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Thursday, June 23, 2005
We can officially be parents!
Yesterday I received the best birthday gift, short of actually holding Sasha in my arms. We got home from dinner last night and in the mailbox was our 171-H letter! This is the letter that states we can officially be parents to an orphan. In otherwords our permit to be parents. This is the 1 piece of paper we have waited 15 weeks to get, pay hundreds of dollars for and agonize over. The only personalization of this piece of paper is our names, the date the application it was filed and the date issued, that we could adopt 1 or 2 children and then an initial at the bottom. It doesn't say much. I don't care! I am just happy we have it!
Now if we can only find the way to come up with the money to file the final paperwork...

Tuesday, June 14, 2005
More about Russia
I said in my last post that I would take some time to talk more about our experiences in Russia. It already seems like it's been forever since we were there and we miss our son everyday. The town of Khabarovsk is a fairly good sized town with something like 700,000 residents. The part of the town that we saw the most of runs along three main streets. We spent most of our time walking Carl Marx Blvd and Amurskya Blvd between our hotel and the river. I think I was expecting the town to drab gray and depressing. I was surprised to see how many of the buildings were painted in bright colors and they were in the process of painting more while we where there.
It was great to meet up with our family friend Galina and have her help navigating town. She showed us how to use the bus system (though we never ventured on the buses alone), the best place to buy 'authentic Russian souvenirs' and the best store to buy good Russia 'wodka'.
It was almost surreal to walk up and down the street and not hear any English beside what was being spoken by you. Even more so to stand in Lenin Square staring at the statue of Lenin himself. To think that these places, just 15 years ago, would have been impossible for someone from the United States to see, yet alone stand in.
It was a lot of fun to be able to meet the other families that were there to pick up their children. They are all amazing people. We thank Jen for the sage advice about waiting for a court date. She said "You'll go when you're supposed to go..." Astonishing how such simple words can bring such peace. We also got a chance to meet Ciarai and Jose who live in Seattle. They are great people that we look forward to being able to connect with on a regular basis.
I guess I should also mention our esteemed travel companions, Doug and Candy. They are fantastic people and we enjoyed the time that we got to spend with them. Hopefully we'll get court dates at the same time so we can travel together next trip too. But next time we're going to make Candy leave her hairdryer at home since she knocked the power out in the hotel... twice. LOL. I'm sure that Doug can hardly wait to get back so he can have more Kvas. Kvas is a drink made from rye flour that tastes a lot like sucking on wet rye bread if you ask me, but he loved it. Anyway, time to cut this post off. I'll try to post some more about our hijinks soon.
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
The experience from the point of view of 'the dad'
Thought I might post and give you my point of view on the 'big trip' since I realized that all the posts from Russia were written by Lisa. I can truly say that last week was the most experience filled week of my life. I would have never imagined that my first trip abroad would have been to Russia, much less far eastern Siberia. Our flights to and from Khabarovsk went quite well considering they were so incredibly LONG. I was extremely happy that the flights were mostly turbulence free since my traveling companion has the tendency to get motion sick :) I am also quite convinced that if we want to have another child that we're going to adopt again since I am most likely sterile from all the security screenings that we had to go through. But we made it Russia safe and sound and that's all that matters.
The people in Russia are very gracious and must also be very patient to put up with us stumbling through the few phrases we knew in Russian. The food was pretty decent. I only encountered one meal that I didn't like. If you ever travel to Russia I suggest that you stay away from the 'fried river trout'. We never felt unwelcome even though I'm sure that we stuck out like sore thumbs. People seemed to stare but that may be because we had on the brightest clothes in town.
The trips to the orphanage were something that I'll never forget. I too was amazed at how clean it was and how well that the children were taken care of. The smells, sounds and colors are ingrained in my mind. Like one of the other adoptive parents said, the play room at the orphanage will be forever burned into my memory. It is the place where you meet your child for the very first time. For me it also contains many other 'firsts': The first time I saw Alexander, the first I got to hold him, the first time we played together, and probably the most important- the first time I saw him smile and heard his incredible little laugh. His laugh was amazing, bringing a warmth to my heart that I've never experienced before. It filled the whole room and was contagious. It really amazed me that after all that this little man has been through in his short life, that he was still able to laugh and enjoy life. It speaks volumes to type of care the wonderful workers in the orphanage must give the children they watch over. Like Lisa said in one of her posts, we also got to meet the director of the orphanage. She is extremely personable. She told us that Alexander look liked me (except he's more chubby) and that we were invited back to 'get him a sister'. I have no doubt in my mind that these women would like nothing better than to be unemployed because all the children had found homes.
