Sunday, May 31, 2009

Right now last year we were in air with a crying baby... But we were on our way HOME.

The last few day's were spent in Kazakhstan. We had to drive in a VERY SMALL car for six hours and cross the boarder into Kazakhstan. There was me, Tariq, Leila, our interpreter, our guide and the driver. It was absolutely miserable. The driver was smoking even though we asked politely he not as there was a baby in the car, it was hot and Leila was miserable. When we got to the boarder there were men in uniform holding guns and yelling, utter chaos. We were told to wait as the men took our passports and paperwork for Leila while our crew made it through. Finally we made it through after about an hour, phew!
(This was us in our car ride across the boarder.)

We were now in Kazakhstan, I tried to enjoy the beauty but it was difficult with the circumstances. After getting lost in downtown Kaz looking for the International Medical Clinic for an hour longer, we finally arrived. Inside the clinic we thought we finally hit solid ground. No such luck. Our facilitator had not brought proper paperwork regarding Leila's vaccine history. She had vaccines yet we had no paper stating specifically what she had. Now we were stuck trying to get a hold of the director back in the Tokmok Orphanage for help. Our facilitator had no cell phone to use so he was stuck asking the medical clinic for help. We were now in a major city trying to contact a place in the middle of nowhere that likely does not even have a fax to get us medical paperwork ASAP! We were told it would be faxed the next morning first thing. Not having faith in this, I reluctantly agreed and we left the medical clinic. Outside we are greeted with a very unhappy cab driver. Now, we paid him a set rate to take us across the boarder and for the entire day. He was now claiming that we made him wait outside the clinic for too long and we now owe him more money. Our facilitator and cab guy get into a fight, almost to was very uncomfortable as you can imagine. We asked that he just take us to the nearest hotel. The cab driver dropped us off at the Hotel Kazakhstan and literally threw our bags out and was still demanding money. We grabbed our bags and ran into the safety of the hotel, our facilitator was still arguing with him in Russian. We were now in Kaz and had no idea where to stay. We were stuck where we were as it was getting late in the day. There were no arrangements made for us to stay anywhere so here it was. We had to pay $250 for a night plus we had to pay for a room for our facilitator and translator as he they had nowhere to go......$500 in one night!

Apparently this hotel has been redone however, we got one of the last rooms available....not redone. The tile was popping up everywhere; bathrooms, tub, shower, floors.......The faucets didn't work, the bed felt like sleeping on twigs, literally. It was here that I completely lost it. They brought us a crib we could not use as it was completely broke. I lay awake all night worrying about Leila and the way she was sleeping. I thought about our son back home and how badly I wanted to hold him. That morning before our clinic appointment I called Jalyn on Skype. Looking at him I just lost it. I cried and cried and told him how badly I missed him. I watched his eyes fill with tears and he started crying saying how badly he missed us. My parents were there to hold and comfort him, but as I hung up I felt like a terrible mom. I had managed to stay strong for the past two years enduring the emotional roller coaster that comes with International Adoption, but I just physically could not hold it in. I knew that I just did my son no favors, nor my parents that had the difficult task of cheering him up the next several hours. I felt terrible.

Tairq took over carrying Leila around for most of Kaz. I think he could slowly see me turning green by this point.

Back to the Medical Clinic we go. We are on a time limit. We have to take an envelope from the medical clinic to the Embassy in Kaz by 1:00 to receive an appointment for the next day to make our flight the following day. When we arrive to the clinic they say "we haven't received your papers yet!". Are you freaking kidding me?! Now I am irate! Phone calls are made over the next several hours. FINALLY, our translator thinks to ask if there are other faxes in the clinic.......we are told they have one other but it wouldn't go there, she asks that they look anyway. The gal comes down holding the papers. So we think we can grab the papers and go, but then they ask for passport pictures of Leila. What?! We were never told we needed these. Remember we are on a time limit with the Embassy. Where can we get these we ask? They tell us where and off we go to catch a taxi. We arrive to the photo shop and wait for two hours to take and develop her pictures. Back we go to the Medical Clinic and receive this precious envelope and run our butts off to get it to the Embassy on time. At the Embassy we are greeted by nice it was. This was supposed to be the scariest place, the last and final interview that would take place the next day. I was so happy to be here yet still scared as this was it. All we had to do was get through this interview and Leila would be ours. As we dropped off the envelope we are told that the pictures of Leila are not the right size! UGH! However, they were very nice and said we could bring them back anytime today and still keep our appointment for the next day.

