Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Almaty here we come!

After buying a ticket to fly from Astana to Almaty, I packed my bags and Grant and I were driven to the airport. I thought I was just about on my way! The coordinator could only take me to the door and then I was on my own to navigate the Cyrillic alphabet throughout the airport. I only got as far as security. Once I was through, I was immediately stopped by the military police in the airport asking for documents. If only I had a picture of myself at that moment! One chubby toddler on my hip, one wheeled carryon, an umbrella stroller, and several large bags on the other side of me! I tried putting Grant down to pull out my documents but he started screaming and turning red! The airport was busy and people kept pushing past us. The policeman motioned for me to pick him up and people started staring at the whole situation as Grant became louder and louder. I handed him the Kazakh passport and mine, but evidently this wasn't what he wanted. I even showed him my plane ticket, but that was a no-go too.  He then motioned for his fellow officer to come over and I knew they probably wanted some money. But this girl had had it! Enough was enough! I put Grant back down on the floor of the airport and let him scream till his heart's content. After all, time was ticking and my plane was leaving from a terminal that I didn't even know it's location. At this point, I'm drawing a large crowd as I keep trying to get my passports back and move on while Grant's screaming and crying. As the saying goes "Kazakh babies don't cry", so my screaming Kazakh baby grabbed a lot of attention. It worked! Frustrated, the officer shoved the passports back my way and walked away. Quickly, I grabbed Grant and all of my belongings and headed towards the ticket counter for some direction before he could change his mind. 

Grant cried throughout the flight. An older woman and her daughter were sitting next to me trying to comfort him which only made him more angry. She sang Kazakh children's songs to him. I can only imagine they were thinking what a young, inexperienced mother I was! We landed in Almaty and headed to the baggage gate. I had checked a piece and grabbed a cart as I was waiting for it. The same older woman from the plane saw me and started talking to Grant again who was sitting in the cart. Next thing I knew, she was pushing the cart towards the front door. I was a little confused. It's not everyday, someone steals your child while your watching them! I went after her trying not to leave the rest of my luggage sitting unattended. But she kept going - smiling and waving her hand. I pulled Grant back and said several firm "No! Nyet!". I still don't know what she thought she was doing for me! Right outside the doors are a mob of people waiting to physically pull you into their cab. I never would have found him. 

My nerves were frayed by the time I pushed through the cabbies to look for someone that may know me. I didn't know who was picking me up, but an older Russian gentlemen motioned me over and in very broken English asked if I was "Heather". I guess that's the guy! In I went and he drove me to a hotel where another coordinator met me. Ivan was his name and he spoke fluent English! 

Unfortunately, with all that wonderful English, he told me that I couldn't make the Embassy appointment I had because we were waiting for my paperwork to fly via currier from Astana! Evidently, I had pushed our previous coordinator so hard to get me to Almaty and my paperwork done, that she had just sent me on my way. This little act cost me another week, literally! 

Grant and I stayed at a hotel that wasn't really within walking distance to anything but street vendors for food and I felt a little uncomfortable there by myself. So Ivan was able to find a room for me at the Hyatt with all its glorious metal gates and bomb sniffing dogs. It had American food too. I love trying new things, but I was exhausted and ready to go home. A good hamburger hit the spot! Grant wasn't a big fan though. The staff there came to love Grant too. They would call him "Master Grant". Because he kept breaking out in hives, I tried keeping him on basic oatmeal. I found some instant packs in Astana that I brought with me. I took them to the hotel kitchen and asked if they wouldn't mind making it. 

Soon enough, Grant's oatmeal dinner came to the room with white linens, white china, and a rose. They loved talking with him when we went downstairs to eat as well and would fill my bag in the morning with extra fruits and yogurts to feed him on our daily walks around town. I couldn't stand to just sit in the room waiting for the process to occur so we would walk all over Almaty to see just what it was about. 

It's a beautiful city really with a large Russian influences as you would expect. But some portions of it are very European with tree lined streets and small bistro type restaurants.  Ivan called one day to say that a woman was picking me up to do some sight seeing the next day. I was so excited as my days had previously been dragging on. 

