Sunday, October 7, 2007

One Month Update

Alright! We've been home for about 5 weeks. Pictures will be added to the blog as soon as I get a chance to download them. Lilia has shown no adjustment problems. She sleeps, eats, plays, whines, cries, laughs, pees and poops. What more could we ask for? Her favorite activity: sitting in her high chair, saying "ball", then throwing her food off the tray onto the floor. She also likes to swing, practice walking (took her first steps on Friday), and play with a ball-popping toy. She has learned to be a great cheerleader for her brother's soccer games, her nephew's football games, etc. Every morning she likes to come down the stairs and look for Caleb, calling "Doh-Duh"(Ca-leb). Daddy and doggy sound a lot alike, although Jonah would argue that point. Oh! And when we say "Let's Pray", she grabs one hand in the other and pulls them up to her very serious, little face. It's quite adorable if I may say so, in a completely unbiased way.

Lilia seems to be changing and growing daily. We can hardly keep up with all the "new tricks" she has learned. Her understanding of the English language is amazing! She seems to understand everything we say to her. Most importantly, she is healthy and . . . she has learned to give hugs and kisses to mommy, daddy, and brother. I would never guess she lived her first year and a half in an orphanage. As Jonah's mom commented, "Somebody loved her." She has too much joy to have lived without love. I thank God for his care of her, provided through Russian orphanage caregivers, while we were waiting. I still get a lump in my throat when I remember that she will always be a member of this family. We don't know much about Lilia before the age of 18 months, but our knowledge is growing daily! (deep breath, ahhhhhh)

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Home Sweet Home

We are home and settling back into our simple life. Our flight from Moscow to Atlanta was long and miserable. Lilia did extremely well and cried very little considering the length of the flight. We were delayed a couple of hours in Atlanta but finally got on or flight to St.Louis. That flight to St.Louis was the longest flight of them all. When the plane finally landed we gathered our carry on and stepped off. We were met by friends and family at the gate, it was wonderful. Seeing Caleb was a great and Andi and I both cried (Andi cried a lot more than I did). We are trying to adjust to the time change. Lilia wakes up in the middle of the night, but she goes back down eventually. Well I have to go Caleb is wanting to play sword fight again. Thank you to so many who have prayed and helped with our return to home. GOD IS SO GOOD TO US.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Back to the US of A

We have flown in and out of Moscow 4 times now, and we have seen more in the last two days than ever. Last night we took a taxi to the largest tourist trap in Moscow. The street is called Old Arbat street and it is where American Baby Boomers are dropped, by the bus load, to boost the Russian economy. Old Arbat street is where you will find matroshka dolls (nesting dolls) on every corner and large packs of retired Americans, talking loudly with confused looks on thier faces. Several ladies stopped to talk with Lilia. The street is closed to traffic and is actually a lot of fun. We went to the Hard Rock Cafe to eat a big American style meal. Instead we sat, and sat, and waited. "Can we have menus?" we finally asked the waitress. Then we waited and waited some more. Then we left. Walking the streets we found a cafeteria style restaurant called Moo Moo's. We ate there, and then decided to walk back to our hotel. Using a big, touristy map from the hotel, the kind with big cartoon depictions of monuments, I decided to navigate us through the complicated streets of Moscow. We walked for an hour. No, we did not get lost, but I was often saying things like, "Is that the big building with the star on it?"

Today we went with a tour guide and toured Moscow. I can't tell you how neat it was to stand in the center of Red Square and take pictures of St.Basil's Cathedral. We walked through "Goom", the largest shopping area, very uppity and expensive. We saw amazing, historical buildings, and wonderful replicas of "historical" buildings, which the USSR tore down during it's reign and the Russian Federation rebuilt in the mid 90s. We were very overloaded with info, info that will hit us when we have more time to process it all. From the campus of Moscow State University (which sits on a hill above Moscow) we got a wounderful view of the city. MCCM, we also purchased a hockey jersey. We then went to the US embassy and got our final documents for re-entry to the US. We now have Lilia's Russian passport, birth certificate and more proof that she is a true Cope.

The package sent by SG to us in Astrakhan (almost 3 weeks ago) finally arrived yesterday. Unfortunately, we were not in Astrakhan to sign for it (they would not let the other american couple sign for it). So, the post office will hold the package for a few days and then return to sender! So, Sis, look for it in the mail in about . . . 3 weeks! It's the thought that counts.

We now prepare for our trip home. Sbarro's pizza was our last Russian meal! Doesn't make sense, does it? We leave for the airport at 9:00am and take off at 1:10pm. "Meet me in St. Louey".

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Greatest News!

We will be coming home a whole day early! Home again on Thursday, Aug 30. Camping Caleb, meet us at the airport at 8:07pm!

It's such a relief to know we only have one more appointment while in Moscow . . . US Embassy, and then we are free to pack for home! It's your last chance to request a Russian souvenir.