After dropping off the pictures we find a different hotel. We settle on one right across from the Embassy, Hotel Eurasia. It was connected to a mall, weird but very nice. Our first room didn't have AC so we asked to switch which they allowed. Now, all we had to do after two weeks of ups and downs and people telling us "she's not legally yours", was walk across the road the next day at 1pm for our appointment at the Embassy for our final interview and she was ours and we could depart the next day home.

(Our dear friend Aijana was our interpreter, we love her so much. Leila refers to her as Aunt Aijana. She is from Kyrgyzstan and we speak to her often via skype. )

We got all dressed up for this big day, Leila wore her first dress that was way too big for her! I thought she had grown more so most of her clothes fell off. Our facilitator and translator met us at the hotel, mostly for support as we didn't really need them here. Everyone spoke English and all paperwork had been turned in. We left the hotel anxious as can be. If it were just Tariq and I we normally took the stairs down, but since we had more people with us and we were all dressed nicely we took the elevator. I had Leila in the carrier. On our way down the elevator stops.... WE ARE NOW STUCK IN AN ELEVATOR. We shake the doors and Tariq tries desperately to open the doors, they are stuck. Our translator is hitting/kicking the doors and screaming in Russian. I hear men outside saying something that our translator clearly does not like as she yells even louder and punches the doors, the men outside disappear and we hear nothing. I'm crying, our interpreter's crying and Leila's now crying. Tariq is still desperately trying to open something, anything. He lift's the facilitator in the air and he attempts to open the ceiling, the light bulbs break, glass goes everywhere and we are now stuck in an the dark. I'm looking at my watch and see our appointment time coming closer and closer...."Were going to miss our appointment!" Our translator starts yelling again, this time I hear the words Embassy. She's telling them we have a very important appointment right now! I'm literally about to have a panic attach, one of my worst fears is coming true but it's even worse than I imagined...we are in a different country. I know in America that if I were stuck in an elevator someone would come running and help, here I have no idea if they even care. All of a sudden I hear a loud clang and see something that looks like a crow bar slightly open the doors. Tariq grabs the doors and along with the crow bar they open, finally. We were dripping with sweat and tears and covered in broken glass, but we were out! We ran so fast over to the Embassy, my watch showed we are late. Maybe we can plead our case to them and get an exception? Please Dear God, Please.

We arrive up to the floor where our appointment is, escorted by armed guards. We see the lady that helped us yesterday and explain our situation to her and apologize up and down. She couldn't believe what we had gone through to get here, she told us to take a seat that we would be seen soon. Our name is called at a glass window, it is time for our interview. The Ambassador arrives and looks at Leila, "are you ready to go home my dear?" Stamp, staple, pay, receipt and here you go. "Have a safe trip home" he says, and that is it. We talk with him a bit longer as those of you that know my husband know he talks to anyone and everyone at length! We walk out with Leila and she is now officially ours, it's over. No more appointments, no worries, just an airplane ride away.......what more could go wrong (don't ever ask yourself this).

(This was us outside the Embassy, as soon as this picture was snapped a guard came up and yelled at us...opps! She was officially ours now and no one could say otherwise!)