I can't remember her name but my guide was a wonderful young woman who had just become a  new mother herself. We drove up to the mountains to the Medeo ice rink which is an outdoor rink that has had its fair share of hosting events throughout its history. 

A young boy and his donkey was walking along the road that day and I asked if I could take a picture with him. He let Grant sit on his donkey. Obviously my idea and not Grant's! He hated it!!! 

My new guide spoke pretty good English. We talked a lot as she drove me around the next few days. She was so curious of my life as I was hers. She wanted to know why I came to Kazakhstan to adopt, why I wanted to adopt, how I lived, what kind of house did I have. We talked about freedoms I had, politics, and American life in general. She told me that she had a friend in Canada that she wanted to visit several years prior. Presumably  this friend was another adoptive family she had met and was prior to her pregnancy she had just had. She said she had been trying to get exit visas for her and her daughter to visit Canada but the government would not let her leave as they said she wouldn't come back. She was leaving behind a husband but that wasn't good enough for them to guarantee her re-entry. A good reminder to be thankful for all the many freedoms we have in our America! 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Exit Visas, Vomiting, and Diarrhea

Now THAT'S one beautiful baby!

After our two week wait of hanging out, throwing temper tantrums, washing clothes that stayed dirty, and drying them outside for days, I was told it was time to gather the paperwork. It started with obtaining a copy of that all important court decree making us Grant's parents.  Up until this point, I had nothing in my physical possession that would identify my as his mother.  The translator called and said to be downstairs at 9 AM because a man named Zhanat was picking me up and taking me to get the required paperwork. 

Zhanat was not an employee of our agency. I had never met him and yet I was supposed to get into the car with him. This made me uncomfortable at best.  Zhanat came around 9 AM "Kazakh time" meaning around 2 PM. He was a nice looking, Kazakh young man wearing a suit and speaking broken English. Off we headed down the stairs and across the busy street where he flagged down a "taxi". This isn't the yellow taxi type thing. It was the "Kazakh taxi" which is  a man who owned a car and was headed in our direction and could use a few extra tenge that day. We agreed on a price and hopped in.  If I wasn't nervous already, I was certainly nervous now. Due to all the struggles we had had, I became not as trusting of people. To say that I didn't fully understand the culture and their way of thinking would be an understatement.  I have to say, the driver was very kind even though I could not understand a word he said to me! I was told by Zhanat to stay in the car while he went inside of some of the government buildings. I still don't know what he was doing in there. Next thing I knew, we were at the courthouse and I was standing in the judge's office. I wasn't happy to be confronting him again. But true to his style, he acted as if I wasn't even in the room. He never so much as looked at me to acknowledge my presence.  He battled it out in court with our Russian female coordinator, and yet he had a seemingly pleasant conversation with Zhanat!  We left with the string-threaded court decree and traveled across town to obtain the new birth certificate which took 2 attempts and some tenge to acquire. After several hours of waiting in a small hallway discussing politics with Zhanat (not my choice of conversation), I was handed a birth certificate from a woman who said, "Congratulations, Mama!" in Russian. That made my day and my nerves calmer! 

With the exception of the government workers, I generally enjoyed engaging with the Kazakh people. They are warm and kind once you begin your attempt at conversation and break through their initial icy demeanor. I remember walking through the market one day looking at the freshly made salads and noodles. One woman working the counter caught my attention and was handing me a bag of her salad saying, "gift! gift!".  Only one example, but despite the difficult adoption, we fell in love with Grant's birth country.

We had been at the paperwork chase for many days and I was getting VERY impatient. Grant and I were dragged along to stand in lines at government offices, but had many unsuccessful attempts to obtain the rest of the paperwork we needed to leave the country. I tried my best to rant and rave through a translator explaining that I was not happy about how long it was taking. Lubyev really shouldn't have been a translator to start with and could not get my point across. Nobody understood why I was so upset! I was angry at the system and incompetent coordinators, exhausted from sleepless nights and days with a toddler who was suffering from insomnia, and anxious that we wouldn't make it home together.

