Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Daniel's Second Birthday

Once again, my apologies for so much time between posts.

Today we celebrated our first birthday with Daniel. Today he turned two years old. We had a small family birthday party for him last Saturday with members of Greg and Mary’s family present along with his god parents, John and Alice.

Daniel continues to do great. At his 2 year ‘well baby checkup’ today, his pediatrician commented that he’s the healthiest foreign adopted baby she has ever seen. He continues to grow, remain healthy and develop on all fronts. He’s been incredibly healthy. He’s only been sick ONCE since we brought him home back last April (minor upper respiratory infection). His vocabulary grows weekly and he's starting to form small sentences.

Let’s see...what else... Christmas was a blast with him. He didn’t quite understand the ‘ripping into the gifts’ thing. We would help him open a gift and he would find more entertainment in the box and wrapping paper than the gift itself (maybe that’s normal). He had a blast at Halloween.

He and his big sister Katie dressed up as penguins.

Daniel’s also done a little traveling. October of last year he went with Mary and I out to San Francisco for a trip. I find myself being amazed at how much he’s done in just under a year. He’s gone from living in a small orphanage on the outskirts of Moscow, to being adopted, becoming a citizen of the United States, traveling to the West coast, and so much more.

Daniels’ sister Katie has done very well at accepting him into the family. Oh sure, there’s still those moments where the two of them both want to play with the same toys and some conflict presents itself, but hey, their siblings.

We’ve kept up with the Thompson family who adopted Alina from the same orphanage. We’re going to spend a weekend with them in Atlanta this summer. It will be good to see them again, let the kids see each other and get reacquainted.

Another person that’s on my mind today, Daniel’s birthday, is his birth mom. Several times today I’ve found myself wondering how she is, what she’s doing and if she’s thinking of Daniel. Somewhere tonight, about 5,000 miles from here, I hope that she feels the love that we have for her and her son. We pray for her to have peace in her heart and mind for the difficult choice that she made in giving Daniel up for adoption, in hopes that he would have a better life than she could provide.

And now, for what many have waited for...pictures!!

Daniel on his second birthday

Daniel after the fair. He won
Mr. Personality in the baby contest.

Enjoying a ride in the van

g, m, k & d

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Has it been that long since I last updated the blog?

Wow, time really does fly doesn't it.

Daniel is doing AWESOME! He's very healthy, well adjusted and is just doing so well. He sleeps mostly through the night, sometimes waking up and crying but quickly going back to sleep. He sleeps anywhere from 10-11 hours a night. He has a great appetite and his personality is so good.

He's getting at least 1 nap in a day, sometimes 2. Each about 2 hour in length.

He loves to dance to music.

He cut 4 new teeth this month.

He's repeating words, saying 'Hi' and 'Herow' to people out and about. He's picking up a lot of words from Katie. "Mine" and "Elmo" are also in his vocabulary. He won't acknowledge with 'yes' he still says 'Da'.

We had him circumsized about 2 weeks ago and he did great other than the first two days following the procedure.

He has the most curly hair. It's time for a hair cut but Mommy doesn't want to cut it.

Out in public he's still a big flirt!

We continue to keep up with the Thompson family who also adopted from the same Russian orphanage. They are all doing great!

Katie (the big sister) is doing great with him!

I'll post some new photos here soon!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Follow up

Well, we've been home now for over a month and a lot has happened.

Daniel is doing awesome! He's sleeping 8-9 hours a night, he's been walking now for 3 weeks,he's beginning to repeat words. We try to get both his morning and afternoon nap in each day (he's a happier baby when he gets both in ;> )
All his medical tests came back negative. We were concerned that he would have food alergies since he was always broken out at the orphanage, but all the tests came back negative and he hasn't had a breakout since we got home with him. Other blood and stool sample tests came back negative.
We had his combination "Welcome Home/Happy Birthday" party several weeks ago. We had over 75 friends and family come out to welcome Daniel to the family.
His big sister Katie is enjoying having a little brother to play with.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Home for a week

We've been home for a week now. Daniel's sleeping through the night and usually wakes between 5:30 and 7:00am. He's eating really good and thus far has not had any allergic reaction to any foods we've given him. He has absolutely no signs of the rash he had when we first met him in Moscow.

We've kept friends and family at bay for the week while we work on bonding with him. He's bonded quite well with us. He'll reach up when he wants to be held and cry when Mary or I leave the room. Another positive sign is that when he's frightened, he cries and reaches for us (he's afraid of the vacuum).

We've got a First Birthday / Welcome Home party coming up for him this coming Saturday. We'll have to work on 'protecting' him from all the over zealous people who'll want to monopolize him.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Trip 3 - The Flight Home

6:00am comes too early sometimes. Especially when its the day of your departure to come home with your new little one. Katia and Vladimir picked us up at 8:30 so we could get to the SVO airport as quickly as possible. With the weather warming up in Russia, many people leave the city on the weekend for their summer homes in the country. Thus, the traffic on the weekends can be unpredictable. Sure enough, Vladimir called it correctly. Traffic was rough going out of the city Saturday morning and it took almost 1 1/2 hours to get to SVO. With no traffic that trip would normally take 40 minutes.

Piece of advice for families traveling with children in Russia. Families with children can jump to the front of ANY LINE in Russia. This includes VERY LONG LINES at the airport. Don't forget this advice, especially if you're traveling to Russia in the summer when the number of people at the airport apparently skyrockets based upon what we've been told.

