Eating Massive Amounts of Crow

September 2, 2010

My apologies for the communications blackout on my blog during my second trip to Kazakhstan to pick up Sophie and bring her home. I’ve been virtually incapacitated since becoming a full-time mother last Saturday! It’s been incredibly exciting to finally take custody of my daughter, but I must confess to having to eat massive amounts of crow.

I don’t know how many people have told me how much my life would change once I got the baby. I would agree with them but secretly think to myself: “How hard can it be?”

Well, here’s how hard it can be. My brother, Willie, was able to travel with me to pick up Sophie and we were both jetlagged and nearly comatose after the more than 40-hour trip from Lexington to Ust-Kamenogorst. We visited with her briefly at the Baby Home after we arrived late Friday afternoon and then regrouped for one night before taking custody of her on Saturday morning.

That’s when all hell broke loose.

Poor little Sophie. She’s rarely been out of the Baby Home her entire life and suddenly we whisked for a hot, noisy drive in a car, took her to an unfamiliar apartment, gave her formula and baby food she was unaccustomed to, inadvertently skipped some of her naps, put her in the tub for a full immersion bath (she was used to sponge baths) and put her on a plane for the trip to Almaty.  Then we took her to another unfamiliar apartment in Almaty where we stayed while waiting for her exit visa to be processed by the U.S. Embassy.

After all that Sophie was simply unnerved (rightfully so) and she screamed at the top of her lungs during the car rides and the plane trip and was pretty fussy at other times. As a rookie mother I made some mistakes and Willie saved the day as I don’t know how I would have done this without such good help.

The first couple of days it was a victory to get showered by noon and manage to eat, sleep and do laundry around Sophie’s feeding and napping schedule. I wasn’t alert long enough at one stretch to check e-mail, read the news online or post to my blog.

However, things have improved greatly  the last couple of days. We’re getting into a routine, Sophie is becoming used to the new baby food and we’re doing a better job of anticipating her needs. She is full of life and has a smile that would melt your heart.  I am blessed beyond measure.

We fly out of Almaty early tomorrow morning and gain 10 hours on the trip home. We’ll arrive in Louisville about 9 p.m. tomorrow night, Sept. 3. I’m looking forward to getting her settled into  her new home.

I’ll add more to my blog in a couple of days. Until then, feel free to tell me “I told you so” the next time you see me. I’ll be happy to eat more crow!


D-Day – 1: The Final Visit Before Pickup

September 2, 2010


Uncle Willie meets the baby.

Sophie and her travel team.

The baby with Nadia, the adoption coordinator, who made it all happen.

We couldn't have done it without Alfiya, the translator.

Leigh Anne has one last visit with Aaron, one of Sophie's classmates who will soon be going home to Belfast, Ireland.

D-Day: Leigh Anne Takes Custody of the Baby

September 2, 2010

Sophie gets her final feeding at the Baby Home.


Sophie is oblivious to what lies ahead.


The caregivers dressed Sophie in her going-away outfit and her mother put on her cap for the ride back into Ust.


Sophie takes time for a final photo with her classmates at the Baby Home.

Court Hearing Tomorrow

June 21, 2010

As of today, I’ve spent 41 days with Sophie and tomorrow, June 22, 2010, is the court hearing to make the adoption legal. I hope it goes well and we soon have this step behind us. I appreciate so much the prayers and e-mails of encouragement. Thanks to all of you who have supported me throughout this process. It means more than I can say. 

After several days of hot, sunny weather, we’re having a wonderful rainy evening in Ust-Kamenogorst and I’m determined to add a post to my blog. I apologize for slacking on my blog the past week! I got distracted visiting the baby, preparing for court, making travel arrangements for the trip home and enjoying the last days of my stay here. I never dreamed that time would go by so quickly. I’ve enjoyed every day I’ve spent with Sophie, the adoption team and the other adoptive parents. It’s been the best of times.