 I wanted Grant's passport and his exit visa ASAP. On the way over to a government building to obtain the exit visa, the coordinator handed me her cell phone.  Evidently her husband or some type of acquaintance was living in the States as a practicing obstetrician. Weird, right? He was on the phone attempting to find out why I was so upset. Imagine what the coordinator was thinking with a ravingly mad woman going on and on in her backseat! Of course, I explained and the inevitable "No problem" popped out of his mouth. I handed the phone back and they spoke with each other and hung up. Next thing I know, the coordinator is saying "No problem!".  Oy! We ended up at the exit visa office all day again for another round of begging and bribing.  Zhanat bought Grant fruit, juice, and cookies from the street vendors as a lunch which Grant promptly gobbled down. 

Exhausted, I remember walking back and forth from waiting in line, being taken back to a storage room, being put back in line, attempting different windows for help, and only hearing "NYET!" (NO). We weren't getting ANYWHERE with Grant's exit visa. Around the seventh hour, the coordinator had Zhanat stay with me and attempted an impromptu appointment with the man in charge. Zhanat instructed me to stand back,  stay quiet, and let him do the speaking. Zhanat had been holding Grant for me as we were waiting to be seen. Just as the secretary told us we could go in, I noticed one foul smell and a huge disgusting mess all down Grant's clothes and Zhanat's suit. As we stood up, Grant's had a projectile vomiting mess as well. I could not believe this was happening right then! Talk about bad timing!  Then again, it may have been perfect timing! I had used all the wipes I had already so I grabbed some tissues and we went into the office. You can only imagine the smell. We were a disgusting sight. 

 You see, this was our last and only hope of getting an exit visa that day, and I was desperate to go home.  We walked into a military official's office. The uniformed man stood and greeted Zhanat, but never even recognized that I or Grant were in the room at all.  I wonder if I'm getting this response because I'm a woman or because I'm a foreigner?  Zhanat's argument for me was that Grant needed medical care given by a Western trained doctor as soon as possible. He had a heart condition and what appeared to be cerebral palsy type illness listed on his medical forms. I think the whole vomit and diarrhea incident made this "gentleman" sign off rather quickly.  Whew! Thank you, Jesus, for taking care of us!  
About a week and a half  and lots of "twenties" went by trying to gather the correct paperwork. I knew the Kazakh passport and the exit visa were important, but didn't realize until later that I didn't have all of the paperwork I needed at all.  

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Our Two Week Wait and Transitions!

And so our two week wait began before we could even begin to get the rest of our paperwork. There is a lot more to adoption after the judge says yes. You need a new birth certificate, certificate of abandonment, police reports, reports of entry into the orphanage, new Kazakh passport, exit visa, verification that all this paperwork is legit and not forged,  and then there's the paperwork for the US Consulate done in another city. All of this paperwork is hard fought for over many days of going back to the same people in different offices bargaining and begging.

The two weeks that Grant and I waited out before the bargaining began were just simply a time of bonding. I pushed two chairs with arms together to make a crib for him thinking he would feel more comfortable and safe in an enclosed space. He really wanted to just sleep with me. I was afraid if I started that, I wouldn't ever get him into his own bed. Yup, a mistake I see now, but we survived and he bonded well. He would poke his little head up from the "bed" and give me a sly smile then climb into my bed from his. Transitioning him to the apartment wasn't all fun and games though. He didn't sleep. When I say, didn't sleep....I'm not exaggerating in any way, shape, or form. He literally tossed and turned all night and chewed his thumb down so far that he had a huge, deep crevice that opened into one very nasty looking sore. This went on night after night. Kind of odd that a child who literally could not stay awake during our visits at the orphanage, couldn't sleep at all anymore when he was with me. Hmmmm......I think I have some ideas.

It was difficult for me to cook and feed him there as well. He was used to egg type gruel for breakfast with hot tea, and a soup with potato or noodle and possibly boiled meat for dinner at the baby home. A big treat was to get a banana! The meat at the Ramstore was difficult for me to purchase. The meat at the main market was even worse for me. Lots of meat hung on hangers where you pick your animal and they cut what you want. The little kitchen in the apartment didn't have a ton of pans and things either. "T" who was still there waiting for her court date due to problems with paperwork would lug the water bottles back from the store for me and found bacon a couple of times that was actually vacuumed sealed from France. It just looked better than the bacon you could find there.  A package like that was like $12! I remember she made spaghetti with bacon a couple of times. Grant's breakfast would be oatmeal and hot tea. Lunch would be green beans and a potato. Not much in the way of protein. I was thinking we could just hold out for awhile and correct his diet better when we got home. I would prepare his food and carry it around into the dining room to sit down. It was a completely separate room and he didn't get it that I wasn't taking it away from him. The temper tantrums were incredible! REALLY loud! Fall on the floor and bang your head kind of tantrums!

