( family / adoption / holmes ) I'm happy to say that this time next week, we will be in Astrakhan, Russia! We leave the States on Friday, September 28 and arrive in Moscow on the 29th. Depending upon the schedule of the flights to Astrakhan, we may have to stay in Moscow one night or we will board another plane on Saturday and fly straight to Astrakhan. We're kinda hoping we can ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) We fly out today. It would've been nice to have gotten one last good night's sleep, but the cat made sure that didn't happen. Stupid cat. Anyone want one? Seriously. She's very pretty; and sweet when she's not keeping you from sleeping. I'll miss the pugs while we're gone, but if one of our pet sitters happens to lose the cat, it wouldn't kill me ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) We check out in an hour. We got a nice free breakfast this morning. We then went back to that grocery store and managed to pay the right amount for the right kind of water (not sparkling, which is hard to find). Security guard work is apparently a large part of the workforce here, because every single business establishment we've been to has had a ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) After a nerve-wracking trip to the airport and getting through the airport security we finally made it to our plane. We were told that our Rep, Galina, would be flying with us. We never saw her until we were already on the plane. She was one of the last passengers on the plane, she saw us and gestured to Bill. He figured it was Galina. Her seat was ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) Monday - 1 Oct 07 - 6:37PM
zzzDRAHST-vueet-ya, DRAHST-ya, BREEV-yet ee DO-bree-dyen from Astrakhan! I just (phonetically) said Hello, hey, hi and good afternoon (even though it's now evening here) in Russian. I couldn't remember how to say evening.
We visited the Ministry of Education today, the people who decide who lives and dies, ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) Where to begin...
The original plan was for us to go to the Minister of Education and submit our dossier and then formally receive our referral. What really happened:Galina called the ministry this morning only to find out that they were closed in the morning supposedly because there had been a death within the ministry (I'm assuming a natur ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) Just some random notes this morning
There's a real stray dog problem in Russian cities; or, at least Moscow and Astrakhan. A lot of people even apparently let their dogs run loose. They're almost all large dogs. The small ones don't survive.
There's a real man purse problem, too. Many men have what amounts to a small purse th ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) Oh My Gosh what a difference 1 day makes! So, we have a beautiful blond-haired, blue-eyed, 2 1/2 year old girl!
First, the obvious question: What happened to the 4 year old boy? We don't know. After 2 trips to the Minister of Education, and two interviews, they gave us a referral for this girl. It's been so difficult getting to this point, th ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) We just got back from today's first visit with the child (we're not supposed to mention her name online). We'll be going back this afternoon. In the meantime, Tara's trying to catch up on her sleep. She had woken up around 5 this morning. I was able to sleep until almost 8.
The girl (hopefully soon to be known as our daughter) is g ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) First things first: Our little girl is warming up to Tara. She gave her a kiss yesterday, I think without even being asked.
Now, for some more random thoughts:
Before I forget to mention it, I need to tell you what happened Tuesday. I think it was Tuesday. My whole sense of time is pretty messed up. Anyway, it was a momentous day. Yeah, yea ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) We had a great visit with our little girl this morning. There were no observers. That happens this afternoon. Vika had mentioned that we should think about showing more affection in front of the observers. It's more in line with how Russians treat their kids. We're fine with that. We like kids so much, we flew half way around the world to have one. ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) I'm attaching pictures we made of Astrakhan and our room.
We are staying at the Hotel Azimut in Astrakhan. They are going through major renovations right now. It's kind of funny to see the interior design mix. The lobby is decorated in Art Deco while the rooms are decorated in traditional Russian decor like lace curtains, handblown glass chan ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) We're feeling closer and closer to our child, especially after today. And I think we passed the test of having the psychologist there, observing. She was pretty cool, actually. She didn't stay the entire visit. I think she could see that Tara, the child and I are all getting along well. She'll be observing again tomorrow, but we're not worried ab ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) We'll be leaving in a few minutes for our last visit to the orphanage this trip. I'm practicing asking for my baggage back from the hotel baggage room. Baggage actually sounds like boggage. Please is pa-ZHAL-sta. Fascinating, I know. I thought about getting a parting video shot of the lobby as we sit here waiting for our ride. But then I though ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) We're in the Atlanta airport now! Good to be on US soil, except that they keep mentioning George Bush (... as in the Houston Airport). :) It's 1:45a.m. Moscow time right now (5:45p.m. EDT), but I'm not tired. I'm anxious to catch the flight to Nashville. Customs and security here in Atlanta is sooo much smoother than Russia, though they did tick ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) OK, now we're home! I'll try and do a trip summary tomorrow after a good night's sleep ... in my own bed. Tara says she feels like Dorothy, There's no place like home! ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) We've received our court date. We're haggling with the airlines now. One round-trip ticket for one adult costs a little over $800. One one-way ticket for our daughter's flight home with us costs $1,600!! I suggested just buying our daughter a round-trip ticket (which would be only $900) and not using the return portion of it, but Tara's afraid th ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) Translation: We'll be there soon. This time next week, actually.
