolls your fingers and gets the whole print. For some reason the quality of Clarion's prints weren't acceptable. What does this mean? Hopefully not a delay. She'll have to be re-fingerprinted. We tried today but it didn't work out. It'll have to be tomorrow. We're hoping we can get it done, sent to the FBI and have it expedited. They did provide special instructions and an ID number, so hopefully that means it will be processed quickly. It's unbelievable how many times adoptive families have to be fingerprinted and re-fingerprinted for an adoption. Uggh!

That's all for now! We're still hoping to return to Vlad in early August. That may be a bit premature, but the Lord bids us to, "Ask," so that's our prayer. Speaking of prayers, please keep the Bridges family in your prayers as they leave Vlad and head to Moscow. And we rejoice with Kyle and Ashley at their first referral. God bless you all.


Joel & Clarion

P.S. - Yesterday we had the joy of celebrating Nadya's 18th birthday. Her birthday was actually Saturday the 14th, but we had the party last night. She had a blast! She'll be leaving us to return home to Russia on June 21. It's been a great year. We highly recommend hosting an exchange student, especially to those who have adopted from Russia. Check out

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Greetings from home, sweet home! After almost 36 hours of flights and layovers in airports we are back home. We pulled into the driveway about 12:15am. I (Joel) finally drifted off to sleep around 1:30am. We slept until about 7:30am. I could hear the pitter patter of little feet and voices of boys excited to have their Mom and Pop home. We'll post again soon with some more tales of our adventures. Today is recovery from jet lag day, a meal out for Mother's Day and that's about it. Tomorrow it's back to work. And of course, we'll be kicking it into high gear to get documents done for court. For now, it's great to be home. We miss our little one, but hope and pray that we'll be reunited with him soon! Thanks again for all of your prayers!


Joel & Clarion

Friday, May 6, 2011

Paka from Vlad

Greetings from Vlad! Today is the day we fly home. We're dreading the two long flights ahead of us. Sorry we haven't posted for a couple of days. We've had more wonderful visits with our little guy. It was hard to say goodbye yesterday, but we know that he is well cared for as he waits for our return for court and to bring him home. Sergei spent a couple of years in this baby home and was really loved by all his caregivers. It's the same for this little guy.

Yesterday's goodbye didn't seem as difficult as when we said goodbye to the boys at the end of our first trip in 2008. Since Slav was a bit older (4 1/2 at the time), we had the hardest time saying goodbye to him. We wondered what he must've been wondering after a week of visits and then we left. I don't think our new little guy is wondering that. He'll go about his daily routine for the next three or four months until we return. We left him a photo book with pictures of our family, our dogs and our house. Nadya was kind enough to put descriptions of the photos in Russian. We hope his caregivers will read it to him in the days, weeks and months ahead.

We had a wonderful dinner with the Bridges and Lana and Irina last night. One of the coolest things about coming here to adopt are the friendships you make along the way. Some are "in the flesh" at the Vlad Inn. Some are many of you fellow bloggers. It's so great that we can all keep in touch and share our experiences with each other!

We better sign off now. Irina is coming in about an hour and we still have a few things to pack. Paka from the Vlad Inn!


Joel & Clarion

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Second Visit with Our Son

Dear Family and Friends,

After another enjoyable visit with our little one, a bit of lunch and a nap, here we are sitting down to recount the events of the day. Today is Wednesday here in Vlad. We were to be picked up at 8am this morning. Of course, by experience, we know that that means more like 8:30 or even 9am. So it was again this morning. Lana, our interpreter, was delayed by the horrendous traffic heading into the city. We feel for our two dear ladies here in Vlad. They both live on the side of town more toward where the baby home is located. They each drive all the way in to our hotel to pick us up, then sometimes we go right back in the direction from which they came, or we keep heading onward into downtown, both of which take forever. Honestly, without traffic, you could be downtown in 20-25 minutes. Instead it's about three times that because of construction and traffic. The ride to the baby home should really only take about 35-40 minutes, but is more like an hour. Anyway, Lana arrived about 8:45 and we began our drive to the baby home.