In the afternoon, I would take him downstairs to a small play area outside. The other mothers would not make eye contact (a cultural thing) and would pick up their children and leave. Hmmm.....wondering if it was me or Grant. The children there were eager to smile and say hello though. They liked trying out their limited English.  Two little girls in particular were madly in love with Eric. I somehow finagled my picture with them.

My two week wait was ground hog day all over again. A few times I would put Grant in his stroller with the sun cover on it and his hat pulled down around his head to walk around the river. Whenever I saw the police, I would calmly stroll the other way! My mind was playing tricks on me too. I thought I saw the judge walking at lunchtime on one of my strolls. Eric would have told me I was nuts and there wasn't anything to worry about at all.  I was nervous about being stopped without paperwork as I had heard from other adoptive parents that they would stop you telling you there was a small infraction and a "fine" was in order. This never happened though!

Our phone didn't really work plus the land lines in Kazakhstan rarely work. Eric and Ally would spend hours trying to get a phone call through as would my mom. The times my mom did get a call through was around 3 AM her time!  I could tell she was worried about me on those days. When I did get to talk to Allyson, I would try hard to not cry while on the phone with her. She had Daddy, Omi, and Grammy all walk her in to school on her first day. I missed it. She had a huge watermelon theme birthday party with friends and family. I missed it. She was happy to tell me all about these big events in her life. I'd listen, hang up, then cry. A good cry always makes you feel better! I was so thankful that "T" was still there to encourage me.

"T"'s court date, when it finally did happen, didn't go well. The judge denied the adoption. Appeals were filed. This is her story to tell, but long story short, she left Kaz. without her daughter. Close to 3 months later, she was able to return after another judge agreed to look at the case. After fighting very hard for her daughter,  they were finally able to come home.

Those two weeks seemed like an eternity to me. The bonding time was the only benefit. But I still felt like I was sitting in Kazakhstan for two weeks doing nothing. I wanted so badly to have the court decree so I could start getting the rest of my paperwork together to leave for home.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Happy Gotcha Day!

To Grant: 
Happy Gotcha Day!
Happy Family Day!
Happy I Found You Day!
Happy Your My Son Day!
You're My Special Boy Day!
Six years ago in Astana, Kazakhstan, a judge determined we would make good parents for you. Little did he know, what an amazing son you would make for us! We love you tons!!!!

Sunday, August 01, 2010

What are we working with here?

During our orphanage visits with Grant, I remember thinking that we had a lot of work to do when we got home. Exactly what we were working with was difficult to determine. He still hadn't smiled or shown much emotion but sadness. He didn't play. If you put him down, he would not move until you physically moved him. He didn't make any sounds or say any words. He was silent with the exception of the crying he did initially. Yes, his medical diagnoses were scary. He was small at birth, possibly premature, severe pneumonia and 5 weeks in the hospital for treatment. There were some cerebral diagnosis that appeared there was a lack of oxygen to the brain at some point; add on to that a heart murmur and you've got a scary situation. I remember emailing mom saying that I thought we were headed for a lot of therapy and doctor's visits when we came home.

 Eric was always positive that Grant was just fine, or at least, that is what he had me believe. He was such a beautiful baby though. And considering the fact that he was all mine, I would take him with whatever issues he had. However, I really was a little scared. As the days wore on, he became less and less stiff when I was holding him, but always resting his cheek against mine. It would literally melt my heart and my heart was finally on the mend.

We did see "Y" several times after our decision not to adopt him. He would walk out of his line of friends and try to come to us. The nannies would pull him back into line. He looked bewildered and confused, but he did not cry for us. He was obedient to his nannies. I still feel guilt and regret for what the director and doctors did to ALL of us. It could have been avoided had they been truthful and also if they hadn't immediately told the child that we were his parents. I think they probably were really hoping to place him in a loving home, but they went about it all wrong.

