Wednesday, June 08, 2005
(Pat picks up the tale here....)
The street outside the hotel is nearly as bust at night as it was during the day. With windows open for air, we are serenaded by cars racing, tires squealing, horns blowing and the occasional conversation from three floors below. Sleep comes in fits and starts amidst the cacophony and we're up for good when the alarm rings at 7 AM. I knock for Bob and Beth: Bob's been up since 2:30, Beth since 3. We go to breakfast: An intriguing buffet of meats and cheeses (including, we believe, horse sausage), something that looks like quiche but turns out to be cold (ugh!) and - salvation - some fairly nice breads, jam and fruit juice.
Back to the room to pack @9, downstairs to meet our new facilitator - Oleg's father - and Nikolai, our trusty driver from the previous day. Off to the airport at 11 for our 12:55 flight to Astana. Minor problem at the airport: A group of young men descends on us to help with the luggage then seems a bit disappointed with the tip. Nikolai assures us the tip is fair and tells them to piss off.
Our luggage is overweight by 32Kg: Nothing the equivalent of $100 US can't solve. We fly from Almaty to Astana with an English gentleman: It's good to hear English from someone other than ourselves for the first time in two days. The flight lasts 1.5 hours and includes lunch. We change planes in Astana, say a prayer that our luggage does too and endure a crush of humanity pushing and shoving its way (and us) through security and check-in. A bus takes us from the terminal to the plane: a fifty-seat twin prop. Alli and I sleep most of the way during the 1.5 hour flight to Kostanai (missing another lunch). We depart in a light drizzle on the tarmack and bus to the terminal.
While we wait for the luggage, I wander to the area just beyond customs and look for a sign with either our names or the name of the agency. Better yet: A young lady smiles at me and says, "Hello, Patrick." She is Olessya, our facilitator/translator, and she has great news: Despite the late hour - nearly 6 PM - we will go directly to the baby home and meet the children. Four weary but greatly excited parents-to-be load bags and selves into to small cars for the 15-20 minute ride to the baby home.
We are introduced to Dr. Irina, the head doctor of the facility. She welcomes us and conducts a brief interview through Olessya - Dr. Irina speaks very little English - including questions about how long we've been married, what we do for work, what our families think of our adoption and who will raise the children. At the conclusion, she asks if we'd like to meet our kids.
Molly (called Vika, short for Victoria) arrives first. She's a butterball and looks just like her picture, with the same mixture of surprise and circumspection in her expression. Alli holds her and in no time finds a tickle spot beneath one of her chins and has her cooing and laughing.
Aidan arrives next making a fist as in his photo. He's lean and long. I get to hold him and he takes a liking to my glasses and Livestrong bracelet. Bob videotapes, Beth takes a photo for us. Alli notices they both have two teeth - the kids, not Bob and Beth.
Bob and Beth's son Nicholas is the last to arrive, and shortly after we are told they must return to their rooms. We are given our schedule for the next two weeks' visits: Tomorrow at 12:30 for a tour of the facility and an hour and a half with the kids, then a regular time line of 1 PM to 2:30 every day.
Just like that, we're off to the hotel. There are just seven rooms: All are large and comfortable, good news considering the likely length of our stay. Pleanty of drawer and closet space, a nice bath with a platform tub/shower. Two single mattress/box spring sets pushed together in a single queen size frame. A fridge and - Eureka! - an air conditioner. We're all set.
No time to unpack: Off to dinner with Olessya and Beth (we call her Beth 1) who hails from Pipersville, Bucks County and is in the eighth week of her effort to adopt a three-year-old boy and a one-year-old girl. Dinner is very good: I have beef stroganoff, salad and vegetables and will have it again when we return to the cafe, which is just a few blocks from the hotel.
Back to the room to unpack and settle in. It's 11 PM and the words to capture the emotions of the day escape me. We're in a surreal mist of weariness, joy and anticipation of the events to unfold in the days and weeks to come. Speaking for us all, the last three days have been exhausting, the last few hours overwhelming. A good night's sleep and a chance to catch our breaths are in order for all. And we can't wait until 12:30 tomorrow afternoon...!