Friday, December 12, 2008

our story continues

My gosh. There just seems to be so much to write about that I don't know where to start. I guess I will describe Tuesday, which was our first full day with our little girl in SPB.

The day started with the hotel's breakfast buffet, still unimpressive. (btw, Nastja didn't get out of bed when she awoke, she waited for the "ok"). The staff is very diligent though, and as soon as a dish is empty, someone comes and takes it away . . . Well, Nastja thought she would help by taking our dishes to the lady as she was cleaning other tables - the lady kept giving us strange looks . . .

Side note - Monday night and Tuesday morning she let me brush her teeth, but didn't like it very much. Her teeth are definately in need of a visit to the dentist. Bathroom routine? Some of you know that it is very common for Russian women to not use tp for #1, so that was something new for her (she thought I was crazy). But, up to Tuesday she let me wipe for her.

We got picked up at 10.30 to go to the Notary's to sign an adoption paper that had been missing on Monday (it was the permission to release her from the orphanage into our care - the SPB police write the document, but something about the wording was wrong so it had to be done again). Our boys were not allowed to come, so our agency reps suggested the other couple from here who adopted from the same home look after the boys. Family N graciously agreed to (and for that we are hugely indebted!). They went from having no children to 5 boys (they adopted a sibling pair). At the notary's, our translator G was talking away and I could hear disappointment in his voice. I asked if anything was wrong, and he said "Maybe not, but the dates on the document are wrong." Turns out we signed them anyway. We found out on Wed from our agency director that when the police filled out the document so early, they put Dec 5th, but our visa didn't begin until Dec 7th - kinda hard to take custody of a child if you're not even in country . . .

After 10 minutes of driving, Vlad got a call from G - he forgot to give us another document he thought we needed, so after waiting for confirmation that we , in fact, did need it, we turned around and went back. More time lost.

Then we went back to the orphanage and picked up T, the social worker. We had to drive to the district where Nastja's property is located to do some paperwork at a Notary office there. After waiting in the busy office for awhile, we go in and it is quite quickly clear that there is another problem. You won't believe this, but some documents were missing. {Starting to sound like an old story for us.} Above all, the court's decision (which was made in October) on the legacy ownership for her was not there, despite the fact that it was supposed to be ready 7 days prior. Wasted appointment - nothing could be done. There were some more phone calls . . . and it was decided that it couldn't all be pulled together in time, so we'll have to do some faxing and apostilles from here later. However, we decided to go visit the property again, this time in daylight. We went inside and took lots of photos. The house is definitely unsalvageable. It was very sad to think that these were the conditions she came from 4 years ago.

On the way back, we picked up the orphanage's music teacher because the 2 ladies were going somewhere. She tried to talk to Nastja, but she was too busy playing bowling on my cell phone, and I didn't have the language skills to tell her to be polite . . . By the time we got to the hotel, it was 5pm. Poor Family N. They had 5 boys in a hotel room for nearly 7 hours! We are truly thankful for them!

We had dinner at McDonald's again because there was no other place that was child friendly and reasonably-priced nearby.

Bathroom routine fell apart Tuesday night. She refused to let me brush her teeth or wipe or wash her hands. It was hard to let those go, but it was not a battle worth fighting this early in the game. She was probably tired and stressed from everything (including the visit to the house).

Bedtime was easy, but we noticed that each night she took books into the bed to look at. Wonder if they did that in the children's home?

I'll leave a description of our last day in SPB for another day. But I will give a few reflections about the last couple of days:
  • bathroom routine is going very well - no shunning of proper hygiene in any of the areas noted above. And, she always comes to me when she needs to go to the bathroom.
  • bedtime has been very easy and she continues to stay in bed until told she can get up.
  • she ADORES her Papa - he gets spontaneous hugs all the time.
  • she's been walking around with the fisher-price cassette player listening to Disney Hero Songs for 2 days - repeatedly - all the time. Did I mention all the time? Repeatedly?
  • she was a hit at the school today when we went to watch the St. Lucia concert, but a little overwhelmed herself.
  • it snowed today, so they were outside sledding, etc. She went in the playhouse for the first time and on our swing. She built a snow lantern with her Papa.
  • she has eaten pretty much everything we have given her (in small portions) except lasagna - she didn't like the pasta.
  • we can't get her to drink milk despite the fact that she drank a whole container on the train (I have to try to find similarily packaged milk in the store, maybe)
  • she has started saying more things in Swedish and English
  1. Papa sover (Papa's sleeping)
  2. I Love you (and then I think she says it in Russian), but I don't know if she's telling us, or just saying the phrase . . .
  3. Mama breally cold
  4. Boka (push - on the swing)
  • she referred to herself as Sofia today 2 times, once with me and once with Stefan (we called her Nastja while we were in SPB and began calling her Sofia on the train and she totally knows we are talking to her when we call "Sofia")
I guess that's enough for now. Before I forget, I wanted to add that we were told Nastja's great grandmother used to work at her children's home, and that is why she ended up there. Nanny V had great things to say about her.

I'm tired. This is long. More tomorrow, probably. Couple pictures? OK.

Decorating for Christmas


Anonymous said...

Hej Barb. Du borde också, liksom jag, gå och lägga dig tidigare på kvällarna. Du har så många viktiga "S" i ditt liv: Sofia, Söner, Stefan, Sweet Home blog... men också Sömn behövs för att orka...Men den här sista tiden har det ju verkligen hänt något underbart i familjen, så du orkar på grund av glädje och kärlek.

Steve är verkligen överraskningarnas man. Vi ses snart!A-L

Purplestamper said...

Hey Barb,

Great Post...It must be emotionally overwhelming all that you and Sofia must get used to. I enjoy your updates and all the details. Hope you had a good sleep and have a great weekend together ;-) nice chatting with you on facebook earlier. :-)
Blessings, Sheri

Anonymous said...

Hey Barb!
What a wonderful thing, getting to know a whole new family member...I'm glad it's going well, even though it must be an exhausting emotional roller coaster for all of you. I love reading your blog, and have found myself in empathy happy-tears and goosebumps many times :).

tammy said...

glad things are going well. sofia is an absolute doll! keep the updates coming i like to read them!

Andrea said...

I feel like I'm reading a really great book but I hate that I can't continue the story whenever I want! Anxiously awaiting more blog entries! I love to hear every detail!
How goes the visit with Steve?
Is it winter break time there yet? We have snow falling right now!
How lucky you are to have a well trained sleeper! Staying in bed until told she can get up? How long will that last? Love you all,

Joy said...

What a wonderful opportunity to take pictures of her previous home not matter what the condition is was it. I am so happy to hear that she is adjusting well.

The Holms

Denmark Road Trip

The outskirts of St. Pete

St. Petersburg

Saint Petersburg: Sankt-Peterburg, Russian pronunciation: is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. The city's other names were Petrograd (1914–1924) and Leningrad (1924–1991). Founded by Tsar Peter I of Russia on 27 May, 1703, it was the capital of the Russian Empire for more than two hundred years (1713–1728, 1732–1918). Saint Petersburg is home to more than two hundred museums, many of them hosted in historic buildings. The largest of the museums is the Hermitage Museum, featuring interiors of the former imperial residence and a vast collection of art. Celebrating the 300th anniversary of its foundation, Saint Petersburg was selected as the main motif in a recent Finnish commemorative coin, the €10 Mannerheim and Saint Petersburg commemorative coin, minted in 2003. The reverse of the coin features a view of Saint Petersburg, with the Peter and Paul Fortress and its three turrets. In the coin the words "St. Petersburg 1703-2003" can be seen.