Last post was about our quietly leaving the orphanage with Grant on Saturday morning before Eric left for home. Our driver dropped us off so Eric could walk us upstairs to our apartment. The door lady "standing gaurd" at the front entrance stopped us. She went on and on telling our translator something. As we walked upstairs, I asked "Lubo" our translator what she said. Evidently, the woman was completely confused that we took this Kazakh baby instead of one of the Russian babies that would look more like us. She asked if this was the baby we had wanted. Uhhh.....YES!!!! Are you kidding? I was praying for those Asian eyes for an eternity! Honestly, I was kind of offended! It's as if someone looks at your newborn baby and says, "Such a shame! Don't you wish he/she looked differently?"!

Something incredible happened less than a minute after entering our apartment. All of my fears of Grant's cognitive state or lack thereof disappeared in a second! He literally turned into a different child before our eyes in a matter of seconds. The next two pictures were taken within an hour of Grant's arrival in our apartment.

He played happily with cars, he would sneak out of bed and smile coyly, he ate and ate and ate, he played hide and seek, played with empty water bottles, and threw temper tantrum after temper tantrum!!!

Talk about relief! I knew he was going to be okay, and more importantly, I knew I had made the right decision in staying with him in Kazakhstan. Eric was able to see his transformation before heading back downstairs to the car and heading to the airport. The next several weeks would test me in every way imaginable. They would be some of the hardest I have ever gone through. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

More Difficult Decisions

Our court date was Friday and we were supposed to fly out Saturday morning to head to Almaty to catch our Sunday flight out of the country. The plan was to leave Grant in the orphanage while we waited for the process to finish. We would hopefully return in 4 to 5 weeks to get him and travel to Almaty to finish paperwork at the Consulate.

Really! How pathetic is that little face? Could you leave him behind?

I had been thinking about staying. I had Mom DHL some of my meds over as extra. Thankfully they made it through customs without difficulty. I told Eric that I wanted to stay. "T" was still waiting for her court date so she would be there at least a few more days with me before she headed home. I had heard that there was a possibility that I could get the orphanage director to allow me to keep Grant with me in the apartment. I just couldn't imagine making headway with him only to leave him for so many weeks and then re enter his life again. If I could prevent the confusion for him, I thought it would be best.

My 4 yr old baby back home

My new son who was just beginning to trust

 I missed Allyson terribly and knew that I would not only be missing her 5th birthday, but would be missing her first day of kindergarten. Talk about mommy guilt. I'll be living with that one till the day I die. But I think Grant needed me more. I felt like I would be leaving MY son in an orphanage if I left.

The translator and I spoke with the orphanage director and I gave her a lovely gift at the time of our conversation. She told me that I could leave with Grant on Saturday morning quietly. She also said to keep him inside as I didn't not have any paperwork to show that this Kazakh child was actually mine. He had no birth certificate to even show the officers that patrol around if I was stopped. She warned me that if I was caught, it was all on me. She knew nothing about it.

I had no clothes for Grant. Nothing. Nada! No clothes, no baby meds, no cuddly stuffed animals. I was going home remember? Off to the market to buy 2 outfits, 2 undershirts, shoes, 2 pairs of socks, and a few minor necessities. I was going to be doing a lot of laundry by hand for sure!!!!

Eric, our translator, and I went to the orphanage early Saturday morning with clothes in hand. We dressed him and said goodbye. One nanny in particular had an extremely hard time with Grant's departure. She cried so hard that she sobbed shoulders shaking. Eric tried as best as he could to reassure her that we would love him and that he would have the very best life. And off we drove back to the apartment to drop Grant and myself off before Eric left for home.

Saying goodbye Saturday morning. The orphanage staff hadn't even been made aware that we were leaving that day.

You probably notice that Grant is still stuck with the flat affect face. No emotion. He still hadn't smiled. It had been just over three weeks.

This very difficult decision ended up providing an amazing bond between Grant and myself. I would be his new caretaker twenty-four seven. He would learn over the next 5 weeks what having a mommy was all about. When he woke up, he would see me. When he was hungry, I would feed him. When he was cuddled, all me. When he went to sleep, the last thing he would see was his mom. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Three LONG Weeks and One Even Longer DAY!