Moscow- One More Time

It is said that "through many trials comes great strength." We are feeling very strong today. Last night our plane left at 8:30. Lilia was sitting on Andi's lap, and I was waiting for the storm. Yes, Lilia did break down. Yes, she did cry loudly. Then God answered our prayers and she fell asleep. I think waiting for the break down was worse than the actual breakdown. Poor Andi held Lilia's limp body for the whole flight, but at least she wasn't thrown-up on. Yes, I was vomitted on by some woman standing by the bathroom door. There was a curtain that got most of the goods, but my right leg got a quarter-sized glob know. Thank God for our baby wipes.

Once we got to the Airport it took an hour to get our luggage. Then we walk outside. Look. Look. Our driver is not there. After fumbling English/Russian, I buy a phone card and call our contact in Moscow.
"You are here tonight?" she asked.
"Yes we are standing at the airport."
"Oh! We were not expecting you until the morning." she said.

It is approaching midnight, and I don't know how long I have until the baby's head starts spinning around and fire shooting from her eyes.
She tells me to get a taxi. She tells me she will try to get us a room. I hang up, hail a taxi, and we are driven to the hotel. All the while, we have:
Beyond Tired Baby
Wife With Beyond Tired Back
Vomit On My Jeans
$100 Taxi ( They Can Smell Us Americans A Mile Away)
Maybe No Hotel Room

We are feeling very strong.
In the end all turned out well. Our heads hit the pillows at 1:00am.

Today we went to see the Doctor at the childrens hospital. Lilia is a healthy girl who needs only TLC to cure her developmental issues. Tommorow we get a tour of Red Square, and then go to the US Embassy. If all goes well, we may travel on Thursday. Please Pray that we can come home Thursday. We are ready. We'll know definitively by this evening.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Leaving Astrakhan

Astrakhan is a city that sits on the Volga river just before it slips into the Caspian Sea (the river not the city). It is almost 450 years old (the city not the river), and has it’s own Kremlin (the word Kremlin simply means fort). During the time of the Soviet Union it was known for its production of salt and vegetable, and, of course, oil. Today Astrakhan’s main production is gas. The gas production company here employs about 1/4 of Astrakhan’s 500,000 people. It’s the largest gas company in the world. The average salary is very low and only the very wealthy own a home. Most of Astrakhan lives in huge apartment buildings. The people of Astrakhan are very stylish and take pride in their appearance. This does not apply to the local fishermen that fish off the port in front of our hotel. Very few people own cars, there are taxis and buses. Astrakhan has 3 baby homes that house children from 0-4 years of age. I am not sure of how many children are in each home, but it’s more than we could take home in one trip. There are about 8-15 children in each “group” of the orphanage. Who knows how many groups there are! Today a little girl is leaving this region for the first time in her life. She doesn’t know it yet. Right now she is crying in her crib (it’s nap time). Everything she knows will disappear behind a cloud of jet fumes as we leave for Moscow. We are ready to leave, but we know that possibly the hardest part is yet to come. The big question is how will she do for the 2 hour flight to Moscow? I predict mucho crying. This is the end of our journey in Astrakhan. We talk about returning one day maybe when Lilia is a teenager. We are taking our last pictures and videos so we have some history for her. Andi is packing with a feverish pace. Lilia naps. I try to just stay out of the way. Here we go . . .

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Last Sunday

Tomorrow we leave Astrakhan, actually it’s 28 hours. The flight leaves at 8pm. Andi is already packing. Our “little whiney” is, well, whining. She is also throwing fits. I told Caleb on the phone last night, that Lilia is whining like he used to. “You mean like I still do.”, he corrected me. We are trying to play the role of the patient parent. We know she has a lot of stress to deal with. She is adjusting to a new environment. She may miss her friends, and caregivers. She also has the God-given duty to drive her parents crazy. Andi and I are growing very tired of the hotel room and leaving will be so great. As I am writing, Lilia has started do the hand sign for “more”. She keeps signing “more” for the bread Andi is feeding her. She’s so advanced for her age. We used hand signs with Caleb and they were a great way to find out what he wanted before he could say the words.

Today was our day of lasts. We made our last stop by the grocery store. We bought our last 5L water jug, again, from the tiny store behind the hotel. We will spend our last night at the Azimut Hotel. We are about to go and have our last supper with the other couple here. Then we will take our last walk down the river front to the statue of Peter the Great. This has become something we do every night. We walk down to the statue and sit with the locals, and watch the sun spread color across the Volga as it sinks in the west. It really is worth the trip if you can make it over here sometime. You should stay a month if you can. There are many lasts that I am not even thinking of. The curtain on this part of the adoption process is closing, and we are moving on like knights charging into the last legion of enemy. But I am sure there will be a lot of things that we will do for the last time here, that we will reflect on there.