Aidan at Beach

Aidan at Beach

Monday, March 30, 2009

Doin' a little potty talk. . .

Saturday we began the process of serious potty training. Daddy had to work, so it was all up to Aidan and me. We got up in the morning and put on our big boy underpants, set the timer and off we went. Every half hour the timer would go off and we would sit on the potty. By nap time we had only wet our pants twice. Not bad for our first day!

On Sunday, we made it all the way through nap time without wetting our pants but going on the potty, even at church. Good boy, Aidan!!

Our trouble seems to be in the evening when we need to go poop. We can't seem to get the hang of letting Mama or Daddy know it's poop time! But, that will come.

Today was good, too. We only went twice in our pants and that was at the sitters--change of scenery. Mama thinks it will be even better tomorrow.

Mama's tired today because it was very windy out last night and she had to get up with Aidan a few times to rock him back to sleep . . .

But, I wanted to tell you a couple of things:

One, I had mentioned that we decided the 10 day waiting period was actually good. Here is why: When we first got started in this process, we were told that the waiting period is generally waived. Then the re-accredidation process happened and that waiver stopped. We found out about the time of our first trip. No big deal as far as I was concerned, but Pat was not too happy. Of course, when it came down to it, there was no way in H E double toothpicks we were leaving Russia without our son a second time, so we stayed for our waiting period.

The first week was pretty much torture. I have since realized that Aidan was likely going into a type of depression. Here were these strange people that were loving and nice and they came and then they went away for what, to a 18 to 22 month little boy, must have seemed like forever, and then they came back for another visit only to disappear again for a day!! ( we went to court!) And then they come back again and want to be all lovey again and expect/want the same thing back!! Well, not so much!!

So, Aidan remained unresponsive to us the entire first week. So much so that we began to talk, furtively to ourselves of course, about the possibility of Austism. We were worried to say the least. And then the last week he began to open up more and more and, in fact, by our last day of visiting, here is what he looked like!!

And so, I want to posit that the 10 day waiting period is good because he had the chance to get to know us in limited amounts of time. . .by the time he was ours permanently, he was used to us and knew that we weren't leaving. Just a thought.

And now, next Saturday we will celebrate Gotcha Day, 1st Anniversay. . .and my in-laws 60th wedding Anniversary! Both are so important to us. . .and we get to celebrate them together! Hopefully, we'll be going on the potty all of the time by then!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Our Days in Court. . .

After we left Aidan at the orphanage on our first day back, we began to be tutored on what would happen at Court. We were given a list of questions we would be asked and we were tutored on how we should respond. Taking notes furiously, it began to dawn on me that we were really going to Court. . .in Russia. . .in Siberian Russia. . .and our future was dependant upon what a couple of people we had never met thought of us and our ability to raise a child. No sweat. . .RIGHT!

My stomach began to churn and I began to perspire. When we got back to the hotel, we went up to our room where I studied for a bit. Then we had a bite to eat for dinner and then I studied some more late into the evening.

The next morning, March 25th, I got up early and studied some more. . .as the one who would do the primary responding to the judge, I was cramming for the most important exam of my life. My son, and my husband, depended upon me!

Our Court appointment was for 9:30. Tired, stomach upset, palms sweaty, and no coffee available in the lobby (seems like that happened every time I really needed it while we were there!!), we headed to the lobby to await our ride to Court. With the Jergers, we headed off. When we arrived, we sat in the lobby of Court for a while and then headed through the metal detectors, which went off for all of us and no one did anything about it!, and then down several corridors and stairs to our Court Room where we all sat down outside to await the arrival of the Judge.

When the Judge arrived, the Jergers went in only to be told that we were going first. So, we went on in. I was so nervous I dropped my notes early on and then everything was out of order. I had to wing it.