When it was time to go home, there was some obvious sadness on our part but also some peace that came knowing he was healthy and well cared for. I don't think that it really hit me until we had to board the plane to come home. It was hard to leave Alexander there, but we knew that it was only temporary and we'd be back soon. I had a chance to hold him in my arms one last time and tell him exactly that before we left the orphanage.
Well, this post has gone longer than I expected. So I will leave it at that. Next time I will post some more on the town and the other wonderful couples that we met while we were there. Thank you again for all the support and prayers as we continue this wonderful and exciting journey
Sunday, June 05, 2005
The Miracle Weight Loss Program!
Have I got a deal for you! For only $10,000 you too can loose 6 pounds in 4 days! For an additional $20,000 you can loose 15 in 20 days! Doesn't sound like fun? Then Russian adoption is not for you.
Yes... We are home and I am awake enough to have a bit of a sense of humor. Derek and I have lost about 6 pounds each from the wonderful Russian food, the 2 meals a day and the miles that we walked. Khabarovsk is a wonderful city. The main areas of town are very clean and the people are quite friendly. We did stick out like sore thumbs, but otherwise we went un-noticed. Our visit was far too short, but worth every air mile flown.
There were so many experiences, and it hard to remember them all. From the fish with a face, to meeting 5 other adoptive families to the trolly car packed with 120 people. The Babushkas that sweep the sidewalks with little tiny brooms, the big Kvas (rye drink) tanks on the street corners, and the news stands that sell bottles of beer, also on every street corner. Russians eat ice cream all the time! Lee and Dad would fit in perfect!
The orphanage was absolutely immaculate. Alexander is well taken care of and at 18 pounds, well fed. We appreciate all the comments you made on our blog. It was so nice to hear from family and friends while we were gone. We treasure all of those kind words.
Our next challenge will be finding the resources to bring our son home. Our agency wants our final paperwork by the 10th of June so it can be translated and sent. Of course that means payment too. 4 days to come up with $6650 won't be easy, but somehow we have had the money to this point. The next leg of the journey won't be easy, but we know that with your prayers and support it will happen. If we can find a way we might be able to bring him home by late July or early August.
I am also trying to find organizations to tell this wonderful story too. As we have mentioned this has been a true calling from God. Everything about this little boy is not just coincidence. I want to be able to tell people about this journey. If you know of an organization who would like to have a guest speaker to talk about following the call of God pass my name onto them. I want to reach out and share this with everyone.
Blessings to all of you and keep following our adventure. Send us your comments as we love to hear them!
Thursday, June 02, 2005
A hard day
We have just returned from the notary to sign the official papers to adopt Alexander. This afternoon was quite difficult. Although I am much better at feeding than I was yesterday. Not sure he actually likes the food he is fed, I know I wouldn't, but that is what he gets and he doesn't spit it out. Of course he is quite the chunky monkey. We got to play today and took lots of photos. He already is smitten with the other couple's little girl Hannah. He spent a good part of the afternoon checkin' her out. I told him that we would hook him up with her mommy's email address. Uncle Wayne will have to teach him a few pick up lines!
At about 3:15 our translator Katjia told us it was time to go. We took one last group photo and had to say good bye. We took him back to the group with all of his buddies. Let me tell you that was hard. I just had to walk out and not look back. I told him I would be back to get him soon and that there are so many people that love him and can't wait to see him. He really is such a sweet little boy. Very serious, but quite the little character. Likes to bonk himself in the head with a ring from his stacking ring set.