It took about a full hour to get through baggage X-ray, airline/passport check, baggage screening, check-in, passport control and security. Whew!!!!

There's a great restaurant on the second level of the SVO airport, next to the souvenir shop. The burgers are ok, their Russian Noodles is great.

Be sure to get to the gate for your flights as soon as you can. They started boarding our flight a full hour and 15 minutes before the scheduled departure of the flight.

The flight home with Daniel was great. We lucked out and got the bulkhead sets. He was a real trooper on the way home. He napped twice from Moscow to Atlanta. He flirted with the surrounding passengers and the flight attendants; he laughed and played and never once cried. He wore us out keeping up with him, but it was better than how some of the other parents were doing on the flight. One flight attendant stopped by and commented that he was doing great and that some parents in the back of the plane were fighting with their kids since they had departed. Daniel was funny...he would stand up in his seat, scan the surrounding passengers and when he would make eye contact with them, he would flash that smile of his.

Getting through passport/border control in ATL was fairly straight forward. You get off the plane as you normally do, go the agent, show your passports along with the passport of your little one. They will ask to see the envelope of embassy papers. You hand them over and off you go to a special room for processing of immigration. You are processed in order in which you come off the plane and get into the queues for the agents. Once your packet is retrieved by the agent for processing, it takes them like 5 minutes to complete their part of the work. You'll hear them stamp your little ones passport and that's the moment of magic. That stamp officially declares them a citizen of the United States.

The flight from ATL to Tri-Cities was horrible!!! Delta of course merged with Northwest Airways who was still keeping the old Saab 340s turbo-props in service. OMG I HATE THOSE PLANES!!! They are loud, slow, hot and cramped. Unfortunately Daniel had a messy diaper once we boarded the flight and I had to change him in the lavatory. There is no changing table, not enough room for an adult to stand. I had to lay him on the toilet seat and change him. It was so hot in their I was concerned about passing out. This, coupled with the stink of his diaper...oh my...

We were greeted at TRI by family and friends. Daniel's grand parents, an uncle, some aunts, a cousin, god parents and good friends all came out to welcome him home.

We hadn't eaten much so we went to Cracker Barrel and then went home and CRASHED!!!! Daniel passed out cold before we got home.

Trip 3 - Friday

Thursday night was totally uneventful. Daniel slept through the night with no problems.

Friday started out with Katia and Valimir picking us up and taking us to the Ministry of Education (MOE). The purpose of the visit to MOE was to sign a document requesting that they take our names off of the registry of potential adoptive parents. The ladies of course took their time to play with Daniel. We saw a good sign of bonding while at MOE. I (Greg) was holding Daniel and one of the ladies in the office held out her arms to take Daniel. Daniel actually paused and held onto me for a few moments before going to the lady. This is a good sign we're bonding well with Daniel. After signing the papers, letting them enjoy a few moments with Daniel, we left them with a traditional parting gift of a box of candies.

Katia and Vladimir dropped us off at our flat after MOE. Katia though continued working. She took our information to the Russian Federation Ministry of Foreign Affairs where she registered Daniel as a Russian citizen. Daniel enjoys a dual citizenship and it is recommended that he be registered as one living abroad. Most agencies leave it to the parents to do this once they return to the states. CSS requires it be done and have the interpreter do it.

We rested and packed the rest of Friday and got to bed early. We knew the flight home would be long.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Trip 3 - Thursday

Daniel had another great nite Wednesday. He slept all through the nite with no problems whatsoever.

Katia went without us Wednesday and got Daniel's Russian passport and his re-issued Russian birth certificate. This re-issued birth certificate lists Mary and I as his parents and it supercedes his original birth certificate.

Thursday was spent doing some final paperwork. I (Greg) had to go to the Notary to have some documents notarized and then all of us went to the US Embassy for our Visa/Exit Interview. The interview is more of a formality than anything, but it's a critical point in the whole process. The results of the interview is a immigration visa that goes into Daniel's passport which allows him to travel to the US. This, plus a sealed packet of paperwork which we deliver to the Customs officals in Atlanta all go together to making him a US citizen once we arrive in Atlanta.

It was cool seeing all the other adopting parents there in the Embassy. I would estimate there were 6 families there going through their interviews.

I wasn't aware of this but Daniel will have a dual citizenship, US and Russian. He doesn't 'loose' his Russian citizenship when he leaves. In the future he'll have the ability to travel back and forth between the US and Russian, if he so desires. Only potential drawback to that is if he's ever in Russian and the military is 'called-up' and they draft, he could be drafted.

Getting his travel visa and his paperwork pack from the US Embassy is the last essential step here in Moscow. Only thing left to do today is to go to the Ministry of Education, who oversees the orphanages in the Russian Federation, and sign a document that takes Mary and I off of the list of potential adoptive parents. Plus it is customary to take the Ministry staff a box of candies or flowers as a sign of thanks. Whole thing should take no more than 15 minutes.

Rest of the day will be devoted to packing and preparing for a 14 hour trip home. Current plans have us in at TRI at 8:14pm Saturday nite. If the weather is warm enough here, we'll go out today and take Daniel for a walk. He's been fighting a cold so we don't want it to get any worse.