We went to the orphanage daily for three weeks to visit Grant. Our time was spent enticing him to like us, or rather, tolerate us. He didn't come with arms wide open, but he didn't scream and cry every time we came either. He sat staring blankly at Eric maneuvering the toy cars around with no interest in moving them himself. He still hadn't cracked a smile or initiated playing with a toy. It was as if he had no personality, no feelings, just empty. We snuck him some Cheerios and were "caught" by the nannies and scolded. We were scolded for removing layers of sweaters while we played outside with him. We were scolded when we brought the wrong brand of diapers. We were scolded when through no fault of our own, we were late. But it was the late thing, that made me realize we were making headway with Grant. 

You see, one day we were about 15 to 20 minutes late. This particular visit was probably past the 2 week mark  and close to our court date. When we arrived at his room, the nanny was hollering and waving her hands in the air. I had no earthly idea why. We seemed to irritate them whenever we came. Our translator said that once the nannies told Grant that his mama and papa were coming, he had been sitting in a chair by the door to his room. They said he hadn't moved and sat there too long! They also said that "he thinks he is better than the other children because he now has parents". Ummm....okay! That little room had enough strife being mostly made of boys with only a few broken toys that they fought over. One visit we came to pick him up and Grant had a large knot on his forehead. I asked what happened and the nanny told us through the translator that, "He fight over a toy but he lost!".  Sheesh! 

I remember another visit. We went into the music room to play and Eric was determined to make him laugh. There was a large stuffed monkey that he was pretending to punch and the monkey "punched" back. Eric kind of looked like a clown himself trying all sorts of things which only made me laugh! Grant just sat and stared. Poor kid was probably thinking, "All the parents in the world, and I get these goofballs!". Considering that Grant hardly would ever move by himself, I picked him up and sat him in the little, plastic child chair in the music room. We  "played" and sang and read a book. We still had no idea if he could even walk. So when it was time to go, we kept coaxing him to move out of the chair by himself. We tried and tried but to no avail. He ended up crying and crying until he turned a lovely red color and had the nannies coming in to check on him. However, on the way back to his room to eat, we were "walking" him while holding his hands and he saw his favorite nanny. Although still no smile, he took several steps on his own. From the look on her face and the praise she gave him, I believe those were his very first steps! Not exactly something you expect to see when adopting a toddler! 

I posted this picture on a personal webpage right after we returned from Kazakhstan. Over the course of about 2-3 years, I had several families contacting me for the picture. They had done an internet search for pictures of their children. I can tell you that at least three of these boys have families. Two are here in the States and one in Europe. I have no pictures of Grant prior to us meeting him. My internet searched have come up with nothing. However, I was so happy to hear of the families these wonderful boys had and to give them a picture of their sons prior to their meeting. That's just amazing! You see the little boy off to the side in the walker. We never once saw the nannies take him out of it or let him play with the others. He was always separate. He appeared sick, tiny, underweight, and frail. It broke my heart the afternoon "T" brought in bananas for "M"'s birthday. All the other children sat at the table with their tea cups and 1/2 of a banana. He was left in the walker without the special treat despite our attempts to give it to him. His forever family contacted me for this picture. I asked how he was considering his state when we saw him. His father said he loves running around on the beach and has no special needs. It's nothing short of miraculous what constant love and nutrition can do for a child. How sad that there are still 143 million children just like him waiting. 

After the three week visitation, we headed to court. I was so nervous. We dressed appropriately. I even wore stockings and "no open toed shoes" as instructed. Our coordinator was actually there that day. A surprise, considering she never checked in and stayed at her house about 4 hours away. Don't even get me started on our non-English speaking translator, Lubyev. The court building was absolutely nothing I had envisioned. The president of Kazakhstan has beautiful palaces all over the place. They are gorgeous! The court building was an old Communist leftover building with broken tile, old worn seats, and drab looking. The court room followed accordingly. 

This is our Russian coordinator, the prosecutor (who actually was beneficial), and Eric and myself. 

My instructions were to not talk unless spoken to. I was told it was likely I would not even say anything. The judge was known for being "stern". Eric was instructed to do the talking. All Kazakh courtrooms (even for adoptions) have a prosecutor presiding in them just to make me even more nervous. 