The four of us returned to the hotel to wait for the call to go to the notary to sign the official papers. At about 4:30 Irina called and we were off. We were read the document we were signing and found out that his offical name is Alexander Nikolai (last name I can't remember). So we have some serious thinking to do about his name. He may actually end up Alexander Roy Nikolai Lindholm. I am here to tell you this kid was meant to join this family.
We are now off to the store to pick up some "good Russian Vodka". Pray I don't down it on the way home. Our time here has been fantastic. The people are very nice, but the food is something to be desired for. The city is very beautiful and they work very hard to keep the busy areas clean. Everyday we learn a new letter and can translate more and more.
Dinner tonight will be with 9 other Americans. Lots to celebrate! One couple had court today and it only lasted 20 minutes! Irina said that is unusally short, but everything was perfect!
Tomorrow is the dreaded travel home day. We will try to call some of you on Sunday if we are out of the bed. Looking forward to seeing Nathe's smiling face at the airport! Miss you all and love you much!
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
News from Russia!
It is official! Tomorrow we will sign paperwork to officially adopt Alexander Roy Lindholm! I am currently sitting in a very small closet at our hotel just overwhelmed from the afternoon we have just had.
I suppose I could start at the begining. We landed in Khabarovsk Russia yesterday afternoon on a very bumpy runway, infact the runway was also the taxi-way. Customs was no problem and as we were walking out the door to meet Katjia, our translator, we heard, "Lisa?" Galina, Tamara, and Evelina were all there to meet us too. (I will explain them at a later date.) We exchanged some money and were off to our hotel. The hotel is quaint. Only 16 rooms and the bed is very low to the ground. The furniture is something of a flea market find, but comfortable.
We took a walk around the city to find the place the other families are staying at, but with no success. We are able to decipher some of the signs, but really need to study our cyrillic alphabet.
Had dinner in the hotel restaurant. Russian food really is something to be desired for. Derek's fried trout, with head, was not as appetizing as it sounded. Although, the ice cream is wonderful! No... I only had a taste. I am not going to press my luck.
We had a very nice breakfast, also in the hotel and while eating, we got the call from Irina, our facillitator. Andrei the driver would be at the hotel at 12:45 to pick us up and take us to the orphanage. He was right on time. The orphanage is very close to our hotel, but there is no way we could find it again. We had to wait a little while in the van because Irina was finishing up at court. We went in and had to put cloth botties on our shoes to keep the dirt out. The orphanage was very clean and everything was painted pink! We were ushered into a small play like room and asked to wait. I was off in my own little world when a woman came in holding the most beautiful little boy I have ever seen. Hey! I know that face! It was Alexander!!! He was handed to me and of course I began to cry. Then the brought in Elena, the other little girl for the other couple with us. Both just cute as can be.
So a little about Sasha. He is very serious. Calm and very relaxed. He is just learning to sit up on his own and all boy. Has a little scratch on his forehead and a little bruise on the back of his head from that learning to sit up. We gave him a few toys to play with and he of course chose the car chewy. We brought it back to the hotel to put in the fridge for tomorrow. We were able to go to his group and feed him lunch. That was an experience. He eats a porridge like food and we feed it to him with a regular spoon. He also drink tea from a cup, but with assistance of course. The caregivers are wonderful and take very good care of these babies. Of which there are about 10 in his group.
After lunch we went back to the play room and Sasha began to break out of his shell. What a ham! He is just in love with his daddy! We then were able to hear his medical information. He is very healthy and I will tell you all about that when we get home. We also discovered that he is ticklish! Auntie G you will be proud to know we brought the space spiders with us. And he loves it. Just laughed and laughed.
We met with the orphanage director, Olga. What a remarkable and charming woman. You can tell how much she loves these children. We gave her the orphanage donations and she was entirely grateful. So we pass that on to all of you who helped with that.
After the visit with the director is was time to go. Too short of a visit, but I will cherish every moment. Tomorrow if the weather is nice we will go for a walk outside. We get to do lunch again and change diapers if needed. I wish I could stay all day and just help these women who work so hard to care for these precious babies.
I will say goodbye for today. We are off to meet with another family and take a walk around the city with Galina. We miss you all and can't wait to come home and show you the photos.
Blessings to everyone!