We have arrived in country and are excited about the days ahead. The journey here was a bit long, as it always is to get over here, but rather uneventful, which is the way that you would hope that traveling would be. We had a few moments of frustration and a few moments where God showed up to clean up our frustrations in classic ways.
We left Rochester MN on Monday on a flight to Chicago and then transfered in Chicago to a big ol Boeing 777 for our trip to London. We arrived in London on Tuesday morning and had about an hour and a half to gather ourselves before continuing on to Eastern Europe. We took a few moments in the American Airlines/British Airways lounge to catch their great breakfast and some free wifi to catch up on email and for Dena to check in on Facebook. Then we were off again.
We hoped on our three hour flight to eastern europe and instantly I caught my second wind but Dena hit a wall hard and struggled to get any sleep on that flight.
We landed and did our duty to wait in line for what seemed like forever to clear passport control and customs to pick up our bag. Once on the other side, our faciliator met us and we were on our way to change money. While I was waiting in line to change money, Dena and our facilitator brought our bags to his car, which was not good timing because as he was gone, they started clearing the airport arrivals area and I had no idea what they wanted me to do. Some guy with a white coat came up and started yelling at everyone to do something but I was clueless. And to boot, I was watching the lady in the exchange booth count out my money she was about to give me so I was in no hurry to go wherever they wanted me to go.
Turns out, as my facilitator raced back in to see how I was doing, they were clearing the airport because of a bomb threat and we needed to get out now. Thankfully the woman finsihed counting my money and handed it over. We moved fast to the car and out of site from the airport just in case the threat was more than just a prank. Turns out it was just a prank and nothing came of the threat.
The rest of the afternoon was rather uneventful, we drove around the city with our facilitator and ran some errands with him and then he dropped us at our apartment. We got a few small things from the store to tide us over and then we turned in for the night after 30+ hours without sleep.
Day two arrived and it was the day of our first appt with the govt agency that gets the adoption process moving when we are in country, called the SDA. Our appt was at 11am and we woke up at about 9am, after waking up at Midnight with jet lag, to get ready. Off we went and the appt took all of about 10 min and we were done. We had the same lady working with us that we had last year and she remembered us and we showed her pictures of Lucy and how she was adapting. It was pretty cool. She made a nice comment to us about how she thought we were good people for doing what we are doing in coming back again, we thanked her for the kind words and said to her that maybe we would see her again next summer! Not likely!! :)
After the appt we took the rest of the day to take a bit of a tour with our facilitator, as last time we were here we did not have the chance to really explore this big capital city. It is really pretty and has such history that we wanted to take the time on this trip to do that. So he took us around the rest of the day to a number of different spots, the highlights being a boat tour on the river the city sits beside and a visit to a Orthodox Christian cathedral called St Michaels. It was kind of your typical large cool old church until we stepped inside and they were doing one of the rituals they do daily. As a part of the rituals, the priests and head priest were doing this cool chanting thing that I have never heard in person before which was really cool to hear.
At the end of the day, we were blessed to get our SDA Referral approved in teh same day as we had the appt, which just never happens. We were excited because this meant we could leave the next day to the region and city where Harper is and get all set up at the orphanage to see her over the long holiday weekend of Friday Sat and Sunday. If we would have gotten the Referral one day later, we would likely have to have waited till MOnday to see her which would have been a drag. So we were really blessed to have the nice people work so hard, both our facilitators and the SDA people.
Day three started out really early, getting in the car with our facilitator at 6am for the drive 2.5 hours away to her city. It was a smooth drive with really nice roads and we moved right along. We arrived in her city and found it to be about the same size as the city we were in last year, but it seemed to be a bit different, it seemed a bit more modern. The city we were in last year jsut seemed to be a bit more run down.
We went right away to the local SDA office and our facilitator did some paperwork with the local lady and then we were off to the orphanage.
When we arrived, we noticed right away that this orphanage is much smaller than the one last year. It is just a few groups of kids, maybe two or three and on a very small grounds. They have some nice outside space to play, but limited inside space. Although the inside space they have is laid out well and they have a couple of nice playrooms with all kinds of toys. Good for the rainy days.
We were brought right into the directors office to meet him and to go over Harpers medical issues and history. Nothing real revealing in this session. Mostly just the same ol same old. Heart condition, issues with general health etc... The funny thing that we both rolled our eyes at though was the Directors statement that she " Does not have much of the downs, in the face". They said she was pleasant and generally a great demeanour.
Then, out of no where, in romps this little ball of energy with dark brown hair, brown eyes and a small that lights up the room. She flies right by us and right over to one of the nurses. She must have a nice bond with her because she got hugs and kisses from her. We both felt a little disapointed actually with this moment, because last time around they kind of brought Lucy to us and sat her on Denas lap just like she had just had her naturally. It was a moment for Dena to bond with Lucy and created a special memory. This time it was not so special. We were caught off guard and she just ran right past us. A bit disappointing.
So we got a chance to play with her for about 20 min and then left again, with the intention of coming back later to play longer.
We moved off to the hotel and checked in and got situated while our facilitator ran around on some errands. We settled in and he came back to get us to go shopping for food and to buy a fan for our room. There is no air in teh room and Dena takes medication that makes her very hot most of the time, so we needed something to keep the air flowing in the room. We got all of that done and then had some lunch and then rested a bit. Then about 5pm they dropped us back at the orphanage for our longer visit for the day. From there our facilitator left till Monday and we walked back to the Hotel after. It is about a 20 min walk and is nice to break up the day with that walk. Last year we took a taxi everytime cause we couldn't walk and so this time it is nice to not have to do that. Helps to save money as well.
The afternoon session with Harper was great. She warmed up to us a bit and we had fun playing with her in the play room. She is so energetic and smiley and loves to hug. She is walking and talking and everything that we did not really expect to be honest. We were expecting more like Lucy and where she is at. Just barely starting to walk, not really feeding herself, not talking, not good with her motor skills, low tone etc... She is anything but that. She has great tone, she walks great, she is doing some talking, she feeds herself fine and wow does she have energy. In abundance. I think it is mostly cause they really don't do jack with them all day but sit around and do nothing. The caretakers here don't seem to be all that motivated to be playing. They mostly just sit around when we see them and talk and don't pay much attention to the kids unless they are doing something bad and then they scream at them. Anyways, Harper is just very different than we expected and planned for and it is a bit hard to adjust to, since our other girls are so different from that. That is what we are used to and comfortable with so this is very new.
We wrapped up day three with our staples, chicken on bread with cheese and some chips and water. Pretty basic, but it is cheap and easy and we don't have to guess what we are eating.
So that is the first few days we have been here. Will write up our experience for Friday tomorrow.