The next day we fly out but not until late at night. We spend the day packing and give away much of our belongings to the hotel staff, less to bring home. A cab arrives at our hotel around 9pm, our flight leaves around 4am. We arrive at the airport, we wanted to be early just in case plus we were anxious but we figured there would be seats to sit/sleep on and we figured Leila would sleep such luck. Since it was after hours, there were gates up leaving us stuck in the main entrance for six hours. We did not sleep this night one bit. Finally they open the gates and we are shuffled into a line to check in. Everything goes smooth and we are sent to customs. There we are greeted by a lady in a glass box asking for our passports, in Tariq's was a little piece of paper he received when we crossed the boarder into Kazakhstan. The lady holds this paper up and says something we don't understand, Tariq replies "no we don't need that", she looks frustrated and leaves. She returns with another lady, looks like a manager or something, she says to us in broken English "this paper is the man's, where is one for woman and child?" Tariq and I look at each other and reply "we don't know, we weren't told to keep them for anything". The lady says "you don't find, you don't leave Kazakhstan. You will have to make appointment at Embassy to have this resolved." Holy Crap! We could be stuck here more days?! I panicked once could this be happening, why weren't we told of the great significance this tiny paper holds? I put Leila down on the ground and she starts crying, we begin madly going through our bags and everything we own to find two tiny pieces of paper, everyone is looking at us like were nuts. We were frantic with a crying baby on the ground, must have been a site to see. Finally I found them and I stand waving them in the air like a flag! "We found them" I yelled! The lady returned with a disgusted look on her face and reluctantly let us through.

(I just took a deep breath, writing this is like reliving it.)

We were finally done. We had to get on the plane and head home.

Leila did not sleep for more than one hour. We had connections in Germany and London. Tariq and I had not slept in over 48 hours. We arrived in LA, finally on American soil. Leila is now a United States Citizen. I find a bathroom and threw Leila to Tariq, ran into women on the way in, closed the bathroom door and starting throwing up. I was so tired, so mentally exhausted, I was spent.

We arrived in Phoenix to family and friends holding signs and balloons, it was amazing! I cried as soon as I saw everyone. We were home. Jalyn was the first one to see and hold Leila, just as we wanted. He was so proud. We spent about an hour showing Leila to everyone and she was thrilled to meet them. It was like Leila knew this was her forever family and she loved them from this moment on. We came home and the grandma's swooned over Leila, feeding her, loving her, holding her, playing with jalyn and yelling at me to go take a nice warm shower. I will always love the grandmas(and grandpas) for this, they were all there when we needed them the most. How very lucky we are.

(My shirt read One Happy Mama and Leila's dress was personalized with her name on the front and an L on her bottom. I saw my Bubby and my feet couldn't walk fast enough.)

(Our first family hug.)

(Amty's girl from the start.)

Only one of a gazillion kisses from Mama (Grandma Rowland).

Nana's girl.

Leila never looked back since the day we left the orphanage, she is our daughter, grand daughter, sister, niece and friend. No matter what we went through to get her, it all was worth it. I would be lying if I said that hearing stories from people that had a great experience adopting internationally doesn't hurt. In some ways I feel robbed of the whole "gotcha day" experience, I never truly was able to enjoy my daughters birth country as it was plagued with worry, but I have made peace with our storey. year ago....right about this time....we landed in Phoenix.

No matter how badly my heart was breaking from the mountains of delays and let-downs, I kept going. I have only begun to process what exactly we went through during two years of trying to adopt internationally. It is an emotionally painful journey that will challenge the best of marriages, but the end result is absolutely worth every minute. I look at Leila and I see reason to fight. I see a little girl that lost all she knew and still wakes up with a smile. I see the good in people and in God through her tiny eyes.

Right now there are sixty-five families in the US that already have received referrals of their babies in Kyrgyzstan and most have met their little ones. Kyrgyzstan is not processing these adoptions right now due to various reasons and many parents have taken numerous trips to check on their children. I pray that the officials will process these adoptions soon and open the country back up completely.

1 comment:

  1. Kelli,

    I read your post and felt your pain, and remembered all the difficulty we, too, faced with International Adoption (two failed adoptions and then the ups and downs with Kyryzstan). I find comfort in a quote by Pierre Auguste Renoir, "The pain passes, but the beauty remains." Leila, your beautiful Angel, will bring you a lifetime of joy. Both of our families are so blessed to have our children!

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