We arrived around 10:15 this morning. We picked up the social worker who serves the Artem area. She is a really nice lady whom we met when we adopted Slav and Sergei. She was excited to see pictures of the boys and how they've grown. She met with us at the baby home and gave us the latest update on the boys' birth mother. Needless to say, it is sad. I'll just leave it at that. We took some notes while Lana translated everything for us. Then it was time for our little buddy to enter the room. His care giver brought him in once again. This time he cried as she left him with us. It was just a bit of fussing though. I (Joel) started playing some Russian nursery rhymes on my iPhone. That seemed to calm him down and put him at ease a little bit. It was another good visit. His disposition was about like yesterday. We are strangers to him and it will take time for him to warm up to us. So once again today he really didn't smile or make any sounds. We tried to get him to laugh and react to things. Mostly he just continued to stare at us with a look that says, "Who are you people? Where is the lady who takes care of me?"

We spent about an hour with him today. We played on the couch, on the floor, standing up, sitting down, riding in the little car, etc. Nothing really sparked a reaction. He ate some animal crackers and drank some apple juice. Nevertheless, we still consider it a positive visit. He didn't run away from us or anything. He just needs time to warm up to us. Unfortunately, the way things work here with us having to leave on Saturday and not see him for a few months, just as he warms up to us, we'll be out of his life for three or four months until we return for court and to bring him home. So we'll just enjoy the time that we have now. We have a photo book with phrases in Russian (Thanks, Nadya!) that shows him our family. We hope the caregiver will read it to him. We haven't shown it to him yet, perhaps tomorrow and Friday we'll tell him our little family story.

At the end of our visit his caregiver showed up to take him back and he just lit up. He was all smiles for her. As they were leaving Lana says "He really loves her." Ya think? We're glad that he is so loved and has learned to attach to people so well. It will be difficult for him to leave the baby home when the time comes but it will pass as we become a family. Thank you for your prayers in his and our behalf. We're praying that we can get paperwork wrapped up as quickly as possible when we get home so that we can get back here soon and bring him home. Lana says that the average wait between trips is 3 to 4 months. We're hoping more for the three!

As our visit ended, our friends Nathan, Melissa and Iliya arrived at the baby home for their reunion with their little one. It was nice to be able to witness that special moment, especially as Iliya got to meet his little brother for the first time. You can read their story from today at their blog. Our prayers are with them for their court hearing tomorrow!

That's it for Wednesday. It's about 6:40pm. We're sitting up in the White Rabbit Lounge looking out at a beautiful evening. Might be time for a quick walk to the beach. We had a big lunch, but the shashlik may be rather tempting when we get over there. Attached are a couple pics from today. Until tomorrow!


Joel & Clarion

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Meeting Our Son

Greetings from Vladivostok!

Well, we met our boy today! It was quite a day. We spent a good portion of it in traffic. Before going to the baby home in Zavodskoy outside of Artem City, we had to go to downtown Vladivostok to the notary office and sign a document. From there we proceeded to the Ministry of Education to get official permission to visit the little guy. By the time we finished all of that and made it back to the hotel it was about 1:15. We would have a short rest then head out at 2:30pm for the baby home.

The weather was crummy yesterday, cool and rainy all day long. The drive to the baby home was just as we remember it from all those visits in 2008 when we adopted Slav and Sergei. Although there is a lot more road construction along the way. Combine that with the rainy weather and it makes for a pretty "sloppy" drive. Anyway, with Lana behind the wheel we're in good hands.

They took us up to the familiar, infamous room with the brown couch. There we were in the same room where we met Sergei in February 2008. We visited with the director of the orphanage for a bit. She went over our little guy's medical information with us. There were no major surprises. Poor guy had three colds in 2009 after he arrived at the baby home, ten colds in 2010 and three more so far in 2011.

A few minutes later his care giver brought him in. It was definitely different than when we met bubbly boisterous Sergei in that room. His little brother was much more sober and subdued. He almost started to cry when his caregiver left the room, but he didn't. He held it together as he checked out the three strangers (us and Lana, our interpreter) who were now hanging out with him. Bless his heart, he never cracked a smile during the 45 minutes or so that we spent with him. He wasn't even very interested in playing with toys or with snacks. That's ok. He's definitely a cuddly guy. He preferred to be held and loved. FIne with us!

We're heading back at 8am this morning for probably a longer visit. We'll be visiting this morning during his play time, so that might put him in a more playful mood. We ope to see him smile and laugh a bit. Who knows, maybe today or by the end of the week.

Here are some pictures from yesterday's meeting...

We'll post again after tomorrow's visit! Paka paka!

Joel & Clarion