If all goes well tomorrow, on Wednesday I’ll take the once-daily flight at 3 p.m. from Ust-Kamenogorst to Almaty, Kazakhstan. After an 11-hour layover in Almaty, I’ll fly to Frankfurt, then to Philadelphia and then to Louisville. I’ll be back home in Lexington about 2 a.m. Friday. The trip is brutal, but it’s for the best possible cause — little Sophie. I’ll post an update tomorrow on the outcome of the court hearing. In the meantime, good night and good luck from Ust-Kamenogorst, Kazakhstan! 

The one who makes my heart sing!

TCB at Mission Control

June 14, 2010
I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize the staff of the Office of Public Information for the Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts in Frankfort. I can enjoy my adoption leave knowing that the OPI is in excellent hands while I’m away.

The best public information team anywhere is comprised of Casie Anderson, project specialist/webmaster; Jamie Ball, public information specialist; and Jennifer Collins, graphic designer. Here they are, hard at work at Mission Control, handling communications for the court system. 

Casie Anderson, Jamie Ball and Jennifer Collins (left to right) are TCB -- taking care of business -- for the Office of Public Information for the Administrative Office of the Courts.

Thanks to Casie, Jamie and Jennifer for taking care of business back in Frankfort! I look forward to seeing them when I return home in a couple of weeks. 

Jennifer Collins, Casie Anderson and Jamie Ball -- public information team extraordinaire!

A Gift for Sophie

June 10, 2010

I met a wonderful elderly woman on the stairwell in my apartment building a few days after I arrived in Ust-Kamenogorsk. For some reason, she seemed glad to see me and greeted me in Russian. I was new in town and thrilled by the warm welcome. She walked with a cane and slowly, but ably, climbed the stairs to a floor somewhere above mine. I don’t remember if it was our first meeting or second, but at some point I gave her some Kazakh tenge, thinking that she could put the money to good use. She seemed very appreciative. I took her picture and showed her a photo of Sophie and me. 

Isn't she lovely? My neighbor at the apartment building in Ust-Kamenogorsk has a face for the ages.

One day she was outside when one of the drivers, Victor, arrived to pick me up. They spoke to each other in Russian and Victor must have explained that I was here to adopt a baby. Victor later told my translator, Alfiya, that she said she had a gift for the baby. 

Several days later I was hanging laundry from my balcony when I saw my neighbor outside. I waited until I heard her coming up the stairs (her walk is distinctive because of the cane) and went out to greet her. She insisted that I go to her apartment and we went up another floor. She unlocked the door and we burst in upon her husband who surely wasn’t expecting company that early in the morning as he was standing in the living room with his pants on but no shirt! A small cat scurried out of the way as she led me to a back room where a doll hung by a thread from a nail above the bed. 

She reached up to free the doll and after several tries was successful. She put the doll in a gift bag along with a greeting card. She then handed me a new bag of cheese puffs. By then I was reduced to tears. I hugged her and thanked her in English. 

I took a picture of Sophie playing with the doll at our next visit. Sophie will own many dolls during her childhood, but there will be none more special than this one. Someday I will explain to her that being astounded by the human spirit is the greatest gift of all. 

My neighbor at the apartment gave Sophie this doll, surely one of the sweetest gifts she will ever receive.

The Simplicity of Summer Dresses

June 9, 2010

One measure of how long I’ve been in Ust-Kamenogorsk is the change in temperature. When I first arrived, the last days of spring lingered and we had a couple of chilly days with snow flurries. The caregivers dressed the children from head to toe when we went outside.

In addition to the temperatures now being well into the 80s, I knew that summer had arrived in Ust-Kamenogorsk when Sophie’s caregiver dressed her today in a yellow short-sleeved dress I had bought her. The piece de resistance? The yellow cap she put on Sophie from the clothing collection in the infant room. We all got a kick out of the dramatic ruffle in the back.

Sophie's yellow cap matched her new summer dress.