I really want to be able to communicate with our daughter Elizabeth when we get there. I've been playing ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) I'm wondering about internet access now that we've tentatively planned to stay in a weekly apartment in Astrakhan instead of the hotel the entire time. We'll probably want/need that internet access for the sake of something to do. Normally, we could go sightseeing, but when it's below-freezing outside, that doesn't sound fun. Anyway, if there are g ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) You probably guessed what that means: We are going to the aiport this morning. It's probably not grammatically correct, but I ain't got no time for linguistic correctitude. :)
Unlike last time when the cat kept waking me up, this time I was able to get a good night's sleep. I was up at 5:30, but I got a good seven hours. It helped that I had lo ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) Sunday, November 25, 2007, 5:00pm CST
We're in the air on our way back to Moscow. Delta Flight 46. The current in-flight movie is Evan Almighty, which we saw on one of our other flights to or from Moscow last time. You know, when you jet back and forth like we do, you forget exactly which f ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) Time flies when you lose nine hours. We fly to Astrakhan this afternoon. This morning, we'll be having the free breakfast that the hotel offers. Then we'll exchange our dollars for rubles (before the dollar devalues even more). I could've done that yesterday, but I ... just ... didn't ... feel like it. :)
They don't get a lot of daylight here ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) We made it to Astrakhan, but I've lost my immigration form that goes with the passport and visa. It's just a little sheet that they have you fill out on the airplane before you land. If I'd known it was so important, I would have stapled it into the passport instead of just sliding it in there. It's not the end of the world, but I can't leave the c ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) I've taken a job here as a Russian adoption consultant. The hours are long, and the pay is in barter, but you gotta do what you gotta do, seein' as how I can't leave the country. :)
But seriously, the Children's Hope office in Brentwood, TN has an opening for such a job. The hours are sti ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) Oh ... my ... God. Do not EVER lose that document they have you fill out on the plane before you land! Stapling it to your forehead would be less painful than what Galina, Liena and I went through today. Vika was tending to the other couple, Nancy and Joel today. Anyway, we just spent ALL afternoon standing and sitting in line at the Immigration de ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) I set this blog so that you can now add your comments anonymously without logging in. So, comment away! I was afraid that the requirement for a login was keeping people from participating. Now you can go crazy because you're anonymous. Just watch your language! Elizabeth is reading this, too ... some day. :) Email me if you have a problem using the ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) We leave in an hour for Court. I just got back from breakfast. Tara did not join me because she can't eat, she's so nervous. Gotta go get dressed. Wish us luck! ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) She's ours!It's official! Elizabeth is ours. The court hearing went very smooth. It took about an hour and a half. There was a judge, prosecutor, a rep from the Child protective services, and the Minister of Education. They had a lot of questions about our parenting style, our finances and guardianship of her in the event of both our deaths. The ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) As you probably read below in Tara's post, our court appearance went very well. Ten days from now we will officially be the proud parents of Elizabeth! And now Vika tells us that we get to visit her not just a few times, but every day except Sunday. I don't know what Elizabeth has on her schedule for Sundays, but apparently she's busy. :) To me, be ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) Well, we're much more relaxed now that we've gotten past the court appearance. The problem now is getting Elizabeth to like us again. Today, she cried for the first time. She let me hold her, but my Russian words were not much consolation. She calmed down once our interpreter Liena returned to the room. Liena then commented that she was sorry that ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) Tara made a good guess earlier. She thinks that the orphanage caretakers are telling Elizabeth that we will be taking her away from the orphange soon. They think they're doing us a favor, trying to prepare her. But now, every time that we come to visit and they leave the room, she freaks out because she thinks it's happening now. ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) Elizabeth (a.k.a. Masha) was much happier today. We were told that the orphanage caretakers probably were not telling her that we would be taking her away, but who knows? She let me fly her around the room again, which made her laugh. We played piano. Yesterday, she wanted up on my lap to play piano, but she batted my hand a ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) The time stamp on these blog posts are in US Central Time, not Russia time. It's 6am Sunday morning here.
We had lunch the other day with Nancy, Joel, Vika and Liena at a Western-themed restaurant called The Horseshoe down the street from the hotel. I ordered some sort of goulash and a salad that Vika said was a traditional Russian dish. I shou ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) ... in the freezing cold, because we were THAT bored. I'm starting to hate this place. There's just nothing to do when we're not visiting Elizabeth or going shopping. And both of those require a driver, and usually a translator. I can't wait until we're out of here, but we've got two weeks to go. I'll see if I can't download stuff from YouTube or s ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) That's all I wanted to say. :)
We had a shortened visit with Elizabeth today because we had to first stop by the pharmacy and get some Ben-Gay and ibuprofen for my sore neck. Ben-Gay actually sounds (and smells) the same in Russian, it just looks funny on the box. Then when we got to the orphanage ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) We had her laughing, smiling and giggling today. I pushed her around on the three-wheeler, then flew her around the room. She even let us chase her around, and it didn't scare her when I chased her!
She seemed more comfortable with Tara than she was with me today, so that's good. They can do girlie things together, you know.