An hour of presenting ourselves as suitable parents to Aidan later, and sweating and my voice cracking with nerves, the Judge began to speak. I had learned enough Russian by then that I knew something wasn't right. She was speaking to the Director of our Orphanage and the representative from the Ministry of Education. Our translator hadn't said anything, but I knew something was wrong. I finally whispered to the translator, "What's wrong?" There is an issue, I was told. The MOE hadn't checked back with the family as they were supposed to to be sure there was no one who wanted Aidan. oh. . . .What does this mean????? What will happen????What are we going to do????? I was soooo upset!!! I know Pat was too because his lips became flat and they looked stuck to his teeth (just like when we got married! : ) )

Finally, the Judge began to speak to us about what was going on. She explained what the MOE hadn't done and what they needed to do in order for us to finalize the adoption. Our translator assured us that everything was okay and that we had done everything we were supposed to and that we would still get our son right on time.

But, in my mind, we had not received our "Da" and so I was so upset!

We left the Court Room so upset and not really knowing what was going on. We were in turmoil. But, just outside the door were the Jergers awaiting their turn. Keep our faces straight. Don't let them see how upset we are. They are heading in to do what we just did and they certainly didn't need to see how upset we were!

Afterward, we were again told all would be okay, but I broke down anyway. Part of it was stress, part I was so tired, and part were were in Siberian Russia! The Jergers, once told, were so fantastic. Their first response was for us all to pray. I'll tell you right now that helped center me and Pat and made us feel so much better. Not great, mind you, but better.

We suffered through that evening as best we could. I wanted to crawl into a hole and hide (my nature) but Pat and the Jergers wouldn't let me. We went out for German food. . .

The next day we went to the orphanage early on and Aidan was whiny and cried a lot. He didn't want to engage and we just looked at each other and thought, Now What??? We kept at it for the two hour visit and he did evenutally come to me, turn around and back into my lap (this became his usual for most of our 10 day waiting period--more on why the 10 day waiting period is good next time). By the time we left, we still didn't know anything about Court and we were exhausted from trying to coerce our little boy out.

We went out for pizza (again not my nature to do that!) and then back to the room to crash and wait for some kind of word or news. About five minutes after we got to our room, our Coordinator knocked on our door. How long until you can change and be downstairs??? 5 minutes! And sure enough 5 minutes later we were in the lobby and heading out the door to Court.

Back at Court, I crossed myself on the way into the Court Room where the Judge looked back over everything, talked some about how the form was still not correct, and then sent us all out of the room. When we were called back in, we were then given our "Da!" Needless to say, Pat and I were holding hands and I broke down. If we hadn't been holding hands, I probably would have fallen to the floor. We hugged everyone, including the Prosecutor, and then went to get our picture taken in front of the Court House. We were finally parents!!!

And so, the 26th is our our "Da" Day, in honor of our Second Day in Court. Happy "Da" Day Daddy and Aidan!!! It was a long wait, but oh so worth it!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

The passing of time

A year ago we arrived, early in the morning, in Krasnoyarsk. We had last been there on November 24th, in the early morning, almost exactly 4 months earlier. We had last seen Aidan on November 23rd. . .he had been so cute. Shy, but still playful. We were encouraged that he actually opened up some to Pat on the first day. He was a big boy, but still so little!

By the second day, we were so in love!

And then, we had a 4 month enforced separation. When we arrived at the orphanage on March 24th, to see our son again after 4 months, we had sweaty palms; our hearts were beating fast; Would he remember us???; Would he like us???; Would he attach to us???

We arrived and were taken to the same Music Room as before. We had our plastic booties on over our shoes; we had our treats and toys; we were hot; we felt nauseous. There were several other children whom I kept looking at to see if they were Aidan. I knew he had changed. And then the door opened. The caretaker walked in, holding the hand of a little boy. He looked up. My heart caught in my throat. There was my baby!!! Look how he'd grown!! And, then, I saw a look of recognition pass in his eyes when he saw me. I opened my arms and knelt on the floor. He started to cry, but walked over to me, turned arond and backed up and sat down on my lap. I had my son in my arms again! My God! Thank YOU!