"Your Honor" walked in with a stern face that probably hadn't smiled....ever. He asked Eric a lot of questions like: 
Why Kazakhstan?
Why won't you keep his Kazakh name?
Won't people wonder why he is your son when he looks differently than you? "They will say he is a cousin"
How much land do you own? Will he be required to work the land?
How big is your house? (We showed him a picture of it but he said that it could be a picture of anyone's house). Would he have his own room?
What do you know about Kazakhstan? Do you know who the president is?
Won't you treat your daughter differently than him?

Along with many other questions that my memory has failed me on. He then scoured the dossier for quite some time. He called our coordinator up to speak and that, my friend, is when everything turned sour. The voices between the two escalated louder and louder and louder. Then.....

         "Your Honor" slammed his gavel down and the courtroom was silent. Everyone started walking out and my heart hit the floor. I felt like everything was moving in slow motion. What just happened?

Why were we leaving and no one was happy? Were we denied being Grant's parents? What in world had gone wrong? 

Once outside, We were told that the there was some problem with our registration in the city we were in. (You have to register with the Kazakh government within 3 days of entering the country to give information on where you are living. This was our coordinator's job, who frankly was shady). The judge gave us 20 minutes to return to the courtroom to show him our boarding pass stubs from our flight into Astana or the adoption would be denied.

Seriously? Not because he didn't think we were good parents, not because we couldn't give our son everything he needed and more, not because we hadn't worked on a dossier for a year with an FBI screening and social workers coming into our home. Because of an entrance technicality, we could be denied our son. We fought so hard to find him. This simply could not be happening!
To make matters worse, after running to our coordinator's car, she hurriedly backed up and bumped into a babushka!!! I could not believe this nightmare. I kid you was Friday the 13 of August! 

Our coordinator was not planning on stopping to make sure she was okay either. She started pulling away.  Eric looked over at me and I looked at him......"Get out!" I yelled with visions of a Kazakh prison in my head. "Make sure she's okay!" I yelled as he was already opening the door despite the car moving ahead. 

Oh my,  was the Babushka angry! She yelled at Eric as he was helping her up off the ground. She showed him her torn stockings. She was slightly scraped up but okay. Ironically, I think she was only angry because her stockings were torn!
Off we hurried through crazy traffic whizzing around cars, through lights, and parts of cement that weren't necessarily "road". I wasn't even sure if we still had the boarding pass stubs. Who keeps those anyway? It had been 3 weeks! I think God must have graciously placed them where we could find them quickly. We found them in the back of a drawer and rushed back over to the courtroom.

The judge once again saw us (whew, what a relief to see his stern face). He checked everything out.  And proceeded questioning.  It was then that Eric had to ask the judge if we could change our son's name to Grant. The judge made it very, very clear that he didn't want us to and that the American name would change his Kazakh identity.  Grant's Kazakh name has 20 letters in it just in the first and middle name alone! It can be hard to pronounce and even more difficult to spell. Eric was determined to win this battle though. I, the one who wasn't allowed to speak, was chomping at the bit with my angry eyes to try to get Eric to drop the subject. After all, we could change the name back in the States with the re-adoption! Thankfully, the judge asked me if I wanted to say anything. OH YES I DID! 

He was so hard to read. I couldn't tell if he was satisfied that we could make good parents for our son. I still felt as if he would find a reason to deny us as foreigners from adopting.  I felt the need to let it all out, to tell him that the first time I saw Grant, I felt the same emotions that I felt when I held our daughter for the first time. He was MY son and I was sure of that. He needed a mother to love him and care for him. I would do anything for him and I wasn't planning on leaving until I got him. Okay, so I said a bunch of other things to after which he actually showed slight emotion and thanked me for my heartfelt remarks. Yes, indeed, sometimes it takes a mother! We were granted our Grant, name change and all. Once again, we emailed home that same message of "It's a Boy!- Part 2". 

The court decree would not go into effect until two weeks after the court date. During this time,  any family that Grant may have had would be notified that he would be adopted, and they could appeal the ruling. We hadn't crossed every hurdle but at least we were headed in the right direction. It was going to be a very long two weeks........