I forgot ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) We visited Elizabeth again today. We caught her when she was in the music room with all the other kids in her age group. She smiled wide when she saw us, but by the time she reached us, she tried to keep it cool. Like, Oh, it's you. I thought you were somebody else. Just kidding about that quote. I hope I'm kidding. :) After the crowd ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) We have her in the hotel now. I tried typing that sentence earlier but she shut the computer down as I was typing! I don't know how. But just a few keystrokes and it was shutting down. Now she keeps trying to run away from Tara down the hall. So far, she hasn't cried, just the occasional I don't want to do that sound that kids make. She's so grea ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) Oh my gosh! She's a handful!
Well, we left the orphanage without much incident. She told the orphanage staff that she wanted to leave in the car. But, she refused to let me or Bill hold her hand or touch her other than put her snowsuit and boots on. The orphanage director walked her out and then Vika, our interpreter took her from there. She wo ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) I like a headline that demands attention!It's official, I'm a parent. Elizabeth had her first bowel movement since we've had her, and it was on my watch! Tara was unable to put Elizabeth down for a nap while I was out walking around town looking for groceries and sundry items. Once I returned, Tara decided to take a nap herself.We ha ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) I slept on the floor most of last night. It's a little after 7 a.m. here. Elizabeth refuses to sleep in her crib, even though we're told that's what she slept in at the orphanage. So, she sleeps with us in our bed. That bed is barely big enough for just me and Tara. Anyway, Elizabeth can go to sleep in the bed, but whenever she wakes up a few hours ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) Everyone is wanting an update! Well, we're parents of a two-year-old now. No time for updates!
She is keeping us busy. Her favorite things to do are: play in the sink, play in the tub, and play in the toilet. She is a waterbaby! One of the things we were warned about an adopted child from an orphanage was that they may hate baths and it would b ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) She's just driving us crazy. Luckily, Tara is taking the brunt of it. I had to get out and walk around town in the freezing cold, just for the sake of getting out. I was at least useful, coming back with some groceries.
Elizabeth's sweet as can be and very playful most of the time, but she turns on a dime. The main problem is just keeping her e ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) That's how long before we leave Astrakhan for Moscow. Not that we're counting or anything. The bad thing about these in-country flights is that they don't use jetways, those expandable tubes that protect you from the weather as you get on and off the plane. You are out there exposed on the tarmac, which is no fun in bad weather.
Once in Mos ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) ... maybe less! That cheers me up. That's assuming everything goes as planned ... and it WILL. I believe in positive thinking (when I'm desperate, anyway, because it leads to positive actions, which lead to positive results, or at least your chances are better). I don't always practice it, but I try. It doesn't always work, but it never hurts. Kind ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) Tonight is our last night in Astrakhan. So, I thought I'd post some pictures of where we've been living for the past 19 days.We've had many battles over clothing. She thinks I put too much clothes on her. In the hotel room, she wears her thermals. But, she loves her boots. So, she often walks around in her thermals with her snow boots. Ronica to ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) I went ahead and paid for the 24-hour internet connection from the room. It wasn't even double the cost of one hour. I also swapped out the flaky cable and that seems to have fixed the connection problem. Wrong. I had to call the techs back to fix it. The hotel sure did send up some techs quickly to check it out. Tara and Elizabeth are a ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) ... but at least it's all over. The Embassy visit went fine.
Delta said that the only way we could take the available seats on earlier flights was to pay $2800 extra FOR EACH ticket. We said no. Unless someone wants to donate that to us, then we'll call them back. :) As it is, we can't leav ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) We're going to attempt to ride the Metro subway to Red Square today. Wish us luck. The exits aren't numbered, they are listed by name ... in Cyrillic. Of course, the overhead announcements are in Russian. One helpful thing is that the announcements are in a male voice if you're ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) All three of us went to Red Square this time. I'm glad Tara was able to see it. Elizabeth was fascinated, too, but probably won't remember a thing.We then had lunch at Sbarro in the ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) I hope to get the rest of the photos and videos on here, at least in raw form, over the next few days. I think I'm getting over my post traumatic stress disorder from the trip and can now face looking at the video again. :)
Regarding Comments, I had to set those to require approval before showing up on the site because spammers have discover ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) Tara took Elizabeth to the international adoption specialist doctors today for a psychological evaluation and another physical exam. They say she is perfectly average/normal for a girl her age. Of course, that puts her well above average for a foreign orphan.
We think she's better than any other girl her age, but we might be biased. ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes / videos ) OK, so it took a year, but here they are, finally:
Part 1 Part 2
You'll see all of our videos of Elizabeth, including the updated versions of these, on the right. ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) The links to both 1 and 2 are here. Part 1 has been updated slightly, in case you want to watch it again. Part 2 might be updated eventually, too, if more pictures come in. Here are the links: Part 1 ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) With the recent headline news about the Russian adoption that went very very wrong, I have been asked by many friends and family about my opinion of the situation. I've not been able to really articulate my feelings about it, but I do have a strong opinion. I think the best way to answer the questions and give my perspective is to tell our story. S ... read more
( family / adoption / holmes ) My wife Tara has written up our adoption story in response to that
woman (living not too far from here, unfortunately) who returned that
boy to Russia a couple weeks ago.Here's the local link (ourrussianadoptionstory), and here's the original link ( ... read more