He was bit bigger and he had matured in his facial expressions, and he was a bit more withdrawn. He didn't want to engage right away, but he was still my baby boy.

When we had to be wrenched away, we began the nauseating process of preparing for Court. . .more on that next time.

But, for now, just look at how much my little dudely has changed since that day a year ago! What a difference a year makes!

So, about the shirt. . .I found it at Gymboree and had to have it! When we're driving down the road, we'll come to a red light and traffic and we'll stop ( of course). Aidan says, " Go Mama!" But, the light is red, Aidan. " Oh." Then the light turns green, " Go Green! Mama!" But, there are cars stopped in front of us. " Go, Mama!" sigh. Back street drivers!

Quick Weight Watchers update: I haven't been in weeks! I am still down my abot 4 pounds with only about 3 pounds to go, but I just can't seem to get there with Pat's work schedule and all. . .I can't really go with Aidan. . .But, I am still watching, counting my points and I have lost a lot of inches--my pants are longer! I reached 4 miles on my daily run last Thursday for the first time since before we went to Russia last year (it only took a year to get back there!) and I was up to 4.10 this morning. I think I'll be okay, but I'll keep working at it.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring. . . .

Ah Spring. . .Although we didn't really have a lot of snow this year, in fact we hardly had any!, it has been a very cold winter. Yesterday Spring arrived bright and early in the morning. And we were all happy! The trees are in full bud and the Cherry Blossoms are about to come out. The tulips and daffodils are coming up outside, and some daffodils have found their way to my desk at work:

Another sure sign that Spring has arrived is Aidan wants to be outside allllll the time. Ride a bike, Mama??? His perpetual question to me. : )

My sister Amy was in Florida recently to be with my neice at her Cheerleading Competition. While there, they went to Disney and got Aidan some mouse ears. . .knowing his love for The Cars movie and anything having to do with it, she thought these would be appropriate!

And then he actually put them on correctly!

She also sent him a Chicago Fire sweatshirt. . .Could be because I send her kids all of the Virginia and D. C. team paraphanalia! Aidan loves the sweatshirt though because it came from Amy!

Spring Cleaning of the Blog

Bear with me as I makes some changes. . .should be completed later today with new pictures added.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig!

Blessings of the Feast of Patrick to you!

So, Aidan is all Russian, but his Mama is part Irish, so wearing of the green is not optional. . .nor is having corned beef, cabbage, potatoes and carrots for dinner! I will show some restraint on giving him green milk, though. : ) I wonder what he'll think when I put cabbage on his plate? He hasn't seen that in a year!

Incredible to think that a year ago today Pat and I were frantically running around the house trying to pack while deciding what to take and what not to take, get the dogs settled at their new homes for the coming month, and make sure we had all of our paperwork, passports, money and other important stuff in the carry ons! All that last minute stuff. . .Crazy! And to think that at the time we had a two bag per person limit of 55 pounds per bag!! Little did we know that we would have a 20 kilo (40 pounds) per person limit for in country travel in Russia!

I remember watching the John Adams series in the days leading up to now, and even while we packed--note to self: don't watch American History series when you are about to leave the country for a month! It makes me very nostalgic and sentimental for home. . .I did end up buying that series after we returned. Love it! And I have since found out that John Q. Adams was an Ambassador to Russia!

Tommorrow, the 18th, marks one year since we left. I can't believe that was a year ago. . .and yet, Aidan has always been here, right???


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Free Bird, Really???

We have had a really busy week and weekend. . .quite exhausting, actally!

My friend Allison was in town this week. She moved away to California a couple of years ago and I miss her terribly. She is a great person to talk to about just about anything.

She came by the house on Tuesday and stayed about three hours talking. Then we met up with her and several other friends on Thursday at Fireworks pizza. We had a blast. She left again on Friday and we'll miss her again until next time! We miss you Allison!

