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January 29

What a day this has been! Words cannot describe all that we experienced today, but we'll try to summarize our activities at least...

We had to leave our Almaty apartment at 3:45 a.m. to make our 5:15 flight. After we uploaded the last two day's travel journal pages last night, we tried to go to sleep around 11:00 p.m. No luck! We just could not get to sleep. So we got up around 2:00 a.m. and started our day.

The flight was about 3 hours and the time zone changed by 2 hours, so we arrived in Uralsk at 6:15 a.m. We were met by our interpreter Assia and two drivers, Igor and Misha. Misha and Igor helped us with our luggage and took us to our apartment where Olga (the Uralsk facilitator) met us. Olga and Assia filled us in on the day's schedule which included an interview with a 3-member panel at the Ministry of Education to obtain permission to visit the Baby House and then the actual visit to the Baby House!

We were able to get a couple hours of sleep before our first meeting but we were still exhausted and feeling very jet-lagged. The interview at the Ministry of Education went well. The panel members asked us some questions and gave us the approval we needed to visit the Baby House. Hooray! And now, on to the Baby House...

The big moment was finally here. We sat in the Music Room awaiting the arrival of our children! Gulnaz was brought in first. She is a very beautiful 10-month-old and she just calmly looked us over. Lyn got to hold her first. She was just such an amazingly content baby. A few minutes later Mike took her and she looked him over and let him show her various toys. We had been told that the children are very often apprehensive of adult males since they aren't around them much but Gulnaz was very content to sit on Mike's lap and check out some toys. Although it was funny because she didn't want to touch any of the toys at first and if you tried to hand them to her she would pull her hand back. The next two photos are of those first embraces.

Mike is not at all excited to be holding his baby girl for the first time!

Then 2-year-old Temirlan came in. He walked in the room with his caregiver, took a look at us and immediately started crying. We could tell he was scared. Even though we had known this was a very likely reaction from a child his age, it was sad. At that point, Mike had Gulnaz and Lyn tried to see which of the toys we had brought might interest (and distract) him. He immediately grasped a soft soccer ball we had brought and was slightly interested in the race car, but he continued to scream and cry and clutch his caregiver. Again, very sad. After his caregiver had calmed him down, Lyn asked if she could hold him. Temirlan was upset at first but actually quit crying. His caregiver kindly slipped out of the room to allow Temirlan to become comfortable with us. He allowed Lyn to hold him, but at the same time he seemed to be pretending that she wasn't there. (This is another common reaction we had heard about in toddlers.) The first breakthrough with Temirlan came in the form of rainbow-colored goldfish... he loved these. He allowed Lyn to feed him these one by one and sat on her lap. Then he became interested the animal touch-and-feel book and actually smiled and laughed. Mike was able to come and sit beside us towards the end of our visit so we feel like some progress was made in helping Temirlan get used to us.

Since we both had our hands full, we didn't get to take many pictures. Another adoptive family came in the music room towards the end of our visit and took a couple of shots for us. Near the end of our visit, a representative from the Ministry of Education (one of the panel that interviewed us) stopped in to see how we were doing. She was very happy and all smiles to see the children sitting so content with us. She asked if it is our final decision to choose these children to adopt and of coarse we said YES!!!

Rainbow-colored goldfish...the ultimate icebreaker!

Temirlan loved the touch-and-feel baby animal book we brought...it made him laugh!

A very content Gulnaz.

Temirlan feels comfortable enough to let Papa come closer.

Temirlan's favorite animal is the soft, fuzzy chick.

...Now we need to get some sleep and get ready for another day of visiting tomorrow. We can't wait!

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