On Saturday Pat went off to help a friend with one of his projects at his house. . .perhaps he'll help with one of ours???? :o

Aidan and I stayed at home and I cleaned house and got caught up on laundry. I've found this great Alternative Rock station on our Verizon TV and had that on. . .Aidan had his own music on in his bedroom where he was nicely playing. Imagine my surprise when I hear Free Bird through the wall of my bathroom. . . and then hear him turn it up!!! He is still just two. . .Next thing you know he's going to be playing Sweet Home Alabama! Crazy!

The guys didn't get up until 9:00 today so Mama went off to church by herself. . .very peaceful. . .and then I went grocery shopping--also by myself! I was able to stick to my list and was home having lunch with my two guys by a little after 1:00 and then a quiet nappy sort of afternoon followed. Nice.

The weekend was topped off by dinner with Grandma and Grandpa. And now we're getting ready for bed and the start of a new week!

And, just arond the corner, we have several very significant anniversaries. . .more to come on that!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I Get To Push The Button!!!

My remote start was successfully installed on Friday. It's awesome! You push the button, and the car starts up. If you leave the heat on, it warms up the car for you, too. All weekend long, Pat and I had a little battle over who got to push the button to start the car. Our battle has sounded a bit like this:

"I get to push the button!" " No, I do!" "No, I do!" And, so on. Ad infinitum.

So, who exactly is the 2 almost 3 year old around here??? ; )

This morning I let Aidan push the button and he was so excited! I can see we'll be adding him to our battle mix now!

On Saturday, we celebrated Pat's dad's birthday. It was a blast! Pat left in the afternoon to go and pick up his parents and the lobsters we were going to have for dinner. About an hour later, he called and said he had is parents, but no lobsters. Uh oh. Apparantly, we didn't plan very well. So, we went to Blue Ridge Grill for a fantastic Prime Rib (me) dinner. I love their Prime Rib! After that we came home for cake and presents. We gave him a framed copy of the picture on the header of this blog. We love that one and I'm pretty sure he liked it, too. Aidan helped blow out the candles on the cake I had made:

Fun was had by all.

The time change happened on Saturday night/Sunday morning. I have suffered a bit from that. . .it's really early now when I get up! But, poor Aidan has been really suffering. He does not like it one bit and has been super tired ever since! But, at least it's not like last year: We sprang forward one hour, then 7 more hours a week and a half later, then 4 more hours 5 days after that, then another hour a week later (when Russia went on daylight savings time), then back 4 hours a week and half after that, then back 8 more hours 6 days later! We were so confused!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Strange stories, strange coincidences

I want to share a strange story with you and how this has affected, and is still affecting me.

You have heard the story of the tragedy that occurred last summer when Miles Harrison left his son, Chase, in his car and went to work only to find him dead at the end of the day. . .

Miles and Carol Harrison adopted Chase from Russia. At the same time that we did. They are in their mid- to upper forties, just like us. They had to do all of the same paperwork we did. They had all of the same requirements pre- and post-adoption to follow. They returned home one week before us. They used the same pediatrician as us. The County confused us with them prior to the adoption because of paperwork we needed and they said we already had it. They have the same last name as us. And to cap it all off, their priest, Fr. Mike Kelly was killed on the road I take from our sitter's house to work and that I had travelled on less than an hour before he was hit by that falling tree (and, ironically, Fr. Kelly's brother also works with me at Loudoun Mutual).

To say that we were stunned when, on July 10th we heard the news of what had happened to Chase Harrison, would be an understatement. We were stunned beyond belief. We were in total disbelief. And then our phone began to ring. We received calls from the pediatrician, from friends who had forgotten what we had named our son, from reporters wanting and looking for a story (we were found through my blog), and we were called by the agency in Russia who works with our US agency--just checking on us, of course. I had a migraine that lasted a week.

I spent today reading, off and on, the article that was in the Washington Post magazine about children being left in the car to die. It focused, primarily, on Miles Harrison--why did his story become the national focus for this kind of tragedy??--while I listened to my son laugh and play outside with the neighbor kids; his daddy; his dogs. I couldn't help weeping off an on. I feel the Harrison's pain so deeply in my heart.

And yet, I look at my son and see his sweet face and the unconditional love that is already there and I weep again thinking, My God! We are so blessed!!! Thank you so much, God!!

Why us? Why not the other Harrison's?? Why does this sort of thing happen?? What will happen now to all of those children in Russia who probably won't get the chance at living in a home with a nice family????

All we can do is pray about it.

I just had to share all of that emotion and feeling. I hope you don't mind. Thank you for listening.


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Amazing Races

So, if you watch Amazing Race, the teams are going to be in Krasnoyarsk this weekend! The show is on CBS at 8:00 Eastern and they are in search of a famous playwrite. . .If it is the one we think it is, we went to his Dachau on our second weekend in Kras. . .So, for all of you who have been, and for all of you who haven't, here is a chance to see Krasnoyarsk!

Our Friday resembled an Amazing Race in itself. We had our "to do" list so jam packed that it was a little stressful looking at it.

First we took the Tahoe up to Best Buy where we had the Remote Start installed that Pat gave me for Christmas. No more upset Aidan when Mama goes out to warm up the car!

Then, we ran to the bank, transferred some cash and got some out.

Then, we were off to the Post Office where we mailed off our Passport renewals and then applied for Aidan's US Passport. It was my goal to get that done before the 1 year post placement visit--check!! But, this did not go off without a hitch. Apparantly, the form we received at the US Embassy in Moscow is no longer the correct form. So, we got a new form and filled it out. And then it was mailed off, along with Aidan's Certificate of Citizenship and his Adoption Decree (this is where I got a little nervous). I was assured that we would get these documents back. . .I just have to trust that we will!

Then, we headed off to the hair cut place where Daddy and Aidan got hair cuts. Aidan sat in the chair on his own for the first time and did not cry at all!! He was so good! And his hair looks so much better this time.

We were going to go Ice Skating, but that had to be cut from the list because it was after Noon already and so back home we went where Mama made lunch and Daddy and Aidan went to the playground while they waited. but, I can tell you that we are now offically a part of the US Ice Skating Organization! Aidan completed his lessons last Sunday!

After lunch, nap. . .for me, too!

Then, Kristin, our Social Worker came. She is so awesome--have I told you all that before??? She helped make us a family and has alwyas been so supportive. I just love her. I really really miss talking to her on a regular basis. She did confirm that things have slowed down in Russian adoptions. . .but she added that all International Adoptions have slowed down. It seems the Economy is just not conducive to International Adoptions. That makes me sad because there are really so many children in need in Russia, and in other places. But, she also indicated that Domestic Adoptions are on the rise--similar reasons. . .birth mothers are no longer keeping their babies as much because of the economy. I would do it again in a heartbeat. . .if it wasn't so expensive! As the World of Adoption turns. . .Our visit was great, by the way. She was amazed at how much Aidan has grown. . .we talked about what he has been doing, what we do as a family, and what his typical day is like. We also talked about our plans for Preschool and his Day Care situation and how that is going. We only touched briefly on his discipline and how that is going, but it is all healthy stuff. Basically, Aidan is a typical 2, almost 3, year old little American boy! It's all good! : ) So, only two more Post Placement visits left: March 2010 and March 2011.

After our visit, we dashed down to Sterling and had Fish and Chips with some friends at an Irish Restaurant. Yummy!

Then, home and to bed for all of us exhausted Harrison's!

Today should be much quieter: cleaning house, baking Grandpa's birthday cake and then a Lobster dinner to celebrate Grandpa's birthday!

Na zdrovyeh!